One of the best bands in RVA is back! S/O to Bar Codez, Sam Reed, and the entire Photosynthesizer’s family (which The Cheats Movement is a proud member). This Saturday night – it’s called LISTEN Vol 1: The Light in Sound. The show is featuring R&B singers Lela Bizz and Anhayla. RSVP HERE on Facebook.
Last Sunday, I stopped by the Silent Music Revival at Gallery 5. The night featured one of my favorite RVA bands: Wolf//Goat; the movie was Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID (1921). It was a great night. Make sure you check out a Silent Music Revival. Jameson Price does such a great job with this event.
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.
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.
There has been so much RVA hip hop coming out lately that I really can’t keep up with it all. I appreciate every artist that sends me their latest work: mixtapes, singles, videos, etc. and I apologize that I can’t get everything posted as fast as I would like BUT keep sending it my way (CheatsMWC@gmail.com). The Cheats Movement Blog will continue to be a outlet for all RVA music and, in particular, RVA hip hop. So with no further delay — Here is what I’m turning up right now:
What can I say about Sweet Petey’s latest joint. Nick F brought it hard on, “Vices.” He is receiving well deserved national attention for the mixtape that features RVA emcees, Radio B and Michael Millions along with his Tokyo Ave Fam, Conrizzle AKA Loochey Lovely, and YMCMB’s Drizzy Drake. Of course, Nick is a beast when it comes to his rhymes and he killed it on Vices. My favorite track on the tape today (it changes all the time) is Pem Pen.
Pem Pen – Sweet Petey ft. Loochey Lovely
Number 15 – Sweet Petey ft. Drake
The Grindaholic himself Octavion X dropped his latest solo project, “Vigilante” in November of last year. While many folks that I’ve talked to believe “Vigliante” to be his best solo project to date (I believe this as well), it has been a slow build for tape. I sat down with Octavion last week for my Grindaholic series and he agreed that, “Vigilante” is in the process of deliberate and targeted branding effort. He wants everything to be right – the marketing, the videos, etc. because he believes in the music. I agree, the music is very impressive. My favorite track is, Get it How I Live ft. Artik Phreeze, Chance Fischer, BC Music 1st, produced by Mr. Ivory Snow.
We R VA ft Suburban District
Noah-O’s New Video, “Looking Down”
Charged Up General Noah O took it back to the Bay for his latest video, “Looking Down.” Check out the new visual. The upcoming record is called, “Thug Wilders Revenge.” It’s coming soon and RVA is on notice.
I’m a fan on HaBits. I’ve seen them rock a few times live and really appreciate the element of hip hop they bring to RVA. It’s a return to the emcee. Their feel reminds me of the throwback origins of NYC hip hop. The new record is called, “Soul Connection.” It is dropping very soon and here is a new single from the record.
HaBits – I Wanna Be
When I sat down with So !lla for the first ever Grindaholic interview, he made it clear to me that Broad Street Elite is the focus and 2013 is year. I respect his grind. Check out the music and see what BSE is all about. My favorite track? This one is tough because I’ve been sitting back watching what !lla have been going through and because of seeing some of his journey I’m going to post the track, Runnin Too Long.” I feel l like !lla has turned a corner and this track sounds like victory to me.
So !lla – Runnin Too long
There it is for now. There is so much more but again, I can only do so much at a time. Keep supporting The Cheats Movement and I’m going to keep supporting your work and RVA. #WESEEIT!
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?
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.
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.
When you really think about it, there are only a few days in life that you know you will remember forever. For me, Saturday was that one of those magical days.
I woke up carrying a secret that only four people, my immediate family, knew: I was planning to propose to my amazing girlfriend Aria. And I was planning to propose to her in front of a live audience, including a lot of our family and friends during the Richmond Comedy Coalitions’ Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5.
The morning started with my nerves in knots. I woke up slightly anxious about the proposal but in absolute terror about the attendance of the Richmond Famous show. I was honestly worried that no one would show up that night at Gallery 5. I was worrying Aria sick by asking her, “Babe, what happens if no one comes,” I would ask her every 20 minutes.
ARIA: He was so worried that only 6 people would show up. I constantly assured him that people would show. He is insanely modest; he didn’t understand how much of an impact he had made in the community. I kept telling him that people would come out to support him and RCC.
That morning, I started sharing the secret. I called Aria’s mother and let her know my intentions and, of course, asked for her blessing. Her excitement gave me not only ease but confidence that I was proceeding in the right direction.
ARIA: Who knew I could be so gullible. All of a sudden he had an urgent need to go pull the trash can in from the driveway. It was 8:30 in the morning; most would have thought something was up. Little did I know, he was in full master plan mode.
The next challenge was waiting. I needed to keep my emotions in check and not tip off Aria that I was a little more “worked up” than normal. I was helped by some very quality Starz on Demand, I played, “Beat Rhymes and Life,” the documentary movie featuring A Tribe Called Quest. Aria watched most of it with me and just being with her on the couch further cemented, for me, that I was 100% doing the right thing.
Then the phone rang. It was David, from the RCC, letting me know that we would not be alone tonight, if fact the presales were on their way to 100 and he anticipated a sold out show. It’s a strange emotion to feel relieved and excited at the same time – I was honestly relieved that the night was going to be populated – if not historic.
ARIA: While I had no idea he was planning a proposal, during those few hours on the couch watching the Tribe documentary and then Fade to Black I kept thinking of how amazing it felt to be so connected to him.
