MIKE-E and AfroFlow
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MIKE-E and AfroFlow

Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop World


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"AfroFlow Releases Second CD in Spring 2010, Music Review"

Mike-E on the Mic, Paying Homage from Africa to Detroit
A mix of soul, funk, spoken word, hip-hop, singing and instrumentals traveling from Africa to Detroit to your hometown, AfroFlow is back on tour for 2010 and released their second CD, "AfroFlow II."

Pros: I'm bored with hip-hop right now outside of a couple artists. What AfroFlow does for the music industry is what I remember loving hip-hop for in my younger years. Contrary to popular belief (and record execs and misguided rappers), it is quite possible to give a relevant message, thought-provoking lyrics and danceable beats all at the same time without being nasty, disrespectful or vulgar to get your point across. AfroFlow does all three with the vocals, rhyming, spoken word and African beats to seal it together. My favorite song is "My Element" not just because I dig the lyrics and can't sit down when the harmony comes in at 1:41 but because this entire CD was in Shamontiel's element.

Cons: In a DuSable Museum 2009 concert, Mike-E asked the crowd to repeat the words he was saying in another language but didn't tell us what we were saying. I'm 100 percent sure what he was saying was positive, but I didn't repeat it since I didn't know what was being said. Same thing with the opening on the first track "Revive." It was interesting to listen to, but I wish there was a translation in the CD cover so I could understand what they were chanting on this song and a couple others. Also, on tracks like "Divine Grind," he gives names that listeners, including me, don't know and would like to. That would've been a perfect opportunity for a little booklet inside the CD case acknowledging these folks so we can learn who they are or at least how to spell the names.

This CD is 5 stars regardless of these suggestions for the CD flap material. If you've never seen AfroFlow live, you're missing out. Those who have seen their energetic performance know (as the CD flap states), the jump on the cover is real. But their whole performance is this animated. Lucky for Chicagoans, they'll be here on Thurs., May 6, in addition to other locations nationwide courtesy of Pelle Pelle clothing line and The American Cancer Society. - Associated Content by Yahoo

"Hip-hop Crew Sheds Light on Dangers of Smoking"

From Ethiopia to Albuquerque, Mike Ellison is educating college kids about the harmful effects of smoking, and he has gotten lots of support from other artists and fans, he said.

Ellison, aka Mike-E, has teamed up with the American Cancer Society and UNM’s chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity to continue the AfroFlow tour at 6 p.m. today in the SUB Ballroom.

Ellison said his musical experience coming from Ethiopia has shaped his ideologies and that he has applied them to his musical career.

“I was born in Ethiopia, and then a lot of my family is from New York, so I was exposed to hip-hop at a young age, and I was like a lot of country kids trying to do something but not very authentically,” Ellison said. “Then I got involved as far
back as I can remember in poetry and spoken word and public speaking.”

Ellison graduated from the University of Virginia and pursued a few jobs in public relations and marketing.

“I always had this creative itch that I never scratched, so I kind of just delved back into it,” Ellison said. “What really helped me in Detroit was spoken word, and there was a very well-known spot called Captain Mahogany. And that was when I kind of started waking up out of my creative coma.”

Ellison teamed up with the American Cancer Society two years ago and has expanded the tour each year. “The first year, we did it for only five weeks, and it was primarily schools that were historically black colleges and universities,” Ellison said. “So we all felt that is should be much more broad and inclusive. And so then the next year we hit up a few more colleges, and we did a Relay for Life event, some club dates, and we played some churches.”

Ellison said the American Cancer Society offers a 24-hour hotline at 800-227-2345.
“This is a tremendous resource - 24 hours a day you can call and get counseling whether it be medical-based, or emotional,”

Ellison said. “It is (in) several languages, and literally you can call any time of day, even three in the morning.”

Ellison said AfroFlow is more of an ideology than a band and a tour. “AfroFlow is a way for us to create a whole different platform,” Ellison said. “If anything, AfroFlow should open more audiences up and make people want to flow with us because it is very interactive.”

Ellison said hip-hop is an ever-changing movement and that the AfroFlow tour is just one extension. “Who am I to tell you which song gets you through your day?” Ellison said. “We’re not cultural snobs in thinking what we do is some personal highbrow. It’s just what we do. There are certain things I’m not going to do and certain things I’m not going to say, and that’s just the way it is.”

