culture

Other college radio stations could learn a thing or two from WVAU and Maliyeah Grant by Maxwell Young

A lot of people come to D.C. and take what they can get out of it, without giving what they have to it.
— Maliyeah Grant, Senior, Events Director, WVAU, American University

As a transplant living in Washington, D.C. (by way of Pittsburgh, Pa.), I can attest to a foreigner’s urge to experience the cultural heritage of the city. For those who have never visited, it’s hard not to feel this compulsion if for nothing but the fact that most of these experiences are free. It’s like tasting your favorite sweet treat for the first time—the rush of energy, the colors, the sensory immersion—you’re insatiable. It’s a natural part of living in a new environment, wanting to interact with its people and communities.

“I guess everyone was trying to connect with D.C. culture,” said Maliyeah Grant at the Tenleytown Chick Fil A, a popular spot for her American University classmates, no doubt. The Senior from York, Pa. opened up about her gradual involvement in the District’s creative scene running parallel to (and at times intersecting) her collegiate radio career, with Nappy Nappa’s social media acting as her entry point. “ I started listening to him on SoundCloud and following local artists. We started going to events at Uptown Art House and talking to people who aren’t from AU.”

Maliyeah Grant (left) at WVAU’s prom in April 2018. Photos by Jason Brandon

Maliyeah Grant (left) at WVAU’s prom in April 2018. Photos by Jason Brandon

The Art House is actually where I first met Grant. Last spring, she rented the now defunct venue space for WVAU’s annual prom. Just a year following my own graduation, the early-twenty-somethings’ youthful energy was contagious and I became nostalgic of simpler times. I thought about the house parties and DIY shows Rob Stokes encouraged me to see my sophomore year, like MILF and $uicideboy$ on the same bill. I wished my friends and classmates were privy to those untapped worlds so that we could experience them together. Yet, there was Grant looking eerily similar to SZA in her “Love Galore” music video, amplifying that same spirit through her school. Rather than merely being a part of the vibe, this time she was curating it.

Such foundational experiences can have a compounding effect on someone who is eager to support the arts, especially someone like Grant who has university resources and money at her disposal.

“There’s a responsibility when you move somewhere that you’re not from to engage with the community in a positive way. A lot of people come to D.C. and take what they can get out of it, without giving what they have to it,” she said.

Although WVAU is a campus station, the internet network is committed to highlighting locally-based talent, whether that’s playing music on air waves or inviting artists to interviews. It’s about bridging the arts and academic communities to not only expose young people to identities and perspectives they might not have considered before, but also fostering future collaborations. The station’s early 2000s party, ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot,’ featured sounds from D.C.-based collective MXDHOUSE while Greenss is slated to offer an exclusive set at AU’s Batelle Atrium in support of Stephn, who is releasing his album Time Before Us with WVAU on February 22.

“Putting funding towards local artists. That’s a big way I like to connect the two [communities],” Grant said.

Other universities could take a page from American, WVAU & Maliyeah’s script. Of course, there are some who already align with this identity. Oberlin College brought a full blow mind-melt to Ohio, booking the Model Home combo of Nappy Nappa & Pat Cain along with Sir E.U and Rob Stokes in December. Treat the arts like any other community outreach program and bring culture to campus. It doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars spent bringing major artists to the quad. Local experiences are relevant to the student experience, plus, they inform the real estate you inhabit.

Photos by Jason Brandon

BAS: HOW THE QUEENS MC FOUND HIS SOUND by JR Walker

Special to InTheRough written by Hibak Mohamed

Photo by  The Fiends

Photo by The Fiends

In 2018, we heard from Bas with his third studio album “Milky Way.” In an interview with Mass Appeal he said, “It felt like for the first time I put together something that fully encompasses all aspects of me.” The evolution of Abbas Hamad’s signature sound wasn’t over night. From the “Quarter Water Raised” mixtapes to “Milky Way,” we have been able to watch the maturation of his discord. I first heard the MC on J Cole’s track “Cousins,” and I instantly gravitated towards his hunger and drive. The grandeur of Dreamville’s music has been distinguishable and highly anticipated as of late. Label heads Jermaine Cole and Ibrahim Hamad have cultivated a movement beyond music. By amassing a roster of talented artists, Dreamville has been able to distinctively set themselves apart in the game.

