culture

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.

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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.

Modeling and Styling, Meech Loves Himself and His Clothes by Alex Young

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Meech Mackey

“What you see on the Internet isn’t what you see in real life.”

‘The culture’ hit the broadside of IKEA. Meech, a 19-year-old who called Ian Connor, Luka Sabbat, Virgil Abloh and Bloody Osiris his style idols, played a similar fashion role at the furniture store. He might as well been shopping for his dorm room as he plans to attend college next fall. But really he displayed his outfit against the varying decor in the showroom, a bright yellow IKEA shopping bag in hand to look the part. He called himself and the mentioned fashionistas different. “Being themselves actually,” Meech finished. “I love being myself.”

Likewise, the Moon Township, Pa. native, also loves clothes. Officially named Demetrius “Meech” Mackey, he wants to become a celebrity stylist, and in the meantime, he’s a signed model for Docherty Agency.  Finding a balance between high and low-fashion while supporting upstart designers is what helps his taste be “fashionable.” Meech began in seventh grade as a self-described sneakerhead though.

Photos of Meech by Alex Young

Photos of Meech by Alex Young

The pure blue IKEA facade caught cool looks with Meech in front of the camera lens and the building. He donned an Angelo Numa tie-dye puffer coat with exquisite sleeves. Numa studies at SCAD in Atlanta, Ga. Unlike his accessories, the top and trousers were subdued fresh with a black-white stripe shirt and black jeans with a red stripe down the outside leg. The Off-White™ Air Jordan 1  Chicago with neon green and orange laces covered his feet. Four chains on his neck. Gucci pouch across his chest. Louis Vuitton phone case.

If you’re worried about what people think, you’re not gonna achieve anything.
— Meech

Bringing up the Off-White™ x IKEA collaboration, Meech seemed to be aware of fashion’s current climates. He called the Bloody Osiris swag “outrageous” and applauded A$AP Rocky for delivering fashion to a new generation of rappers like Playboi Carti. “That’s a pretty mothafucka,” he said about Rocky.

Meech also knew what’s what in Pittsburgh citing designer Aris Tatalovich as a hopeful peer. “That’s why I was at the party [Year End Review with DJ Based Grvce]. I thought he was gonna be there,” Meech said. Remember Bloody Osiris in the lookbook for Tatalovich’s Stingray backpack. Meech also noted designer John Geiger and model Donovan Green as other people from the ‘Burgh who contribute to the broader fashion scene.

Additionally, Meech connects with local photographers like Devon Colebank to support his image. His goal is to work with well-known photographer Jordan Beckham. More exposure will come from his episode on the “I’ll Call You Right Back” podcast.

Despite the Pittsburgh praise, Meech acknowledged that culture moves slowly here like "Mo Bamba." That song’s "been a hit. I was into that six months before it was a hit,” he said.

The power of the Internet is a “controlling” influence Meech said. “What you see on the Internet isn’t what you see in real life. People don’t get that yet.”

When Travis Scott came to Downtown, Pittsburgh for his “Wish You Were Here” tour, Meech got a standing room only ticket because “I love raging, enjoying the time,” he said. “I’ve been with him since day 1, not like these hypebeast people saying ‘Sicko Mode’ is the best song on the album. ‘Houstonfornication’ fire. ‘NC-17’ fire,” Meech said. That’s his young energy, linking with other artists through Instagram DMs for photoshoots, prowling to various events starting mosh-pits dripped down with a Gucci pouch or Supreme this Supreme that, but he’s got enough taste to wear a tie too.

Still excited about the home furnishings in IKEA (first timer), Meech shared the advice, “If you’re worried about what people think, you’re not gonna achieve anything.”

Thanks for a Great Year - Keep It Pushing Into 2019 by Alex Young

The plan was a two-level party at Boom Concepts in the Friendship section of Pittsburgh. InTheRough curated the space to celebrate creative communities of Pittsburgh. DJ Based Grvce handled the crowd upstairs as people steadily flowed in the building all night. First, people headed for the free drinks trying to get “gnarly off the jungle juice,” as Woolane would say. Next, they stopped at the Commendations voting platform to cast physical votes for the individuals who worked with diligence and consistency throughout 2018.

There was a blank ITR poster on the wall that said, “Write Here.” The clean canvas piqued people’s interest. The poster was covered by night’s end with social media tags, penis drawings and positive messages. It’s not a party unless someone draws a dick with a sharpie.

Thank you everyone who came to the Year End Review Party with DJ Based Grvce.

Thank you everyone who came to the Year End Review Party with DJ Based Grvce.

Downstairs in the basement, what was supposed to be a print shop for local streetwear brands turned into a smoke session with underground artists and creatives. Rappers JvGGY Hendrix, Keith.Wav, Sobah and Julio of Wave Beast Productions were found in the plumes of smoke having photoshoots. Keith.Wav controlled the aux chord to keep the basement crowd engaged. When he wasn’t playing songs, singer-songwriter Josephine rang her unreleased music for the scene to critique.

Many people celebrated themselves and others last night at the Year End Review Party. You know who you are. High school friends pulled up on a reunion attitude. That was touching.

Photo by Matt’s Music Mine - Check out his photos from the party  here .

Photo by Matt’s Music Mine - Check out his photos from the party here.

Emcees Taylor Bush and ITR’s Maxwell Young set the stage for rapper Woolane’s performance. “What’s your goal for 2019? Where you wanna go? Who you wanna be,” prompted Young. The Year End party gave Woolane a fresh audience to introduce his music, too. While tending bar, I bopped around to “STUK” and “Purple Hearts” pouring a girl whiskey and water on the rocks. Keith.Wav asked if he could have an impromptu set after Woolane. His assertion was appreciated, especially because of his highly anticipated song on the way called “DAMN!” that would’ve transitioned nicely from Woolane’s pop star. The night ended in bliss as DJ Based Grvce played a house song by Toro y Moi. When the last note played, Based Grvce thanked everyone and headed for the basement. The smoke box rightfully became an art party after her set. Quaishawn Whitlock fulfilled Melanin prints for people sitting around the print tables rolling blunts. Matt’s Music Mine grabbed a Stillers™ shirt and printed some ITR logos down the chest. He said nothing made him feel more about the culture than making T-shirts in a basement.

Overall, the goal has always been to celebrate positive communities and achievements that impact peers. Thank you to everyone who showed up last night. Thank you for playing a significant role in the culture here in The ‘Burgh.

Polaroids taken by Maxwell Young.

Commendations Nominees Who Received Votes At The Year End Review Party

Commendations Nominees Who Received Votes At The Year End Review Party

UPDATE: See Where You Finished In The 2018 Commendations

This concludes the Commendations for Pittsburgh 2018. This list includes the tally from both online votes and physical votes cast at the Year End Review Party. Physical votes counted five times more than an online vote.

This concludes the Commendations for Pittsburgh 2018. This list includes the tally from both online votes and physical votes cast at the Year End Review Party. Physical votes counted five times more than an online vote.