What were we up to? Stay tuned…and prepare yourself. #MonumentAvenue #WESEEIT
My friend Jason Lefton has a BIG thing for lasers. And he has manifested his fascination with lasers into a very creative business called BIG SECRET, located at 308 N. Adams Street, in Jackson Ward. I’ve gotten to know Jason over the last year from his improv work at the Coalition Theater. Jason is helping to transform RVA’s creative culture with his unique approach to design, his desire (and willingness) to collaborate with other RVA businesses, and the unlimited potential of his laser. I sat down with Jason last week to talk about his laser-etching business, and the changing creative culture of RVA.
What’s the best thing about BIG SECRET?
I would say the best thing about BIG SECRET is how easy it is to get people excited about what we are doing. As soon as someone sees our work, it clicks that we are using a beam of light to disintegrate material – to etch it, or cut it, or mark it. They are instantly hooked. It makes it very easy to get people excited and I love sharing the excitement of what we are doing. Most people are not exposed to this type of work on a daily basis.
What’s the deal with you and lasers?
I fell in love with lasers about two and a half years ago when I took my own laptop to be lasered. I took it to someone who didn’t normally laser laptops, but had a laser, and I convinced them to let me put my laptop in their laser. And as soon as I saw it start to work, I realized that I had to research lasers. I had to find out how much they cost and what they are capable of doing. And something clicked, as far as being able to use this tool in a creative way. I thought this would be a cool tool to bring to people in the creative industry that might not have access to one or who have never heard of a laser before. After that, I did so research and saved (money) for about 6 months and bought a laser. It was really on a whim.
When you explain to people the capability of lasers, what is the most surprising response that you hear?
The most surprising, or random, response is the objects people ask me have I tried to put in my laser. For example, have you ever tried to put any of your body parts in the laser – have you tried to laser your own flesh? The answer is no, but I have seen youtube videos (don’t try it at home). And that is part of what excites me about lasers, the wide variety of material that you can experiment with. When you screen-print, you are putting ink on paper or ink on fabric. You can put ink on other things but when using a laser you can use such a wide variety of material: wood, paper, glass, metals, plastics, cardboard, and lots of non-traditional materials: leaves, food, grip tape , etc. And it’s in those experimental stages that I really love figuring out what’s next, what else is this machine capable of doing. There is a very short list of things that you cannot laser.
What’s the one thing that you haven’t lasered yet that you are dying to laser?
I’m really excited to laser a cake. I’m doing it this summer for a nearby gallery called Candela (Books and Gallery).
It’s an edible cake?
It’s an edible sheet cake. And lasering food is perfectly safe. People do it a lot: grill lines on a steak or their name in chocolate. I’m excited about it. I’ve never done it before. It’s for a fundraising event they are doing in August called, “Unbound!”
You moved to the Arts District (Jackson Ward) in October of 2012, what is it about being in Richmond, Jackson Ward, and the Arts District, that gets you excited?
Being here gets me excited because change seems to be happening virtually every week. Art 180 just moved in down the street. There is a new restaurant and bar coming directly across the street owned by the owner of Tarrant’s Cafe. The neighborhood has Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Quirk Gallery, Candella, ADA, all within walking distance. And we are right in the middle of First Fridays, which we want to be more involved with in the future. Everything is moving so fast and it feels great to be located right in the middle of it. The other major thing is the new Coalition Theater is opening later this month. That is such an awesome project to be a part of, both as someone who does improv and being involved in the new branding. The new Coalition Theater will be a half a block away.
The new Coalition Theater is schedule to open later this month, a block away from BIG SECRET
When you’re not putting things in your laser and running your own business, how do you like to spend your time in RVA?
I use improv as a big extracurricular activity to unwind from a business day. It’s a lot of fun. The Coalition Theater is where I started taking classes. They have taught me everything I know about improv and I love performing with them. Other than that, my wife Bird and I love to go to the movies, in particular the new Criterion Theater to see independent films. We eat out in town a lot. My wife just started a new food website: Block and Bar. It’s a fantastic site and it’s received a great response so far.