The AfroFlow tour also features Kenny Watson, DJ Invisible and percussionist Sowande Keita. Ellison said having multiple talents on the tour helps diversify the music and entertain the crowd.

“Because I don’t formally play a musical instrument, I have always had a profound respect for musicians,” Ellison said. “I want to be surrounding myself with musicians and exposing people to that and bring a mix of stuff that I have been exposed to on the stage with hip-hop, spoken word and some of the culture from Ethiopia and West Africa to the African percussion you see with Sowande Keita.” - New Mexico Daily Lobo, Albuquerque, NM

"AfroFlow's MIKE-E Fights Tobacco Industry Through Music"

Hip hop poet Michael “Mike-E” Ellison said he wasn’t interested in a nine-to-five job, and from the way he marched from his tour bus to the DuSable Museum to convince a security guard to put her cigarette out, fans of AfroFlow know why. While there are artists who put their face on a cause long enough to get a paycheck, Mike-E fights against tobacco companies and smoking twenty-four seven.

And on May 16, Mike-E’s group, AfroFlow, with vocalist Kenny Watson, DJ Invisible and percussionist Sowande Keita, visited the DuSable Museum to perform their self-entitled CD, "AfroFlow." AfroFlow consists of a signature style heavily influenced by African beats through drums, spoken word, and call and response. The tour is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Pelle Pelle, Fuze and the Cancer Action Network.

Before the live performance started with a packed house of teenagers, college students and adults, Mike-E (spoken word artist, youth educator, and voiceover artist for organizations like Pelle Pelle; the American Cancer Society and the NFL) spoke with the Defender.

Defender: You live in Detroit now, but where are you from?
Mike-E: I was born in Ethiopia, and my family lived in Adisabab, and we left Ethopia when I was about three years old to Virginia….I went to the University of Virginia, and from there, I moved to New York.

D: Are you more interested in the hip hop side or the poetry side, or do they coincide together?
M: They coincide. Part of the reason we call it AfroFlow is…it’s not even a style of music. It’s an acknowledgment of where all this music comes from. It was also out of respect for the late great Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who created (a style of music called) afrobeat.

D: How did you end up with AfroFlow?
M: The name came first, and when (AfroFlow) became a tour, I recruited different artists. It evolved in the members you see now. They’re all friends we’ve known for years. The primary members are DJ Invisible; Kenny Watson, who needs and deserves his own platform as an artist; and Sowande Keita is our African percussionist. On the tour, we supplemented that with Nick Miller and DQ Sanders, and (Miller and Sanders) have been with us for two years.

D: How long has AfroFlow been a group?
M: We’ve been doing this tour for three years. The concept of AfroFlow is probably five years in the making though.

D: Do you remember the day that you decided that you were done with professional jobs?
M: Yeah, the day they told me to leave. (laughing) I had never been on a vacation, and a good friend and I saved up and went to Cancun for a week in my twenties. Being on my own time made me say, “I can never go back to a nine to five." I lasted another year and a half, but I told my boss this isn’t what I want to do. They tried to convince me to stick around, and I stuck around too long. Then it was mutual. When I left a structured job, I did independent consulting, legal hustling to help pay for the art. It was poetry. It was spoken word venues and the Detroit Repertory Theater that helped me reclaim my artistry.

D: What was your most notable acting gig?
M: Most recently I was in “The Butterfly Effect 3” and a small part in “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.”

D: You were also on HBO’s “Def Poetry.”
M: Initially they were supposed to get people on the show based on a competition format, and I slammed in Detroit and came in second in the competition. It wasn’t until three seasons later that I got on, and that was from a bunch of gigs I did in New York. Feliz Bell and another poet named Tauntra booked me on a bunch of gigs, and that led me to “Def Poetry.” I did this one called “Light Skin Did,” and it gives props to all the so-called dark-skinned pioneers in entertainment and other fields. It’s more of a tribute. People would send me blogs where I’m being criticized. They misinterpret the poem, and think I’m furthering the debate when in actuality I’m pointing out the ridiculous undertones and highlighting the pioneers who broke those barriers.

D: What was the other poem?
M: “Mezeker Means to Remember.” What’s interesting is when you do “Def Poetry,” they have you do two poems. The second time I was on, they wanted me to do a poem called “The Roots of Tobacco,” and I did that poem and “Mezeker Means to Remember.” “The Roots of Tobacco” never made it. It was talking about the slave labor ties to the tobacco industry, the disproportionate marketing to African-Americans and the way that they use hip hop to do it. I think a lot of hip hop artists, so-called conscious rappers, get paid directly from cigarettes, and a lot of tours are funded from tobacco money.

