The Uptown Interview by Maxwell Young

'The Uptown Interview' is a series of candid conversations with some of D.C.'s cultural influencers in an attempt to interpret and preserve the artistic heritage of the city.  In homage to the late Hugh Hefner and 'The Playboy Interview,' InTheRough sat down with two of the most dynamic forces in the District's creative ecosystem: producer/singer Davon Bryant aka Dreamcast and journalist/D.C. cultural archivist Marcus Dowling.  Read on for a couple excerpts from the conversations, and head to the Uptown Art House website for the full interviews. 


Davon Bryant photograph by Maxwell Young

Davon Bryant photograph by Maxwell Young

Dreamcast on making "sit down" music...

MY: So, a full album,  When can we expect that?

DB: I’m thinking within the next 3 to 4 months, man.  I need to have it out.  I really wanna maximize me being on the radio now to push it.  I’m just having fun with it dude, like, it’s really not a job right now.

MY: Is that the main thing you do?

DB: I was just working at a dental office for maybe 6 months to a year, and I ended that before I went to Europe.  But what I’m focusing on now is just making some new content.  I just wanna make some shit that makes people sit down.  There’s so much turn up music.  I want to have that same realm of performances as James Blake, where people come and sit down.  They stand when they really feel the music.  You don’t have to be turnt up.  I want you to come on some acid.

MY: That’s some jam-band shit.  Some Grateful Dead shit.

DB: Yea and just enjoy yourself.  There’s no pressure to look like you’re going to the club.

Marcus Dowling

Marcus Dowling

Marcus Dowling on D.C. being great unto itself...

MD: Before Obama was elected, things would happen in the darkness and they would be amazing.  They would be amazing unto themselves.  There was no mainstream for it.  The Fleur Guys were booking Armin Van Buuren and Tiesto and all of that, and they were killing it.  But it wasn’t like they were killing it and the world needed to know.  Like they could make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and nobody knew.  There was no need for D.C. to become this explosive and expansive scene.

MY: Why do you think that is though?

MD: Because D.C. was a federal town at this point.  D.C. was a government town first and an arts town second.  A government town first and a creative hub second.  When we had jazz and we had go-go, these were things that were nationally renowned if only because people from other places came here and took the culture to their hometown.  Rick Rubin would come down for Junk Yard shows all the time.  So, if you wanna understand how go-go expanded outside of D.C., Rick Rubin would come down to punk and hardcore shows and book go-go bands as the openers.  So you would get Fugazi and Junk Yard Band on a bill.  So, when he started Def Jam with Russell Simmons, he’s like, “Okay, we have to make rap records that are sonically different.”  And Rick was into this sound that’s brash and big and tough.  So, he’s listening to Junk Yard and Trouble Funk and all these bands and he’s like, “Wait, the drums on these tracks are ridiculous.  The rhythms on these tracks are ridiculous.  The least I could do is get these guys up to New York and have them play, so I can sample their drums and rhythms.”  And that’s what he did.  That’s how Trouble Funk’s “Dropped the Bomb” got sampled and Junk Yard Band got signed to a record deal.  And that was only because Rick Rubin was coming down to D.C.  Had he never come down here, the music would’ve never left.  D.C. has been great unto itself, like legendary great.  Not just great in a way where it’s just “cool,” but legendarily great unto itself.

GLD x Taylor Gang House Party and Pop-Up Shop by Alex Young

A post shared by •• GLD •• (@shopgld) on

Local Pittsburgh legend Dan Folger has seen his stock rise since being Wiz Khalifa's photographer and visual director to diamond and gold dealer. Now, he's enjoying his success and furthering his GLD brand in the process.

Folger joins Wiz for a Taylor Gang x GLD pop-up shop located on the South Side's East Carson Street. They offer apparel and jewelry with TGOD and Pirates themes coming in strong through the Pittsburgh P's pendants. The experience is timely as Wiz visits his hometown for his performance at Thrival music festival on Saturday.

Last night, Shop GLD and the Taylor Gang hosted a house party at the pop-up shop. Gang was there with a handful of guests, like trapstar Jimmy Wopo and party master Flack who was on-hand to catch the moment. During the turn up, Wiz and Wopo debuted the track they made together that's juiced by Sledgren production. The shit rides and the night ended with police stepping through a shattered glass door. It got too lit in the 'Burgh, but that's what the culture needs. Catch pieces on Folger's Snapchat (danfolger).

