Justin BUA is a certified legend in the world of underground art and hip hop culture. And when a living legend says he is working on a new project that he calls, “the most-game changing project he has ever done,” it’s worth paying attention. He is set to launch his online art school (BuaArtSchool.com) this summer. The BUA Art School is a brand new interactive project for the NYC born artist. Not only will the online school give people the opportunity to learn directly from BUA, it allows people direct access to BUA for a precedent setting affordable cost.
Speaking from his studio in Cali, in this exclusive Cheats Movement interview, BUA speaks openly about the online school, his motivation, fatherhood, and recent events, like his tribute to Jason Collins. The author of instant classic books “The Beat of Urban Art” and “The Legends of Hip Hop” has always been a groundbreaking renaissance man. He hopes his latest project creates even more opportunities for those looking to blaze their own path.
Cheats: What’s good BUA. I know that your time is short so I will say a quick thanks and jump right into what is new with you. Tell me about your brand new Online Art School?
BUA: It’s all going to happen at: BuaArtSchool.com. And what it is? I’m teaching about 250 lessons, each lesson is going to be about 4 to 8 minutes long and it will cover everything from art fundamentals, to the intermediate level, advanced level, and even Master level lessons. Not only will I teach drawing and painting, I am also going to be teaching about the business of art and art history. It’s going to get very deep into the science of art, the physics of art, into color and value. I’m really going everywhere an artist needs to go. It’s really important and really groundbreaking because it is accessible to everybody. When I was teaching at USC, one class would cost around $4,000. This school for the entire year is around $250. Three months is $99. That has never happened before where lessons are so affordable to be enrolled in a University. On top of that, you get to download all of my lessons. You get to interact with me and all of the other students in the class. So I tell you, “We are doing this study of this figure and we’re doing this crazy head, here is my version of the figure”, I get to see your version, you can send me your version and I will draw on top of it and give you feedback and ideas to consider and I send it back to you all through what we call video exchange. It’s all new technology – video exchange technology – which allows me to one-on-one critique the work and interact with the students in the class.
Cheats: What building blocks led to you to launching the online school?
BUA: It’s a company called ArtistWorks and they have done 24 Universities in the field of music. DJ Qbert teaches DJing, they got some of the best in the world teaching in their fields. But they’ve never done an art program. Qbert introduced me to them and they asked did I want to do their first art program and I said, “Of course.” I said yes because while I liked teaching at USC, USC was an amazing experience, it was not an affordable experience for everybody. This school is for everybody. At USC, if you had a certain amount of money – then you could take my class; and you have to be at USC. If you didn’t have the money or you were not at USC, what could you do? You couldn’t really study with me – you didn’t have access to me. Not to mention, what if you were in Iceland or the Philippines? You couldn’t study with me. So this really creates an access that no one has ever really had before in my teaching.
For students who enroll in the BUA Online School, what experience should they expect?
They are going to get an interactive experience that is going to be game changing and life changing. Drawing is one of the most meditative and beautiful things ever. If you are an artist, you are going to be able to build your portfolio and improve your skills. If you are a hobbyist and you are taking classes for fun, you are going to find yourself more peaceful, more at one with yourself, and getting deeper into the art of not only drawing but truly seeing. Those things will change your experience with everything, if you are a dancer – it will help you be a better dancer, if you are a writer – it will help you be a better writer because drawing is very intuitive and it is very profound. This experience is a game changer. It’s one of the most game-changing things I have ever done.
You mentioned that you will not only will teach about the fundamentals of art but also about the business aspect of art. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about navigating business with success?
You really have to dial into understanding what needs to be done to make a living. So many people say, “I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that,” but they don’t know the operational system. They just jump into it blindly. And you really need to know this information. I will teach everything from how to build a portfolio, to what is the best way to market yourself, how to protect yourself, how to negotiate a deal, should you get an attorney or agent. What field you want to go into…do you want to go into fine art or maybe education. I know this information because I’m doing the same thing. I can dial into what people really need to know and help them focus on being successful.
How did that knowledge base click for you personally? When did you realize you were dealing with more of the business aspect of art?
Well, I learned the hard way. I have a natural inclination to be a hustler because I’m from New York City (Harlem) so I have a little bit of the hustler mentality, but I’ve been hustled so much. My first go around in both the advertising world and the poster world, I was hustled. So I learned from getting ripped off. Call it what you want, call it the school of hard knocks, but I got taken advantage of. And I didn’t understand what my rights were. I didn’t understand where my rights were and because of that, I made some bad moves. Being an artist is like a game of chess, you move this direction you open yourself up for an attack – you move another direction and you’re being strategic and making a smart business decision that will carry you to the next level.
I haven’t heard you comment very much about your drive and motivation. But your grind is such a theme in your work. Where does your drive come from?
It used to be a part of what I called the fuck you energy. All the haters out there that were telling me I could not do it, “you’re not good enough, you’re not skilled enough, you’re art is too street, it’s too unrefined,” and I was like, “fuck you.” All of that energy manifested itself into me trying harder, persevering, and getting better. When I got older, that fuck you energy started to become more positive energy. It became love energy. Now, I do it because I love it. I fell in love with drawing, painting and teaching. It’s a deep way to express myself.
I have seen a shift when it comes to the acceptance of street art. I’ve seen more street art being sponsored by corporations and even the government. Have you noticed this trend? What do attribute it to?
Street art is becoming more normalized. It’s not as underground now and that’s just the way movements go. Jazz was once underground and then it became more normalized. Hip hop was underground and then it became pop. Graffiti was underground and now it’s becoming more accepted. Eventually there will be something else that is more subversive.
How do you feel about these shifts? Do you relish the underground aspect?
I always love the underground element…I was talking this morning with some friends, when Public Enemy came out it was like the new punk rock and no one had ever heard that before…it was so crazy, so puck rock, so radical, and now that level of explosiveness can only last so long and it either fades out or people say, “That’s the cool sound, I want to do that,” and it becomes a little more scripted. People are like, “Let’s do that same type of sound but let’s do the Vanilla Ice/Milli Vanilli version, and that’s just the way it goes these days. It also takes a tremendous about of money, therefore producers, writers, and record labels hedge their bets. They know if they get a David Guetta or Usher they’re going to get a certain number of downloads and make a certain amount of money. It the same with films – if I get this mega star and this producer, I’m going to make this much money in international sales, I’m going get this much of my investment back. It is all safe bets.
From the perspective of someone observing your career from the outside, I would suggest the foundation of your art comes from two (almost competing) elements: a solid formal education ,from the artists in your family, to LaGuardia High, to the Art Center College of Design, and a genuine education of hip hop culture growing up in NYC. How has each of those elements attributed to who you are as an artist?