What’s the one Richmond restaurant you can’t live without?
If I could only go to one restaurant in Richmond for the rest of my life, I would be content with going to Edo’s Squid (411 N. Harrison Street, RVA). It’s an old standby for me. I love their Italian food, and I’ve been all over Italy. Edo’s Squid does it right.
What about music, what is the one CD you can’t live without?
You’d Prefer An Astronaut by HUM.
Congrats to the fam, Adrienne Cole and DJ Prolific on the success of Wine Down at C’est Le Vin. They celebrated their 2nd Anniversary last night and Zo! was in the building! Events like Wine Down fill a unique void in RVA. There are only a handful of events that are geared to young professionals with an emphasize on urban culture. Keep up the great work…WE SEE IT! Click HERE to see all of the Cheats Movement Photos from last night. Make sure you follow The Cheats Movement of Facebook!
My brother The Honorable Sleaze had dropped new EP. He teamed up with Graphic Melee for 4 tracks that are a little more “graphic” than some of Sleaze’s previous work. “I speak to a lot of things going on in the RVA scene, you know lackluster lyricism. I just want MCs to spit hard again like they’re hungry for it. I tried to convey that emotion throughout the project. Its definitely on the more braggadocious side of Sleaze,” wrote Sleaze about the new record. Check out the Just Plain Sounds spitta’s new work and download his catalog at the Sleaze bandcamp page.
Anthony Bourdain at the Landmark Theater in RVA last night.
What guy? The guy that will hit up my cell phone next week and say, “Ah Cheats, I heard the show Saturday at Ipanema was great. I wish I had come out” or the guy that I run into next week and says, “RVA is just so boring, there is nothing to do.”
Trust me on this..there is something to do this Saturday night (10 PM) and it’s FREE. Come out to Live at Ipanema Cafe. The show is featuring great music by The Low Branches and Sam Reed. Bring a friend (or two or six), hang out with the blog family, be apart of the positive, diverse culture that is connecting RVA as family. RSVP for the show HERE – Get there early because it may fill up – then I’m sure to hear, “Man, I tried to get in but it was full.” Even though that one I understand. #WESEEIT
Poster by PJ Sykes
Last Saturday night, the Cheats Movement Blog joined a sold-out crowd at Baliceaux for the first ever RCC’s Battledecks. Battledecks is a comedic presentation using never seen before slides by daring and hilarious presenters; improv at its finest. I knew from the time the first slide was reveled, “Raving in your 30′s” it was going to be a great night. Congrats to the nine brave souls that took the stage (2 were selected randomly from the audience). The night was a massive success. Scott Beckett was the winner of Battledecks and also a new laser-etched iPad Mini. The night was hosted by the owner of BIG SECRET Jason Lefton with slide presentation assistance from his good friends at the Richmond Comedy Coalition. The slides along with comedic courage of each presenter made the night fantastic. I look forward to many more Battledecks at Balliceaux. CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE PHOTOS FROM LAST SATURDAY NIGHT
CLICK HERE for all the photos from Battledecks and make sure to follow: the Richmond Comedy Coalition, BIG SECRET, and the Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook.
My grandmother always says, “If they are talking about you – you must be doing something right.” Well grandma, in the new issue of Greater Richmond Grid, they’re not just talking about The Cheats Movement Blog - they are talking about the Family…deep. Before I go any further I need to fill you in a little bit about what’s been happening this year and how I’ve been processing everything. I hope you’ve been following on the blog and on Facebook but in case you haven’t, this year has been amazing so far: new job, bigger shows, new projects, and I’m getting married in October. It’s definitely been a new level of stress. All of this was happening before Greater Richmond GRID, TEDxRVA, and the Meaning of Community Project.
Then everything centering around RVA and Community just started taking off. Greater Richmond Grid and TEDxRVA played a major role in bringing this discussion to the forefront. Basically overnight everything went into overdrive regarding RVA’s community and I found myself and virtually the entire family right in the middle of it. There were weeks – after working full days - I would then attend a dinner, meeting, or gathering every night – go home, kiss the fiancee, and then sit at the computer for hours working on editing or posting. It is not an ideal plan for work, blogging, or life.
