Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wangechi Mutu

Go meet and hear Wangechi Mutu speak about her latest collection at the Hirshhorn on January 31st at 7pm.
Mutu creates collage that analyzes female sexuality, cultural tolerance and identity.
This event is FREE. Visit the Hirshhorn online for more information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A few of my favorite things...

That illustration up there is from one of my all time favorite illustrators; Jason Sho Green. I wish I could give you the link to his site, but he seems to have disappeared from the internet.

The New Young Pony Club. I am obsessed with this band, right now. Their sound is so 80's
Check 'em out here

Zatinya. Yeah I know this restaurant has been around forever, but I just discovered how damn good the food is! If you get a chance check 'em out. It's the perfect date spot.

I have also rediscovered my love for U Street. U Street and I had a thing going on for years, but after they built that Starbucks, I had to break it off. Now, we are back to together again.

Plastic Land!!! I love this online store. Very cute, unique stuff. I have recently come to hate the term "funky", if I hadn't I might have used it to describe the clothes at Plastic Land. Visit Plastic Land here

I have also been feeling Jefferson Pinder's performance art and collages. I read about him in The Post a few weeks ago. I wanted to interview him for my blog, but things didn't work out.
Check out his site

Oh and FREELANCE..who will be having his first solo show this Wednesday at the Velvet Lounge. This cat has been putting in work on the underground hip hop scene for years, playing drums, keys and anything else you can imagine. Check him out here

Friday, January 18, 2008

Les écailles de la mémoire

For over twenty years The Urban Bush Women Dance Collective has been telling the stories of marginalized voices through contemporary dance. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar started UBW in 1984 to honor the sassy, multi-dimensional women she was raised around in Kansas City. Jawole has managed to create something so timeless and provocative that UBW has affected how dancers and audiences view themselves and the world around them.

For this particular performance, UBW will be performing with Compagnie Jant-Bi, an all male dance troupe from Senegal started by Germaine Acogny. Jant-Bi is known for tackling hard to address issues such as the genocide in Rwanda through African dance and movement.

These two amazing dance companies are coming together to perform; Les écailles de la mémoire (The Scales of Memory). In this union of traditional African dance and African American contemporary dance they will explore the dynamics of resistance, memory and love

Les écailles de la mémoire runs February 1-3 at the Kennedy Center.

For more information on ticket availability please visit the Kennedy Center online.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kissey Asplund

Internet killed the video, radio and any other type of star you can think of. Look at Tila Tequila, she started out as an internet (Myspace to be exact) sensation and now she has a show on MTV. On the other side of the spectrum is Kissey Asplund; Sweden’s new “it” girl. While Myspace and various radio blogs have helped her create a buzz, this girl actually has talent unlike some of her Myspace musical counterparts. Her style is fresh and creative, her beats are sick and her voice is smooth and mellow. She has collaborated with such musical geniuses such as, Dyno and Papa Jazz, just to name a few. With the on set of her Some What One Girl tour, an EP, and album all due out this year; she is busier than ever. Lucky for me I was able to catch up with her for this mini interview.

C.T.: Who are some of your musical influences?
Kissey: Beat makers influence me a lot! I’m influenced by everything from tribe called quest, The Roots, Waajeed, 90’s radio hits, ELO, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Beatles....I like a mix of things.

C.T.: How do you go about choosing beats and/or beat makers?
Kissey: I've actually heard/found them all through Myspace. Either someone said to me “Hey, you should check him out” or I've sent them a message About how wicked their soundscapes are or beat makers have hit me up and asked me to my voice over some of their beats.

C.T.: So, I know you are on tour, what else are you up to?
Kissey: There's an Ep coming out in the end of February entitled "Fuss'n'Fight", and my debut album Plethora will be out in March. Both on r2 records

C.T.: You are pretty busy. That's good. How long have you been into music?
Kissey: Well...I've played the piano since I was six, sung in choirs and went to music school from ages six till I was about nineteen. After that I stopped for some years and about two years ago I started again. But, music always been a "hobby" never really something that I planned on doing.

C.T.: What made you realize that music was something that you could do full time?
Kissey: I don't know really's more that it just escalated...suddenly I got more bookings, more beats, an album coming out....I recently quit my day job.

C.T.: Good for you! I wish I could quit my day job.
Kissey: I don't know if it's a good idea (laughs), but that’s how it is

C.T.: Your music and your style are heavily influenced by outer space. Are you in to sci-fi books, movies, etc.?
Kissey: I'm a nerd. I watched cartoons all my life (actually when I was younger one of my dream jobs was to become a inker for Marvel Comics). I love movies like Star Wars, 2001: Space Odyssey and fantasy books. I love the way the world is portrayed in science fiction movies

C.T.: I love your style. Have you thought about doing fashion design?
Kissey: I actually studied fashion one year, I love fashion and playing with silhouettes and colors, but I don't think I will launch a line...only if I could do a crazy line, like a line of helmets!

C.T.: Do you write all your own lyrics?
Kissey: Yes! I've only sung 1 song and 2 hooks that have been written for me. I find it's hard to sing lyrics that I didn’t write.. I have to feel it to make you (the audience) feel it.

C.T.: Do you prefer performing live or in the studio?
Kissey: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I love standing in the studio, it's my meditation. But, I also love being on stage, I feel as if everything make sense when I’m on stage. It’s tricky to choose one over the other.

C.T.: What genre does your music fall into?
Kissey: I would call it Electro-soul. because of the electro-sound in the beats. Some put me in the Future Soul family.