They are totally opposite movements, street art and classical art, and the reality is that I love both of them. They are harmonized in my work. The more skill you have the better you will be able to express yourself. If you are a good reader, you are going to be a better writer. If you weight train and do more core work in the gym then you’re going to be a better fighter. You have to train. You have to be well rounded with whatever you do.
It’s like having a good offensive line or else your quarterback is going to get killed.
There you go.
How have you changed as an artist and person since becoming a father?
It’s the best thing ever. My daughter keeps me grounded. I learn from her. She’s so smart, she thinks outside the box. She keeps me young, fresh, and thinking.
Do you see a shift from the hustler mentality to family man in your art?
Bua: Definitely I do, but I don’t know exactly how. Not really in how lines are drawn, but fatherhood affects the way that I work. I’m not doing all-nighters anymore. I’m much more disciplined about getting to work when I need to. I don’t smoke weed. I’m just more tuned in. She gives me that grounding feeling and is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life.
You recently posted a tribute painting to Jason Collins on your Facebook page, what role does current events play in your work?
That is an interesting question. I think current events just reflect universal questions of morality. A lot of times you hear about these horrible tragedies. But Jason Collins is a good example because he came out for gay rights, but that is not much different than women’s rights, or apartheid, or all kinds of oppression. He is just a representative of something that is more universal – which is the idea that we have to overcome the mentality of people who are prejudice and backwards. So when I do a painting about him, I’m not only talking about gay rights, I’m talking about women’s rights, Latino and African American rights, I’m talking about a bigger issue – the overall issue that people are equal.
It is certainly a powerful painting.
It was one of those moments. I normally don’t do stuff like that. My work is usually a little more celebratory about the DJ, the MC, unsung leaders of the movement. Whether it is the legends of hip hop or jazz piano players or dancers, but this resonated with me as very interesting. And looking at him, he has a very interesting face to paint. The painting was very spontaneous.
What advice do you give the young artist you mentor regarding how to maximize their potential?
Do what you love to do. Do not allow any negativity to stop you but at the same time don’t be stupid and think that you are the greatest thing in the world. I tweeted this the other day, once you feel that you’ve arrived as an artist, it’s probably a good idea to starch everything and start all over again. There is a lot of young artist that think they are so dope – they are delusional. Michelangelo was 81 when he said he was just beginning to learn how to draw. How are you dope? How have you arrived?
Do you feel that way about yourself as well?
I’m the biggest student of everybody. I’m always painting with people that are better than me. I’m always looking to learn. How does he do that? How can I be that good? You have to have that attitude because if you don’t – you are fooling yourself. And you don’t want to do that. It’s a dangerous place to be. If you really think that you are that good – that is the time when you have to say, no, something is wrong. You can feel that way for a minute but you have to then say – what’s next. Remember, you are only as good as your next painting. It happened to me – I did The DJ 11 or 12 years ago. Okay – what’s next? Same thing with music, you have a hit record – okay what’s next. You’ve heard it before don’t rest on your lures. It’s a fact. So many people are resting on the lures – look what I did. That mentality will stunt you in every way. You will never get better. The more ego you have the less you will get better.
Sign up for the Bua Art School is available right now at: http://artistworks.com/buaartschool. Thanks to Lisa for making it happen. #WESEEIT Follow the Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook. The most diverse blog in RVA.
Brand new from the homie Chance Fischer directed by Soul Live Media AKA Smoothmatic AKA Rob Roby. I haven’t posted too much hip hop on the blog recently but I couldn’t let this video slide. Every time I see Chance Fischer on the mic, I am impressed with his ability to draw his audience closer to him and his style. He can do it all: rhyme, write, perform, you name it. And don’t get me started on the body of work Rob Roby is putting together in the RVA hip hop community. He gets the job done. Check out the RVA images in the video. I think shooting at the Cathedral was perfect for Chance. Also the B-Roll shots on Monument Avenue were a great selection for the duo. I hope they continue to work together in the future. There is no telling how far they can push the envelope in RVA’s hip hop community.
“I told em….didn’t I tell em…Those young boys ain’t got nothing on me. I’m old school.” Those were the words coming from the victorious point guard who’d just hit the game winning jumper to the dismay of his younger, high school age, opponents. His King’s Speech seemed to be directed to anyone who would listen, pretty much a general declaration of victory. Lucky for him, there was a fairly large audience for him to preach to.
On the outside of the basketball court, a line of African American senior citizens played music and sold Gatorade to the ballers. There was another set of sounds coming from the tennis courts,”Good stop….play up…..coming behind,” those where the songs coming from the bike polo players who were dominating the once tennis courts now bike polo arena.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in Jackson Ward shooting a music video from the group HaBits. And while I thought I had a good understanding of Jackson Ward and Abner Clay Park, I’ve been absolutely floored by the positive energy, diversity and harmony that seems to happen every Sunday in Abner Clay.
It’s not just the basketball players – playing some of the best pick-up games in the city. It’s not just the bike polo players, with skills I could only dream to own. What impressed me is the balance of the Ward….the balance of old and new, hipster and hoops, old Ward merging with the change of gentrification. It’s not lost on me that Abner Clay sets across the street from the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. I’m sure some of the older gentleman on the side of the court knew the Ward as a far different place. A place where the community thrived with Black Owned Business and legendary entertainment centers and hotels. They see a different Ward now – is just the latest in a long line of examples of change. It’s not lost on me that the Jackson Ward Neighborhood Association doesn’t necessarily want the bike polo players there (this according to some of the local players) and that it has little or nothing to do with history. Bike polo seems to be new version of skateboarding. Until it gets accepted there will certainly be detractors.
However, in face of those who may not want them there – they are there. Every Sunday afternoon building a new community of harmony and diversity. Centered around sports and backed with music and a grill, Jackson Ward is a special place. And it seems to be getting better one day at a time.
The Cheats Movement Blog got some serious love in Style Weekly’s 12th Annual Music Issue. Since I spend most of my time covering music and events, it is very cool to be interviewed and have the blog recognized in this way. I do consider it an honor and motivation to keep the blog going in its current form. I have to take a moment to S/O Andrew Cothern AKA RVA Playlist. Andrew has always giving love to The Cheats Movement Blog from day 1 and being a music blogger himself – he didn’t have to do that. RVA Playlist is one of my favorite music blogs and Andrew is really at the top of his game right now. S/O to Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl for the photo used in Style. The multi-talented kindness worker has so much going on – and with that she takes some of the most soulful photos that I have ever seen. I also want to S/O Sounds of RVA and One Way Richmond – I read their blogs as much as I can and it’s very awesome to read their interviews in Style.