So when I was telling my mother “the plan”, I could see the utter panic on her face about the “surprise” element of the proposal. It gave her more than “hesitation.” I have always relied on my mother’s advice and Aria’s personality often reminds me of what, I think, my mom was like before she raised me and my siblings. My mother looked at me and immediately said, “Marc, you can’t do that to a women, you have to give her some time to digest what is happening and you don’t want to do that in front of a lot of people.” I thought about it and agreed with her. So I retooled the plan and adjusted to propose in Church Hill right before our planned dinner at Proper Pie.
Fast forward a bit to the car ride to Church Hill, I can’t remember if we even talked. ARIA: He was a bit quiet in the car, but I just assumed he was nervous about the show. I just let him be with his thoughts. The ring was in my pocket and I convinced her we had to go to take a few photos of the city for the blog. I really didn’t think that anyone would be at my planned proposal spot, a wonderful view of the city near Richmond Hill, but as we were pulling up, I saw a few people at the spot. As we got closer, it turned out to be a small wedding. A good sign indeed but I was not thinking about that – I was thinking, “Yo! Where am I going to propose?” ARIA: After seeing the wedding at that particular spot, I was thinking cool, maybe we can just go to dinner, I was starving. Luckily I just continued to go with the flow. I made a quick audible to the park with the statue and the great view of the Lucky Strike building. I asked her to take a few photos and then I pulled out the ring. I waited for what felt like a year before she was able to answer; she was too busy being shocked and smiling. ARIA: I honestly have not been more surprised in my entire life. For a split second, I didn’t want to yell out yes, thinking maybe there were just earrings in the box and I’d be embarrassed. Then I quickly realized of course it was a ring and he was proposing; I was so shocked. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t said yes. Once she said, “Yes,” and I can’t really tell you exactly how I felt. It’s not overconfidence when you’re on the same page with the person you love – you just know it’s going to be cool. I knew we were on the same page and asking was bit of a formality to me.
ARIA: I was ecstatic; I was so excited and nervous at the same time. I wanted to tell everyone we encountered that I just got engaged! I loved the man, I loved the ring. It was amazing!
Once the proposal was done, I had to convince Aria to put her, “poker face,” on because no one knew about the proposal but our families and a very special friend, who may or may not, be back in town from Washington D.C. in time for the show.
Just because the “actual” proposal was done, it strangely didn’t make me feel relief about proposing on stage. I – once again – had the ring in my pocket and it hadn’t really registered that she’s just said yes. Once Gallery 5 started filling up with our friends, I started to get distracted – speaking with friends and running around – that took my mind a bit off the show. Aria left her phone at my house in the West End so she drove back to get it – I’m sure the car ride helped her collect her emotions. When she came back the show, she was almost calm.
I got word that the show was sold out around the same time our “special guests” arrived at Gallery 5. I blocked out most emotions immediately before the show and took solace in RCC cast members telling me, “I got your back,” it was awesome.
The moment I pulled out the ring, my world was a flash. I am so grateful for the people quick enough to break out their phones and, of course, my good friends with cameras because I got so many great photos of my on 1 knee. I honestly don’t even remember doing it. ARIA: I think I was just as nervous as he was, I knew it was coming and I had to sit in my seat for about an hour waiting for it to happen. As he went through the story and then pulled out the ring box, I didn’t have to feign excitement or surprise. I was still so excited and probably still a little stunned. Looking back, I am so thankful that I made it up to the stage without falling. As I stood there as he proposed again, it was still amazing. I just focused on him. Plus I got to see my ring again, and this time I got to keep it!
The rest of the night was easily one of the best nights of my life with Just Plain Sounds, Glows in the Dark, and Photosynthesizers. I smiled, hugged, dance, loved and just had the best night. ARIA: It was a great night. We essentially had our engagement party right there. It was so amazing to have been able to share the experience with so many of our friends and family. It was great to get so many well wishes from people I didn’t even know. Everyone was so happy for us and there was just a lot of love and positivity in the air. I loved both of my proposals and I couldn’t have planned it better myself. I am so blessed to have such an amazing and thoughtful fiancé. He aight!
All I can say is, “Thank you RVA,” I love this place some much – but, to me, when I think of, “RVA” I think of more than geography, I think of family and home. I love my Cheats Movement Family and it was such a unreal experience to share this night with you.
My family was in the front row with those “special guest”
Glows in the Dark killed it – I can’t thank them enough.
The RCC was amazing Saturday night! Please check out one of their shows.
Well in 2012 the world did not end and though we are a bit over the fiscal cliff, it looks like we may survive total doom.That’s great news because Saturday night is sure to be one of the best nights in Richmond (so far). Join me, The Richmond Comedy Coalition and the entire Cheats Movement Family for “Richmond Famous” at Gallery 5.
I’m very excited and honored to be a part of the show, the RCC is amazing and well worth the $5 dollar (advance ticket) on their own BUT we are not stopping with just improv comedy, we are showcasing some of RVA’s best bands: Photosynthesizers, who I’ve called on this blog, “The best live band in RVA,” is playing live following the show. Also, Glows in the Dark, one of the most talented and diverse sounds in RVA, will bring their dope style to the night, Wolf//Goat made one of the best records to hit RVA scene in 2012 and is looking to skyrocket in 2013, and the brothers from Just Plain Sounds had an amazing 2012 with records from The Honorable Sleaze, Just Plain Ant, Drano, Damaged Andy, and don’t forget that MF DOOM inspired Mixtape, Weekends in Latveria (James Dangle went hard on that). Also, a good ol’ Cheats Movement cyphers (You know how it goes down). So if you’re a emcee…come out for the show. I hope to see all of Richmond at Gallery 5 Saturday night. I hope YOU (reading this) will join us. It’s going to be a really fun, positive and diverse night – a night that truly represents what this blog and RVA is all about.
