Community Café: REACH Beyond…
Featuring: Quadir Lateef, FEW Collective, Leftist, and Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang
Visual Art: Ali Coolguy, Nadia Janjua
Hosts: Brother Ali, Maimouna Youssef
When: Saturday, June 16, 2012, 6 PM, All Ages
Tickets: $10 – Purchase online
Where: THEARC Theater, 1901 Mississippi Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20020
IMAN teams up with Project REACH for the first DC Community Café with a thrilling line-up at a great venue. Join us as we explore how we can, together, REACH Beyond…!
Janka Nabay is the undisputed king of bubu, a frantically-paced dance music with ancient, magical origins in Sierra Leone. The Bubu Gang are the posse of musical collaborators he has hooked up with in the US (featuring members of Skeletons and Gang Gang Dance among others), to create a wild, high-octane juggernaut of call-and-response vocal interplay, juddering dancefloor rhythms, synths and guitars: throw in a taste for tearaway improvisation and you have an absolute blast of a sound, that keeps it quick, loose and natural and runs on pure musical joy. Ready to hit hard and true in full band format at festivals worldwide in 2012. An EP drops on True Panther Sounds in March before a full-length album on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label later in the year.
Janka single-handedly radicalised bubu in his native Freetown, Sierra Leone in the nineties, adding drum machine kicks and twitching synths to its airy hum of blown bamboo shoots and carburetor pipes. Then he relocated to Philadelphia, and after a decade off the musical radar he found a Stateside vessel for his infectious music in True Panther Sounds, who released a well-received EP in 2010. This caught the well-tuned ears of the mostly Brooklyn-based players who would go on to make up the Bubu Gang, namely Doug Shaw (Gang Gang Dance, Highlife, White Magic), Jason McMahon & Jonathan Leland (Skeletons), Michael Gallope (Starring) and vocalist Boshra Al-Saadi (Saadi): a series of sweatbox US shows followed, and all involved realized they had birthed something beyond the sum of its parts: “We speak one language now”, says Janka of these exciting new sounds, that draw as much from Janka’s own bubu as they do from the sunny energy of Ghanaian highlife, the extended improvisations of 70s Miles Davis, the hypnotic rhythms of classic Afro-beat and the swirling echoes of 60s and 70s psychedelia.
At the age of 23, Quadir Ibn Lateef Habeeb (Q) left Howard to pursue his career in spoken word poetry and rap music. He published his first spoken word cd entitled Words of Awakening, which included a fiery political base of commentary. The year 2003 proved to be a pivotal year for Q. He performed for Russell Simmons at the Annual Black Face Awards, which led to his performance for the Jam Master Jay Commemoration where Russell and Danny Simmons personally requested Qs audition for the HBO Def Poetry Jam. After performing before Dr. Ben Chavis Muhammad, Q was invited to perform at the Pre Tony Award show for the Def Poetry cast. Q then joined the BET All Stars Tour, performed for Chuck D, and as a result was invited to work in his private studio.
In February of 2005, Q partnered with The Polygon Group and soon released his first underground hip hop CD entitled The Unheard of: Volume 1. This cd received much press in upstate New York, where Q is from. Q was featured in Artvoice magazine as the Artist of the Week and on NBCs local news show. In October 2005, Q showcased his talents in front of a celebrity packed audience at Reeboks Tenth Year in the League Anniversary party for NBA superstar Allen Iverson. His performance was brilliant and chosen to be included in a segment to be televised nationally on Comcast Def On Demand in February 2006. June 2006 proved to be eventful for Q as he relocated to Jersey City to be closer to the New York City music scene. This move paid dividends immediately as Q entered a music showcase with some of the hottest emcees in the tri-state area. In front of industry A&R execs and DJs judging the showcase Q put on a performance that earned him $1000 dollars cash and 1st place honors not to mention future meetings with label representatives that were in attendance.
Q worked DJ Green Lantern on a mix tape entitled Thee Unheard Of: Da Block Da Devil Da Deen which features production from in house producers Bang & Flip of the Equalizers Carolina Blu, Da Artz, & Thugzmen plus the likes of Chad B & Black Jeruz (G-Unit producers), Marie Ben-Ari, King James, Green Lantern, and DJ S&S. Q was Featured on Grand Theft Auto 4 with his Hit Record “Nick Name” which sold over 6 million in the First week!!! Q was Offered a Deal from a Major lable but turned it down because he didn’t like the direction he career was going, After a 3 year break Quadir Changed his Stage name from Q-boogie aka da Poet to his Birth name “Quadir Lateef” and Glad to Present his LP “Half Earth Half Angel.” This project is an All Natural sound NO musical instrument used. 2012 will be an explosive year for Quadir Lateef. He has already recorded new records with Brother Ali, Amir Sulaiman, Khalil Ismail, The Reminders, Mustafa Abdul Basit, and his older brother Alkebulaun and wife Drea D’nur!