The thing about press in general – like everything else in 2013 – it is really about momentum: one day you’re hot – the next day you are not. I understand that Style Weekly or any other “press” type situation may not be there next week let alone next year but that doesn’t mean that the city stops moving forward. The goal is to take in good press – in the spirit that it’s meant to be – and use it to push forward. So the blog moves forward – the grind moves forward – the family moves forward – we are already working on what’s next. To every person that reads the blog and supports what’s happening on the blog and around the city — all I can say is Thank you & of course #WESEEIT!
The sneaker game is big business these days. In NYC, LA, ATL, all over – there are major sneaker conventions bringing in some of the rarest kicks and flyest clothing for sell and trade. Noah-O, Retrospective VA & The Vintage Mann is proudly bringing this wave of culture to RVA in the form of: Peep My Feet. I covered the first Peep My Feet event on a nasty, cold, snowy day last February, and guess what — sneakerheads and fans of vintage gear came out in full force. This Saturday, I’m sure the weather will be better and the crowd will be bigger. Make sure you swing by The Camel (Noon to 6 PM) to check it out. Click Here to RSVP on FB.
I’m paraphrasing but my brief part of my conversation with songstress Nickey McMullen before her Easter Sunday night set at the Camel went something like this:
Cheats: Are you nervous?
Nickey: No. I’m doing what I love to do…I’m just going to go up there and have fun with it.
And have fun she did! There is no doubt that RVA has a lot of talented singers BUT Nickey McMullen possess intangibles that go beyond just vocal ability. I believe it’s the difference between, what I consider, “young adults” and “grown folks.” It comes down to knowledge of self, knowledge of musical direction, and happiness. On stage, Nickey knows who she is, she knows where she wants to go (and take the audience), and she is having a great time performing. She has found her pocket, mixing original Jazz, Blues & Soul numbers with her unique contemporary versions. Her voice has the power that you expect but when she hits particular notes – there is a genuine moment of whoa….I didn’t see that one coming. Nickey is a staple at Tuesday Verses and rocks with Lyric Ave. I hope you get a chance to she her perform this summer. Check out her Facebook Page: CLICK HERE #WESEEIT
Photos and Words by Cheats
Face Melt Friday has a special place in my heart. It’s the first show I ever shot and I give a lot of love to the people that invited me (Azreal & Black Liq). I’ve been away for a minute – working on other project in RVA, and build The Cheats Movement Presents live concerts, but last Friday I was able to break out the camera and get some photos of some up and coming hip hop artists working in RVA.
I’m starting to feel that FMF is kind of rite of passage for RVA hip hop. Everyone hits the stage a Strange Matter and Black Liq orchestrates the whole thing. I hope it becomes sort of like the Tunnel in NYC or the 8 mile battles in Detroit. RVA is not at that level just yet but I enjoy the fact that the stage is open to all types of hip hop at both Face Melt and at the Rebirth.
Black Liq host FMF once a month at Strange Matter
I always leave FMF with a couple of reflections from the night. Who killed the stage, who I need to see next time, etc. Friday night was a big night for my dude Ice James. He did killed it solo and with Big Ty. I could tell he was just having a good time performing on stage. Big Ty killed the stage – good to see him perform with features from: J-Nero, Lil Omar, Ice James, and Sam Reed, my favorite set of the night. S/O to Official Freeze, Tatum and the homie Spazz. Spazz – I will catch your set next time ( it got too late).
Much luv to YFD (always) and TNJC (always), and my brother Sleaze (always) for holding it down. Keep up with the most diverse blog in RVA. Click here to view all the photos from FMF and support the blog on Facebook.
Are you ready for the next Cheats Movement Presents music event? Earlier this year I made a pledge to bring RVA together through music. I started curating music events that put some of my favorite local talents together on the same stage – no matter of genre. So far, it’s been a huge success. Together, we’ve been able to place Just Plain Sounds on the same stage and Glows in the Dark and Photosynthesizers. Next at the WRIR Hip Hop Showcase – it was Ohbliv, The New Juice Crew, and YFD in the building with some of the best local bands in the city. And now I’m very excited to announce the Cheats Movement’s contribution to the Live at Ipanema music series – the show will feature one of my new favorites, The Low Branches - who will be playing tunes from their recently released album, One Hundred Years Old. Along with a solo performance from one of the best singers in RVA (and blog family members) Sam Reed of Photosynthesziers and Beast Wellington. I’ve recently spent time with Sam in the studio and I’m very exited of what is in store for her in 2013. The event is FREE – Yes FREE – and not be be missed in RVA. #WESEEIT
The Low Branches are: Christina Gleixner, Joshua Quarles, and Matthew Klimas.
So mark your calendars:
April 13, 2013
Show starts at 10:00 PM (be there early)
Ipanema Cafe, 917 West Grace Street RVA 23220
Cost: FREE – So be in the building!
Live at Ipanema is organized and recorded live by Allen Bergendahl.
Angela Patton is a real hurricane. She is a storm of positive activity and she is changing not only RVA – she is changing the world. Angela started Camp Diva in 2004 to support young girls and provide them with a positive support system. This Sunday, Camp Diva will hold its 6th Annual Date with Dad Dinner and Dance. In addition to the dance, the entire weekend will be filled with father-daughter activities:
Friday 3/15: ACTIVE DADS – 5:30 PM Downtown YMCA – An evening of fun, ‘fit’ for dads and their daughters (ages 6 and up), with Zumba, Twister, Yoga by Ryan McPhee, Cooking Demo by FIT FOR KIDS, Kickboxing by DNA Fitness, Hoop Dance by RVA Hoop House, Cheerleading by VSU Woo Woos, and Door Prizes!
Saturday 3/16: DASH FOR DADS 5K/WALK-RUN – 7:00 AM East District Family Resource Center (FRC)
Saturday 3/16: 2ND ANNUAL DANCE OF THEIR OWN – 1:00 PM Richmond City Jail – Camp Diva hosts a special “Date with Dad” dance for a group of inmates at the Richmond City Jail and their daughters, giving them an afternoon of their own with dining, dancing, and fun!
Sunday 3/17: 6TH ANNUAL DATE WITH DAD DINNER AND DANCE – 4:00 PM Richmond Marriott Downtown – The Main Event with Special Guest Actor Chad L. Coleman and Master of Ceremonies Juan Conde
Camp Diva has a Kickstarter to fund, “Locked In NOT Locked Out,” a documentary film about the Father -Daughter dance held at the Richmond City Jail – CLICK HERE to view the Kickstarter.
