WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE! THE LION KING COMES TO WEST SEATTLE
By JP Scratches
May 21, 2016- The beloved children’s classic “the Lion King” came to life in West Seattle this weekend as the Lafayette Theater Group gave a 3-night performance featuring over 70 students in unique make-up and designer costumes.
Directed by Joel Oltyan (with Assistant Director Diana Toledo-Palmer), and choreographed by Linda Filley Bentler; the show was a magical combination of beautifully delivered musical numbers, laugh-out-loud comedy, heartbreaking drama, and a stand up and shout inspirational finale.
We are first introduced to Eliose Perkins who was perfectly cast as the quirky shaman Rafiki; who along with her sidekick Brennan Ryan, leads a 40 person plant and animal ensemble in a wonderfully choreographed opening number.
The scene moves quickly from inspiration and heartwarming wonder to drama and suspense as Savannah Faber delivers a masterful performance as the villainous Scar, playing opposite of Mac Davido whose portrayal of the heroic Mufasa brought to the stage strength, confidence, and a lion’s roar that sent shivers down my spine. Joining these two artistic powerhouses was a stand-out performance by Jordan Palmer, who absolutely shined as King Mufasa’s advisor; the wonderfully witty Zazu. Jordan brought a sharp wit and great delivery to multiple scenes throughout the play and looked absolutely radiant adorned in a beautiful blue outfit which seemed to glow from the stage.
Scar’s pack of hideous hyena’s are a joy to watch; as no group of scheming scoundrels has ever been so much fun! Riley Shipps, Frances Laughlin, Celeste DeRonghe, Austin Higgins, Cooper Guidry, and Lachlan Swanson work wonderfully together and would be hilarious in a hyena’s spin-off performance. Each actor brings confidence and charisma to the criminally callous cur! Wickedly delicious!
Young Simba and Young Nala are played by Santi Cortez and Emily Oltyan who are adorable as best friends looking for adventure. Santi brings the bright-eyed wonder of Simba to life with wonderful musical performances and great interaction with both Mufasa and Nala. Emily Oltyan delivers a sassy, scene stealing performance which plays perfectly against Santi’s character.
There was also a quiet beauty and calm confidence brought to the stage by Sarabi and the Lionesses; who float across the stage with the strength and power of a true pride. Adorned in flowing gowns, veils, and jewelry worthy of queens. This group of actresses are fierce and formidable, and took command of the stage with striking movements and poses. Outstandingly played by Avery Darwin, Audrey Quinn, Juliana Shilipeter, Grace Bodensteiner, Myah Arrington, Jasmine Brathwaite, Anna Clark, Ellie Gunlogson, Millie Hanson, Zhaiarah Holiday, Lucy LeBaron, Sophia Litton, Lola Personett, Audrey Quinn, Brooke Swanson, and Olivia Walum.
Hannah Bonsack gives a great portrayal of the older, teen-aged Simba, who is unsure of himself, but wants to do what’s right; still needing a little encouragement from Nala (now played by Kendall Horgan). These two do an excellent job of character development and the coming-of-age transition of Simba as he fights through his insecurities to become the rightful king; and share a beautiful musical duet along the way.
Stella Allen, Daisy Crabtree, and Rylee Malloy fired up the crowd as Timon, Pumbaa, and Jina (Simba’s friends). These three bring an incredible combination of comedy, talent, and energy that had me wanting to get on stage. They looked like they were having so much fun I wanted to join in!
The show was amazing from start to finish, with scenes flowing seamlessly thanks to the stage direction of Genevive Kostic and Kaya Hubbard; culminating in a 70+ on-stage student finale. The sheer amount of work put into the creation of the over 70 unique costumes is awe-inspiring. Designer Naomi Hayland, along with Kristi Brown, Jill Amsberry, and Nita Gillenwaters should be proud of what they have accomplished. With the artistry of Alexis Allen adding the finishing touches to each character with fun make-up designs individualized for each animal.
There is no doubt that we will see many of these young actors move on to greater roles as many have already mastered character physics, stage presence, and a wonderful command of comedy, drama, and action.
