Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for June 2011

Rapper Black Bobby on rhyming, running for office

June 30, 2011 - 12:00 PM

The list of rappers who've aspired to political careers is pretty short: Uncle Luke (who ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County), Rhymefest (who ran for 20th Ward Alderman in his native Chicago), and Wyclef Jean (who briefly toyed with running for president of his home country of Haiti) come to mind. But the list of political aspirants-turned-MCs is even shorter: D.C. native Black Bobby could well be the only one.

The Northwest native, whose given name is Larry Harris, went to Georgetown Prep, then Tufts University, and, with four college friends, started the non-profit United Leaders, a fellowship program for young people interested in running for public office (Harris has called it the "City Year of politics"). Later, after finishing up grad school at Harvard, working in management consulting, and looking to start a political career, music called. 

"My brother was doing hip-hop beats and trying to start a label, but he didn't have a lot of business experience — I did," Harris says. "He asked me to start the label with him, and along the way I started rapping, as a way to market it, because there were no MCs on the label at that time. I moved to Miami to help my brother three years ago, and since then I've been doing music on my own."

Now a full-time hip-hop artist based in Miami, Harris gives his first-ever D.C. show tonight at the Wonderland Ballroom, as part of the regular Cake and Kisses party. Even though music is his focus these days, Harris says hip-hop success isn't his end goal, but a means to extend his political reach. He hopes to be successful enough as an MC to one day run for office outside of the two-party system.

"I always wanted to run as an independent, but you had to have money to run as an independent," he says. "So, I'm hoping that, musically, I can establish myself as enough of a presence to become an independent politician one day."

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Tonight: Jared Ball's 'I Mix What I Like!: A Mixtape Manifesto' at Busboys and Poets

June 29, 2011 - 02:42 PM

About 10 years ago, I first noticed FreeMix Radio CDs showing up in the lobby of the building I worked in at the time. As quickly as Dr. Jared Ball would drop the copies off, they'd be snatched up by people hungry for his thoughtful mix of political message and dope hip-hop--part black lecture tape, part impeccably curated DJ mix.

FreeMix Radio was, and is, a testament to the power of the homemade mixtape, so Ball is the best possible author for a book like I Mix What I Like!: A Mixtape Manifesto. It is neither a sentimental first-person account of making mixes, nor a nuts-and-bolts history of the form, both of which have been done before. It's a exploration of political control over popular music--hip-hop in particular--and how blend tapes can be important tools of revolution, perhaps even more powerful now than in the 1980's, at the height of the medium's popularity.

Ball gives a multimedia presentation and book signing tonight at the 14th Street, NW Busboys and Poets. All author royalties from book sales go to work supporting political prisoners, and every copy comes with a companion mixtape, available in both physical and digital form. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free.

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Rapper Sketch's porcine tribute to Jay-Z

June 29, 2011 - 01:00 PM
Sketch, in black-and-white Reasonable Doubt mode.

Seems like the anniversary of every notable TV show, movie, album, and single is celebrated these days, but the 15th anniversary of Jay-Z's classic 1996 album Reasonable Doubt slipped by unnoticed by most. Virginia rapper Sketch was one of the few who remembered the June 26 milestone, and marked the occasion by re-releasing his track "Am I Pigg," a reworking of "Can I Live," which is considered by many to be Reasonable Doubt's standout track. 

"Am I Pigg" was originally done for Inner Loop Records' 2009 Reasonable Doubt remix project. "Right now, we're actually in middle of the push for the new album, Virginia Tec-9, but because this past Saturday was the 15th anniversary of Reasonable Doubt, we decided to put [the track] out in honor of that," Sketch says.

"I had the cassette--I was in about the 9th grade when it came out--and I wore it out," Sketch says of listening to the album when it debuted. "This was around the time that New York hip-hop was really where it was at, and it was just a dope time for music. Jay was bringing something new to the table--he was a real slick-talking dude, but he also had skills."

The title of Sketch's Jay-Z homage also takes him back to his youth. "My real name is Matt McGuiney, so everybody called me 'pig,' which is short for 'Guiney pig'. It's a childhood nickname, my friends still call me it," he says. "I was thinking how to flip the 'Can I Live' track, and things that rhymed with it, and I came up with 'Am I Pigg.' I thought it would be funny--add a little comedy, but still have a story behind it."

