Vincent Van Great is a hip hop artist and producer who has been a tenured fixture in Milwaukee’s scene for some time. Known for blending funk and R&B into his unique hip hop brand, he’s frequently accompanied by his live band Ninja Sauce. Pushing creative boundaries and bringing vibrant live performances are what he does best. I first knew of Vince because I worked at the Roast Coffee Company on Milwaukee’s East Side – which features food items named after Milwaukee artists – and the Vincent Van Great was my favorite sandwich we had.
ME: Alright Vince, to start, tell me about how you got involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures.
VINCENT: So, right before the pandemic, Allison – who you’re very familiar with – was doing some jogging or her daily workout, and she was playing Milwaukee music on her Spotify and played some of my tunes and she found out about me that way. With her doing all these awesome things with Wisconsin Music Ventures, she reached out to me about possible collaboration and building a relationship. Actually, after that introduction, Allison became my piano instructor (laughs).
ME: She did mention that when I saw that you were on her roster! Yeah man, she’s the queen bee.
VINCENT: Right, she’s awesome. Pretty much after that, the rest has been just uphill from there.
ME: I love that, when someone is just authentically enjoying Milwaukee music in their rotation, whether it’s during exercise or chilling out. That’s awesome.
ME: Recently, obviously the Bucks won the championship. What do you think that means for the city?
VINCENT: I mean, it’s just great for the vibe all around. It lets us know that we’re bigger than what a lot of the media has to say about us. It’s a good morale booster for the city and I hope it brings more media value by showcasing us on a national scale. Hopefully there’ll be more people to come here and see the Bucks and Giannis at the Fiserv, since we have that beautiful attraction now, and then bigger artists will start coming to town and adding Milwaukee to their tours. I hope that all does something for our scene here.
ME: Right on dude. I agree. I don’t even follow basketball like that but I was happy to see it. It’s a big win for the culture.
ME: So you also work at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery and I saw you there like a month ago. What do you have to say about that venue, now that shows are starting to pop up over there?
VINCENT: It’s a great venue, man. It’s a great place for music and fun and friends…even weddings. You can do some much there. Mark over there is a good friend of mine so really it was just something for me to do on the weekends because he needed some extra help behind the bar. It was thoughtless for me; I was like “hell yeah I’ll help you out bro.” They’re really good people and are trying to expand and do more things with the venue too.
ME: Yeah. With the sad closure of the Pabst Taproom right down the street, it’s good that we still have a new venue there to breathe fresh air into live music in that section of the city. It’s definitely an up-and-coming area and a versatile space that a lot of people could be a part of.
ME: Here’s a fun question for you. What’s your favorite breakfast spot in Milwaukee?
VINCENT: Man…me doing the work that I do, I rarely get to go to a breakfast spot. I did have Coffee Makes You Black earlier this summer and it was delicious.
ME: Oh yeah, I love that place.
VINCENT: (nods) I’ll go with Coffee Makes You Black.
ME: Great choice. That’s a great business to support too.
ME: My last question for you is, what are you up to in the next couple months?
VINCENT: This Saturday I’m actually headlining a sobriety festival for the Phoenix Group; they’re an organization that helps recovering addicts and alcoholics and they’re all about that positivity with keeping people staying on the right path. I’m happy I can be an advocate for that and perform for them on Saturday. Next week on Thursday I’m hosting Bublr Bash over at Wheel & Sprocket; DJ Shawna is gonna be doing her thing and Valerie Lighthart and Orlando Pena are performing – it’s gonna be a dope night. Then August 18th I’m the headliner at Washington Park Wednesdays, so I’m super excited to be performing in front of a live audience again at such a prestigious space – I’ve never gotten to perform there so that’ll be a big one for me. I have some more coming up after that so stay tuned.