In this episode Kwasi brings back Dutty Bookman to discuss the movement he has helped dub as the Reggae Revival after a panel at SXSW 2027. He also speaks to Koro Fyah of the Bevel Rock camp about his ABC’s at SXSW as well. Bomani interviews the founder of the Uganda’s Bavubuka Foundation, Babaluku, and their chief archivist Gilbert Daniels about Hip-Hop in Uganda and the Lugaflow movement. Bomani and Kwasi also discuss spirituality in independent music, and how the community discusses things like sin. A must listen!
Check out this interview with Grammy Nominated artist and educator Christylez Bacon. We explore his growth as an artist coming from Southeast DC and graduating from Duke Ellington High school for the performing arts, his experience with the Crushed I.C.E. Teen Program, and we reminisce on our days teaching art integrated workshops with the National Organization for Concerned Black men (before it was called art integration). Also learn more about the cultural exchange program he started with D.C.’s city sister Brazillia, Brazil, and his self taught ethnomusicology that has led him all the way to Iceland. Find more information about him athttp://www.christylez.com/
Had a wonderful time catching up to my old friend and colleague Tim Jones. Tim is the director of the teen program at Martha’s Table, one of DC’s most rekknowned non profit organizations and the place I began my career as a youth facilitator. Join us as we talk about how “urban-education” has evolved from the early 90’s to now with many schools looking to incorporate hip-hop into the educational process. A great listen on the changing dynamics in our field.
I had a wonderful week working with the teachers and staff at Beverly Hills Farms Elementary. Shout out to Mrs. Balzar, Mrs. Cashmere, Mrs. Foley and Mrs. Bardwell and the incredible 5th graders.
On that dark Monday night was the Boston Massacre
100 colonists abused, taunted and provoked
Lobsters, scoundrels, bloody backs they called the Red Coats
The infuriated colonists threw ice covered rocks
In less than 20 minutes lives were taken by the shots
The battle was intense and the riot was hardcore
The Massacre led to the Revolutionary War
On Dec 16, 1773
The Sons of Liberty threw the Boston Tea Party
Samuel Adams lead them in Native American disguise
The British were the ones that the colonist despised
Taxation without representation was constantly abused
They asked Parliament to stop but sadly they refused
After the Tea Party came the Intolerable Acts
All of this happened because of the tax
Midnight, April 18, 1775
This is when it started, Paul Revere’s ride
He used petticoats to muffle the oars
To row past the Somerset, the British man of war
He looked in the North Church tower for the lanterns
1 by land, 2 by sea, Dawes would give the answer
By sea they came, looking for weapons to destroy
If you need a warning Paul Revere’s your boy
The Father of our country is George Washington
The Revolutionary War is a war which he won
He was a patriot, statesmen and war hero
The British army had more size, he had no fear though
The Valley Forge camp was an icy disaster
But he led the Continental Army, was a great spy master
King George showed power by using gun powder
Washington showed power by surrendering power
Join me in this riveting interview with poet, playwright, performer and educator Goldie Patrick. We discuss a wide range of topics including challenging patriarchy and misogyny in hiphop, working with young women through writing and the job of an educator to make education fun and digestible. We take a in depth look she does with her theater company FRESHH and discuss strategies to engage children. “The girls come in thinking they are doing a theater job. The women of the village know that they are doing rights of passage…” – Goldie Patrick
Hearing the excitement in our voices as I edit this interview let’s me know that Drew Anderson and I are definitely on the right path. Listen as we discuss the life of being a young teacher and artist and how it has evolved into Drew’s “Crunk Academy”. A must listen for teachers going through the grind and great insight on how Drew and other Young Audiences teachers use hip-hop in the classrooms.
Baba Bomani interviews artist and educator Konshens theMC about hip-hop in the classroom, the BARS curriculum and the H.E.L.P. literacy program, and strategies to increase engagement of students and parents at underserved schools. Learn more about Konshens and his work at http://www.konshens.com/
Hello fellow educators! For well over 15 years I have been using hip-hop, poetry and multi-media disciplines to teach fun and informative workshops with all ages from kindergarteners to graduate students. As you know, the art of MC’ing is reliant on the ability to rearrange complex ideas into concise rhymes. If they done correctly, MC’s can make memorable rhymes that stick with the listener and inform them about the world around them. It is commonly believed that the art of hip-hop rhyming is an innate talent, but by using my program B.A.R.S. to apply the principles of the writing process, any student can be taught to rhyme on topic.
