Interview Music Weekend Sum Up

Meet Ras Nebyu


This past weekend, I attended the taping of the single “No Love” with every intention of siting down and interviewing the musically inclined Ambessa* himself: Ras Nebyu. Just five minutes into production, I realized there were two stories here – not one.

So, with that being said this article will be a two part installation. The first, obviously, highlighting the artist Ras Nebyu and his video shoot and the second examining the Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora’s role in going hard for its’ members and contributing to the arts.


Meet Ras Nebyu

“I need everyone to go upstairs…”

“Wait, lets do that one more time…”


These phrases and more were in rotation, this past Saturday, as Ras Nebyu and his team directed scenes for the filming of his song “No Love.”

When I arrived, I walked right into a creative whirlwind. Girls hovering around the door, kitchen filled with the necessary libations, people running up and down the stairs, camera man working on lighting, and Nebyu’s song pumping through the sound system. Everything about the atmosphere, screamed house party but the twist here was everyone was working.

Having debut back in April of 2015, the song “No Love” was produced by Casito Del Fresco and mixed by Arckitech. When asked what the song meant Nebyu had this to say:

Basically…”No Love” is about young adults going through relationships and their variations of no love – so whether it’s being heart broken or being the heart-breaker it’s a song from different perspectives. The video concept adds a little comedic twist….like a romantic comedy. [The comedic twist he is referring to is Filmon “Gergish” Yohannes, an Eritrean-American comedian who participated in the video.]

After listening to the lyrics and watching Nebyu perform the song it was obvious that he’s not new to this. With more than 20+ tracks under his belt, a couple sold out shows, and a faithful fan base accompanied with his hardworking team the “Washington Slizzards” – Nebyu is putting on for his city.

Much of Nebyu’s influences can be attributed to his desire to stay true to his culture which is an amalgamation of both Rastafarian and Pan-African philosophy. (Being a part of the large DMV Habesha network has also been a major factor in his musical career – a factor to be later examined.) His music is a blend of, what Africology Media best described as, “socially conscious content and leisure listening.” Nebyu’s “woke-ness” is probably most visible in his hit song “Washington Slizzards” and is reaffirmed by his Manager Beteley Solomon who says “you’ll never find Nebyu insulting women or just rapping about anything.” (Which, to me, is to be praised in a world where a lot of our jams are plagued with raunchiness and catchy hooks that make no sense. No shade here just facts, my friend.)

To listen to “No Love” see SoundCloud link below and for all things Ras Nebyu visit these links: Facebook, SoundCloud, and you can find him on social media by searching @RasNebyu. To book him or connect with his management please email:

Video Release Date: TBA

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Artist Adonay G., MC Ras Nebyu, Manager Beteley S.
Ras Nebyu on set of “No Love”
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Chop N Shoot Video Production directing Ras Nebyu’s “No Love”
Washington Slizzards X SDBUP

Pictures provided by Kedest Photography

*Ambessa – the Amharic word for Lion.

Stay Down Blaze Up,

Astu Mengesha

Art Entrepreneur Events Interview Music New

Haile Roots in Concert April 2

FullSizeRender (8)Haile Roots and the Fano Band are coming to the District and we are super excited to be covering the event this year!

For those not too familiar with the Ethiopian reggae artist please check out his music here on itunes and get ready for a dose of feel good music with a dash of consciousnesses. I promise you won’t be disappointed. (Also, as a cheat sheet here are a couple songs I recommend: Nitsuh Quwanquwayen, Bado Neber, and Chiggae.)

The event is powered by the brilliant people over at: NebFoto (@Nebfoto), Muzika Events (@MuzikaEvents), LivDMV (@Livdmv) , Noble Lounge and Bar, and Too Live Crew (TooLiveCrewDC). Be sure to follow the hashtag #haileroots to learn more about the artist and the event. You won’t want to miss this!

Location: Club XO – 15 K Street Northeast, Washington, DC 20002

Date: April 2, 2016

Time: 9:30 PM to 3:00 AM

Purchase Tickets HERE

“Continental drift has rarely sounded funkier.”

