Expert Voices

DMV Artist Fleetwood DeVille Is Raising His Baritone Voice To Fill A Niche In Hip-Hop


The car was promised to him by the grandmother who helped raise him, but due to a series of unfortunate events the artist known as Fleetwood DeVille had to make lemonade with losing a precious four wheel gift by gaining a pretty cool name with a voice to back it up. 

His solid rendition of OutKast’s Liberation solidifies his ability to mix with the elders of poetic hip-hop, soul and R&B. His last music video, Baritone, shot in 2017 shows a side of DeVille yearning to be watered for a chance to blossom into the majesty of a fully-fledged voice. Unfortunately, artists like DeVille struggle to make their dreams come true early in life because life well… is unfair. And, life continues to unfold naturally around us while we chase dreams, sacrifice and wait for the magic to happen to us.

Working to find his own spot in a corner of music history, DeVille has endured family and personal setbacks that has veered him off course like a sailboat going against the wind, but like a moth drawn to light, he’s kept up the pursuit to his happiness; music. Although he makes a living from his musical projects and varying DJ gigs, DeVille needs a “regular job” to make ends meet and be a father to his two young children in St. Louis.

In addition to performing, writing and DJing, DeVille hosts a weekly radio show every Wednesday from 3 to 6PM on He says it’s an opportunity to express himself creatively as he mixes beats from the edge of his bed in the small room he rents in Northwest DC. The Spit Dat DC Alum knows firsthand the struggles of an artist, especially one who dares to step out the box of cookie cutter mainstream music for the masses.

Only time will tell how this DMV based artist drives into the sunset of his life rapping and singing his story. One thing is for sure, his beautiful baritone voice deserves a platform. His singing style is reminiscent of Barry White, Outkast, Big Daddy Kane all mixed into one unique voice that carries more notes than printed music. It’s clear, Fleetwood’s musical forte is a custom-made gift. Nevertheless, just like the Cadillac he’s named after, it’s up to the driver to steer it in the right direction. “To be, or not to be,” is the question after all in Shakespeare’s Soliloquy.

Spit Dat: The Oldest Running Speakeasy In DC Is Uncovering Hidden Talent




You can’t know where they congregate every Thursday evening but the longest running speakeasy in Washington, DC provides a safe space for artist to showcase their work without the stresses that come with public exposure. Dwayne Lawson-Brown, Co-Host of Spit Dat DC said, “The whole idea is creating a space where folks can be safe. Where they can do the art that they want to do and not feel pressured into performance.” He says it’s about fostering community and cultivating their artistry through their own unique process.

Some of the elements that hinder places like Spit Dat from growth include profit, time limits and even subject matters. For example, the issue of depression, homosexuality, transgenderism and even suicide may not be seen as “Art” by some in mainstream consumerism focused media, but Spit Dat allows the space for some of the most talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of mingling with, “spitting” about these controversial topics. I left in awe hearing some of the most powerful poems I’ve ever heard. It was truly an incredible and thought-provoking experience.


Lawson-Brown says the pressures of validation can be a heavy burden among creatives. “When there is a very public audience, that if you’re not the way that somebody else is, that your art isn’t valid and so sometimes spaces have the goal of creating a safe space but because we don’t know how to train an audience to be receptive of all people during an Open Mic then we end up having a performance driven scene,” he said.


The concept of Spit Dat is a personal one for the creator, Drew Anderson, and his co-host who said, “There’s so much more to people than their performance. I always think to myself, ‘show me your soul,’ I don’t want to meet your ambassador, I want to meet you. What does your joy look like, what does your plain look like? Who are you as a complete person?” Lawson-Brown says artists have a responsibility to be honest.


ePa: What’s next for Spit Dat DC?

Lawson-Brown: We’re in the process of expanding right now. There is a need for these types of spaces. People get burned out of having spaces like Open Mics and Poetry Slams, like getting bombarded by the same types of performance. And often it becomes trauma porn, where everybody is still damaged, and nobody is healing. And so, we’re starting to expand and do more events with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Drew and myself had a two man show that ran and was geared around home and what it feels like to heal in that process. I feel like what we’ve started and what we’ve been doing is continuing the history of being able to speak our truths so that others can speak their truths.

ePa: How can people find you despite being an exclusive club?

