Show Review: O-Slice Captures Hearts at The Inner Circle 4

By Ahriel Nari

When we were finally let inside, we walked into an awe-inspiring venue. With patio lights lining the ceiling, rows of couches were arced up around the performance area. The food and drinks available gave the entire experience that extra razzle dazzle.

    The evening’s hosts, B.R.E The Icon and Odd Mojo, let us know that today was more than the 4th annual Inner Circle – it was O-Slice’s birthday! After an impressive open mic session featuring Just Keys and Nate Joël, O-Slice made her grand entrance. She floated down the stairs to the front of the room in an eye-catching, orange jumpsuit as “Hot in Herre” by Nelly played as her theme music. After a few words of welcome, the show began.

    Up first was BasicTheBassist. He wowed the audience with songs including “Will You Still”, in which he demonstrated his lyrical agility and prowess on the bass guitar. Next, soul artist Cramer serenaded us all with her gentle, angelic voice. Sporting pink hair, Cramer was like our fairy godmother singing lullabies. Then, engineerproducerrapper Matt McGhee enraptured the audience along with FootsXColes as his live band. In between performing fan-favorites such as “Sneak Me In” and “LADY LUCK”, Matt announced that he’s dropping a new album next month – not to be confused with his EP Maybe that he released earlier this month. Next, Rocket Z took the stage. Her fierce attitude and powerful, yet unimposing, alto voice filled up the room and commanded everyone’s attention. Kassim began his set with a touching story about how he’s known O-Slice since he was 12 years old. He warmed the audience all the way up with a high-energy performance of “Kenny Powers”.

    And then it was finally time for O-Slice.

    “I need to feel y’all,” O-Slice began. “I need to feel y’all because I lost my contact jumping around during “Kenny Powers”. So, I can’t really see right now.” Visual impairment could not hold her back, though. She casually flexed the range of her talent – effortlessly going from turn up anthems to more thoughtful songs about the plight of Black people. We were even treated to unreleased music – a track that also features Kassim. O-Slice wrapped up the evening with “Two Hands”, a song that prompts you to appreciate your blessings. The overwhelming amount of love in that room was a beautiful experience. The event definitely lived up to its promise of “Talented artists. It’s just that simple.” The night left you planning in your head to be at the next Inner Circle. To see O-Slice’s growth as an artist up to this point made you excited for where she’s headed next. O-Slice is a Supernova and we were lucky to be in her stardust that night. Check out pictures from The Inner Circle 4 below:

Show Review: Luna The Femme EP Release Party

By Ahriel Nari

Oh, yes, it was ladies’ night at Dangerously Delicious Pies as Luna celebrated the release of her EP The Femme. The room was buzzing with excitement to hear new music from the “femcee”.

Singer-songwriter Übrgrl opened up with her self-produced track entitled “Into the Sky”. After serenading everyone with a couple more of her original songs, Übrgrl brought out her bandmate Zoey. Together, Übrgrl and Zoey make up the group Totally Tainted. With Zoey shredding on electric guitar and Übrgrl providing hauntingly beautiful vocals, the duo performed breathtaking renditions of “Electric Blue” and “When You Pass Me By”.

Up next was Charlie Monroe. Rocking her hair in space buns, the rapper turned the audience up with songs from her catalog, including “I AM” and “DESIGNER”. “I’m sorry, y’all. I’m fighting a chest infection,” Charlie stated after performing “HIDE AND SEEK”. In spite of feeling under the weather, Charlie Monroe delivered a high energy set.

Then, Odd Mojo blessed the stage. Fans were treated to favorites from her 2018 album Channel Yo Mojo, including “Make a Way” and “Da Come Up” with Charlie Monroe. Odd Mojo also performed the self-love anthem “Sticky Notes”, which just recently had visuals released for it. Just when we thought the show couldn’t get any better, the crowd got an exclusive performance of a song from Odd Mojo’s forthcoming album entitled GUH.

After being properly hyped up by Odd Mojo, audience members anxiously awaited Luna. Accompanied by producer DMV Willie as her DJ, Luna began with the soulful track “Pam Grier”. Then, it was finally time for The Femme. One of the highlights of the show was “#Freelance”, a track produced by OG Mike. OG Mike just so happens to be Luna’s dad and he was in the audience that night. You wouldn’t think that OG Mike, a Baby Boomer with a laidback demeanor, would be capable of producing a banger such as “#Freelance”. However, looks can be deceiving. Once she enticed the crowd with more tracks from The Femme, to wrap up, Luna brought audience members on stage to help her perform “#GirlGang”.

“This is my first project ever. So, I’m holding back tears right now,” said Luna as she thanked everyone for coming out. Seeing so many carefree women having fun and doing their thing was truly a sight to behold. That night felt like more than The Femme release party – it felt like a celebration of womanhood. Check out pictures from the show below:

Keepin’ the Funk Alive: Funk Parade 2019

By Ahriel Nari

D.C. came together for a day filled with great music, good eats, and lots of laughs at the sixth annual Funk Parade. This year marked the first time Funk Parade was under the leadership of The MusicianShip, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering music lessons and opportunities for at-risk youth in order to create “a more vibrant, educated, empowered, and well-intentioned world.”

