Thursday, June 1, 2017

I'm Fine. You're Fine. Be Mused, Hip Hop essay on revolutionary love, art, and nurturing, plus a fresh track for your efforts...

Every artist knows when it hits. Alluring and energizing, the Muse's presence manifests in many ways. Most fundamental across all forms and functions, however, is the incessant call and enhanced ability to create. According to the author Roman Payne, "The ‘Muse’ is not an artistic mystery, but a mathematical equation. The gift are those ideas you think of as you drift to sleep. The giver is that one you think of when you first awake."
Payne does have the relational aspect of the Muse correct. Anyone with the heart of an artist has certainly been serenaded to sleep (as well as locked in sleeplessness) by the silent reception and contemplation of such "gifts". Anyone with the heart of an artist has also undoubtably found themselves wholly enraptured by the often unwitting generosity of such a giver. However to Muse and be mused is so much more voluminous in purpose than the narrow scope of romantic objectification can quantify. That math can't plumb the mysterious depth of the Muse, even if "all musicians are subconsciously mathematicians" as Thelonius Monk said.
The derivation of the word "music" itself comes from the Greek "mousike" rooted in "mous" (or Muse) - what we would now refer to as collective cultural production- "a seamless complex of music, poetic word, and physical movement." According to wikipedia, both the Pythagoreans and Plato also "explicitly considered philosophy as a sub-species of mousike," but the latter still wrote of inspiration as though it were mental illness: "Possession by the Muses, enters into a delicate and virgin soul, and there inspiring frenzy, awakens lyric.....the sane man is nowhere at all when he enters into rivalry with the madman." We both lose and find ourselves when we are taken by the Muse, and we return forever changed each time.
Perhaps such journeys are why so many artists experience the symptoms of neurological, biochemical, and/or behavioral difference that western medicine has pathologized into broad spectrums of overlapping "disorders" in the DSM. We're not meant to be comfortable; our stubborn existence challenges complacency in a jaded world from the far end of the "fittest-for-survival-under-neoliberal-neocolonial-white-supremacist-patriarchal-capitalist-corporate-oligarchical" Bell Curve. Whatever titles you bestow the beast of modern empire and the oppressive systems that justify and sustain it, regardless of whatever relative privilege certain aspects of your identity may afford you under its foot, this shit was never meant us.
What Plato called a "rivalry", that tension/duality between lost and found, is actually the very force of awareness that stokes the fire in our souls. It is being and feeling in its purest form. It is our true selves. Frida Khalo was famously quoted as saying, "I am my own Muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better." For Ishmael Reed too, the Muse is a catalyst of self-exploration and growth by putting us "in contact with those fleeting moments which prove the existence." Despite the pain and discomfort, the artist thrives in these raw windows of presence. Our collective strength and purpose in Movement work is derived from this reality. We must hold space for it.
The drive to create is simultaneously, paradoxically self-centered and selfless. However we should never cave to societal prescriptions which seek to demote its value and role in our lives. Though seemingly indulgent at times, it has deep purpose. As Steven Pressfield wrote in War of Art, "We are servants of the Mystery. We were put here on earth to act as agents of the Infinite, to bring into existence that which is not yet, but which will be, through us. Every breath we take, every heartbeat, every evolution of every cell comes from God and is sustained by God every second, just as every creation, invention, every bar of music or line of verse, every thought, vision, fantasy, every dumb-ass flop and stroke of genius comes from that infinite intelligence that created us and the universe in all its dimensions, out of the Void, the field of infinite potential, primal chaos, the Muse. To acknowledge that reality, to efface all ego, to let the work come through us and give it back freely to its source, that, in my opinion, is as true to reality as it gets." There's a divine surrender in being truly moved and inspired. In moving and inspiring. To embrace the Muse is to release with purpose into this unknown. It requires faith, trust, and patience - with self, community, the process, and the universe.
Rumi touches on community and surrender as well in his tongue-in-cheek take on the Muse: "Today I'm out wandering, turning my skull into a cup for others to drink wine from. In this town somewhere there sits a calm, intelligent man, who doesn't know what he's about to do!" The "town" is allusion to our interconnectedness as humanity and the impact this, however loose the strands at any given place in the fabric of community, has on our individual lives. This recognition comes with responsibility. How intentional are we being in what we ferment, brew, pour, serve and sip in our interactions with each other?
The calm oblivion of the "intelligent man" speaks to the suspension of rationality necessary in this process. In a society seeped in rugged individualism, it takes vision to perceive and audacity to embrace and enact this commitment to nurturing one another. Said Kabir, "Those who hope to be reasonable about it fail. The arrogance of reason has separated us from that love. With the word "reason" you already feel miles away." Radical love in a world of senseless suffering is inherently irrational.
So let us choose to be unreasonable. Let us hold space for the irrational commitment to Muse and be mused at every opportunity within reach. Let us fully utilize our inspirations, passions, vulnerabilities, curiosities, attractions, and presence to navigate the uncharted territory of creative resistance we share as artists and accomplices in the ongoing battles against the economic homogenization of our city, our fight against the incarnation of our youth, our resistance to police violence and state corruption, and the broader struggle to simply be- however it manifests.
We must call upon and harness the power of the Muse to heal and strengthen our fearful hearts, traumatized bodies and minds, and embattled communities. It is imperative because all we have is each other, and we must actively feed and arm ourselves and one another with the emotional and spiritual fortitude required to sustain in the uphill battles ahead.
Such revolutionary embrace of our muses and musings might require a radical re-envisioning of how we conceive relationships altogether. This redefinition must reject the concept of possession over our beloved, and in some cases could necessitate overcoming the expectation of emotional or even physical exclusivity common in most traditionally accepted forms of intimacy. We will need to be creative and open minded in our approaches. We will need to be honest and transparent with our processes. But above all, we will need the courage to love. Fiercely. Active love. Radical love.
The ultimate role of our Muses is to remind us of and guide us to this fundamental love, this weaponry of heart and soul that is, according to Danter, "never about absolute consensus, or unconditional acceptance, or unceasing words or sweetness, or endless streams of hugs and kisses. Instead, it is ... unconstricted, rooted in a committed willingness to struggle persistently with purpose in our life and to intimately connect that purpose with...our 'true vocation'- to be human." This weaponized love- is for us: the artists and revolutionaries. "Those convinced of the right and the duty to fight," as Paul Freire wrote.
I fight. I muse. And I love you. Love me, love with me, and love each other more, every day. This is how we become more effective and dangerous in creative resistance together.