B.A.R.S. workshops, residencies and teaching materials show students how a well- written essay resembles a well-written song, with the Main Idea being the thesis paragraph in an essay and a chorus/refrain/hook in a song, while the Supporting Details in an essay are just like the verses. Using my innovative B.A.R.S. techniques, students learn how to summarize any topic with a well organized paragraphs and rhymes.
I’mma properly record these soon, but If i don’t just spit them out I’ll sit on them forever…
the war on drugs ain’t just reagan and nixon
the blood in my eye causes rose colored vision
so i approach the game like george jackson in san quentin
remind myself that patience has it’s limits
i peep democratic game plan and it’s gimicks
let’s start will Bill Clinton
played sax on arsenio, we all watched and listened
and said he’s blacker than kool-aid and fried chicken
create a trade agreement that depress the state of living
create a system
that put more black men under justice supervision
than there were slaves,
they make money off of prison
Bill was handing out years like handing out minutes
generations know their fathers from upstate visits
then wonder why the black community is diminished
cops hunt us with no limits
and harassment is infinite
screaming “black lives matter”, their confused like it’s physics
send the DOJ to baltimore and ferguson to witness
when they’re done the cops go right back to business
we looking at the Obama like “man, what is this?”
while he steadily explains and defends this
we’re try to break this, he’s trying to bend this
now we elect a president whose family did this
not mention bad decisions and shady stuff she been did
she apologize, we’re forced into forgiveness
scared of trump so we readily dismissed it
choose between a neoliberal and a nitwit
are you an educated voter or you getwit
i watch her run like a getfit
her down home talk, tossing us a biscuit
you say a third party can’t win this
but if not right now, when do we begin this
insanities is a certified sickness
it’s when you do the same thing and expect something different
Son, they shook
’cause if you out here voting for crooks
Scared to death, scared to look
’cause if you out here voting for crooks
Scared to death, scared to look
give back the life that they stole from us son
There’s numerous ways they abuse us to earn funds,
We get shot, locked down even when they’ve won
and still vote for them after the shit they’ve done
That ain’t the look son, you just a shook one,
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the Watermelon Man Album. A collection of songs I about and for my people working hard to change the world around them. The first track “Libation” is my new official theme song. “Energy does not die, it transforms” is a mantra that reminds me of how temporary our existence is but how permanent our spirit is. Check out the music here and please download a version. Thank you for your continue support!
One of the greatest accomplishments in my life has been facilitating safe havens for young people by using the elements of hip-hop culture. Hip-hop “culture” is not a complete culture by itself, it is an offshoot of black culture and includes expressions of art especially graffiti, breakdancing, dj’ing, mc’ing, beatboxing, fashion etc. This force has a dark side that is mass media’s favorite version to exploit. For those of us who use this force for good, we take the role of training young padawans very seriously.
The true force of hip-hop culture is its history of being a safe haven, an academy, a praxeum for black and brown children escaping the stress of street life while having an opportunity to perfect the art of expressing themselves. We are constantly exposed to the Siths and Darths who use the force to highlight violence, extreme capitalism and misogyny, but my tight knit group of us take our calling seriously. We respect the “dark side” and are often fans of many of its practitioners, but recognize the light that can be brought to our streets through the mediums and ideals of hip-hop. Hip-hop folklore has placed it as a protective and transformative force. The idea that hip-hop parties, ciphers, crews and culture as we know it were a response by the young people to the oppressive conditions of the South Bronx, is something we repeat in every grant application and every time we repeat our mission statements to our youth. This ideal runs across all of my favorite people involved in the culture, as well as their many projects. … Continue Reading
Watermelon day is a celebration of summer and summers favorite fruit. Established by the national watermelon association (NWA), it is now celebrated nationwide. In Washington DC Bomani Armah began celebrating watermelon day with festivals featuring music and art in Northwest DC starting in 2011. Today not only does watermelon day feature summer’s favorite fruit it also features everything black, red and green (the colors of The African flag). Watermelon Day has come to also stand for black cultural pride. Inspired (instead of being repulsed) by the stereotype that black people like watermelon, the DC Watermelon Day celebrations ask and answer the crucial question: Why should black people care if they are associated with love and eating watermelon? We, as an ethnic group and a culture, should decide what parts of our history we embrace and reject, without consideration to what those who are outside of and opposed to us think. Watermelon is incredible healthy and practical while having a long history of sustaining and sweeting the lives of black people eve since they arrived here enslaved. To this end watermelon day has featured black businesses, Black books, African drum and dancing, as well as spoken word poetry, hip-hop, rock’n roll and funk music.
