I left my iPod in the house Friday night as I was rushing to DJ the Julie Dexter/Jaafar concert. Choosing not to listen to the radio, I blindly selected a CD from my Jeep’s console. It was unmarked, so when the intro began I nearly crashed my Jeep because I hadn’t heard this mix in years.

This mix was created around 2005-2006 and is a sexy soulful number featuring artists like Spacek, Cottonbelly and Silhouette Brown. Gypsy Eyes was created to be a Love Jones inspired mix, however when (one of) my external hard(s) drive died I lost the mix. Luckily there’s this CD that I burned when I initially started working on Gypsy Eyes; the music mixing is complete, but the drops/movie snippets aren’t there. There’s no tracklisting on this one because admittedly I’ve forgotten some of the tracks. Artwork by Ron.One (who also designed this site) and scratches by DJ F/X. Enjoy

DJ Rahdu – Gypsy Eyes (Unfinished)

Get Podcast HERE

There are not many independent artists at this moment that can say they sold 18,000 copies of their first release, digital and physical. When speaking of an artist like this, who comes to mind is R&B/Soul singer Havana. Havana has definitely blossomed in many ways. She has reached a new height in her music in such areas as verbally,mentally, and musically. I had the pleasure of speaking with the southern California bred songstress and I must say, she was as bubbly and humble as I expected. Havana discusses her feelings of the mainstream record industry, family, music, life goals, and reality. Per Havana, all of her music talks of the struggles she faced when dealing with her parents who are both trying to recover from drug addiction. While most people would still be in a state of coping and trying to find themselves during such a devastating time with a family member, Havana seemed to be fine and non-affected by the situation.
I commended her for that. It was living with her grandmother and keeping a positive mind frame which allowed her to fight against a future of turmoil and anguish. While speaking with Havana, we talked about the success of her 2005 debut release L.I.F.E. I wanted to know if there was a strategy to what she presented to the world that got the attention of so many people. According to her, there was no strategy. There were times when she did not know if she would even pursue her career in music because she was dedicated to family. Family meaning, her devoted husband and career partner Khadji and their three adorable children. However, Havana managed to find the strength and balance to complete her project. The L.I.F.E (Living In Fearless Emotion) album consisted of production by Detroit producer Waajeed (Slum Village, PPP, Tiombe Lockhart) and Nicolay (Foreign Exchange). The critically acclaimed L.I.F.E received good vibrations from many bloggers,music critics,etc. L.I.F.E also caught the attention of companies such as MTV, NBC, Scion, and Adidas which resulted in her receiving licensing deals. I wanted to know more about Havana and who inspired her to be on the musical journey she is on today. Havana mentioned names such as Mary J. Blige who you can definitely gather from her storytelling of hardships. When asked about a producer she would really like to work with, Havana‘s answer was Raphael Saadiq. She mentioned that opening up for Raphael Saadiq sparked her interest and she would love to be able to sit in the studio with him. Among other performers, Havana has opened for Dwele, Slum Village, Adriana Evans, Rebirth, and S1 from Strange Fruit Project. Now that she has spread a taste of her musical craft, Havana is about to release her sophomore album, Entervention. Entervention will be an album that is somewhat in a different light from Havana‘s debut album. This album has a new production sound that is more 80’s electronic and R&B feel with more lyrics that are very direct and to the point. Entervention features production from Brooke D’Leau (J*Davey), GB (Sound in Color), and The Honor Roll (Trackademicks/1O.A.K). I expressed my excitement for her new release and wanted to know her long time goals…this is what she had to say: ” I will be in this industry [music] for a long time”. Well, with the way things are going, there’s nothing holding her back.

