Sounds of D.C. vol. II by Maxwell Young

"We developed a market that wasn't there.  In that, we're all torchbearers." - Sir. E.U

Sounds of D.C. Volume 2 encompasses a larger picture of the music and artists who make Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia a dynamic sonic environment.  Here, we celebrate familiar faces pushing the boundary of the local environment and those who have been fortunate enough to travel with their work and, perhaps, have let it evolve from new world experiences.

A lot has happened in the DMV since the first Sounds of D.C. playlist dropped last June.  The District's newest Starboy, GoldLink was nominated for a Grammy, Nappy Nappa and the Lads appeared on Adult Swim, and more local faces have started to garner mainstream attention with Dreamcast and Tony Kill both receiving features from The Fader.  Let's not forget about April + Vista either, the burgeoning neo soul duo, who after an almost two-year hiatus from releasing new music, have given fans two new tracks, "How To Get By" and "Own2," that have been spun on BBC Radio 1 via Julie Adenuga's weekly Apple Music show as well as receiving a highlight as Ebro Darden's Discovered pick on Beats 1.  This, of course, follows their performances on tour with GoldLink and Masego.

From this attention, 2018 feels more promising--like casual and national listeners alike are beginning to catch wind of the talent in the community.  And while local supporters have followed artists all over the DIY circuit (e.g., Rhizome, Studio Ga Ga, Paperhaus, and Uptown Art House just to name a few) and embraced tracks on free streaming services like SoundCloud, it seems as though more musicians are converting their audience to commoditized listening platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, and even compact discs, which have come back en vogue.  Odd Mojo kicked off the year with a stunning album, Channel Yo Mojo, that crystallized her affinity for nineties era hip hop, the internet drug lord, St. Clair Castro, FootsxColes, and multi-instrumentalist/singer OG Lullabies have all utilized popular streaming services as outlets for their sonics--and rightfully so.  Outside of the $5 to $10 ticket and suggested donation shows, supporters should engage with local music just like they do the Drakes and Rihannas of the industry.  It only sustains the DIY music ecosystem, but it also encourages more output.  With that being said, thank you, artists, for still seeing the value of offering your work for free.  Enjoy Volume 2 above, and if you like the artists you hear, try searching them on your go-to streaming platform.

 

 

On To You (Playlist) by Alex Young

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The best part about the Instagram story function is when users post the track info to songs they're listening to at the moment. See what different communities listen to. "On To You" tracks down some good music coming out of Pittsburgh and mixes it with popular sounds from around the country. This playlist has a nice balance of trendy and local from the new Playboi Carti record to Jimmy Wopo's new banger. Browse the selection and research the music.

Funk Parade 2018 This Saturday by Maxwell Young

funk parade 2018.jpg

Funk Parade is a one-of-a-kind day fair, parade, and music festival celebrating Washington D.C.'s vibrant music and arts as well as the unifying spirit of funk throughout the historic U Street neighborhood.  If you're looking for a glimpse into the groups and faces who make up the music and art communities of the District, the fifth annual Funk Parade is an experience you don't want to miss.

It’s the largest collection of local musicians playing on one day.
— Jamal Gray, Director of Uptown Art House
 Kwesi Lee of Nag Champa performing at Funk Parade 2017.  Photograph by Maxwell Young

Kwesi Lee of Nag Champa performing at Funk Parade 2017.  Photograph by Maxwell Young

The U Street corridor has long been a cultural pulse for the nation's capital.  For instance, following the armistice of World War II, the heavyweight victory of Joe Louis, and the 2008 election of President Obama, the neighborhood streets erupted in "typhoons of joy."  The soul of live music resides on the sidewalks and hallmark venues as well.  District-born jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway were staples of the defunct Bohemian Caverns, which now serves as a back-drop for local street performances.  The Lincoln and Howard theaters have amplified premiere acts nationwide from genres including jazz, soul, blues, and hip hop.

Sparked by a vivid dream of musicians, marching bands, neighbors, and strangers rejoicing in the sounds of the District, founders Justin Rood and Chris Naoum have consolidated this rich tradition into a day of movement, education, and good vibrations.  This year on Saturday, May 12 there will be festivities during the day and night at various stages and venues around the U Street corridor.  Read on for details regarding sets, showtimes, and destinations.

Day Fair 1-7pm (see other stage info here)

DC As Funk Stage

One Love Massive

625 T St. NW

One Love Massive is an artist collective that embodies the belief that music is a unifying force that defies all classifications and can unite D.C.  Its operations are actually in the U Street neighborhood where they will be hosting some of the District's most recognizable talents including Malik DOPE Drummer (3:40pm), Pinky Killacorn (3:55pm), Sir E.U (6pm), Ace Ono (2:25pm), and WInzday Love (1:50pm) throughout the day and evening.