The show is Saturday, January 5, 2013 at Gallery 5 (200 W. Marshall Street, Richmond, VA). Doors open at 7 PM – show starts at 8 PM. Music starts around 10 PM. Advance tickets are just $5 ($10 at the door) so get them early. RSVP BY CLICKING HERE!
AN INTERVIEW WITH CHEATS OF THE CHEATS MOVEMENT BLOG
Words by Roger Tyler (RT) and Marc Cheatham (CHEATS)
ALL PHOTOS BY CHEATS (WITH THAT CHEATS MOVEMENT LOGO)
2012 appeared to be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Richmond area hip hop scene. While Street Art made unprecedented moves in our city’s mainstream with the G40 Street Art Festival and RVA Street Art Festival, RVA hip hop struggled to grab widespread public attention, while also dealing with the tragic loss of one of its own, super-producer Kleph Dollaz. “This year hasn’t had the media hype I expected following a groundbreaking 2011 but overall it has been a solid year for a lot of Richmond area hip hop artist,” said Marc Cheatham AKA Cheats of the ever-expanding Cheats Movement Blog. I sat down with Cheats in his living room, in a quiet neighborhood on the West End of Henrico, to discuss his new mixtape project with RVA Mag, the influence of his blog, and his views on the year that was in RVA hip hop.
Cheats just recently completed his first RVA focused hip hop mixtape titled, “RVA HOT SAUCE THE MIXTAPE, Vol. 1.” It features 11 songs from Richmond-area hip hop artists such as, Artik Phreeze, Noah-O, Michael Millions, Ms. Proper, Suburban District, Black Liquid and more, it also has Cheats’ own voice on the intro, interlude, and outro yelling, his blog’s catch phrase, “We See It.”
Black Liquid, Ms. Proper, Suburban District, and Artik Phreeze are all on the HOT SAUCE mixtape.
In just over a year of covering the Richmond’s hip hop scene, Cheats has become one of its most trusted writers, bloggers, and photographers. You know you’re in the right spot if you see the short guy with a backwards cap and camera strapped around his neck. Or just look at your Facebook newsfeed the day after he covers a live event – photos with the Cheats Movement Logo are everywhere. This year it even stretched to the mainstream – North Carolina rapper Phonte (who Cheats interviewed for RVA Mag) used a Cheats Movement concert photo for his twitter profile photo. And while his blog highlights RVA’s diversity – RVA hip hop has embraced his blog as one of its go to sites for reports on the best local shows in town.
Phonte (Little Brother & Foreign Exchange) used this photo as his twitter profile pic following the Happily Natural Day/Tuesday Verses Concert
Being a hip hop artist myself, attempting to interview Cheats is a challenge because before you know it – he’s asking the questions and I’m giving the answers but we had a fun and free-flowing discussion and below are some of the highlights:
ON THE RVA HOT SAUCE MIXTAPE (Cheats in his own words):
“This is just my opinion but the mixtape represents what I see as the best elements of RVA hip hop. I say that knowing full well that I don’t cover every live show or listen to every album or mixtape (though I promise to listen to every song or mixtape that is sent to me directly via email or Facebook). I don’t know it all and that’s why this is just Volume 1, there will be a Volume 2 and probably 3, until I feel like I’ve captured the culture.”
ON HOW THE IDEA FOR THE MIXTAPE STARTED (Cheats in his own words):
“RVA Magazine’s owner Tony Harris told me that he was doing a series of mixtapes with different bloggers and asked me about doing a mixtape collaboration between The Cheats Movement Blog and RVA Mag. I have a lot of respect for Tony and RVA Mag so working on a mixtape seemed natural. I never felt that I was in the position to do a Hip Hop 101 introduction article because I haven’t seen all the hip hop RVA has to offer but the way RVA Mag presented the opportunity – it gave me the opportunity to highlight what I have seen and highlight who I go out and cover regularly.”
ON HOW THE ARTIST AND TRACKS WERE SELECTED (Cheats in his own words):
“Most of the tracks on the mixtape are not new tracks but a compilation of songs that have been in my rotation throughout 2012. I picked 11 songs for volume 1 and reached out to everyone to see if it was cool that I use their work. Black Liquid, Sleaze, Michael Millions, Doe The Paperboy, Ms. Proper, Arktik Phreeze, Chance Fischer, Suburban District, Drano, Noah-O, are all on the tape. The late Kleph Dollaz has an influence on the tape through Noah-O and Chance Fischer. Though I didn’t know Kleph personally, you can’t cover RVA hip hop and not be aware of the difficulty the community is still going through with the losses of Kleph and another friend of mine Mr. Mason Jones.
