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The best kept secret in music


"online interviews"
- various

"Monthly Mix"


If you think all hip-hop artists are little more than heartless thugs, you should get hip to Labtekwon. The Baltimore based rapper, with 17 discs to his credit, has been known to explode more than a few stereotypes.

"I would have to say hip-hop culture is severely underestimated on a philosophical and intellectual plane," he says. "People don't realize hip-hop culture has the same attributes of any cultural renaissance; there are many geniuses and prodigies, as well as pretenders and wannabes."

A UMBC student and Douglass High grad, Labtekwon falls into the former category, and a recent compilation disc, Song of the Sovereign (Mush), proves why. Culled from previously released material, the disc's 17 tracks cover a wide range of creative and emotional territory, from the haunting "The Last Emcee" to the banging "My Crew." Lyrically, cuts such as "Overlord" and "I Am Here" show that Labtekwon is more that a mere entertainer-- he's also a poet, philosopher, and master storyteller.

"To me the art of the emcee is a descendant of the art of the griot from West Africa and the ancient scribes and priests of Kemet," he says. "The combination of storytelling, timing, composition, symbolism, rhyme, tone, and content are the elements that connect the art of the emcee to the vocation of the ancient emcees, the griots and storytellers, I take the same pride [in my craft] as a master architect would in designing a temple or a master craftsman making a sword. Because of the magnificent history of my ancestors, I realize that being an emcee is a gift I must be responsible for."

- Baltimore Magazine

"Next 100"

NEXT 100- 1999

The moon waxes towards the harvest solstice when the codifier, anxious to emit time, is able to contact Baltimore MC Labtekwon. Analog-ous to Linear B, 'Nile Child: Epic of a Kushite Warrior King' is his twelfth album since '93 - all independent.

"When pharoahs conquered people, they had it documented," Lab explains. "The style of those tablets was so arrogant and poetic. I wanted this album to evoke the same mystique as if it was buried and dug up 2,000 years later. I wanted to capture that eloquence and dignity in my own styles."

During his studies of antiquities, Labtekwon noticed that hip-hop (rhythmic speeches over drums) is a decendent of early African oral tradition (sacred oaths, chants and stories over an insisting drumming cipher). Lab derives deafening ability by channeling the past into the future - the perennial millennial. His album possess depth that cannot be fathomed by mere sounding.

"This is a concept album that you have to listen to a lot before you realize how it fits together. I selected material carefully - I had a dope song that was a verse talking about being a verse, like the life of a rhyme, but it didn't fit, so I had to pull it."

Say what? The metaphysics of metafiction will be discussed in due time. Ignore Siduri's distractions; stay focused. Lab's warrior instincts anticipate the codifier's next question. "I don't care about getting paid. Money is temporary and art isn't. I can achieve my goals without exploiting my art." Hip-hop has sacred roots, after all, and true warriors do not violate the ancient codes.

"All the stuff that's hot now is gonna die, anyway," Lab concludes. "There will be a renaissance, but no one person can be the answer. There has to be a movement of artists all looking forward. Listeners have to be ready for it, and artists have to be able to supply varieties - somebody has to give you what I don't and vice-versa. If there's a full circle of us, we can push forward." Now cipher.

- URB Magazine

"The Science of being Who You are"


"I never tried to get signed; I was always satisfied with just rockin' the party, making my tapes and listening to them. Basically, I'm trying to make the album that isn't out right now. My goal is to fit into the blank space."

Facts are facts: You can't swing an oversized clock pendant without hitting an emcee who talks about pushing the limits of hiphop and taking it to another level. But when Labtekwon say he wants to fit into the blank space, you have to believe that the highly regarded underground Baltimore rapper fills it. After all, no one else in hiphop has been so diligent about self-releasing his own music (over 17 records in about 15 years, under the label name Ankh Ba), while seeing his contemporaries sign to labels and get huge (Tribe, KRS-one, Digital Underground). His music relies on simple, bass-heavy production and a rhyming style that can go from a jazz-singer-style sex-rap, to spiritual ragga, to sharp tongued spitting, but is always laid-back, and has sounded fresh and unique since his beginnings in the late '80s. And, can you possibly name another emcee who teaches underprivileged kids to rhyme; who aligns himself with the controversial offshoot of Islam, the Five Percenters (Wu Tang, Rakim, and the rest of East Coast hiphop notwithstanding); and who raps about mysticism and Egypt and gods and tribes and the ancients-- while still kicking out a dope rhyme and a hot dub beat?