Evening Music Festival 7pm 'til late

Funk Parade Lincoln Theater Showcase

1215 U St. NW

7:30pm showtime

Funk Parade has partnered with Trillectro--another DMV music festival--to host a night showcase at Lincoln Theater.  For $15 ($20 at the door) listeners are guaranteed to be in a groovy pocket for the duration of the show.  Heavy-hitters Ari Lennox, Mannywellz, and Dreamcast grace the stage.  Moreover, the lovely Ayes Cold, Native Sun, and Underdog will be on the ones-and-twos--I'll vouch for them any day of the week.

Uptown Art House Experience at Flash DC

645 Florida Ave NW

7:30pm

The Art House gets back to the vibrations of live music following its audiovisual production, The Landing at the Kennedy Center.  Commanding one of the grooviest joints in the District, Flash DC, Uptown Art House will be hosting the incomparable, enigmatic Nag Champa Art Ensemble.  Expect to hear some new sounds from the veteran musicians as they prepare to release their debut project '68.  Special guests include electronic DJs Ledroit and St. Clair Castro.

OTHERFEELS Funk Parade Showcase at Local 16

1602 U St. NW

7pm

Founded by James Scott, OTHERFEELS has created an intimate experience of bourgeoning DMV artists through carefully selected performance bills, a radio show, and most recently a cocktail bar in Adams Morgan called Loves Me Not.  On Saturday, the label will host percussionist and pianist FootsXColes as well as BlaqueStone.

Funk Parade at Velvet Lounge

915 U St. NW

7pm

With music performances both downstairs and upstairs from 12pm to 3am, Velvet Lounge will be quite the gathering place.  Odd Mojo returns to the venue following an epic release party for her new album Channel Yo Mojo.  She is joined by R&B, neo soul group Not.Alone and PNMA.

Listen to 'Overcooked' by Greenss by Maxwell Young

The project is called Overcooked because the second beat tape by Greenss is long overdue--a personal opinion.

  Overcooked  cover art by  Liza Sem

Overcooked cover art by Liza Sem

Spencer Green is a zealous sophomore, soon to be junior, at Howard University by way of Connecticut who has integrated himself into the Washington, D.C. music scene through fan-hood first.

"It's always inspiring to go to a show and watch people showcase their talent," he said on Late Bloom Radio in March.

The collegiate grind can make it challenging for a student to venture outside of a campus bubble, especially one as rich in tradition as Howard, to explore the communities and spaces that make a city like Washington, D.C. so vibrant.  Freshman year you acclimate yourself to a new environment, new friends, and eventually, a once foreign place becomes familiar and you begin to broaden your perspective.  Brooklyn-based artist Amani Fela is the connection between Greenss and fellow District musicians.  The two played a show together in New York and when Fela traveled to Capital Fringe for a performance, Greenss was introduced to members of the hip hop community including Keith James, Sage Moe, Nappy Nappa, and Marty Heem Cherry.

"I'm grateful D.C. has such a thriving art scene.  [They] had their arms open for me," he said.

Both Greenss and I found ourselves at Tony Kill's house several months ago for an intimate listening session for Sir E.U's most recent album, Some Friend You Are.  It was refreshing to meet another transplant who had a positive outlook on the culture of the city.  Unfortunately, it seems the more artists experience the politics of the DMV the less confident they feel in putting the creative community on the mainstream map.  He mentioned that he was a beat-maker and had published a tape on Bandcamp and SoundCloud (The Shampoo EP) during the summer of 2017.  Only two years into his craft, I wondered why he didn't have more music released.  A highly selective ear, Greenss was also timid about his output.

"I wasn't as confident in myself as a producer.  I started honing my skills and producing more to become more confident," he reflected on radio.

Take a few steps into his HU dormitory and you can understand his commitment to not only learning the art of production but also self actualization.  His keyboard lays on top of books regarding music theory, cassettes on the Four Levels of Healing and other retro sounds and remedies border his Yamaha HS5 speakers, and VHS tapes--one of them notably being Amistad--accentuate the room of someone sentimental of analog times.  Disciplined, Greenss has curated his own Rhythm Roulette sampling from a multitude of crates stuffed with vinyl records ranging from Otto Klemperer's rendition of Beethoven's Symphony Number 3 to soundtracks of Charlie Brown.

"I don't got nothing, man," said Nate G listening to one of Greenss' instrumentals on Late Bloom.  "This beat just feels good.  This joint makes you want to go to the berry aisle of Whole Foods."