The RVA community is still struggling with the loss of Kleph Dollaz and Mr. Mason Jones ( in color)
ON WHO MADE AN IMPACT ON THE RVA HIP HOP SCENE IN 2012 (Cheats in his own words):
“This is tricky because I’m going to leave people out but understanding that I can’t name everyone (I can’t name everyone) I will say, Suburban District as a group should be proud of the year they’ve had and individually, Octavion Xcellence. Tim Porter, and Fair, should be proud of what they did as solo artist as well. They headlined Epic Fest, released “Beer for Breakfast”, killed features and mixtapes, and performed at SXSW, it was a huge year for the Smooth Dirty Camp. Doe The Paperboy killed it this year and not just with his music, DoeNation 2 was released in 2012, he was everywhere, making an impact with his live performances, his videos are great (S/O Soul Live Media) and his merch game is crazy. My JPS brothers Sleaze and Drano should be really happy with the feedback on their albums – both, “Heavenly Devilish” by Sleaze and “City of God” by Drano are being slept on by RVA — come on now! WE SEE IT! They are both great albums. I think Big League and their crew should be real proud of what they did…I don’t know them well but T-Mac and Bravo, that whole crew, put in some major work. RT, I know you really like what Memph 10, So!lla, and Ms. Proper did this year, I agree. And Black Liquid’s album, “The Black Experience” was his best studio album to date, not to mention opening for a ton of big acts including DMX. I could go on and on but I won’t.
It’s hard to think of a camp that had a better year than Smooth Dirty…Suburban District (Octavion X, Tim Porter, and Fair) were everywhere…. Kleos and Phreeze – the entire camp did it big in 2012.
Doe The Paperboy had a huge year and not just in music, videos and merch game is crazy.
Just Plain Sounds and a great year but still underrated…Sleaze (pictured with James Dangle and Ohbliv) and Drano had great records this year.
Cheats and I sat down and talked the year in review – here is what we came up with – before the hate starts – this is just a list of what we came up with – we know we left some folks out….tell us who – make us notice.
Favorite shows of 2012:
- Epic Fest (2-Day Event) at The Kingdom presented by SlapDash
- Phonte (From Little Brother) Happily Natural Day/Tuesday Verses at The Canal Club
- The Klubhouse Krew Presents: The Kleph Dollaz! Music Charity Show at Canal Club
Epic Fest brought a great crowd to Kingdom for 2 night -despite the weather trouble – one of the best events of the year.
Must listen to Album(s) Of 2012:
- Sleaze- Heavenly Devilish
- Suburban District- Beer For Breakfast
- Black Liquid – The Black Experience
The Black Experience by Black Liquid is his best album to date.
Artist we are checking for in 2013:
- Chi Chi The Kidd
- Chance Fischer
- Bravo (The Big League)
- Dr. Millionaire
- Yung Yankee
Chance Fischer is one to watch in 2013
Must See Videos:
- -Bravo- “Harlot”
- -Doe The PaperBoy- “If I Had It”
- -Young Rell- “Letter to God”
Videographers on top of the RVA game:
- Aura HD and Imagery (Jay Aura)
- Soul Live Media (Robert Roby)
- No Name No Brain (Arya “Pat” Rossman)
Best RVA Blog covering local hip hop:
- Well….WE SEE IT – Cheats Movement Blog!
This article was written by Cheats and RT. If you disagree – don’t hate – email me and tell me why: TheCheatsMovement@gmail.com
RT is a hip hop contributor to RVA MAG and a hip hop artist. Check his work and see him with The New Juice Crew and UCubed. Click here for RT’s DatPiff profile.
The cover art was done by Hamilton Glass. There will be a special article coming out by Roger Tyler and yours truly about the mixtape and the year that was in RVA hip hop.
Final artist list: Micheal Millions, Noah-O & Kleph Dollaz, Chance Fischer, Artik Phreeze, Ms. Proper, Doe The Paperboy, Black Liquid, The Honorable Sleaze, Drano, Nickelus F, & Suburban District. Intro by Cheats and outro by James Dangle.
The mixtape is unique opportunity to get a sample of some of the best local hip hop artist, done let this tape pass you by. WE SEE IT!
RVA HOT SAUCE MIXTAPE INTRO by Cheats [Produced by The Honorable Sleaze]
There is no doubt that Kingdom has become one of the leading venues for hip hop in Richond over the last few months. I credit this to the hard work of Broad Street Elite caption So !lla who has been putting in work all over Richmond in 2012. Last Friday, I took the Cheats Movement camera to Winterfest 2012 to catch a strong collection on local hip hop in one place.
Ms. Proper rocking the stage with the entire click. BSE X So Proper Ent is under one umbrella and ready to ride in 2013
Though Winterfest ultimately met the same “key” hiccup as most RVA hip hop shows, either too many acts or not enough time. I was pleased to see a nice size crowd of hip hop fans when I arrived. Though I was upset that I showed up right after my dude Octavion Xcellence finished his set, the crowd was still buzzing and it’s clear I may have missed one of the best performances of the night. Octavion just released his mixtape “Vigilante” and he has some fire on it (Check the track: Get It How You Live).
Octavion and Artik Phreeze
I did arrive in time to see Broad Street Elite turn it up. Ms. Proper, So !lla, Conci$e, WhopDaSquire, Rich P, were laced up and ready to go. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating…I would need to hit the gym for about 3 years straight to join that click – where do they find the time. I’ve also said this before (and I’m sure I will say again), Ms. Proper is the truth on stage, it’s another level. She commands the stage – rocks the mic – and does her thing and bounces, I’m always happy to catch her on set.
I then saw Petersburg spitta Rockstarr Gunna. This was my first time seeing him rock live and I must say, I was impressed with his performance. The performance was high energy with strong lyrical flow. I genuinely like the music so I’m not sure if he needed to highlight the “guitar” element of the show as much as he did. The guitar was dope but until they really got into it – at the very end of the set due to some mic issue (not their fault), the guitar just seemed to be more of a distraction for the fans then a real strong part of the live performance. With that said, I would attend another Rockstarr Gunna performance, absolutely. It’s worth seeing and I have a feeling only going to get better.