Related Content:
Zimbabwean girls seek opportunity in South AfricaUganda investigates HIV patients' deathsSomali fighters attack peacekeeping base; 18 deadEthiopia confirms its first cases of swine fluAfghan body throws out ballots from 83 vote sitesRelated to:
AfroflowMike-EMichael EllisonAfroflow TourKenny WatsonDJ InvisibleSowande KeitaGhanaian starswastikaHindu good luck symbolWheel of SriAfricatobacco industryantismoking
D: How has AfroFlow been tied to the American Cancer Society as sponsors?
M: It started with a conference (with) a former ACS employee named Tatia Ash and Rita Miller. Tatia invited me to perform at a conference, and I did a combination of hip hop and spoken word. I kinda pitched them the whole concept of using music to entertain and educate and to create awareness to bridge community relationships that would have tangible results. Working with Rita Miller and Patricia Hoge, who is the Chief Mission Officer for the South-Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society, helped push this initiative through. At first, it was five weeks at HBCUs, and the next year it was three months and it was a combination of HBCUS; non-HBCUs; hospitals; middle schools; clubs, cafes, you name it. This year was the first year we took it national.

D: Where did the interest in nonsmoking come from?
M: As an artist, I had been writing poems about the tobacco industry long before ACS contacted me (for the AfroFlow tour).

D: What can an audience expect to get from an AfroFlow concert?
M: When we perform, it’s a combination of songs from the AfroFlow CD, and then live spoken word that isn’t on the CD, and then songs like “Murderer” where we just freestyle and do songs specifically for this tour. We wrap the message in the middle. We give you music entertainment, African percussion, hip hop, spoken word, Kenny Watson on the vocals and give people opportunities to take better care of themselves regarding cancer. We actually have almost like an alter-call where I would say 80 percent of the shows, we get at least one person to come up onstage and stop smoking right there on the spot.

D: Do they really quit or do they just say it? Do you keep in contact to make sure?
M: Some of them stay in contact and stay with it. Some of them, like everybody else, struggle. But it takes a lot of confidence and perseverance to stand in front of everybody and say “I’m a smoker” after we just spent ten, fifteen minutes tearing the habit down. It’s symbolic and encourages other people to stop.

D: Did you ever smoke? And by smoke, I mean anything.
M: (laughing) Never. You ain’t right. I’m not a weed smoker either. It’s hard to do music and be in college and not be around it. I’ve never been a habitual user of any substance, but cigarettes absolutely positively never. I’m not an advocate of marijuana, but I’m talking about the substance itself versus the cigarette. One is far more deadly. (Cigarette smoke) is tied to erectile dysfunction. A lot of brothas smoke weed and they wrap it in blunts, and the blunts have the same harmful chemicals in the paper. They have this argument that smoking weed is more healthy than cigarettes, but essentially they’re smoking weed in cigarette paper, which is where a good majority of the chemicals are.

(Editor’s note: The fibers in cigarette paper include non-degradable, toxin coated cellulose acetate fragments and carbon microparticles, also used in photographic film and defective cigarettes have coal products in them, according to TobaccoControl.bmj.com. Cigarettes-below-cost.com states that the paper includes titanium oxide and charcoal filters don’t make cigarette paper less dangerous.)

M (continues): Linda Blount, the VP of Health Disparities for the American Cancer Society, indicated that, “The cigarette is the only retail product that can kill you if used as directed.” If I eat something that’s unhealthy in the privacy of my own home or out in public, the residue isn’t going around to everybody. But when you smoke, the whole room is affected. And now they’re even finding that there’s harm in third-hand smoke. Even that can affect children and those around you.

(Editor’s Note: ScientificAmerican magazine states that there is arsenic, used to kill rats, in cigarette smoke and there is no risk-free exposure to tobacco exposure, including third-hand smoking, because of the 250 poisonous toxins in cigarette smoke.)

M (continues): Children in economically oppressed communities who can’t get vegetables can get cigars and cigarettes at the corner store. (Cigarette companies) call them “replacement smokers.” They know that it kills people, so they need replacements.

