Thursday, February 26, 2009

If Hip Hop Isn't Your Thing This Weekend...You Can Always Do...

Liberated Muse member GeminiVisions is the curator of the art exhibit that will take place at this fabulous event, When Harlem Came to Paris on Saturday, Feb. 28.

If you like dress-up and top-notch entertainment, this is the event you will most likely enjoy. You can don your best gear from the 1930's and come witness several local DC entertainers take on the persona of Black harlem renaissance players from the 1930's.

Come witness singer N'ea Posey portray Bessie Smith, dancer Holly Bass become Josephine Baker and poet Bassey Ikpi take on the persona of Marita Bonner. Poet Fred Joiner will become Wallace Thurman... It's a sure bet that you haven't experienced anything like this before.


Liberated Muse Member Miatta of Mimi's Boutique-Mix is having a FREE Couture Fashion Show in Crystal City, VA

Join Miatta at Crystal City Couture for her first trunk show and fashion show event!!!! And the best part? It's free, courtsey of Crystal City!!!

Her runway event is tentatively scheduled for 7.45pm to 8.30 pm.

The event starts at 6.00 pm with other designer trunk and runway shows.

Foxy and Fabulous Friday

Don't miss this opportunity to strut-your-stuff at this fantastic, Foxy Friday fete! Get into the evening's theme by sporting your best animal prints and stake out the trunk shows and sample sales. Nosh on animal crackers and sip Foxy Lemons, while Pamela's Punch knocks you out on the mic. So, let your animal instinct take over and lead you to this FREE event!

Featured Designers: moojoo ken, Gossip on 23rd, In The Bag, Analya, Caramel, Shelia Logan Designs, ADMK Designs, Mary Lazar Designs, Luxury Jeans and Handbags, Na'Zeem, Estella Couture, Current Boutique, Jewels for Schererazade, Alberto Parada Jewelry, Turtles Milk, Boutique Mix, Kokoon

Crystal City
2450 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA
Call 443-514-4141 for more info

A Hip-Hop Winning Weekend in DC

This weekend, for old-school hip hop lovers, Almaz Restaurant is getting the party started with old school hip hop on Friday Night dj'd by the female spinmaster DJ Earth 1ne. Serving authentic Ethiopian food and delicious drinks, gather your friends to come chill and reminisce as you enjoy the sounds.

On Saturday, during the day from 2pm-5pm, Hip Hop Cinema returns this month at the Historical Society Museum located on 7th & K in northwest DC. solSource is doing their thang this weekend as they present the hip hop cult hit The Freshest Kids which documents the lifestyle of hip hop dancers known as b-boys.

The 90-minute documentary is full of early history of the artform and features legendary dancers Crazy Legs and Ken Swift.

The Freshest Kids is the first documentary to explore the mostly unknown history of hip hop's first dance and its early pioneers.Known by many names—Breaking, Rocking, Burning, Going Off, B-Boying, Break Dancing—the style was born at DJ Kool Herc's South Bronx house parties in the early 70s, catapulted to worldwide fame in the 80s, and evolved through the 90s into its latest gravity-defying incarnation as a thriving underground movement.

After the film, you are invited to participate in an audience discussion with some of the best B-Boys, DJs and Emcees on the DC Hip Hop Scene. Kobie Nichols of Hot Topic TV/DCTV moderates.

Later that evening, don't forget to check out Saturday Night Live @ Almaz, featuring Farafina Kan starting and then Sunday, enjoy some stellar organic soul hip-hop by checking out the debut of the G-Spot.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vendors, Authors and Artists-- Sell Your Items in This Year's Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest

Last year's Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest was a musical celebration while vendors sold their products to eager to buyers. Book authors, including Felicia Pride-- writer of The Message and activist author Devin Walker were among some of the top authors who sold their books.
The 2009 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest will be held this year on Sat., July 25 in Marvin Gaye Park in Washington DC. While the musical acts are still being selected, vendors are able to reserve their tables now to receive our Early Bird Discount.
For more info, email us at

Farafina Kan On Stage This Weekend

Farafina Kan literally translates to the sound of Africa. Farafina Kan is a West African Percussion Orchestra dedicated to maintaining the history and integrity of traditional African music. Under the tutelage of international performing arts legends, Farafina Kan seeks to sustain the work initiated by these legends through professionalism, artistry, continual learning and proactive intergenerational transmission of African culture through music and movement.