Monday, April 21, 2014

CHURCH! 7/8 Recaps and Warrior Tour Announcement

As we fly past CHURCH!'s half birthday, we have a very exciting announcement to square away our third quarter for our 9th installation. Do that math. May 11th: CHURCH! The West Coast Warrior Tour Takeover. Be sure to join us at Black Coffee, this time from 5pm to close to network, build, learn, share, and grow the movement of self-determination and decolonization. 

As you all know now, we keep CHURCH! free and accessible to all, but we are encouraging folks to donate to the Warrior Tour's Indiegogo campaign. These extraordinary artists and community builders keep it ground level and grassroots and deserve our financial contribution for the important work they are doing, regardless of how big or small. Donation buckets will also be available for the day of. 

Until then, enjoy a recap of our last two events, some pics courtesy Sic Ill, and some video courtesy of Charles Conatzer.

The 7th Chapter of CHURCH! went down on March 9th, where we celebrated the born day of our amazingly talented co-organizer Diogenes, as well as the release of his beat tape entitled "Swap Meet" with Tacoma's beatmaker elite QuiVive, both repping the Filthy Finger's United squadron. The tape is available both online from the above link, as well as in the form of an elegantly packaged cassette (see our cake rendition of this to the right, shouts to Cheeks One on the baking and Hailstorm on the fondant), and is an enthralling auditory experiment in sampling and creativity. Be sure to cop that!

