The Manifestation of Sir The Baptist

If you live in Chicago and you haven’t heard of Sir the Baptist, you must be living under a rock. Announcing his signage to Atlantic Records, performing for the GRAMMYS, opening up for Travis Scott and King Louie, and working with Tony Bennett as well as Lee Musiker – he is no foreign music artist. I’m not just saying this because I have become a part of the team. We are more so because he is playing all the top festivals this summer including but not limited to Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, Afropunk, Thrival, Made in America, and more. His single, “Raise Hell”, premiered on BET and has been streamed almost 2 million times on Spotify.

And let me not just stop there, Sir the Baptist just played Columbia College Chicago’s urban arts and graduation festival, Manifest. You may be wondering what it was like – well fasten your seat belts and get ready for a literary journey as I describe one of the most electrifying performances I have seen to date.

Five minutes before taking the stage, Sir is humbled enough to be in the stage to join the stage of student performers. Seconds before the stage, jumping up and down, sparking a fire within the team, and a prayer to seal it all. The first step onto the stage begins and the transformation starts. He’s in the zone. As he screams, “Whatsup Manifest”, the crowd goes crazy as they roar back with cheers and screams. From song to song, he tells his story as he takes you through the journey of a Preacher’s Kid. It becomes an audible movie but yet visually stimulating with a dynamic gospel choir, a tuba, a full band, and a dancer. On top of that, a choir member flipping into the crowd. At one point the entire performance crew jumped down into the audience to share a connection of dancing and singing while the confetti cannons are going off. Additionally, he gave away his hat that was given to him by Jay Z in New York at TIDAL. If you don’t believe me, just check out this video:

 

 

Find more of Sir the Baptist below and catch him on tour below:

http://www.sirthebaptist.com

http://www.instagram.com/sirthebaptist

http://www.twitter.com/sirthebaptist

http://www.soundcloud.com/sirthebaptist

Wardens Midwest /// Chi Babes / No Ra Ma

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Following Trumps’ rally I had the pleasure of interviewing Chi Babes; a modeling agency that works with models that are more than a cute face and tight waist. These girls are multi talented. They are artists, singers, rappers, actors, poets, the list goes on and on. We were watched live by over 80 people from Facebook. Check out Chi Babes‘ website.

 

Also, this Friday they are celebrating their one year anniversary at the famous  Black Couch. Check out the event here

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10360687_1156966720982134_5497284589735890219_nAlso coming on the same night was rising star Aaron Gruental ( No Ra Ma ). his sound is something out of a meditating robotic dream. The off beat rhythms crossed with the futuristic bass line is unmatched  in the scene today.

Check out the entire interview and mix here!

Lady Gaga: An Oscar Performance to Remember

88th Annual Academy Awards - Show

Despite the unavoidable controversy surrounding its blatant absence of ethinic diversity, yesterday marked the airing of the 88th Academy Awards ceremony. Similar to its predecessors, there was no shortage of media coverage surrounding the happenings of this notoriously grand event. Chris Rock made light of minority actors declaration to boycott the Oscars. Hours were spent recognizing the same ten actors that get nominated every year, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won the Oscar after years of audiences claiming he’d been snubbed.  While I did not watch the ceremony in its entirety, I did tune in to witness a moving performance by none other than Lady Gaga.

Instead of using the platform as a vanity piece or an opportunity to honor a dead actor already validated by mainstream America, Gaga chose to perform her song “Til it Happens to You” featured on The Hunting Ground documentary about sexual assaults on college campuses. The performance featured people of all gender variance that, like Gaga, are survivors of sexual assault. In the short but stirring performance, audiences watched as these survivors bravely stood in solidarity to shed light on the millions who are sexually abused throughout their lifetime.

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An Animal Collective Live Retrospective

Baltimore experimental pop group: Animal Collective has been one of my favorite bands for many years now.  For the hardcore fan, the band’s live show have been just as intriguing as their albums. With the release of their new record: Painting With and tonight’s live performance at the Concord, I’d like to share some of my favorite recorded performance from each of AnCo’s live incarnations over the past decade.

2001-2002

The Collective’s earliest tours are surprisingly well documented. Footage from 2001 shows that band at it’s most primal and abrasive. The band had not begun using the samples that would define future live setups, but instead consisted of Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) on drums, Avey Tare (Dave Portner) on guitars, and Geologist (Brian Wietz) running fx and feedback loops. Performances from this period shift from frightening to hilarious rather quickly.

