DJ Shortkut at the 45 Sessions
DJ Platurn’s monthly DJ jamboree The 45 Session celebrated its third anniversary on Saturday. In case you just got here, The 45 Sessions’ “gotcha” is that it features nothing but 45 rpm records, thereby narrowing the field of music which can be played –and eliminating the need for vinyl emulation software. It’s a cool concept on paper, but even fresher in practice, since it lends itself to an aesthetic which somehow seems not only more authentic, but more organic than most DJ club nights. Put it another way: the 45 Sessions is grown man DJ business – no trendy garbage like 2Chainz or Trinidad James, just good music, much of it from bygone eras.
Friday night, as local celebs like a visibly-pregnant DJ Zita, Marc Stretch and Prozack Turner (of Foreign Legion), and El Kool Kyle watched in awe, a solid procession of wax-slingers drilled deep into the muse’s essence. E Da Boss, for instance, played nothing but songs with the word “love” in the title, from Slave’s “A Touch of Love” to LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.” The theme was, after all, “love jams” – in honor of St. Valentine -- and it’s safe to say that love was in the house.
Deejays Mr. E, Enki, and members of the almighty SoCal turntablist crew the Beat Junkies were also in the house. Suffice to say that it went down, son. Beat Junkie mainstays Shortkut and Rhettmatic in particular were freakin’ awesome. It’s difficult enough to mix 45s, but to beat-juggle and scratch on them too, without working up a sweat, takes serious skills. And to do it effortlessly, as Rhett and Short did, is the stuff of urban legend.
The night was also a farewell of sorts, as The 45 Sessions is leaving Disco Volante for a new home: The Legionnaires’ Saloon, the soon-to-open joint whose jukebox stocks 45s curated by—you guessed it—local DJs (currently, Platurn’s on tap). Hey, another “gotcha”! Let’s keep ‘em flowing.
In an email interview, Platurn reflected on what The 45 Sessions has meant to him in its three rotations around the sun. The night, he says, has “rejuvenated my faith in DJ culture and music as a whole, really.”
Adding that he’s “amazed” at the caliber of talent the night has seen, he says his favorite moment was seeing his mentor Derrick D on the turntables; another memorable session was hosting Matthew Africa a short time before he passed.
The future of 45 Sessions, he says, involves a just-announced showcase at SXSW with the legendary Diamond D, day gigs at the New Parish, and a new monthly home @ Legionnaires. In other words, the rotation is only getting heavier.
Don’t look now, but Oakland is turning into a reggae Mecca. Last Saturday, for example, fans of the Jamaican genre had two stellar choices for live reggae shows: dancehall crooner Gyptian at New Karibbean City or roots and culture practitioners Tony Rebel and Queen Ifrica at the New Parish. Oakulture chose the latter, which turned out to be the right move (though we heard Gyptian was off the hook too); the vibes were nice. Very nice.
Tony Rebel was the headliner, but Queen Ifrica was the revelation; she simply owned the stage, singing and chatting with determined intensity and keeping the energy level super-high (though that buzz could have been the contact I caught while walking through the courtyard).
Reggae being a male-dominated idiom, women like Ifrica are truly rare gems. Most female reggae artists tend to sex up their image and adjust their lyrics accordingly, especially in the current dancehall era. But Ifrica doesn’t need to go that route. A devout, turbaned Rasta, she gets by on her stage presence and conscious lyrical content, which occasionally veers into serious social commentary, as on “Daddy (Don’t Touch Me There),” which tackles the taboo subject of incest. That and other songs elicited a sing-along response from a legion of diehard female fans who were (obviously) there to see her.
Rebel, meanwhile, soldiered through a selection of classic hits like “Fresh Vegetable,” “Know Jah,” and “If Jah Was Standing By My Side.” His performance was good, but Ifrica was pure fyah, as they say.
Ras Terms is one of Oakland’s most talented and inspirational visual artists. That’s saying a lot, I know, but it’s true. Terms has been killing it on the street art and canvas fronts for years, and seeing his signature angel wings grace a painting is just about the flyest thing ever.
It doesn’t seem fair that more of the world doesn’t know about this brotha, whose amazing creations draw from deep spiritual and metaphysical influences. But they say God works in mysterious ways. A few weeks ago, when that football team from across the Bay was headed to the Super Bowl, Terms was commissioned to create a t-shirt design for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (many more of his creations are also available through iApparel.com).
The Niners didn’t win, but Terms got more exposure through the connection, including a recent feature in Huffington Post. Written by sportswriter Hank Koebler, the article delves deep into Terms’ backstory, leads up to how the Kaepernick shirt came about, and includes this salient quote: “I'm getting a lot more respect out of it," Terms said. "When I posted it on Facebook, people were like 'Wow, he's making some spirits move.' It felt good though.”
Speaking of Ras Terms, he has a new art show, "Black Bucket Base," going up this Friday, 8pm-11pm at House of the Rising Sun (2453 Harrison in SF). Also featured are works by SafetyFirst and Sage,plus DJ sets by Ras G and dj8. If you think Terms' art looks impressive on a t-shirt, wait until you see it on a canvas.
With a title like “Black Women from the Future,” what’s not to love about the latest Black Futurist event, which takes place this Saturday at Warehouse 416? Curated by Oakland Local co-founder Kwan Booth, this event combines literary readings with spoken word poetry, which Booth describes as “bad-assingly inspirational work.” Plus, there’s also an open mic. Featured artists include Afro-Jamaican dub poet d'bi.young anitafrika, poet and queer rights activist Maisha Z. Johnson, poet and director of The Lower Bottom Players Ayodele Nzinga, fiction writer Lisa D. Gray, plus host Amber McZeal.
The last time Black Futurists spoke, at now-defunct cultural space Omiroo, it resulted in a literary e-book anthology which, one hopes, is on its way to becoming a best-seller (disclosure: I contributed an essay to the book) or at least, enough royalties to buy all us broke-ass writers a cup of coffee. This event promises to be just as special, and maybe even more, seeing as it’s fittingly focused on the fairer sex. There’s no better time than now for our sheroes to emerge.
This week’s picks:
Aerosoul 3: from Khemet 2 Aztlan Closing Reception featuring Riff 170, Chain 3, Skeme, Slave, Stan 153, Phade, Wicked Gary, Overton Lloyd, Emory Douglas, Dawud Anyabwile, Rob Stull, Eesuu Orundide, Malik Seneferu, Robert Trujillo, Mode 2, Jay 1, Orko, Phresh, Cuba, Refa 1, Kufu, Spie, Agana, Peps, Mark 7, and too many others to list!!!
February 22, 6pm-12am, free, African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, San Francisco
Foreverland: a 14-piece tribute to Michael Jackson
Feb. 22, 8pm, $15-$20, the New Parish 579 18th St.
Black Women from the Future
February 23, 7pm-9pm, free, Warehouse 416, 416 26th St.
The Art of Living Black/Mills College Open Studios Event featuring Lorraine Bonner
Zanaib N. Green, Desire Johnson, Richard Lalaind, Howard Mackey, Gale Madyun, Ajuan Mance, Karen Oyekanmi, Patricia Patterson, Sara Prada, Gwendolyn Reed, Atiba Sylvia Thomas, Milton Tuitt, Orlonda Uffre, TheArthur Wright.
Feb. 23-24, 11am-5pm, free, Mills College Student Union, 5000 MacArthur Blvd.
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