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Winston-Salem, NC | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Winston-Salem, NC | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Hip Hop R&B




"Student Spotlight: Devin Singleton"

Meet Devin Singleton, a sophomore Communication Studies Major here at UNCG. Singleton, who goes by the stage name “Devy.Quills” is an ambitious spoken-word artist turned rapper, describing himself as a “dude from Winston-Salem who claims that he ultimately wants to help out through whatever creative avenues I can utilize to make positive change and positive efforts to improve the state of my community.”

At first glance, Singleton may appear indifferent, due to his calm and quiet demeanor. However, this initial assessment could not be more untrue. Singleton is contemplative, thoughtful and highly selective with his words. For an individual who prides himself on his lyrical dexterity, his passion for the power of words is blatantly apparent in how he speaks and carries himself.

Singleton is not your typical rapper, especially in an era where rap music has snuck its way into the mainstream. Since the tender age of 13, Singleton has been crafting pieces with his inherent ability for storytelling via spoken word. It was only until very recently that the allure of rap and Hip-Hop caught his ear, and ultimately, his tongue. A relatively new artist, he has only been releasing content for approximately one year.

Many can agree on the importance of individuality when it comes to being an artist. Showing the world one’s unique perspective on life through one’s art is a large part of that individuality. What makes Singleton different, in this instance, is his love of “imagery based, conceptual, and idealistic” songwriting and lyricism, and his deep “affinity for diverse sounds.”

When questioned about his music, he describes it as “homemade” and emphasized the point that “lyrics are very important.” Singleton prides himself on his ability “ to string words together in a way that is meaningful. To create something tangible, that is not tangible. It takes a shape that obviously is not there.” At the end of the day, in the music of Devy.Quills, words possess immense power and ultimately, reign supreme.

Singleton now has an official release under his name: his debut album “Bloom” was released this past weekend. “Bloom” having been a springtime release is no coincidence; the album was released in the spring months “because Bloom…is becoming something. It is developing nonetheless, that is why I want to release it in the spring – because that is when everything starts blossoming for the first time. It is a metaphor for how, like, I’m actually becoming what I want to be in terms of music and artistry and like, ya know, something that people can enjoy.” The themes and general aesthetic of “Bloom” are relatively universal ones, themes that relate to the human condition at large.

When asked how being a student at UNCG plays into his musical career, Singleton called it a “major distraction.”

“Cause like, I could be getting so much better at this if I wasn’t doing school,” Singleton remarked. However, he believes being in school has its benefits as well. “I do enjoy the social aspect. It has made me more of a promoter than an artist,” Singleton said. The importance of being a promoter for himself has proven to be one of the biggest takeaways for Singleton since his arrival at UNCG. Even if the music is great, it doesn’t really mean much if no one hears it.

In his eyes, Singleton defines a great rapper as “an artist that causes somebody to feel deeply as a result of their work, be it extreme joy, extreme pain, sorrow, limitation. Whether it is just making that rap stank face like when the beat drops, one of those faces, like, it causes you to feel, evoking emotion,” Singleton said.

Singleton made a special note that being an artist requires making sacrifices and enduring failure – and it is in this failure where he finds his motivation to continue grinding on as an artist, through both thick and thin, because to stop the grind is to stop being an artist.

In regards to his future ambitions as a rapper, in terms of releasing content, growing overall and expanding his artistry, the goal is to “make something 5 times better in half as much time.”

“I put a lot of energy and passion into what I do,” Singleton said. “If you don’t hear it, I want you to.” - The Carolinian - University of North Carolina Greensboro News/Media

"Rap round robin satisfies Triad’s need for hip hop"

The crowd stood in the center of the room and turned as the lights came on, shining down on the bone-white horns. Wearing a red leather bull mask, complete with a disturbing complexion and horns bending out from the sides, Philadelphia rapper Torito’s preprogrammed beats billowed through the speakers as he laid into his fast-paced rhymes. The mask, complex lyrics and experimental beats are what make up Torito’s self-described live performance: a deluge of multi-syllabic wit, absurdist imagery, personal musing and societal reflection.

As the one song finished, the lights were killed and the crowd turned again, facing another performer as the lights came on. This was the beauty of the show; eight acts who played one song each, rotating from stage to stage as the crowd gathered in the center, unknowing of where the music would be coming from next.

Delurk Gallery in Winston-Salem hosted the Rap Round Robin on April 28. Put on by local hip-hop duo Speak N’ Eye, the show featured three rappers on tour from Philadelphia and five based in the Triad. The unique concept and show formula of the round robin — where each performer plays one song and then the stage shifts to the next act — was originated by Dan “Height” Keech, and has its origins in Baltimore.

