Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tales from Los Angeles 2012

It's been over a year since I last touched down in the City of Angels to finish recording my Sliding Scale E.P., and it felt great to be back reconnecting with friends, family, and the LA scene. Below are some highlights from my trip with photos, links to dope people, videos, and projects you should acquaint yourselves with, plus some extra.

Last year, I had the pleasure of being a feature artist at Natural High, so I was pumped to see the collective still in full effect. The same Tuesday night I landed at LAX, my sister, her friend Bailey, and I made the 40 minute strike to Industry Cafe in Culver City to check out the Natural High "Rock the Bells" Edition featuring AKIR (an NYC-based artist currently touring with Immortal Technique) and the beautiful Ashley Dominique (who upped the energy major with her track "Emerald Sunrise"). This August 28th, 2012, edition was co-hosted by Big Doxx, an emcee and Occupy LAer I "inter-met" via my girl Substance while organizing Hip Hop Occupies to Decolonize earlier this year, Oran Smith, an amazing vocalist and emcee, and Gia Scott-Heron, who wasn't afraid to politicize the space with grace, lacing the crowd with her insights on the RNC and reminding us of our role and work in capturing the hearts and minds of all in this crazy world. Like always, the par of the artistry was on point, and the open mic portion of the night flowed beautifully with a wide variety to poets, emcees, and musicians rocking to the improvisational stylings of the Natural High Open Band, led by the incredible Hank G (also known as the "One Hand Band"). Check out this video of Ashley Dominique, O'Smith, and Hank G doing their freestyle thang at a Leimert Park Artwalk, for a glimpse of these artists in their natural element. I even got the chance to do a few of my own tracks and free flow with the band, backed up by my little sis Ling.

Bailey, O'Smith, Ling, and Hank G outside Industry Cafe
Shouts to all the familiar faces of folks who held be down last time around, like emcee and promoter Spiv of GorillaMic, as well as new folks I met like Choize Areef and others. For me, the pinnacle of the night was delivered by an energetic powerhouse who went simply by QueenDressed in beautiful traditional regalia and head wrap, her chocolate skin adorned with painted ankhs and other designs, this 55 year old grandmother breathed affirmation and renewal directly into the souls of those who stayed long enough to see her through free verse and vocals. I wish I could convey in words how authentic and empowering her "crowd control" was. That phrase doesn't even begin to do justice to how this woman channeled and filled the space with divine energy both on and off the mic, as she went to each person who was there, touched their faces and reminded us all to never give up in this life. Amazing and inspirational. 

Mia Styles and I 
The following night, I headed to Hollywood to sit down with my fam Mia Styles, better known in the 206 as B-Girl, founder of our beloved B Girl MediaB Girl Bench, and some more dope shit. It was good to catch up with this woman who has done so much for myself and many others, and who we miss in Seattle so dearly! We talked about Project Blowed Recordings, which she is now reppin', future ambitions she is in the process of masterminding, and GaKnew Roxwel's multifaceted "Sound of Silence" Campaign that she is helping support. This album, book, and play from the LA emcee/activist is focused on health and community healing: a project worthy of attention. Please check out that last link and contribute to the campaign.

Jennifer Jahkova and Jiji Sweet
From there, I headed several blocks up the street where I met up with the homegirl and emcee extraordinaire Kandi Cole at Madam of the Mix, an all-women's open turntable night put on by Soul Spinner Society. This collective was co-founded by DJ Jahkova with the mission to provide support and opportunities for underrepresented groups through marketing and producing events that foster creativity, collaboration, and competition. Click here for DJ Jahkova's photos from the evening!

Brandi, Oracle, Kandi
There, I met two other emcees from  Kandi's all-women supercrew, THE (SIS)TEMBrandi Kane and Oracle Jayne Doe (who I would see every night I went out after that, this woman's grind is impeccable, subscribe to Oracle's YouTube here) and got to catch their DJ Jiji Sweet murder the tables. Download THE (SIS)TEM's free mixtape, entitled The Treatment here! I also met a gentleman who graciously put up my info on his site Los Angeles Music Magazine in the LA Music and Bands Section. Thanks for the shout Johnny Chronic!

Myka 9 killing it while we hold down the front row.
Photo by VidzAllDay, click here for more.