C.T.: If you could work with any three artists dead or alive who would they be?
Kissey: Rick James, George Clinton, D'angelo, and Miles Davis

C.T.: I could so see you performing with George Clinton! I think you guys might be from the same planet!
Kissey: I saw him live once when I was 18 and it was heaven!!!
I never really listen to p-funk before that, but him coming out with that hair, his band; Wow!

Photo Credit: Åsa Sjöström for Sydsvenskan

For more information on Kissey Asplund visit her Myspace page

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


A few weekends ago some friends and I went out for drinks at Marvin’s. For those of you that haven’t yet been to there it’s a Marvin Gaye themed restaurant/bar brought to by the Thievery Corporation (the same guys that own 18th Street Lounge). The idea of a Marvin Gaye themed spot seemed kind of corny to me, but I still wanted to see what all the hype was about.

On entering the place there was nothing Marvin Gaye-ish that stood out. It also was missing one key element; soul. Marvin’s has got to be the most soul-less spot in DC. Starbucks has more soul than this place. From the door man, who was wearing huge Run DMC looking glasses, white tennis shoes and an ill-fitting business suit, to the tragically hip crowd of people smoking out on the patio, there was nothing authentic about it. The Belgium inspired menu didn’t help either. Was Marvin Gaye’s mom from Belgium? Did he get locked up there? I just didn't understand what the connection was. So, I did my research, turns out around 1981 Marvin Gaye moved to a small town in Belgium called Ostend. While there he cleaned himself up, got off of drugs and started boxing. He stayed in Ostend for less than two years. This is why Marvin’s restaurant/lounge serves Belgium food and beer. Make any sense to you? Because, it doesn’t make any to me, why would you build an establishment inspired by a prolific entertainer who is known all over the globe for creating soul driven baby-making music and the theme be based on a very lonely short part of his life in a washed up beach town in Belgium.

The crowd, if you dare call it that, was a mix of ex-cool kids and buppies varying in ages between 20-40. By the end of the night, everyone was crowded around the bar; night club style which I totally understood considering the drinks will put hair on your chest. But, that was the only reason to stay. Yeah, there was a DJ and he was good. But, honestly, the place was just too small and filled with to many pretentious wanna-be’s to really get into the music that he was spinning. Considering the scene at 18th street lounge I should have been prepared for that type of thing. Maybe I was putting to much stake in the many rumors that I heard about this place. In its short life span Marvin’s has acquired quite a reputation for housing the “movers, shakers and beautiful people in DC.” And, yes someone actually said those words to me that’s why I put them in quotations. Needless to say, I didn’t see those people there.

Don’t take my word for it though, go check it out and judge for yourself; just get there early because this place has the potential to get packed.

FYI: Dinner entrees will cost you on average around $20. Beers will run you between 7-10 bucks. There is no cover charge or dress code, but I do suspect on nights that there is a line (and I have seen lines at Marvin's) they will get choosey about who they let in, so if you are not feeling especially "hip" that day, avoid the line.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Aniekan Udofia

With the use of mixed media paintings Aniekan Udofia forces you to take off your rose colored glasses and see the world through his eyes. When I first stumbled upon Aniekan’s portraits of hip hop artist, I was impressed, so impressed that I asked him if I could interview him. After our first phone conversation he quickly let me know that he’s much more into his “real” stuff, he goes on to tell me about one piece he painted with George Bush in full gangsta mode with his shirt pulled up exposing a tupac-esqe stomach tattoo that says “Got Oil”. As the conversation continued we talk about everything from how he has been asked to remove his paintings from galleries to why art school sucks. After a series of phone calls ranging in lengths from five minutes to over two hours I figured I had all the info I needed, so I scheduled a meeting to see his work in person.

The very next day I hopped in my car and headed over to his spot. The building was a little sketchy. I had to enter the locked front door with a tenant who pretty much gave me the third degree about where I was going and if I lived there. Then I almost got stuck on the elevator. I was thinking maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. As soon as I arrived at his studio, I knew it was the best idea. The walls were completely covered with paintings; paintings were stacked in corners, in the kitchen, all over. Sketch books were scattered everywhere under tables and other hiding places and there was paint everywhere. This may seem pretty standard for an artist studio, but when I say “studio” I really mean his efficiency apartment. I desperately wanted to ask him where he slept, but I didn’t want to be suggestive. I was there to inquire about his art, not his sleep habits.

Scanning his body of work for one stand out piece was pointless. Each painting spoke to me in some way. It’s obvious that his work is influenced by his views of the world and more importantly life in America. “America is like Disneyland; you come here and forget all about the problems in the world.” Even the most patriotic citizen can’t deny that. America is the land of distraction and excess. I just nodded my head and laughed.

Music is also a huge influence on his work. While growing up in Nigeria, hip-hop culture reached across continents and drew him in. Many of his paintings have hip hop lyrics painted on them, one in particular has a picture of a child with a gun and smaller photo-realist drawings of George Bush, to the left are the lyrics “Why am I wrong if I kill a nigga that punches me but it’s right for you to blow up a whole country?” Messages like this make it impossible for his work not to affect you. He makes you think. Makes you look away from the latest reality T.V. show and say, “something is not right here.” Aniekan himself is just as charged as his work. When asked what his inspiration was he quickly replied, “Dumb people. Stupid ass people, when a grown ass man sags his pants to his knees, when bouncers don’t let people into clubs with sneakers; that is my inspiration.”

For more information on Aniekan Udofia check out his Myspace page.

Photo credit: Jati Lindsay