Uptown Art House Debuts Converge Series with U Street Music Hall by Maxwell Young

 Uptown Art House’s fall programming with U Street Music Hall. Graphic design by  St. Clair Castro  of Open Source.

Uptown Art House’s fall programming with U Street Music Hall. Graphic design by St. Clair Castro of Open Source.

Following the exodus from their studio space in Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C., Uptown Art House has focused their attention on collaborating with storied institutions within the local community—creating without borders. In partnership with U Street Music Hall, one of the District’s premiere concert venues (GoldLink recently sold out three nights here), the Art House presents Converge, fall programming on Wednesday nights from 10pm until 2am.

“Gentrification” is one of those buzz words used frequently amongst the creative ecosystem in D.C. due to the displacement of studio space, DIY venues, and residences the phenomenon causes. There’s more on that in this Washington City Paper article featuring Uptown Art House. The reality is the artistic identity is changing in the nation’s capital. Punk, Go-go, and funk communities that defined a predominantly African American city in the mid to late 20th century have been stripped out and re-built as indie-rock, moombahton, and trip-hop communities that represent an evolving white, young professional population. Through the intersection of experimental sound, media, and movement, Converge aims to bridge these gaps between music, art, and society. Burgeoning pockets of D.C.’s music community will be on display as the Art House taps local collectives and DJs to curate specific nights. Below is a highlight of the first three curators of Converge.

September 26: DJs Underdog & Native Sun

Converge debuts this Wednesday with DJs Underdog and Native Sun. Expect a fusion of global sounds from the D.C.-based disc jockeys, as they have both played for prominent festivals such as Afro Punk. Underdog is a graphic designer for National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institute, and OKAYAFRICA, an editorial website amplifying African culture. Underdog’s sets delve in futurism and play with modern aesthetics without conformity, while Native Sun is known as a melodic archivist, exploring the connections between mainstream and underground cultures.

Last Niight

InTheRough first learned of the Last Niight collective during one of their DJ sets at Funk Parade 2017. Roll forward a year and a half later and the DMV collective is hosting their first squad show on October 10th. Comprised of DJs and emcees Koleco, Murjoni, TheAntiSocial, MFundishi, Frankliin, JustJuWit, and Martin J Ballou, Last Niight will convey a full sonic spectrum.

UUV Adrenaline Tour

UUV might be most visible as a clothing brand, but its creative direction by Lordy Agency is heavily intertwined with the documentation and elevation of music. Whether it’s D.C.’s rich skateboarding or Go-go communities, founder Naeem Khaliq’s influences behind his Converge curation are rooted in adrenaline culture. Performances by El Cousteau, Ankhle John, Landlord Sho, Mista Selecta, and Lul Bro Bro will amplify the intrinsic energy that surrounds the streets of Washington, D.C.

Dreamcast Joins Season 3 Premiere of Late Bloom Radio by Maxwell Young

The season opener of Late Bloom was action-packed last week with guest Davon Bryant aka Dreamcast. No stranger to the Full Service Radio station, Dreamcast came locked and loaded with anecdotes, exclusive music, and a candor that illuminated a number of topics including the economics of art in Washington, D.C. and what happened when he learned of his feature in The Fader.

Dreamcast is in album mode, or full length project mode, as he declared that a real album is something that only comes from a freedom to focus solely on music, “and not stress over bills.” Among the tracks Dreamcast played during the two hour show were collaborative efforts with Vancouver-based rapper Jay Worthy and the District’s own Nappy Nappa. Ralston Yorrick aka Fat Kneel, the producer of Dreamcast’s “Devil’s Red Dress, an InTheRough favorite, might still be unaware that he’s added another credit to his resume. Dreamcast plugged a beat of Yorrick’s for the Jay Worthy connection—”City Walls”—this slow burn with a crooning trumpet.

After the episode, the Takoma Park, Md. native revealed more of his work that he’s accumulated from trips out West. It’s an exciting time for Dreamcast fans. The new music places more of an emphasis on contemporary hip hop and R&B that mesh well with his funk-soul catalog. Hopefully everyone is privy by the end of 2018.

Late Bloom Radio broadcasts every Wednesday on Full Service Radio at 7pm. It is hosted by Jamal Gray and produced by Maxwell Young along with executive production by Jack Inslee of Full Service Radio. This coming Wednesday features Last Niight collective, who first landed on InTheRough thanks to a killer DJ set by Frankliin at Funk Parade two years ago. They’ll be talking about their upcoming event for Converge, Uptown Art House’s fall series at U Street Music Hall.

Sakony Has A New T-shirt for the 'Burgh by Alex Young

 Sakony Burton | Graphic by Alex Young

Sakony Burton | Graphic by Alex Young

“More recently, I’ve been dressing more outwards,” Sakony said. Apparently from the silver drip on the Jumpman from his “Pure Money” Air Jordan four. Sakony Shakur Burton, 22 from Homewood in Pittsburgh, is pent-up printing T-shirts, out-of-sight in the basement, which you have to access through a secret door on the floor of Haus of Vain, a thrift shop on Centre Avenue. The graphic designer busied fulfilling orders for his “Stay Away” collection, tees with barbed wire around a yellow smiley face. It’s very anti, but Sakony says it’s for people who like their alone time. “I only go outside to seek genuine connection and then go home.”