Lawson-Brown: I wouldn’t say it’s super exclusive but if you’re looking for us, you can find us at Spit Dat DC on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

ePa: How do you encourage artists to find ways to express themselves?

Lawson-Brown: Don’t force it but also get free. Take your time and don’t set goals according to what other people are doing. Know that whatever you’re doing is legitimate and worthwhile. None of us would be doing what we’re doing now if we ever gave up…if we just stopped.



Make Room At The Top Kendrick Lamar, jA.AM Is Stepping Up To The Hip-Hop Scene Like Whoa


Sounding like one of the greatest in the game, Kendrick Lamar, the DMV artist known as jA.AM is still able to maintain a sense of self and originality in his music. Represented by a label he created in 2014, Forever Apex Entertainment, this headlining DC artist is stepping onto the hip-hop scene with righteous blunt rhymes and a strong disposition that screams: I’m not here to play. I’m here to deliver. And he does; beautifully.

His rhymes are infectious, thought provoking and deep. And yet, jA.AM can keep your head bobbing and body jiggling to the awesome groove of his music. He’s a bona fide talent.

Take a quick listen to Whoa:

jA.AM, aka Joe Lyric, sounds like he’s been spitting rhymes since birth. The man is clearly a natural and easy on the ears and eyes while touching your heart, even poking at your mind. Together with his team of collaborators, jA.AM is steadily creating his generation’s music that pays homage to the forefathers of hip-hop with songs like Gotta Get It. And, keeping in line with the evolution of being unapologetically sexual in modern day society he delivers a song that can make a THOT blush. BiG Cap is not only raw and explicit, it’s creatively sexy.  

NO NO is another juicy and unequivocal song that’s easy to dance to while connecting to the rhymes. We all know someone who oversteps every boundary you set, never pays you back and is a shameless leech. His song 2AM delivers another one-two punch to your endorphins while paying homage to U Street, a once culturally significant neighborhood for African Americans that is steadily being reshaped to fit perfectly into the hands of gentrification. A stark reality in a city that was once affectionately known as Chocolate City. These days, black people are barely able to maintain a piece of the DMV that’s not overrun by poverty, crime and urban decay. And, it’s all by design and systematic, making jA.AM’s place and success in his hometown a significant achievement.

Get You Some explodes like fireworks in your ears with jA.AM spitting fast rhymes that’s beautifully yoked to an equally impressive beat. This artist is definitely one to watch on his come up. Wanna get you some? Here’s how: Forever Apex. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to his YouTube Channel to stay updated with new music releases and to listen to the full track of all their published songs. Enjoy and always support your local artists. They keep the culture alive and us moving to the ever changing beat of life.

The Last Poets Block Party Showcased The Beauty Of Black Culture And The Continued Struggle For Equality



The Last Poets Block Party in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC on May 19, 2019 was a stark reminder of the journey African Americans have walked for human rights, dignity and the freedom the Constitution highlights as a birth right for every American, despite its unequal distribution among her citizens. Hip-Hop, in many ways, is the avenue taken by those who needed a different way to protest discrimination, racism while emphasizing the value and beauty of black culture and infusing it with the power that has been systematically stripped from black people. The birth of the hip-hop movement is credited to The Last Poets: Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan who were merely reacting to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. 

The birth of hip-hop was born from the pain and suffering experienced by generations of black people in America. These artist took to the streets with a different kind of weapon to fight back; their rhymes and beats that gave the unjust status and mistreatment of blacks in America life. May 19, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the forming of The Last Poets. It’s also the birthday of the black revolutionary leader, Malcolm X. An in-depth report on the group’s inception can be found HERE.

Below are some of the highlights of this year’s celebration, organized by Busboys and Poets, of the forefathers of hip-hop and the movement to bring about a more just world for black and brown people. 