Visit the shop up through October 1 and get tickets for Wiz at Thrival here. Be ready for that Wiz x Wopo track to shake the city up.

Shop GLD x Taylor Gang Pop-Up Shop

1015 East Carson St

Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Brothers Join to Make Hits by Alex Young

The Keymakers | photographs and video by Alex and Maxwell Young

The Keymakers | photographs and video by Alex and Maxwell Young

Since moving to Boston for jobs after college, Jerome and Justin Barnes have logged many miles traveling between Beantown, Miami, Toronto, and Pittsburgh to make music.

Their time spent is worthwhile though as the duo, officially called The Keymakers, release their debut single "Good For You." To celebrate, the 25-year-old Jerome and 22-year-old Justin returned to their native Pittsburgh for a music release party at Jay Verno Studios.

"It feels great to come full circle and share this moment with family and friends," Jerome said.

A post shared by Rome + Rederic (@thekeymakers) on

The Barnes brothers started making music as kids. Jerome's father, James, recalled his son taking up piano in middle school and high school at Shady Side Academy. "When he went off to college, he played us songs that he sang on. I was shocked. 'This is really you?'" James said. Jerome sang under the name Rome Alexander

On the other hand, Justin was a drummer. At Shady Side, he joined a band called One Car Pile Up. Once they separated, he began to DJ and mash songs together as his own mixes. "It's one thing to take other people's songs, but it's another to produce your own music," James said of Justin.

As the brothers found their sounds in college, Washington University in St. Louis for Jerome and Depauw University for Justin, who is better known there by his DJ name Rederic, it made sense to combine Jerome's singing ability with Justin's production after graduation.

Professional guidance came from Always Money Always Gorgeous Collective, an off-shoot record label of Cash Money Records operated by Cash Money representative Anshuman Sharma. Sharma critiqued The Keymakers work each time they visited his plush studio in Kitchener, Ontario only 60 miles from Toronto. "Your energy isn't there. The energy doesn't match what you're saying," he said. Other AMAG team members such as Jesse Christophr helped The Keymakers write lyrics. "Any great song is going to have many different people working on it," Jesse said.

The Keymakers create pop music and love songs like "Good For You." "Jerome wants to put out these sad ballads, but my production makes them more fun," Justin said.

"Why would I deceive her? She made me a believer," Jerome sings in the debut track.

While "Good For You" is the beginning for The Keymakers, "so many awesome people have helped us along the way to get to a point where we have so much music we're excited to share with y'all," Justin said.

Now, The Keymakers work to "build our name," Justin said. They plan to release a monthly single. Until their next track, listeners can enjoy "Good For You" on all streaming platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.

Hilltopolis Preview by Alex Young

People were elated when The Cool Kids, an elite rap duo comprised of Chuck Inglish and Sir Michael Rocks of Chicago, announced last summer that they would officially reunite. Last Friday, Inglish and Rocks delighted fans even more with the release of their first album, "Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe," since their 2011 output "When Fish Ride Bicycles."

Now, the news gets better. Thanks to Work Hard Pittsburgh, a cooperatively owned and operated business incubator, underground giants The Cool Kids visit the 'Burgh for a concert on Friday, September 22, 2017.

To match the cooperative effort of Work Hard Pittsburgh, key partners collaborate on the concert officially called Hilltopolis. Drinking Partners Podcast emcee the event. Creatives Drink, a free networking event disguised as a turn-up, hosts the pregame party and the afterparty. Cody Baker and Chancelor Humphrey will throw the C.D. afterparty in a warehouse 30 minutes after The Cool Kids leave the Hilltopolis stage in Grandview Park located between Mount Washington and Allentown. C.D.'s resident DJ Pete Butta will spin the tracks.

Further, emerging local stars Pk Delay and Pet Zebra are the opening acts for Inglish and Rocks. Both Delay and Zebra steadily make names for themselves in the 'Burgh and elsewhere with their entertainment value. Recently, they visited Morgantown, W. VA. to open for rapper Riff Raff.

A post shared by Hilltopolis (@hilltopolis) on

Most importantly, Hilltopolis is a charity event. Tickets are free, but Hilltopolis advertising encourages attendees to "pay what you want." All proceeds benefit Brashear Kids, a non-profit which supports citizen education and community improvement.

Get tickets here and come to Hilltopolis prepared to celebrate "social innovation through music and activism."

