Wednesday 2:00 - 3:00pm
Hosted by: The Illustrious Blacks (Manchildblack + Monstah Black)
The Illustrious Blacks:
Once upon a time in a galaxy not far away, there lived two kings. Each was the ruler of his own deliciously glorious planet. The first king, Manchildblack, was well known throughout the cosmos for his ethereal vocals, celestial sonics and earthy musical messages. The other king, Monstah Black, was a star in the solar system for his gravity defying performances, genderbending fashions and spacey disposition. One magical night, an inexplicable ultramagnetic pull forced the two planets to collide. A technicolored explosion occurred turning night into day with a feast of aural and visual delights. It was then that the universe was changed forever. Manchildblack and Monstah Black united and became The Illustrious Blacks.
With inspiration from extra terrestrials like Prince, David Bowie, Grace Jones, Boy George and George Clinton, The Illustrious Blacks have arrived with a mission to fuse futuristic funk, hypnotic house and cosmic pop into pulsating positivity for the planet. The Blacks are not only copilots on their artistic voyage, but are united in their fantastical journey through life.
While The Illustrious Blacks prepare to release their highly anticipated debut EP on Manchildblack's label Hype Life Music, the dynamic duo can be found living it up at their intergelectrodiscosoul soiree titled Astro Beat. This Brooklyn based monthly party features Monstah Black as MC of the madness, while Manchildblack spins epic beats on the 1's and 2's. The event has been heralded as a throwback to a time in New York City when people of all races, sexual orientations, income brackets and beliefs partied together, losing themselves through the vibration of music.
If Astro Beat is meant to elevate you into the stratosphere, then The Illustrious Blacks Youtube show, "At Home w/The Blacks," is an opportunity to experience their inner space. The entertaining and often hilarious weekly series invites viewers onto the mothership of the charismatic couple, where they discuss the latest happenings in global pop culture.
Individually, Manchildblack and Monstah Black illuminate the galaxy with equal magnitude. Together, as The Illustrious Blacks, they have combined their powers and metamorphosed into supernovas, blazing through the Milky Way like a comet, with their own unique brand of cosmic freak nobility.
As he searches for his own promised land, Manchildblack might be on the road to delivering us all." Jason King (NYUTisch School of the Arts, Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music).
The name Manchild may conjure up memories of Claude Brown's searing novel, Manchild in the Promised Land, but it has quite a different history for the man himself. "I was born Derek Gentry," Manchild confesses "but a Rastaman I knew during my time in D.C. would call me 'Manchild.' He never explained why, but when I started to become a musical artist I decided the name fit who I was and epitomized what I was singing about. Although the name (all one word) has no immediate relationship to Claude Brown's book, the similarities are there. The classic 1965 novel offered truthful evidence of what it meant to survive as a black man in a complex, troubling society. In the same vein, many of Manchildblack's original songs, most of which are cowritten by guitarist Shelton Garner, also comment on the plight of AfricanAmericans, shedding new light on problems of selfesteem, masculinity, and racism, among other topics.
Originally from New York City, Manchildblack always knew he was destined to be an artist. "I was a shy and quiet kid, so writing and performing was my outlet," he professes. After moving out of state and briefly attending college in Washington D.C., Manchild purchased a oneway bus ticket back to NYC to fulfill his dreams. In the Big Apple, he began to build his acting résumé by performing in the world premiere of the Richard Adler/Bill C. Davis musicalOffKey at the George Street Playhouse. A touring production on Athol Fugard's My Children, My Africa followed, asdid an appearance on television in the A&E crimedrama 100 Centre Street. He received critical raves as the lead character Racine in Carl Hancock Rux's Asphalt, which featured music by Toshi Reagon and DJ Spooky.
Although much of Manchild's early artistic work occurred in the theater, the unexpected passing of his father inspired him to make the move toward first love...music. In 2006, He was signed to the legendary West End Records, releasing the acclaimed Awake in a Dream EP. Included on the release was the melodic ode to his father "To the Sky." The video for the song received frequent airplay on Centric Television, introducing Manchild's music and style to the masses. Also, on the EP was the dance floor filler "Rain," which found itself on the play lists of such world renowned DJs as Gilles Peterson, Danny Krivit and Bobbito Garcia.
Manchildblack's journey into the dance music realm inspired him to team up with acclaimed DJ/producer Ian Friday, to create the biweekly dance party Libation. This long running event has become a hugely popular destination for all lovers of good dance music and has featured guest DJ's and performers: Osunlade, Louie Vega, Black Coffee, DJ Spinna, Rich Medina, King Britt, Raul Midon, Peven Everett and KindredThe Family Soul. The rousing success of Libation allowed Manchild to produce and/or curate stellar events at the world famous Apollo Theater, SOB's and The Studio Museum in Harlem.