Entrepreneur Xtradope

The Black Excellence of Jaden Smith: Let Freedom Ring

Seriously, how envious are you that you aren’t the offspring of Will and Jada Smith? Like your fathers arguably the most talented black man of all time, and your mother is a beautiful ultra creative. Essentially, life is set up on a silver platter for you served by your butler named Geoffrey. The money your father makes alone has literally bought you the opportunity to do nothing the rest of your privileged life. This may define the majority of lethargic Hollywood tweens, but not 17-year-old musician, actor, and philanthropist Jaden Smith.

Ghetty Images

Strolling down different creative avenues of expression, Jaden has exhibited promise in each of his multi-talents. In 2010, Jaden gave us glimpse of his musical inheritance on Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never.” Okay, he was 12, but through a series of trial and error in mixtapes and videos, Jaden was able to find his niche as a perplexing stream of conscious rapper.

Following in the footsteps of his parents, Jaden got his first taste of the silver screen in 2006 alongside his father in the film The Pursuit of Happyness. The performance was solid enough to land him a staring role in the rebooted Karate Kid series in 2010. The film grossed over 300 million worldwide; which positions him for future summer blockbusters, if he chooses to wholeheartedly pursue acting.

Jaden Smith in Karate Kid in 2010
Jaden Smith in Karate Kid in 2010

As the awkward preteen years have passed, the thirst for individuality is discovered. Starting first with appearance– tight animal print pants, a Batman costume at KimYe’s wedding, his attempt to break gender norms with dresses– Jaden has shown rules clearly don’t apply to him. But appearance is only surface deep, and Jaden’s intelligence may be his most unique set of skills. As social media becomes the epicenter of the world, Jaden has chosen Twitter as his display case. The tweets are the perfect proportion of wisdom, common sense, and WTF that leave no other option but thought provocation.

Recently, an impromptu video surfaced of Jaden discussing the importance of finding yourself at any expense. Jaden’s monologue veers on a tangent highlighting how important it is to live vicariously through your idols– citing Kanye, Drake, and Tyler, the creator as his inspiration. He essentially wants what all creatives want– the opportunity to learn and live with as little creative control as possible. Certainly this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this — I mean two years ago Kanye dropped about fiftyleven of these. And as Kanye gets older… and daddy-er, his willingness to shatter every glass ceiling diminishes leaving room for the young to study and surpass. Social media hasn’t been the most friendly to young Jaden’s honesty. It’s either panned as hyperbolic genius or common sense, as if common sense is a bad thing…as if it warrants skepticism of your intelligence. Judgment can be painful, especially during your teenage years, but Jaden’s pursuit of freedom and creativity sync with his privilege making him one of the most important black children of all time.

What if the advantages of being the spawn of black excellence are the same as the disadvantages? The Smiths may be the second most important modern black family behind the Obamas (watch out for the Currys with the shot boy!). One of the most beautiful ideologies in the world is universal black admiration, but how convenient is that luxury at the expense of freedom? Being different can put your last name in jeopardy if you’ve strayed to far from the nest of comfort. With 24-hour “news” coverage, the media has essentially made it impossible for a famous 20-something year old to be a 20-something year old. And with Jaden and Malia approaching the age of exploration, its interesting to see how the how much leeway will be given to the first children of the black upper class.

Being misunderstood can be uncomfortable. Having the courage to get knocked down by a ruthless world, dust yourself off, and re-present what you think is your best creative self exemplifies gumption. His music and tweets are discounted as gibberish that is fake-deep and half-baked, but when listening with an open mind it emotes all the endless insecure ambitions your young adult brain will allow. Jaden ventures from idea to idea knowing the destination is to be as creatively free as possible– even if he isn’t sure which vehicle to use. Deep down, all of us live through Jaden and the optimistic youth just like him who are aware that the odds are against them, but blissfully ignorant enough to bet on themselves anyway.

Dequan Huggins is a writer living in Virginia. Follow him on Twitter here 

Entrepreneur Music Xtradope


Have you ever been to the YMCA, or wherever the local has beens go to relive their hoop dreams, and played with Mr. 0 to 100? That dude who left his off switch in his duffle bag? This analogy is the epitome of the play of 2015 Russell Westbrook and 2015 Hip-hop. Whether you’re an opponent of the masked-machine, or an exuberant rap fan you have to be overwhelmed trying to consume their respective excellence. The intersection of this Venn diagram has to highlight how dominant they’ve been in the 1st quarter.