My saving grace has been my family – both my blood family & my Cheats Movement Family. The fact that I know I’m not riding alone gives me energy – too much energy and motivation to keep everything going. And then there are days like yesterday. While at TEDxRVA, a wonderful lady, that I met once while doing a community project with my boss at Trinity Baptist Church, walked up to me and gave me a Greater Richmond Grid and said, “I’m so proud of you.” I open the magazine and not only did I see The Cheats Movement, I saw Brother Manifest, Hamilton Glass, and Tony Harris. I feel like a brother to those dudes (a little brother – they’ve been putting in work for years)…we are always working together – bouncing ideas -and trying to move this city forward. The fact that Greater Richmond Grid put us in their issue about “Makers” motivates me to no end. S/O Paul Spicer for putting this level of detail about Community in your magazine – you didn’t have to.
I would be lying to you if I didn’t mention that I’m still trying to process the growth of the blog. And I’m tying to “process” it while the blog is growing – and I’m encouraging it go grow. That sounds crazy right? I’m “processing” the blog’s current growth – while hoping that you will share it to everyone you know and it continues to grow bigger….I know right. Here is the thing - I know The Cheats Movement Family has what it takes to play a part in positive change in RVA. None of us are going to sit it out. None of us are gong to miss out on the energy that buzzing around the city right now. We are moving forward. Go get that Greater Richmond Grid and see what we see it! #WESEEIT
One week of breaking down Community was just not enough. After the finale of the series, I got a few more amazing post that I have to share – and when one of those are from the Mayor of RVA – well it just can’t wait. I’m truly honored that Mayor Jones heard about what was happening on The Cheats Movement Blog and was willing to add his voice to the project. #Amazing. Along with Mayor Jones, I so pleased to have Meg Medina, Kaity Kasper, Patience Salgado and Tiffany Jana in this bonus edition of breaking down the Meaning of Community. WE SEE IT
“…In good times, we celebrate together as a community and in tough times, we fight back together as a community.” Mayor Dwight Jones…CLICK HERE to read more from Mayor Jones
“When I think of “community” I think of addition vs. subtraction. Community means being willing to add something you value to the place where you live and work…” CLICK HERE to read more from Meg
“Community. It’s that group of people that rallies around you. That lifts you up. That shows up when you least expect it to lend support you didn’t now you needed…” CLICK HERE to read more from Kaity
“…I am a global thinker having worked, lived on, and traveled to 5 continents, I see the WORLD as a community…OUR community, ONE community. Anyone who fails to see the interconnectedness between ourselves and our brothers and sisters on the other side of the planet, or just down the street, is missing the point….” CLICK HERE to read more from Tiffany
“…Community is the defining moment when we hold and see that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and we give ourselves over to it….” CLICK HERE to read more from Patience
This has been an amazing experience for me – Thank you all for participating and please keep following The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook.
I salute the homies over at YFD clothing on the release of their new Spring Collection 2013. YFD, similar to The Cheats Movement Blog, has been gaining a reputation in RVA through consistency. In the last 3 years, I have seen a few (more than a few) brands arrive and quickly disappear. YFD has been on a gradual climb through their hard work and dedication. Check out their Spring 2013 Collection consisting of 7 distinct pieces, with various sets of matching colorways. The collection features 4 t-shirts, 2 SnapBack Hats, and an exclusive accessory piece. You can check the rest out at YFDClothing.com #WESEEIT #FAMILY
While mead may represent the world’s oldest fermented beverage, with a rich history in many parts of the world, many remain unfamiliar with this magnificent beverage. A brewed beverage using honey as the fermentable sugar, sometimes with additions of fruits, herbs, and/or spices – mead making goes back 7,000-10,000 years.
On Saturday, March 2, the RVA Mead Lab held an opening party for supporters. The mission of the Mead Lab is to educate and collaborate. It provides a space for people interested in mead making (and the related activity of beekeeping) to visit and learn more – by observing, participating, formulating recipes, collaborating, tasting, and innovating.
