6/23/2018: IAMI Collective from the 804; RVA, heats up, cleans up, and brings the Boom-Bap/True School Sound, controlling the rap rhythm and Hip-Hop sound over at Epicure Café.
“watching "Gandhi" 'til I'm charged
Then writing in my book of rhymes, all the words past the margin
To hold the mic I'm throbbin', mechanical movement
Understandable smooth shit that murderers move with
The thief's theme: play me at night, they won't act right
The fiend of hip-hop has got me stuck like a crack pipe.”
-Nas: The World Is Yours; illmatic
“this is family business
And this is for the family that can't be with us.”
-Kanye: Family Business: College Dropout
“Did you call me from a seance
You are from a past life
Hope you're doing well bruh
I been out here head first
Always like the head first
Signal coming in and out
Hope you're doing well bruh.”
-Frank Ocean: Nights; Blonde
Front and center on the Epicure Cafe stage, IAMI Collective moved the crowd with their lyrics.
“Sing with me. I said sing with me,” Robalu Gibsun said.
Habeeb nodded his head, “Lights, Camera, Action, you can see us when we flow.” He faced the crowd at Epicure Café and got lit with his flows, erupting with his beauty/art. He stepped up and rhymed, “My homies play FIFA/I’m kicking for goals.”
“The vibe is right, the time is right…Flashback of Emmett Till now we in the party,” Habeeb flowed.
Robalu grabbed a microphone and flowed, “Freestyle with friends…madness…we conquered the meter. Leadership plus intellect.”
Robalu and Habeeb looked at each other, dapped up, and you could see there was this brotherly love, this friendship, this bond, that was cemented in word.
The word is back.
IAMI Collective includes Robalu (Rob) Gibsun, Torian Ugworji, Tev Habeeb, Logos/Marquis Hazelwood, and Justin Johnson. Spectacular humans/Gods/Emcees/Artists, IAMI performed with raw, authentic vocals and incredible beats.
Hip Hop has never left.
Last night, in Fairfax VA, at Epicure Café, IAMI—the second act of the night—rewrote the history of Hip Hop. With strength and unity, this group, squad, family, these four artists—Habeeb, Logos/Marquis, Robalu-Gibsun, and Torian Ugworji rocked their hearts, souls, and minds out in front of a warm and attentive audience of all creeds, colors, genders, nationalities. IAMI is a collective of talented, educated and cultured Black Artists, awesome human beings whose genesis came from Richmond, VA. The collective crushed their set, as though the foot of a God stomped into NOVA and brought in the crashing rain from the heavens.
The opener was Chaand Soorij; a unique instrumentalist/guitarist with soul and electronic vividness: his music can be found here.
And the headliner was Zahra + Wile, the former has a voice like milk being poured in a cold glass, with an enormous amount of sweetness, creative/relatable/meaningful lyrics, and a confidence that astonished and rocked the crowd, and the latter has skills on guitar that needs to be heard and seen; he’s unbelievable. their EP “Honestly, truly” is out on Soundcloud. Favorite songs include: “Kiss Kiss” and “Honestly.” Find Zahra + Wile’s music here. articles on both of these the opener and headliner are coming out later today. Stay tuned.
The collective killed it—they rewrote the history of Hip Hop performances.
Torian danced his heart out. Logos raps were poignant and genuine. Robalu-Gibsun spoke his soul into that mic. And Habeeb rhymed like he was possessed by Biggie. Their performance is exemplary of true musicianship/artistry. They did their thing and did it exceptionally well. Their vocals and lyrics will go local to global, mark the words down in stone. The vibe in Epicure Café had this beauty and energy, a power that is gentle, yet fierce. Shout outs to the performers for putting on a great show, and showing out for their passions, their jobs, their lives.
“Epicure is the cure,” said Robalu-Gibsun.
Justin Johnson is IAMI’s producer and the fifth artist in their collective. His beats used in FREEFORM, IAMI’s LP , which can be found on here via Soundcloud, were also songs in their set. Justin has generated rhythms that are versatile, spellbinding, honest. His production will change the music scene in Virginia.
On stage, Habeeb clutched the microphone and delivered his flows and lyrics with drive, with courage, and with an education of an authentic Hip-Hop head, and the flavor of a renaissance man. He is the definition of an artist. His words were felt by the crowd and his voice was heard; he’s saving Virginia with his lyrics. He raps with a K. Dot intensity, a Cole Vibe, with a Black Thought quality to his rhymes, a Jay-Z power that needs to be understood, recognized, and adored. He has studied music at Syracuse University and is one of the most gifted hard and hard-working emcees in RVA. Plus, he’s a man of good character with a flow like water in the James River, dangerous, yet so fucking beautiful.
The collective’s fashion aesthetic was on point as well; shit the whole group’s outfits coordinated and had a unison—bright floral shirts, pants and shorts, with stylish sneakers.
Logos/Marquis brought out an energy and swagger that is like reaching the next level. He is Meek Mill meeting Drake with daps and dabs, and smoking the peace-pipe—his energy and level were easily one of the best auras of the night at Epicure. His flow is like an N64 video game—that boss level shit, that Mario reaching that Bowser shit. He has a background in acting and he studied Theatre at Virginia Commonwealth University at VCU School of Arts.
Torian is a Dance-Filmmaker, a student of VCU arts class 2014, and a person who can only be described as real—he’s genuine and focused on his art. His photos are an expression of his spirit and his spirit is poignant and valid. He’s the next one to blow up in the Virginia Arts scene. He danced his heart out on the floor of Epicure, working the crowd with his confidence and charisma, undulating and grooving, to Justin’s beats and the words of all of the emcees. He’s the person with the style that you need to get fluent with.
Robalu’s art is needed and vital, his lyrics are hard-hitting, that boom-bap with the neo-soul shit is back. His spoken word/lyrics/poetry are top-notch and should be listened to and respected, for he is ready for the next step on the staircase, onwards to a dreamscape, right to the moon. Not only did he rap on stage last night, but he also drew pictures. His lyrics are astonishing, a vivid construction of a reality that is true and accurate.
Located in Northern Va, Epicure Cafe is one of the best destinations for live music and established, as well as emerging artists. IAMI Collective tore the roof down on the place with their metaphors, spirits, and took off in their spaceships to the sky, launching off into space, towards the moon. The sun is shining brighter in Fairfax today, because of these Artists from RVA.
Check out the venue:
11104 Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030
Check out the performers:
Robalu (Rob) Gibsun—@robgibsun
and Justin Johnson—@jazzjhnsn
Soundcloud: |AM |’s music can be found here.
Habeeb’s music can be found here as well.