Ant Farm Affiliates
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Ant Farm Affiliates


Band Hip Hop Alternative


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"Hip Hop Summit: a day of learning and"

Hip-Hop Summit: a day of learning and positive music

March 6, 2008


STAMFORD — They rushed to the front of the Westhill High stage, 100 or so teenagers and twenty-somethings packed together, heads nodding and hands in the air, eating up every rhyme and breaking to every beat.

"I need you to lose you're mind," said Joe Celcis, Westhill High teacher and 'MC' for the group the d_Cyphernauts. "This is a real hip-hop show. This is how we celebrate African American history month. Hip-hop is not about violence, hip-hop is love."

And with that the performance part of the second annual Hip-Hop Summit had begun. For dozens of high school students who came out on a cold and grey Saturday, it was the opportunity to lose themselves in the music, and get a chance to see first hand the culture and art form of hip-hop they had been discussing all afternoon.

The Hip-Hop Summit's purpose was to deteriorate mainstream stereotypes about hip-hop culture. On March 1, long-time hip-hop lovers and first-timers had a chance to take part in hip-hop workshops and panel discussions.

The workshops were on everything from beat making, producing, rhyming, break dancing and turn table exploits. Legends such as MC Chubb Rock (Richard Simpson) and d.j. Terrible-T (Tyrone Dunmore) took part in the day's activities. According to Celcis and his d_Cyphernaut partner Dave Wooley (a.k.a. Othello), the workshops were a chance for kids to get hands-on experience in the music they love.

"The idea behind the summit was to merge teaching and hip-hop, and to do something positive for Black History month," Wooley said. "It's a great learning experience (for kids), and we had access to a wealth of artists who had a lot to say, and present a side of hip-hop (students) are not usually exposed to."

Wooley and Celcis wanted to inform youth about the positive and negatives of the music industry, and first and foremost, inspire those who are interested in pursing a career in music. Celcis, who goes by the MC name of Nemesis Alpha, said that as an artist he learned just as much about the hip-hop he's creating as kids learned about how they create it.

"I think as artists, when you're dealing with a specific population as we do, which is the 21-and-over crowd, sometimes you can become encapsulated," he said. "Interacting with these kids reminds us of the responsibility of the arts, which I believe is to have a message, a purpose. I think all art should challenge the human mind."

Celcis and Wooley are both part of the Ant Farm Affiliates (AFA), a collection of Connecticut-based hip-hoppers. AFA members include Phenetiks, Workforce, Cee Reed, The Rising Sun Quest, Sketch the Cataclysm, Expertiz, Pruven, and Spaz the Working Class — all of whom performed at Saturday's summit.

The AFA was formed in January of last year, and first performed to gether at the inagural Hip-Hop Summit, also hosted by Celcis and Wooley. Their goal is to validate Connecticut as a prominent area to discover musical talent within hip-hop. The AFA hosts a local hi-hop showcase entitled "Enter The Cypher,' at Cousin Larry's in Danbury, Conn. The AFA strives to promote the authenticity and purity of hip-hop culture through music, dance, creative writing and art.

In addition to performances and workshops, Celcis and Wooley also held a panel discussion to discuss where hip-hop has been, and where its experts believed it was going.

One of the topics discussed at length by panelists was the record industry, and the changes it has experienced over the last decade. Chubb Rock, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native who has released several albums and sold millions of records world wide, explained that in today's music world, with fewer and fewer record labels, a small number of people make the decision as to what music should sound like, act like and look like.

"What happens in the mainstream media is things are watered down so they are easy to digest. It's the nature of the industry, regardless of the genre of music we're talking about. They want the music to be consumable," he said.

It's this mentality, Chubb Rock explained, that has led to commercial hip-hop's glorification of negative stereotypes, and why so many of today's artists sound the same. Original and positive artists get pushed to the underground scene, he said. Chubb Rock and the rest of the panel would like to see hip-hop pioneers do more to promote positive hip-hop culture.

"We have to go into our communities and help teach young people about the business of music and hip-hop," Chubb Rock said.