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Vote for the 'DMV's Next Star'

June 28, 2011 - 09:40 AM
Chillin' like Gods'Illa.

The local talent competitions just keep on coming: The latest area contest for aspiring entertainers is DMV's Next Star, sponsored by 93.9 WKYS

Several hundred hopefuls were winnowed down to a group of just 12 finalists during performances at Ibiza nightclub on June 24. Between now and July 8, you can help pick a winner by voting for your favorite act (videos of the Ibiza performances are online).

The winner gets a single recording contract, the chance to perform at Russ Parr’s Splash Bash at Six Flags America, and studio time courtesy of Omega Studios in Rockville, Md.

The 12 finalists are:

Rapper Lonnie G

Singer Ari Lennox

Hip-hop trio Gods'Illa

Rapper M-Burb

Singer Mike Love

Producer/rapper Nate the Great

Hip-hop duo Over 21

Rapper QP

Rapper Ra the MC

Rapper Sonhe Hott

Rappers Two One

Singer/dancer/actress Atia

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Beyoncé, Big Sean, Selena Gomez: New releases

June 28, 2011 - 06:30 AM
Beyonce performing at UK's Glastonbury Festival (Photo:AP)

New music to buy/stream/steal.

Beyoncé, 4

The Internet says:"[W]hether it was intentional or not, '4' puts Beyoncé in the company of other pop greats who have used that same number to celebrate their respective arrivals at new creative summits. Gap Band, Zapp and Led Zeppelin each released enduring 'IV' albums that memorialized some of their finest hours. Beyoncé’s “4” won’t go down in the books like that." (Washington Post)

Watch: Bey's headlining set (which included songs from 4) at Glastonbury:

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Tonight: J*Davey at Black Cat

June 27, 2011 - 03:20 PM

Some strange facts about Evil Christian Cop, the new EP from Los Angeles duo J*Davey, which is best (but not ideally) classified as an electro-funk act:

*The title of Evil Christian Cop is inspired by the acting work of Clarence Williams III.

*They've managed a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that doesn't completely suck.

*They've managed to borrow liberally from Suzanne Vega and create something that doesn't completely suck.

 *All of the tracks sound great live.

J*Davey is at Black Cat tonight; Elevator Fight (yes, that's the "Zoe Kravitz band" opens. 8 p.m. $15-18

Also tonight: the first Fort Reno concert of the season (if it doesn't get rained out!); a special Marvin Gaye edition of Marvin Mondays; Fucked Up at Rock & Roll Hotel.

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Free would like you to focus on her work, not her backside

June 27, 2011 - 01:40 PM

All of Twitter's trending topics were BET Awards-related last night, but an especially strange one occupied the top spot for most of the evening: #Freesass. The backside of the newly local radio personality for WPGC 95.5 (and former 106th and Park host) Marie "Free" Wright was the talk of the ceremony. There were tons of Twitpics. There was video footage. There's already an animated GIF.

"There's some people in Amsterdam getting high talking about your ass right now!" Big Tigger, Free's co-host on the Big Tigger Morning Show on PGC, said this morning, as the pair discussed last night's fuss. The duo got some laughs out of the situation, but Free said that she felt very conflicted about the attention.

"I'm embarrassed...I feel admired. Objectified. Celebrated. Hated on like a mug. Flattered. Reduced a little bit. Loved. Stereotyped a little. But I'm proud--I feel beautiful and strong, and it's just who I am," she said.

Free directed her fans to visit her website and check out a song she wrote several years ago called "She," in which she talks about feeling that sometimes people are paying close attention to her body, but aren't focused enough on her work.

'It's a compliment, but no one said anything about the work I did last night," she said this morning.

(via DJ Heat)

Listen to Free's remarks in full:


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The DMV at the BET Awards

June 27, 2011 - 10:45 AM
Taraji Henson at last night's BET Awards (Photo:AP)

Beyoncé couldn't be bothered to actually show-up to last night's BET Awards,  but D.C. residents were consoled by the presence of many of our local artists at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles last night.