This weekend, on Sat. Feb. 28 you can enjoy Farafina Kan as the perform the Farafina Experience at Almaz Restaurant & Lounge in Washington DC on historic U Street. Visit HERE for more information.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kuku and Christylez LIVE Tonight at Bohemian Caverns in DC

I tell anyone who will listen that I had a rare opportunity to work with the acoustic soul artist Kuku in early 2002 right before he emblazoned a mighty path as an independent solo artist. At the time, Kuku was a unique vocalist-- sans the guitar-- who infused Marvin and Al Green in his vocal stylings but had not yet created his signature sound we know now so well and love. He co-wrote the song "I'm High" featured on and performed by our defunct band Phreaknahdo, and has a whole host of lyrical credit to his name, mostly all of the songs that he performs originals from his brain to his pen. Since then, Kuku has performed across the country, been featured on film soundtracks and collaborated with many luminaries including the jazz soul vocalist Vinx.

Kuku will be performing tonight at the famous Bohemian Caverns on U street in DC-- the very street where Kuku grew his audience and honed his craft as an instrumentalist and vocalist. He will be performing with the incomprable Christylez in a two-man show. Visit Liberated Muse to get the details on the event.

IFE by KUKU (KUKULIVE.COM) from Ayoola Daramola on Vimeo.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This Weekend's Top Choices

The artist collective known as The Saartjie Project (pronounced Sar-key) is back again with a new show called R/Evolution: Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty. The show examines the politics surrounding the Black woman's body by using the life of Saartjie Baartman-- known as the Venus Hottentot--as the lens. Baartman lived in the 1800's, brought from Africa to Europe and caged in a traveling exhibit so people could examine her large butt and genital area. The fascinating story about her life is still largely unknown, but the known facts are astounding. This show weaves elements of Baartman's life into today's contemporary images of Black women--examining stereotypes and the inner-depths of Black womanhood.

An Adinkra Group Production, Hot Buttered Soul: A Musical Affair features the vocal stylings of Maimouna Youssef who was the featured vocalist on the Roots' 2006 hit "Don't Feel Right".

From the acerbic lyrics to the intense production to Maimouna Yousef's soulful crooning, everythingabout this song feels absolutely right," wrote Henry Adaso of after the single's release. Thesingle went on to be nominated for a Grammy nomination in 2007.

Youssef's appearance with The Roots led to performances throughout the U.S. and around the world as sheshared stages and swapped musical licks with such artists as: Angelique Kidjo, Brian Wilson’s band, BigDaddy Kane, Nas, Wilco, Zap Mama, Cody Chestnut, Martin Luther, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, andTalib Kweli.

Youssef rocked the stages of many renowned venues such as Denver Colorado ‘s Red RocksAmphitheater, New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, and Switzerland’s Moniteau Jazz Festival.

She will perform at Mirrors on Feb. 21 for a concert to include performances by jazz/soul vocalist AkuaKyerematin, and roots soul musician C. Love. The event is hosted by spoken word artist Bassey Ikpi of the HBO show "Def PoetryJam".

Show begins at 7pm and advanced tickets $20. Tickets can be purchased at


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New York Post Uses Their Amendment Rights to Offend & Insult

If you hadn't read or heard about this offensive cartoon, then, my question is where have you been?

Here's the ten-second rundown: NY Post Cartoonist drew the cartoon above referencing the recent Chimp attack and stimulus plan signing and people are pissed because the inference is that Obama is the dead chimp and the cartoonist and the Post are MIA (missing in action, duh) when the questions runneth forth. (exhale...that was a run-on sentence).

