special to the Clarion Content
by: Solomon Burnette
A gorgeous, indigenous, above ground, below radar, arts scene exists in the City of Medicine. It’s vibrant and its epicenter is the nexus of Skewers, the James Joyce, and the Social Game Room. These venues curate open mics cross pollinating native Durham vocalists and instrumentalists with our best permanent guests, and the sharpest of our school’s musicians.
Months ago, Bow Wow dissed Durham.
He stated that “…aint nothing poppin in Durham.”
The City of Medicine’s own Joshua Gunn, dissed him with a slick track called “Crackin” on BET and some Bull City Gs pulled up on him and made him eat his words on Snapchat. He later announced his retirement; Go figure… Some feel his assessment of Durham’s music scene was actually a result of (JGunn excepted) stellar local talents being eclipsed by gimmicky transplants who are catering to a lukewarm migrant milieu instead of representing native intelligence and the dichotomies of a city with the best schools and the highest murder rates in the state.
So much of Durham’s supposedly representative music doesn’t strike a balance between depth and edge. This is because it’s in actuality not local music. Conscious or not it is misrepresentative. Counterfeiting is in and the fake passes only outside of the presence of the authentic. ESSE QUAM VIDERI. We’re great.
The following is a list of the City of Medicine’s Top 7 “Threats” to appropriationist culture.
These folks embody the City of Medicine’s music, shut down every scene, but get little or no media bling. The artists listed may or may not be the most popular but are the best known. They’re the ones who make the artists that you’re fed on edge with their presence, if not competition. Sit em wit the shits tonight and they’d zoom to the moon. They’re guaranteed to disrupt the lack luster “local” artist status quo.
- Many a Wednesday night at Skewers, Prince Divine, backed by an all-star band, shuts down our city. He sings dancehall, does original 5% influenced music, and covers R & B better than the originals. He’s truly an MC… additionally, he’s an MC’s MC. Look for new music soon.
- Fredi Sholtz is a singer-songwriter, acoustic, electric, pop goddess. Her music is airy with driving rhythms, heavy metaphors and riveting imagery. She’s both a consummate performer and a most gracious hostess. She hosts James Joyce’s open mic on Sunday nights. Her project is coming out Spring, 2017.
- Jones Michael sounds like a cross between Raphael Saddiq and Kid Cudi. As a lyricist as well as a guitarist, he effortlessly achieves his marriage between voice and instrument. Jones is conscious of food for thought, as well as kinetic necessity… listen up, you gon’ think and dance. He’s recently released a new mixtape on Sound Cloud entitled “@iamjonesmichael.”
- HiramenBipp is the most charismatic performer in Durham. His lyricism is Ghostface-esque. His candor is Jeezyian. His rep is unchallenged. His status is uncontestable. Also an MC’s MC and West End Representative, he’s pulled a thousand cards and checked even more posers. Our City and culture are indebted to him. His newest collection, “Powder Blunts” is slated for release at the beginning of the New Year. Get ready…
- Aja Marie… In addition to having the voice of a siren with the percussive sensibility of a jazz skatter, Aja Marie is gorgeous enough to be known as “Helen of Durham”. Her lyrics are like half a dream convo with your favorite diva. They say that your fans aren’t the ones who like your music; they’re the ones who can’t wait to see what you do next. It’s safe to say that we all can wait to see Aja’s next performance. She’ll be in full force in 2017. Look for her.
- Chauncey Covington aka C.Dot is by far the most slept on audio visual artist in Durham. He clearly mixes and masters minimalist layers of sharp drums, thick bass, and infectious melodies. Elusive and reclusive, he adapts classic orientalist styles and samples to modern electronic sensibilities.In actuality, Chauncey is primarily a fine artist. He uses a wet on wet technique. His style is modern, Van Gogh expressionist, with figures reflective of Romere Bearden’s abstraction. Signature to his work is an exceptionally thick impasto and masterful cromophilia. The humble best at what he does, his social media speaks for itself. He is a partner in Five Points Arts and Imports you can find him pushing his work at “The Downtown Crossroads” between Beyu Cafe and Pleiades Gallery.
- Jamar Quintelle Harris aka Jayfatz knows where he stands in relation to the world through his faith. His beat choice is excellent. He doesn’t shy away from harsh realities in sharing his Higher Power, and thus, doesn’t suffer the typical conscious kitsch of Christian Rap. He’s truly the Lion of the last days on the mic. He can feed your soul and take you from East Durham alleys to the Celestine in his words. Amen Amen Amen… Let’s Getit Lets Getit Lets Getit…
These folks step onto the scene and their gifts makes room for them. They’re the best of us and should be uneclipsed and celebrated. City of Medicine Music is grateful for their contributions. Look for them and do your part in 2017!
The Clarion Content has been following Solomon Burnette since his 2011 City Council campaign. A Durham native son made good, he is a graduate of North Carolina Central University with BA in European History.