Big Tigger and Free, former BET personalities and current radio hosts on local station WPGC 95.5, were on the red carpet and handled the all-important "after-show" interviews for their former employer.

Video girl-turned-MC Lola Monroe was nominated in the Best Female Hip-Hop Artist category, but the Garfield Terrace native lost to Nikki Minaj.

Wale was shut out--literally. reported that he couldn't get in initially, and had to sweet-talk his way into the Shrine.

Southeast born, P.G.-bred actress Taraji Henson presented the first award of the night and told a pretty funny joke about Rep. Anthony Weiner that totally bombed.

And, in case you missed the whole thing: BET will be replaying the awards about 10 times a day for the next month, as we all know, but if you wanna check it out right now, formidable (D.C.-based!) gossip blog the YBF has rounded up all of the night's red carpet photos and performance videos.

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Weekend concerts: Dinosaur Jr., Prince Royce, LTJ Bukem

June 24, 2011 - 03:00 PM
Prince Royce, looking princely. (Publicity photo)

Saturday, Dinosaur Jr. at the 9:30 Club

Hey, were you not able to get a babysitter last time Dinosaur Jr. was in town?  You're in luck, person who came of age in the late '80s/early 90s! J. Mascis and Co. are back at the 9:30 Club (with OFF! and Henry Rollins, who will interview the band onstage as part of the show). $30.

Sunday, Prince Royce at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds

Bachata royalty! The Dominican singer, who is touring with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull this fall, will be performing songs such as his Spanglish remake of "Stand By Me," as part of radio station El Zol's Verano Zol Fest. $20.

Sunday, LTJ Bukem at U Street Music Hall

If, like me, you've long thought that it would be amazing to go to U-Hall and see drum'n'bass DJ/producer LTJ Bukem, and then walk across the street to eat at Dukem, this may be your ONLY CHANCE. $10-15.

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Tickets on sale for 'Rock'n'Roar'

June 24, 2011 - 10:30 AM
The B52s (publicity photo)

The National Zoo is getting in on the summer concert season fun with the outdoor show Rock'n'Roar. Tickets are now on sale for the event, which takes place August 10 on the grounds of the zoo.

The B-52s are headlining the show and, as great as they are, it seems a strange choice. If they were tapped to play an Air and Space Museum fundraiser, sure, but why Rock'n'Roar? What, no bands with animal names were available?

No Animal Collective? Fleet Foxes? Motherwolf? Gorillaz? Grizzly Bear? Modest Mouse? Seal? Black Crowes? Counting Crows? Even the Beastie Boys could work. The possibilities are endless. 

But don't let the somewhat incongruous band/venue match-up keep you from enjoying a good time. Tickets are $50 for Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) members, $60 for the general public, and available through Ticketmaster.

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Download: Get ready for D.C. Carnival

June 23, 2011 - 03:00 PM

Saturday is the start of D.C.'s 19th annual Caribbean Carnival! To get you in the mood for the festivities (which include a parade, live music, and Caribbean food from a variety of local vendors), the sound system Kingbless Sound and DJ Schemes have put together the D.C. Carnival Mixtape, which is filled with the sort of music (Vybz Cartel, Beenie Man) you'll likely hear pumping up and down Georgia Avenue, NW all weekend. 

Get the mixtape here.

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U2 at M&T Bank Stadium: By the numbers

June 23, 2011 - 12:00 AM
Please enjoy this low-quality iPhone photo of last night's show!

As predicted, traffic in the area surrounding M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore was a complete nightmare last night, as swarms of U2 fans made their way to the venue. And, as also predicted, the heat and humidity were absolutely oppressive (it didn't rain, though!). But once an estimated 80,000 people actually got inside of the home of the Baltimore Ravens, and the sun went down, and the biggest rock band in the world finally took the stage, people seemed to have a pretty good time. For straight reviews of the show, check here, here, and here. For a quick recap of the concert, by the numbers, read on:

Number of minutes spent on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway trying to get to the show: 90

Number of vendors dangerously hawking U2 shirts in the middle of the street on the roads leading to the stadium: 2

Number of people on the general admission floor: 8000, according to one stadium volunteer.