It's ignorant, yes. But, really. Don't we expect things like this? I mean, we are talking about a country that has newly elected a BLACK man after hundreds of years of enslavement of Black folk, followed by legal lynching, followed by legal segregation, followed by reverse-discrimination (wtf?), followed by racial profiling...etc., etc. This country is sick...sick in every sense of the word-- mentally, physically and spiritually.

Electing a Black man is a major deal because it never happened before. The plus is that Obama is really smart, is poised and not offensive. But, the reality is is that his election has not eradicated the racist tendencies of those who still hold supremacist views of black inferiority and a sense of entitlement that screams for attention.

While I will be blowing up the cartoonist's email address at or to ask him WTF he was thinking, I believe that his racist humor and the Post's disrespectful interpretation of the Bill of Rights makes it a little bit easier for us to keep focused on realizing that the quest to create change did not end with Obama's election, but instead, has only begun.

Here's more on the story HERE

He's Back, I'm Happy & Alls Good: Van Hunt

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness...I'm listening to new Van Hunt as I type. I visited Soul Commune after a long hiatus from the spot and lo and behold, to my elated soul, I found a large pic of Van Hunt accompanied by a link to a FREE download to some new music in honor of this past Valentine's Day.

I'm writing this review as I listen...I know, I said that. But, I'm heady. If you don't know why, I'll tell you why. Van Hunt is all that and then some. I am confident that all four downloaded songs are all that even before I finish typing.

Van Hunt is Sly Stone reloaded. He is funk and soul with a pinch of blues & rock. But heavy on the funk. Heavy. Hunt's first album, Van Hunt, was released in February 2004. (thanks Wikipedia for the date...I actually came across tunes from the CD in 2005). The album included the singles "Down Here in Hell (With You)", "Dust", and "Seconds of Pleasure", and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

Hunt's second album, On the Jungle Floor, was released in 2006. The album featured one of my favorite Van Hunt songs, the single, "Character," a revisited "Mean Sleep", as a duet with Nikka Costa, and a cover of "No Sense of Crime" by The Stooges.
Here is the free download playlist (with my mini feedback):
Next Year (reminds me very much of the vibe of Prince's Emancipation CD and I'm diggin it tremendously)
That's Where It's At ( a bluesy acoustic throwback)
Sexy Sexy (Classic Van Hunt)
Half the Fun (spoken word, sexy from the beginning, my second fave of the four)
Get your download by visiting Soul Commune or go directly to the download site HERE

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Punanny Poets: A Walk on the Wild Side

***Video Contains Adult Content***

I checked out the Punanny Poets this past weekend during a midnight show at the Crucible in Washington DC. The midnight show was available at the last minute due to the large response which resulted in the earlier 8pm show to be sold out within days.

I had heard of the Punanny Poets years ago and was aware of their appearance on HBO's popular show Real Sex. However, I had never seen them before this past weekend and had no idea about the story behind the show.

To begin, the show is put together by the poet in the video above-- Jessica Holter. A Howard University alum, Holter created the show in 1995 as a spectacle for Black women specifically to become engaged and entertained. In response to the staggering statistics that list Black women as the demographic getting AIDS above others, Holter was fully aware of the impact this news had on the sexuality of heterosexual Black women. Add on top of that, Holter told her audience last weekend, the prevalence of men who are on the "down low"-- having sex with men while in relationships with women-- Black women are really burdened and traumatized to the point of giving up on exploring or even feeding their sexual natures.

The Punanny Poets definitely gives voice to Black sexuality. And then some. It is kinky. It is crude and lusty. It is straight nasty most times. But, the show, always, is entertaining. Not for the prude or straight-laced, the show is definitely an expression like no other. After comparing my experience of the show with some girlfriends who have seen the show in other cities and at other times, I've learned that the show is also relative to the actors and poets who are performing.