The 2015 NBA All Star break was Westbrook’s coming out party for the novice basketball fan. Prior to winning the game’s MVP honors, the world had pretty much only known Oklahoma City’s point guard as the questionably fashionable bonehead sidekick to NBA superstar Kevin Durant before he was plagued with injuries and voodoo all season. Coincidently, 2015 Hip-hop’s plight ascended around the time with sporadic album and mixtape releases.


It’s nothing for Westbrook to go super-saiyan on you in a quarter. Averaging 8 points in the 1st quarter, scoring just seems to be the most natural element of the Thunder guard’s game mirroring the way hits come naturally for Toronto rapper Drake. Undoubtedly the best song maker in the game, Drake released his unexpected for sale mixtape If You’re Reading This, Its too Late, which saw every song chart on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart setting a Billboard record. While critics of Drake and Westbrook seem to see their strengths of hit making and scoring as detriments, the two superstars continue to eclipse their piers offering no apologies.


An Achilles heel of Russell Westbrook has always been his discipline of distributing the basketball. A leaders assignment is to orchestrate for others even at the sacrifice of self. Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly embodies that sacrifice with open arms. The Compton emcee comes to the realization that his music comes with a greater responsibility of entertainment and therapy. Knowing that others look to you for leadership, whether it’s for a bucket or for gospel, is a challenge that both the Californians have embraced. Averaging 4.1 assists in the 1st quarter, Westbrook has seen the importance of getting others involved early. Altering his style of play has certainly impacted his teams positioning in playoff contention despite an onslaught of injuries. Russell, like Kendrick on the infamous “Control” verse, realizes that they can put up a shot on any possession; however, both come to appreciate the collective team win as opposed to the occasional water cooler highlight.


Russell Westbrook is an amazing rebounder for his position. Averaging 2.5 rebounds in the 1st quarter, Russ fearlessly battles in the paint always willing to weasel his team to second and third possessions. But perhaps Westbrook’s greatest rebound of the 2014-2015 NBA season is how he has recovered from a fracture of the second metacarpal in his right hand. The injury kept him out of action for 14 consecutive games, which merely seems like an afterthought with the historical play of the killer point guard. After the release of his polarizing temper tantrum album Yeezus, rapper Kanye West has set out to capture the masses hearts once again with his highly anticipated seventh studio album So Help Me God. Searching for a sound that that has been described as “Feel good music,” Kanye looks to bridge the gap of experimentation and nostalgia. Although Yeezus was critically acclaimed, Kanye is certainly aware of the underwhelming reception from a majority of his day one fans. Songs like “Only One” and “All Day” travel different paths, but ultimately arrive at enjoyment, setting Kanye up for a summer tucking comeback.


What’s Russell Westbrook without some careless mistakes? His relentlessness has been packaged as a catch 22— so it comes to no surprise that he averages almost 2 turnovers in the 1st quarter post all-star break. The correlation of a bad decision by Russell Westbrook that leads to a turnover, and the intertwined drama of hip-hop are virtually one in the same. Stories like Lil Wayne’s record label drama involving his hip-hop father Bryan “Birdman” Williams, and the death of A$AP Mob’s Manager “Yams” due to an overdose of opiates and benzodiazepine are always unfortunate. There’s never a right time for a loss of a possession, and there’s never a right time for a petty spat between millionaires, but like Russell Westbrook, hip-hop finds a way always regain focus and captivate us again with its excellence.

While its highly unlikely that Russell Westbrook will actually win the MVP award this year, the excitement the point guard has provided in the 2014-2015 NBA season will resonate with the young minds of fans all around the world like they have with rap music’s chaos this year. Who knows if Westbrook’s effort will even be good enough to make the post season, or if this hip-hop year will be considered “classic,” but you have to applaud their respective efforts. Its impossible to predict what will come next from both subjects, but fans can almost be certain that what comes next will surpass any storybook ending we could ever have dreamed of.