Rockstarr Gunna and the guitar (FYI – that dude can really play the guitar, he got busy at the end of the set)
Next to perform were HaBitS and I’m a fan of their work. I’ve covered a few of their performances in the past (and missed a few more – my bad). I’m a fan of what I call “true east coast hip hop.” Don’t get me wrong – I like a lot of music – but there is nothing like that Eric B and Rakim type flow, that Nas type flow, that a pull out a milk carton or have you man make a beat on a cafeteria table type flow – Habits has it – and a lot of that is missing or won’t pop off in 2012 hip hop. There are some exceptions – Stalley comes to mind but HaBitS seems to bring that type of flow and I’m rooting for them to have big 2013.
HaBits ready for a break out year.
The final act I covered were my brothers the New Juice Crew. If you read this blog – you know TNJC is family to me so you really have to see their set for yourself to get a unbiased opinion BUT I will say Black Liq is poised to have huge 2013. I spoke to him at the show and the stuff he has planned will get you excited for RVA hip hop as a whole. BC Music 1st deserves mention in this posted because he is really putting in work with, photos, videos, and music. BC’s grind has caught up to Black’s and along with Lord Slugg, Brother Starks, Bandolero, and RT I’m really looking forward to seeing what the TNJC can pull off in 2013.
BC has showed Liquid type grind in recent months and now locked and loaded for 2013 the TNJC focus’ is on a trillion.
Finally, I have to give some love to YFD Clothing – my man DaQuan Williams and Artik Phreeze. I’m not sure if Phreeze took the stage late but he’s on the The Cheats Movement X RVA Mag mixtape: RVA HOT SAUCE Volume 1 coming out real soon on the RVA Mag Bandcamp page. I don’t know – never met – DJ Gringo but he held it down Friday night – #Salute. I saw Rah Srcilla – DoeBoydaDude – and the crew from Natural Talent (those brothers are always working) in building. Overall, a good reprentation of RVA hip hop – always glad to be in the building. WE SEE IT!
Bar Codez of Photosynthesizers puts us under his spell. The video filmed by Cheats and Nick Mastro (MastroTime Photography) in front of the I AM A MAN mural by the famed street artist JR, on the corner of 14th and T in Washington DC. WE SEE IT!
HIGH STANDARDS – NO LIMITS -THE CHEATS MOVEMENT BLOG. WE SEE IT!
First and foremost, shouts to my dude Black Reed and Hip Hop VA for the call to come through to Beat Battle IX. There is no doubt that producers are stars now in the hip hop community. Who really gets the credit for this turn of events? Yes, I know Dr. Dre and others like Manny Fresh and even VA’s Timberland were “money” producers before producing was cool but who really gets the credit for making beat makers stars? I’m going to lean heavily to Jay-Z and the Roc-a-Fella Records empire…you’re talking Ye, Just Blaze, No ID, Young Guru, stars were made without ever spitting a rhyme (feel free to debate in the comment section). That star power has transferred to every level of hip hop and it’s growing in places like Richmond. Last Thursday, I took the Cheats Movement camera to The Camel for Hip Hop VA X Charged Up Ent. X The Rebirth’s Beat Battle IX. The event was hosted by my brother Octavion Xcellence and in memory of the late Kelph Dollaz.
This was my first time covering a beat battle and I did not know exactly what to expect but I was surprised by the large crowd and the enthusiasm of the event. RVA’s hip hop scene is a “growing community.” I use growing because small is borderline inappropriate. From time to time feathers get ruffled and it appears the support within the community breaks down but last Thursday represented the best of the RVA hip hop community. A community that I have truly grown to love because of the support and motivation. Passion is what fuels guys like Noah-O, BC Music 1st, The Honorable Sleaze and Ivory Snow and it’s that same passion that fuels this blog to present RVA differently – positive and diverse.
As far as the battle goes, there was talent all over the place. S/O to Dr. Millionaire (Hovey Benjamin & Isaiah) put in work and so did Ivory Snow but at the end of the day all roads pointed to Denero and Matt Campfield versus NC’s Millie Vaughn.
Millie Vaughn pumping up the crowd.
After a tie in the final round it was Denero and Campfield that took the Beat Battle IX title. Congrats to them – I hope to catch another battle soon. Keep it locked in to The Cheats Movement Blog. A blog truly as diverse as RVA and follow it on Facebook and twitter. This blog will not survive without your follows and support.
Champs Denero and Campfield with the winning play!
Conrizzle, BC Music 1st, Octavion X
DEREK 32Zeoro (left) and producer Nottz on stage at the Canal Club.
I got more must hear music for you today. I first heard DEREK 32Zero at the Happily Natural Day Concert featuring Phonte. S/O to Brother Manifest and Lorna L-Boogie (Tuesday Verses) for putting me on. 32Zero had unbelievable energy on stage and really delivered a strong performance. After the show he handed me a copy of his sampler, “Breathe Deeper,” and I must admit that I slept on if for a minute BUT when I put it on…it played all the way through. It’s a must listen. I’m looking forward to his album, “I’m Not Bargain-ing,” that will be released sometime early next year. Check out some of the Breathe Deeper tracks – all produced by VA super- producer Nottz.
LIFT ‘EM UP – DEREK 32Zero FEAT. TALIB KWELI
BREATHE DEEPER – DEREK 32Zero FEAT. DJ BEE
My brother Ohbliv is putting in work! He blessed me a few weeks back with his HW&W debut “Up.” I held on to it for a few weeks because I wanted the RVA Mag article that we linked up on to drop in stores (click here to read). Also, I didn’t want him to get into any issues with his label for hitting me with up. Now that everything is clear, I just have to say that Brad O outdid himself. 16 tracks of soul, groove, everything that makes Ohbliv great. Go get the album! Check out the RVA Mag article and see below for some unreleased photos of Ohbliv from the RVA Mag photo shoot. The photos were done at The Shop by yours truly. WE SEE IT !