2003-2004

Very little footage exists of the tour leading up to the release of Here Comes The Indian. From what I can tell performances were in the same vain as previous tours only this time even more tribal and Boredoms-esque. The band’s lineup was completed by the addition of guitar player Deakin (Josh Dibb) during this time. That same year, Animal Collective released a freak-folk album under the name Campfire Songs. This would inform the bands subsequent tour and their 4th album: Sung Tongs. This tour saw the band stripped to the acoustic guitar and floor-tom duo of Avey and Panda. The primal energy remains here, but child like vocalizations and Beach Boy harmonies replaced the abrasive noise.

2004-2006

After Sung Tongs proved to be a critical success, the full 4 man lineup made a return and began touring songs for their 5th release Feels. This lineup continued into 2005 and 2006 where the band would debut material from Strawberry Jam. The material here was their most ambient and poppy to date, with electric guitars and samples beginning to be used as a major part of the live instrumentation.

2007-2009

2007 through 2009 is the most well documented period of Animal Collective’s career. Most likely due to the arrival of smart phones combined with the rising popularity of youtube and live-streamed concerts. Over three years of nearly non-stop touring, the band used the live show to develop the tracks that would eventually form their critical and commercial peak: Merriweather Post Pavilion. My favorite footage of the band comes from this era. The use of samplers meant they were able to perform most of their back-catalog, which was often reworked to fit in with the new material. In my opinion this is Animal Collective working at the height of their creative powers.

2011-13

Since the release of MPP, the band has tour less frequently. The full lineup returned in 2011 for a set of festival dates, leading up to the release of Chz in 2012. Avey Tare developing strep throat multiple times in 2013 plagued the subsequent tour, however the band still played some of their strongest sets during this time.

 

 

 

COUSIN STIZZ

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http://cousinstizz.com/

The weekend before last I was lucky enough to experience Cousin Stizz live in Wicker Park.

Although he came all the way from Boston, when he stepped onto the the stage you would’ve thought he was at home. The crowd knew every song and never stood still.  Surrounded by colliding bodies and lyrics screamed on both sides of you, you couldn’t help but vibe with him. His name will definitely “ring some bells” next time he’s in Chicago.

Checkout his latest music video for No Bells

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Even though the crowd was wild, Stizz’s music has a slightly slowed tone to it. This is relevant in his most recent mixtape Suffolk County (a must listen to for any hip hop fan). Popular tracks like Fresh Prince and Shoutout (cosigned by Drake) illustrate his hypnotic sound.  And while he incorporates beats from various different producers, his sound is consistent throughout the tape.

Specific songs like Real Life and Fed Up stick out to me. Lyrics like, “They dont understand what we be rappin’ about, real life.” and “Meanwhile on the block n***** dropping like flies / Streets always at war man ain’t nowhere you can hide” show that his music is his story book. Be sure to not only enjoy the music when you listen (which isn’t hard) but to really listen to his words. He’s telling you something.

 

Day In The Life Of Chicago’s Very Own Sir The Baptist

If not now, when? 24 hours is all we have in any given day. Time is free and doesn’t cost us a single dime but time is also the most valuable currency we can spend. Mind boggling, isn’t it? How you choose to spend those 24 hours is truly something precious. Do you ever wonder how a music artist spends their 24 hours? Between interviews, photoshoots, studio sessions, performances, legal agreements, and more – the life of an artist is definitely not an easy task.

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Photo by Johnny Fan (yours truly)

Chicago’s very own, rapper-singer, Sir The Baptist, shares with us a video showcasing the behind the scenes of what a day in the life of a music artist looks like. Sir The Baptist calls himself the Urban Monk with a unique genre of his own, the Ghetto Gospel sound. A truly vivid yet complex sound captures the cadence of church. (I dropped a bar right there, yay for alliteration.) Sir’s collaboration with music artists include Chance The Rapper on Surf, Twista, and Logic, among others. With features on Jay Z’s TIDALFakeShoreDrive, Apple Store EventChicago TribuneOkayPlayerWGN RadioSway In The Morning and more, Sir The Baptist is definitely making waves Kanye will hear.

Among other news, Sir The Baptist will be the sole performer at the Chicago’s 58th Grammy Viewing Party at Thalia Hall! RSVP is available! Following the announcement of the Grammy Performance, Sir The Baptist’s “Raise Hell” hits #2 on Spotify’s U.S. Viral Top 50!

Without further ado, here is the Day In The Life of Sir The Baptist below!

Continue reading “Day In The Life Of Chicago’s Very Own Sir The Baptist”

Are You Interested In Photography?

