Jackie Downs works at the Baltimore Office of Promotions and Arts as the Arts Council Director. I’d tell you what that means, but then you wouldn’t listen to the episode and you should. Why? Because the Queens, New York native tells great stories from growing up in the Big Apple, how much she DISLIKED the career she went to college for, and as someone who has worked in both Baltimore and Washington D.C., the cultural differences that help and hinder the D and the M in the DMV.
Alpha Massaquoi Jr. was born on Bushrod Island in Liberia. The island was named after Bushrod Washington, president of the American Colonization Society, or The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America. It encouraged the relocation of freed slaves back to their motherland which was great, only problem is when they selected Liberia as the destination they didn’t (or chose not to) consider the fact that…people were already living there. Listen as Alpha talks about how the decisions of the past impacted his family’s future, struggling to find himself after his family emigrated to the U.S., the start of the Hot Sauce Art Collective, and why he was able to get away with being the family contrarian.
Carleen spent her childhood in one of New York’s most infamous neighborhoods and home to arguably the most legendary hip hop group of all time (hint: 10304). While the world outside was 90s boom bap, puffer coats and pagers, stepping through her family apartment’s threshold transported you to the sunny shores of her ancestral home, Liberia. Not all was sunshine and rainbows in Carleen’s life; she suffered a lot of setbacks that put strain on her mental health, as well as strained her family relationships. But through it all she persevered, found self-love, passion and pride for her heritage through cooking, and has earned the title of Lady Le Monade (and if you pronounce it with an accent you’re bougie).
The Media Rhythm Institute is a collaboration born from the minds of two Baltimoreans (one by way of Florida) that combined their love of hip hop, and passion for youth education. MRI blends media literacy, STEM, and artistic expression into a program that’s spawned mini-documentaries, compilation mixtapes, and perhaps most importantly, a level of understanding and camaraderie with two communities that were headed fast down a path of mutually assured destruction.
MRI’s: Bandcamp: https://mriprograms.bandcamp.com/album/greatest-hits-vol-1
It’s not often I talk to a musician or artist and they explain how Math is integral to their music making process. It’s also not often the musician breaks 4th wall to remind you; his entire brand is a gimmick. The more I talked with Score|Swayze the more I enjoyed his candid yet thoughtful approach to music, how he internalized his lonely excursions into Baltimore’s art scene, and most importantly…anime and cooking.
Intro: Batmane Beyond
Outro: Tsubomi’s Interlude
Find Score|Swayze on Bandcamp
For the last 10 years Trish has been doing what everyone is telling you to do on social media….that is, she’s been buying, selling and renovating properties. But it’s not as easy as 1,2,3….there’s a whooole lot of other steps before you get to the bag, and even AFTER you get the bag, Trish says you can still fumble it if you’re not thinking long term. Listen as Trish talks about her beginnings in Springfield, MA, the start of Ofori and Co, and why the end result isn’t the most important thing to her when approaching jobs.
Photo: Bmore Art
This was an easier episode to edit because my guest Rob Lee is a podcaster. A native of East Baltimore Rob stood out from other kids when growing up, and looking back it was a formative experience that helped him find his voice. Listen as we chop it up about the art of podcasting itself, being a black podcaster in Baltimore, his experiences in the professional world as a data analyst, and fasting (yes, fasting).
“No pix after dark” was a rule for Aaron Dante when he was a young fly black man living his best life in the early 2000s. He wanted to be a sports broadcaster like Bob Costas and Stuart Scott (RIP), but when he got to Syracuse University he realized that wasn’t his bag. He pivoted to something pretty lucrative, and worked in an industry you wouldn’t normally associate with paying for relocation. Listen as Aaron talks about is semi-nomadic childhood, a key power move he made to stand out in the crowd, and the meaning of his podcast’s name, No Pix After Dark.
By the time he was 10 years old Wendel Patrick was a seasoned traveler. The Trinidadian-American came to the states after time in other Caribbean countries and even a stint in South America (fun fact: you can see the shores of Venezuela from his family’s home country). No matter where he was, music was a constant in his life. His father was an audiophile and Wendel observed the care and patience his dad practiced when tending to his vinyl collection. As Wendel got older, he demonstrated an astonishing proficiency for music and pursued music as a profession. Listen as Wendel talks about his beginnings in music training, how the sound of a piano while attending Emory University brought him back to music, and why “it takes what it takes” when he creates his projects.
I first connected with Darren Rogers in 2018 after sending him an episode of a podcast project I started a few years back (and still have yet to finish…). We’re on separate paths and have the same goal: to make Baltimore a better place. Two years later, we re-connected to talk about the big changes we’ve had in our personal lives, the growth and maturation of our passion projects, and look to the future.