The feeling of wellbeing Nate G references is layered into Greenss' artistry through the sonics, his namesake, and his performances.

"Green is the color that everybody needs, wants.  Whether that be vegetables or money, weed--there's always something green that's going on in your day that's usually good.  There's a ton of background in green, and obviously it's my favorite color," he explained.

Over the last couple months, Greenss has played a number of sets at various venues including Songbyrd Music House, Grindstone, and Studio Ga Ga.  On stage, he exudes his moniker quite literally.  Yes, he's always wearing some type of green apparel--my favorite being the Kelly Green Sk8 Low Vans--but perhaps more interesting is the high energy foods he talks about and eats during performances.

"Spinach is a great source of protein!" he said after plucking a leaf from his colorfully assorted plate of vegetables as he opened for another Brooklyn-based musician, Soft Glas.  During a set at Rhizome, he was blending and serving fruit smoothies while mixing original beats for friends and family.

"Regardless of how many people are there, you always have to bring the energy...you always have to bring something to the table," he said.

Overcooked is an eight-track instrumental tape delivered by the up-and-coming chef, Spencer Green.  It is available for purchase and download on Bandcamp with a few selections for streaming on SoundCloud.  Stay tuned to his Twitter and Instagram pages as he's sure to become an even greater fixture in the District.

Photographs of Greenss on Late Bloom Radio by Chris Gellein.

Pk Delay's New Album Feels Like Silver by Alex Young

 Pk Delay | photograph by Alex Young

Pk Delay | photograph by Alex Young

Pk Delay, a 24-year-old native of Pittsburgh's culturally significant Hill District neighborhood, sat down for lunch at the organic supermarket Whole Foods in East Liberty. 

Forking salmon, broccoli and rice, Pk is "developing myself," while anticipating the path he will journey when his new album "Silver" drops April 22.

 Pk Delay at Whole Foods | photograph by Alex Young

Pk Delay at Whole Foods | photograph by Alex Young

The rapper Pk Delay motivates himself by "keeping it raw all the time," he said. Both his music and personality move with a cool. His youth brings a smile to his face as he talks about playing the Fortnite video game. He calls it good friendship because it takes him back to his teenage years playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty online with his friends, like longtime friends and fellow musicians Deem, Fat Corey, Seas, Slicky Williams and Pet Zebra. "They're good guys," Pk said.

"You can always find a friend on the Internet," he said. It "makes the human experience a little bit easier 'cause this shit is hard, but it's fun though." He cautions to try not to be too deep in the 'net. "I feel like we're losing a lot of people to it," he said. "You lose your sense in the outer world. Un-plug real quick."

Although, Pk can't deny the benefit the Internet has had on his music. Past albums, like his "Dad" project, were so successfully promoted via Twitter. Remember when Pk Delay and rapper Trinidad James got into throwing Tweets about who was the original 'Dad.'

The official single of Pk's "Silver" album does well on Internet streaming platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify achieving over 160,000 plays on the "Fed Up" single.

 Pk Delay "Silver" cover art by  Ben Petchel  via  @pkdelay  on Instagram

Pk Delay "Silver" cover art by Ben Petchel via @pkdelay on Instagram

The success of "Fed Up" speaks to the quality of "Silver." This refinement drips throughout the new studio album. "Silver is in everything we need," Delay said. Pk upgraded the production value and the messages on the album. Also, he wrote songs. Proper verses with bridges and hooks plus more layers, synths and snares make "real music feel like silver."

Unlike quick, glitzy songs like "No Lil Pups" where Delay was on his lightweight, "'Silver' is me thinking. I took care of this one," he said. The record's lead single was mixed three times and mastered by E. Dan of I.D. Labs studio. The artist deal Pk Delay signed with Limited Funds lends a "helping hand," he said.

Other music like Nipsey Hussle's "Victory Lap" or alternative sounds like Fleetwood Mac or Passion Pit influence Delay's sound. "I like that chill shit," he said. He'd make alternative music himself, "but that wasn't my environment." Delay can relate to the "textbook get money, save money, double up," principles that feature in "Victory Lap" or even Jay Z's "4:44."

Don’t be living outside your means, bro.
— Pk Delay

As it comes to the 'Burgh's creative community, Delay offers more advice. "Stop thinking little achievements are big. Stop taking that five minutes of fame. Look at the grand scheme. There's way more to do," he said.

Fans of hip-hop in Pittsburgh should attend the "Silver" listening party at Threads On Carson in the South Side on April 21 at 7 p.m.

Pk Delay finished with encouragement. "Just know somebody needs you. Just find something to hold onto whether it's family or music," he said.

Threads On Carson

1511 East Carson Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15203