I first ran across Kellen Dengler’s work last year on Vimeo. For what it’s worth, I believe Kellen had the best cinematography reel that I saw in 2011. His reel featured all kinds of work from shooting NYC hoops, to Nas, to Snoop, to even covering a Miami Heat game. From his vimeo page, I started following his website (KellenDengler.com) and his twitter (@KDengs) just to see the latest work he was dropping.
Kellen is currently growing a body of work that, I believe, is one of the best collections of visuals currently in the game. It is only fitting that he is working with one of the best up and coming rappers in the biz Stalley and ultimately one of the hottest cliques doing it right now: Maybach Music Group.
I reached out for Kellen for an interview for the Cheats Movement and though he is extremely busy, currently on the road with the BET Music Matters Tour featuring Stalley and Kendrick Lamar, he was able to answer a ton of my questions via email. In addition to the travel, his new visual for Stalley, “Fountain of Youth” is currently being featured as MTV’s Jam of the week. Shout out to Kellen for always being on the grind and putting out some of the best, most innovative, work coming out right now. Follow him on twitter and Vimeo to keep up with his amazing work.
Cheats: If a person walked up to you on the street and asked you what did you do for a living – you would say?
Kellen: I’m a director/cinematographer, but I do a lot more than that. I feel like in today’s age with so much content being produced so rapidly and with smaller budgets than in previous years you have to be able to adapt to the situation and wear many hats. Yeah I direct, shoot, and edit, but I also write, produce, consult etc etc. It all depends on the job, the client and their needs, and the budget.
I knew I was in love with photography when…
I knew I was in love with photography/filmmaking when I realized it was something that I could totally do on my own, for myself without initially needing help or guidance. I feel like I was lucky to enter the video world right at that time when video was going from analog to digital. Digital allowed the cost of equipment to become much more affordable to the consumer and other resources such as software, computers and online learning all became a part of it. A lot I learned in school, but I think I learned more on my own. I learned how to do everything analog which is still very important knowledge to have even in 2012. I’ve done several projects over the last couple of years that require managing archive media that came in all of these old school analog tape formats. I feel like a lot of kids learning today don’t know what to do with that type of stuff, which isn’t a bad thing, after all it is 2012, but there are some things I’ve done that require analog knowledge and experience.
For me, filmmaking is a way for me to…
For me filmmaking is a way for me to express my creativity in a way that I enjoy, and something I can fully control and create myself. Yeah a lot of projects have some sort of corporate influence or objectives, but you need that to pay the bills. I like to use that money to fund my own projects that have no creative boundaries or obligations. I’ve been working on a very big project this year that will be a true testament of my own creative efforts and is truly the biggest project I’ve ever created. More details to come soon…
In regards to being a professional, I would say my first “real” break came…
In regards to being a professional I would say my first real break came when I realized that I could do this on my own. My last year in college I had an internship with MTV here in NYC. After graduation I was offered a job with them and dropped everything and moved here. That was right a t the time when the US economy went to shit. Everyone who I had interned for had gotten laid off and left me without a job. It forced me to figure things out myself. It wasn’t easy at first and there were a lot of hurtles, but I ultimately started working more and more and then at some point in 2010 I quit the job that I had at this production house and just went for it on my own. That was the moment that I really felt like I had it in me.
I first met Rick Ross….
I first met Rick Ross while working with Stalley who I have been documenting the past few months. It was earlier this year when Stalley’s mixtape “Savage Journey to the American Dream” dropped. The MMG crew was in the city and they did some promo stuff together that I covered, and then Stalley had his release party at the Beats By Dre store in SoHo.
The concept of a MMG NYC Take Over film came from…
The concept of the MMG NYC Takeover film sort of came about after I realized what I had. Initially, I was focused on just documenting Stalley and what he was doing that week with the Self Made 2 promo. I realized pretty quickly that I was the only camera that was sort of allowed “all access” with MMG during those 3 days. I pretty much rolled non-stop and was as non-obtrusive as possible. I wanted the real behind the scenes moments that most people never really get a chance to see. Once those 3 days were over, I realized that I did in fact have some pretty exclusive content that captured these guys very naturally and candid. MMG didn’t have a video like that with the whole crew that was really just a “behind the scenes” type piece. That’s what sort of sparked the idea to package it together into a longer format piece that could really offer that true behind the scenes look. I think it was pretty well received overall, I wasn’t looking to make a MMG fanboy piece, and I feel like the majority of people realized that and accepted what I had made as not being that and appreciated it for what it was.
Right now I’m working on…
Right now I’m working on getting organized to head out on the BET Music Matters Tour with Stalley and Kendrick Lamar for the next 6 weeks. I’m busy closing out some other projects and preparing to be on the road for a while to create some video pieces for the tour.
My inspiration comes from…
My inspiration comes from my friends, this city, and online. I’m lucky to have a lot of really talented friends that do so many cool things from fashion to music to design to art. That all rubs off on you just from being around them. NYC is such a cultural melting pot that you pick up inspiration almost naturally. The way the internet has evolved also inspires me so much as well. I sometimes log on to check my email and then end up browsing a few things, then look at the time and hours have gone by and I didn’t even realize it because I was so drawn into whatever things I was reading about or videos I was checking out. It’s amazing to me how the internet offers this platform to showcase your creativity in such cool ways, pretty easily.