On Friday, Mia Styles brought Ling and I to the Chinky Eyed 11th Year Anniversary show at the Airliner, featuring Freestyle Fellowship, Akil of Jurassic 5, and a gang of LA guest crews including Cloud Makers, Misol Tribe, Speach Impediments, Stay Blunted Hooligans, and Black Cloud Music. I got a soft spot in my heart for a packed bill and 20 rappers on stage, especially when there's genuine talent and originality on deck. It takes me back to Project Mayhem days! Anyways, there I got to meet Badru, general manager of Project Blowed Recordings, the one and only Percee P, and more. Having never seen Freestyle Fellowship rock together as a group, I was super excited to hit this event up and pay homage to these West Coast hip hop legends in their hometown. When asked what it was like to be a part of such an influential collective, Self Jupiter replied, "It's been a long road from adolescence, maturity, praise, humbleness, to redemption, acceptance, understanding, perseverance, and moving forward..." Check out how moving forward manifests with Jup in his new project with Kenny Segal called the Kleenrz. Here's an animated video of the track "Filthy" from it!

Finally, I was able to connect with ethemadassassin and Veteran Eye whose powers combine to form the group Veteran Assassins. Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, these seasoned emcees and talented videographers recently relocated to LA, where they released their newest album Paint the Town Red. Check the video for the title track "Paint the Town Red" right here. We first met VA when they came to rock the Rat and Raven a few years back while on tour with Kandi ColeVeteran Eye has since released a dope solo project called Corona, and you can find the link to an amazingly shot video of the track "Afrika and the Baambaataa Effect" featuring Kandi Cole here. I also got a sneak preview of ethemadassassin's freshly completed solo project called Soul on Fire, which is due for release very soon, so keep your eyes out for that. Also, if you're lucky enough to be in LA September 19th, be sure to hit up TOP SHELF at Bar Lubitsch, where you'll catch live performances from Veteran Assassins, The (SIS)TEMDJ Jiji Sweet, and more!

On my final evening, I rolled out with Veteran Assassins and Shannon Williams (the lovely stylist, community advocate, and founder of STRIDE Empowerment Center's youth fashion program in Washington DC) to B.L.U.E, a loft party monthly thrown by Kandi Cole and her comrades in downtown LA.  There I met more (SIS)TEM emcees, Tommy Lockhart, and some other folks. The venue was stylish and spacious, the vibes were great, plus $20 covered entry PLUS all-you-could-drink tickets! If you live in LA and haven't been yet, I highly suggest you click the link above so you can get info on the next one! This edition, called the "Labor Day Soiree" was also thrown to celebrate the birthday of another (SIS)TEM emcee DawnGun, who recently dropped a solo single entitled "Mad Nice". Check out the video for the track right here, and be sure to share it with your people.

ethemadassassin, Brandi Kane, Veteran Eye and me at BLUE
So that concludes my LA trip, and I want to thank everyone who made it what it was. Despite the above Hip Hop adventures, my main reason for returning to California this time around was to visit my grandmother, Sandy Schulman, and help her move from her home of decades into assisted living care. This, as you can imagine, can be an emotionally challenging endeavor. Luckily, I have a wonderful, caring family. Thank you to Linda, I can't imagine this trip without you there riding with me lil sis, Dad, Kim, Uncle Mark, Aunt Lisa, baby cuzzo Zade, and my Mom, who although wasn't there, always lends a well-needed listening ear and grounding perspective. In addition, I was able to balance out packing, moving, and going through years of memories in my grandparents' home (RIP Ben Schulman) with fun times and good folks from the Hip Hop community in Los Angeles. It was truly a blessing, and y'all helped me more than you know. Enjoy the random flicks below, I'm sorry my phone camera sucks, and until next time, much love LA! I'll be back real soon!

Gia Scott-Heron and Hank G at Natural High
Akir at Natural High
Live art in full effect
Big Doxx
Brandi Kane, Oracle JD, Kandi Cole, Charlie E Fela, and Jennifer Jahkova at MOTM
Queen Kandi Cole and I at MOTM
Jiji Sweet at MOTM
Mia Styles and Linda at Freestyle Fellowship Show
Linda, Optimus Prime and I
Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice!
Linda, Bumblebee and I at Universal Studios
Three awesome blondies! Grandma, my baby cousin Zade, and Aunt Lisa
Grandpa's grave...first time visiting.


  1. great blog! thanks for rep'n the crew, myself and the entire collective! much respect to you and your family in Seattle!! blessup!

  2. Thanks for the love. Awesome blog!!! It was so good seeing you. Can't wait to make it back to the 206 in your neck of the woods. Glad LA showed you a good time. :)

  3. great recap! Bring me next time!

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