The Last Poets Block Party Commemorating Malcolm X’s Birthday


Dwayne Lawson-Brown, Co-Host of the longest running speakeasy in Washington, DC – Spit Dat – will be part of the great line up at tomorrow’s The Last Poets Block Party at Busboys and Poets in Anacostia in Washington, DC.  The event is to commemorate black revolutionary Malcolm X’s birthday, (May 19, 1968) and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Last Poets inception as a group. The lineup will include Talib Kweli, Smif n Wessun, Black Alley and many more influential artist who continue to impact and shape our American culture.

Tickets are only $25. All the details can be found HERE.

Lawson-Brown has more details below:

Uncovering A Prestigious Black Cemetery Beneath A Strip Mall


The Laurel Cemetery is a significant burial location for African Americans and yet, it sits unrecognized beneath a strip mall on Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore. Frederick Douglas spoke there during the funeral of a friend, 270 black Civil War soldiers are buried there, and it’s the final resting place for some of the movers and shakers in the African American community who called Baltimore home in the early 19th century. One would never know the sacredness of this cemetery at face value today because it’s easily walked over and used as a short cut to get to and from the strip mall that sits above it.

Thankfully, there’s good news to report on the cemetery that stood the test of time from 1852 – 1957.  A symposium to commemorate the historic cemetery will take place on June 15, 2019 at Coppin State University from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM in the Talon Center, located at 2500 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21216. Click HERE for all the details.

My conversation with local Artist and Baltimore native, Terrell Brown, dives into this sad state of affairs of a once prominent resting place for Baltimore’s black elites.

Clifton Park Mansion: Keeper Of American History And Culture




Charm City is a historic place and keeper of endless stories of American culture. Baltimore, one of America’s long standing and vital seaports, is worthy of exploration beyond the headlines of political strives, the widening gap between the haves and have not, and endless reports of government and police corruption. There’s a lot happening in Baltimore that rarely make headline news. From the artists who call the area home to the movers and shakers who take pride in reshaping the city to reflect its buried American roots and true charm. The history of The Clifton Park Mansion provides a glimpse into what this great city holds and perhaps, what many overlook.

Gwen Kokes with Real Food Farms – Civic Works takes us on a tour of the historic mansion undergoing a face lift she now offices in:


Healing Mother Earth Through Composting


Looking for ways to be more environmentally conscience? Here’s an idea: start a compost and get your co-workers involved. This easy compost idea is great for class room projects, your home and anywhere else you think this great idea will work.  It’s a simple way to reduce our carbon footprint and show Mother Earth that we’re not all callous, uncaring and glutenous earthlings determined to destroy her.

Jackie Goulet, Education Coordinator with Real Food Farm in Baltimore takes us through the easy step-by-step process in the video below:

April Is Jazz Appreciation Month


Jazz Appreciation Month, also known as JAM, was born at The National Museum of American History in 2001 to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz for the month of April.

JAM is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz, study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio programs and recordings, read books about jazz, and to explore all the avenues where Jazz can be found.

This year, JAM celebrates jazz beyond borders by looking at the dynamic ways jazz can unite people across the culture and geography. The theme is to celebrate the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra’s next tour, which will visit cities in North America, Europe, and Asia. This tour will ignite the Smithsonian’s goal of “convening conversations,” in which we will use the power of music as a springboard into important discussions around diversity, identity, diplomacy, and innovation.

This year’s featured artist will be Nat King Cole and his work as an innovative artist, world influencer, and dynamic performer. An international performer, Nat King Cole gained wide support from around the globe. He pushed racial boundaries that sought to prevent him from success. He was the first African American to host his own television series, Nat King Cole Show.

See the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert streamed live on the National Museum of American History website, April 15 at 8 p.m. This year’s honorees are Stanley Crouch, Bob Dorough, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Maria Schneider. Learn more.

List of Jazz venues worth a visit:

Editor’s Note: Additional information on JAM can be found at: 

Women’s History Month 2019: Shaping The World, Still

From The National Women’s History Museum 

Every year March is designated Women’s History Month by Presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history.

Did You Know? Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes the yearly theme. The 2019 Women’s History Month theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.”  The theme honors “women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.”