Great job Joel Oltyan and team! Thank you for allowing us to share in such a wonderful event!
September 22, 2015 – Autism is a brain disorder that is characterized by difficulties in some social interaction, difficulties in motor coordination, and sometimes repetitive behaviors. But children with autism often excel in other areas; such as creative arts, visual skills, and mathematics.
Ava J. Clark, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2 is one of those gifted children, and along with her mother Alicia Coleman-Clark have decided to release a line of children’s books to encourage families who are also dealing with autism.
The “Ava Goes” series follows Ava on various adventures such as a trip to the dentist and to the beach. These wonderful beginner books are fun to read aloud and makes a great bedtime story. We believe this series will soon to be a favorite among parents, beginning readers, teachers, and librarians.
Alicia says that it’s her hope that Ava will continue to write these books and keep the series alive long after Alicia is gone. Hopefully with Ava’s own children one day.
Ava and her mother are currently on a local book tour which most recently included the West Seattle Barnes & Noble.
Alicia is also working with families, teachers, and education systems as an advocate with hopes of developing lasting partnerships that involve bringing the Ava Goes series to elementary schools.
June 20, 2015 Seattle’s Central District came together to celebrate long time advocates for youth, arts, social justice, and stronger neighborhoods; honoring some of Seattle’s most legendary names.
“We selected men who personally impacted us. The men in the room are the ledges whose shoulder we stand on.” Said Garfield Community Center Director Andre Franklin. Another member of the advisory committee stated that seeing so many true community leaders in one place left them “in awe”.
The event was birthed from a partnership between B.U.I.L.D. (Brothers United In Leadership Development), Unified Outreach, and the Garfield Community Center Advisory Board; along with Seattle Parks, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and 4Culture.
The event featured a full buffet spread with home style chicken, macaroni, greens, and corn bread. An incredible meal that in itself was worthy of celebration.
Music and MC duties were provided by DJ Surreal (aka George Yasutake), and guests were treated to a gravity defying performance from one of Seattle’s hottest breakdance groups, the Vicious Puppies (aka Dog Pound). Last month the Vicious Puppies brought their dramatic stage presentation of “Black and Blue” to the Neptune Theatre. The play brings social conscience and race relations to the front lines with a true-to-life story based on actual events. The play has received great reviews and the group is looking to expand the touring calendar throughout the summer. The Puppies have also played the main stage at the Sasquatch tour and other large venue events and are quickly becoming one of Seattle’s most in-demand groups.
Award honorees included well known community leaders who have served the people of Seattle for decades; as well as shining stars actively making a difference today.
The event recognized Mike Yasutake, John Yasutake, Gregory Davis, Aaron Dixon, Elmer Dixon, Bishop Ray Rogers, Steve Sneed, James Hampton, Reco Bembry, Guy Davis, and Larry Evans.
Each award recipient was introduced by someone who had a personal story of how the award winner had impacted their life. The microphone was then handed to the award winner who then shared their own story about who had most impacted them. The ceremony was full of humor and laughter, as well as somber moments and tears of gratitude.
The afternoon culminated with the honoring and awarding of the new Robert Stephens, Jr. Community Service plaque which will hang in the Garfield Community Center.
Robert Stephens, Jr. has been a fixture in Seattle’s Central District for over 35 years. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Mr. Stephens, Jr. began serving the community after completing his tour in 1968. Mr. Stephens, Jr. has a Masters Degree in Education Psychology, is a K-12 teacher and school counselor, and has worked with Seattle Public Schools, Langston Hughes Cultural Art Center, Neighborhoods House, and Washington State Reformatory.
Mr. Stephens, Jr. has been involved with a number of non-profit organizations and governmental advisory committees over the years; and has had a hand in the establishment of Odessa Brown Health Clinic, Madrona Dance Studio (now Spectrum), Medgar Evers Swimming Pool, and dozens of other programs that are now an established part of the community.
Mr. Stephens, Jr. has served as the President of the Central Area Neighborhood District Council; founded the Seattle Central Area Cultural Arts Commission, and helped in the creation of Homer Harris Park.