In the eyes of Celcis and Wooley, the summit fulfilled that pledge to the young people who came. From 6 p.m. on, kids felt the full-force of electric performance's by AFA artists, and at the end of the day, students were given the chance to go on stage and perform themselves.

"To have them on stage, and to be cheered on by fellow students and the AFA - Stamford Times

"Hip-hop summit offers message of empowerment"

By Natasha Lee
Staff Writer

March 11, 2007

STAMFORD - Aspiring young MCs, DJs and rappers got a behind-the-scenes glimpse yesterday of what it takes to get on stage, spit rhymes and get the crowd pumped.

Underground rappers, producers and artists from across the state gathered at the first Hip Hop Summit yesterday to teach young people about performance, technique and skill.

The all-day event was sponsored by Westhill High School and hosted by Ant Farm Affiliates, an association of more than a dozen Connecticut hip-hop artists and performers.

Their message was one of empowerment.

"There's nothing wrong with being nerdy and being critical," said Queen Godis to a handful of students
following a performance. "We have to rely on our minds, because they are underused as it is."

Godis, a singer and spoken-word performer, and singer Kendall Johnson-Smith, both from Brooklyn,
N.Y., kicked off the summit with a series of songs and poetry from Godis' recent album "Power U!"

Godis said her message and the album are about the struggles and joy of womanhood. She said women
should be "unafraid to be who they are without fear or resignation."

Music videos featuring scantily clad women or sexually explicit lyrics send conflicting messages about a woman's place in society, she said.

"In the midst of mixed media images, there's a lot of disconnect as to what it means to be a woman,"
she said.

Westhill High senior Deidre Knight, 17, said she appreciates Godis' message. "When I listen to a lot of rap, it's like females really can't get anywhere. All you can do is look
good and be in a video," said Deidre, an aspiring rapper. "Even a lot of female artists are degrading
themselves. We need more artists like (Godis). She's good, and that inspires me."

The summit featured a series of workshops about gaining exposure through independent media, stage
presence and breathing techniques. Leaders also spoke about turning "tagging" (spray-painting a symbol or name) and graffiti into a graphic design career. Participants had the chance to showcase their own demo CDs and receive a critique from Ant
Farm Affiliates.

The event ended with a concert featuring the artists.

Westhill English teachers David Wooley and Joe Celcis, who also are Ant Farm performers, said the
goal of the summit was to introduce young people to another side of hip hop, a side less commercial and
more intellectual.

Wooley said he occasionally will interject lyrics into lessons to get students hooked on expanding
their vocabulary and to improve their interest in reading. "I think that we have a lot of kids who are either
artists or intrigued by the music and the culture, and they don't necessarily think it's a way they can
express themselves and be successful academically," Wooley said.

The artists with Ant Farm Affiliates have years of experience performing individually and together across the country, and they said they have
knowledge and advice to share with younger people who are up and coming.

"There's a real subculture that most people don't know about," said Celcis, who goes by the stage name
Nemesis Alpha when he's not teaching "Romeo and Juliet" to high school kids. "For every thug rapper,
there's three or four rappers that have a real message and keep it real."

Sixteen-year-old Brett Clarke came to the summit hoping to hone his DJ skills. Brett, a Westhill High junior, said his hobby of spinning records has landed him gigs at sweet-sixteen celebrations and at parties. The enthusiasm of the crowd as they dance and sing along when he works his turntables gives him a rush, Brett said. But the role of the DJ has been lost today, he said.

The artists said they felt encouraged by the reaction of those who attended. "I've seen nothing but smiles, claps," said Manny Arias, an MC from Waterbury who goes by the stage
name Roc-one. "Everyone looks like they're enjoying themselves."