The best advice I’ve ever received….
The best advice I’ve ever received was from a mentor of mine in college who taught me the importance of being a “one man band.” Basically being able to do everything on your own since the landscape was changing so much in the digital age. Knowing how to direct, shoot, produce, edit, design, consult etc. Ideally, you won’t always have to do all of those things and you can just focus on what you like most or are best at, but knowing how to do all of those things is really important and has helped me a lot.
The best city for a person to do what I do…
The best city to do what I do is New York City. Period. Yeah LA has more readily available crews, equipment, and studios because it is Hollywood, but I think what NYC has to offer is almost more important. There is so much culture and creativity here all mixed up in this relatively small area (in comparison to LA) that it’s almost impossible to walk out the door and not become inspired. I think LA is great, and I do work out there a fair amount, but NYC has been so good to me and really molded me into who I am and what I do now that I don’t see myself ever planting roots anywhere else. This city breeds culture.
Stalley’s “The Tune Up” Video took me _________ long to make? I really like this video because….
Stalley’s “The Tune Up” video took me a day to shoot, and probably a day or 2 to edit. I really like this video because I tried something something knew that I honestly didn’t even know was going to work or not after I shot it. It’s a very simple concept, but what you have to do to ensure those layers of video match up and blend together was the challenge. There were things I overlooked in production that almost ruined it for me, mostly lighting stuff, but I ended up making it all work and I think that turned out pretty damn for for it being my first real video that I directed.
Before I go – all I want you to know about me is…
Before I go all I want you to know about me that I did it myself and on my own. I’ve still got a lot to learn and a ways to go, but I’ll figure it out. You can to.
Saturday I covered the 1st ever So RVA Fest at the National. The event was definitely an experiment in RVA diversity. Moss United and their team did some good things in their first event. From the top, as a hip hip fan, the hip hop line-up was strong: Bravo, Big League, Black Liq with the New Juice Crew, S.I.C., and Noah-O with his crew Charged Up Ent. is a line up that The Cheats Movement Blog would have been really proud to showcase in RVA. Also, So RVA did a really good job working with their sponsors prior to the event. I work with West Coast Kix and prior to the event I know we were all impressed with the details and the planning by the So RVA Fest team. And of course, any money to help benefit the Virginia Special Olympics is a great thing. I was pleased to know that the event had a real philanthropic aspect to it. The last comment I will make on the positive side (and I’m sure there were plenty more) is the diversity of the audience and the overall crowd size was impressive for their first event at the National. I’ve seen a lot of locally based hip hop shows at the National and Saturday’s crowd was impressive.
Things that could be improved next time? I will not harp on improvements because I do believe the event was a good event. It was clear that during the event the late arriving crowd was much more of a dance party crowd (Off The Hookah or Tiki Bob’s) as opposed to a hip hop crowd. That was not the problem it was great to see diversity together in RVA but it appeared to me that the hip hop portion of the show was cut short in order to get the dance party started faster. This resulted in shorter sets from Charged Up, S.I.C, and worst of all Noah O did not take the stage. As a true fan of RVA hip hop – that was a miss.
With that noted, I’m excited to see what Moss United and the So Fresh RVA team has planned moving forward. I think events like the So RVA Fest are the future of a more cultured and inclusive RVA – the challenge is making it all work! I strongly support the effort and idea. Here are the Cheats Movement photos from Saturday:
Black Liquid killed the stage and has a new album coming this Friday
Charged Up – Noah -O – Streetz Deep – J-Nero all in the building. Very sad that the team’s set was cut.
J-Nero and Streetz Deep. Always good to see RVA hip hop out in full force.
As I stood in line waiting to board the 7 AM Megabus from Union Station (Washington DC) thoughts were still rushing through my mind, Man, am I crazy? This is just a bit crazy isn’t it? This is certainly not normal. Yo, is this really happening? And those were some of my more relaxed thoughts, I had spent the first 2 hours of the trip, driving from RVA to D.C., thinking to myself, What am I going to ask him and how can I get the entire interview done in just 5 minutes. And of course, reminding myself not to spend the first 4 minutes of the interview wasting time on pictures and autographs. The “him” I was referring to was the one and only Bobbito Garcia AKA Kool Bob Love AKA Bob the Baber AKA Soul Food Bob, AKA DJ Cucumberslice.
Garcia, 45, is a true legend in hip hop culture and entrepreneurial pioneer for modern culture all over the world. Let me be clear, hip hop culture is modern culture throughout the world and Bobbito Garcia has successfully transitioned his passion for the culture into a career that benefits the entire world. As a writer, DJ, radio host, and sneaker expert, Bobbito Garcia wears many hats and I was making my way up to NYC, on 3 days’ notice, to speak with him about his passions, career, and latest project, a feature film titled, “Doin’ In The Park: Pick-Up Basketball, New York City.”
I have closely followed Bobbito Garcia’s career for over 10 years. I can’t remember the first time I heard his name but as a fan of hip hop and sneakers, he has always been a person that I considered an authority on both subjects. It was only later that I became aware of his history in basketball and then I really began to understand that we shared very similar passions. I credit his career as one of the major inspirations for this blog and my success as a writer and photographer. If someone like Bobbito can turn his passions into a career, why can’t I?
So you can understand that I was excited to even be in a position to reach out to him for a Cheats Movement interview. And I was even more enthusiastic when he quickly responded with a yes and an invitation to come up to Brooklyn and see a screening of the film. Without any hesitation, I quickly accepted and started making plans to travel up to the Planet Brooklyn.