When presenting the award, Garfield Community Center Advisory Council Member David Toledo stated “When we began searching for someone that exemplified the community spirit; someone who was a true advocate for our youth, for the arts, and for the neighborhood; we all knew right away that it was time to honor Robert Stephens, Jr.”
June 14, 2015, City Council hopeful David Toledo continued his “Cartooning with the Candidate” speaking-tour of North Seattle’s public libraries with a visit to the Greenwood Library. The family-friendly event has been a big hit with residents of District 5 who are enjoying the creative approach to voter outreach. What makes these meet-and-greets unique is that they are kid friendly; providing free coloring books and art supplies to keep children engaged while parents have the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts with the candidate.
Lori is a District 5 resident and single mother who attended the June 7th event at Green Lake. Lori says that she would be even more engaged in the political process if she were able to bring her two children to more events. Lori says that it speaks highly of Mr. Toledo that he thought of parents with young children when he organized the function. “I think this is a great indication of how he will govern, putting people first”.
If you’re a resident of District 5 you’ve undoubtedly already had a chuckle at some of the ultra-creative campaign literature put out by the Vote David Toledo campaign. Drive down North 105th and directly across the street from the historic Rickshaw Restaurant you’ll see a large Vote Toledo billboard featuring Toledo and his daughter, enjoying a hamburger while standing in front of a wall of very artistically designed David Toledo caricatures in various styles.
Additionally, Toledo’s campaign has also released a web based trivia challenge and several fully animated cartoon commercials.
In accompaniment to Toledo’s artistic side is a wealth of experience dealing with real-world issues. Toledo is a Housing Specialist competent in all areas of affordable housing; working in the field for nearly a decade who says he “knows what’s needed to stabilize rent and increase housing options without rent control or rezoning of residential neighborhoods.”
Toledo is also one of the co-founders of Unified Outreach which provides free volunteer services to elder care centers, transitional housing facilities, and youth mentoring programs. But Toledo says the most important thing he brings to the table is a 40 year history of living in North Seattle. “Community roots matter. I have a responsibility to you based on neighborhood loyalty and shared history. When I make promises I will keep them. Sidewalks for North Seattle, expanded public safety funding, affordable housing solutions, small businesses growth and a job training wage, improved roadways for commuters and commerce, and best of all a clean and swimmable Green Lake!”
Toledo’s Cartooning with the Candidate meet-and-greets began in April and are scheduled to run through the month of July.
Lake City – June 21st (2pm – 4pm)
Broadview – June 28th (2pm – 4pm)
Green Lake – July 12th (2pm – 4pm)
Toledo is facing a number of challengers in the race including long time residents such as Hugh H. Russell and Debaduta Dash; as well as new residents to the area such as Halei Watkins and Sandy Brown.
February 11, 2015 The campaign commercial announcing that David Toledo has joined the race for City Council is possibly the most creative and fun piece of campaigning we’ve ever seen. The 1-minute throwback gives a nod to the batmanesque style of the 1960’s with a video that shows how a little creativity and a sense of humor can make even politics fun.
But don’t think of Toledo as all flash and no substance; it only takes a Google search or a visit to the www.WeVoteToledo.com website to see that Toledo has the small business, community advocacy, and public policy experience to make him a serious contender for the seat.
Toledo is joining an already crowded race in District 5, but Toledo does have the advantage of being theonly candidate with a 40-year history of actually living in North Seattle.
David Toledo’s website gives a chronological account of his family’s community involvement during those 40-years, including his mother’s establishment of soup kitchens and a self-funded food bank to help North Seattle neighbors during the economic crisis of the late 70’s. Also David’s founding of Unified Outreach in 1998, a charity which for the past 17 years has provided services to elder care centers, homeless shelters, and a variety of youth arts programs aimed at helping low income and at-risk youth.