InTheRough: How would you describe the wardrobe of a designer? By that I mean Steve Jobs. He dressed mad simple.

Sakony: Yeah he had a uniform.

ITR: Right, you know what I mean, but it’s either one of two things: basic or eccentric. I see you got a pearl Chanel earring on, bro.

Sakony: [laughs] I would say more recently I’ve been dressing more outwards. Usually it’s all black this all black that. My mans came over earlier and was saying, “I’m trying to be like Steve Jobs. Five turtle necks for the week type shit.” I would want to be like that, but I like too much shit. I opted out of that whole thing with making my own shit. I try not to do the same things too often. I had an angel hoop earring that I lost in Los Angeles. I have a weird affinity for angels. I dress how I dress. I dress like the people I’m around. It’s in the details. “Oh, Sakony got a Chanel earring. That’s hard!”

ITR: That includes your Love bracelet?

Sakony: We’re not gonna talk about that. It was a birthday gift from a brother and we all got one.

ITR: Oh, shit.

Sakony: Don’t even hype it.

I only go outside to seek genuine connection and then go home.
— Sakony

The designer describes his fan base as “people who’ve been following me through the Internet” throughout his youth at C.A.P.A., Pittsburgh’s creative and performing arts magnet school. Sakony was a Tumblr kid and that’s where his graphics first received love from around the globe. “I live for the love. If people continue to love me, nothing is for naught,” he said. The love gives him confidence to sell his work. “You can down play yourself all you want, but you really got that gift,” Sakony said.

Also, seeing the demand for SOSIMO, a streetwear brand by Pittsburgh native Ivan Rodriguez, influences him to produce more products. “We’re just kids doing the thing,” he said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now, and to some degree, if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing right now.”

The latest creation from Sakony is an ode to regional slang. While one of his friends was walking around Chinatown in New York, he read T-shirts that said “Fuck You You Fucking Fuck,” and sent a picture to Sakony. He liked the arrogant vulgarity from a classic New York accent. “New York got theirs, why can’t we have ours?”

A black tee boasts “Fuck Yinz You Fucking Jagoffs” in white text to get the point across.

 Sakony’s  new T-shirt  is limited to a 44 hour presale now  here .

Sakony’s new T-shirt is limited to a 44 hour presale now here.

InTheRough: That’s very vulgar, but I get swearing is peaceful in a way. Where’d the inspiration for this come from?

Sakony: It’s from a New York tee. “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck.” It made me think of the “Homewood You Schmuck” T-shirts and The Hill’s “Nephs” tee. It’s a regional tee. I ended up getting one that says “Always You Fucking Fuck” from my boy Mario out in Arizona. I was like I should make one for all of Pittsburgh. I might as well make something for the entire city. This will probably be the only Pittsburgh centric tee that I’ll drop. I'm not going to say I don’t take pride in being from here. It’s definitely one of the key factors of my character, but it doesn’t comprise more than 50% of my being.

ITR: Yeah, Pittsburgh pride varies, but everybody feels a tie to it at some point.

Sakony: I definitely feel the most Pittsburgh when I’m out of Pittsburgh. When I was out in L.A., I was like, damn I’m really a Pittsburgh nigga.

 Sakony’s cover art for  Linwood’s  “Hate Breaking Hearts” single

Sakony’s cover art for Linwood’s “Hate Breaking Hearts” single

Throughout his graphics career, Sakony has garnered an influence that “is not so easily seen,” he said. “Outside of apparel, my design makes you want to cop it. Music artists come to me for cover art because they want my little flavor of things.”

As Sakony continues, he refines more skills, like producing beats, so he can sell to the public that loves his work.

I live for the love. If people continue to love me, nothing is for naught.
— Sakony

What Mac Miller Meant to Our Youth by Lanie Edwards

I was 15 years old the first time I saw Mac Miller perform at the iconic 18 and under venue, Club Zoo, in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was the kind of club where kids would chain smoke cigarettes, it smelled super musty at all times, and you didn’t tell your parents you were going. You thought it was cool to go to the bar and get a Red Bull, and you couldn’t wait to dance to “Like a G6” with your friends. This night was special because unlike the usual trash music blaring from the DJ booth, there was going to be a performance. It was 2010.

I was with my older sister and her best friend. They already knew of Mac, but I had never heard his music. I timidly stood in the corner not knowing what to expect.

“Everybody please put your thumb in the air!” was the first thing this 18-year-old white kid said as the lights came up. I put my right thumb up with a straight face. It felt stupid, but as soon as the beat from “Knock Knock” dropped, I was hooked. That set the tone for the rest of my adolescence in the Steel City. 