I’ve seen a lot of great causes in RVA and supporting positivity for young women – while recognizing fathers at the same time has to be one of the best causes that I have ever seen. Huge S/O to Angela and Camp Diva for all the work they have done since 2004. Much success for a great weekend and prayers for many more. #WESEEIT
The home stretch is here…tomorrow will be the last day of defining Community. I’ve already commented about how awesome this has been with such a wide range of diversity joining the conversation. In order to get the final post on the site I’m just going to post them as best as possible with no real rhyme or reason. People are already asking me about “next steps” and I have to be honest….I don’t have a great answer about “what’s next” just yet BUT something will be next and “Your” input is needed.
Today on the blog: Comments on Community by: Shannon Cleary, Fan Ran, BC Music 1st, Katie Holcomb, Brian Cannon, Keeley Laures, Malcolm Venable, and Isaac Ramsey.
“…Ultimately, community is more about unifying with each other to progress to the next level of success…” BC Music 1st…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM BCMUSIC1ST
“Our RVA community is blooming beautifully! The transformation is palpable. What’s exciting to me is that so many more people are taking part in this transformation than are usually a part of moving Richmond forward…” Brian Cannon…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM BRIAN
“Your community is made up of people you know and love and people you don’t. Either way you have to make sure you are doing what you can to better the lives of all of you” Fan Ran…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM FAN RAN
“…Getting to know the people around you isn’t easy for everyone. You might have to come out of your shell a bit, or shake some preconceived notions you have about others. But in Community with a big C, your participation is essential.” Isaac Ramsey…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SWORDPLAY
“…There’s power in telling our fellow humans, “I’ve got your back,” because it makes you vulnerable, and it makes you just as much a part of their process as anything else.” Katie Holcomb…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM KATIE
“I feel that I never really understood community until I moved to Richmond. While in Richmond, I found that no matter what there is always someone willing to help me get to where I need to go to better myself and my visions as an individual, a designer, a blogger, a person….” Keeley Laures…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM KEELEY
“…Is a sort of puzzling notion because, Where exactly is this ‘community’ we live in? And, given that every individual is free to pursue in education or financial opportunity for himself, how responsible am I for someone else’s success?” Malcolm Venable…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM MALCOLM
“…To me, the idea of any community is to consider the social contract at hand. It’s all about what you put in and what you take from it all.” Shannon Cleary…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SHANNON
Tomorrow is the final day…Check back – comment – post – tweet – let me know what you think. #WESEEIT
Words by Cheats, (Peep My Feet photos by Cheats)
I guess I should start this post by saying, “My name is Cheats, and I’m a recovering sneakerholic. I’ve been clean for about 2 months now and I’m just taking it one day at time.” Naugh seriously, I remember the exact moment when I realized The Power of The Sneaker. It was 1990 and I was a middle school student at Brookland Middle School (yes, the one right off Parham). I remember before first period, we played sports outside. There were games of 2-hand touch football, basketball (when the rims were up), and handball (right outside of building T). Well, back then, Brookland had its share of fights. We all knew the drill, if a fight broke out, we would all run towards it to see what was happening. Well, there was one morning, we were outside playing before school, and all of a sudden the whole school was running over to where we played handball, and when I say the entire school – I mean the entire school - was running over to the handball court. So like everyone else, I thought it was a fight and I ran over too. When I got there, I saw one of my classmates, Paul, standing in the middle of a circle and the entire school was staring at his new Jordan V sneakers, the Red Fire Jordans with the 23 on the side. I’d never seen anything like it. The best part of the story, is that Brookland had a lot of cats with style and personality – but Paul was not one of them. Paul was a quiet, I dare to say, nerdy type kid, with a small group of friends. That morning, my friend Paul went for being nearly invisible at Brookland Middle to the most popular kid in school. That may not mean much to you – but to me – in middle school – that was unreal. All day long Paul was getting high fives from strangers – kids that never talk to him before was asking him, “Yo, Where you get those?” The next day or so reality sat back in because other “cooler” kids got the Jordans that week. BUT Paul had them first and from that morning on – I understood the power of the sneaker. As misguided as middle school popularity was….it stuck with me for life.
Victor Cruz – sporting the Jordan V Red Fire – Paul had them first.
I really love sneakers and that’s why I was so excited when found out about the inaugural Peep My Feet event last week at the Camel. S/O to the homie Noah-O, him, along with Chris North and Kharee Hamilton, they really spearheaded this effort to bring over 20 vendors to The Camel to check, buy, and trade sneakers and vintage clothes.
Noah O and Chris North making moves…
You can’t deny the correlation between sneakers and hip hop culture. From the birth of hip hop in NYC, you had the sneaker, the gold chain, and the Kangol (pretty much the Kangol – unless you were on some Whoodini black cowboy stuff). You had the toothbrush to keep them clean, it was a glorious time. I didn’t really get into sneakers until I could afford to buy my own in high school. My man Matt B had a crazy shoe game in high school and college – I was just trying to keep up. But all over the country, sneakerheads were being born and raised through hip hop culture. It’s big business now and it good to see the entire culture being embraced.
The gold chain has been replaced but sneakers and caps are a still key elements of hip hop culture
The DJ always holds down the event. Swerve is one of the best in RVA.
For more information on Peep My Feet – Check out RVA Sneakerhead Community on Facebook
Like most of you…I drove, or walked, pass the VMFA a million times since October saying, “Yo…I have to check out the Chihuly exhibit…someday.” Well, I started with having, what seem to be, an eternity to, “Oh snap…it’s the last weekend.” Should I go and fight the crowd or sit this one out? I decided to break out the camera and hit the last Saturday of the exhibit. I’m so glad I did. Everyone in RVA should have seen this exhibit and judging by the very impressive numbers of the VMFA (nearly 16,000) so many of you did.
What impressed me the most about the exhibit was the imagination. Art takes all forms. With Chihuly, his work can never be put in a box because as soon as you do – he can change it up. It’s awesome. It’s freedom.
According to the RTD: “Chihuly proved to be a boon for the museum. Memberships reached nearly 40,000 — it was at about the same level during the Picasso exhibit at the VMFA in 2011 — and the Museum Shop had record sales in November, December and January.” I saw the Picasso exhibit (again on the last weekend), and I would say Chihuly was even more impressive. I know it’s not exactly comparing apples to apples but my read of the “Cheats Wow Factor”…Chihuly was a wow on the highest level.