Basically, Labtekwon makes his own niche.

"The first tapes I made were in, like '87, with DJ Unique. He had an 8-track reel to reel and I would rhyme over his beats. We were the only people seriously doing it in our crew; I hung out with a lot of graffiti artists here in Baltimore, and basically, I was giving tapes away at that point--just feeling the culture, as it were," he explains. "I was always a couple steps off, and when I began, I didn't really look at Run DMC or L.L. in terms of success. I just wanted to rhyme as much as possible." At first, Lab wasn't really writing conscious lyrics, putting out social commentary and "booty shake" rhymes. But in 1990, Lab's older brother went to war in the Persian Gulf, and everything changed.

"My mom was stressed, so I was trying to console her and be a good son, and I would go to church with her. That actually shifted the paradigm for me tremendously, cause I started researching the Bible: who wrote it, when they wrote it, and why. I went on a mission to educate myself. It was a big turning point, 'cause as a lyricist, it gave me a chance to study more and get a better foundation in terms of substance. I developed a unique perspective."

His perspective, and desire to educate through his music, is amplified by the teachings of the Five Percent. (Which essentially says the black man is god, and that only five percent of the population knows and teaches the truth.) He uses the discipline to put history into context--speaking about slavery and reparations--and it reaches into his music. "I've tried to touch on things that affect me. My great-grandfather, the Reverend Walter William's, was lynched in the early 20th century for speaking out against Jim Crow in the South. He was lynched in Florida. And I have an obligation to not just act like everything never happened. Something did happen, but if we're gonna move past it, let's at least connect about it and then see how we can avoid making that same mistake again. Let's be the realest people we can be."

Despite the heavy nature of his lyrics, Lab asserts his desire to balance intelligent messages with entertainment in his music. He stresses, "Ultimately, I would love to be the Al Green or Marvin Gaye of hiphop. I'd like to get to a point where my audience is 75 percent women. Don't get me wrong--the bros are great, 'cause they're the main ones supporting it, but I want more of a party vibe... and nobody likes to go to a party with all dudes."

Labtekwon's party vibe can be heard on his 17-song retrospective, Songs of the Sovereign, released by Mush earlier this year. "It's a good example of my nice lyrics," Lab notes, "but at my roots, I'm a battle emcee, so I got a lot of perverted style out there. It's a paradox, I guess, or a dichotomy, whatever you wanna call it. Just different aspects of my personality... and I express them freely through my music."

- Portland Mercury

"B Sides"


Over the past decade-and-a-half, 30-year-old Baltimore MC/producer Labtekwon has seen countless artists come and go, among them DMX, actress Jada Pinkett (who he used to breakdance with in high school) and the late Tupac Shakur, who he says "went to a school in East Baltimore called Dunbar. It was a school for the arts. I went to Douglas, a ghetto, thug school."

It was during those high-school years that Labtekwon, then a recent transplant from Los Angeles, started to develop his skills as a writer and musician. "I was producing house before I was producing hip-hop," he says. "I learned how to play keys, do chord arrangements, compose melodies and make compositions to put over the beats. When I started doing hip-hop, I adjusted and adapted my technique."

In underground circles, he's known for the extensive discography of stark and subtly eccentric tracks he's been building since 1993. While the recent compilation 'Song of the Sovereign' (Mush) captures highlights from albums released through his own Ankh-Ba records, it doesn't include selections from his numerous side projects with local groups. (He collaborates with spoken-word outfit Live From Hell, the International Ambassadors of Funk and Jazz, his own CSD crew and Black Faction, a group of 25 Baltimore MCs.)

"The number-one reason I do it is to express and do the things I want to hear," says Labtekwon, who's working on a new album, 'The Hustler's Guide To The Universe'. For him, that includes incorporating far-reaching musical tastes and knowledge gleaned from his work in African studies at the studies at the University of Maryland into his music. "A lot of people coming up after me, blowing up in Baltimore's hip-hop culture, are confused and frustrated because they want to see something blow up (nationally)," the veteran notes. "I say, you need to make the kind of stuff that you like and then other people that feel the way you do will gravitate towards your music."

