A hip hop artist from Milwaukee is named one of National Public Radio's artists to watch in 2018.
His name is WebsterX, and his music—like his life—tells a unique story. Over the next 12 months, he will be profiled in a variety of ways on NPR.
WebsterX, whose real name is Sam Ahmed, comes alive on stage. He's a first-generation American whose parents immigrated to Milwaukee from Ethiopia.
"They both came here in 1990 with my sister who was five years old," he said.
WebsterX grew up in Sherman Park, and went to school in Wauwatosa.
"My entire existence growing-up was such an eclectic mix," he said.
He decided while at UWM to stop and pursue music full-time. It was something his parents didn't initially understand.
"My parents are like all other parents who worked hard to get where they are," he said. "They want you to have a professional life and be successful, so you don't have to worry as much as them."
Finding success in the music business is a whole other challenge though.
"In Milwaukee, it's way more difficult than people think," WebsterX said.
But he's chipping away at it. Now getting recognized for his writing and rapping, and performing in front of huge crowds. His locally-made music videos are getting thousands of views online.
"One thing I've always felt, that stuck with me, is Milwaukee made me, and I like who I've become, and I have to pay homage that," he said.
WebsterX raps about life issues, relevant to people his age, like his own battle with anxiety and depression.
"I was worried too much," he said. "That worrying sent me to a dark place. I decided to write about that, because especially in the black community, most feelings are just not talked about at all. It's almost taboo."
So he chooses to be a voice, and is honored more people are listening.
In Milwaukee, WebsterX also helped create FREESPACE, a monthly event designed to give young people a venue to create, learn and perform music.