Upon my arrival to the Big Apple, I noticed that the weather was not lining up for an outdoor screening that evening. Though the weather was nice in the Lower East Side, I had heard reports of rain in BK and even worse a tornado touching down in Queens. I sent an email to Bobbito with my number just in case we could save the interview and save it we did. A few hours later, he called me and asked me to meet him in Tillary Park in Brooklyn; rain or shine. At this point, he did not have to do the interview but he did it anyway because that is his character. That’s really all you need I need to know about him as a person – he went out of his way for a stranger to do something he didn’t have to do – just because he said he would.
The following is my interview with Bobbito Garcia:
Bobbito: What up everybody and peace to Richmond. My name is Bobbito Garcia AKA Kool Bob Love, representing New York and Puerto Rico and honored to be with my man Cheats.
Cheats: How have you been able to transition your passions (DJing, Basketball, Shoes, etc.) into a career?
Bobbito: That’s a difficult question to answer in retrospect. Along the way, I really didn’t anticipate all of this happening. So much of my success comes from cross-pollinating. For example, I started at Def Jam and I use to play ball with Russell Simmons, RUN DMC, and Rakim – I started getting a rep as a ball player in the hip hop industry because I always had ill sneakers. I would have customized sneakers in 1989 – 90 it was unheard of at the time. I would paint and customize my sneakers. That led to The Source recognizing me for my sneakers and me writing an article. That article was read by the person that ultimately published my book – 13 years later she put my book out.
Then though Def Jam I met Stretch (Armstrong) and that’s how I got on the radio show (the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show) . The radio show introduced me to the whole world. And I would always shout out basketball, “Yo, I’m playing at Tillary Park tonight. I got another game tomorrow night.” So people started knowing me as a ball player…overall it’s just kept growing…Cheats so much happened.
Cheats: It sounds like a perfect NYC story. Perfect timing…
Bobbito: Cheats, I have been blessed. Now I’ve been to 35 countries and 5 continents playing ball in each and djing in each. I look back on it all and really don’t know how I was able to do it all. But I do feel blessed. I’ve been kind to so many different people and that always plays infinite dividends.
Bobbito: I really don’t know if there was a defining moment. When I was 19 years old, I played professional basketball in Puerto Rico. That was the first time that I got paid to do what I loved to do and that could have been the original seed that everything else grew from.
Cheats: And now you can add something new to the resume. You can add filmmaker. Tell me about the film and the process of making the film.
Bobbito: The film is, “Doin It In The Park: Pick Up Basketball NYC,” is co-directed by myself and Kevin Couliau. We both took our passions for basketball and film and combined them to create a really unique project. We went to 180 courts in 75 days, 90% of them on our bicycles, and because of technology, we shot the film with at Canon 5D camera, we were able to carry our equipment in our backpacks and make a proper feature film that when you see it – you’re going to bug out. The film is shot beautifully. We got phenomenal interviews; we have amazing archive footage due to the research we completed….
Cheats: And the film was all self-financed?
Bobbito: 100% self-financed. No one commissioned us to do it. Now that the film is done, we are working on distribution so that the world can see it. And hopefully it can be released in theaters and for downloads but for now we are just doing a lot of community screenings.
Cheats: What did you learn about filmmaking that you did not know before the start of this project?
Bobbito: Well, I’ve been in a lot of documentaries Cheats – Just For Kicks, Beats, Rhymes, and Life, Freshest Kids, around about 30 films – Freestyle by Kevin Fitzgerald – so I’ve learned a lot but I can’t really take credit for the film because it was truly a team effort in that regard. David Couliau, our editor, put the film in a structure that made sense to a viewing audience. I’m just a dude that knows a lot about basketball and I love to play the game.
Cheats: I know topics like legacy is tough for you to talk about – most people will end up doing that for you – but as you put things in perspective with music – with everything – what are the moments that you most proud of right now?
Bobbito: Right now I would say two things, playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico. I’m proud of that because that is my homeland; and because I’m 5’10, 160 pounds. I don’t think I was born to play pro basketball. I made that happen through hard work. That is special to me because I beat the odds by achieving that dream. I was cut from my college team 3 years in a row and the spring after that I played professional basketball. I was the second pro basketball player in my college’s history.
I would say my second might be writing the book, “Where Did You Get Those? New York City Sneaker Culture: 1960 – 1987?” I went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and I graduated in the bottom 10% of my class. It took me a long time to have confidence as a writer and I built that confidence over the years writing for The Source, Rap Pages, and Vibe, to the point where I felt like I could take on the challenge of a book; which is a lot bigger than at 2,000 word article. It took me 4 years to put it together. It took a lot of research…so right now I would say those two but you never know because this film may be the defining thing. Film is such a bigger medium than books and I have already seen the way the audience reacts to the film. And the film is a combination of me as a DJ as well because I supervised the score of the film. I also wrote the script, so the film really combines my music skills, my writing skills, and my basketball skills. You will see me playing ball in the film.
Cheats: And I’m about to see you play ball in a minute so last question. What advice would you give to yourself 20 years ago – knowing what you know now?
Bobbito: I say this to a lot of people, just figure out what is missing and fill the void. That has been my whole career. No one did a film about pick-up basketball before, no one had written a book about sneaker culture before, on the radio show, we had Nas, Biggie, Wu Tang, Jay Z, Big L, before anyone had ever heard of them. We were just filling the void – that’s it Cheats, I’m about to run.