On the emcee tip we were elated to have Paradame, the songstress/emcee femme fatale from Audiodose crew, who also recently dropped an album entitled Rebel's Advocate. Paradame, who was joined by her husband J. Lee (the two make up the group Active I) and vocalist Kara Dodsen, came with an impressive, highly polished set. Poet and emcee Nikkita Oliver who was in the crowd wrote, "Paradame's set was hot. Her beats were raw, and I loved how they hit hard with reggae and trap. She had a ton of stage presence. Not only can she spit, but she has some real nice vocals. I stayed with her through the entire set." Check out video from this set below!

Topping off the night was my Alpha Platoon brethren Asun, better known as Suntonio Bandanaz, who was joined on stage with the youngest member of our crew B-boy Zaim. Asun rocked the crowd like the Seatown bedrock he is, enchanting listeners with his trademark rapid fire style and ridiculously sharp crowd control. To sum up the night, our super special guest back in the town from Oakland, the Multi-Media Lab's Dione Johnson, wrote, "The Multi-Media Center was excited to see the resurrection of a communal space for culture, art, and community! Black Coffee definitely reflected the diversity and intersectionality of the artists, organizers, and cultures in Seattle. Black Coffee feels like a mesh of The Mecca, Hidmo, and Faire, with an overt Hip Hop energy! This is a good look for the town as these venues are some of the only places our youth artists can come to authentically practice and live their culture and art in a safe and supported space! And the homemade cassette tape cake was dope. The most important piece here is that the gap that Black Coffee is filling in the loss of these other venues [is critical in that] city-owned spaces and even in some cases, organization-owned spaces, do not lend themselves to young/new artists feeling free and supported in expressing, practicing, and living their art." Check out the video from this CHURCH! below.

The 8th Chapter of CHURCH! on April 13th was an equally engaging affair, and for this night, we were pumped to introduce the debut of vegan soul food from Jerm Dee's Mattie Belle Catering available for a modest $5 donation. The barbeque tofu and greens flew off the tables, in addition to the vegan biscuits donated by Brown Girl Bakery's Cheeks One. This new addition to CHURCH! is a perfect complement to your favorite all ages Hip Hop monthly, and we're going to keep it coming. Shouts out to Page One of Mean Mouse Designs/206 Zulu for hooking up the signage, and also big ups to Sic Ill, emcee/town documentarian for providing the photo album for this event. 

In the absence of Diogenes, who spent the 8th CHURCH! chilling in redwood trees, Araless of Black Magic Noize held down cohosting with me as we featured two other BMN/FFU staples Corn Dogg and Wizdumb on the beats. In lieu of an MPC due to technical challenges, Corn Dogg brought us a neck snapping vocal set with his characteristic off-the-chain energy, and Wizdumb, with his thoughtful, almost understated style (for the depth and potency of his music) provided the perfect balance for this, lacing the crowd with sophisticated bars before opening up the mic for emcee audience members to cypher on his magnetic beats. Gotta love these guys and the breadth of styles this crew incubates.

Our emcee line up was also rich for the 8th CHURCH! Opening up the evening was Dakota, who seamlessly intertwined emcee excellence with indigenous tradition. Tabitha, who was in attendance wrote, "It was beautiful to see Dakota, a young warrior rising, have the space to share his work which is so important in renewing culture and spreading positivity and power." Next up was another native artist Tiny Lokota aka Ananya Dreamwalker, who for her debut performance brought an entourage of artists including OG Native, Kali Redbone, and JG to rock with her, which we love. They most certainly made their mark, and we will definitely be welcoming them back in the near future. 