Join Bomani Armah (aka the Watermelon Man) as he debut’s all new music that will appear on his forthcoming album “The Watermelon Man” at Kennedy St.’s latest gem called Culture Coffee.
There was no “Tamir Rice Case”. Tamir was not on trial nor did he commit a crime. Tamir was a 12 year old playing with a toy gun (in a state where white people are allowed to openly carry real guns) playing in a playground. This is case about Officer Timothy Loehmann, the City of Cleveland Police department and District Attorney’s office. Tamir Rice suffered from a sanctioned killing by the state, and I am one of millions of people trying to not go batshit crazy about it. Maybe find a life lesson from it to move on from.
The only new life lesson I could pull from the whole incident is to not be that 911 caller. Don’t be the adult who sees that a black child needs to be told a life lesson (in this instance not to play with toy guns as if they are real) and expect the police to come and do it for you. That is not the police officer’s job. “Serve and protect” is like “How ya doin?”. It’s just something you say. The police officer’s job is to be able to prove that they were afraid of a black male, justifying whatever action they take after that. There are officers who choose to go beyond that, and treat their black constituents like people, but all they are required to do to dodge indictment by the law is prove that the black person made them afraid enough to do it. “It”, meaning absolutely anything from beating to shooting them.
My favorite place is Sankofa Video and Books Café. We are having a special event on Friday October 2nd from 8pm to 11pm called “Say It Loud!”. Here’s what you do: Go buy the special 2 for $15 tickets at http://sankofasayitloud.eventbrite.com (special price until September 21st). Come early, check out the drinks and the food (the salmon melt there is my favorite, and I drink brown liquor if you’re buying) then wipe your hands and check out the videos and books from throughout the African Diaspora, as well as the largest collection of Black Children’s Books on the East Coast. Then, we will have a community songwriting workshop based on the conversation we have on our facebook event page here https://www.facebook.com/events/932350146830240/ and write a song about it as a group! This is followed immediately by poetry by yours truly, and then my a live performance from my afro-funk-rock-gogo-hiphop band Immaletchufinish! Tell a friend, mark the date on your calendar, and buy your tickets today!
Black Root is the proto-typical local artist. Some would take that as a diss, as a statement on Black Roots commercial and artistic ceiling. As a “local” artist my self, I can tell you that it can be the highest compliment. He has rooted himself deeply into the inner fabric of a community. His every artistic expression is a living journal of the people and places he loves and takes care of. This the legacy of the griot and djali.
This is what Black Root brings in his incredibly polished and diverse debut EP “Prelude to Procrastination”. The title of the project (and title track) give you the impression that this project is long overdue, yet it is right on time. It doesn’t feel stale, shelved or rushed. It seems simmered, steeped and marinated. It’s what happens when you’ve honed your artwork on stages from Baltimore to Richmond over the course of a decade. It’s what happens when your family, your community and your students are the number one driving force behind your career.
You can hear all the funk and rock pioneers in the production of his first single “Rock to It”. With his infectious energy (half James Brown, half KRS-1) emanating from your speakers in a soul stirring challenge to keep moving forward with energy and enthusiasm.
“My Mom’s Hands” will make you give your mom that random I-Love-You-Phone-Call you’ve been meaning to do for weeks (or put fresh flowers where she rests in peace). All the intimacy, longing, joy and pain we love about blues comes through crystal clear in this track. It truly belongs in a movie montage, complete with black and white slow motion shots of life worn hands and motherly smiles.
Black Root’s stage performance is an adrenaline rush, then an emotional release, then a brain bending journey inside the mind of a business man and teacher (see his track “I Be”). For those of us doing art along the Baltimore Washington Parkway, Black Root is home cooking the way we love it. Part hip-hop, part funk, part go-go and a whole lot of spoken word.