Hilltopolis

330-332 Bailey Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Creatives Drink Afterparty

829 Industry St. 

Pittsburgh, PA 15210

The New Wave Podcast Welcomes InTheRough, Cameraman Nairobi and Terrell Robinson by Alex Young

Simply, The New Wave Podcast gives talented people in Pittsburgh a platform to talk about their work and the culture that surrounds them. Rap star Jimmy Wopo visited the show within two weeks of being released from Allegheny County Jail to reminisce about his life and speak about his new tape "Back Against The Wall." New Wave tracks relevancy in the 'Burgh, chatting with national tastes like comedian Marlon Wayans at WAMO radio and the best of the local underground.

When it was time for InTheRough to speak about the journalism and archiving we've done for Pittsburgh, as well as Stillers, New Wave Podcast had to be the place. It's a pleasure to write for the popular and sub-culture scenes here. It's an honor to show the personalities of positive people here and in other cities. But being able to speak out about ITR and the almighty Stillers was liberating as fuck. Thank you, New Wave, for having us on the show. Also a shout-out to the co-guests Nairobi Jones, a photographer and personal documentarian for Steelers wideout Martavis Bryant, and Terrell Robinson, a film director.

Importantly, the best part of the ITR episode with The New Wave Podcast was how we represented for Pittsburgh. Everyone in the room had a piece of the city in their own right. Nobody touches ArtLikeUs when it comes to catching famous people with his camera lens and he was there filming the episode. Cameraman Nairobi and Terrell made it a point to name drop R&B crooner B. Knight who has a mixtape coming out executively produced by Stevie B, the man behind Wopo's tracks. ITR did our due-diligence with a top 5 list of best rap pens in the 'Burgh. Mars Jackson, Blackboi, Choo Jackson, and Hardo made the list.

Enjoy the full episode below. Subscribe to New Wave.

 

 

 

 

Stillers Season 01 by Maxwell Young

FullSizeRender (28).jpg

There's not much to harp on about the Stillers' previous season.  Super Bowl runs is what we've come to expect in the Steel City, and a team we all thought was capable of hunting for Pittsburgh's seventh Lombardi Trophy fell flat on their faces in Foxborough, Massachusetts--getting out-played and out-coached by the Patriots.  The Patriots have been the Stillers' kryptonite since I was a kid, ruining our championship hopes on several occasions in 2001 and 2004.  If you ask me, the pursuit of a world championship isn't complete until the Stillers avenge these epic losses.  If you ask me, Ben Roethlisberger's major blemish is that he can't seem to topple Brady in the postseason.

The good news is that the Stillers know what kind of issues the Patriots cause.  Blossoming playmaker, Ryan Shazier, thinks the League "has a Patriots problem" that the Stillers "intend to fix," he says.  Coach Tomlin has clearly heeded these words this offseason, completely revamping the Stillers secondary featuring another Florida Gator from the Tebow-era BCS Championship runs--shout out Joe Haden.  Our offense, though potent, especially with the return of Martavis Bryant, who came back to camp after a year suspension looking like an absolute ball-hawk, is not enough to stop the Super Bowl defending champions.  Not when mastermind Bill Belichick is shrewd enough to put his team in position to score every-freaking-drive.  Just ask the choke-king Atlanta Falcons.  Defense wins championships, people.  The young Stillers on the defensive side of the ball must grow up.  Stephon Tuitt should be a constant force in the backfield.  Bud Dupree should have double digit sacks.  James Harrison will be James Harrison, but it'd be nice if the Watt-family pedigree panned out in TJ, which so far, it looks like.  And Artie Burns must be ready for man-to-man coverage.

Listen to Stillers Nation. 

Listen to Stillers Nation. 

The Stillers have a relatively easy first eight games, facing the likes of the Browns, Bears, and Jaguars before the end of October.  Knowing the Black and Yellow though, we'll find a way to lose some of those games as playing down to the level of competition is a favorite Stillers past-time.  This volatility is the impetus behind the first collection of Stillers Season 01.

Available under the Stillers tab. 

Available under the Stillers tab

From the inevitable injuries that sideline Big Ben for at least one game to the late season, divison clinching heroics, the 'Rollercoaster' t-shirt is inspired by the dramatic nature of a Stillers season. That's what makes football so captivating in Pittsburgh.  We win, but it's often through much adversity. 

