R&B Powerhouses Cheakaity & Al Hostile Join Forces to Give Us The Grown Experience

The Grown Experience Cheakaity & Al Hostile
By Ahriel Nari
Photo Courtesy of Jada Imani M

A lot of new music came out during the pandemic. Two albums that stood out to me, though, were Grown Man by Cheakaity and Home Grown by Al Hostile. So, I was super hype when I found out they were putting on a show together called The Grown Experience!

The evening started with R&B crooner Al Hostile taking the stage. With the highly revered duo FootsXColes as his band, Al brought Home Grown to life by performing songs from the album including “C’mon” and “Can’t Sleep”. He brought out DMV legend Matt McGhee for an electrifying rendition of “Bleek”. Finally, he ended his set with a seamless mix of “Lady” by D’Angelo into “Sumn Real”, a fan favorite from his album.

Al Hostile
Photo Courtesy of Jada Imani M

Al left the audience perfectly warmed up for Cheakaity. Rocking pearls and a suit, Cheakaity stepped on stage and proclaimed, “This is my stage. This is my show and imma show y’all what it is tonight”! The most impressive part of his set was his showmanship. Cheakaity’s energy is magnetic and draws you in immediately. Furthermore, he had the crowd participation on lock with the call and response. The icing on the cake was Cheakaity’s use of a live band, who could effortlessly go from a soulful groove for songs like “Want You” to a gospel-like jam session for a song like “Preacher’s Daughter” to straight rocking out. 

Cheakaity
Photo Courtesy of Jada Imani M

People try to say R&B is dead. The Grown Experience proved that that sentiment is simply untrue. View photos from the spectacular evening in the gallery below:

Photos Courtesy of Jada Imani M

Rapsody Dazzles the DMV with A Black Woman Created This Tour

There are few better ways to kick off Black History Month than to go see Rapsody, a walking, breathing celebration of Black women, perform live. As concert attendees poured into the venue, “U.N.I.T.Y.” by Queen Latifah boomed from the speakers. That song perfectly captured the spirit of the night.  

The show started promptly at 8 PM and right out the gate, Capitol Heights rapper Odd Mojo got off thought-provoking bars acapella. “AYE FILLMORE BOUNCE”, she instructed the audience as she brought the spoken-word-like track “Worry 2 Much” from her album Channel Yo Mojo to life with an instrumental. Rocking unhooked overalls, combat boots, and a bandana over her braids, Odd Mojo gives heavy 90s vibes. There are two sides to her, though. Her songs “Sticky Notes” and “Make a Way” are nostalgic and they gave her room to flex her lyrical prowess. Other songs she performed, such as her latest single “Sunday, Monday” and “I Was Workin” along with rapper Just Keyz, show her fun, energetic side.  

After Odd Mojo warmed everyone up, North Carolina-born R&B singer Heather Victoria took the stage. Heather Victoria is a welcome breath of fresh air in the current climate of contemporary R&B, where it gets hard to differentiate the singers from one another. She is also Rapsody’s labelmate on Jamla Records, and independent record label founded by 9th Wonder. Her soulful, sultry voice provided a relaxing atmosphere as she sang “Never Felt”, “Japan”, “Sunbeams”—a song that features legendary DMV singer Raheem DeVaughn. 

    Then, Southeast D.C. rapper Sa-Roc blessed us with sound. “Y’all ready to rock tonight?,” she asked as she walked back and forth, saging the stage. Sa-Roc has gorgeous, long, blonde locs and looks about 5’0”, but don’t let her appearance fool you. She raps with an intensity and precision that is as powerful as the blaze of a thousand suns. Sa-Roc captured hearts as she performed uplifting tracks such as “Goddess Gang”, “Forever”, and “MetaMorpheus”. In between songs, Sa-Roc expounded on the cultural significance of Black women and stressed the importance of supporting one another.


“[Black women have] always been the glue of our families, protecting, nurturing and providing. We’ve always been the movers and shakers, the leaders of movements and pushers of culture. So, it’s only right that we celebrate Black women today and henceforth, right?,” she stated. 


After breathtaking performances from all the openers, Rapsody finally appeared for her set. She casually strolled out and started spitting “Nina”, the opening track on her last album Eve. Each song on Eve is named after an influential Black woman, which added another layer to the evening which was already a celebration of Black women in and of itself. The most striking aspect of Rapsody’s set is that she doesn’t use sex appeal to distract you from her music. It’s literally just you and her bars. As Rapsody performed songs from the album including “Cleo”, “Whoopi”, “Aaliyah”, and “Sojourner”, the magnitude of the night sank in. Here we have, Rapsody, a Black woman who is killing it in the rap game, putting on, providing a platform, and a safe space for other Black women right before our very eyes. A lot of people shout “WE LOVE BLACK WOMEN”, but do very little in real life to prove that. Rapsody demonstrated just how easy it is to properly lift up Black women. As Sa-Roc said, “It’s only right that we celebrate Black women today and henceforth, right?” Check out photos from the mesmerizing night below: 

Wale Celebrates 10th Annual Wale & Friends

By Ahriel Nari

Everyone knows the only way to spend New Year’s Day in the DMV is to go to the annual Wale & Friends show. So, it was to no surprise that the 10th annual Wale & Friends sold out. 

