85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 (Between Lafayette & Fulton)
Come and experience the sound of 1963! Behind every movement, is a soundtrack that mobilizes and inspires the leaders to the soldiers. From Freedom Now to Keep on Pushin, music has always been a reflection of our social landscape.
Join us as we present a millennial response to the year explored through music featuring Blitz The Ambassador, The Last Poets & an 18-piece orchestra. Re-live the classics with new arrangements that were popular a few years prior to the year, during the year and immediately following.
A blindingly bright clarity drives Blitz the Ambassador. With a spot-on sense of flow, he name-checks Basquiat and Lumumba, evokes lovelorn sighs on Accra buses, émigré alienation, history’s shadows. All set to swirls of brass, distorted guitars, and the crackle and pop of old amplifiers. With a lightning-fast mind, the political boldness of Chuck D, and the sixth groove sense of Fela Kuti, the Ghanaian-born, New York-based MC, composer, and producer unleashes psychedelic Afrobeat colors and triple-time rhymes on Native Sun. The album was sparked in Accra yet forged in the African diaspora.
Native Sun—as both musical journey and a striking short film—unfolds from a kaleidoscope of perspectives, with help from a Rwandan sweet soul singer (Corneille on the track Best I Can), from sleek Francophone sirens (Les Nubians on Dear Africa) and from Congolese and Brazilian samba-loving MCs (Baloji and BNegão on Wahala). Blitz even got a boost—including an invite to play at a packed Central Park SummerStage show—from Public Enemy’s Afrocentric thinker and rapper Chuck D himself (whose shout outs grace Oracle). Blitz grew up when the fierce promise of Afrocentric, intellectually discerning rap was at its peak. In the Accra of his youth, the golden age of hip-hop lived on long after rap began to go (Dirty) South in the U.S. In barbershops and on well-loved cassettes, young people rallied around a fresh and defiant expression of their concerns and perspectives. “When you hear young people have such a command, speaking so assertively about how they feel, it resonates with you no matter where you are,” reflects Blitz. “Especially if you live in a stricter society with strong social codes where young people’s voices aren’t heard, hip hop can be a major outlet.”
The Last Poets is a group of poets and musicians who arose from the late 1960s African American civil rights movement’s black nationalist movement. The name is taken from a poem by the South African revolutionary poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, who believed he was in the last era of poetry before guns would take over. The original members were Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson.
The Last Poets have been cited as one of the earliest influences on hip-hop music. Critic Jason Ankeny wrote, “With their politically charged raps, taut rhythms, and dedication to raising African-American consciousness, The Last Poets almost single-handedly laid the groundwork for the emergence of hip-hop.” The British music magazine NME stated, “Serious spokesmen like Gil Scott-Heron, Gary Byrd, and The Last Poets paved the way for the many socially committed Black [emcees] a decade later.”
Chen Lo has shared the stage with the likes of The Roots, Dead Prez, Common, Erykah Badu, KRS-ONE, Brand Nubian, Amanda Diva, A Tribe Called Quest, Xzibit and has done work with Abiodun Oyewole of the legendary Last Poets. To date, he has recorded notable collaborations with K’Naan, Murs Jean Grae, Chino Maurice and Ryan Leslie.
Furthermore, Chen and his band, The Lo Frequency, have toured with Jazz at Lincoln Center on the Rhythm Road and has performed, implemented music/culture workshops and master classes in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Honduras. He has been heavily involved with various music related projects in Africa and has worked in South Africa, Swaziland and Senegal. Chen has also been a cultural envoy of hip-hop history, culture and practice in Vietnam and Brazil. His international dexterity has led to many major performances including a historic presentation at the United Nations.
Chen Lo’s music has been featured on major television networks and shows including: BET’S 106 & Park and Rap City and various MTV Networks (MTV2, mtvU) and shows (YO! MTV Raps, The Lab, The Freshman). His artistic proficiency has led mainstream television networks like MTV to request his services in various commercial campaigns that have yielded nine spots to date. In addition, he has been a frequent contributor to BET-J’s My Two Cents bringing his personal and professional perspectives to the world. Most recently, his international work was featured on CBS Sunday Morning alongside Wynton Marsalis, Duke Ellington, Louie Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck.
In addition, he developed and implemented a Hip Hop Education Series called Creative Liberation that ran successfully in Pittsburgh, PA and Brooklyn, NY. The curriculum balances a historical analysis of black music from the West African griot tradition to the birth and life of Hip Hop culture. It includes a survey of the technical aspects of songwriting, recording, performing and marketing. A BA from Penn State in Media Studies and an interdisciplinary MA from New York University in Art and Social Change have only served to increase Chen Lo’s level of expertise in this area of service.
Moreover, Chen Lo has been working with an organization called Project Africa Global (PAG). PAG, a dedicated group of healthcare professionals that has conducted medical missions to the African continent for almost ten years, tapped Chen Lo to co-coordinate its annual AfricAmerica Youth Summit in Swaziland. Chen employs various creative arts including music/poetry, dance, visual arts and theater to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, while imploring the youth toward tangible change. He has also done art education and youth empowerment work with the Lyrical Embassy in Senegal at the Seed Academy, an NBA affiliated educational and athletic institution.
Chen Lo continues to make great music, spread love around the world and make history.
Tut Asante Amin is in love with CREATING. At any given time, that love manifests through his passion as a musician, producer and teacher. He is a native son of New Orleans, but now resides in Brooklyn, pursuing his love as an artist, teacher and student.
Tut’s time is spent playing shows (he plays Saxophone, flute and piano), for his own band “Sankofa Soulz”, as well as performing with phenomenal bands and artists within and beyond the New York area. Some of the many talented artist he’s played with include Wynton Marsalis, Dead Prez, Arrested Development, Tantra Zawadi, Autumn Ashanti, and Hip Hop Band The Lo Frequency to name a few. He has performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, as well as BB Kings, The Blue Note in Manhattan, and more. Tut’s love for producing and composing music allows him to collaborate with other artist all over the world.
He is a two time recipient of the Metlife “Meet the Composer” grant and award and is also the 2011 recipient of the Young Lion Jazz award given by the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium. He has recently finished scoring an independent film and looks forward to more work as a composer. While all of these events represent significant milestones in his life, he is constantly looking forward to new and innovative ways to express himself, teach the youth and continue the life long work of being a student.
You can learn more at www.tuttyamin.com.
Elektric Breakfast is a visual arts production company specializing in video and sound production, motion graphics, and installation. Founded in 2011, Elektric Breakfast currently features an all-women production team led by Anna Barsan, Erin Culton, Carmen Torres and Mitra Bonshahi. Our multi-media projects include both documentary and conceptual genres and we are dedicated to the creative art of storytelling throughout all of our work. Composed of artists and educators, Elektric Breakfast is committed to artistically supporting independent businesses as well as organizations sustaining educational and communal growth.
Jessica Lynne and DéLana R.A. Dameron reflect on ways they make a home, creatively, wherever they are.