During the show I attended last weekend, the poet LOVE who hails from Baltimore was one of the featured poets. She was, by far, the stand-out star of the night. Bo "MF" Ellis was also another stand-out. You can check out his trademark poem in the video below.

The 2009 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest will Feature New Liberated Muse Anthology

(above artwork by Sharon Burton,
a featured artist in
Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul)
Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul, the first literary anthology by Liberated Muse Productions will be the featured book during the 2009 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest on Saturday, July 25, 2009 in Washington DC. The Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest is an annual music festival that features a marketplace where independent authors, musicians and small business vendors market their wares. The book is set to release in mid-March.
The anticipated anthology features poems, visual art, short stories and personal essays by writers and artists from the US and abroad. Contributors include novelist Ananda Kiamasha Leeke, poet & journalist Nabina Das, performer Venus Jones, artist Turtel Onli, and MC lyricist Omar Akbar aka Labtekwon.
To reserve your space in the 2009 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest marketplace, email the festival director at

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Channel Inn in DC on the Waterfront

In the late 90's, I frequented the Channel Inn on the waterfront in southwest DC as a respite from the club scene. The Sunday night open mic with the house band and the jazz and old school tunes was a cheerful opportunity for an intergenerational mix of folks while the open mic allowed to practice new music and standards while growing a local audience. I fell out of touch while raising a family but recently have begun to revisit the spot which hasn't changed much over the years. I covered the spot for my column in East of the River and have photographed some of the artists who have performed there. It is not a thing to see DC "Mayor for Life" Marion Barry up in the house at the Channel Inn or other prominent older gents and ladies who live in or frequent the spot.

The crowd is still mainly 50+ and as a thirty-something, I am still one of the youngins in the room. The open mic fare still is top quality local talent with folks singing everything from Johnny Mathis and Smokey Robinson to Sade and Chaka Kahn. No originals here though. Just about everyone does a cover.

I went last night for the Sunday open mic which starts at 7:30pm and extends into midnight after rehearsal for an upcoming show. Due to today's federal holiday, the place was packed with folks who were enjoying a three day weekend. I was treated to see some of my favorite open mic-ers who were regulars during my early days of frequenting the Channel Inn.

Fun was cut short, however, when I realized my cell phone had been stolen. I made an announcement on the mic for the perpetrator to do the right thing and return the costly cell, but to no avail. They had to audacity to answer my phone when I called my phone with the faint hope that maybe I had misplaced it and would hear its ring. To add salt to the wounds, I learned today that they sent text messages to people in my address book that were nasty and offensive. My Channel Inn escapade has been sorely marred by this experience and I have visioins of getting my hands on the person who stole my phone. It seems that age ain't nothing but a number when it comes to behavior. For a venue that has a majority senior clientele, I would have expected different. May this be a lesson learned when we are so quick to judge spots where the young folk hang.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day: Giving Back

Each Valentine's Day is an opportunity to tell those who you love and care for just how special they are. Imagine if you went through life never knowing how it feels to receive a card, a box of candy, or even a statement as simple as "I love you."

This Valentine's Day, do one thing to show homeless young people that they do matter, that their lives are worthwhile and that you hope and pray for their success.
In partnership with The Heart Gallery of New Jersey, Covenant House will host Do 1 Thing on February 14, 2009.

How YOU can Get Involved:

Visit the campaign website:
Review the list of ways to take action on February 14th.
Upload pictures or videos or yourself "doing one thing" for homeless youth to the campaign website above.
DO ONE THING for homeless youth on February 14, 2009.