On the issues Toledo says “I love this district and all that it represents. I want to see North Seattle thriving with job growth up and the crime rate down. I want new businesses to open and flourish; able to provide much needed services without being strangled by unnecessary regulations. I want local residents to have a shot at good jobs close to their homes by providing incentives for local hiring. I want a transit system that meets the needs of commuters by examining alternative funding sources. I want parks and lakes that are clean and whose waters are safe for swimming. I want our clean and swimmable Green Lake back! We need an educational system that respects parents and that encourages our children to succeed. And we must protect our most vulnerable by strengthening social service programs for veterans, seniors, and special-needs communities; and by ensuring affordable housing in our area.”
Other candidates for the position include Low Income Housing Institute recruiter Mercedes Elizalde, Planned Parenthood field organizer Halei Watkins, gun control activist Sanford Brown, and Mian Rice (the son of previous City Council Member/Ex-Mayor Norm Rice).
THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING BUZZ. UNDERSTANDING WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT.
Seattle loves our buzz-words and bumper sticker slogans; and who can’t get behind something like “Affordable Housing, Now!” Especially when the annual night-out homeless count found 2,813 people sleeping on the Seattle streets (and another 1,000 on the outskirts of town).
But ask the average person on the street to define affordable housing and you might be surprised with the answer (or lack of). Terms like affordable housing, rental subsidies, transitional housing, shelters, Section-8, and low income housing all run together in a hodge-podge of confusing buzz words and political jargon.
If we want to solve these problems we need to all start speaking the same language.
The first step in addressing the very different, yet sometimes linked problems of affordable housing and homelessness will lie in our ability to clearly communicate what we see as the genesis of each problem. Once we are clear with what problems we are trying to correct we can begin identifying existing programs along with their strengths and weaknesses. We need to communicate in clear, easy to understand terms what at the challenges and what is the goal as we move forward in address our housing problems.
The term affordable housing is connected to median income. Once the median income for an area is established then rentals over 30% of a renter’s income is considered cost burdened or unaffordable. So what is median income? Median income is the middle point of a climbing income chart. At one end you have zero income, the other end you have the highest earner in the given area. All earners are put on a chart from lowest to highest in chronological order. Then, the chart is split right down the middle and that point is the median, the exact center of the chart. Median is not the average income of an area, nor is it a bell-curve (majority income). Here’s an example- if the market consists of only 9 people, with the first 3 all making $3 each, then all others earning income that climbs in $5 increments, the median in this case would be $13 (the middle point), and 30% of that would be $3.90 (affordable housing). Now, if all landlords in the area rented at that rate, it would make it very hard for tenants at the lower end of the spectrum to find housing; which is what has been the topic of discussion for those advocating for “affordable” housing.
The confusion comes when using the term “affordable” housing in broad terms. In markets with heavy ends of the spectrum landlords who may in fact be pricing their units at 30% of median income may appear to be price gouging when that is not always the case. Median income for a 2-person household in Seattle for 2014 is approximately 64K. So a 1-bedroom apartment priced at $1600.00 is considered affordable housing by HUD standards, even though this rate would not be considered affordable by someone living in the lower end of the chart.
We need a clear distinction between advocating for rent control, subsidized housing, or homeless shelters and services. All are important discussions and deserve to receive consideration from our city leaders and community stakeholders.
If we are talking about rent controlled areas then we must be clear that rent control legislation is what we are seeking. However, as RCW 35.21.830 currently prohibits rent control in Seattle we need to look at other ways to provide relief to renters.
If we are talking about increased subsidy programs we need to look at the pros and cons of existing subsidized housing in Seattle to see how to best develop any new funding programs.
SUBSIDIZING TENT CITIES AND SHELTERS:
Currently the City is looking at providing 50 new shelter beds and proposing a bill to allow three tent encampments in the city. Funding of new and expanding shelters and tenant cities must be a priority for our legislators. If Seattle moves forward with linkage fees on new construction this should be one of the areas that we use the collected revenue.
As these programs are expanded we must understand that there is no one-size-fits-all regarding our shelter system. Many seniors won’t stay in a shelter because they fear the youth violence, whereas some veterans won’t take a bed that could go to someone else because they are still holding to their idea of honor and service to their fellow man. We need to look at targeted funding/special programs for our seniors and our veterans, as well as growing our teen, single mothers, and family shelters.