“Milky Way” by the Queen’s MC, is truly an embodiment of his international identity. Bas’ father was a diplomat so they moved often when he was younger. He was born in Paris, France and moved to Queens when he was eight. During his childhood he also spent some time in Qatar. His worldly view shaped his identity and flows into his art. On the intro track “Icarus,” Bas declares, “I been giving New York City a new sound.” His New York cadence coupled with Afro-beats and Caribbean rhythms make this album stand out sonically when compared to his earlier works. Bas pays homage to his Sudanese roots with the album artwork, a picture his cousin took of him while they were visiting the Nubian pyramids in Meroë, Sudan.

His love for travel translates into his music and it’s even more evident in the samples he used for “Milky Way.” In the upbeat track “Tribe,” Bas sampled “Zum-Zum” by Edu Lobo, a Brazilian singer from the 60s. On “Boca Raton,” the brazilian funk sound is a sample from Sango’s “Para a Luz.” The electronic chords in “Fragrance,” are by French multi-instrumentalist FKJ. In the track “Designer,” Bas sampled British musician Tom Misch. Bas has never been one to limit himself in regards to his music. Bas previously worked with The Hics, a British electronic band on his last album “Too High To Riot.” I was happy to find out that Bas is planning on releasing a collab album with the band.

“This album is about finding ground. About not poisoning your own well.”

—Bas

Throughout the album, Bas centers the theme of love. He also relays moments of weakness and vulnerability in his music. On “Barack Obama Special,” he says, “I tell nobody else how it feels / I cannot share the stress I'm feeling.” As the album progresses we note that Bas has overcome his challenges. On “Designer” he raps, “My fears make me feel great...let the pain go I choose to move freely.” In this album, Bas is letting go of the pressures of the music industry and shifting the focus to the love in his life. During the release of “Milky Way” on Instagram he wrote, "This album is about finding ground. About not poisoning your own well. About finding and tethering yourself to the love that truly fulfills you. Love of self. Love of others. Lovers. Family. Friends. Fans. You’ve all given me all the affirmation I’ll ever need.”


Personally, this album was a stand out because of the fluidity and replay value. Even the visuals we got for “Tribe,” “Fragrance and “Boca Raton exude a feel good ambiance. You can really tell Bas was having fun with this one. “Milky Way” is a testament that Bas’ music is just as versatile as his passport. We also have the “Revenge of the Dreamers III” tape to look out for from the Dreamville camp. Bas is currently on tour and after you see this album live there’s no denying the milk.

Tune in to Too Deep For the Intro Podcast for more.

Opaline - a night of iridescence by Maxwell Young

Opaline is an intersectional program of art, music, and food curated by Briona Butler aka Surrealistma.  It returns February 1.

The inaugural Opaline on December 1, 2018 photographed by Maxwell Young.

The inaugural Opaline on December 1, 2018 photographed by Maxwell Young.

Washington, D.C.—A feeling, or mood if you will, Opaline first manifested on the Instagram pages.  A tumblr-like onslaught of black excellence and beauty, opulence, and iconic hip hop and R&B figures became hard to ignore: Quintessential Kelis—her signature green epitomized in a pair of fierce sunglasses and a subtle ombré.  Tupac and his mother Afeni.  Hyper-sexualized fruits.  Avant-garde fashion.  Iridescent crystals.  Cozy Diddy.  And a young Mos Def freestyling in a New York park all conveyed potent levels of nostalgia.

