Black & Broke
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Black & Broke

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | SELF

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Alternative Hip Hop




"Band of the Week | Black & Broke"

Band of the Week
Black & Broke
by Jeff Niesel

Meet the Band: Damon aka Mr. Smith (MC/guitars), Jerel aka Jean Kong (MC/keys), Iddrisu aka The Thundacat (vocals/percussion), Kevin (drums), Nick (bass/vocals), Gabe aka The Notorious B.L.G. (guitar/facemelting)

Origins: In 2004, rapper Mr. Smith and keyboardist Jean Kong originally played as a duo; three years ago, they met the rest of the guys one night at Jammin Java, the now shuttered Parma coffeehouse, and Black & Broke was born. “We asked them to back us up and the chemistry was just great,” says Mr. Smith. “They just kept doing it after that.”

Hip-hop for hipsters: The group has dubbed its sound hipster-hop to convey the odd assortment of musical influences at work. “I started saying that because I have never seen anything like this before,” says Mr. Smith. “We’re like Gym Class Heroes and Red Hot Chili Peppers but we’re different from that.”

Songs about girls and food: The band’s debut EP, Hot Jams for People to Dance To, is a clever collection of tongue-in-cheek tunes that showcase the band’s sense of humor. “’Sandwiches’ is a crowd favorite and songs like ‘Stalker’ were just written while we were sitting in my apartment and we saw a pretty girl walk by. We thought it would be creepy to write a tune about her.”

Why You Should Hear Them: “My Blonde Shorty,” the opening tune on Hot Jams for the People to Dance To, is a funky number that borrows the freaky styley side of the Red Chili Peppers and “Stalker” simultaneously evokes Queens of the Stone Age and Beck. The album is a creative mix of musical influences that don’t quite match.

Leftovers: Mr. Smith says the band has enough tracks for a full-length. “We have a ton of stuff that didn’t fit on the EP,” he says. “We are constantly writing and revising the stuff we do have.”

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Black and Broke performs with the Dangerous Colors, Smokescreen and Ghost Noises at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 10 at the Beachland Tavern. — Jeff Niesel

- Jeff Niesel - Scene Magazine

"Black & Broke at the Grog Shop"

Early on Black & Broke -- Damon "Bamm Bamm" Smith (MC) and Jerel "J-R3L" Jones (MC) -- admittedly had a problem getting its music taken seriously.

It's the kind of issue that can only come from having songs such as "Ramen" (as in noodles) and "Sandwiches" in their repertoire.

"I don't know many hip-hop groups that have songs about sandwiches," said Maple Heights resident Smith, a 2008 Nordonia High School graduate.

"I'm very pro-sandwiches, I like turkey and ham with provolone. I like to keep it simple."

Recently the novelty tag disappeared when the two rappers added a backing band. Iddrisu Seidu (vocals, percussion), Kevin Metz (drums), Steve Seritti (keys), Ed Planisek (bass) and Andrew Seritti (guitar) are now part of the fold, performing what it calls hipster-hop style.

"It's like hip-hop mixed with rock and a bunch of other things," Smith said. "It's what we all grew up on, just throwing it all into a pot and mixing it together. We've been compared to Gym Class Heroes, N*E*R*D and even the Roots. Now we kind of stepped out of our box of making funny music and started doing things that would actually appeal to people, more than just our friends and family. Our new songs include the Motown feel of 'When I Lost My Baby' and the radio-friendly 'My Coraz n.' We're just a more legit band."

Black & Broke, which hopes to release a new CD early next year, has booked a 10 p.m. show Saturday at the Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights. Also on the bill are Keyel, Vigatron, C. Roach & Ghost Noises and Nite n Day. Tickets are $5 advance, $7 day of show. Call 216-321-5588. - John Benson for the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Black Kidz From Tha Burbz (2006)

New Age Hip-Hop Jazzy Elevator Music (2007)
Ramen (Never Released)
Heartbreak Season (2011)
Hot Jams For The People To Dance To EP (2013)
Heartbreak Season 2 (2013)



Black & Broke is a six-piece Alternative Hip-Hop or "Hipster-Hop" band from the Cleveland, Ohio area. 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of Black & Broke. Influences range from Gym Class Heroes and The Roots to The Beatles and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Black & Broke brings a very unique style to the Cleveland hip-hop scene and the hip-hop genre in general and that is evident in their presence on stage.

"Our music has such an eclectic mix of genres. This is because we are such a melting pot of a group with influences drawn from every side of the musical spectrum"

Black & Broke's style of music is referred to as “Hipster-Hop� because it is so different, no one else is doing anything like it right now, and you've probably never heard of it.

(bio taken from

Band Members