In recent years Manchildblack has become an in demand DJ, spinning opening sets for Meshell N'degeocello, Seun Kuti, Theophilus London, Georgia Anne Muldrow and the legendary Roy Ayers. As a recording artist, he put out a slew of dance music singles including: “Amazing”, "We Are", "Live 4 Love" and the EPs, My Mind's I and Love Reigns Vol 1. He has performed to sold out audiences at such venues as Blue Note, BAM Cafe, Symphony Space, Joe's Pub, Apollo Theater and even Central Park Summerstage for The Black Rock Coalition's Stevie Wonder Tribute. 2012 saw the launch of his digital record label, Hype Life Music. as well as musical collabos with DJ Afro of Los Amigos Invisibles (The Copasetic) and Monstah Black (The Illustrious Blacks).
As a recording artist, actor, impresario, producer, tastemaker and entrepreneur, Manchildblack is this generation's true renaissance man. His music and mission are both clear and powerful and is now resonating with audiences around the world. "This is about more than me, it's about a movement and I plan to be one of the leaders in the forefront of the change that's coming."
Reginald Ellis Crump a.k.a Monstah Black is a multidimensional performing artist known for his stage performances that blur the lines of genre and gender. Born and raised in historical Colonia Williamsburg, Virginia, Monstah was exposed at birth to not only the pulpit rocking sounds of the southern Baptist Church and the classical sounds of Roman Catholic Church but also Soul, R&B, Rock, Funk and Disco. His aesthetic reflects this upbringing revealing influences of Prince, David Bowie, Grace Jones and Sylvester. He fuses his love for music, movement, fashion and visual art in his funk drenched musical creations.
As a preteen Monstah became the personal high heel stretcher for his mother’s new heels, spending evenings parading through the house in “mothers new pumps” while grooving to hits on Music Television. By 16 he was terrorizing the halls of high school in stiletto boots, safety pins and exercising his desire to be a " NewRomanticAfroGypsyPunkFunkDiscoGlamRockStar."
He trained in Choreography, performance while in undergrad @ Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Using performance art as a way to enhance his music, after graduating, Monstah moved to Washington, DC and began creating performances under the moniker Bedrock Goes KaBoom while simultaneously dancing for local dance companies and performing in Nightclubs.
Monstah was commissioned by The DC Commission on Arts and Humanities to create his one man show entitled The Acid Box Cabaret. This opportunity lead him to creating a site specific Punk Funk Opera entitled Delicious Hunger, Hunger Delicious, performed in the lobby of The National Theater in Washington, DC. The Opera featured some of DC’s well known musicians, poets, dancers, strippers, nightlife freaks and several students from George Washington University dance department.
After years of experimentation in DC Monstah relocated to New York City and chose to focus on producing electronic based music using a 505 Groovebox Sequencer. With a thumb on electronic music Monstah combined musical compositions with his kinesthetic and visual ideas. He began creating otherworldly performances mixing 70’s SciFi, Funk, Punk Rock, Post Modern Dance and physical theater with elements of underground club culture and fashion. Out of this experimentation he produced four unreleased albums (This Suite Divine, Black Strap Molasses, Skipping Backwards and Living Outside The...) Choosing to never release the soundtracks, only performing live with the exception of the occasional mix tape that was given to or sold to close friends and fans, Monstahcreated musical events that happened only once and then disappeared.
In 2011 Monstah Black collaborated with composer Major Scurlock on the creation of Black Moon. Black Moon is an ElectroFunk Chamber Opera that remixes the life of Pierrot Lunaire as an African American male vaudevillian performer. This works creation was supported by the Dance New Amsterdam Artist in Residence program. Monstah has performed in numerous venues including Art Basel, Miami, The Whitney Annual Gala, New York, Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC, Performa Biennial, New York, Joe’s Pub, New York, Dance New Amsterdam, New York, New York Live Arts, Movement Research, New York, Dixon Place, New York, Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, New York, New Media Festival, Moscow, Performance Festival, Ouro Preto, Brazil, Dance Festival Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland, Eyebeam New York City, National Theater, Washington DC, Dance Place, Washington, DC, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Pennsylvania and The Brooklyn International Performing Arts Festival.
He has been the recipient of an international choreographers residency at Dance Omi in Hudson Valley, New York and has returned as a guest mentor. Honorable mentions in publications include The New York Times, L Magazine, Time Out Magazine, Dance Magazine and The Village Voice. Monstah has received numerous awards including the Tom Murrin Performance Award, Franklin Furnace Fund, Queer Arts Mentorship Fellowship, BRIC Media Artist Fellowship (Brooklyn), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program, The District of Columbia Commission on The Arts and Humanities, Career Transitions for Dancers, Topaz Arts Center, NYSCA and has garnered extensive support from New York Organizations including The Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center, The Field, Dance New Amsterdam, New York Live Arts and is a graduate of the Long Island University New Media Art and Performance, Master of Fine Arts Program.
Photo credit: Charles Meacham