Wrapping up this CHURCH!, we were very fortunate to have a town original, Yirim Seck, taking the place of his Black Aries brother LaRue who couldn't join us. (Don't worry, he'll be back for a make-up show in the near future, so stay tuned!). Jazmyn Scott, owner of The Town Entertainment, blessed CHURCH! with her presence for this event, and had this to say about the performance: "Yirim, in my opinion, happens to be one of the dopest emcees in the Town. A skilled and seasoned entertainer, with well thought out content that often pays homage to not only this city where he resides, but also Senegal, the country from which his family originates. [As the headliner] Yirim was well worth the wait. He came through immediately engaging the crowd and blessing us with his impeccable flow over unique beats. It was just what I needed to cap off a beautiful day in Seattle."

For more pictures from Sic Ill from this event, visit this album here, and enjoy the video with performances from Paradame and Asun shot and edited by Charles Conatzer below. We'll see you May 11th for CHURCH! The Warrior Tour Takeover. GHOST!

CHURCH! March9th from Charles Conatzer on Vimeo.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Story of a Show: Native Hip Hop Showcase at Daybreak Star

On March 7th, 2014, I had the honor of joining Sista Hailstorm and a host of other Native Hip Hop artists at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center for a powerful event and showcase. Drawing together elders, families, and youth, the gathering featured sets from a broad base of indigenous artists from all over the region and beyond including Jacmov Jay T, Tiny Lokota, G-Field, Native Styles 1, Mista Chief, Stryk-9, M.U.S.T I Mind, Salish Son, and Epidehmik and Phillosphy, with DJ Too Quick holding down the tables for the night and Shigg Says Radio holding down interviews and a live broadcast of the show. The 206 Zulu Shakas lent their support for security, and host of the evening was Lady Belknap, emcee and organizer of the night.

Deeper than your average Hip Hop show, this event occurred on the eve of the 44th anniversary of the militant, grassroots reclamation of the land and space which is now Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, and the significance of this was not lost on attendees. Prior to the event, Lady Belknap convened a circle of introductions, blessings, and thanks for all involved. Amidst burning sage, traditional song, and the exchange of gifts, staff, elders, artists, and volunteers went around and shared their backgrounds, stories, and gratitude. Particularly moving for me were the words of Pam Nason Kia/Elder at United Indians. As a
close friend of the late Bernie Whitebear who spearheaded the reclamation, Pam has worked with the center since its inception and the depth of her connection to the space and its legacy was apparent as she spoke. Through teary eyes, she thanked everyone for our presence, for breathing life back into the struggling Daybreak Center, and for the inspiration and promise of better days to come through solidarity, mutual support, and community building. 

Below is an interview I did with Lady Belknap on the origins of this event, its impact and the intersections of culture, struggle, Hip Hop, and decolonization. A more thorough write up on the performance aspect of this showcase by Ramona Ridgewell, along with more photos from the show is available here

JULIE C: What was your vision for this event?

LADY BELKNAP:  My vision for the Native American Hip Hop Concert was to showcase Native rappers to the Northwest publically, including myself, Lady Belknap. Never did I dream that this event would be so publicized and there would become a demand in the state of Washington for more Native Hip Hop concerts in the future because of this event. Initially, I simply wanted to help keep the doors of the United Indians/Daybreak Star open because they were about to foreclose on the property and lose everything. I had a strong burden in my heart to help and do something, anything no matter how small the effort was. From the time I pitched the idea to United Indians to have an All-Native American Hip Hop Benefit Concert line up, a big check came in to help keep the doors open at Daybreak Star. Therefore the concert then became a fundraiser effort for the Seafair Pow Wow, which needed money to happen this year as well. 

JC: How does Hip Hop relate to the legacy of struggle at Daybreak and to that of first peoples in general?

LB: If you read my Lady Belknap Profile, you will see that my music is a story of the evil that has happened to Native American People over the generations since Assimilation of First Americans-Native American People in North America.  Daybreak Star/United Indians struggle to stay open is pretty much the story of Native Americans simply trying to stay alive and exist for generations.  To me personally, this is completely mind-blowing that we as a First Nations people would have to fight to live and thrive because we were here in the United States long before it ever was a country.  The struggle at Daybreak is no different than the struggle of Native American Populations all across America today and in the past.  Our people seem to have to fight just to stay alive and exist as sovereign nations as promised in many treaties in the past.

