Sunday, May 23, 2010



Gypsy Soul has been serving up some delicious appetizers and entrees recently at Teavolve. located in Fells Point. The recent album release party for The Foreign Exchange powerhouse vocalist YahZarah was a huge success, and Tuesay, May 18th was no different. The Ear Candy series is quietly becoming the talk of the town here in Charm City, so having two different, yet vastly talented, artists perform on this evening was a definite pleasure. The featured artists for the most recent Ear Candy were Megan Livingston and Gods’illa; if you didn’t have the opportunity to attend, please be advised that it was a worthwhile experience indeed.

Arriving at Teavolve around 5:30 or so, I was kindly greeted by Shaunna Pickett, one of the Gypsy Soul family members. She immediately made me and CVEG CEO Lewis Williams III, who also was in attendance, feel at home. The atmosphere at Teavolve was serene and very positive, as Gypsy Soul was setting up the venue for an evening of beautiful music. I had the grand opportunity to see first-hand how the Ear Candy series at Teavolve is evolving into a sonic experience. From the musical vibe blaring through the speakers, to the nice touch of candies on each table, Ear Candy took on a metaphorical meaning.

I was introduced to the first artist that I had the opportunity to interview, Megan Livingston, who was accompanied by her musical partner and Baltimore underground hip hop artist Labtekwon. I was very excited to sit down with these two gifted artists. Once we were all led to the interview area in the lobby of the adjacent building, we sat down to begin the ten minute interview. We exchanged pleasantries, and I could sense from Ms. Livingston that she would be a very insightful woman. My questions were meant to engage open dialogue with Megan, and the interview commenced with her talking about her musical influences. She talked about a vast and eclectic range of artistic influences such Bob Marley, India Arie, and the classic Motown sound of the 60’s. It was refreshing to see that she wasn’t afraid to live “outside the musical box“, so to speak, and Ms. Livingston expressed how her eclectic nature became the fuel for her debut album Black Beckee. She discussed how the writing process is inspired by “a moment”, something I could identify with as a writer. The vibrant artist also spoke about her collaborative effort with Labtekwon (Piankhi 7) and Thurs Deephrey, under the moniker The Tao Of Slick. Ms. Livingston’s alter ego with the group is Hazel Black, and she discussed during the interview how she enjoyed the collaborative effort and how The Tao Of Slick was another opportunity for artistic expression. She was very excited about the acoustic set that evening at Teavolve, and promised that the stripped-down performance would entail some surprises. We finished the interview with hugs and a few pictures, and I was finally able to exhale, because I made it through the interview without asking too many insane, off-base, crazy questions (I hope). Megan Livingston is a force to be reckoned with in this fickle music industry, and I appreciated the chance to enter her musical mind and find out what makes her the artist she is.

“From Forestville to Brooklyn” was the mantra shared by Truth, Acem, and Powerful, three physical brothers that make up the hip hop experience known as Gods’illa. This hip hop collective formed in 2004, and have been blessing microphones throughout the DMV and beyond for the better part of six years. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with these three unique and dope brothers, and finding out more about Gods’illa. Asking each of these emcees about their influences gave me the chance to gather insight into the positive nature of Gods’illa. They cited Brand Nubian emcees Sadat X and Lord Jamar as influential artists, as well as hip hop legend Rakim. These were just a few of a great many emcees that Truth, Acem, and Powerful could recall as dope artists that not only spit insightful lyrics, but educated the listeners in the process. Each artist that comprised the group had the opportunity to discuss his vision,and hip hop-inspired upbringing. It was very good to sit down with Gods’illa, because their passion for creating dope hip hop was quite evident. I could also feel the passion for their Nation of 5% teachings, which is peppered throughout their respective lyrics. Because Gods’illa is based out of the DC area (Forestville, MD to be exact), they has a close affiliation with like-minded DMV artists. They gave a shout out to Asheru, Diamond District, and Substantial. Substantial has a special place in the Gods’illa annuls, because, according to each member, he was the one that christened them with the name Gods’illa. During the course of our discussion, I realized that these three entities wanted to do more than just promote themselves, but illuminate the current state of hip hop culture. Up And Up Presents Gods’illa: The Album represents the blood, sweat, and tears sacrificed by the members of Gods’illa. I appreciated the notion that these upwardly mobile entrepreneurs talked about Up And Up as a movement, including their Tuesday Night Open Mic held at LIV Nightclub, located at 2001 11th Street in the Nation’s Capital. Gods’illa made it quite clear during the interview that radio politics will not hinder or dismay their collective vision. I could sit down and discuss with them for hours about the state of hip hop and the culture as a whole, but our ten minute sit-down was coming to a close. It was a very good experience sitting down with these three positive brothers, and I used the opportunity wisely to gain insight into another dope group from the DMV area.

After the respective interviews with Megan Livingston and Gods’illa, I had the chance to view those that were in attendance, and I could feel the anticipation for the acoustic set featuring both artists. Coors Light was in the venue as the sponsorship for the evening festivities. The hosting privileges for the evening were taken care of by Lyrical the Lyricist, a renowned spoken word artist here and abroad. DJ L’il Mic provided the soundscape leading up to the acoustic event, and DJ Phaze was also present spinning the hip hop and neo-soul for the evening. Lyrical the Lyricist set the tone for the musical extravaganza by blessing the audience with a few spoken word pieces. Once he garnered the attention of the audience, Gods’illa took to the floor. Because the atmosphere was one of intimacy, Gods’illa immediately grabbed the ears of the attentive crowd. Truth, Acem, and Powerful used the Teavolve floor as their platform to spit a capella lyrics from an individual standpoint, each one reaching and teaching those in earshot. Gods’illa also gave us a nice call and response joint to finish their set. The brothers exhibited a nice stage presence and kept the crowd captivated. After the host enlightened the crowd during the interlude with more spoken word, Megan Livingston graced the floor, accompanied by a solo drummer. Ms. Livingston stated that she wanted to take the acoustic set “back to the essence”, and the drummer added a subtle, yet powerful, touch to her performance. The stripped-down aspect of the evening allowed her beautiful and melodic voice to capture the moment, and the audience at this Ear Candy performance were in for a definite treat. Megan Livingston blessed us with a few audible treats, including “Best Friend” off her debut album. Once the crowd was able to coax this very talented artist out for one final encore performance, the acoustic set came to a close. Ms. Livingston showed her marketing savvy by having on hand a CD box that appeared like a tea bag, as well as a Chinese-box inspired item that included three different teas. This was a very fitting end to the musical experience at Teavolve.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening at Teavolve. From the ambiance surrounding the venue, to the music provided by the featured artists, I wholeheartedly feel that Gypsy Soul is a shining gem when it comes to marketing and showcasing artists that may not get the proper promotion, for whatever reason. Much love and thanks goes to Kayenecha Daugherty, the visionary behind Gypsy Soul, as well as her family of supporters and cohorts. It was a definite pleasure to be in the house at Teavolve on May 18th, and I’m looking forward to more progressive artists to visit Charm City and be welcomed by Gypsy Soul.