Make sure you visit: The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook to support the best in RVA. #WESEEIT
S/O to the homie Noah-O. RVA, in general, has been dealing with a lot of grief lately…good people leaving us too early. Noah-O hooks up with the homie Taylor Whitelow to remember Kleph Dollaz. The video is directed by another Grindaholic Rob Roby (Soul Live Media). In tough times – I love how these brothers are channeling their energy.
Words by Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest)
Richmond is a very complicated place. Despite how complex its history, the one thing that is indisputable is that Richmond was once the biggest enslaved African trading industry outside of New Orleans. One can’t begin to part lips to speak on Richmond as a historical city without taking a moment of silence over its role in the Maafa, or African Holocaust. Why Richmond though? What made Richmond such a pivotal place for the traffic of human beings? There is so much to talk about on this topic, for the sake of brevity and your attention span I am going to get straight to the point. Richmond made a name for itself as the market for enslaved Africans.
The earliest sales of kidnapped Africans took place at Manchester Docks in areas such as Rocketts Landing. During the 1700’s the importation of kidnapped Africans was seen as a lucrative business opportunity by British merchants. Once the country broke revolted against Britain in 1775 and gained independence in 1782; the question of whether importing kidnapped Africans from overseas was raised, not from the stance of whether it was morally destitute to keep African people in perpetual servitude – more so if it was financially savvy to keep importing them from overseas. In the North, they built ships to import kidnapped Africans. In Virginia, the argument was raised that if the importation stopped the financial value of the children of kidnapped Africans would rise. The Virginia General Assembly outlawed the importation of kidnapped Africans in 1778. The federal government outlawed the practice 30 years later in 1808.
Virginia saw a vision for African people in the late 1700s and that was as a commodity. The expansion into the lower South gave rise to states such Louisana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The tobacco that had made the original colonies successful was failing due to depleted soils from over cultivation of the land. Planters decided to move south. They took the children of kidnapped Africans with them and the interstate slave trade exploded with these migrations due to the ban on importation. Historians theorize that the origin of the term being “sold down the river” has its origins in Virginia, for much of the work in the lower south cotton fields was so intensive. It is estimated that from 1830 to 1860 Virginia sold 300,000 of the progeny of kidnapped Africans into the lower south for perpetual bondage. Wealthy plantation owners took advantage of the ban on importation. Virginia was known as a slave trading state and Richmond was its capital.
By 1845, less than 40 years after the ban on importation of kidnapped Africans – the city of Richmond listed 9 agents associated with the slave trade. By 1860 it listed 18 negro traders, 18 agents and 33 auctioneers all of whom were in the business of selling enslaved Africans. The Richmond Enquirer reported in 1857 that the receipts for slave auctions in the city totaled $3.5 million dollars. If we calculate for inflation that is the equivalent of $92,000,000 dollars today.
The sale of enslaved Africans was big business. There were large traders, small traders, agents, brokers, jail houses and auctioneers not to mention specialty retail merchants that sold the chains and shackles. You remember the movie Django right? Remember in the opening scene where you saw the shackles on the feet of Django and the rest of the coffle? A coffle was group of slaves that were manacled together and walked to auction for sale while attached to a wagon. Somebody specialized in selling shackles. Somebody specialized in selling clothing for enslaved Africans, because when sold at auction they would get a much better price. You had people who sold enslaved African women as sex slaves, domestic servants, concubines and prostitutes. Businessmen specialized in being bounty hunters or paddy rollers to capture runaway enslaved Africans. There were insurance salesmen who would insure an enslaved African as someone’s property or as part of their estate. There were ships that were contracted to transport slaves down the river and along the coast lines. Railroads companies were used to do the same. There were ad agencies that advertised the auctions. The physique, specialty, skill, mental ability or training and temperament all played a role in determining price and there were businesses that catalogued and assessed what characteristics an enslaved African had in order to determine how much he or she would be sold for. The purchase and sale of enslaved Africans was interwoven into the very fabric of the city.
Auctions took place in the streets, taverns and hotels of Shockoe Bottom. The most infamous jail was Lumpkins jail – located at 15th street between Franklin and Broad Street. Countless enslaved Africans passed through the jailhouses as they awaited sale. The African Burial Ground on the opposite side is where Africans who died in the jail from diseases, or were too rebellious and were hanged. Free blacks were also buried in the African Burial Ground. Gabriel, an enslaved African who led a rebellion in Richmond, Virginia with a plan and strategy to kidnap the governor and hold him hostage was also hanged and it is said he is buried in the African Burial Ground as well. It is only recently within the last 3 years that the African Burial Ground has been recognized by the city officially and there has been no archeological studies on the site to determine the size and scope of this mass grave.
Each time I walk in Shockoe Bottom, when I walk past the farmers market on 17th Street – when my feet hit those cobble stones, I think to myself these are the same cobblestones my ancestors feet walked on in shackles to be sold to the highest bidder. I walk past restaurants and clubs and think to myself – these places of entertainment and food were once boudoirs and auction houses. I visited a similar farmers market in London England that had the same exact cobblestones and design as Shockoe Bottom. The offices used to hold businesses that made their profit on the backs of my ancestors, for I am the progeny of enslaved Africans – living in Richmond Virginia. Slavery was an international business that localized itself in the states particularly Richmond ,VA to maximize its profit margin. Each time I pick up a magazine that promotes Richmond as a historic city – I crack a half smile – understanding that the whole story is hardly ever told. When I hear about plans to rebrand the city – that gloss over one of the most important aspects of the cities past – I say a silent prayer that one day we will realize we can’t run from this history; it lives with us to this day. When I think about the systemic poverty in the city, the disparity between those who have and those who have not – I remember that the roots of that disparity were created right here in Richmond, Virginia.
Take a moment to review the work of the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission. CLICK HERE
Duron Chavis (Brother Manifest) is the director of Happily Natural Day and coordinator of the Mcdonough Community Garden. He will be writing about RVA Black History every Friday this month.
I’m not sure how I keep getting these great opportunities, but my latest mural/installation is yet another example of community inspiration at its finest. A couple of months ago I was approached by the Director of Peter Paul Development Center, Damon Jiggetts, about creating something inspiring in his office. This was a first, as I’ve never been seriously asks to create something in a office setting. After sitting down Damon I quickly realized that we had similar motives. Damon is just one of those guys who really believes in the Peter Paul Development Center and the community he serves. His idea was to create a piece that not only brightened up the space but also be a catalyst that represented why the development center exist; to empower and strengthen the youth in this neighborhood. A big thank you to Damon Jiggets for the inspiration behind this piece, may it be the start to many long conversations.