The gloomy weather was in stark contrast to the vibrant energy on U Street that Saturday afternoon. A few raindrops (translation: intermittent torrential downpours) did not keep the crowd from having an amazing time.

One of the best parts of Funk Parade is that it’s a melting pot of different sounds. Rapper/producer Matt McGhee had the audience boogie to “Sweat” and “No Talking”. OSHUN brought their unique blend of neo-soul and hip-hop to the stage. Funk Parade attendees were delighted to see Reesa Renee perform “Got Me Loose”, her original song that has a go-go feel. Later, at the night festival, synthpop duo Nuex enchanted the audience with stirring performances of “The Fall” and “I Ain’t Your Friend”. Singer-songwriter Tashera wowed everyone with her soulful, powerful voice and a funky cover of Chaka Khan’s “I Know You, I Live You”. Never one to disappoint, rapper Ciscero got the crowd hype with the energetic “Who I Am” and even had everyone come together for a soul train line.

To see D.C.’s rich musical culture come to life was truly a beautiful sight to see. View pictures from Funk Parade in the gallery below:

BlaqueStone & FootsXColes Showcase Musicality at Local 16

“I’m ready to get ‘Stoned!” someone shouted from the crowd. Fans eagerly awaited BlaqueStone’s to perform at Local 16 as a part of the fifth annual Funk Parade Music Fest.The first song the soulful music couple performed was their latest single “Sunny Days”. Donning gold-rimmed round glasses and an elegant green headwrap flawlessly coordinated with her Kente pants, Queen cooed, “There are sunny days ahead. Just keep going”. The gentleness in her voice enveloped you, reassuringly, almost as if she was singing a lullaby. The crowd was already sizable before the show began, but Queen drew dozens more into the intimate setting with her enchanting, jazzy voice. Nyne, the other half of BlaqueStone, blended his raps seamlessly with Queen’s singing. An unassuming guy, the flashiest thing about Nyne was his orange track pants.
BlaqueStone’s set felt like a jam session that the audience just so happened to be invited to. I was impressed that they spotlighted each musician in their live band, which consisted of a bassist, a keyboardist, and a percussionist. Each instrumentalist was allowed the space and time to flex their musical skills. The set also included BlaqueStone’s renditions of “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu, “Lady” by D’Angelo, “Unpretty” by TLC, and “Fortunate” by Maxwell. As Nyne and Queen performed, you could see a genuine connection between them when they looked at each other – Black love personified. To conclude the set, Nyne pulled out the talk box for an electrifying performance of “The Right”, a track from BlaqueStone’s 2016 album AfroNoon.
After a brief intermission, FootsXColes took the stage. “Ok, I want everyone to take a few steps forward. I need to feel your energy,” Foots asserted. As the crowd stepped closer, I overheard someone say to their friend, “These guys are good! They just performed at the Kennedy Center,” in reference to FootsXColes’s performance with the ever so talented Alex Vaughn last week.
As a strobe light cast red, green, and blue tints over the room, FootsXColes set the mood with “Sin”, a mellow record with punchy percussion from their debut album A Beautiful Mistake. Tonight’s performance was unique because it was the first time a trumpet player was added to the live band. FootsXColes got the people going with their versions of “Love Come Down” by Evelyn “Champagne” King and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. The crowd was still high on energy from those songs when Foots asked, “Are y’all ready to two-step?” Then, they went right into “Possibilities”, a fan-favorite from their latest album Sitting in Outer Space. The crowd was grooving as FootsXColes played a few other tunes on the album. After a stirring rendition of “Moonlight”, Foots and Coles invited everyone to come dance with them at another venue they were DJing at following the show. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend that you check out a BlaqueStone or FootsXColes show. The good vibes they give out will leave you feeling euphoric.

Show Review: Matt McGhee at Dangerously Delicious Pies

By Ahriel Nari
March 23, 2019

Very few things will get folks to come out in the rain. Raindrops were steadily pouring down that Thursday evening, but inclement weather didn’t stop people from going to see Matt McGhee perform.

Singer-songwriter Kora the Artist warmed the audience up by providing a soulful, sultry experience. Her gentle voice created a feeling of solace. 

Donning a green hoodie, distressed jeans, and a satin scarf tied around his head into a headband, Matt McGhee made his way to the stage. To me, his aesthetic was indicative of his entire rap persona – down to earth, with a silky finish. He opened up his set with an electrifying rendition of “Heaven Feel Like” from his album Since You’re Watching. With Coles on keys, Foots on drums, Tim on Trumpet, and DJ Malcolm Xavier on the ones and twos, Matt McGhee really brought “Heaven Feel Like” to life.