Liberated Muse Productions will be donating and taking photos at the Covenant House location in Washington DC. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness Week

We have three days left in Random Acts of Kindness week which is from Feb. 9-15 this year. What have you done this week as a random act of kindness? What has been done for you?
There is an awesome website that gives you the 4-1-1 on Random Kindness Week, Global Kindness Day and World Kindness Week (the latter two both this year in Nov.) Check it out here:
Here are some easy things you can do today for someone who least expects it:
-Send an E-Card or E-mail Just to Say Hello or Give Encouragement
-Pay the toll for someone in line behind you
-Give change to the person in front of you in line who may need spare change to finalize their buy
-Hold the door for those behind you as you go through a door
-Offer your seat on the subway or bus
Share Your Random Acts of Kindness with Us!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Almaz Restaurant on Historic U Street is New Hot Spot in DC

People are becoming hip to the new hot spot on U Street in DC. Literally two steps from the U Street metro, Almaz Restaurant & Lounge is a traditional Ethiopian restaurant downstairs during the day, but a festive club spot in its upstairs lounge from 10pm to 3am.
Here is what you can find going on every week:
Dancehall Thursdays
It is exactly what it sounds like. Dancehall music, a stocked bar and good people. Oh, and its FREE. Can you beat that? Not sure you can on a Thursday night. (Photo by Liberated Muse member Kuroji Ntu)

Friday Night Hip Hop Cafe
On Fridays, if you are in the mood for Hip Hop from the golden era, check out Almaz with the legendary female DJ Earth 1Ne on the ones and twos....and then on Saturday, check out

Saturday Night Live

Live music, delicious drinks and wonderful food are all at your disposal on Saturdays at Almaz. I am a fan of their authentic Ethiopian food and love the whole atmosphere with friendly service and chill vibe. Events manager Diallo Sumbry, who is part of our Liberated Muse family, coordinates the fab acts that pass through the doors to rock the house.

Dear John...

"$50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts - all of us are for the arts," McCain said. "Tell me how that creates any significant number of jobs? After-school snack program is probably a good idea. Do we really want to spend $726 million on it?"

These were McCain's words in response to Obama's new stimulus plan that he talked about last night during a press conference. If you are reading this blog, you are either involved in the arts in some way or an adoring fan. So, McCain's words aren't probably the kind of thing you would like to hear.

It's this great Facebook group called Dear John... where members write letters to former presidential nominee John McCain to let him know that the arts is not only a significant part of the world, of life, of the universe, etc. etc...but the arts provides a significant amount of work to those who are artistically inclined...

It's important that those of us who are working artists continue to proclaim very loudly that the arts is a very viable way to live. You CAN make a difference and a living as an artist. Like everything, it is all relative. With the organic nature of creating art (whether a song, a portrait, a piece of jewlery, etc.), being an artist relies on the initiative and drive of the person. There is probably no other occupation that delivers more blood, sweat and tears when it comes to seeking recognition or income, but, it is a lifestyle that is viable and should be respected.
If you missed his press conference, peep what you missed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

And the Winner Is...

Ok, so our girl Wayna and our Kokayi lost out to Chrisette Michelle at last night's Grammys, but, all in all, the journey there was worth the coverage.

Last night's show had its traditional boring moments, but the drama was abundant by the truckloads.

If you haven't heard already, Chris Brown and Rhianna were scheduled to perform, but called out last minute because Mr. Brown was up for questioning by police for a very vague eyewitness report of a woman being beaten in public. When questioned, the unnamed woman said Mr. Chris Brown was the assailant. This is all very bizarre and as I said, very vague. Yet, it resulted in both Chris Brown and his girlfriend Rhianna pulling out of the annual awards show.

In their place was Justin Timberlake, Al Green and Boys II Men, which I would have to say were probably a step up...I mean, really.

Of course, weren't we all rooting for Jennifer Hudson? Her tearful acceptance speech had to make you thankful for the people still alive in your life. This poor woman has to accept her first Grammy after a tragic murder of her mother, brother and nephew, talk about bittersweet.

And, for me, the night was really made with the performance of hip-hop allstars Jay-Z, Kanye West, TI, Lil Wayne and the very pregnant M.I.A. who was show-stopping as she bounced and danced despite her baby's due date being that very day. You go girl!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Finally a Reason to Watch the Grammys-- Wayna and Kokayi Represent DC Hard

The DC area will celebrate this weekend as two superstars of the area-- Wayna and Kokayi-- appear on television as nominees for a Grammy award.

