Red Alert Wednesdays. Keeping it RAW.

I might complain about DC (probably entirely too much), but there really is a bunch to do here. Lots of stuff closes early, in my book, and that’s really my biggest issue.

Recently (as in the last 3-4 months), a new type of event has opened. An event that SHOULD change what we view open mics as.

The event, called Red Alert Wednesdays,  just like it’s accidental acronym,  keeps things RAW.

The venue itself, Urban Eats Cafe, in Mt. Rainier, MD–just a hop,  skip, and jump from FOUR major metro stations 3 green line, one red line–is an extremely comfortable café. The kind that you walk into and automatically feel the urge to kick your shoes off and curl up on the big, comfy couch (yes, I’ve seen it happen), and the food is GREAT. The Mt. Rainier Burger is simply heaven on a bun. They cater to the vegetarian as well as the omnivorous amongst us.

The best thing about the event is the non-judgmental open mic. The kind we all crave, and can never seem to find. On any given Wednesday, you may hear a preacher giving parts of his sermon or a boy rapping about his experiences and his life. There is NO specific kind of person one NEEDS to be to fit in, and all artists are respected as well as listened to.

All of this is set to interludes of amazing music played by a great DJ, Chop the Butcha.

They call the open mic genre, spoken-hop, but it goes well beyond that into an environment that can be a safe-haven for anyone who has something to share.

I’ve shared at Red Alert more times than I have in my entire career as a “poet”–I’m speaking  from when I originally began writing at the age of… like 10. I get stage fright, yet I am perfectly at home in front of the crowd at Red Alert.

The event is hosted by two of my really great friends Dwayne B.–also co-host of the LEGENDARY Spit Dat (unfamiliar? just ask)–and Samantha G. There are also a handful of regulars (myself “the human lockbox”, Julie, Pastor Brian, Mama Deborjah, and many others who help keep the homey feel) who are just as important to the event as the hosts.

Red Alert Wednesdays feels like that open mic home you’ve always wanted, but could never find. Don’t pass up this gem.

The event takes place at 3311 Rhode Island Avenue in Mount Rainier, Maryland and usually starts at about 8:00 pm.

Located just past the Washington, DC line, a block from Rhode Island Ave. & Eastern Ave.–Just at the circle.

Unstuck.

Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work & in Your Studio

 

 

It’s crazy how things can happen that can completely derail you. Sometimes it’s a chosen blindness–a simple ignoring of the “Dead End” sign before we took the steps that landed us on the path–in other instances, we get caught unawares–we simply ended up in a place where we get caught up by routine construction that has us scrambling to find a different route than the one we originally planned.

I am at a bit of both, creatively and mentally. I experienced a creative block that lasted an upwards of three years, and I have landed in a place where I feel compelled to reconsider my chosen life direction. The creative block has lifted for the most part–there are still some places where I am drawing a total creative blank, but if you have kept up with this blog, you will know that I have written poetry, which is a huge step for someone who could barely write a sentence without struggling in the past 3 years.

I feel like I’m rambling a bit, so I will get to the point:

A few months ago, I went to ComicCon in NY, and I purchased the above book. This was mid-lifting of my creative block, and so I, on a whim, figured that maybe this book would be helpful to get me back to the creative place I once was.

I hadn’t even looked at it since I have been back home, you know the drill… “I’ll get to it eventually…”

This is my eventually. I need things to keep myself occupied, so I will be completing one new project from this book every week, and will do my best to chronicle my journey. As it’s only once a week, I don’t think that I will be stepping on any of my fellow bloggers’ toes.

D2G gives us “Blood Diamond”.

My last review was of Vic Spencer and D2G’s Hard Bars collab. It was mixed, mastered, produced and engineered by Flyying Dutchman/Dutch Cannon. YP, Que Billah and GemStones were just a few of the features that helped make this joint…hard. Blood Diamond, D2G’s first solo release, has the same mixing, mastering, production and engineering with new features that would intrigue at the very least anyone familiar with the Midwestern rap and hip-hop scene.

While I’m sure D2G had been featured on other songs and projects, Hard Bars was the first time I had the chance to listen to him exclusively. I was already familiar with Sir Spencer, and am a huge fan. Initially, I wasn’t sure about this dual effort because Spencer is the kind of rapper who imposes his will on a track. It’s not so much that he turns features into mince meat because they’re weak, but because his energy resonates with you long after you’ve heard his verse(s). However, D2G more than held his own no matter who was on the track and certainly made his presence felt with this listener.