#PeterPaul #DevelopmentCenter #Inspiration #RVA #BoyWonder #Cape #Whosham #HamiltonGlass #Northside #Super #Community #Love #WeSeeIt
Peter Paul Development Center is located at: 1708 N. 22nd Street, Richmond, VA
Words by Cheats, Photos by Greg Garner (BlueGoo Studios)
WRIR threw one heck of a party last Friday night. The independent radio station packed out the Renaissance Ballroom for their 8th annual benefit, “Party for the Rest of Us.” This is easily becoming one of my favorite annual events because of its extremely diverse, and RVA based, line up of performers which included some of my favorite bands like: Wolf/Goat and Dead Fame. And it introduced me to ”my” surprise of the night, The Upper East Side Big Band (pictured above), who were flat out amazing.
Last year, I was able to cover the benefit for The Cheats Movement Blog and had a great time running around, taking photos, hanging with friends, and meeting bands. This year it was my honor to curate a Cheats Movement Presents Showcase for the Adams Room. I was asked by my main man Shannon Cleary (WRIR, Commonwealth of Notions) to present some of my favorite artist from RVA’s hip hop community and it was my honor to do so. Right away, I made three calls, Ohbliv, Artik Phreeze, and Black Liquid. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to pull it off but I knew I wanted to work with these hardworking artist and their teams. Ultimately, the showcase turned out even better than I could have imagined because we were able to expand the performers to include team YFD Clothing (Doe, Chris Haskins, Destiny Da Chef, and Flight Crew), and The New Juice Crew.
There is not much I can say about my brother Ohbliv. RVA’s Mad Genius did it again. He had the crowd stunned with his beats and was the perfect lead off to a unreal hour of hip hop.
RVA’s Mad Genius Ohbiv
If you are not familar with YFD Clothing, The Williams brothers, along with emcee Artik Phreeze, are really making an impact in both RVA fashion and music. Their music roster includes, Phreeze, who is really becoming a star in the RVA hip hop scene, Doe & Chris Haskins, who often perform together but both can carry a strong set indivdually, newcomers Flight Crew, Ms. Proper (who was under the weather last Friday but well worth seeing live), and Destiny Da Chef, who did her thang and killed her set on short notice.
Doe rockin “YFD” clothing
Artik Phreeze, Chris Haskins, Destiny Da Chef holding it down for YFD.
Once the crowd was turned up by YFD, then came the show-stoppers known as The New Juice Crew. Led by the one and only Black Liquid, The New Juice Crew took the stage and, as they say, “melted faces.” My good friend from the RCC Matt Newman said it best, “There is no middle ground with The New Juice Crew. No one ever leaves their show and says, ‘They really didn’t bring it tonight.” They bring it every night and I’m glad the WRIR crowd got to see if first hand. Special S/O to my man Bandolero for holding down the dj set all night, as well as performing with TNJC. My brother Corey Starks has a track, “Wurk Wit It” that stands out on the mixtape, “Know The Ledge” but hearing that track live proves it’s clearly a fan favorite. Also the song, “Trackaholic” really showcases all that is TNJC. It was great to see the team on that track.
Bandolero of TNJC, held it down by djing the set and performing.
After the Cheats Movement Showcase was complete, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy one of my favorite bands Dead Fame. I first saw Dead Fame perform live at the RVA Playlist Birthday Bash, last year. They are fantastic. And their live show comes with great music, balloons, and a crazy light show. I just love it.
I will close by mentioning the amazing performances from Wolf/Goat and “my’ surprise of the night The Upper East Side Big Band. Wolf/Goat is just cool to see play. Who doesn’t like a band with a banjo and violin? They have a great sound and perform well live. Their record, “In Watermelon Sugar,” was on of the best RVA records of last year. I truly believe they can go a long way.
Do yourself a favor - check out Wolf/Goat.
WRIR always seem to hit me with pleasant surprise every year. And this year’s surprise was major, “The Upper East Side Big Band.” The are amazing and just left me wondering, “Why haven’t I seen this before?” It’s huge, it’s modern, it’s jazz, it’s everything amazing. I can’t wait to see them again. I loved it.
I could not have asked for a better night to be a part of in RVA. The WRIR Party is truly one of the best Richmond events of the year. Thanks to Shannon and Lindsey for inviting me to be a part of the evening. #WESEEIT
It has become very clear that the goal of The Cheats Movement Blog in 2013 is to do something bigger for the RVA community. What do I mean by, “bigger?” I mean the blog, myself, the entire Cheats Movement Family will deliberately take on the task of creating and presenting the type of Richmond community that we want see spread throughout this city. I think that has always been the underling goal of the blog, to present RVA as the positive, diverse, creative community that I see daily but is not reported in the RVA media. With the growth of the blog it has become clear, or should I say even more real, that this blog (with the help of a lot of amazing friends and supporters) can be a driving force to bring Richmond’s community together. If you were not there last month at Gallery 5 when Photosythesizers, JPS, and Glows in the Dark performed on the same stage, you missed the very best of what I’m talking about. The most diverse audenice in the city coming together to enjoy Cheats Movement Family, The Richmond Comedy Coalition and these bands, that may not have been billed together if it wasn’t for a platform like the one we created together.
It happened again last night at WRIR’s Party for the Rest of Us. Seeing such a diverse crowd, in a small room, grooving to the music of Ohbliv, and then turning it up with YFD and The New Juice Crew gives me a feeling that I can’t explain but I know I want to duplicate over and over again. Immediately following the showcase last night, as well as the Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5, and even follow the RVA HOT SAUCE show nearly 2 years ago, strangers come up to me wondering when are we going to do “that” again. How can we get that vibe again. I feel the same way.
HEAR IS THE POINT – I can’t do it – WE can’t do it without everyone playing their part. Step 1 – if you are not following the Cheats Movement Facebook Page – Click HERE and follow, share it with your friends. We need to spread what is happening in the city. Step 2 – If you see that The Cheats Movement Blog is hosting/supporting a event or cause – rest assured that it will be one that is worth attending or supporting. I am very clear that this blog is about positivity, creativity, diversity, and anything that lift up RVA. Feel comfortable knowing that while you may not feel every blog post, it all serves a goal. Step 3 – if you see something that this blog “should” be supporting, send me an email (CheatsMWC@gmail.com) and let me know. If it is positive and good for the RVA community, you have a friend in me.
I strongly believe that celebrating Richmond’s creative diversity will go a long way in healing some of the lasting bitterness of the past. It’s not the only answer but I can’t solve every problem with a blog post or event. I can take action to create a better city. We can together. I need you to be a part – will you help?