The proposed 3 tent cities modeled after the Nickelsville camp can provide community structure that is much safer than the streets would be for a family trying to survive on their own. However, the city still needs to develop a structure for how to best partner with these programs, and provide access to essential services such as one-stop help complexes to give access to city services and help with personal economic recovery. Additionally, some activists are working towards establishing tent-cities in residential areas; whereas currently they are limited to mixed use and commercial zones. The concern that tent cities may permanently change the personality of a given neighborhood is something that city leaders must consider when engaging this issue. We must resist the urge to fix-it-quick and instead find a long-term solution that meets the needs of those facing homelessness while still respecting the property rights of our neighbors.
Voucher Programs: Voucher programs are generally HUD funded programs that involve HUD paying a portion of said rent. The “Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher” program is a voucher that is given to a tenant to use at ANY rental property that falls within the voucher limits (a 1-bedroom voucher is $879).
The Section 8 voucher holder is considered a “protected class” in Seattle which means landlords cannot discriminate or refuse tenancy just because they don’t want the Section-8 check. It has become increasingly harder to use Section 8 vouchers in the Seattle area because of the recent rise in rental amounts, but the voucher is still valued for its portability.
The second type of voucher is called “Project Based” which ties the subsidy to the apartment itself. The Project Based program partners with a given apartment building (these apartment owners are community partners working directly with HUD or with a Housing Authority). This means the tenant pays a reduced rent on the apartment. If the subsidized tenant decides to move from the apartment they lose the assistance and the next person moving into that apartment gets the subsidy. As long as the voucher holder stays under 80% of median income they will receive some portion of assistance. If the tenant income surpasses that 80% of median income the tenant loses their voucher. However, in both cases the vouchers are also transferable between household members, and can be given to other family members or even friends as long as they are listed in the household. The vouchers are transferred by promoting a current household member to Head of Household prior to the original voucher holding tenant moving out. Some subsidy vouchers have been known to be handed down through several generations.
It is not uncommon for developers to receive tax-breaks in exchange for a low-income annex to new construction. Contracts usually stipulate that a portion of the new rental space be subsidized for an average of 40-years before moving to market rate.
LIPH: Another type of subsidy is Low Income Public Housing (LIPH). This is housing which is usually owned and operated by the government or a non-profit, although some public housing projects are managed by subcontracted private agencies. Seattle Housing Authority owns some 600 properties in Seattle including single resident homes, duplexes, high rise buildings, and major housing properties such as Yesler Terrace, High Point, Rainier Vista, and New Holly.
Seattle Housing Authority provides subsidy assistance to over 28,000 people in the Seattle area alone each year. This includes over 5,300 Low Income Public Housing (LIPH) units in major apartment complexes, 1,600 town homes, duplexes, single family units, and another 8,500 Section-8 vouchers. King County Housing assists another 7,800 apartments and 11,000 Section-8 vouchers, and smaller programs house thousands more in the Greater Seattle area.
Although some programs such as Senior Housing have a minimum income requirement with rent portion based on a step-program, the majority of LIPH programs do not have such a requirement and ask only a $50 monthly payment for tenants with very low or zero income. This is where the biggest drain is on the Housing Authority’s budget and something we will look at in the next section.
SAVING THE SUBSIDIZED HOUSING WE ALREADY HAVE
In 2014 Seattle Housing Authority presented their Step Forward Proposal. Under the proposal current households with “work-able” tenants would be required to move to a step increase rental program. Unfortunately the program met with fierce resistance and was shelved, possible permanently. But I would like to examine the proposal as well as the circumstances that led to its inception.
Their proposal simply put operated like this: LIPH households that had someone “work-able” between the ages of 24 and 61 and who does not have a disability would move to a step-rental program. Let’s look at a 1-bedroom example of how the program would work: A family in a one-bedroom apartment would pay $140 monthly rent for the first year (four bedroom homes start at $180), rent increased the second year to $340, and so on until it peaked at $720 in the 7th year. The program is easily affordable for even someone working part-time at minimum wage and is in-step with the increased minimum wage law that is currently being applied in Seattle.
