Charlotte native Tony Potts, also known as rapper Tony P. and Phaze Gawd, was just 8 the first time he performed for an audience. He was tapped by his elementary school to rap the Freedom Williams part in multiplatinum-selling C+C Music Factory’s iconic 1990 hip-house hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance).”
Freedom Williams was just 8 the first time he performed for an audience, too. He was tapped by his elementary school to portray Frederick Douglass.
When Williams read the online version of Creative Loafing's recent feature story on Tony P., he felt a connection to his younger Charlotte protégé whom he’d never even met. Williams, 52, was so inspired by the story that he contacted Creative Loafing and asked if we could get him together with the 26-year-old rapper who calls himself Phaze Gawd.
On Wednesday, May 23, the veteran New York rapper flew to Charlotte from his home in Brooklyn to surprise Tony P. on Creative Loafing’s Local Vibes podcast. It was part of a joint audio and video presentation with Th3 Higher rapper Tizzy Farragami’s Yo! CLT Raps and videographer Barry Espy's Espy Productions.
Generational rap summit: Tony P. (aka Phaze Gawd) meets legendary C+C Music Factory rapper Freedom Williams.
You can watch the documentary of this special meeting in the Espy-produced video at top and listen to us surprise Tony P. on the Local Vibes/Yo! CLT Raps podcast below.
“When I read [Tony P.'s] story, I was like, that’s real — from Frederick Douglass to Freedom Williams to Phaze Gawd. I saw it as transitionary… a musical connection," Williams tells us in the podcast. "Where do you get inspiration from? How do you get inspired? How do we define inspiration?
“And in that small space, it inspired me,” Williams says. “He re-inspired me, because it made me think about a very important part of my life. He inspired me through my own work.”
____________________________________________________________________________ Listen to the podcast to hear the lead-up to the surprise:
Williams, who’s been touring the oldies rap circuit with fellow veteran acts including Salt-N-Pepa, Naughty By Nature and Tone Loc, came to Charlotte to meet Tony P. in between performances in Iceland and Denmark. Williams’ hits with C+C Music Factory include “Gonna Make You Sweat,” which shot to No. 1 in 1991, followed by “Here We Go (Let's Rock & Roll),” which peaked at No. 3, and "Things That Make You Go Hmmm," which reached No. 4. This June he’ll release an updated version of his first hit as “Sweat25” and is currently working on an EP, #SweatCollectives.
Creative Loafing had told Tony P. that we were doing a routine joint Local Vibes/Yo! CLT Raps podcast and wanted him to come talk about his new Phaze Gawd album, Dark Dreams. At the beginning of the podcast, we discuss the album with him, but at the 5:45 mark, we ask if he remembers the lyrics to “Gonna Make You Sweat.” (We knew he did.) As he begins rapping, Freedom Williams walks into the studio and begins rapping along with Tony P., who turns around to see his childhood influence standing right behind him.
“Oh, whoa, WHOA! That’s insane!” Tony P. exclaims. “Yo, my heart’s like jumping right now… that’s love.”
In the episode, Tony P. and Freedom Williams go on to talk about the individual early performances that charted the course for each of their lives, in different places at different times in hip-hop history. And the two bond over the connecting power of music.
Tony P. explains that when he rapped Williams’ part in “Gonna Make You Sweat” back in elementary school, he was part of a larger theatrical production about early-‘90s popular music. “It was a piece basically dedicated to that whole time era,” the Charlotte rapper says. “So they had stuff like Janet Jackson — you know, different hip-hop and R&B artists playing … I was the only hip-hop act — the hip-hop representative in this play. So understanding that performing was what I wanted to do, and wanting to be on that stage … I was going to take this as seriously as I can.”
Williams remembers going onstage as a child dressed up like Frederick Douglass: “I had the tux on and the baby powder in my hair, like Frederick Douglass, and I was like, ‘Yo, I’m gonna smash this!’”
As the two generations of rap talk about their earliest performances, my podcast partner Ryan Pitkin, Yo! CLT Raps' Tizzy Farragami and videographer Barry Espy are just honored to be present for such a moving meeting of two great musical minds — one of them a rising rapper from the Queen City who calls himself Phaze Gawd.
We spent two Saturday afternoons at Louis Beeler's home to watch him tape a couple of episodes of Tiny Stage Concerts, his online series spotlighting Charlotte singer-songwriters. In this video, Beeler talks about why he started the series and offers an anecdote from his years living in Austin, Texas. Watch the video, read the story and, most importantly, go check out Tiny Stage Concerts at tinystageconcerts.com.
Yeah, OK, so we're a little late with this one: Charlotte's Blame the Youth released their first-ever video last week for the combined songs "P.O.T.K./ABACA," from their 2016 EP The Hourglass. And we're finally getting it up for you right here on the "Vibes" blog.
Let's see now: What can we Blame the Youth for? We can blame them for making great new music. We can blame them for shaking up the Charlotte scene. Heck, we can blame them for those kick-ass election results last night that put so many young people on city council. Best of all, we can blame them for this new clip.
Directed by Alexander, this video is A Grandiloquent Devise/RedBear Spirit Production. It was filmed at Camp North End in Charlotte. Listen to The Hourglass EP below or at Spotify or Pandora, then go purchase it at Bandcamp, Apple Music, Google Play, or Beats Music.
on Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 12:40 PM
Charlotte rap duo Th3 Higher have released a video centering on the life lessons the two have learned, not just as musicians, but as friends and fellow human beings, during their time together honing their craft from their teens to early adulthood. Produced by Shane Hush, the video for "Lessons" — which begins with the words "The woke must free the sleep" and "The conscious must enlighten" — is part of the group's #1SongAWeekChallenge, in which they have released one song on Soundcloud each week for the past six weeks, and are currently at Song No. 11. "Lessons" was the first in the Soundcloud challenge, and this clip is the first video the group has released for the series.