Cancer Action Network, Pelle Pelle and Cancer Action Network are also sponsors of the AfroFlow tour. For more information, visit www.AfroFlow.com. - Chicago Defender, Chicago, IL

"AfroFlow Attempts to Snuff Out Tobacco"

The 2009 AfroFlow tour has partnered with the American Cancer Society and will be coming to MTSU next Tuesday, April 14 on the Honors College Lawn to present a unique cultural experience for students.

AfroFlow partnered with the American Cancer Society to present a central message that speaks out against tobacco advertising aimed at the youth population.

“I believe that tobacco companies are knowingly engaging in legalized genocide,” Mike-E said. “It’s an advertised product that can kill you if used as directed.”

Mike-E said they are also working with reputable sponsors like Pelle Pelle clothing company and Fuze beverages to get their message across.

The show will feature hip-hop, spoken word, free style, soul music, African drumming and interactive dancing. Performing artists include Mike-E, Kenny Watson, DJ Invisible and Sowand_ Keita.

“The whole concept of AfroFlow is that helps me connect with my roots in Africa,” Mike-E said. “It’s the root of hip-hop, R&B, soul and gospel music, so we embrace everything in the show.”

Recording industry professor, Ramona DeSalvo, said this is the second year AfroFlow has performed at MTSU.

“They came here last march and we did a show on short notice,” DeSalvo said. “It got an amazing response from students, so that’s why we brought them back to do a bigger show this year.”

DeSalvo said Mike-E works spontaneously with the crowd and even pulls people on stage to perform with him. She said anyone who wants to participate can join in with free-style rap or poetry.

“I hope by being there, we inspire other students and artists,” Mike-E said. “Hopefully we can be a good example for them and teach them how to combine their academic knowledge with their artistic talent.”

DeSalvo said unlike a lot of hip-hop and rap artists seen in the media, Afroflow delivers positive messages.

“We have done our show in Miami night clubs, and we’ve performed in churches,” Mike-E said. “Obviously we adapt our shows, but nothing that we do is violent or profane.”

The show will also feature an Ethiopian dance group from Nashville who will perform on stage with some of the featured artists.

DeSalvo said there will also be cultural displays before the show featuring an African art display with museum quality pieces.

A parade of flags will start at the Todd Hall art building and continue towards the stage in front of the Honors Building before the show starts.

“Students can learn so much from this show because it’s such a rich cultural experience,” DeSalvo said. “I learned a lot from it last year, and I want students to learn from it too.” - Sidelines, Murfreesboro, TN

"Music to Celebrate UW-Madison Spoken Word Program Fuses Rhythms, Positive Hip Hop Message"

MADISON - The arrival of the fourth cohort of First Wave, the University of Wisconsin's cutting edge Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble, will be celebrated by the majestic sound of the African Motherland blended with positive rap lyrics from artists Mike-E and Afro Flow.

The concert is planned for Friday, June 18 at 9 p.m. on the Memorial Union Terrace's lakefront stage, at 800 Langdon St.

In June 2007, UW-Madison welcomed the first contingent of the First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop Arts Learning Community to Madison. Now welcoming its fourth class of freshman talent from across the country, First Wave will be joined by one of the most electrifying musical ensembles currently touring the United States, Mike-E and Afro Flow (www.afroflow.com), historic figures in hip-hop and the best in national talent from our own back yard.

Mike-E, an Ethiopian-born American rapper and Detroit-based MC and spoken word artist, brings a powerfully insightful cultural twist to hip-hop rhythms and lyrics by taking it home - all the way to the land of his birth. Many of Mike-E's lyrics drive both rhythmic motion and sociological/political insight into African and American societies and the social juxtaposition of what it means to be African American, as well as paying homage to hip-hop's indigenous cultural roots and inspirational message.

Afro Flow is a grassroots musical group that takes hip-hop back to its social commentary roots while laying down a sound that requires listener movement ranging from toe-tapping to outright dancing.

"I can't think of a better example than Mike-E and Afro Flow of why hip-hop is an evolving academic and performance discipline," says Willie Ney, executive director of UW-Madison's Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives, which oversees First Wave. "This group is a prime example of linguistic and musical artistry, cultural fusion and storytelling through hip-hop. Their message is honest yet positive, and an excellent way to welcome our First Wave freshmen to the university and in-depth study of hip-hop as an art form."

Also taking the stage that night will be the founding pioneer of hip-hop, DJ Kool Herc. Considered a luminary of black music history, Herc is the very definition of old school hip-hop. This Jamaican-born and Bronx-raised DJ rocked neighborhood parties back when looping required two turntables and two copies of records with a break beat. Now, this legend of hip-hop only spins where and when he feels like it, making the concert at the Memorial Union a special event.