This sentiment was transmuted at Dwell DC, an artsy, knick-knack-filled clubhouse tucked away in the Northeast quadrant of the District.  Performances by MARTYHEEMCHERRY, Nappy Nappa, Lulu Sunflower, and Pangelica as well as DJs Moses and Greenss buoyed the first monthly events in December and January.  At the last Opaline on New Year’s, I watched Dreamcast and Nappy Nappa run through their collaborative track, “Dolphin Squeek,” a glitchy bop that appears on Dreamcast’s most recent offering, The Lost Tapes vol. 2.  A bowl of black eyed peas and collard greens—a dish supposedly bringing good fortune in 2019 catered by Green from Within—added a savory element to the night while Sir E.U filtered through his library on the turntables.

“It’s important for me to create spaces for us to be together and cool it,” Butler told me over brunch at The Diner in Adams Morgan.  “For me, music is a very spiritual healing tool.”

Butler is no stranger to orchestrating music programming in Washington, D.C., and growing up as a military brat in Southeast and Northeast, D.C. as well a PG County, Maryland, she has a vast experience of what the DMV’s art community can cultivate.  During 2017 and 2016, Butler was integral to the Glow End Theory series presented by CMPVTR CLVB that focused on reinvigorating the divine feminine, featuring artists like Alex Vaughn, Odd Mojo, and DJ Little Bacon Bear.  She noted that the inspiration behind her desire to create intersectional events was derived from Sanaa Fest, a party series founded by D.C.-based artist Yaya Bey in 2015 that provided a tolerant environment to showcase creatives in the DMV and New York. 

Butler reminisced about one of the parties in which Afrovelvet, no foreigner to InTheRough pages, had a fashion show and the iconic female duo Oshun performed.  “I feel like the Sanaa Fest changed the course of my life.  That was a seed that made me want to be off what I’m off.  I have mad respect for Yaya.”

Opaline, however, is solely the brainchild of Butler.  The genesis of the idea came as a way to amplify the voice of her childhood best friend, Babby, who’s angelic crooning has enchanted guests over the first two shows.  The Baltimore-based singer’s impromptu a-cappella  set on New Year’s hushed the entire audience, centering the room in a moment of serenity.

Only two parties underway, “a night of iridescence” as Butler refers to Opaline is still in its infancy, but the optimism around the movement is evident.  Already it has engendered a feeling of comfort with familiar faces returning to engage with the series.  Butler doesn’t see Opaline as just a party, though, rather as a multi-media brand.  Her Opaline mixes on SoundCloud convert the visual aesthetic of the program into a sonic palette while highlighting rising talents in the community.  Greenss’ assistance with the audio mixing in the inaugural set is a nice segue into his own offering of tracks in mix 01.

The third Opaline will be held at The Village Cafe on Friday, February 1 with performances by Bobbi Rush, Nate G, Sir E.U, Naygod, Hoeteps, and Free.GG along with an art installation by Rap Rumi. Stay tuned for the next Opaline mix.

Friday, February 1

The Village Cafe

1272 5th St NE

Washington, D.C. 20002



Sir E.U's Op-ed: Juxtapositional Authority, Who's storyline is it anyway? by Maxwell Young

The following text was written one year ago today by Sir E.U, Washington, D.C.-based emcee and visionary artist—January 14, 2018.

Sir E.U , Polaroids by Maxwell Young

Sir E.U, Polaroids by Maxwell Young

There is no level of voyeurism that can suffice when trying to accurately entail something's true worth when you are not it. 

I recently read an article about Australian Psych-Rock that was written by a dude from/living in Los Angeles, CA. Such juxtapositional authority has become typical & out of hand. It reminds me of how Malcolm X once lamented about the voice of the civil rights movement at the time being primarily clowns as he called them—entertainers and beloved athletes who's prominence in society was mainly derivative of their commercial appeal rather than focused resolve in origin. 