The intro of Blood Diamond is a bit different. It stays away from the typical rambling, boastful 2-3 minutes and features D2G practically introducing himself by speaking and spitting over classic pop/punk beats. The following 30-second interlude–and there are four of them on this project–is absolutely beautiful. A soft bass line over keys sounds like fucking heaven, with D2G in the background in barely above a whisper saying, “blood diamond”. Rapping over Kanye’s “Dark Fantasy” beat, D2G brings witty lyricism on “Time Travelin'”, with rap artist and group references galore and delivering a bit of truth about Industry Rule 4080. I posted the video to the fourth track, “Incredible”, on this page not too long ago, and I welcomed simply hearing the song once more. Abstrak Mind and Jae Young appear on this one with D2G, going through it lyrically before handing it off to the star of the show.

Blood Diamond takes a turn with “You Don’t Know”. A feel-good summer beat with a sped up female vocal sample accompanies D2G and rapper, Duke. D2G declares that he just wants to get his point across in a deservedly condescending way by rapping, “It’s plain and it’s simple/I even dumb down the punchline; I’m proactive to you pimples”. As a fan of pretty much all early 90’s music, “CrossOver” has gotten many plays on iTunes largely due to its beat. With a bit of that West Coast, 808, Auto-tune sound and at only 1:45 long, D2G tells listeners that being a “no-name tossover” clearly isn’t worth it. He spits that he’ll “stick to the underground”. Kudos, D2G. Kudos.

My favorite rapper in 2011, Vic Spencer, makes a guest appearance on what you normal people would call an “ode” to the ladies on “What If (Slow Down)”. Normally, I don’t like rappers attempting to croon to the opposite sex, but this doesn’t sound half bad. There are a male vocalist and lyricist who weren’t credited on this song, but they don’t take away from the effort, although the vocalist’s voice could have been a bit more masculine to flow along with D2G and the other features.

That “absolutely beautiful” interlude beat makes a return in an elongated way on “In The Evening”, basically a play on J. Cole’s “In The Morning”. If you’ve heard the latter, you get the concept of the former. While “What If” sounds a little like the typical “ladies song” that is unfortunately present on just about every rap album and mixtape nowadays, I would guess that this song appeals to the woman who knows that sexy can be subtle just as easily as  swank. D2G, male vocalist Jay Rashard and female vocalist Lili K give us nearly 3 minutes of greatness on “Love Thirst”. If you’re a Jean Grae fan, as I am, you will immediately know that this track is the 3 rapping and singing over that very beat and it also follows the same concept as one of Jean Grae’s best tracks. I felt somehow cheated to only get one verse, as about half of this joint was Rashard and K. singing and harmonizing. However, it completed a nice consecutive trio of softer songs from D2G, and this felt the most complete and thoughtful of the 3.

“Follow Ya Lead” has a more somber and humble feel, as D2G delves a bit into his spirituality and personal struggles without turning into a rapping Tim Tebow.  The next track was more of the same, except seemingly grittier and more heartfelt. My mother recently passed, and “Mom’s Prayin'” definitely got an emotional rise out of me. D2G lyrically vents to his mother that while he knows he’s put her through Hell and high water, he will do everything in his power to ensure that she is eventually “repaid”. “I’m sorry and I love you in advance” is the last statement on this song, and it is perfectly fitting; something every person with a remotely decent mother should or should have already felt. While I thought the beat for “The Polishing” was merely okay, I loved what D2G and feature Pavy brought to the track, lyrically. Once again, D2G pulls off a triumvirate of sorts; three consecutive songs with virtually the same theme, style, and sound. I’ve been noticing Pavy’s name on Twitter and the interwebs more often of late, and the hunger to navigate through this crazy maze called life blends with D2G’s just fine.

After the last glorious interlude, comes the finale, “Misunderstood (The Conflict)”. You may have last heard Lil’ Wayne rap over this beat, but if you are a true music head, you are familiar with the original version by Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, recorded in 1964. Once again, D2G strays from the typical: “Normally, this would be the part of the tape/Where I brag about the music and tell you how shit is great/But I got some mean feelings and issues that need chalking out/So fuck rap…that ain’t what I wanna talk about”. Granted, I’ve heard way too many fucking people disrespect one of my favorite artists, Nina Simone, by blaspheming this beat, but I love how D2G’s flow is so fucking earnest. He’s real; switching from admitting that his employment isn’t quite steady to letting you know that he’s still in a position to have attention lavished on him by his life’s newbies.

All in all, this solo debut from D2G was a great one. Naturally, I will expect the second release to live up to the standards that have been set by Blood Diamond, but that’s another project review for another time.

Weed plate or collection?

Collection.

 

 

 

DOWNLOAD: D2G’s “Blood Diamond” mixtape

It

I don’t care where the hell you are, you should download D2G’s “Blood Diamond” mixtape. This is his first solo project, and I started to rock with this dude on his and Vic Spencer’s “Hard Bars” tape, which was produced and mixed by my Twitter crush, Flyying Dutchman. I’m going to roll a bit of Strawberry Cough, give this a listen, and be back here with my review later tonight.

Check the fly shit and download this one, bitches and bitchettes: “Blood Diamond”