Very few songs on a debut project accurately capture the raw feeling an artist can give on stage, but “PG Represent” track does just that. I speak for a large community when I say that Black Root is ours. He is part of a movement, a feeling, an artistic renaissance that our children will talk about later. Black Root is what happens when that community is respected by that the artists who are part of it. When each word of your lyric matters, and each drop of sweat on stage is an investment into yourself and your whole scene. Us locals have been blessed by Black Root’s energy for years now. That’s why “PG Represent” is my favorite track on this project, and why I had to hit it with a Watermelon Man Remix.
We are glad that the rest of the word can share in Black Root’s art through the CD and digital downloadable album. His art is local, but now his reach is infinite, and we want the rest of the world to see what he’s (we’ve) been working on. It wasn’t procrastination though. It was right on time. Check out the entire project here.
First of many blogs on the Young Audiences for Learning Maryland site. A little insight into my classroom…
By Bomani, Young Audiences teaching artist and Hip Hop poet
Before my recent residency with fourth-graders at Scholars K-8 in Baltimore County began, the teachers I worked with–Mrs. Brumbalow, Ms. Barnes, and Ms. Hicks–had prepared the students for my arrival. When I walked through the door on the first day, the students recognized me and treated me like a rock star, so I knew I had to make a meaningful impact.
At the beginning of a residency, there are three writing rules I give students:
- Artists don’t make mistakes, they make discoveries.
- Do not edit in your head.
- The only wrong answer is a blank answer.
Students are oftentimes drilled to memorize answers in order to score highly on assignments. Sometimes they become paralyzed with fear when asked their opinion, so I try to loosen them up to think creatively. Young people need to have freedom to develop an idea out loud without self-doubt and to not fear right…
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First of all,
my young brother
pull your pants up.
i want to make this clear.
no, I’m not your father, your pastor, probably not your teacher
no, I am not Don Lemon.
I am your brother
in ’92 we were mack daddying and daddy mackin’
with all our clothes ass backwards
I’ve seen the great fathers, husbands and businessmen my boyz have become
your clothes are not an indicator
of your intelligence or aptitude.
We are a week away from my interactive performance and songwriting session called “Say It Loud” at Bloombars and I am excited about all the great art we will make as a community! For those of you 1819 L Street NW with me, my name is Bomani Armah and I am an artist and edu-tainer based in the DC Metropolitan area. For years I have been a strident support of community art, performing several times at Bloombars including several Watermelon Day celebrations that were extremely successful. When I am not on stage as a poet, emcee or event host, I spend my time as a creative writing teacher working with a myriad of organizations ) including the all the public school districts in Maryland and DC, as well as organizations like the United Methodist Church, the Washington National Cathedral, and Words Beats & Life.. My specialty is taking a room full of students (from k throughout graduate school) and have them synthesize a shared experience or lesson into a song. That is what we are going to be doing at Bloombars on this Friday September 19th!
“Hey Daddy”, my 8 year old asked from the back seat, “what’s weed?” I don’t know when I expected to have this conversation. Being realistic with myself I knew that I knew more, and had more curiosity about things in the adult world, than grown ups ever gave me credit for. This question from Olu wasn’t random. We were riding along listening to NPR while they aired a story on how the legalization of cannabis was affecting non-smokers in Colorado. I was living one of the affects of marijuana legalization right now: it is now irresponsible to simply have the “just say no” edict with your children in lieu of an in-depth conversation.
Sankofa Video and Books Cafe entrance looks like an island oasis. Trees and grass cascade from the front door down a series of short steps and an expansive patio, with stone walk ways meandering through the grass and bright umbrellas shielding its patrons at tables that invite you to come take a load off, drink a cup of Ethiopian coffee, and read a good book without looking at your watch. Sankofa. The African proverb turned favorite diaspora motto, “go back and fetch it”. It finds what was great about our past, and brings it to the future. That spirit is why having Watermelon Day there was so perfect. With all the books and movies glorifying our people, our struggle, our strength, Haile and Shirikiana Gerima (the famed film makers and owners of Sankofa Video & Books Cafe) love to also show how our great history is, and are committed to affecting our present and our future.