So many articles/lists/BRANDS/COMPANIES capitalize & feign focus on regions that they're most often absent from, feigning informed authority. This is blatantly disrespectful to the intersectionality that the parties in subject present; Constantly one-dimensionalizing entities by providing a narrative based on the most evident and superficial consistencies, more than likely physical or consistent themes in aesthetic or likenesses. In most digital journalism these days, the content and character of the subject in observation is boiled down and sacrificed to the omni-limited palette of the apathetic and disconnected consumer, more than likely on the basis of likability much more so than real world viability and applicability. I realize that it has been like this long before I was born.

Underprivileged communities, under represented individuals, and artists suffer the most when outsiders define the narrative that the rest of the world tunes in to & gathers empathy from their character. We all have heroes from our hometowns in our psyche who could have genuinely produced game-changing results in their fields had someone with resource been able to witness their ability in the proper context and environments. I have vivid memories of groups of children cranking D.C artist Lightshow on the A6/A8 etc, community type, but someone from out of town has no access to these memories, and the chances are zero to none that a kid on the bus follows the newspaper reporter making the next regional top 10 list that'll define the local hierarchy for the next few months.

It is gentrification. The communities & artists  featured by the media are always either the creme of the most mainstream applicable (w/ honorable mentions going to the most pretentious non-conformists), or the archetype bad examples who we are taught to either reject or learn from their missteps.  All who get their first impression from the outsiders' (mis)interpretation of what really goes on are none the wiser. The causes of what made these entities are no where near close to being initially considered. The myth of the self-made entity is the root of all consumerism and a revisionist's apology for capitalism, and it is a fountain of poverty and wealth begetting each other. Us electing officials and accepting the narratives of outsiders to our home interests breeds the craving for authenticity that works us and our idols to death in search of, vainly and vampirically draining our company of all savvy from the world outside of our chosen focuses and feeds.

We so often opt to accept, and, even more prevalently than ever now, we strive to invalidate or propose superlative parallels to what is plead rather than to simply empathize with someone's sharing of their understanding so far, which is definitely not to say that people are predominantly apt to be inoffensive when sharing theirselves either.

As long as we look to essentially uninformed and unbiased entities to determine our savvy's as our guides to the unknown, we will never escape the cycle of sampling our salvation until the next issue of it brands it obsolete. There is no level of voyeurism that can suffice when trying to accurately entail something's true worth when you are not it.

Photo Jan 08, 5 18 28 PM.jpg

Reminisce with Kubi, watch "I Miss L.A," a home movie by Maxwell Young

Washington, D.C.—In case you missed it, DMV-based photographer Kubi released a ten-minute home movie feeling nostalgic of his time in Los Angeles circa summer 2018.

We’re familiar with his film work as he came through Uptown Art House to capture the raw, underground vibe that was present the night of Khan, Wifigawd, and Trip Dixon performances last year. Peruse his Instagram to find his trademark Cowgirl photos—undoubtedly friends, models, creatives, and strangers, too—fitted in varying cowboy boots and hats. Plus, his lens has caught a who’s-who of District creatives, framing the scene in a distinct visual context.

Kubi’s videography is eye-catching, though, because he uses fonts and graphics that are reminiscent of a Windows 2005 digital era. In “I Miss L.A,” quick cuts of intimate moments with friends and beach buds inform this abstract diary while distortions and iridescent filters heighten the level of indulgence and enjoyment evident in his West coast adventure.

Perhaps the most compelling component of the video, in my opinion, is the music. “No Time” featuring Gunna by Playboi Carti is one of the more euphoric sounds on Die Lit. It accentuates the beginning of Kubi’s movie—a sense of arrival and renewal. He never leaves this wavelength, running through cuts of Astroworld, more Carti, and The Weekend who highlights one of Kubi’s heartfelt moments along the shoreline.

You have to wonder if a permanent Los Angeles transition is imminent for Kubi Cowboy. Is he a man of the Wild West? Watch the video above for a pleasurable moment in your day.