As we are in an ever-evolving world in the digital era, social media and online platforms have opened new ways to share. With platforms such as Instagram, Flickr, 500px, Twitter, and more – the presence of photography and images are growing exponentially. Not to mention how much the smart phone industry has grown, it seems these days everyone can take up photography whether it be from their cellphone or from a DSLR. And to be quite frank, that is true. Everyone can do it. The accessibility to a “good camera” is available in your pocket! The quality of a cellphone camera has grown tremendously over the course of the last decade.

In fact, here is a picture from an iPhone 3GS which was released in 2009, basically 7 years ago!

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iPhone 3GS Photo courtesy of Google Search.

What do we have now? Here is a photo from an iPhone from the most recent generation.

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iPhone 6 Photo courtesy of the amazingly talented @cocu_liu.

It is safe to say – the scope of photography has exploded since the inception of mobile photography, quality camera phones, and social media. Samsung, LG, Apple, etc. have all developed amazing cameras in a device you carry every single day!

As a photographer and student myself, I first fell in love with photography through mobile photography. Why? Well, I couldn’t afford a DSLR camera. For a lack of better words, I was broke. The only thing I could take pictures with was my smart phone to which I used as my tool to capture. This leads me to my next point in photography. A lot of questions arise about what is the best camera to buy, which brand and etc.

Here is the thing:

The best camera is the one you have with you. (There is a book on this that I would highly suggest too.) It truly is and it is a concept or term that I believe in whole-heartedly. A tool does not make an artist, it only accentuates the craft. Whoa, whoa slow down. Let me explain why I believe in this and how it can tie into any other craft.

Tony Hawk is a skateboarding legend. Does it really matter what skateboard Tony Hawk is using? He is a legend at his craft not because of his skateboard but because of his dedication, hard work, time devotion, passion and the list goes on. The skateboard does not perform the tricks. He does.

Does the microphone of a music artist make them better? Technically speaking, they sound better but it doesn’t boost their vocal range for a singer nor does it help them develop poetry and wordplay for a rapper.

Same applies to photography. The camera is only an accessory and tool to your craft. It does not make your craft. Don’t worry about what camera is the best to get because if you want the brutally honest answer, I would tell you to get the 5 figure camera to which is more or less unattainable for most. So, what now?

Continue reading “Are You Interested In Photography?”

JakÜbi – Warm Weather and Summer Vibes

We’ve been lucky that winter hit us late this year, but when the cold decided to hit, it hit us hard. I thought I’d try to let you guys get a taste of summer through giving you some music that reminds me of the warm weather. I first discovered Jakubi around this time last year and was hooked with their fresh vibe and unique flavor. Jakubi is a Melbourne Australia-based band that consists of 2 brothers, 2 cousins, and a friend that came together to make music that’s equally funky and soulful with a hip-hop flare. They haven’t released a lot of music and there are no rumors of them releasing any big projects any time soon, but it seems like their always on tour. Among the music they do have, I have yet to find any song that disappoints.

 

Check out “Couch Potato”, their latest single

 

Listen to their latest EP on Soundcloud

Spike Lee’s Chiraq: Interview with Actor L’Dorado Jones

 

A city plagued with violent headlines.

Shootings of innocent people seems to be the norm in the rough areas of the city. In the midst of all of the previous documentaries that have been done to show the violence and the interaction of gangs in certain neighborhoods there was a movie due to start filming this past summer. The movie was presented by the famous film director Spike Lee. With his knowledge of film how was he going to come into the city and present it on the big screen.

 

Well as most films go there were auditions and then the cast was set and the title of the movie was released………..”Chiraq”. This was a term that was born in this city due to the number of murders in the year of 2012, which was more than the rate of that in Iraq.  So again the people of the city wanted to know how was Spike Lee going to show this in cinema and make it work. Well the story is based on the Greek play, which happened to be a satire called “Lysistrata”. The basis of this play was that the women would withhold physical affection from their husbands as punishment for fighting in war.

 

Now to the movie. First of this was a very star studded cast which includes Nick Cannon,  Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Steve Harris, Harry Lennix, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Dave Chappelle, La La Anthony and a host of local Chicago actors including Jay Washington and the brother I had the pleasure of interviewing today L’Dorado Jones. He plays Ajani who is Nick Cannons Lieutenant so basically his right hand man. We talked about his acting career and his role in the movie and what is was like to be around such a great cast so check out the interview.

 

Sitting here with the talented L’Dorado Jones what’s going on man?

