Uptown Art House

Inviting all rappers and producers to the Uptown Cypher at Full Service Radio by Maxwell Young

PSA to all DMV area emcees and producers: sharpen your skills and flex your muscles at the ‘Uptown Cypher’—broadcast at the end of every month via Full Service Radio.

Washington, D.C.—An extension of Late Bloom Radio presented by Uptown Art House and InTheRough, the Uptown Cypher is for hip-hop heads young and old, for the rookies and the veterans. Across three episodes, the two-hour sessions have been congregations of rappers and beat-makers from all corners of the DMV. It’s been rewarding to provide a platform for some of our favorite artists including Nate G, Greenss, and Tedy Brewski, while equally as refreshing to have real-life introductions to D.C. legends Fat Kneel, Discipline99, Thrtysmthng and Y.U—producers whose music is secure in my Apple Music and SoundCloud libraries. Similarly, I hadn’t heard of Fauva Gahd or Mavi before they spit off the dome, and now I’m anticipating their next live sets. Shout out Chris Allen and Reggie Volume for sharing work as well.

For host Jamal Gray, the Uptown Cypher is an updated version of an old concept. The musician/curator was recording freestyle sessions, like this one here featuring a young Sir E.U, eight years ago as ‘The Carryout’ on YouTube. “A cypher doesn’t mean just rhyming. It’s about sharing intellect and ideas,” he said on the final episode of 2018.

It’s funny watching people walk through the lobby of The Line Hotel trying to figure out what commotion is happening. Full Service Radio is hard to miss. It’s a fish bowl with a head-to-toe window-pane exterior and deep-sea blue walls complete with a selfie-worthy neon sign, plush furniture, and more microphones than the non-musical person probably has ever seen. Each cypher takes on a life of its own, especially with “@THEBESTRAPPERINDC” aka MartyHeemCherry rapping at the top of his lungs. Libations are always flowing, too, so the more potent the bars, the more potent the reaction in the room.

The Uptown Cypher is open to the public, but come correct because as Nate G told me after one rapper brought written verses to a session, “There are unspoken rules to this.” Listen to all three cyphers below.

The next Uptown Cypher will be live on FullServiceRadio.org at 7pm, EST on January 30.

Polaroids by Maxwell Young

Full Service Radio

1770 Euclid St. NW

Washington, D.C. 20009

Listen to Last Niight's Converge Playlist by Maxwell Young

In anticipation of their first collective show this Wednesday at U Street Music Hall, Last Niight has dropped a posse playlist featuring a number of its producers and DJs. Common themes amongst the millennial collective are remixed afro beats as well as the spinning of classic 1990s and early 2000s hip hop and R&B records. Koleco, the founding member of Last Niight, who’s about to embark on a European tour, plays with an edit of Usher’s “My Boo,” while Melik Deal, aka Mfundishi, reworks Field Mob’s “So What” with Ciara. Deal also contributes verses to the collective. He and fellow Last Niight rapper THEANTISOCIAL came locked and loaded with freestyle bars a couple weeks ago during their episode of Late Bloom Radio. Martin J Ballou, however, has this Rico Suave demeanor that we talked about on radio and you can hear it in his songs “Wantin’” and “Intermission” featuring Mudi . They’re meshed in with TheSpaceBetween mix below—a short EP he released in 2017. Listen to the playlist and don’t forget to step out to Converge this Wednesday at U Street Music Hall for Last Niight’s sonic exposé.

‘Converge’ flyers designed by St. Clair Castro.

Art House Rage Featuring The Khan, Wifigawd, Nappy Nappa, and More by Maxwell Young

Last Saturday, the D.C. hip hop community converged at Uptown Art House for the 21st birthday celebration of The Khan, a free-flowing, curly-haired flexer of the new age rap scene.  Alignment with Virginia Beach native, Lil' Tracy (listen to their collaborative effort, "Vices" on Sounds of D.C. vol. II) and a fast friendship with the late Lil' Peep has increased Khan's exposure over the last year.  He was joined by fellow DMV natives exploring modern trap drums, ad-libs, and vocal modifications including Wifigawd, SickBoyRari, Trip Dixon, and Nappy Nappa.

Part studio, part skatepark, part scene--the Art House turned into a full-blown concert hall with the youth showing up in droves.  While many were in attendance to see Lil' Tracy--a couple fans even traveled from Philadelphia--it was heartening to see the rage-ful embrace of local music.  Every set was complete with shoving and shouting, demonstrating the true following these artists have on SoundCloud.  The moshing was so heavy during Wifigawd's performance that the scuffle unplugged the audio circuitry causing abrupt "oohs" and "aaws" from the crowd.

There's no denying that the current sound dominating hip hop encourages a certain aesthetic.  A$AP Mob and the AWGE clique are an appropriate microcosm of this lifestyle wearing cross-body fanny packs with carefully packed Backwoods, untied Vans and washed, vintage rock-n-roll t-shirts that amplify this grungy streetwear-chic aspect of rap.  Khan himself drenched his Heron Preston long sleeve in sweat.  Those who weren't in the mosh pits emanated this cool demeanor as they stood on top of the half-pipe amongst their crew wearing personalized graphic hoodies or dangling their legs over the bright yellow scaffold throwing up squad affiliations.  And perhaps the Art House completes this hedonistic vibe.  Much like when Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Andy's Superstar personalities like Edie Sedgwick and Ultra Violet popped into the Warhol Factory to be photographed or simply experience the commotion surrounding the famed space, the youth of today want to be seen, want to be in-the-know, and want to be free to experiment.

Enjoy the video above.  Don't want to miss the next rage.

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


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


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


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.