Some Seattle City Council members not only refused to engage in discussion of the proposal, but actively encouraged the disruption of town hall meetings that were designed to foster dialogue between the Housing Authority and its tenants.
But what events inspired the proposal in the first place?
In 2011-2012 Seattle Housing lost 11% of its annual budget when HUD announced that it was cutting funding to Seattle Housing Authority. This resulted in massive staffing cuts, but left the tenant subsidies untouched. In other words, Seattle Housing Authority did everything they could in order to keep the tenant programs running as they had always been.
Now, imagine you are the property owner of one of the 4-bedroom homes that SHA owns. The renters are a zero income family paying the standard $50 minimum rental bill each month. This year the roof starts leaking, and someone kicks a hole in the wall, the window gets broken, and the refrigerator needs replacing. Plumbing issues, electrical issues, bedbugs, vandalism, and more. How do you cover the costs of these types of repairs when you’ve only brought in a total of $600 in rent for the entire year? Even the best of tenants will require maintenance now and again; and SHA pays union wages, so the repair job is always quality; but the bills aren’t cheap.
But the biggest source of destruction in many zero-income homes is mold. One of the biggest problems facing a zero-income family is how to pay for electricity. If a family cannot pay their electric bill or intentionally keeps their heat turned off to save money, the result is often mold. Mold can destroy insulation, fixtures, interior and exterior walls, and more.
So we have to ask ourselves is the current model sustainable? Can Seattle Housing continue to meet the needs of current and future residents with funding being cut and with a City Council that fails to act as an honest broker between the Housing Authority and Tenant Advocates?
I’m not here to debate the merits of the Step Forward proposal. But I will ask if you had previously heard any of the information I just presented? In order to solve our housing problems voters and advocates need to be presented with all the facts and we need city leaders that are able to examine all ideas without giving in to their own hubris and political grandstanding. Don’t like the proposal? Have concerns with certain areas and need more information on exemptions? Bring them to the table and let’s talk about them. I understand and agree that nothing should be rubber stamped. We see the results of failed due diligence in the matter of the tunnel fiasco and we want city leadership that asks questions and is engaged. We need city leaders that encourage honest conversations and debates in an effort to find positive solutions to our housing problems. However, what we’ve seen instead is a city council that encourages shouting down opponents and the obfuscation of facts, and that is doing our city a great disservice. We must be careful about our focus on what other programs the city should fund or expand even as the largest housing program in our region is sinking beneath us.
EXPANDING SUBSIDIZED HOUSING IN THE SEATTLE AREA
There have been a number of proposals for expanding subsidized housing in the Seattle area. Ideas range new construction “linkage fees” assigned to contractors and used to fund smaller low-income housing programs. Others have suggested more flexibility with micro-housing and congregate housing standards, encouraging the building of apartments that trade the comfort of spacious living for a lower rental costs.
However, we as a city also need to look at external forces that hinder low-income housing from being successful. We talked earlier about the issue of mold being rampant in low-income housing units; causing structural damage as well as health issues for tenants. This problem is often overlooked by those that advocate for free homes/housing for the homeless. Although their hearts are in the right place, it is almost certain that any shelter in the northwest will fall into disarray if the person being housed is unable to keep the electricity on.
Educational opportunity, work training programs, economic growth, and addressing Seattle’s perilous relationship with one of the country’s most regressive tax systems are all steps our city leaders must take if we are to ever see a decrease in our need for emergency shelter and subsidized housing services.
For those of us that advocate for our brothers and sisters that are at-risk of losing housing, or that are already living in transitional housing, shelters, tent-cities, or on the street; we must be clear in our message. We must not be afraid to discuss ideas and we must never let “perfect” be the enemy of “good”. We can overcome even the most mountainous of problems one step at a time; unified, armed with knowledge and a willingness to hear all ideas.
November 28, 2014 ~ The timing was perfect as earlier this month Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed November as Washington State Hip Hop History Month; following the lead of Mayor McGinn and the Seattle City Council who in 2010 proclaimed November Hip Hop History Month in Seattle.