The evening will end with a performance by James Brown's Funky Drummer Clyde Stubblefield. Now a Madison resident, Stubblefield is perhaps the most sampled drummer in American music history and considered the standard bearer for percussion funk, laying down the beats with Bootsy Collins, Otis Redding, Ben Sidran, John Scofield and countless other funk masters and musicians.

The Office of Multicultural Initiatives hosts the First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community, a cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming UW-Madison students. The First Wave Learning Community is the first university program in the country centered on spoken word and hip-hop culture. There are now 60 students in this close-knit, dynamic campus learning community. Visit http://www.omai.wisc.edu/ to learn more.
- Isthmus - The Daily Page, Madison, WI


"AfroFlow" by MIKE-E and AfroFlow, released in 2007 by Wendemé Creative.
"AfroFlow II" by MIKE-E and AfroFlow, to be released in 2010 by Wendemé Creative.



MIKE-E is a Hip-hop and Spoken Word recording artist, songwriter, producer and actor. MIKE-E was born in Ethiopia, where he supports orphan outreach and healthcare programs, while maintaining nationwide recognition with one of that country's most popular hits, "Ethiopia (Everything Will Be Alright)." The song gained popularity in the United States when it was remixed and used in President Barack Obama’s campaign for the White House. The Detroit-based lyricist is recognized for repeat performances on HBO's Def Poetry Jam and for teaming with the American Cancer Society to orchestrate and headline the nationwide AfroFlow Tour — a live music concert and groundbreaking cancer awareness initiative.

Acknowledging Hip-hop’s indigenous roots and an array of world music, MIKE-E’s innovative style, AfroFlow, is simply an approach to making music, which recognizes Africa as the earthly birthplace of humankind and artistic articulation. MIKE-E’s first album entitled "AfroFlow" is characterized by mesmerizing intercultural performances - from the trance-inducing beats of "Warrior’s Rhythm," "Ethiopia (Everything Will Be Alright)" and "Aleho (U Lovin’ Me)" to the soulful expression of encouragement for young people in "Eye See U." Following the 2007 release of this album, MIKE-E launched the AfroFlow Tour with a group of talented musicians and performers, reaching wildly diverse audiences across the country.

MIKE-E performs his energetic hip-hop/world music for crowds of all ages and ethnicities, often involving audience members as part of the show. Unless physically unable, no one remains seated at a MIKE-E concert. His delivery is sufficiently edgy to reach young people while at the same time being family friendly. Unmistakably unique, AfroFlow is devoid of the violence and language often associated with much of today’s popular music. In addition to the broad-based audiences he reaches through the AfroFlow Tour, MIKE-E plays concert dates at culturally diverse venues and events around the world, including among others, the Festival of Pan African Dance/FESPAD (Kigali, Rwanda), Chicago African World Festival, Ethiopian Sports and Cultural Festival (RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C. / Spartan Stadium - San Jose, California), the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor Awards (The Waldorf Astoria – New York, NY), Detroit African World Festival, and Club CalNeva’s La Tomatina en Reno (Reno, Nevada). With acting credits that span film, theater and television, MIKE-E also works alongside the NBA and the New York Knicks to host the annual NY Knicks Poetry Slam. Held at the New Amsterdam Broadway Theater in 2010, the citywide poetry competition rewards winners with college scholarships, prize money, computers and additional educational accessories.

In Fall 2010, MIKE-E released his sophomore album, “AfroFlow II.” Like the first AfroFlow episode, the powerful 13-track CD provokes thought, invokes passion and generates excitement from start to finish. The first single and video, "Stamina," firmly sets the tone for the intensity of the project. The song is an energetic hard-hitter that challenges the modern material driven “thug life” to which some impressionable people misguidedly aspire. MIKE-E forcefully maintains that stamina supersedes all swagger. A hybrid of 70s soul and pulsating drums, "Let Me Fly" is as uniquely catchy as they come, with the lyrical content to match its infectious horns and heavy bass lines. "Hard Enuff 2 Smile" is yet another compelling track with a hypnotic beat and impassioned lyrics, illustrating that a worthy life is one in which a person is willing to die for his or her beliefs. Without question, “AfroFlow II” is aesthetically appealing, musically compelling, and poetically captivating … much like MIKE-E himself.