Wayna, an Ethiopian-born DC native, is one of my favorite vocalists-- local or otherwise--and her CD "Higher Ground" is always in regular rotation in my car. Her song "Lovin' You" which was produced by Kokayi and features him on the track in up for the Grammy nomination. She is in the Urban Alternative category against the likes of Janelle Monae (another top fave of mine), the wonderful Chrisette Michelle (a top act) and singers Kenna (who reminds a bit of Van Hunt, but Van Hunt is way better) and Maiyasha, who I would guess is the underdog among this high quality list--she is the spitting image of vocalist Joi Gilliam (in my humble opinion).
I've covered Kokayi's career for East of the River newspaper for the past two years. As an MC, Kokayi is pure fire, able to build an overseas base (like many of our better MCs who are local) that has him touring regularly abroad as a solo act and as part of the group Opus Akoben. Kokayi is also a first-rate producer, typically producing his own music and work for other artists like Wayna. Check out some of their work:

Read the full list of nominees HERE.

Tune in to the Grammys this Sunday, Feb. 8 @ 8pm on CBS.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lip Service on Valentine's Day

Evolve Urban Arts Project presents Lip Service, a duo exhibit featuring all new works from artists Elva R. Lovoz and Prudence Bonds. This collection is centered on the aesthetic value and perception of the human mouth using only black-and-white with two primary colors. Drinks and a special food tasting will heighten the experience.

Cost: FREE!!!!


I am a fan of Prudence Bonds' work after seeing her art about a year ago in an art exhibit in Washington DC. A great Valentine's Day date

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Christylez in Concert

Ok, I love this guy. He is very gifted musically, but his public persona on and off the stage is very endearing-- just a gorgeously spirited man. Check him out this coming Monday at the Kennedy Center. He has been making major moves since his appearance at our 2008 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest. An artist-in-residence at the Strathmore (I believe the youngest they've ever had), he has performed at really great venues and will be appearing this summer (actually the same day as this year's Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest) at the Wolf Trap.
Christylez will lead a hour-long concert at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage in Washington DC on Monday, February 9, 2009.
The concert is commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History & Culture and the Kennedy Center. The concert features a 12-piece orchestra including String Quartet, Piano, Upright Bass, Tuba, Didgeridoo, Human-Beatbox.
On top of all of that, the event is Free. We likes that:-)
Monday, February 9, 2009 @ 6:00PM - FREE ADMISSION - All Ages
Kennedy Center (Millennium Stage) 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC
WAMMIES This Month
On another note but kind of the same...make sure to get your tickets to the upcoming WAMMIES-- DC's version of the Grammys. Christylez is nominated for four WAMMIES as are several members of our wonderful Liberated Muse network and past performers in our 1st Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest last year. Read more HERE and HERE

Monday, February 2, 2009

Props to solSource for Their Trailblazing Hip Hop Cinema Event

This weekend was a busy one for me and I was battling back pain which made it even tougher to make most of my appointments. On Saturday, I missed Mace's and I weekend four hour-long meeting to plan for this year's Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest and I after taking a muscle relaxant and crashing for three hours, I managed to miss the inaugural Hip Hop Cinema Cafe which kicked off at 2pm on Saturday. I arrived around 5:30pm as people were leaving.

The show wasn't over, however.

On the steps of the Historical Society of DC, MCs Enoch the 7th Prophet, Labtekwon and others got to rippin a freestyle cipher that warmed up the space, smoke literally rising from the circle's middle. I was able to link up with one half of solSource, Kimani Anku, and get a rundown of what I missed inside but let him know wholeheartedly that what he and his partner Brandon Felton are creating is a true legacy for our DC metro area.

Here are some photos I got while the brothas were spittin: