Nate Gski's 'Uptown Story' Comic Serves as a Time Capsule for D.C. by Maxwell Young

Across four issues, Nate G has transmuted his Northwest, Washington, D.C. experience into a fantasized world populated with your favorite hometown musicians, wielding superhuman powers.

The artistic talents of some members of the DMV’s music community have been reinterpreted into super powers by Nate G.

The artistic talents of some members of the DMV’s music community have been reinterpreted into super powers by Nate G.

Uptown Story is a comic series started by Nathaniel Benneton Gray, who was first introduced to InTheRough as an emcee. After purchasing several sketches as well as a t-shirt from his Niga line, the label “rapper” merely scratches the surface of Nate G’s creativity. The artist who has “UPTOWN” tatted on his belly, is time-stamping the people and the places who have contextualized the D.C. he’s known, lived, and loved.

“If I had a camera, a budget, and some actors, I would make this a movie,” he said, addressing the group of people gathered at Shopkeepers in October to learn more about the narrative of his comics. “But I have something better. I have my pen and my imagination.”

Although volumes are accessible via Instagram, Nate G presented a number of large-scale versions in the basement of the cafe/retail space on Florida Avenue. The vivid comic panels were reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s 1963 series, Flash, which chronicled the assassination of John F. Kennedy through screen prints of photographs and texts pulled from various news publications. Patrons took their time reading each piece, the stories developing as they advanced around the room.

Cap’n Uptown is the main protagonist throughout the series.  A sketch by Gray of an omnipotent God and Nubian angels descending a cherub from heaven into the D.C. streets birthed the idea of Uptown Story.  Illustrated shirtless with a red cape, golden bracelets, rings, chains, and the same “UPTOWN” tattoo that Nate bares, the superhero evokes images of X-Men  characters, Static Shock, Mr. T, Luke Cage, and of Gray himself.

“It feels like Saturday morning cartoons,” he said of his comics.

Pittsburgh by way of D.C. transplant  Babyteeth  drawn on a comic panel of Nate G’s Uptown Story. Displayed at Shopkeepers; Photograph by Maxwell Young

Pittsburgh by way of D.C. transplant Babyteeth drawn on a comic panel of Nate G’s Uptown Story. Displayed at Shopkeepers; Photograph by Maxwell Young

This sentiment is particularly evident in the way Nate composes scenes and expresses the underlying tones within Uptown Story.  In one of his panels at Shopkeepers, Cap’n Uptown and Afrovelvet, a long-time friend and frequent collaborator of Gray’s, are pit against one another in a heated tennis match before a surprise missile attack interrupts their set, and they have to spring into action.  Nate creates this drama because the reader is distracted by the intense level of competition we perceive that he depicts through command of angles and depth.  Moreover, the suspense is drawn out as the volumes end with cliff-hanging questions that harken back to the manner in which Dragon Ball-Z and other anime comics begin stories “en media res,” or, in the middle of things.

It is important Uptown Story reflects the culture and flavor of Washington, D.C., which is why Nate G draws people like Mista Selecta and Babyteeth encountering evil villains at places like the Uptown Theater—a landmark in the Cleveland Park neighborhood.  In a way, these Uptown Story volumes canonize the creative individuals, institutions, and identities that have contributed to District culture—from the vernacular to the Foamposites.

“There are small D.C. things I try to make that are very D.C.,” he said.

Uptown Story has invigorated Gray’s artistic output as a whole—the drawing and music-making now informing one another.  Not only are his latest EP covers self-illustrated, but he wants to tie the visual representation of Cap’n Uptown into a sonic one; Cap’n Uptown the album.  That’s what he’s refining these days.  In the first quarter of 2019, fans can expect a sensually immersive experience, consuming both Cap’n Uptown comics and Cap’n Uptown music.  Follow Uptown Story here and check out Nate G’s “Full Moon EP” here.

Cool Things Happening in Pittsburgh (Vol. 3) by Alex Young

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

a piece of history - respect to late Mayor of Pittsburgh Bob O'Connor

Youth and popular culture in the 'Burgh flourishes because the movers are extremely active in pushing their innovation, creativity, community, and business minds. With this, the responsible public creates masterpieces like events or products that residents and tourists can enjoy.

Basically, the following reports on cool things happening in Pittsburgh to look out for.

1. Uptown Florals 2.0 by Makayla Wray

Cheers to this design prodigy. Since releasing a couple custom Nike Air Force 1 back in 2015, Makayla Wray returns to her bread and butter. Wray's Uptown Florals 2.0 are extensions of her "Warhol Flower AF1" and "BLK AF1" projects, Nike's iconic sneaker decorated with flowers. Officially under the "MAW" label, Uptown Florals 2.0 appreciate Swoosh heritage, Wray's ability to craft premium leather goods (the flower petals on 2.0 are calfskin), and "my uproot from Pittsburgh to New York—parallel to the same path taken by Andy Warhol," she says.

Stylistically, Florals is great. Though Wray spends a lot of time in New York, the Pittsburgh native is back in the city often, and she linked with locals model Donovan Green and photographer Preslav for the shoe's visual presentation.

Only 50 pairs of the Uptown Florals 2.0 will be available on July 1 via at 4:12 p.m. EST. [$280]

2. No Joke with Paizley

Do you want to dance? Come to No Joke and be turnt. Paizley, the DJ, will keep the bangers going. The first time I heard Paizley was a year ago at Finesse with EYEJAY. He threw down, and I left the event sweaty. You can have fun at No Joke because Paizley advertises it as "Trap, Rap & Whatever Else." It's lit.

To give yourself fuel for No Joke on Saturday, July 1 at Remedy in Lawrenceville, listen to Paizley's new mix called "Blue Collar" that celebrates the 'Burgh's underground rap and hip-hop culture. "To be something special in Pittsburgh means working non-stop on your own time and with little resources," he says.


5121 Butler Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15201

3. Creatives Independence Collection

"Creatives" becomes a way-of-life in Pittsburgh. The brand and slogan honor the people behind great productions. The staple that Cody Baker and Chancelor Humphrey have established in their Creatives Drink party they now transfer into core Creatives garments. The Creatives Independence Collection includes two Champion mesh short colorways and three Champion T-shirt colorways. Each comes with an American embroidered flag. Creatives' range drops on July 4 at 11 a.m. EST and will be available for 24 hours at

4. Summer Livin

Splash around. Enjoy summer. Summer Livin provides energy and feels with food and music at the Highland Park Pool on June 30 from 1-9 p.m. Songbird Sierra Sellers and hot rappers like James Perry, and Lokal Foreners, have performances.

If you miss the pool party, attend LiveFromTheCity's Sun Fest '17 on July 7 in partnership with the 1Hood Media and Boom Concepts collectives. Support a community clothing drive and music.

Highland Park Pool

151 Lake Drive

Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Boom Concepts

5139 Penn Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15224

5. Supa Jefe Tour with Kap-G and J.R. Donato at Spirit

Georgia spits out rappers like faucets spit out water. Up and comer Kap-G, the dude who moans "I just took a flick with your girlfriend," is the latest product from The Peach State and he comes to Pittsburgh on July 10. Some of the city's prime rappers like Calvin Portsworth, Pet Zebra, and Pk Delay open for Kap-G.


242 51st Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15201

6. JAILBREAK Festival

[The] intent is to create strength in numbers by bringing together the diverse groups in this city while having a banging good time doing it.

The theme and date of this event was inspired by Bastille Day, where a mob of over 1,000 people united and stormed the walls of the Bastille prison in Paris, sparking a turning point in the French Revolution.

May JAILBREAK start a massive movement in Pittsburgh that people cannot ignore, an annual festival that brings local talent and local consumers to a big party. Heavyweights Choo Jackson, Benji, Mikey P, Tairey, Slim Tha DJ, DJ Seams, DJ Topgun, and much more entertain the crowd. The underground's best will also be in attendance on July 15 at JAILBREAK. Acquaint yourself with BABYT33TH and 1Geno. Review the entire festival lineup and show up to JAILBREAK for the culture. 

7. InTheRough Features with Geechi P and Yung Mulatto

Here are Pittsburgh's fashion forefather and Pittsburgh hip-hop's creative director. Geechi P and Yung Mulatto respectively move in their own lanes while influencing their peers. Geechi's attention to high fashion and streetwear educates a Pittsburgh public who is behind the fashion curve. Mulatto collects production credits for rappers like Blackboi, and he is the visual connection between artists' image and their music. Both young men are key players in the 'Burgh's progressive society. Learn more about them soon under Life's Goods.