DIY Arts Scene, Uptown Art House on NPR's Kojo Nnamdi Show by Maxwell Young

Uptown Art House founder Jamal Gray joins The Kojo Nnamdi Show. 

Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher

Photograph by Mark Williams Hoelscher

In the arts community, DIY ('Do-It-Yourself') spaces are integral to the prosperity of the artists and sustainability of the collective conscious. Homes, warehouses, breweries and repurposed restaurants along with their dedicated collectives support the advancement of creatives and organizations in the spheres of activism, art, and music.  These aren’t new refuges.  There was Club 57 in New York City--a haven for Keith Haring and other starving underground artists.  And we can't forget about Warhol's Factory either; the scene was just higher profile given the benefactor. These cultural hubs where people appreciate art and music, uninhibited by society’s parameters are alternatives to the traditional gallery spaces and concert halls where consumerism, popular/mainstream culture, and big business take precedent.

On Tuesday, musician Janel Leppin, Arts Editor of the Washington City Paper Matt Cohen, and Jamal Gray, founder of Uptown Art House joined The Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR to discuss the DIY arts scene in Washington, D.C.

The independent arts scene in the nation’s capital has been nurtured by DIY venues including Rhizome, Paperhaus, Electric Maid--a legendary punk rock venue--Uptown Art House, and many others.  The problem due to gentrification and rising rent prices, though is that these venues struggle to stay open for a sustained period of time.  You may have heard of, or better yet, been to Art Under Pressure, Bohemian Caverns or Union Arts where District culture flourished.  Unfortunately, however, these historic landmarks no longer exist--extinguished for swanky redevelopment projects.

Listen to the perspectives of Janel, Matt, and Jamal as they speak with Kojo about the impact of the DIY community preserving Washington's heritage, and how it’s changing nationally.

Hot Takes

+  "Art spaces reflect whatever we're going through at the time." -Jamal Gray

+ "Money is speaking louder than art in D.C." -Matt Cohen

+ "DIY is about cultivating and incubating artists to be able to take their work to the next level." -Jamal Gray

+ "If we could have some sort of rent stabilization, so we could have a place that stays put for more than five years..." -Janel Leppin


Still Saaling by Alex Young

Miles Saal September 17, 1996 - November 30, 2017

F6F579E7-F9A7-4919-9187-2C0E9DCFDE77 (1).jpg

Miles Saal created a family in Pittsburgh. "He was Pittsburgh's biggest supporter, and he wasn't even from here," Ian Welch said. Miles made the youth and creative scenes in the city tighter by connecting people with different people. Miles gave love and respect to everybody because that's what humanity deserves. "He saw something in ourselves and brought it out of all of us to make the scene great," Welch said.

Miles was selfless. All of the work he shared under his Yung Mulatto pen name proves how selfless he was. "He had his fingers on everything," Cap Jazzo said. He doodled so many of the talented artists in the 'Burgh who do cool and progressive things. Literally, Miles drew all the people he knew who made music in the city and drew them on coffee sleeves. He detailed community in his zine, Pittsburgh Hip Hop Vol 1, and with all the work he did in album art and the beat production with musicians like Akono Miles, blackboi, Benji, Mars Jackson, and so many more. The music mix he helped Reviving Real create was so thorough in capturing the city's hip-hop scene. "Miles had taste," Noah McDonald said. When I think about his work, I see how he wanted us to relate to one another.

He saw something in ourselves and brought it out of us to make the scene great.

No one gave more support to this community than Miles and he wasn't even a Pittsburgh native. A New York-born and Jacksonville raised person had to teach us something about our own city, that we discriminate the support we give to each other. We pick and choose where, when, and who we want to support like everyone's hard work doesn't deserve that. The saddest part is now we'll all wake up and unite even more in the way Miles was showing us all this time, but he won't be here to feel that gratification knowing he gathered us together and we won't be able to hug him to thank him for it.

Find solace in everything he left behind because that is Miles' legacy. It will be a pleasure to see his creations live on as they do now, and more of the work he produced before he died. Miles gets credit for so much now and more in the future because, without his links to relationships, we'd still be stuck unwilling to leave our own worlds and adventure in someone else's.