On August 3rd at 3pm the crowd had already started to gather. Folks were eager to experience the live art that would fill the next 5 hours. Others were nervous that the free watermelon wasn’t going to last long once word got out on Georgia Ave. Mostly though, they were there to smile, clap to the rhythm, snap at the punch-lines, cheer on the babies, and bask in the beauty that is Red Black and Green. There was no cause to fight for, no point to prove, just a few hours to reflect on how great the summer can be. I live for these moments. As much as I am addicted to social media, and blogging, and the latest youtube viral videos, nothing compares to real life cultural experiences. It’s one thing to comb the bookshelves of this store to be reminded of how beautiful and intelligent we are, it’s another thing to feel it with all 5 senses. That’s what we had on Watermelon Day.
Drew “Droopy the BrokeBaller” Anderson and Dwayne B aka the Crochet Kingpen are two of the most beloved figures in the DC spoken word and open mic scene, so it was only natural that we asked them to be our hosts for tonight. Few people “talk about it and be abou it” the way Tehuti aka Meta4 does. A pillar of the late turn of the millennium U street scene, he made his triumphant return to the mic, spittin’ molten lava rhymes about his people conquering all adversity. The crowd was with him for every bar!
DC Youth Slam Team was recently named the world champion of youth poetry at the 2014 Brave New Voices slam competition in Philadelphia last month, and for 20 minutes they showed their home town crowd how they took home the crown. With constant chants of “Three stars! Two bars! Haaaaayyyy!” they kept us old folks smiling while we admired their youthful energy. As soon as they got into their poems we were blown away by their maturity, stage presence, and meticulous attention to detail in every word they put into their poems.
The Kuumba Kids, lead by Mama Bashea, always gets the little ones up and moving. Before the they know it, the children have learned something (like the origins of math in Africa, or how to greet someone in Swahili) without even realizing it. The highlight of their set always is the “Teach Me How to Dougie” remix of the Itsy Bitsy Spider. They even had the 60 year old kids doing the spider move with their hands while shaking their hips.
Ka’ba Akintunde should be cloned immediately and shipped overnight to every summer time barbeque on the planet. His soulful voice and late 70’s sensibilities made everyone remember the days of Sly and the Family Stone, and Bill Withers. He even brought Haile out of his comfortable chair in the air conditioned bookstore when Ka’Ba broke into the classic “I’ve Got My Mojo Working”. Ka’Ba certainly did.
Leftist is that band that everyone is going to say (and many people bold face lie) “I knew them when…”. Their ascension in hip hop rap/rock music is inevitable, as their metallic yet soulful riffs compliment their introspective and motivational lyrics perfectly.
The drummers and dancers from Farafina Kan made the crowd swell to epic proportions, almost beginning to block the south bound traffic on Georgia Ave. I am completely partial to this group, its members consisting of my sons Olu and Dela as well as many of the students I teach as part of the Sankofa Homeschooling Collective. That said, it is still undeniable the level of musicianship and professionalism from these kids led by Baba Mahiri and Mama Nkenge
It was great seeing Haile Gerima, professor and film maker, most known in the States for the movie Sankofa, sit in the corner on the patio, arms folded, slight smile, bobbing his head in approval like a proud Baba. Tensi was slammed in the kitchen of the Cafe. Everyone had a sandwich, or a fruit smoothie, or a salad. They later reported that this was by far the best day they had all summer . I will be posting more info about Watermelon Day, and how you can be involved in the next one soon (as well as more video and photos as we edit them). Check out RichFoxStudios for more pics!
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language, so you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly, so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, o you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” – Toni Morrison Portland State, “Black Studies Center public dialogue” May 30, 1975.
My life is like a slice of watermelon.
Words I would never have written (let alone said) 10 years ago. My penchant for respectability politics at the times had me less like Malcolm X, and more like Don Lemon. Okay, never as bad as Don Lemon, but bad enough to half jokingly/ half seriously say to a friend at a party “I’d grab a piece of watermelon, but there are too many white people around.” I’ll never forget what he said. “You better eat that!”, while shooting a look best described as “you-dred-having-dashiki-wearing-kwanzaa-celebrating-back-to-africa-but-still-scared-of-what-white-people-think-of-you-ass-nigga”. I felt convicted. My reaction was slow, and brooding, but showed itself in every way that I have represented my people, my community and my family ever since.