Described by those who listen, as Hip-Hop, Alternative, Rock and Soul wrapped in one, the group Leftist consists of the diverse talents of Nurideen Bashir, Lauren Schreiber, Mouhamad Diabate, Ismail Nicolas, and Mahir Maruf. While many performers may boast of having eclectic styles, the Maryland natives are the truest essence of diversity and uniqueness.
Mahir a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (guitar) is of Indian descent while Diabate (bass) was born in Cote D’ivoire. They are backed by Ish (drums) of Haitian and Pakistani heritage and fronted by L and Deen (vocals) who were born in the United States. Leftist was formed by happenstance some time ago when a mutual friend asked three of them to perform separately at his wedding. Since then, the performance world has opened up substantially for the group as they have performed with such artists as Serani, Omar Offendum and Dawud Warnsby Ali to name a few. Leftist does not consider themselves a movement, rather they are out to make a statement that you can side with the righteous and still ‘rock with the left.’
Their purpose in performing and creating is to remind us all of the value of integrity, truth, and creativity that art can bring to a soul without being excessive. Again, this is NOT a movement, it is a statement.
FEW is an artist collective that believes in the power of art to engage, educate, and inspire. The collective combines traditional forms of music, dance, and art with the elements of Hip Hop and theater to address contemporary issues. FEW combines the spiritual with the physical and mental to give divine order to their work. As representatives of Hip Hop Culture, they acknowledge the evolution… of music, visual art, the spoken word, and dance as basic elements of the culture and Knowledge as a master element.
Some know them as the Fifth Element Warriors, others relate because they are From Every Walk, but they know themselves as always Finding Eternal Wisdom. FEW was founded by core members Man-O-Wax, DJ Arkitek, Bravemonk, Super Inlight, D-Nick the Microphone Misfit, Pezent Waters, and College – Two DJs, Two B-Boys, Two MCs, and a Visual Artist. Today FEW continues to grow with more rotating member artists that join us when the time is right.
FEW specializes in hip hop theater, concert performances, multi-disciplinary workshops, and cross-cultural collaborations. FEW members have travelled to Colombia, Brazil, Uganda, Morocco, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India, and Jamaica spreading their positive messages through their art and music.
Nadia Janjua is a practicing Architect and professional Artist based in the Washington, D.C. area, working under the business name NJARTitecture. Born to Kashmiri-Pakistani parents, Nadia grew up in the forested mountains of Western Maryland with her three siblings, strongly influenced by the solitude and beauty of her natural surroundings. She started drawing before she could write, and she started painting with oils in adolescence. Over the past fifteen years, she has explored different paint mediums, photography, graphic design, ceramics, and printmaking, eventually spending the majority of her time on nurturing her painting ability.
Nadia is inspired by the challenge of capturing potential, nuance, and nostalgia in all of her works. Through her paintings and her architecture, she explores narratives of her past, present, and future in the hopes of not only processing her own life journey, but also striking the viewer to reflect more deeply on their own personal narratives.
Her architectural design focuses on the multi-sensory experience of space, encouraging the inhabitant to go beyond just the visual sense and become an active participant in creating the experience with all of their senses. Similarly, Nadia’s paintings involve a history of layers where line, shape, color, and texture come together to provide an elevated experience of harmony and meaning to the viewer.
Her work has evolved from producing rendered images of landscapes and scenes from the East, to abstract painting, incorporating both Western and Eastern parts of her identity. Nadia has been exhibiting her work professionally since 2002 throughout the United States, and more recently, internationally. She has numerous works commissioned by private collectors, and has contributed annually to charity, fund-raising and auction events for different causes.
Mohammad Ali Hussain, a.k.a. Ali CoolGuy is a graphic artist with skills that blend traditional methods of illustration with a contemporary practice of graphic design. Since graduating from the American Academy of Art, he started his own clothing line and design service, Gearcidy Productions—his designs have been featured in various fashion shows and galleries in Chicago. His passion for blending design and social commentary inspired him to create an exhibition called Faceless , an evening of art and spoken word poetry that showcases the ideal social moral of humanity while raising money for domestic and international issues. He feels that artists hold a social responsibility and need to broadcast their views through their art for the betterment of uplifting the social morale. www.alicoolguy.com.