“It all started when the Wham City collective (Dan Deacon, Keech, Nuclear Power Pants, etc.) wanted to do an interactive show that focused on audience participation,” Aaron Brookshire, who raps under the moniker Emceein’ Eye, said in an email to Triad City Beat. “The idea was for several bands to set up their own sound systems around a room in a circle, and do one song at a time complete with lights and all. After taking it on a tour and doing it for a few years, Height became overwhelmed with the time, energy and preparation it took to do it with full bands. So in 2008 he decided to start doing an all rap round robin every year instead.”

Brookshire said he helped Keech take the show on tour, specifically with shows in North Carolina. After 10 years of performances and tours, the torch was passed to Brookshire, who now holds the event annually in the Triad.

Brookshire and his brother perform under the name Speak N’ Eye. The two mix a unique, experimental style into their rap. With their opening song for the night, the duo brought a wild explosion of energy to the small underground art gallery, drawing the audience closer and closer. But as the act ended, the lights dimmed over Speak N’ Eye and suddenly illuminated OG Spliff as the audience turned around.

Based in Winston-Salem, Clifford Owens’ (aka OG Spliff) remarkable stage presence and smooth rapping blend R&B-styled beats and instruments with a vocal style reminiscent of Mos Def and Earl Sweatshirt. Wearing a red-and-white striped bandana under his hat, Owens stunned fans with a grooving vibe to somewhat mellow mini-sets for the night.

“We had him play at last year’s Rap Round Robin,” Brookshire said via email. “At that point, that was his very first show ever. We’ve had him on three shows this year and every single one he’s been 75 percent responsible for the crowds there. Spliff is the future of this Winston-Salem rap game, and I couldn’t be more excited to be helping him along and taking him under our wing for the moment.”

Other acts for the night included Philadelphia rap duo Darko the Super & ialive as well as VISITOR10, an experimental hip-hop artist whose occult-themed performance and tightly woven lyrics give a dark twist to the genre. Charlotte hip-hop artist Dallas Thrasher opened the night, followed by Greensboro rapper Grant Livesay, a member of the collective called Fella. Livesay performed with his latest project, Thin Product Shun.

The crowd cheered for more as attention shifted from artist to artist, and their thirst was quenched as the night wore on. The show format allowed for small bursts of music and amazing performances, bringing hip hop into the limelight of the Triad music scene.

“The plan is to do one show every year in Winston from now into eternity, granted I can keep doing it for that long,” Brookshire said, laughing. “I might have to pass the torch on to someone else in the future. And as you could see from the show, it’s something truly magical.” - Triad City Beat

"Fast and Furious: The music is nonstop at annual Rap Round Robin"

The beats and rhymes will fly at a breathless pace on April 26 at the Fourth Annual Rap Round Robin, one of the most anticipated shows on the local hip-hop calendar.

After two years at Delurk Gallery in the Downtown Arts District, the show will move to Monstercade, 204 W. Acadia Ave. Aaron and Joshua Brookshire, the local hip-hop duo that comprise Speak N’ Eye, organize the show each year. It’s a fast-paced, choreographed show that features hip-hop performers stationed in a circle around the crowd. One act will perform, the lights will go down, and immediately give way to a different act, with the lights flipped back on.

“It’s nonstop, basically,” Aaron Brookshire said.

Once the crowd gets the hang of what’s going on, the energy and momentum begin to build, with performers feeding off each other.

“It can get wild and crazy when it starts to go around in a circle. The idea is that the show never ends,” he said. “Traditionally, you go to a show, see a headliner, several bands open, and with every lineup change, there’s setting up and breaking down equipment, and people go outside to smoke or whatever, and with this, it forces people to be stuck in the middle of a performance and take it in as a community performance.”

This year’s round robin will feature six MCs divided onto three stages. Each MC is likely to perform six songs each, for a total of 36 songs, totaling more than 90 minutes of music.

In past round robins, the Brookshire brothers invited a mix of local and regional acts, but this year will feature an all-local lineup. OG Spliff and Qvan Ledon will on stage one; Grant Livesay and Twinn Zues on stage two; and Samurai.Yola and Speak N’ Eye on stage three.

Livesay, a producer, engineer, multi-instrumentalist and MC, said the round robin is a good showcase for local rappers.

“It’s a fabulous display of diversity in the hip-hop genre,” he said.

The Brookshires got the idea for the round robin from their mentor, Dan “Height” Keech, a veteran rapper from Balitmore, Md., who owns Cold Rhymes, Speak N’ Eye’s record label. Those shows would take up an entire warehouse with 30 bands.

Such a large show comes with an inordinate amount of logistics, with all the equipment from each group of performers. The Brookshires scaled down the local event to make it more manageable.