“So, this is my first show headlining,” Matt stated, to which the crowd roared in support. Had he not mentioned it, the casual show attendee probably wouldn’t have known. He looked right at home as he sipped warm tea in between songs. Not only was the audience treated to unreleased tracks from his upcoming EP entitled Letters, but we were also treated to performances with special guests. Matt brought R&B songstress Alex Vaughn to the stage to perform the track “Uncomfortable”. He also performed “Walk Down” and “Ecuador” along with fellow DMV rapper Cal Rips. The most striking aspect of Matt McGhee’s live performance is the chemistry between all of the musicians performing. Everyone blended so well together.

At a certain point of the show, Matt gave the audience the option of wrapping up the show. Everyone in the crowd mutually agreed that we wanted to be kept all night even though we all had work in the morning. So, he took requests from the audience, including the fan-favorite “Shea Butter Mami”. Then, in a true testimony to his artistry, he freestyled over FootsXColes’ latest single “Creep”.

“Hold up, hold up,” Foots said over the microphone, “Y’all don’t understand. Matt REALLY raps”! After tonight’s show, that statement is an undisputable fact. Check out pictures from the show below:

FootsXColes Talk A Happy Home

I got the chance to link up with the versatile production duo FootsXColes again. We talked about their new music, smoothie recipes, and played 2 Truths and a Lie! Check out the interview below: 

Show Review: Bas at Milkboy Arthouse

It was a crisp, cold night in the DMV when Bas came to town. As the moon shone orange in the night sky, hundreds gathered at Milkboy Arthouse to witness him perform his latest album. Milky Way at Milkboy — it was destiny. 

Correy C, celebrating his newfound freedom, warmed the crowd up. The DMV’s very own Innanet James was the homecoming king of the night as he performed favorites from his album Keep It Clean. With the help of Chaz French, he wowed fans with his eclectic sound. Rexx Life Raj kept the people grooving with smoothed out renditions of his hits, including “Long Way”. After much anticipation, Bas finally came out. The energy in the room was astronomical as he flawlessly delivered tracks from Milky Way in addition to songs from his sophomore album Too High to Riot. Bas looked out into the audience, triumphantly, as the audience rapped along with him, word for word.

Check out pictures from the concert below:

Show Review: April + VISTA at Union Stage

By Ahriel Nari

The stars aligned on the night of Friday, September 21st when April + VISTA took over Union Stage along with their friends Ciscero and Sugg Savage. Very rarely do fans get to witness three acts, each dubbed “DMV’s Next Up”, performing at one time. Music lovers must have recognized this once in a lifetime event because the show sold out.

Up first was Sugg Savage. Her aesthetic is attention-grabbing. Sugg sports special effect contact lenses that make her look like she has super powers. While her eyes can be intimidating, yet intriguing, her bubbly personality automatically draws you in. In between electrifying performances of her tracks including “Let’z” and “Fill in the Blank”, she sprinkled in fun facts about herself. “[Do] y’all remember when I used to really love dogs? Well, my dog has been replaced,” Sugg said alluding to her son. This show was significant in that it was her first performance since she gave birth. As she danced around while rapping, you couldn’t help but to be in awe. Here Sugg Savage was, in peak womanhood, dominating her return to the stage.

People were still high off the vibes that Sugg Savage gave out when Ciscero came out. Ciscero has undeniable stage presence. The energy he brings is contagious. Rocking his signature beanie, he immediately got the crowd hype with an epic rendition of his latest single “Function”. Attendees were treated to unreleased music from his upcoming project Devil’s Pie. Ciscero left the audience wanting for nothing, except the release of the new EP.

Then, it was finally time for April + VISTA to perform. The crowd roared as April and Matt walked on stage. When they were setting up their equipment, the intensity in each of their eyes reflected the sharp focus they both had. Obviously, they take their art seriously. With Foots of FootsXColes supporting them on drums, April + VISTA began their set with “Little Things”, the first song on their latest album You Are Here. As the song crescendoed, it felt as if you were about to go on a whimsical adventure. April + VISTA were perfectly in tune with the vibe of the audience as they performed several tracks from the album, including “How To Get By”, “Resilience”, and “Hot Coffee Freestyle”. The intimacy of the venue added an extra layer of emotion to the musical experience and really gave life to You Are Here. The highlight of the show was April + VISTA’s performance of “Own2”, a fan-favorite. The audience emphatically sang along with April, word for word. They concluded their set with a jam session, allowing room to flex their musical chops. Foots led the crank on drums. Matt showcased his astounding ability to effortlessly funk bass guitar riffs while April created beautifully haunting melodies on her violin. It was in this moment, as I was standing in their intersection of genres, that I realized that April + VISTA are the real deal.

 “This album is for anyone who is on a journey – whether it’s spiritually, career-wise, or anything. This one’s for you,” Matt declared at the end of the show. The house lights came on and every single person present had a smile on their face.