Unlike Postseason 01, this collection of t-shirts was designed, screen-printed, and dyed in-house by InTheRough staff.  Color is important to Season 01 because it is contrary to Stillers tradition.  Black and yellow is the norm, but look closely at the hypocycloids within the Stillers logo to find primary colors. The green hit on the multicolor 'Rollercoaster' t-shirt is a nod to Three Rivers Stadium's Gate D marker that still stands at Heinz Field today.  The vision would not be possible without contributions from Justin Berk, Lanie Edwards, Alex Hersh, JR Walker, Quaishawn Whitlock, and Alex Young.  Stillers t-shirts are now available for purchase here, and may they bring luck in this year's hunt for a seventh Super Bowl title.

Stillers bend, they don't break.

Yung Mulatto Illustrates the Hip-Hop Sound from Pittsburgh by Alex Young

Yung Mulatto photograph by Alex Young

Yung Mulatto photograph by Alex Young

Yung Mulatto can't help his native Southern Charm. He's the type to brew fresh tea leaves for a house guest. Tea time is one of Mulatto's hobbies, "just like doodling has always been," he said. The transplant makes a good impression upon Pittsburgh's resident artists and cool makers. 

Officially named Miles Saal, 20-year-old Mulatto speaks optimistically about his time in the city. "Pittsburgh is nothing like my hometown," he said. "There weren't a lot of arts programs at my magnet high school in Jacksonville, Florida." When he moved to the 'Burgh in 2013, Creative And Performing Arts High School opened the doors for Mulatto to explore his artistry and ingenuity. "A lot of agreeable people here" get his vision.

As an illustrator and music producer, Mulatto satisfies his desires while "trying to connect people with other people," he said. 

At eight-years-old, he handled the piano and the double bass. In high school, he played the trumpet. Since dropping out of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he studied music and film, Mulatto began to produce hip-hop. "I wanted to know more about the local scene beyond Mac and Wiz," Mulatto said.

He adores Pittsburgh for the creative people he meets. CAPA is the reason Mulatto met young rapper, James Perry. The big city, small town vibe familiarizes Mulatto with social circles. Although, SoundCloud digging and the unification of his drawing and musical skills puts Mulatto in the center of Pittsburgh's underground hip-hop community.

Mulatto's sphere of influence grows from drawing cover art for rap mixtapes or Local 412 Trading Cards done on coffee sleeves that idolize the 'Burgh's hip-hop heroes, like Pk Delay in a fur coat from his "M's" cover. Mulatto shouts out the scene regularly and casually. He doodles when he's working at the Jitters coffee shop in Shady Side. He selects local rappers, like Patches, to play through the shop's speakers. What goes in Mulatto's ears travels out of his hand on to the trading cards. The coffee sleeve drawings depict the life of the hip-hop scene and its actors like cartoons. "Danny Phantom, Anime, and Adventure Time are huge influences on my drawing style."

Importantly, Mulatto's work archives what is happening now creatively in popular Pittsburgh. He wrote out a long list of everyone he knew who made hip-hop here and the list travels as a beacon throughout social media space. Wait until the radar detects it.

The respect Mulatto has for the music community breathes organic collaborations with other artists. He drew the "Astro O2" album art for youth rap star Blackboi, and Mulatto sent him beats. Another rapper in Akono Miles received a storyboard cartoon about textbooks from Mulatto. "Cover art is the visual connection with music." Additionally, he joined with lifestyle label Reviving Real to release a mix featuring 15 local artists. He also drew the mix's artwork and placed some of his beats on the project. 

He knows the rap history. "The Bushnel is one of my favorite spots in Pittsburgh," he said. A lot of musicians throw house parties at that venue in the Oakland neighborhood. "I heard extensively about the Shadow Lounge when I moved here."

While exploring the landscape, Mulatto has become a fan of R&B artist Amir Miles and boom bap producer C. Scott.

[I’m] trying to connect people with other people.

Further, Mulatto's beat tapes are tranquil. His production matches the realism in his doodles. Listeners hear suave trumpets. His sounds come to life, and diverse instrumentation builds his music. "Producers shape where the sound will go," he said. "Sampling is big," too. "I kinda want to make the weirdest hip-hop possible. The kind that makes you turn your ear and say, 'This is amazing!'" For a reference, Mulatto likens himself to legendary hip-hop acts like Danger Doom, Outkast, Lil  B, and Tyler The Creator.

Ultimately, Mulatto calls himself a "big picture guy" and must thank the community he engages with and honors. "Pittsburgh has been really good to me," he said. Good times continue on September 16 at The Bushnel where Yung Mulatto hosts a birthday show.