Indian Health Services Statistics say that Native Americans have at least 100-300% higher rates than other races in suicide, domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy, high school dropout, drug/alcohol abuse, death to preventable things like car wrecks, diabetes complications, etc.  The unemployment rates are usually in the 90th percentile on most Indian Reservations in the U.S. Native American Children put in foster homes in this nation is sort of an epidemic.  This is sad to know that the indigenous people of this nation have such oppression in this day and age.

Native American Hip Hop has become an outlet for Indian rappers, emcees, singers, and so forth to have an outlet to their pain and frustration, like mine personally about Native American People’s conditions today.  Hip Hop has also become an outlet that Native Artists can actually have a career in music when no other options are available.  The Native Rappers/Emcees can use their God-Given Talents to showcase to the world professionally in Hip Hop.  You will find there are so many Native American’s with talent in Hip Hop and simply need a helping hand to show case their talent, encourage them, and point them in positive directions to success.  This is what the Native American Hip Hop Benefit Concert at Daybreak Star was about to Lady Belknap, the host and performer.  The traditional Native American Way is to help others, especially your own people and this was the underlying motto.

JC: What made you reach out to 206 Zulu shakas to hold down security force?

LB: I had been networking via Facebook with 206 Zulu for a very long time.  There were many in time that I grew to know on a professional level in a two years time concerning Hip Hop in the Puget Sound.  I had been watching 206 Zulu for some time and started going to their events with my family when invited or when I saw them taking place.  Many 206 Zulu Members told me that they would always be of any assistance for my rap career and all I had to do was ask.  I kept this in the back of my mind for the future.

I attended the 10th Anniversary Zulu Event on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2014, and was blown away by what I saw! Sista Hailstorm is a rapper who I only saw on Youtube before, but have been wanting to watch perform live was spitting on stage with Julie C, and they tore that stage up with fire on that microphone!  I WAS EXCITED!  So when it came time for the line-up to be chosen for the Native American Hip Hop Line-Up to be chosen at Daybreak Star, the first performer that came to my mind was Sista Hailstorm

When I went to the 206 Zulu 10th Anniversary I witnessed so much love, compassion, caring, and family values I ever saw at a Hip Hop Event.  I saw a lady rapping on stage with a baby on her back! [Olisa 'Spyc-E' Enrico] I NEVER WITNESSED SOMETHING SO BEAUTIFUL IN HIP HOP! In my mind and heart, I had to collaborate with 206 Zulu on behalf of Daybreak Star/United Indians because I knew they could teach us how to be unified and love each other on that kind of level in time as I witnessed on Valentine’s Day of all days!  I was introduced to King Khazm by Miss Jocie Hamilton, 206 Zulu Member from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.  I’m from Montana too and had been networking with her for a long time via Facebook and met her for the first time in person that night. 

I also saw Sista Hailstorm acting as security at the 206 Zulu 10th Anniversary Event and had approached her about being security for our event at Daybreak as well.  I know that Sista Hailstorm is very traditional and cultural in the Native American Ways and I knew I could count on her and 206 Zulu to carry that same respect and reverence as an artist and as security at the Daybreak Star Facility.  We were also on a zero budget as well, and I knew that 206 Zulu would be empathetic to help and volunteer their time and services.  

I had been watching DJ Too Quick aka Back Pack Chris spin for about a year and a half at Columbia City Theatre and was very impressed with his skills and professionalism which is why I asked him to participate as a DJ, and he said yes immediately.  I didn’t know that he is Native American from Alaska as well.  I was very shocked and very happy that he was the disc jockey who represented the 1st Nations as well.  The audience loved DJ Too Quick as did the volunteers and rappers.