The beauty of the Wale & Friends show is in the “& friends.” Wale has always looked out and provided a platform for fellow artists in the DC metropolitan area. It’s astounding to even bear witness to such unity of raw talent in one area. The night began with Flex Kartel, who also brought out Adé (formerly Phil Adé) to amp the crowd up. Next, Beau Young Prince lit up the stage, performing hits including “Kill Moe” and “True Blues”. Then, Big Flock had the Fillmore jumping, as audience members sang along to his classic verse on “Too Much Remix”.  

     After much anticipation, Wale blessed the stage. He immediately cranked hit after hit. From “Bait” to “Poledancer”, from “Clappers” to “Pretty Girls”, the audience sang their hearts out along with Wale. Tonight’s show also doubled as a stop on Wale’s Wow…That’s Crazy Tour. So, the crowd was also treated to songs from his latest album, such as “BGM”, “50 in Da Safe’”, and “Sue Me.” Wale even brought out fellow DMV artist Mannywellz to perform their song “Love & Loyalty”

The new music from Wow… That’s Crazy fit seamlessly in his set in between his older songs, woven like a beautiful tapestry representing the span of his career. At the peak of your enjoyment, right when you realize just how impressive Wale’s discography is, he announced that this would be his last Wale & Friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring. At first, that sounded like terrible news. However, Wale further explained that he’s just outgrown The Fillmore and, in the interest of his growth, he needs to be in bigger venues. Honestly, he’s absolutely right. There is no reason Wale – with all of the success he has reached and a catalogue overflowing with hits – should not be performing in arenas and stadiums, especially at home. So, while I was saddened by the news that Wale would no longer be performing at the Fillmore, I was also proud to see a hometown hero grow in his music journey. Wale & Friends at The Fillmore was truly an era. Experience the 10th Annual Wale & Friends through the pictures below:  

Alex Vaughn Closes Out Decade on a High Note at AV Sessions

By Ahriel Nari
December 19, 2019

Each month, R&B princess/supernova Alex Vaughn hosts AV Sessions, a showcase that features different artists of the DMV. AV Sessions is one of the few events you can go to knowing, without a shadow of doubt, that you will get quality music. 

    The night began with the customary Open Mic portion. Artists in the audience are given the opportunity to perform one song. The crowd was delighted with riveting performances from guitarist/producer John Tyler and rapper Lucas Nomad, as well as collaboration between singer/songerwriters Cheakity and Cramer. 

After the Open Mic concluded, Maryland rapper Kassim hopped on stage and hyped everyone up with his song “Growth”. The most remarkable part about Kassim’s live shows is that he’s able to maintain high energy the entire time. Even when he slowed the tempo down to perform his classics such as “Camry” and “Imagination…”, he still managed to draw the crowd in with his passionate delivery.

Next, Baltimore soulstress MovaKween captured everyone’s hearts. Rocking silver thigh high boots and a blouse that looked like it was made from pure star dust, it was clear why she’s known as a galactic goddess. After singing hypnotizing renditions of her songs “Tired” & “All You Need”, MovaKween wrapped up her set by having the audience say with her, “I GOT WHAT I NEED.” The affirmation was the cherry on top of a spiritually-nourishing performance.

Coming off the heels of the release of their EP Jade, production duo FootsXColes brought the grooviness of their project to life. With the help of Zaamwé and Matt McGhee, FootsXColes performed fan-favorites from Jade including “Unsteady” and “Last Shot”. A fun fact about FootsXColes is that they are the jammingest band in the land. With that being said, they also backed up Matt McGhee as he previewed “Drifting”, a song that will be on his upcoming album. 

Then, it was time for the lady of the hour to take the stage. With FootsXColes as her band, Alex Vaughn opened up with the power anthem “Gotta Have It”. In between serenading the audience with her song “Needs” and belting out “Mondaze”, Alex won everyone over with her undeniable charisma. “I hate working a 9-5 – I am a STAR!”, she proclaimed, to which the audience agreed. This AV Sessions was special in that it doubled as a charity event. Attendees were asked to bring a toy that was to be donated to a child who is less fortunate. Finally, Alex treated us all with a beautiful cover of “This Christmas”, which truly captured the holiday spirit. 

AV Sessions is really a beautiful event to witness. Seeing all the artists of the area come together and just jam together, is an experience you don’t want to miss. Check out photos from AV Sessions below: 

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:

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:

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.