Just over 30 supporters turned out throughout the day to participate in a variety of activities. Those that started early and braved the cold morning participated in a mead making workshop during which 13 gallons of mead were started.
The RVA Mead Lab is equipped with all the necessary equipment and ingredients for brewing a batch of mead. Members of the Lab can brew a recipe of their formulation using any of the ingredients available at the lab. These include local honey, fruits, and herbs.
Over the next six months, the Lab will serve as a collaborative, sharing space to develop mead recipes that are considered best in their class (in all types of mead including traditional, melomel – mead with fruit, metheglin – mead with herbs and/or spices, braggot – a mead brewed with malt and hops, cyser – a mead brewed with apple juice, pyment – mead brewed with grape juice) and forumulated to appeal to a broad range of tastes.
After the workshop was complete, guests were invited to sample a wide variety of meads and enjoy food and music. It was a time to meet fellow mead enthusiasts and enjoy some of the delicious flavors of mead.
Some of the mead was utilized in the food – the ginger mead marinated flank steak was a hit with many attendees. Other food offerings included salsas from Gunther’s Gourmet, smoked steelhead, artichoke dip, hummus, and roasted red potatoes.
Among the multiple meads sampled, a few were crowd favorites. A Ginger metheglin provided a healthy dose of ginger with a sweet honey backbone. A melomel made with figs and black raspberries, aged for over a year, also received high marks from tasters. There were sweet and dry meads, which appealed to a variety of palates.
Music was provided by Jess and Wayne, who provided a great backdrop for the day’s events.
The man behind the RVA Mead Lab is Bill Cavender, a graduate of the University of Richmond and seven year Midlothian resident. He shares that he has “long been intrigued by the magical and mystical world of the honeybee.”
Early in his life, he was introduced to the world of beekeeping by a next door neighbor. Then, in his early twenties, after discovering real beer while studying in England, he found it necessary to begin home brewing.
After several years as a home brewer in Virginia he moved south to Austin, Texas for graduate school. The warmer climate and lack of an appropriate space for fermenting beer (too warm in his house) required a new direction, and led me down the road to mead. Mead can ferment successfully at higher temperatures, which let him continue his brewing adventures.
Like so much of the food that we eat, mead depends completely on bees to make its primary ingredient – honey. Mead is a product that can be made from 100% local ingredients, which supports local farmers. And most critically, it supports local beekeepers that are a critical part of keeping our honeybee population from disappearing. One additional bonus – mead is also gluten free!
Many of the new supporters of the RVA Mead Lab are brewers, mainly of beer and wine. So mead is a new area to explore. Many would describe themselves as “foodies” and supporters of the “locavore” and/or “slow food” movements.
While they gathered to learn more about an ancient and mystical beverage, the mead also served as a conduit to other conversations. A variety of backgrounds were represented and conversations ranged from local charities to college hoops to challenges facing the greater RVA community.
For more information about the RVA Mead Lab, visit their Facebook page at www.rvameadlab.org. If interested in membership, it is still possible to join the movement to bring back the magic of mead.
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.
Photo by Cheats
Please make sure that you view all of the post for Community Week – go to the main menu (at the top of this screen) and hover over Meaning of Community tab. Every post has its own page — check it and share. Today is part 2 of Community Week on The Cheats Movement Blog and it is indeed a special day. The fact that this blog has the likes of Jim Ukrop posting on Community is big enough but posting Jim Ukrop along side a Maat Free or Ross Catrow or Taekia Glass is what this week (and this blog) is all about. #WESEEIT #COMMUNITY
“…for me, an ideal community is one where everyone, regardless of their socio-economic status, cares about one another and looks out for one another – a feeling that, ‘if the community does well, I will do well.’ – Jim Ukrop…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM JIM
“…If you remember nothing else about ‘community’ remember that the origin of the word community comes from the latin word communitas; cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”. Together we are a greater gift to ourselves and this world than individually.” Taekia Glass…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM TAEKIA
“…I believe community is a group of people with the desire to expose one another to what we feel most passionate about in life and remain open enough to see how these experiences will shape our world view. It is in the act of communicating that we have found a community.” Maat Free…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM MAAT
“I think a community is a collection of ideas. Big ideas, small ideas, creative ideas, pragmatic ideas, etc.” Beau Cribbs…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BEAU
“For me, the people I exchange ideas with are my community.” Ross Catrow…CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM ROSS
Make sure to comment, share, post, tweet, etc. I will be posting all week. And it’s not to late to add your voice to this project, email or message me to be a part.