Tonight is the night! WRIR Party for the Rest of Us 8 at The Renaissance, 107 West Broad Street # 300, Richmond, Virginia. Doors open at 7 PM. Get there early – The Cheats Movement Blog is bringing some of the best RVA Hip Hop – we will be in one of the separate ballrooms – not the main state. Starting with the one and only Mad Genius Ohbliv at 9:15 PM. We then have the entire YFD Clothing camp featuring: Artik Phreeze, Ms. Proper, Chris Haskins and Doe, and Flight Crew, then closing out the hour is The New Juice Crew: Black Liq, BC Music 1st, Corey Starks, RT, Emphasys, Lord Slugg, and truly the man of the hour Bandolero, who will be holding down the djing all night. The rest of the night is going to be amazing as well. I’m a fan of both Wolf//Goat and Dead Fame. And Cheats Movement Family the Richmond Comedy Coalition will be holding it down in the same separate ballroom as us. This should be a great night. $10 suggested donation at the door. Cheats Movement Stickers will be on deck and free!
Yoooooo…the hits just keep on coming for The Cheats Movement Blog in 2013. I’ve wanted to hook up with my brother Ohbliv for a long time now and this Friday it is going down at the WRIR Party for the Rest of Us 8. The mad genius himself will be in the building for a set that start promptly at 9:15 PM. RVA, you don’t want to miss this. Ohbliv has been doing his thing in LA and NYC but will be back in RVA for this set. And that is not all…I have more in store for Friday – much more…
Much more indeed in the form of the entire YFD crew. That’s right I’m talking Artik Phreeze, Ms. Proper, Haskins and Doe, all in the building to rock this Friday with the Cheats Movement. YFD has been really making moves this year and this is going to be a very cool opportunity to see the whole crew in one place.
If you’ve never seen my brother Artik Phreeze rock live – come out Friday 9:15 PM at the Renaissance Ballroom.
Last but not least, the entire New Juice Crew will close out the Cheats Movement set. Fresh off shutting down Face Melt Friday and releasing their new mixtape, the entire crew will be rocking on Friday. All I can say about my brothers Black Liquid, BC Music 1st, Corey Starks, Bandolero, Lord Slugg, RT, Emphasys, Swerve 36, Azreal, and the entire crew is that you have to see them rock live to believe it.
So there it is…this Friday WRIR Party with the Rest of Us 8. Cheats Movement Presents…come out at 9:15 PM – don’t be late. And rock with the Cheats Movement Family. Tell a friend – WE-R-VA!
The New Juice Crew will release their long awaited mixtape, “Know the Ledge Vol 1.” tonight at Face Melt Friday.
Words and Photos by Cheats
So here is the question: Is the New Juice Crew RVA’s very own Wu-Tang Clan? I think the make-up is there, the diversity in style is there, even the drive to succeed is there….only time will tell how this story plays out. Okay Okay…I know they are not RZA, GZA, ODB, Rae and Ghost but let’s face it – NO ONE is - WU-TANG change the game forever. But the brothers known as, “The New Juice Crew,” have the building blocks to follow in the path blazed by those NYC emcee Gods nearly 20 years ago. Tonight is a bit of a coming out party for TNJC. They are releasing their new mixtape, “Know the Ledge Vol. 1″ at Face Melt Friday (Stange Matter, doors open at 7 PM).
The good brother Black Liquid hit me with an advance copy of the tape to drop a few tracks on the Cheats Movement Family. My first read of the tape is really positive. TNJC is not known for studio work – they are known for action-packed live performances, but ”Know the Ledge” plays well in the car - it gives off a lot of energy.
Your Welcome- BC Music 1st, Lord Slugg, Azrael Onassis, Black Liqud
The Cheats Movement Blog is very familiar with the sounds of Black Liq, Lord Slugg, Emphasys, and my dude Azreal Onassis, and they all brought their usaual heat. However, the tape was a bit of a coming out party for my dudes Bandolero, and Corey Starks. They provide a nice suprise – each fronting their own solo tracks on the tape.
Don’t Waste my Time – Azreal Onassis, Emphasys, Corey Starks, Black Liq
BC Music 1st made his mark on the tape as the newest “official” member of the crew. Even though he’s been rocking TNJC for a long time now – BC is a grindaholic and I’m glad Richmond will get to hear his voice.
BC Music 1st – Arrogant
And yo, I can’t leave this post without a S/O to Swerve 36. Hey laid it down. Always one to rock the 1s and 2s and keep the party going - Swerve got on the mic on this tape and did his thing with “This Feeling.”
This Feeling – Swerve 36
I can’t name all the brothers on the tape – too many to name - but trust me when I say it worth checking out. Make sure you come out tonight to get a copy of the full mixtape. As well as see some of the best RVA hip hop talent in one place. Face Melt Friday at Strange Matter tonight.
First, let me start by saying this project is literally the definition of why I do what I do. I like to open up new thresholds of imagination, by creating backdrops for people to live amongst, create and get lost in. It’s amazing when I talk to people and they explain their interpretations of a piece of art. It inspires me to keep creating, knowing that everyone will create their own worlds within each piece. I can’t say specifically what made me choose the hands, or the flowers, or even the colors, it’s something that evolves and when it’s right, I just know it. That is not to say that I am some sort of visionary, but that there’s a feeling that I get when it all comes together. That emotion, inspiration, and energy is what I hope everyone gets from their interaction with a mural or any piece of public art.
Binford Middle school Ham? Mural Summer 2012. #RVA #100ft #Brick #Wall #Mural #kids #play #free in #creative #Recess #garden #Paint #Pink #Blue #BlackandWhite #Yellow #Colors #Hands #Holding #Flowers #Lines #Basketball #Court #schoolyard – What hashtags would you use to describe this mural?
There it is…is that definitive enough. I always shy away from making such bold statement simply because when I do there is something out there that proves me wrong — some unturned rock in RVA that I’ve yet to find that makes me reevaluate such a declarative statements BUT, in this case, all I can say is: good luck proving me wrong. Tuesday Verses is the truth and has been for 11 years now. I was first made aware of Tuesday Verses a few years ago – Yes, I said years ago – when it was operating out of Tropical Soul on 2nd street. I went as far as trying to attend one night and remember showing up only to see a line spiraling around the building. At that point, I turned away thinking I would make it another time. Well, months, even years passed before I had the opportunity to meet Lorna “L-Boogie” Pinckney last year at the Happily Natural Day/Tuesday Verses Anniversary concert featuring Phonte. It was there that we first got a chance to talk and I told her I would love to bring the Cheats Movement camera through in 2013.