Shigg Says Radio was broadcasting the event live and I had asked him because of his DEEP love and reverence for Underground Hip Hop and a friend was very impressed with his skills and the way he works well with people.  He’s a person who loves to exhort and lift others up with a positive mental attitude always!  I chose to ask Shigg because of these things.  Of course, he was excited to broadcast the show live and had so many interviews that he could barely keep up!  I watched him at the Native Hip Hop Benefit Concert as excited as a little kid in a candy store or toy store, haha.  J  Shigg wants to follow all of the artists who performed Native and Non-Native in our careers.

My vision for this Native American Hip Hop Fund-Raising Concert surpassed anything I had initially envisioned.  I’m excited to take the contacts and team mates I gained and do something with hip hop professionally not only in the Puget Sound in Seattle, but in Washington State and all over Indian Country in North America!  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recap of CHURCH!'s Half B-Day Plus Preview

The next CHURCH! is coming up on Sunday, and we have another power packed line up to bring you. On the beatmaker end, we are featuring our very own Diogenes who will be joined by Tacoma-based QuiVive. The duo will be rocking sets from their freshly released dually produced beat tape entitled Swap Meet, an auditory experiment in what happens when two creative minds breath new life into same samples. On the emcee tip, we have the lovely Paradame, queen pin of the Audiodose crew rocking tracks from her newly released album Rebel's Advocate, and town legend Asun, pioneering Seattle spitter from 206 Zulu/Alpha P. We hope you make it out to this event. If you missed last month's service, here's what went down with links to the photo album, stills from video shot by our dear friend Charles C.

First of all, shouts to Mariam, who expanded the CHURCH! repertoire this month by bringing us
a live painting backdrop to the evening. We opened up the night with Nikolai Kookesh, a unique beatmaker who brought us a spectacular out of the box set that set the stage of cypher sessions beautifully. February's cypher champs included DoNoMal, Raven, Mannotone, Madshroom, Rico, Dakota and more. Gregory Cypher of Kung Fu Grip dropped a few bars with us as well. 

This was followed up by a brief but powerful set by Revels, and the cypher was then reignited to slaps by Vaughnilla, hailing from FFU and Black Magic Noize crew, who opened up the mic during his vibrant instrumental set. 

Last but certainly not least was a set from the phenomenal Militant Child, a powerful sister who had the crowd captivated from the beginning to the end of her set. With intelligent, witty rhymes that challenge the paradigms of the status quo, and a stage presence that commands the attention of even the most indifferent eyes and ears, Mili definitely left her mark on CHURCH! and we were happy to have here. I'll let her set speak for itself with the video below.

Below are some more photos from February 9th, 2014's CHURCH! Check out the full album HERE. Enjoy, and I hope you will join us this Sunday, March 9th, for our next event. As always a big special thanks to the comrades at Black Coffee Coop for allowing us to share the space every month, as well as a huge thanks to the overworked and under-recognized squadron of volunteers at Seattle Community Media Lab for holding down the sound and more recently the lighting and other special effects for CHURCH! We love you all.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

CHURCH! The 5th Chapter: Photos and Summary

CHURCH! kicked off 2014 with another excellent coming together of amazing artists and energies. Again, thanks as always to the wonderful crew of Seattle Community Media Lab for going ALL OUT this month with lights, soundboard recording, lasers, and haze machines, to our new wonderful officially unofficial photographer/videographer the talented Charles Conatzer, and to the good people at Black Coffee Coop. All the photos in this blog are by Charles, and there will be video up soon. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, we lost the audio from the event, but definitely be looking for that in upcoming CHURCH! events as we are certain to work through the kinks and bring you some solid coverage in the very near future. Let's run down a little replay of our features and what they brought to the table.