Number of people on the floor wearing khaki shorts and flip-flops: 7,956, approximately.

Number of small novelty Irish flags on display: dozens

Number of Irish flags large enough to wrap around three average-sized adults: 3

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Tonight: Concerts that have nothing to do with Sade or U2

June 22, 2011 - 02:00 PM
LaBrassBanda: They're not U2, but they are a band from Europe! (publicity photo)

Don't want to get snarled in gridlock traffic around M&T Stadium in Baltimore tonight just to see U2? No desire to push onto capacity Metro cars at Gallery Place, even to see Sade at the Verizon Center? Or maybe you just don't have (or want) tickets to either show?

Not to worry—those aren't the only music events happening around the region this evening.  There's also...

Bavarian hipster horns! The innovative Balkan five-piece LaBrassBanda is at Strathmore, as part of its summer outdoor concert series, tonight.

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James 'Jimmy Henchman' Rosemond's D.C. past

June 22, 2011 - 10:30 AM

Music manager James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond has been in the news a lot lately: Yesterday he was arrested in New York by DEA agents for his alleged participation in a cocaine-distribution ring, and earlier this month, convicted murderer Dexter Isaac claimed that Rosemond hired him to rob Tupac Shakur in 1994 The robbery and non-fatal shooting of Shakur at Quad City Studios that year is widely acknowledged as the incident that kicked off the East Coast/West Coast rap beef of the 1990s.

Rosemond also has a history of legal troubles in the D.C. area.

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'Soul Train' items that should be in the Smithsonian's collection

June 21, 2011 - 03:00 PM
The conductor of the Soul Train, Don Cornelius. (AP photo)

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the National Museum of African American History and Culture will soon receive some Soul Train memorabilia. The museum is getting five donations, including a neon sign that was used on the syndicated music show from 1993 to 2006.

The acquisition will be formally announced June 30, Jacqueline Trescott reported, at a special panel discussion and dance party during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The people at the African-American History Museum and folks behind Soul Train definitely know from precious cultural artifacts, but here are a few humble suggestions for Soul Train items that would bring people out to the museum in droves.

1) The Soul Train scramble board

This is very necessary.

2) A lock of Cheryl Song's hair

Who is Cheryl Song, you ask? What if I told you she's "the Asian lady with the long hair from Soul Train"--would that ring a bell? A couple of years ago, Soul Bounce found Song working as an executive assistant at the Transportation and Safety Association in Los Angeles. And yes, her hair is significantly shorter than it was when she was a Soul Train dancer.

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New releases: Jill Scott, Bon Iver, Pitbull

June 21, 2011 - 12:00 PM
Jill Scott (publicity photo).

New music to buy/stream/steal.

Jill Scott, The Light of the Sun

The Internet says: "Many songs on “The Light of the Sun” came out of studio jam sessions, and they’re springy with a sense of improvisation, both in the rhythms and in their elaborate vocal overlays. Ms. Scott’s songs draw on her circumstances as a musician — the new album starts with her announcing, “This is the last take of the night” — and the passions and travails she shares with Everywoman." (New York Times)

Watch: "Shame," featuring Eve and the A Group, the first single from the album.

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How Sweet the Sound returns to D.C.

June 21, 2011 - 10:15 AM
A choir competing in the 2009 HSTS. (Photo: Verizon)

Verizon has announced that its How Sweet the Sound gospel choir competition will return to D.C. this fall. The D.C.-area regional competition will take place Sept. 21 at the Verizon Center. Winners from nine regional contests will go on to compete in the How Sweet the Sound national finals, location and date still to be determined.

This year, the number of regional competitions has shrunk: There were 14 in 2010, this year, there are nine, meaning the D.C. regional contest includes choirs from further north than in previous years. A list of choirs competing in both the large and small choir categories on Sept. 21 are below. Tickets are $11-16 and go on sale July 1, through Ticketmaster.

Large choir category:

James E. Jordan, Jr. Adult Choir
Refreshing Spring Church of God in Christ
Riverdale, Md.