Entrepreneur Music Xtradope

SDBUP’s 10 Songs For The Summer

Summer is approaching, the best time of the year for music. The combination of good weather, incredible music, and Corona with lime can turn any summer into one for the ages. Of course you can go by what you’ll hear on your local radio station but that’s boring! SDBUP has taken the liberty of posting 10 songs(from some new artist and some popular ones) that are guaranteed make your summer all the way turnt up!




“James Bong” – Wiz Khalifa  



Wiz Khalifa has totally revamped his music style in 2014 and hasn’t looked back. Abandoning his hazy stoner rap for a trap/drill influenced taste; Wiz has delivered on every release this year. “James Bong” falls in the vein of most trap records where its incredibly aggressive and catchy, but Khalifa seems to have a better sense of flow than his trap contemporaries. Oh yeah, it also needs to be noted that there are some incredible ad-libs on this track as well.



“Martyrs”- Mick Jenkins




Alabama/Chicago newcomer Mick Jenkins looks to be one of 2014’s hip-hop darlings. Mick’s social commentary and intricate metaphors are incredibly advanced for someone who is as apart of the Chicago teenage male lifestyle. “Martyrs” rebukes all the restraints that are placed on black youth by society and ourselves using the ugly but potent comparison of a hanging backdropped with a haunting instrumental



“No Flex Zone” – Rae Sremmurd



Hip-Hop producer Mike Will Made It has given the world so many gems over the last three years but his new Atlanta based duo Rae Sremmurd may be his best gift yet. The brothers take turns delivering energetic verses and an almost obnoxious chorus over a bone rattling Mike Will beat that will definitely run the southern club scene all summer.


“OMG” – Young Thug Featuring IAMSU!


Young Thug continues to be raps most talked about newcomer in 2014 as he continues his hit streak with “OMG.” Thug pays homage to The Bay by adding IAMSU! to the C4 produced anthem. Thugger’s vocal inflection and bizarre lyrics are so puzzling that it makes the song hypnotizing.



“Awesome” – Shy Glizzy



Shy Glizzy continues to represent for the DMV area with his biggest record to date, the very stuntastic “Awesome.” Glizzy has been running the DC circuit for years and “Awesome” is catchy enough to finally get the national attention that he has worked hard for.


“God’s Whisper” – Raury



Atlanta has produced a plethora of hip-hop based artist who have challenged conventional sound and Raury falls right in line with the greats. Mixing hip-hop with indie rock, Raury croons all over the stadium ready “God’s Whisper.” Belting his heart out, Raury speaks on what it means to be different and brave, serving as the voice for the emotionally lost young adult.



“Handsome and Wealthy” – Migos



Migos have used 2014 to establish themselves as a formidable rap group for years to come with the release of their No Label 2 mixtape. The trio doesn’t stray away from what rocketed their popularity in 2013, hypnotizing verses and infectious hooks. “Handsome and Wealthy” is one of many songs on No Label 2 gearing up to do damage in the clubs summer 2014.



“Yasss Bish!!” – Nicki Minaj



Wake up! Nicki Minaj has been killing everything for over year now, rapping harder than any of her male counterparts. Continuing to feed the streets, Nicki has been dropping banger after banging preparing the world for her new album The Pink Print. “Yasss Bish!!” is the perfect mixture of lyrics, flow, and Soulja Boy making it ideal for any situation.



“Down On My Luck” – Vic Mensa



Chicago emcee Vic Mensa abandons his cool guy lyrics on “Down On My Luck” exercising his singing and songwriting skills. “Down On My Luck” fuses the worlds of EDM and Chicago juke making Vic’s most experimental song to date stretching the limits of the ever-growing Chicago sound. Word to my young boy Teezus



“I Don’t Know” – Meek Mill



Meek Mill has had a tremendous impact on 2014 by killing every feature and every release with his name attached to it. Looking to change his outlook as just a street rapper, Meek raps over a beat that is triumphant and grand with “I Don’t Know.” The song has pop appeal and if given a chance could be the crossover record that meek has been searching for to take his career to new heights.