- URB Magazine

"Taking it back"

by Bret McCabe
Two weeks after an initial conversation, Labtekwon kept calling. The living connection to Baltimore’s 1980s hip-hop era wanted to add a few caveats to his initial responses. During that talk he was fired up. He had had enough. Enough of the surge and wane of yet another local MC becoming a pumped-up promise to put Baltimore on the hip-hop map. Enough of yet another plan to save Baltimore hip-hop. Enough of local mix-show DJs who decide who does and doesn’t make it onto local airwaves. Enough of radio station MC battles where listeners don’t know that the challenger is taped the day before. Enough of people equating local buzz with artistic success. And he let it all out.
And then, apparently, he wanted it all back. “I just thought about it, and as much as I feel some of these people are assholes that definitely hold back the overall movement, at the same time I don’t want to create tension that makes it seem like I’m frustrated with my career so I’m just mad at everybody,” Lab says over the phone from Washington, D.C., where he spends most of his week since the birth of his son last summer. “In a moment’s time, the emotions and the zeal of really conveying a lot of the ideas I wanted to convey, things got said. But on closer inspection I want to be sure that I’m not guilty of the problem of everyone else that I have claimed is guilty of.”
Lab isn’t just being contrite. The MC born Omar Akbar Young, the round-the-way kid who grew up in “Whitelock City” (the Whitelock Street and Madison Avenue intersection of Upton), isn’t just trying to spin his own interview. He’s enacting what separates him from the average musician and man. The best of Labtekwon is a combination of these two impulses, passion and reflection. Lab’s fevered talk about Baltimore hip-hop doesn’t just include his peers and friends over the years—Booman, Ogun, Steve the Colossal, One Speaker Supreme—but his elders, forgotten names and times such as WEBB (1360 AM) disc jockey Chuck Maxx, Z3 MC, We Rock Crew, Rock-Mel, and graffiti crews/artists Zek, Chaz, and the Phun House Crew. He’s not trying to carve out his piece of the pie. What’s at stake in Lab’s vision and critique of Baltimore hip-hop is not his place in it but its very essence.
Besides, branding Lab a frustrated artist is a hard sell. A frustrated artist doesn’t have a 19-deep discography that reaches back over a decade. A frustrated artist doesn’t get a self-produced music video on BET on his own, as Lab has currently with his “Uhnnn Huhnnn,” in rotation on Uncut. A frustrated artist doesn’t release four albums in one year, as Lab has planned for 2005: The first, The Ghetto Dai Lai Llama: African Rhythm American Blues, came out in February on his own Ankh Ba Records. A frustrated artist doesn’t do anything but complain.
Lab is just interested in seeing Baltimore hip-hop survive—not that it needs saving. “I stick to the context that quality is really what’s most important,” Lab says. “And a lot of local stuff is good, but I don’t want to say something to give people the false impression that I approve of everything that goes on locally in Baltimore hip-hop.”
He most certainly doesn’t leave that impression at that first meeting. Lab arranges to meet in the library lobby of his alma mater, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. With his intern in tow, Lab rolls in, talking on his cell phone. He hangs up, introduces himself with a firm handshake, and keeps right on walking into the library. He cuts a path through computer rows, past a few reference stacks, to a set of elevators. He pushes the floor button and says something about how he hasn’t been back here since he graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies. He marches to a table in the back where nobody’s around. He pulls a chair out, plops himself into it, and puts his ringing phone away. He establishes eye contact and says, “Before we start, I’ve got to get something out of the way.” And for the next 100 minutes he does exactly that.
“There’s not going to be no savior for hip-hop in Baltimore,” Lab says. The 33-year-old comports himself with a rigid grace, as if he’s aware of the tension in his compact frame and the fluid movements of body are the result of a deliberate will. He speaks with a stolid voice worthy of a lecture hall, and would need no amplification to reach the slackers in the back. “You can’t save something that isn’t lost. It’s here. It isn’t gone. There’s graf, there’s DJs, there’s MCs, there’s B-boys. It’s all here. It’s underground, for real."
“These local guys on the radio, it’s not hip-hop,” he continues. “They’re opportunists who grew up with hip-hop. They just want to get paid. And I can’t be mad at that, but I can be mad at that. My human side, I hope you can survive, I hope you can eat, I hope your family eats. My hip-hop side, man, you’re like a thief in the temple. You’re desecrating sacred standards that don’t need to be defiled by greed and lust. And that’s what it is right now. And that’s why they’re mediocre.”
Before you start thinking Lab is just miffed that he’s not in current local radio rotation, take note that he has never really enjoyed local radio airplay. He’s toured across the country and Canada. He’s released an album on internationally renowned underground rap label Mush. And he’s developed a body of work that’s as formidable as a 1960s jazz musician: intellectual, idiosyncratic, and undeniably of a singular, evolving vision. You just can’t hear it spinning on the local dial.
That’s OK by him. “I’ve resigned myself of the need for validation through my peers, because I know they’re whack,” Lab says. “What I’m worried about is the quality of the art on a bigger, broader scale. We have moved away from what shaped Baltimore hip-hop. Now we got a few DJs pushing their boys, and that’s what people and young MCs think Baltimore hip-hop is all about.”
What irks Lab especially is the never-ceasing search for what could be branded a “Baltimore sound,” some marketing term like “Dirty South,” “West Coast,” etc., that really only means something to suburban white consumers. Every new local MC gets a shot at defining that sound, but one hit single does not a career make. What shapes a city’s sound is the interaction of hip-hoppers working in collaborative competition.