"This song is a culmination of everything that we've learned over the years," says Th3 Higher's Tizzy Farragami, "and the video is the first of many [to come]. It symbolizes the time and effort we've put into developing our craft. We feel as though we've put in the hours, and now it's time to start harvesting the fruits of our labor."
Shot at a secret wooded area of Charlotte by @AntxShotit, and directed by @AntxShotit and Buddha the Shoota, the setting plays up the duo's nature-based worldview. In it, Tizzy wears an ankh — the ancient Egyptian symbol for life — around his neck as he and his cohort Kizzy slash their way through the woods with a sword.
"We know our time is coming and with this video we plan to take advantage of every resource in our network to reach our goals," Tizzy says. "Once we hit 50K [views], Part 2 comes."
Just before the final song of Cuzco's set Friday night at Snug Harbor, the band did what it had announced it would do: played the brand-new video for its song "Those Are Z's," from the band's 5-song EP A Medicine for Melancholy, released earlier this year. And just as Creative Loafing promised we'd do earlier this week, we're premiering the video exclusively here on the Vibes blog.
The video — directed by Mark Borja, Jake Rothwell and Tori Silinski — is a gentle and serene meditation on nature, melancholy and love set to Will Schoonmaker and Arman Serdarevic's delicate and precise guitar interplay, which often conjures the early-1980s progressive work of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. As the musical and visual narrative unfolds, a love story emerges, and Cuzco's unconventional shifts in tempo follow the story's sometimes jarring twists and turns.
But the transitions flow smoothly and naturally, thanks to the spare yet complex playing of Cuzco's rhythm section, drummer Dylan Robbins and bassist Matt McConomy. And then there are sweet, aching brush strokes of saxophone, from sax player Kevin Washburn, driving home the sense of melancholy at the heart of Cuzco's sound.
Books and balloons serve as signposts in the video's narrative — and as part of the band's performance on stage at Snug Harbor Friday night.
"The atmosphere [at the show] was awesome — we decked the place in purple balloons," Schoonmaker says. "Before our last song we premiered the video and everyone seemed to love it. It was a magical night and playing Snug is always a medicine to our melancholy."
Washburn, Schoonmaker and Serdarevic get intense at Snug Harbor on Friday. (Photo by Savannah Woodell)
It's not often you run across a song that's just pure, 100-percent love — no sarcasm, no cynicism, no negativity of any kind. Bart Lattimore has managed to do that. There's little doubt that the well-loved Charlotte singer-songwriter's new video will only make him more well-loved.
The song, "That's What Daddies Do," is a moving tribute to the singer's daughter, Evie, and the video is a collaboration between Lattimore and Modern Primitives drummer Phillip Gripper, who recorded and mixed the song and also contributes percussion and glockenspiel.
In the video, Lattimore picks a Yamaha F325 and lovingly sings to Evie, who follows him around with her own little no-name flea-market acoustic.
"I wrote the song about six months before my daughter was born — hence the part about taking care of my pregnant wife," Lattimore tells CL. "I wanted to tell my story about fatherhood, from pregnancy on through raising our child.
"It's a short little ditty," he adds, joking, "but I figure that by the time she is all grown up, the song could be about two hours long."
Says Gripper, "Bart and I have been working on songs and videos, and this is our best yet. Bart is probably the best songwriter I know. Expect more from us."
Lattimore is in the process of recording his first full-length album.
"I'm doing video for four of the songs, but it will be just one film — kind of like Beyoncé did with Lemonade: multiple songs, one video," Carter told us. "I've already purchased white backdrops that I painted myself. And I'm very excited about it."
In fact, we talked to the videographer recently at Hattie's Tap and Tavern, and he said Carter not only purchased backdrops but also had very specific ideas on his self-designed clothing and each lush location. "Infinitely thankful for Grapejugo and his astounding cinematography on this film," Carter writes of the video on his Facebook page. "Truly hope I made you all proud. Please enjoy, share, repost, comment, everything."
There are no words sufficient to describe the spectacle you'll see in "The Commencement of Mercurycarter." From the Gregorian-like choral music at the beginning, to Carter's multi-octave vocal range throughout, to the outfits Carter has created for each scene and the lush and ancient location shots he's chosen, many shot in South Carolina, this is a work of an unusually gifted and visionary artist. We maintain you'll be hearing plenty more from Mercury Carter.
You read the story of Charlotte rapper Black Linen in the Feb. 23 issue of Creative Loafing. Now take a first look at Black Linen's brand new video, "Hey DJ," featuring Charlotte rapper NiGE Hood (and a little nod to James Brown). You'll see an all-star cast of Charlotte musicians and artists — including DJ SPK, nightlife guru Oba Amitabha and many others — doing what Charlotte does best: throwing a hell of a party!
Last week I headed out to Bessemer City to catch up with The Menders, whose new album, Nina, comes out this week. You can check out the band's newest song, "Pass It On" — scheduled to appear on Nina's followup — in this video. And head over to Freeman's Pub in Gastonia this Friday at 10 p.m. for Nina's release party. Oh, and don't miss my story on The Menders in this week's Creative Loafing, which hits racks all across the Charlotte area on Wednesday, March 15.
On the cover of Creative Loafing Charlotte this week: Pat Moran writes about Mark Baran and Perry Fowler of the Charlotte acoustic duo Sinners & Saints. Check out his video clip of them doing what they do best: harmonizing on a sweet country-folk tune.