I remember bumping K.I.D.S and Blue Slide Park in the car nonstop when I got my license at 16. Pittsburgh isn’t necessarily viewed as the most “exciting” city, especially by outsiders, and it often gets mistaken for Philadelphia. But riding around listening to Mac was an activity to look forward to on its own. I would listen during long bus rides to get amped up before a tennis match, and to get ready for high school dances—prom of course. I remember when Blue Slide Park debuted at number one on Billboard. He wasn’t just Pittsburgh’s anymore, he was the world’s. It was amazing to see the world fall in love with him as much as we did. 

I was 20 years old the second time I saw Mac Miller perform, this time in Washington D.C. at the Fillmore for his GO:OD AM Tour. Now in college, I felt like I had grown up with him. He and his music had matured, but the concert was just as exciting as my first experience—just add more fans, mosh pits, and a different city. I went with my closest friends from Pittsburgh, and we all sported Steelers jerseys and Terrible Towels. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t feel like we had a stronger connection to him in a sea full of D.C. natives.

Scenes from Mac Miller’s vigil at Blue Slide Park | footage by InTheRough

It’s been one week since his passing. I’m 23 now, and I’ve been thinking about it constantly. For me, no other artists’ death has hit as hard as this one for many reasons. As a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, it was beyond inspirational to see Mac Miller make it out of such a small, overlooked city and always remain true to himself and humble. With that unmistakable Pirates logo tatted on his hand, he repped the city wherever he went. Not only did he have a strong impact on the kids from his hometown, but he truly touched the hearts of so many worldwide with his music and pure soul. I never met him, but we all felt like we knew him. 

There’s this saying that no one loves Pittsburgh as much as Pittsburgh. When one of our own makes it, the whole city is proud. When one of our own passes, the city mourns together. It rained for 3 days straight and the Stillers tied with the Browns after Mac left. That’s how you know.

Steelers running back James Conner honors the late rapper Mac Miller on his cleats this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs | photo via Conner’s Instagram

Any time you listen to Mac Miller’s old music it’s a nostalgic experience. You think of great times with friends. You think of driving through Fifth Ave and dodging all of its potholes while blasting “Party on Fifth Ave.” You appreciate places like Blue Slide park even more. Life was simple back then. When you listen to his music now, you think of how much he had grown. You think about how hard life gets. You think about how we all go through the same things at some point, and he was never afraid to talk about them through his lyrics. 

Through it all, we always saw him smiling. We always saw him being a goofball and putting on an amazing show. We saw how real and full of life he was despite whatever he was facing. He made us even more proud to rep black and yellow and to never forget where we came from. He made us feel 15 again. No matter what, Mac Miller will always be there to remind us that we’re just some motherf*ckin kids.

Lead photos right to left by G L Askew II and Christaan Felber

Long Live by Alex Young

YUNG MULATTO Sept. 17, 1996 - Nov. 30, 2017

JIMMY WOPO Jan. 13, 1997 - June 18, 2018

MAC MILLER Jan. 19, 1992 - Sept. 7, 2018

Photo of Mac Miller in front of Jay Z Tweet by Gunnerstahl.us | Art of Mac Miller and Jimmy Wopo in heaven by Vigna Vines | Photo of Yung Mulatto by Tyler Calpin

Mac Miller, Pittsburgh born and raised until his rap career launched him out of the city to big markets like Los Angeles and New York City, died on Friday, September 7, 2018. The 26-year-old was found dead in his Studio City home in L.A. from a suspected drug overdose.

Support for the great friend, Pittsburgh native and legendary rapper has poured in as many remember his legacy.

In Pittsburgh however, we hurt for the loss of creative kings who gave so much to our community. Within the last year, illustrator-producer Yung Mulatto and rappers Jimmy Wopo and Mac Miller have passed away. We hurt because each artist had so much more to give even bigger legacies to leave behind. The timing here seems unfair. Mac just had a top 5 album in “Swimming,” Wopo was about to sign a deal with the Taylor Gang and Mulatto had momentum as the man illustrating Pittsburgh hip-hop for the world. The circumstances are depressing considering these young men were some of Pittsburgh’s biggest champions on the main stage. It’ll be impossible to forget the impact Mac, Mulatto and Wopo had on us. We need to keep pushing as a city to honor them, to achieve their success and more.

Come together and honor their memory. A public vigil for Mac takes place today at 5 p.m. at the Blue Slide Park in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. A fresh coat of blue paint covered the slide today to honor the rapper and his first studio album “Blue Slide Park.” Check the Facebook event here for more details. Also, tonight local DJs celebrate the life and music of Mac Miller at the Goldmark bar in Lawrenceville. DJ Alex Rivera, DJ Jx4, DJ Red and DJ Spillz spin the Most Dope tracks from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is no cover to enter the venue. Lastly, a petition started online to change the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey goal song to Mac Miller’s song “Party On Fifth Ave.” Sign the petition here.

Blue Slide Park

2005 Beechwood Boulevard (Nicholson St)

Pittsburgh, PA 15217

The Goldmark

4517 Butler Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15201