“If you can have the opportunity to compete with me, win or lose, you’re going to get better,” Lab says. “If you’re that good, I’m going to get better, because I’m going to have to adjust and adapt to you, which means that we’re going to have a circle where we can all elevate. And that is where you get the true essence of a regional sound and a style, where people be like, ‘Yo, those Baltimore cats aren’t playing.’ People will say, ‘They got something over there.’
“Right now, we don’t got our own thing,” he continues. “We have a dream to be rich. We’re a blue-collar town, there’s a lot of poor folks. A lot of people want to escape. Hip-hop is seemingly the ticket out of the ’hood, and even some cats don’t even live in the ’hood. Some people just wanna be wealthy so they can have stuff. But, sad to say, you’re not first to think of the plan to get rich off of hip-hop. So you’re competing with about a million other people who are doing the same damn thing. What makes you any different?”
Lab believes the only thing that’s going to make people pay attention is the originality of the lyrics, music, beats, and ideas produced by Baltimore hip-hop—not the ability of the city to sell out a run of locally produced CDs. Recognition doesn’t follow the money.
“Cats need to go down to the harbor in the summer, take your rhymes down there,” Lab says. “If you’re good, the audience from all over the world walks by. And if you’re whack, you’re gonna get laughed at and teased, and you’ll know that you cannot convince the world that you’re dope because your boys say you’re dope—even if your boys DJ on 92Q.”
“Ultimately, my thing is always going to give back to your community,” Lab says by way of explaining his B’more hip-hop public-service announcement. This is the place that produced him. “I got caught for doing dumb shit as a kid. I got arrested and people mentored me and I was able to take steps toward elevation. I went to Douglass [High School]. I rode the subway with Murphy Homes and Lexington Terrace kids every day. I’m from around the way. I got a GED and eventually graduated from college. A lot of people don’t believe it can be done. It can, but Baltimore is also unique. You’re gonna find a dude like me riding a skateboard. That’s Baltimore. That’s part of the equation.”
It’s an equation that yields more variables than solutions in Labtekwon. Pouring through one of his albums—much less his discography—is a journey through a swath of stylistic shifts and experiments. Lab delves into a stripped-down beat chemistry for his street-eye view of the world with The Ghetto Dai Lai Llama. Gunfire and a woman’s scream fade into an obtuse string instrument sketching an odd meter in the background of “In Due Time,” an internal monologue in which Lab thinks “about how niggas talk with Glocks/ snap crackle pop,” wonders “where your heart at when the shootout starts?” before concluding in the defiant, “I don’t feel the need to scream or cry ’cause false bling and false rhyme is all in the mind.”
Wobbly keyboard lines reverberate like a hangover under a bravura Lab freestyle that he runs through at a near sprint. “Uhnnn Huhnnn,” the song whose video is on BET’s Uncut, sounds like screwed and chopped bootybass beneath Lab’s version of crunk: Big-ego braggadocio (“I’m not like the rest y’all,” Lab announces, before showing what he means with, “My ambiance, a certain nonchalance/ the black man’s god, I don’t care who floss”), intercut with big-dick wordplay (“I train broads to strain their jaws”) that wiggles itself into the hilarious refrain, “just because a nigga got dreads and a conscience don’t mean he won’t pop that nine.”
The key to appreciating the wide berth of ideas percolating through Lab’s music and mind is to understand how he puts himself into the local music spectrum. Lab doesn’t just feel indebted to the 1980s hip-hop and Baltimore hip-hop that shaped him as a teen. It’s a connection he believes stretches back decades. His father, Harry Young, is better known by people who frequented Pennsylvania Avenue’s clubs in the 1960s as vocalist Doc Soul Stirrer, “Doc Soul” for short. Lab’s trepidation about the state of local hip-hop stems from his belief that he’s connected to the greater fabric that is local black music history. And he feels he owes that legacy something.
“I’ve been doing music for love that goes beyond just my individual drive for success,” he says. “I don’t make music for everybody in the world. I make music for people who can relate to what I feel. And that, in itself, will eliminate the real effect of trying to be a superstar. . . . I’m trying to come off as thoughtful, not resentful. I just feel bad. I go to other cities and I see how it is. When I went to L.A., that hurt my feelings.”
In 1999, Lab traveled to Los Angeles to perform at Leimert Park on the invitation of Project Blowed, the hip-hop seminar founded by Aceyalone and Abstract Rude. When Lab arrived he found 50 MCs hanging out, rhyming in ciphers, just living and breathing the art. “It was a beehive of hip-hop,” Lab says. “And when it was time for the performance, some of them stood there and analyzed. You could tell they were scoping you out. And some cats were just feeling it. And people started break dancing in the audience. They heard the beats and they heard the words.
“Baltimore has lost that,” he laments. “You don’t get that anymore. Now you get guys doing ‘appearances.’ Yeah, come to the club, we’ll play my CD. This is my hot single. Man, come on.”
And like a true believer, in the battle pitting commerce against art, Lab will always side with art, even though he knows that the market and time often winnows wheat from chaff on its own.
“Business-wise, anyone can be successful,” Lab says. “Artistically, that requires a lot more commitment and discipline. I know everybody, nowadays, they’re just like, ‘Save all that art stuff. It’s all about getting paid.’ I just want to emphasize that the world is watching you every time you create something. That’s a reflection of who you are. You have a greater responsibility—regardless of whether you want to be the next Usher or 50 Cent—there still needs to be a substance to it, because life has a way of bringing things back to earth even for the hottest, most popular artist. There’s still a reality we’re all bound to.” - Baltimore City Paper