We opened the night with another Filthy Fingers United beatmaker K-E-L, who really set the bar high, and by reports of attendees was an impressive kick off for the evening. My co-host/organizer Diogenes said, "K-E-L brought quite the array of 404 weirdness. Apparently he's like a master on the SP-404 forums, as Wiz told me. It shows in his performance, he seemingly plays loops/sounds/what-have-you at random but there's definitely a process behind it." I also asked previous CHURCH! performers the emcee and beatmaker duo Sendai and Era what they thought. Mike Sendai wrote, "K-E-L's set really exemplified what FFU and CHURCH! is about: Timeless hip hop. His style is very progressive and innovative while still staying true to traditional production techniques and textures." Enrico Era added, "The set that K-E-L put on really had this grimy and dark vibe to it, that was pretty captivating for  the whole performance. The whole feeling was heavy and raw, even the transitions. I was pretty much vibing out to the images he was making the entire time."
Up next we had a super unique set from emcee Zen Seizure, a self-described stage and video game addict. When he took the mic and announced he was about to perform an entire set on the latter, I didn't quite believe him. But he did. And by the end of the set, his unique charisma and awkward charm had the crowd in stitches. This young man is truly hilarious. The set started off slow, and reached a crescendo with a track where he invited two friends to come rock with him, the chorus of which went: 
"My mage got a cute face, My archer got a nice body/ And they just wanna level up, this is my type of party/ RPG's are my hobby, I've played over 25 probably/ There's no drinking, no smoking, this is my type of party!" 
I asked my brother emcee Korvus Blackbird his thoughts on Zen. Korvus, in his typical poetic prose wrote, "His lyrics flew down from a perch to land in my dome, brought me home as kid in front the TV playing Pong and Atari."

Next up in line was thad wenachee, a beat maker I've had the pleasure of sharing a line up with in the past. In the words of Enrico Era, "his set was straight on that classic hip hop shit. Hella clean, and kept you engaged throughout. The vibe just kept my head nodding and held that feeling of vibing out throughout the performance. I just geek out on how producers are able to work live and create like that on stage." Mike Sendai added that thad brought "a classic boom bap sound. He's not jumping on any trends or flavor of the month styles like many contemporary producers.

We topped off the night with the bold and fierce, Lady P, who's modest set of only three songs still left quite the impact. As a spitter myself, I'm definitely partial to women who come hard on the mic, and Lady P is certainly an inspiring example of this. Her hard hitting, unapologetic, but simultaneously thoughtful tracks moved the crowd and got people dancing. Korvus Blackbird the ever eloquent wrote, "I witnessed round brown close to the ground emcee. She brought power and insight to the light she shined through the mic at CHURCH! last night. I viscerally enjoyed the supreme expression of a culture.

Afterwards, we got a little sample of a track from my brother Must I Mind, who is upping his chop game superbly. Be looking out for a feature set from him sometime this year. And then of course the cyphers were popping. To beats by Diogenes, our stars of the cypher this month were certainly Korvus Blackbird, Rico Era, Shredded Wheat and a number of CHURCH! regulars I have to apologize for being unable to shout out by name. In fact, the cyphers this month continued an hour past our sound breakdown and were still in occurence when I left to catch my bus home around 11pm. I love it. 

Please join us Feb 9th for the next CHURCH! where we will feature the talented Militant Child and Revels on the mic, and also the wonderful Vaughnilla and Nikolai Kookesh on the beats. 

Enjoy photos below from Charles Conatzer, and we should have some creatively pieced together footage from him shortly!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

CHURCH! Bringing 2013 to a Divine End

What can I say, other than I am so grateful and appreciative of all the artists, producers, (especially my co-organizer/host Diogenes and our official beat making sponsors from the magnanimous Filthy Fingers United mega crew), family and friends new and old, and whoever else has made CHURCH! what it is. Although I am a bit behind in my updates, I wanted to share with those who didn't make it a hasty summary of what went down in November and December, and also provide a glimpse into what you can look forward to in 2014. But before that, special shouts out to Seattle Community Media Lab for taking their time to support the sound for this and many other important grassroots efforts of creative resistance and direct action all over our region. I'd like to mention that the Lab is in dire straits, and is in need of support from the community it gives so much to in order to keep their services free and available to all. Please consider making a sustainer-ship monthly donation, however big or small you can afford, to help this important all volunteer crew keep their rent paid and their doors open to all. Every little bit helps when we're running on the fuel of community self-determination.