So what exactly happens at Tuesday Verses? Well, the thing is – you never know. Every week is different but you will ultimately see and combination of spoken word, talented singing (not your weekly karaoke talent – much better), live musicians, and if your lucky something special. Last week that something special was violist Eric Stanley who blessed the crowd with a few gems. In addition to JeRoyd Dyore Strother, Narrator, Nickey McMullen, the list could go on an on.
Eric Stanley was in the building last Tuesday night.
I would say equal to the Verses talent, what makes it the best open mic in RVA is the family atmosphere. Once you walk in – you are no longer a stranger. As someone that prides this blog as Cheats Movement family – I can tell you Tuesday Verses is a family atmosphere that is inviting and supporting. Lorna and her team gets a lot of credit for that – they set that warm mood from the jump.
Tuesday Verses vet Narrator blessed the crowd last Tuesday.
Tuesday Verses is every Tuesday at Addis Ethiopian restaurant 9 N. 17th St, Richmond, VA. Doors open at 8 PM – Open mic from 9 PM to midnight. Make sure you support Tuesday Verses on Facebook and of course The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook. Without those followers on social media we may not have to opportunity to do what we do. It’s very important to like both our pages to keep this momentum going.
Words & Photos by Cheats
What does it take to be a Grindaholic? Well, the simple is answer is that you have to be addicted to the grind. A Grindaholic wakes up every day determined to make moves and goes to bed wondering what’s the next move to make. Grindaholics don’t sleep very much – it’s a waste of their time. Grindaholics set goals, and by the time they reach them, they have set 10 more. Broad Street Elites’ So !lla is a Grindaholic. Matter of fact, he is the first Grindaholic that I’m featuring in this new series. Over the last year, So !lla has gone from homeless to the one of the driving forces in the RVA Hip Hop community. And he has done it by sheer determination. With the help of his BSE family and a new self awareness – there is no limit in 2013 for the man I call !lla. WE SEE IT.
Cheats: If a man walked up to you on the street and asked you what you did for a living you would say?
So !lla: I work at Kingdom night club. I do all the bookings and promotions there. And I’m a rapper, that is what I do.
Cheats: But that’s not all you do – go ahead and tell me all the hats you wear.
So !lla: I’m heading up a clothing line that will be dropping sometime this year. I work on music video with the team at Aura HD. We do graphics and designs. When it comes down to music Broad Street Elite does it all.
Cheats: Tell me about Broad Street Elite?
So !lla: Everything starts with Broad Street Elite (BSE). That’s the team – that’s the family. That’s what I have tattooed in my skin. They are my brothers who have the same goals as me, the same visions as me, and the same work ethic as me. We are all just a bunch of hooligans. A group of people that were misjudged and outcast – we raise hell and have fun.
Cheats: When did BSE start?
So !lla: I was in 11th grade – 2006 or so.
Cheats: So if I’m on the outside looking at BSE, I’m I just looking at rappers?
So !lla: No. You’re looking a family – for real. There are a few rappers – a few fashion gurus – and there are dudes like Avery (sitting beside So !lla) who just kick it with the team.
So for people that don’t know exactly what happened, did BSE merge with So Proper Ent.?
So !lla: So Proper Ent. is still their own independent company. Not to take anything away from them – that’s my family – Ms. Proper is my sister. Actually, Ms. Proper and Concise rock with BSE. Coming up I had my own supporting cast – my own circle – and we want to do our own thing and take that vision to the next level.
Cheats: So I think I was under the wrong impression – I was under the impression that there was a bit of a merger.
So !lla: Well I still co-manage Ms. Proper and I help Concise but So Proper Ent, that is her own label. Let me just be clear, she had been on the scene – she took me in and under her wing – ya know. And now I’m starting to follow through with my own visions. She never holds me back with any of that.
Cheats: So you enjoy the business aspect of hip hop – the cutting deals – the moving and shaking?
So !lla: I love it. I’m the a**hole in the group too. So I’m the one that puts my foot down and says the stuff that no one wants to say.
Cheats; So do you feel like you have turned the corner in 2012?
So !lla: Oh yeah. Last year, I was homeless. In 2011, I was homeless – nobody really knows that. I was struggling and I would say I turned a huge corner. I just got my head together and really go on my grind.
Cheats: What would you say was the biggest shift for you?
So !lla: My team. Absolutely. Dudes like Avery telling me to get my s**t together. They kept pointing me in the right direction and supporting me. They let me know when I wasn’t on my game and they pushed me to be better. The really helped me get through a lot of tough times.
Cheats: Avery, what have you seen?
Avery: I’m not sure if he has, “changed,” every time I’ve seen him, even when he was homeless - he was always working hard. He was always grinding.
Cheats: Let me ask a different way. What was the break that changed everything for you?
So !lla: Working at Kingdom. My boss there – kind of manages me too – but just his belief in me. We were doing shows and we were selling tickets all the time and he was like, “Why are you doing it this way when you should be doing it that way. You could stop being a pawn and start making moves.” Then he told me that he would teach me. He took me under his wing and helped me book a few shows. And after that, I ran with it.
Cheats: What have you learned about booking shows in the last few months that you would tell others?
So !lla: Don’t just book your friends – that never works. Keep it 100% professional, don’t slide on your paperwork. If you want a good show, you have to put in the work yourself, you cannot rely on the artist. You need to get a fan base of your own – people that pay attention to what you do and will support you.
Cheats: What are your grind goals for 2013?
So !lla: Well everything is Broad Street Elite from me right now – to me there is nothing else. We want to do the shows twice as big. We are going to push the Mixtape that just dropped. We got a new album coming out with some secret features – I’m really excited about it. The goal is to make good music and host big shows.
Cheats: Who do you think is going to have a break out year in 2013?
So !lla: I say this every year but Chance Fischer is possibly the next Kanye (West). He’s on a different level. Of course, Ms. Proper, BSE, shout out to Octavion (Xcellence) he just dropped, what I think, is his best project to date – The Vigilante Mixtape, HaBits is going to have a great project, and Rich P.
Cheats: So who is signed to BSE?
So !lla: No one. No one is signed. We pay each other with loyalty.
!lla considers the new mixtape #FortheF***ofit a redefinition of himself. “In the past, I was making music but it really wasn’t everything I wanted to do. Ms. Proper once asked me, ‘What type of artist are you,’ and I didn’t really have an answer for her.” !lla considers this time period a new level of discovery for him and plans to continue that grind in 2013.