Keepnitmil; From the People, For the People
“What does your shirt say?’
I get that question almost daily and when I reply it’s always accompanied with a smile, “It says Keepnitmil, short for Keeping it Milwaukee, my brand that focuses on music, fashion and art,” I say as I hand them a business card and go about my day. I never expected what was just a word that I created when I was 12 years old would grow to be something so tied into my existence and passion in the world.
Let’s go back--
I found music to be a vital part of my life when I was a kid. My parents listened to a wide range of music so I was exposed to different genres growing up and learned to appreciate the diversity of sounds. Since my first CD player was given to me I have had a special connection with music. The sounds and melodies would be my comfort and motivation and at times would feel like I teleported when I would put on my headphones. What started as writing poetry at a young age evolved into me rapping and creating instrumentals when I was in middle school. My content consisted of rapping about what I saw in my environment and what I wanted for myself. It was an outlet for me to express my thoughts as authentic as I could. The name "Keepnitmil" came about because there weren't any successful rappers from the city growing up and I wanted Milwaukee and Wisconsin to be known for something more than just cheese and beer. No matter where I went I wanted to take Milwaukee with me, a city that through the good and bad, has shaped me into the person I am today.
Fast forward to present day, and Keepnitmil has expanded into much more than just my childhood dream. Keepnitmil is a movement aimed to bring empowerment through music, fashion, and art. I have traveled around the country with my ambitions to bring Keepnitmil and my overall experience of growing up in Milwaukee to the rest of the world. Milwaukee has a history of segregation and discrimination that is still prevalent today. I rap about the many struggles that I’ve seen, but also on the strength and community that we have in the city. There is a certain resilience that people from Milwaukee have, something that I try to take with me everywhere I go. Growing up in Milwaukee, I was rapping about social justice issues before I even knew what they fully were or the systems in place. I was just rapping about my life and what I saw. My city is where I got my passion for advocacy, not because I wanted to do social justice work but because I myself am a product of impoverished environments and I know change is possible with community engagement. Milwaukee has given me so much drive to continue on fighting for what I believe in, and I’m proud to say be from the city and will always be, Keepnitmil.
About the author:
Born in Milwaukee, WI, Cesar "Tha Crown" Cornier has always showed a unique passion for music and its value to the world. Growing up on the South Side, he saw first hand the cruelty and hopelessness that often surrounds impoverished neighborhoods. Instead of being engulfed in that negativity, he desired more. Using a notebook and a pen as his outlet, he began writing songs at age 12, and at 14 was creating his own instrumentals to rap on. He is the founder of Keepnitmil, a movement geared to promote positive living as well as showcasing his and his artists' music. To expand his inspiration, he's lived in Los Angeles, Florida, and Chicago, collaborating and producing with many along the way. Recently, he has been able to showcase his talents on the screen, as a music producer for the Fox television show "Empire". With a wide range of original songs and beats, this is only the beginning for Tha Crown and the Keepnitmil movement.