"Song of the Sovereign"

Baltimore underground MC Labtekwon projects a multi-sided persona on his career retrospective Song of the Sovereign. Collecting tracks from 8 albums that he released on Anh Ba Records, the Mush Records-released CD displays a hip-hop artist with verve, talent and sensitivity. Labtekwon wants to show off his skills and make you think -- he does both throughout this strong collection.
If the fact that these songs were recorded anywhere from 1993 to 2000 gives the album an uneven, at times nearly out-of-date sound, Labtekwon's skills and personal style makes up for it. He comes off not like a wanna-be star, but like somebody you know who happens to be a skillful musician. While he doesn't spare the chance to show off his way with words, he also seems more interested in getting his thoughts and feelings out there than in seeming rugged or tough.
Labtek's style is low-key in a way -- both gruff and smooth but never flashy -- but his rhymes are written tightly enough to get your attention. He combines melodious hooks and word-packed verses over beats that are simple, with jazz inflections here and there, but have enough energy to keep his flow alive. He also seamlessly integrates a variety of styles into his, chopping words up quickly or rapping in a slow, meditative way depending on the subject matter of the song.
While here and there he raps about sex ("Perversion") or hanging out with his friends ("My Crew"), and always seems ready to battle any MCs that question his abilities (see tracks like "King of Kings" and "Big Kid"), on the whole his brain is in a serious place, as evidenced by the heartfelt song descriptions in the liner notes (example: "This song is my history of being committed to this artform. Every word is from my heart and soul."). He gives his music a spiritual side, continually conjuring up ancestors and starting off songs by giving "thanks and praises to the most high," while thoughtfully considering the complexities of human relationships and societal troubles.
A thoughtful MC isn't as rare as MTV might have you believe, yet what's refreshing about Labtekwon is the way that he rhymes like a madman while making you think. They aren't two sides of his personality that he splits off from each other, but omnipresent parts of his musical personality. "MC is a title I don't take lightly," he says during "The Art of Love", a poetic call for personal and social elevation. Labtekwon looks at the creation of hip-hop music as a calling, a privilege and a spiritual act which places him within the deep flow of history. - Pop Matters

"Golden age hip hop for the new millenium"

