Sulu DC Hosts 1st Annual Hip Hop Concert

Sulu DC's promotional flyer for their 1st annual hip hop concert

Got a press release this morning about Sulu DC’s 1st annual hip hop concert, featuring some amazing Asian/Pacific Islander American talent. Sulu DC is a Washington D.C.-based group of spoken word and multidisciplinary artists whose mission is to “foster relationships with local and national organizations, nurture the artistic development of emerging AAPI artists and build inter-generational alliances with cities across North America.” And who could not love a group that named themselves after Star Trek‘s Sulu?

This year’s hip hop concert co-organized by Sulu DC and Kollaboration DC will feature some incredible underground names in APIA music and comedy.

Performing live are hip-hop acts and community celebrities, Magnetic North and Taiyo Na (MNTN), the Stone Forest Ensemble and local artists SNRG. HOME: WORD is the highly anticipated collaboration album between Magnetic North and Taiyo Na, and will be available for purchase at the July 17 concert. Soulful, organic and lush, HOME: WORD is a hip-hop concert album about the journey for home. It’s the rare record that helps to create a new American music, one rooted in American traditions yet re-imagined by global immigrant experiences. Of HOME: WORD, popular blogger angry asian man raved, “It’s one of my favorite albums of the year.” 

Co-sponsored by Kollaboration DC, July’s concert performance features sounds by The Pinstriped Rebel (DJ) and will be hosted by New York-based comedian Jen Kwok, whose work has been featured on CNN, MTV and Rolling Stone Magazine. Jen was a national finalist in NBC’s Stand-Up for Diversity and will make her feature film debut in the movie Eat, Pray, Love.

I’m particularly excited that Magnetic North and Taiyo Na will be featured at the showcase this year.

Magnetic North (left) and Taiyo Na (right)

I had a chance to chat with Taiyo Na several years ago while I was on Fallout Central — and, immediately, I fell in love with his music. Taiyo is an amazingly soulful artist (although, perhaps not so surprising if you’ve had a chance to meet him — dude is deep, man), and several of his singles from Love is Growth are still on my playlist (particularly Lil’ Tookie). 

Recently, I took some time to listen to a few of the songs off Home:Word, the collaboration album between Magnetic North and Taiyo Na, and I was astounded by how the artists were able to seamlessly blend their respective sounds, while still staying true to their unique styles (check out Postcards via the link, and Summertime below). In particular, I was struck by the range demonstrated by these two songs: Postcards has the kind of spiritual, introspectiveness that I loved most about Taiyo’s first album, while Summertime is an infectiously upbeat, fun-loving, radio-playable hip hop track that one could easily imagine as this year’s next mainstream summer pop hit.

I think Magnetic North and Taiyo Na have a great future ahead of them — I firmly believe that they’re among the best that underground, contemporary Asian American music has to offer right now. 

If you happen to be in the D.C. area this month, this is the concert to be at. It’s all going down Saturday, July 17th, 6:30pm at the U Street Music Hall (1115A U Street, NW DC). Tickets are $10 online or $15 at the door, with proceeds benefitting the artists and helping to sponsor Sulu DC’s monthly showcases, open mics and artist workshops.

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