Tune in: Nappy Nappa Live on Adult Swim by Maxwell Young

Tune in 10pm

Tune in 10pm

During the 1970s, the District of Columbia proudly bore the moniker "Chocolate City" as it was the first majority black city in America.  With respect and admiration, Southeast rapper Nappy Nappa looks like he's coming straight out of the Chuck Brown Go-go.  He's been spotted wearing his trusty, white Nike Blazers, Kangol hats, berets, zipped up (or down) track jackets, and most confidently, bell bottom pants at the local scenes like Uptown Art House and Backbar.

Nappy Nappa boasts credits including The Washington Post and The Fader, as well as featuring in ITR's 'Sounds of D.C.' playlist.  This evening he adds another, performing on Adult Swim's Bloodfeast live stream, a daily show "exploring the mind through perspectives on art, sexuality, psychology, spirituality, and relationships."

Nappy Nappa stopped by 'Rough' for a brief performance. Photographs by Maxwell Young

Nappa's 30 to 45-minute set begins at 10pm and is being broadcast from Atlanta.  Fans of the "rawdog" can view the show by downloading the app here.

Rapping, "I done spilled mumbo sauce on my 993s in the CFP/Dawg, I'm too D.C./Said I'm too D.C," there's no telling what homegrown aesthetic Nappy Nappa debuts for the internet.  Tune in and support the national push.  

Watch This Cool Skateboarding Video Part by Rage Club by Alex Young

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 12.13.44 PM.png

"Welcome to the Club" by Cleveland based clothing company Rage Club at its core is an entertaining video with parts of skateboarding. It's much more though because the skaters' antics and dedication to hitting tricks, paired with the crazy tracklist that DJ TOPGUN lined up is hype. The footage by Thomas Netkowicz shows the Club skaters in California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania skating city-scape terrain.

Authentic youth and skate culture stack up here. The kids aren't wearing Thrasher Magazine shirts for nothing. Zay Jones tries to jump a 21-step staircase six times. He keeps injuring himself and keeps going, "legendary." There's crazy, painful looking fails throughout "Welcome to the Club," but credit the degree of tricks. Everything is tight when the beats drop and skaters like Cris Lesh, Kevin Perez, Jalen Willis, and more land tricks. TOPGUN, the creator of Rage Club, features in the part along with pieces of Club clothing, such as a long-sleeve, hat, and "FDT" shirt.

Photo by @_philms

Photo by @_philms

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 11.48.12 AM.png

Additionally, the entire project has relevance in Pittsburgh because the video has parts filmed in the city and it debuted at One Up Skate Shop on East Carson Street last Saturday, Nov. 4, and DJ TOPGUN is active in the 'Burgh's hip-hop scene. He's brought Cleveland artists, like Shawn K, to rock out here in the 412. Rapper Choo Jackson attended the "Welcome to the Club" debut.

Watch and follow the Club. Tracklist at 16:03.

A 'Rough' Recap by Alex Young

'Rough' has ushered in an era of tangible experiences by InTheRough.  Last Friday, Uptown Art House opened its doors to the ITR family, allowing some Pittsburgh creatives to enhance the "community type vibe," as one party-goer David Gilmour put it.  While tracks from iTunes libraries and SoundCloud playlists rang through "The Factory" space, art from Quaishawn Whitlock and impromptu performances by Sir E.U, Tedy Brewski, Nappy Napa & The Best Rapper in D.C. fulfilled the night's celebration.  Thank you to Parker Blair, Maps Glover and Jamal Gray for your cooperation and partcipation.

Throwing a party is like riding a bike: the more you ride, the smoother it becomes.  Let's ride to Pittsburgh. 

+ "You guys have great transitions." Jamal Gray

+ "I think this is the epitome of what the Art House should be." Sebastian Medina-Tayac

+ "The right people are here." Alex Hersh


Senseless Moves to Penn Avenue by Alex Young

Javed and Rome Watson of Senseless | Photographs by Alex Young

The last time customers stepped inside of the streetwear boutique Senseless, the shop was tucked away on Pittsburgh's North Side. It was a "start" for Javed and Rome Watson's entrepreneurial venture.