 

What’s up man it a pleasure to finally get a chance to sit down and chop it up with you ‘The Living Legend” (he really said that AWESOME!!!!!). Appreciate the opportunity. It’s an exciting time right now. Chiraq will be in theatres this Thursday. The city is on fire for it even though it’s been controversial, don’t believe the hype or as Spike Lee said don’t get it twisted. Come out and see it and enjoy it. It’s our city and our time. I think it’s going to be a great debate starter or a great conversation piece to further some dialogue.

 

Knowing the controversy surrounding the title and the movie what were your thoughts going into the audition?

 

When my agent told me that Spike Lee was shooting a film here in Chicago I was like okay that’s good I would like to be a part of that. Didn’t know how big it was going to be and like everyone else didn’t know what the movie was going to be about. Of course when you are doing reads the names are never with what your character is going to be. You just see the dummy names and then you are only getting a fraction of the dialogue. You don’t even know what the scene is about you are just going for it. When I get there we were auditioning at the Black Ensemble Theatre on North Clark Street and I figured it would just be another audition with the casting director. I spent all night going over the script so I can get off paper as my agent told me you know commit it to memory.  So I get there and I am a MC so I am used to performing but I go in and see Spike Lee sitting there and my entire cool goes out the window. So I go in and Spike is just sitting there smiling at me and I am like hey this is unexpected.  As a bit of an icebreaker his first words to me where “What Are Those” looking at my shoes, but not in the way the kids say it now but he actually wanted to know what kind of shoes I had on and I had on some Supra Zebra Print 4’s.  I really dig Supra’s I am into skate shoes. I don’t skate but shout out to all my skaters.  So I told him about the shoes and they are from the West Coast. I mean this is Mars Blackmon, Mr. Air Jordan so for him to even slide that in there I felt like we had a connection. After that I just went into and from that moment it was a great icebreaker for me. When you are in that arena and you get to meet someone on the level of Spike Lee it can be intimidating, especially when you are still young in this acting game and attempting to be a part of such a big project I was like let me collect myself but, it also speaks to his character the fact that he is who he is but would be there at casting calls. I believe that showed how serious he was and how hands on he wanted to be from conception to preproduction to production and so on.

 

Since this was such a big role for you as a budding actor what were some of the roles you have done prior to this?

 

I actually cut my teeth or got my chops in voice over work. So doing radio spots for various companies. Did a little work on Empire, looking to get back on there hopefully. Also being an MC performing on stage but its different when you are trying to remember someone else’s lines because it isn’t what you were at home writing. It’s different because it not your emotions but you have to channel emotions that might not be in you at that moment but can be convincing. I have done a little but of TV work, a little bit of extra and background work. I some people have different opinions about actors starting doing background work but I feel it a good opportunity if you are trying to be in that world or in that field. If nothing else you are around it and that’s a good place to start. So to all my aspiring actors out there do not be afraid to take as many background jobs, extra jobs as you can until you get those speaking roles even if its small cherish it until the union says no more. You have to get with the union and start making that scale.

 

What was it like when you got that call to say that you were selected to be in the movie as an actor?

 

It felt like forever and it might have only been 3 weeks but when you are waiting you kind of have to tell yourself if its meant for me its for me. That’s the philosophy I have if it’s meant to be and if God purposed it for me it will be mine. I don’t have to worry about it I can set it down and walk away. So it might have been about a month and in that months time my agent was telling me we got another call from them, they like you, they haven’t finalized but they want make sure your are ready for these dates. Absolutely I will be available I mean what am I going to say “You know Spike June is not really looking good for me I was expecting to go to Florida” what am I going to tell him. So I let my agent know to tell them my schedule is super open. Not only are my dates available but also I will create a new calendar and get some more dates if I have to. So there was a process to wait and when they finally did call it was a feeling like I am here, this is what I have been working towards and working for. It was a great feeling of acceptance.

 

How was it being an actor on set but being from this city and having the experience of the violence firsthand due to living here?

 

First of all great question. Let me back and say even before filming there was a moment where at one of our preproduction table reads I don’t know if it was planned to be this way or it just happened but it was all the male main actors. We met at one of the rooms at St. Sabina and we are having a round table and Spike is giving a pep talk about us starting filming in a few days, be ready and on time, don’t bring anyone to the set. At one point Spike said take the movie out of the equation and he asked, “What do we need to do to stop the killing in Chicago?” He went on to say, “If all we do is put the movie out and we don’t save lives we failed, we just made another movie and anybody can do that”. From there we ended up having a 2 hour round table with myself and other actors who are from Chicago sharing our experiences about what we have seen and what think the root of the problem is and the solutions. It was powerful at that moment because here in this room to my immediate right is Nick Cannon, I look across the table and there’s Wesley Snipes,  George Wilborn is to my left, Spike is at the head of the table and so many others in the room. We were having this open forum discussion on what we need to do as black men to take these streets back and that night really set the tone for the entire production. Now when I am on set there was no room to be star struck because we were all on the same mission from the most seasoned veteran actor to the most green actor, we were all working towards the same goal. So even when there was a humorous moment it was still under the premise that this was something special and from that moment everyday I knew this could be big. This movie could be this generations “Do The Right Thing” or “School Daze” so the gravity wasn’t lost.