Labtekwon might have best described his work as "the opposite of Tupac." Lab does it old school, equally likely to name-check Marcus Garvey, reference ancient Kemetic literature, allude to Christian faith, or call attention to his burgeoning skills. Knowledge reigns supreme. And it all starts in Baltimore.
"This place has a little bit of everything," says Labtekwon. "Baltimore has a rich history for the art and entertainment. [It's] the northernmost city of the South and the southernmost city of the North. Historically, Baltimore was the first city on the Chitlin Circuit. The Chitlin Circuit was the only option for touring for Black entertainers when Jim Crow and segregation still ruled in America, so Baltimore has always been considered somewhat of a Mecca for music and the arts. Its was said that if you could make it in Baltimore as a musician, you can make it anywhere. I love it here, and sometimes I can't stand it, but it's my home."
Born in Los Angeles, Labtekwon has spent time in Atlanta, but his eight solo releases since 1993 have all been for B-More's eclectic soul label Ankh Ba Records. The new release Song of the Sovereign collects the best cuts from those LPs for National distribution on rising underground label Mush Records. Instantly memorable, the anthology mixes the raw energy of free styling and refined grace of writing. Producer Professor Mineblo's dubbed-out, jazz-sourced tracks evoke Mos Def. Tribe Called Quest, and Gang Starr.
On disc, the emcee emerges as introspective and articulate. And if those qualities aren't the most marketable traits in today's hip-hop, Lab still has what it takes. On stage, he transforms into something closer to a proforma phenom.
"If you listen to the album you can really get the lyrics, because you can rewind it," he says. "On stage you can see how really sexy I am. On stage, I can interact with the audience -- and that is true hip-hop culture."
- Music Monthly


Labteknology (Labtekwon Anthology)
Volume 0- Balti- Moorish Science- 1997

Volume 1- The Futures Now... Whatz Next?- 1994

Volume 2- Ladies Night- 1999

Volume 3- Proverbs of Passion- 2000

Volume 4- Nile Child- 1998

Volume 5 -Da Dawn- 1995

Volume 7 -Da Helpless Won- 1996

Volume 8 -Justus on Da Horizon- 1997 to 2006

Volume 9 - The Art of Love- 2000

(other releases)
The Ghetto Gospel EP- 1993

321 Connected- 1998

Song of the Sovereign- Mush Records- 2002

The Hustlaz Guide to the Universe- Ankh Ba- 2003

Murdaland Classic Jack Moves- Ankh Ba- 2004

Avant God- Ankh Ba- 2005

The Ghetto Dai Lai Lama v.777- Ankh Ba- 2006

Video Singles:

Uhnnn Huhnnn- 2005- BET Uncut
King Very Vicious- 2005- BET Uncut

coming soon:
"Killa Kamillionz"- Fall 2006
"Black Eniggma- The Omar Akbar Album"- Fall 2006
"Dinau Ko Degg"- 2007
"The Labtekwon Experience 1987 to 2007"- 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


In the Mid Atlantic Region an entity of omniversal proportion has arisen: Labtekwon.

Labtekwon is a phoenix rising in the underground Hip Hop scene, already having shared the stage with A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, KRS-One, and Digital Underground. He has left his mark on a huge number of releases including over a dozen full-lengths on his own Ankh Ba Records. Noting Labtek's varied discography Urb Magazine called him "the most eclectic MF to ever emerge from Baltimore since John Waters." Labtek has put a brand on the underground scene for posterity and die hard collectors alike.

In 1996 he was crowned Zulu Nation freestyle champion in Atlanta, Georgia; participated in New York's legendary Lyricists Lounge in 1997 and 1998; and has been named Baltimore's best Hip Hop emcee six years running.

Labtekwon is alternatively wise, gritty, humorous, spiritual, vicious and vile. A true emcee with freestyle improvisations perhaps only rivalved by Supernatural and a flair for written composition that effectively makes Labtekwon a sage and visionary of the Hip Hop generation.

Labtekwon is a somewhat of an enigmatic and ecclectic Emcee, wielding seemingly endless rhyme schemes - from rapid-fire, polyrhythmic blasts of celestial knowledge, to inspired Jive talk in the tradition of Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. Labtekwon themes ranging from the ancient wisdom of his ancestors, the endless possibilities of the future and faraway galaxies, to songs about friends, life and love, as well as some of the most sincere social and political commentary in Hip Hop culture.

When he's not creating art, Lab helps run Baltimore's Ghetto Griot Program, a cooperative learning venue for urban youth that combines literacy, music and black history curriculums. The program also includes tutoring and mentoring components, partnering college students with at risk youth from primary, secondary and high schools. In 2001, the program was used as an educational model at Ronald E. McNair Research Institute. Labtekwon also serves as a guest lecturer at various Mid Atlantic universities and has a BA in African American studies from the University of Maryland.

His 1998 full-length Nile Child is widely held as an underground classic and has landed him a seed in the 1999 Urb "Next 100." Some artists change the form from deep down and never see the light of day, but Labtek has made it to the surface and only applause will follow.

"stop praying for a miracle; I am Here"