Voices of Victory Mass Choir
Victory Christian Center of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pa.

The Voices of Cedar Street
Cedar Street Baptist Church of God
Richmond, Va.

Divine Voices of Praise
Ark Church
Baltimore, Md.

Small/Medium choir category:

Vy Higginsen's Gospel for Teens Choir
Walker Memorial Baptist Church
Bronx, N.Y.

Powerfied Youth
Cathedral of Love Church Ministries Inc.
Salisbury, Md.

The Tribe Of Judah Choir
The Redeemed Christian Church Of God Victory Temple
Bowie, Md.

Abundant Life Fellowship Church of Edgewater Park, NJ
Edgewater Park, N.J.

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Magdalena Wór and Szabalcs Brickner at the Polish Embassy: A little wine, a little awkwardness, a lot of great music

June 20, 2011 - 03:41 PM

At the Polish Embassy on Friday, where Magdalena Wór and Szabolcs Brickner performed Polish and Hungarian songs, it was easy to feel a tad out-of-place if you were a person of color and/or under the age of 45. It was also easy to feel out of place if you didn’t like sitting thigh to thigh with strangers — in the embassy’s close quarters, the concept of a “personal bubble” seemed quaint.

As did most concert protocols. The atmosphere was welcoming, but quiet. Everyone spoke at just above a whisper. And with seats at $75, the temptation to flee to Adams Morgan instead was more than understandable.

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This week in live music: Hall & Oates, Sade, U2

June 20, 2011 - 01:00 PM

This week marks the official start of summer (June 21!) and, if the number of big-name acts coming to town is any measure, it also seems to be the official start of the summer concert season. Sade! U2! Hall and Oates, people!

Monday, Hall and Oates

Out of touch? Out of time? Never. The '70s/'80s duo performs at Wolf Trap (where else?) at 8 p.m. $25-45.

Wednesday, Sade

Beyoncé said in a recent Essence interview that one of the few times she has been starstruck in recent memory was when she got the chance to meet Sade, (also known as Helen Folasade Adu--Bey, like many others, called the singer by her group's name). So, in other words, Ms. Adu is your favorite singer's favorite singer, and the reclusive artist is at the Verizon Center, tonight, giving what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime show. 7:30 p.m. John Legend opens. $52.50-152.50.

Wednesday, U2

What's with the biggest, most successful rock band in the world exercising poor judgement lately? First, the involvement in Spiderman:Turn Off the Dark  and now, the decision to play M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore instead of FedEx field in Landover. Probably still worth seeing, though, eh? 8 p.m. $40-115.

Thursday, OK Go

OK Go's reputation as a group of viral video geniuses was recently tested when the group attempted to help Meredith, Matt, Ann, and Al of the Today Show create a hit viral video. So, it might be a good time to revisit with the musical, rather than visual, talents of the group, fronted by D.C. native Damian Kulash. 6 p.m. at Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. Free.

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R.I.P. Clarence Clemons, Amy Winehouse tour cancellations: Morning links

June 20, 2011 - 09:30 AM
AP Photo/Hillery Smith Garrison

Clarence Clemons, beloved member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and accomplished sax player in his own right, died Saturday. He was 69. Among the best tributes to Clemons: ESPN talks about his college football career at Maryland State College (now University of Maryland Eastern Shore) and Superbowl half-time show appearance and the Washington Post's obituary makes mention of his ties to Virginia's Tidewater region and Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Guess we shouldn't be holding out hope for an Amy Winehouse U.S. tour: A European comeback show over the weekend was labeled "the worst in the history of Belgrade." If she ever makes it to town, Courtney Love's "worst show in the history of D.C." title is in jeopardy.

People who are home during the day may be interested in the results of the Daytime Emmy Awards.

This is why your Friday sucked.

Green Lantern laid a box office smack down on that movie about penguins.

The Silverdocs film festival starts today--Washington City Paper has a comprehensive guide to the offerings.

Bob Mould's book is racking up the raves.

If you haven't already, read this piece on the '70s Adams Morgan spiritual-funk group Father's Children. And then check out their album release party tomorrow at Marvin.

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