Copyright (c) 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.
- Stamford Advocate

"The Kids are Alright"

by Adam Bernard

This past Saturday I was a guest speaker at the AFA’s (Ant Farm Affiliates) second annual Hip-Hop Summit at Westhill High School in Stamford, CT. The day was filled with workshops that included emcees mentoring students on the arts of songwriting, battling and freestyling, panel discussions that featured legendary emcee Chubb Rock and Stronghold’s Breez Evahflowin, and performances both by the artists who were doing the mentoring as well as some of the students. Through having conversations with the young men and women there, hearing their questions, seeing their reactions to the performances and seeing them do their own thing on stage, I have to say that Hip-Hop’s future looks brighter than ever.

The first sign that something special was happening on this afternoon was that over a hundred students showed up at school on a Saturday. Inspired to actually go back to campus on a weekend, these young Hip-Hop fans were looking to soak up any information given to them about the culture. In fact, during a question and answer segment I was impressed with the concerns the students came to us with. In an open forum it takes some guts to ask why do older artists look down on us. To the credit of the artists, fantastic answers were given to every question asked. At one point Chubb Rock not only gave a history lesson, but schooled everyone as to who was really making money in the industry, noting that Raven-Symone was selling more albums than Beyonce, a statistic that shocked the vast majority of the crowd, including some of the other panelists. Later a question was asked regarding the lack of women on the stage and Othello from d_Cyphernauts mentioned my “Where The Ladies At?” blog post and let me give some answers.

The live performances capped off the day and did so in impressive fashion. It should be noted that all of these young people that so many so-called Hip-Hop fans claim are brainwashed and don’t know anything about the culture embraced all the underground artists wholeheartedly, which is much more than I can say for your average older fan attending to a show. They rushed the stage, jumped up and down and reached out for high fives. The crowd was so hype, in fact, that Hawl Digg of Workforce decided to jump into it for a minute during his performance.

Smiles were plentiful as these 100+ young men and women were there to see some Hip-Hop, even if they didn’t know who all of the artists were. Note to everyone who goes to shows- this is how it always should be! We could all learn a lesson and take a cue from these younger fans and start showing up at the bars and clubs we go to for events with that same attitude of just wanting to see some Hip-Hop and being excited about it. It’s funny, a lot of people who claim to be Hip-Hop fans really aren’t. They go to shows with a negative attitude, wanting the artist to prove something to them. These stone faced, “I hope this guy sucks” types fill up clubs and deem themselves some kind of expert, claiming to appreciate the art form on a higher level. That’s a load of horse dookie. We’ve all been guilty of it, I know I have in the past, but what higher level is there than going to a show to enjoy yourself and then enjoying yourself?

The good times continued when the students hit the stage. Breez and I both commented on how much more advanced the next generation of artists are at 15 and 16 than anyone from our generation was at that age. One group featured a full band and midway through a song titled “Don’t Shoot The Gorilla” had a guy in a gorilla suit join them on stage. Talk about a sight to behold! The place erupted with cheers. In fact, all of the students supported each other, which was great to see.

All in all, the AFA’s second annual Hip-Hop Summit proved Hip-Hop’s future is in capable hands (and notebooks). The only way things could be derailed is if the older generations, mine included, choose to ignore the questions, comments and concerns of our future MCs, DJs and producers. So if you’re an established artist, take a few minutes to converse with some of the aspiring future leaders of Hip-Hop, you might be surprised at how quickly someone can go from looking up at you to looking up to you.
- Adam's World


Ant Farm Affiliates Mixtape Vol. 1



The stars aligned for the Ant Farm Affiliates on the 2006 Rise of the Nomads tour. The tour was the brainchild of Connecticut underground MC Sketch tha Cataclysm and it featured future Ant Farm Affiliates Quest the Rising Sun, Rawkus 50's Phenetiks, Workforce and the d_Cyphernauts. The shows went so well that the performers decided to join forces and create the Ant Farm Affiliates.

The resulting sound is a hip hop gumbo. You can taste the unique flavor that each member brings to the crew but what has been created is something completely new and different. While the crew has it's roots in classic era hip hop, each MC is committed to taking lyricism to the next level and each producer has refined a signature sound that is the blueprint for new millennium hip hop. Ant Farm Affiliates are the new movement in music!