 

Lets talk about your role in the movie and how did you prepare to get into character?

 

My character is Ajani in the film and I play Nick Cannons right hand man. Being he is the main person of interest I play his lieutenant within our gang. I get the opportunity to be the mouthpiece for the rest of the guys in the gang. So when things are happening I get to just let him know that hey we feel like this or this is what is going on. Getting ready for the role I pull from my experiences of growing up here in Chicago. I from Harvey World so I had some experience to pull from.  It was a great experience for me to get into the mind frame of this is who I am for the moment and when I am acting I try to get into the mind frame of what is this moment about what is the emotion in this moment what’s the mentality so even if a line is stumbled on in my gut I know what that character should have said. The conversation is flowing like how we are talking so even if words are replaced we still flow with it because I am in the rhythm of that character. I had some great people to watch during this process. I got a chance to watch Nick Cannons process he was kind of quiet mumbling to himself and I was wondering is there something wrong, what’s going on and I figured out he was going over lines. I was watching Wesley like oh so that’s how you do that. It was a great experience.

 

You previously said that there wasn’t any room to be star-struck because of the seriousness on set but there had to be a moment to yourself where you had a moment of I cant believe I am here tell me about that…

 

I will say my first moment of not even being star-struck but just that moment like I am here. We were doing the table read and you are following along the script and you don’t want to get lost so you cant watch what everyone else is doing because if your line comes up and you are the reason for the crickets in the room that’s not going to be good. So you are looking down and waiting on your line and you hear Angela Bassett from across the room deliver her lines and you are like that’s why she is who she is. You hear her delivery and you are just like THAT’S ANGELA BASSETT!!!! Another crazy moment was with Wesley Snipes. I don’t know if people know this but he is hilarious. There was a moment where we were supposed to be standing there quiet and he is cracking jokes and I was like you cant be fired but I am replaceable they might go find someone my height and reshoot the scenes. I want to laugh but who do I listen to Wes or Spike???? You still want to soak it up because you don’t know when this is going to happen again. I mean with the collective of actors that were in this movie it doesn’t happen like that too often.  Even with the budget of Hollywood films you rarely get that many A-List actors in one film. For me it was like let me soak this up and do a video log in my trailer and debrief everyday. It was like I just saw Sam Jackson and when I spoke he said hey in his Sam Jackson voice. Even as I sit here and try to be humble it was like can I get you to say one of your famous lines. You don’t want to fan out and freak out too much but you have those moments where you feel like I have arrived. I will also say this that I have had a lot of day jobs and I hated all of them but I was on set like you know what I actually like my co-workers.

 

So what’s next on the plate for you as actor?

 

I am going to ride with the movie and see what comes after this. It’s an exciting time to be an actor in Chicago. It’s a lot of production going on in Chicago right now. With that being said once those winter months roll in the production slows up once the hawk rolls in. I am going to see what I can get into in the next couple of months. LA is definitely on the table. I want out make that trip out there. I am looking for more scripts to come across the desk and see what comes out of it and pushing more music. In 2016 I want to top 2015 but it’s going to be a hard job to beat. This is just a great time to be alive and an actor in this city at this time.

 

You can meet with L’Dorado Jones this Friday December 4th at Icon Theaters 1011 S Delano Court, which is located on Roosevelt behind the Target on Clark for the 7:10PM showing. Come out and support this city and its actors. Hope to see you there and be on the look out for great things from him in the future.

 

 

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Lupe Fiasco Rocks Chicago with Boy Illinois and Badd Tattoo – 4 Chi City Radio

lupe fiasco 2015 chicago

After dropping his latest mixtape Pharaoh Height this past summer, Lupe Fiasco is back! Heading off a tour beginning in 2016 and hitting up a few cities along the way. Lupe recently came through to Chicago with special guests Boy Illinois and Badd TattooLupe and his special guests hit the stage at Concord Music HallContinue reading “Lupe Fiasco Rocks Chicago with Boy Illinois and Badd Tattoo – 4 Chi City Radio”