I’m very excited about this week’s project. I have reached out to the entire Cheats Movement Family and even some first time Cheats Movement readers to help break down the meaning of “Community.” The exact question offered was: “What does Community mean to you?” I asked this question because “Community” has been a hot topic in Richmond this early part of 2013. There have been several public discussions about Community, some “side” discussions” and dare I say even some “underground discussions,” from all walks of RVA, regarding how we can improve RVA’s Community.
What I’ve found, and what really inspired me to reach out to the Cheats Movement Family, is that though these conversations are taking place - they seem to be taking place amongst interest groups that appear to be motivated to serve their own interests and present it as Community. I don’t mean that to be a criticism, it’s just my observation.
The Virginia General Assembly will have a discussion, or host a forum, about Community and the only people that would attend are Delegates, Senators, and lobbyist. TEDx, one of my favorite subjects of late, will host an event or talk about bringing the TEDx energy to RVA and how great it is for our Community. And I think events like the upcoming TEDx is a great happening that RVA should support but I (and along with others) have questioned, is the event just for the innovative business community or does it represent a larger cut of RVA? On a more personal note, I was a part of a wonderful group of community activist a few weeks ago, sort of an anti-establishment – DIY – group, we had a very enlightening discussion about Community. But as I looked around that room, it was clear that the room lacked the financial capital, business and political influence to really claim that our group was a real representation of all of RVA.
The main reason why I love Richmond so much is because of its diversity. There is no silver bullet that can put RVA in a box. Nor, is there a way that you can really have an all-inclusive conversation on a topic like Community without leaving key elements behind. But knowing that, I can go one of two ways, I could say the challenge is too large and sit it out or I can play my part and join the conversations that I see taking place around Richmond. That is why I have decided to use this week on The Cheats Movement Blog to do my part and help put more momentum behind the conversations about Community that are already taking place.
I strongly believe that in order to move forward on advancing issues like “Community Improvement” there has to be a baseline understanding of the definition and how it applies in people’s lives. This week will by my attempt – the attempt of The Cheats Movement Family – to present a diverse understanding of RVA’s community and how we can use these answers to kick-start some real action.
Everyone should be encouraged to be involved in discussions about their Community. Community affects everyone. I am very pleased with the Richmonders (Family Members) that have lent their voice to this conversation. The range of responses that I have received is more diverse than I’ve ever seen in one place about Richmond’s Community (thanks social media).
I have invited all – with no limits - to participate in this conversation, and the offers still stands all week. I encourage everyone to comment – share – tweet – Facebook – post – do whatever to move this conversation forward. I believe we are all in this together and the more we know about each other, the further we can go to make RVA’s Community stronger. #WESEEIT
Photo by Nick Mastro from the Cheats Movement Epic Dinner Party 2012
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
Last night, my homegirl, Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl did an amazing job as the special guest for the Richmond Comedy Coalition’s Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5. But Patience was not alone, she called on her good friend Jennifer Lemons-Driskell AKA The Checkout Girl to rock a ukulele sing along. It was a great time. Below are some of the photos. I’m so excited about the things The Cheats Movement Family has in store for 2013 and it was a real family affair last night. If you don’t know already the Richmond Comedy Coalition is in process of opening their new theater on Broad Street. Support them as best you can. Patience and The Cheats Movement Blog (along with so many others) are always working on projects to bridge the gap in this city. RVA, good things are happening. #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
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?