One burned-out light bulb or faulty power strip can ruin the momentum of a show that must run like clockwork to get the full effect.

“I always say it’s the most stressful show I put together,” Aaron Brookshire said. “It’s not, ‘OK, let’s drive to Asheville for a show.’ It’s wrangling the artists, making sure they show up to rehearse. You got to have backups for every cord. It’s really a wild show, and I’m always pretty proud of how it comes off.”

Brookshire said the round robin tries to double as an all-inclusive gathering of artists of all kinds.

“It’s a community-type thing, with people doing a little flea-marketing, maybe a little skateboarding,” he said. “That’s a big part of the whole thing every year.”

Winston-Salem musician Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk will open the show. - Winston-Salem Journal

"Sparring brothers: Rap round robin comes to Monstercade"

OG Spliff (Clifford Owens) sat in his car with the door wide open and scrolled through his phone to find a good instrumental. Others milled about, smoking cigarettes and sipping cheap beer in the streetlight’s amber incandescence. The beat kicked in and some freestylers formed a circle in the parking lot of Monstercade in Winston-Salem to start an after-party cypher. Pedestrians strolled by and joined in on the action.

And this was after the actual show had ended.

We Out Here 4: The Winston-Salem Rap Round Robin sounds like a high-stakes competition. Spliff described it as more of a sparring match with his brothers.

Earlier that night inside the bar, Aaron Brookshire, one member of the fraternal duo Speak ‘N Eye, asked the crowd: “Is Winston in the house?” A few onlookers hollered back. Then he went over the rules and format for the night’s proceedings. There were three sound systems and two emcees for each stage; OG Spliff and Qvan Ledon (Daquan Edward Thompson) took the mainstage while Twinn Zeus (Dale Ruffin) and Grant Livesay manned the second positioned next to a long sofa. Samurai Yola (Tony Davis) and the aforementioned Speak ‘N Eye (Aaron and Joshua Brookshire) occupied the final setup that stood crammed in between some booths and a large arcade cabinet. The round robin began at the mainstage and worked its way around in a clockwise fashion. The audience turned their attention to each set like lazy, whirling dervishes who were set in motion by the constant stream of verse and rhythm.

Opener Jacob Leonard, of the group Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk, acted as a crescendo for the main event. His set started without an introduction and filled the small bar with slow, ambient reverberations. Audience members teetered back and forth while Monk built up the energy of his set with every track. Monk brought everything together with a finger-pad drum solo before closing with more delicate riffs from his guitar. Once he was done, he quickly moved all his gear off of the stage in preparation for the headliners.

The beats and flows varied quite a bit throughout the night. Everything from boom-bap breakbeats to the rattling high-hats and repetitive melodies of trap blasted through the setups.

Samurai Yola (Tony Davis) rocks the crowd at Monstercade. (photo by Cason Ragland)
The artists mused on various themes during their performances. Samurai Yola lamented lost love in a song when he said, “Wanna leave me/ go ahead and leave/ my bed too small/ that means better sleep.”

The assemblage nodded to the bluesy beat while Yola proceeded to mourn until his turn was over. Other acts in the round robin made boasts about themselves and their hometowns. Twinn Zeus told the crowd he’s “from NC, first in fly;/ check my veins, they’re pumping Cheerwine.”

The robin had gone around four times when Brookshire called for the crowd to vote on how many more rounds there should be.

“Five or six?” he asked and some called for seven or eight.

“Y’all live as f***,” Brookshire said. “We usually cut it short.”

“Y’all seen the new Avengers movie?” Spliff asked the crowd. He told them that he’d spoil the whole thing if they didn’t get hype for the final round. The audience obliged his request, jumping in place and rapping along with him. The event ended with a slower jam from the typically bombastic Speak ‘N Eye.

Yasmin Bendaas, an audience member who lives in Raleigh, said she came there to support Twinn Zeus, her coworker, and to experience something different to the typical scene in North Carolina nightlife.

“It was like a show out of my garage.” said Spliff in the parking lot after the event, commenting on the intimacy and DIY nature of the concert. “We’re building; we get in where we fit in.” he said. “We’re finding our home.”

OG Spliff, Samurai Yola and others will perform at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro on May 30. - Triad City Beat



steady:hyperactive is a multimedia collective formed in Winston-Salem, NC
in 2015, with creatives from multiple disciplines, ranging from
musicians, photographers, producers, & visual artists. Led by Hollow Creeper,
s:h formed through a necessity for an artist owned platform with
members who go against the grain. Steady defines themselves as more than
just a label, but as a lifestyle. This includes not only the growth +
union of the official members but also of their hometown and other local

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