Bigger aspirations and a larger inventory pushed the brothers to a new location in the heart of the 'Burgh's culture scene, East Liberty.

Senseless now sits at 5124 Penn Avenue. Penn Ave will be an asset to the shop for foot traffic and "different events for First Fridays," Javed said. "We can throw parties outside" on the back patio, Rome said.

"We don't want to limit ourselves. We want to be in the forefront pushing shit," Javed said.

Consumers can find Bape, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Jordan, Supreme, and more clothiers in-store. VIntage finds also feature on the long T-shirt and jacket racks.

Photographs by Tyler Calpin

Senseless can offer more with a sizeable showroom. It's big enough for a fish tank. To premiere the new shop, Senseless hosted a Halloween party on Saturday, October 28. Javed, who doubles as businessman and rapper, performed along with hip-hop acts Linwood and DJ Jaybee. Photographer Tyler Calpin shot a lookbook with some of the items for sale in the shop. His prints hung on the tall walls.

Shop Senseless Monday through Saturday from 12 to 6 p.m and Sunday by appointment only.

Cool Things Happening in D.C.- Halloweekend by Maxwell Young

Cool Things 3.png

Do you have Halloweekend plans in the District?

Although trick-or-treating down Embassy Row is an experience every D.C. transplant should have, here's a list of alternative events occurring over the next several days.

1. October 26- RAYGUNOMICS & Emotio

Jamal Gray (middle) and Dajando Smith (right) at Funk Parade 2017. Photograph by Maxwell Young

Jamal Gray (middle) and Dajando Smith (right) at Funk Parade 2017. Photograph by Maxwell Young

Kwesi Lee of Emotio.

Kwesi Lee of Emotio.

Jamal Gray, Kwesi Lee, and Dajando Smith are members of Washington, D.C.'s premiere rock-fusion band Nag Champa.  On Thursday, they will be performing as RAYGUNOMICS--an intergalactic parade of futuristic hip hop, funk, jazz, and go-go sounds.

Kwesi Lee, the guitarist from Nag Champa, will also be playing with a "vegan space metal" band from Maryland known as Emotio.

Dew Drop Inn

2801 8th St, NE

$5 | 8pm

2. October 26- Ace Cosgrove & Bob Moe Kill & Hardwork Movement

Ace Cosgrove has been busy performing his latest project Ms. Claire's Basement with experimental jazz group, BADBADNOTGOOD.  He returns to the District on Thursday to play a set at the hip Velvet Lounge with Bob Moe Kill and Philadelphia's Hardwork Movement. 

Velvet Lounge

915 U St, NW

$15 | 8:30pm

3. October 27- ROUGH

intherough flyer 2 (1).jpg

We got action at The Factory. #debutparty #DMV

A post shared by InTheRough (@intheroughstyle) on

It wouldn't be Halloweekend without a keg and bottomless drinks right? 

'Rough' is InTheRough's debut event.  It is a mixed media music and art show celebrating the youth movement in D.C. and its creative communities.  Friday night's show includes visual contributions from artist Quaishawn Whitlock while Tedy Brewski, Sir E.U, and Rob Smokes are among the musical stylings for the night.  Bring your dancing shoes.

Uptown Art House

3412 Connecticut Ave, NW

$10 drink ticket | 7pm

4. October 28- Mr. Daywalker

Mr. Daywalker photgraphed by Maxwell Young

Mr. Daywalker photgraphed by Maxwell Young

Mr. Daywalker, AKA percussion's free spirit, will be performing new music at the Love + Solidarity Collective this Saturday.  Go and see what the quirkiness is all about.

Love + Solidarity Collective

439 Park Road, NW

Free | 9pm

5. October 28- Enter the Void

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 1.41.52 PM.png

House of MXD is taking over the Art House this Saturday for their artist showcase "Enter the Void."  Artists like Dawn Musa, Kleonaptra, and St. Clair Castro will be setting the vibes.  Costumes are encouraged!

Uptown Art House

3412 Connecticut Ave, NW

$5 | 3-6pm