November CHURCH!: The Black Magic Noize TAKEOVER!

In keeping it really real, our November installation of our monthly extravaganza was our most popping CHURCH! to date, thanks to our comrades from the Black Magic Noize brigade. It had to be at least 200 people deep inside and out on our corner of Capitol Hill. Black Magic Noize is an amazing collective of emcees, producers, graf writers, organizers, engineers, and whatever other hats that one could wear. They bring an incredible energy to each and every space they bless, and are tremendously genuine, humble, and talented people, so we were more than happy to hand them the reigns for our November Sunday evening at Black Coffee. In addition, we were lucky to have the talented photographer Charles Conatzer take some flicks for us, and he captured the moments beautifully. Enjoy the gallery here.

Mosh Pit Action, Black Magic Noize

We opened up this night with BMN's own Nocturnal, emcee and producer, who laced us some beats to freestyle and vibe to, and 
followed this up with a set from the vibrant and talented emcee, singer, and spiritual motivator Lovely Bringer of the Sun. After that, we were fortunate to get a solo set from Wizdumb, another producer/emcee visionary behind the monthly live producers event Pad Pushers, at Vermillion (don't miss the upcoming one of these January 19th!). Wiz's album Basementality was recently named one of the top works in 206 Hip Hop in 2013 by The Stranger weekly, so don't skip out on listening to that joint. Then started the madness. BMN's Araless, Madshroom MC, and DJ Corn Dogg took the the mic and damn near started a riot in the spot. If you don't believe me, here's the photographic evidence again. Told you. Big shouts to all of you again for making that happen. It was unbelievable.

December CHURCH!: Spyc-E, Akira Guatama, Sendai and Era, and SeanyCee

We also had an incredible line-up to wrap up our 2013 for our 4th installation of CHURCH! We were blessed to start off this evening with a short set from Si Dåko'ta Alcantara-Camacho, well known and loved Seattle poet, emcee, and organizer, who shared with us his music, and also told us about the important Our Islands Are Sacred Campaign, an effort launched in response to the U.S. military plans to expand training and testing activities in the Mariana Islands, the indigenous lands of his people. Be sure to click like on that link to stay abreast of the important activities going on in the continuous and multidimensional struggle towards decolonization. 

Dåko'ta was followed up by producers SeanyCee and Akira Gautama, bringing us both beats to vibe with and rhymes to hear out. After that we had a special treat, a set from the one and only Seattle legend, Spyc-E, who has been rockin' the mic for almost 20 years. Olisa "Spyc-E" Enrico has participated in and won emcee battles, and represents women in hip hop wherever she is. She has performed both nationally and internationally. With her son strapped to her chest, guarded by a set of ear mufflers, she blew away the crowd at Black Coffee with her powerful presence, moving vocals, and wise words. Word has it this 206 vet has a new album in the kitchen ready to be served, so be sure to stay on the look at for some new music from her in 2014! 

Finally, we wrapped up the night with the first time ever debut performance from the up and coming duo Sendai & Era. Now. We all know Seattle is potent with great music from fresh young artists, but I am not joking when I say these two truly are something to watch for in 2014. They are AMAZING. With live beats being pounded out, diverse cadences and impressive style-flipping, and
THOROUGH political content and radical wisdom beyond their years, they are sure to be making a noticeable impact on the scene very soon. When you start hearing about them, remember I told you first. Also special shouts to Raven and DoNorMal for coming and rocking a track as well to Grayskul from the legendary Oldominion crew for making a guest appearance, and to everyone that touched the mic and shared their spirit and energy in this space from day one. THANK YOU!

Be sure to join us for our New Year's edition of CHURCH! January 12th 7-10pm featuring emcees Lady P, and Zen Seizure, and beatmakers K-E-L, Thad Wenatchee, and some special features (MustIMind, and maybe more.) This is Joule Sea signing off. See ya soon, Seattle.