Havana “It Ain’t New”

Havana “Shoulda Walked Away”

It was Friday night and I was standing in line outside of Platinum of Birmingham waiting with everyone else to get inside. Just to hang out, listen to some music, drink a little bit, and take in the sights. I didn’t know what to expect but it was Friday night in Birmingham and there’s not much else to do on a Friday night in Birmingham. Upon my arrival at the door I was disappointed to learn that what I had spent what seemed like an eternity in line for was a concert from some so called rap artist that I didn’t care to see in any setting and that they were also charging three times normal admission for the show! I promptly left and went off to discover something else to entertain me. I once wrote about wanting to leave Birmingham because of the city’s lack of investment in the arts. I was frustrated with radio stations and the unwillingness of management to play or promote the kind of music/artists that I wanted to hear and that I couldn’t turn on a station without hearing a ‘Put Yo Hood Up‘ or ‘Tear The Club Up.’ I also stopped going out because I was getting bored with DJ’s playing the same songs over and over like they were hitting repeat on a compilation called ‘Ignant Rap Tracks.’ I was done and resigned myself to believe that the Magic City would never catch on with the movement that had been gaining momentum around the world.

It was Friday night and I was standing in line outside the Platinum of Birmingham waiting with everyone else to get inside. Just to hang out, listen to some music, drink a little bit, and take in the sights. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew this Friday night was different, there was an obvious change in the air. No one was waiting to swing elbows and represent hoods with finger puppetry. No one was there with the intentions of tearing up the club or acting a fool. We were there to celebrate the movement, the new soul movement that has slowly been spreading into the city, and this past Friday after 10 years, I finally reentered the Platinum of Birmingham to see Algebra and Dwele in concert.

I’m going to admit up front that I wasn’t familiar with Algebra’s music prior to the show, but once I witnessed her act on stage I became a big fan. Her music is beautiful and it was clear to me that she was the main attraction and not the opening act of this show. Starting off high energy with’U Do It For Me‘ the crowd erupted in overwhelming applause and fanfare, singing along and vibin’ with her. Maybe it’s her southern roots by way of ATL or her lyrics which are undeniably soul without being boxed into Neo. Whatever it was, it was obvious to that the crowd was definitely connected to her, even demanding her to sing personally to them and I can’t blame them. During a heartfelt rendition of ‘What Happened‘ we were mesmerized; intently focused and entranced by her words. With an amazing voice and songs that don’t require deep analysis to understand, she is definitely a one of a kind talent. Algebra’s stage presence is amazing; don’t let her small frame fool you because this girl is a powerhouse, she completely owned the stage and the crowd as well. I especially enjoyed the segment where she introduced her band which allowed the DJ to showcase some dope mixing skill that got the place even more pumped up. I feel bad for sleeping for so long, but I’m glad that I woke up, and I must admit that just like the slogan on the shirt says. ‘I Love Algebra,’ too!!!

Next it was time for Dwele to get down and I was mildly disappointed at how much the crowd on the floor had thinned down. But being a big Dwele fan since the days of Dilla I was excited to finally get to see him live, even more because I didn’t have to travel to see it. His set was a shorter than his female counterpart but he managed to get in a good amount of songs. Singing some old favorites like ‘Find A Way‘ and ‘The Truth‘ it was me that was singing along this time, not that there’s anything wrong with that, HA! Accompanied by backup singers and a full band Dwele was right at home here. Adding some local talent to the mix, hometown favorite Kerry “2 Smooth” Marshall on guitar, was a big hit. Dwele also showcased his skill on the keys, hopping on the boards and playing a tune for the house while his band grooved with him. Dwele’s performance style and stage presence is a little laid back. You could really hear and feel the lyrics which added to their depth. I especially liked his performance of his new joint ‘How Do I Deal‘ (Waiting For Obama) which from my understanding came about from just messing around at the crib. The man just accidentally makes good music! He was definitely a hit, and I would love to see what he can do with a larger venue and more time to perform.

Overall the concert was a success and I was impressed with how much has changed with the POB and the overwhelming amount of people that were there to enjoy the show. It had been almost 10 years since I been at the Platinum of Birmingham and after 10 years they finally brought me back. Better late than never I suppose, Happy Anniversary! My homegirl Dionne posted on Facebook that night “I hope Birmingham realizes that after tonight, they can no longer cater to the Knuck If You Buck crowd.” Well I second that, and I think that after that show and the energy in the building that the Magic City finally has. We still have a long way to go but we’re going; It’s a beautiful thing. The soul movement is going strong and it can’t be stopped. Welcome to Birmingham.


Purchase Algebra ‘Purpose’ and Dwele ‘Sketches of a Man’ in stores now!!!