Brother Ali has lived and loved the culture of Hip Hop since grade school. He used to study and memorize the greats like Melle Mell, Slick Rick and Whoodini. When KRS-One, Rakim and Public Enemy came out in the late 80’s they blew his mind and he started writing and recording his own songs by junior high. By high school he was battling in cyphers.
He met the Rhymesayers crew in the late 90’s and learned the next level of DIY music. Ant and Brother Ali started working together in ’02. They made Shadows On The Sun and started touring in support of Atmosphere (Brother Ali’s label-mates and big brothers). He toured constantly for the next few years with comrades like Brand Nubian, Immortal Technique and Rakim. The Champion EP dropped in 04 and they kept it moving.
Brother Ali’s last major release was The Undisputed Truth in Spring of ’07. He had a great couple of years because of that record. He and his crew did their first headlining tours in the US, Canada and Australia. He was featured in The Source Magazine’s “Hip Hop Quotable” and Rolling Stone’s “Artist To Watch” columns. He played on TV a few times including Late Night with Conan O’Brien and did a US tour with Rakim and Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan. He has also toured Europe and Australia several more times with Atmosphere.
This past March Brother Ali and his label released the final chapter in the Undisputed Truth movement. “The Truth Is Here EP/DVD is a collection of music that ANT and Brother Ali made during the breaks from their busy tour schedule.
Brother Ali and ANT just released their latest full-length album “Us”. Whereas his last projects have been strictly autobiographical, this album opens the lens to showcase the amazing and sometimes tragic lives of his friends and loved-ones who have shaped him has a map. He hopes that by illustrating these stories that are so dear to his heart, he might shed some light on how similar we all really are. Society makes us think we are in different worlds because of our race, religion, class, sex etc. Brother Ali tries to make something that shows how alike we really are.
Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef is a Grammy nominated seasoned singer, songwriter, producer and emcee. She received a Grammy nomination for her contribution on the Roots hit “Don’t Feel Right” in 2007 for best rap song. She has swapped musical licks with such artists as Angelique Kidjo, Brian Wilson’s band, Big Daddy Kane, Nas, Dead Prez, Wilco, Zap Mama, Cody Chestnut, Martin Luther, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli. Maimouna has also rocked the stages of many renowned venues such as Denver Colorado ‘s Red Rocks Amphitheater, New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, Switzerland’s Moniteau Jazz Festival, and The Carter Baron Amphitheater in Washington, DC. Her musical endeavors were a springboard for Youssef to make her big screen debut in Dave Chapelle’s hip hop documentary “Block Party.” Maimouna released her first Solo EP entitled Black Magic Woman March 1, 2011 and her first full length album – The Blooming on September 20, 2011.
A Baltimore native born into a family of exceptional artists, Maimouna began performing traditional African and Native American songs on stage with her family at the age of five. As a youth she joined the Baltimore/Washington based musical theater group called Uprising. Maimouna toured nationally with Uprising as a lead vocalist. In addition, the young Youssef played a leading role in the Broadway musical “Once on this Island”. Some of her other theatrical experiences include the original trio showcase “Three Generationz” that consisted of Maimouna Youssef, her mother, Nataska Hummingbird, and her grandmother, Mountain Eagle Woman (now deceased). Maimouna still continues to perform with Three Generationz – now comprised of Maimouna, her mother and Navasha Daya formerly of Fertile Ground.
At the tender age of 16 Maimouna formed the jazz/hip-hop/funk/ band along with her cousin Omari “AzIz” Forman-Bey known as Cirius B. In the spring of 2003 the duo completed the recording of their independent debut album entitled “Subversive Activity”. Baltimore welcomed Cirius B with open arms and quickly became one of the city’s preeminent bands without exception to genre. Also in 2003, Maimouna Youssef won the title of “Baltimore’s Idol” and began appearing frequently on Baltimore’s Fox 45 morning show as well as every major local radio station including 92.3FM’s Big Phat Morning show. Cirius B’s unique sound found it’s way to Grammy Award winning producer James Poyser and in 2004, Maimouna and Omari relocated to Philadelphia to work with. Maimouna’s dreams began to materialize when she was introduced to many of her favorite and most respected artists including the legendary hip-hop band The Roots. The Roots recognized Maimouna’s raw talent and was asked to sing lead vocals on their new hit single at the time, “Don’t Feel Right.” Shortly thereafter, Maimouna was packing her bags to join the Roots on their world tour. It was during this tour that Maimouna earned a name for herself as a world-class vocalist and emcee.
Community Café is supported in part by Open Society Foundations