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Interview Music Weekend Sum Up

Meet Ras Nebyu

Disclaimer:

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.

 Enjoy.

Meet Ras Nebyu

“I need everyone to go upstairs…”

“Wait, lets do that one more time…”

“Sshhhh…”

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: Rasnebyubiz@gmail.com.

Video Release Date: TBA

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

Pictures provided by Kedest Photography

*Ambessa – the Amharic word for Lion.

Stay Down Blaze Up,

Astu Mengesha

Categories
Art Entrepreneur Inspiration Interview Mindblowing

Meet Chidinma Dureke

“My goal is to redefine the definition of blackness in the Diaspora, by using color, design elements to transcend physical material reality.”

Thank God for the creators of Instagram! I am always finding amazing artists and this week we are highlighting an extremely talented female artist and her name is Chi-Chi. When people submit their work to the website I initially send out a questionnaire and I condense their information, but I have decided to do something a little different so you can get the REAL artist. So below you will find the answers, directly from Chi-Chi herself. Enjoy!

Chi-Chi[Q] What is your full name?

[A] Chidinma Dureke a.k.a. Chi-Chi

[Q] Where are you from?

[A] I am a first generation African-American & both my parents are Nigerian. I am native of Maryland born in Washington D.C., raised by Nigerian parents.

[Q] When do you believe you became an artist and why?

[A] I think I truly embraced my talent and took the title as “Artist” after my senior art exhibition. I say this because it had taken three others and myself several months, weeks and sleepless night to put making this show life changing. The emotions I felt the day of the show were truly amazing and encouraging. I had finally felt and found my calling in the arts. My work spoke for me that day and my message was clear in my work. To be able to impact other lives in that light was so amazing. Art allows freedom of expression and ideas in a peaceful way.  Not to mention being at a predominately white university and the only African-American girl in the exhibition and sell the most work that afternoon wasn’t too bad either. That experience gave me the validation and confidence I needed to go forward as an artist.

[Q] Favorite medium to work with when making your artwork.

[A] I would have to say oil pigments are my favorite medium to work with. I work primarily with oil paints on different surfaces. Every once in a while I use other mediums like fabric, paper, ink and gouache.

[Q] Who or what inspires you to create?

[A] My culture or lack there of culture inspires me to create. African aesthetic and West African/Nigerian culture all play a huge role in my work. Being a woman inspires me to create. For example, my use of kente cloth, bold/bright colors, textiles, African fabric and women of African descent. Being a minority inspires me to create. Initially, my portraits were based on the culture of hair and it’s significance it has in African –American culture. Using bold African fabric as head wraps to disguise what the figures hair look like; the viewer is then forced to focus on the woman’s natural and physical beauty. In the past we used Colorism to discriminate against each other as blacks and today hair has become another way to divide and discriminate ourselves as a people. Currently, my work focuses on hair and its significance in black culture but has evolved into beauty and what I feel it means to be beautiful. My goal is to redefine the definition of blackness in the Diaspora, by using color, design elements to transcend physical material reality. The expressionistic sunflowers are not naturalistic but used to represent society and mood. The fleshy, peachy color in each skin tone gives more positive feeling and the continuous use of the color green symbolizes growth and nature. With Africa as my main inspiration I fuse colors, textures, organic shapes and traditional techniques to create images that are fresh, iconic, expressive and diverse.

[Q] What is your absolute favorite project or piece of work you have created and why? What does that piece mean to you?

[A] I don’t have a favorite piece from the past five years. I enjoy all my work equally. The one piece that has been the biggest social experiment would have to be “One Drop.” The focal point here again is feminine beauty and what constitutes blackness. This piece is number one of eight. The piece is entitled “One Drop” primarily because it is difficult to determine the ethnicity this young woman represents. It is evident that she has that 1% of black in her. With her intense gaze, Head Wrap is a more passionate exploration of culture, portraiture. My ultimate goal is to shift our focus on whom the woman is rather than what her hair looks like, facial structure and complexion. What she looks like and the texture of her hair should no longer be used to define a woman. The goal is to shift focus from what she is mixed with and how diluted her blackness is, how “black” he or she is.At the time of working on this piece I was at a difficult period of my life.  As a graduate trying to figure out if I was really going to pursue being a professional artist or work for someone else. In the process of trying to figure out life after college, I kept getting my hair relaxed once a month, wearing long straight weaves back to back. I grew my natural hair out in preparation of my big chop while figuring out who I wanted to be in represent in this world after college. My piece “One Drop”, helped me to express how I was feeling about the world at that moment in my life and our obsession with the western ideals of beauty and hair. I think her strong gaze exemplifies my frustration and awareness.

[Q] A quote you live by (optional)

[A] “ My favorite quotes are those on opportunity. When opportunity presents itself, if it is not inconvenient, it is no longer an opportunity.” – Margaret Dureke founder and president of WETATi

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Connect with Chi-Chi

chichisart.com | chichi@chichisart.com | chichisart.com/shop

Astu Mengesha – Stay Down Blaze Up