Washington Hall celebrated Hip Hop History with an all-star performance line-up of Seattle’s biggest names in rap music; along with some of the nation’s top break-dancers sharing the stage. Musical artists participating in a freestyle open-mic “cypher” included platinum selling artist E-Dawg, along with city favorites Suntonio Bandanaz, B-Ragg, Sammy Tekle, Ernesto Iraheta, and more!
On stage were DJ’s Able Fader, Cues, Sureal, and A.C. who kept the place rocking from start to finish.
There was a delicious potluck buffet and a toy drive to help the B.U.I.L.D. Seattle Christmas giving-tree.
The event was sponsored by 206 Zulu, Seattle City Breakers, Unified Outreach, and Studio Narvaez, in partnership with 4Culture and Rane. It was organized by Nathan (SireOne) Hivick and hosted by the North City Rockers Ernesto Iraheta and Pele’ Ross, along with the fabled Specs Wizard.
The event will be the last break-dance celebration at Washington Hall for the next nine months as the facility begins to undergo renovations to restore the historic building and the install a new elevator; allowing special needs and wheel-chair bound visitors to enjoy the facility without limitations.
The elevator installation will be a blessing to special-needs artists with limited mobility, such as 206 Zulu founder and President Danny (King Khazm) Kogita who has been in a wheelchair since childhood. Also other artists such as Clayton (B-Ragg aka C-Dogg) Bragg who has limited mobility due to cerebral-palsy.
Clayton is a rapper from Lynwood, Washington who as has a video channel on YouTube which provides regular album reviews for NW CD releases. Clayton has been spending time in the studio and is expecting his album out in early 2015. It was after reviewing the E-Dawg CD “How Long” that Clayton was contacted with a special invitation to attend the November 28th performance as E-Dawg was headlining the event.
David Toledo (Unified Outreach) made all arrangements and acted as Clayton’s personal assistant throughout the evening; physically carrying the artist up 3 flights of steps to the performance hall and making sure that Clayton had full access to E-Dawg and the other artists as well as great seating for all performances.
“It was great having B-Ragg attend the event. He’s doing a lot with his video blog and he’s hard at work in the studio. The crowd really enjoyed hearing him rap tonight; and with his own album coming out we believe that one day he’ll be headlining one of the shows.” David Toledo said.
Clayton said he really enjoyed the show and is especially excited about the people he was able to meet in person including E-Dawg, Seattle City Breaker’s founder Carolos (Slam) Barrientes, King Khazm, and most importantly DJ Sire One and Pablo D who occasionally act as guest hosts on Boom Box Radio; a Everett-based rap program that broadcasts on Friday nights at 10pm on station KSER 90.7 Fm. Clayton is looking forward to having his new album break on the show.
The event was also attended by a bevy of local celebrities including Georgio Brown from Coolout Tv and Dave (Pablo D) from Studio Narvaez; the two partnered in October for a Hip Hop Celebration at the Experience Music Project (EMP). Also attending were TYRONE “the Working Class Hero” Dumas, members of the North City Rockers, the Vicious Puppies, Massive Monkees, Seattle City Breakers, Circle of Fire, and other famous groups.
Highlights of the night were an all-girl breakdance cypher which saw the return of Seattle’s old school b-girls Amber Jamieson and Jojo Tabora-Dyckhoff to the dance floor; as well as a “Seniors Classic” which featured “Seattle’s first b-boy” Junior Alefaio.
Judges for the night included the incredible Rigo Jones, Seattle City Breakers founding father Carlos “Slam” Barrientes, and consummate b-boy Rafael Contreras.
Wrapping up the evenings events Sam “Preach” Dumas, founder of the (Masters of the Prep aka Party People in Action dance crew) issued a challenge to 1980’s dance rivals “the Ducky Boys” to meet at the same time next year for a “prep only” dance off; reviving a rivalry that goes back to 1985 and the Seattle Bandstand television show. Will the Ducky Boys accept the challenge? We’ll know in exactly 12 months!
With construction estimated to take 9 months the event organizers hope that everything will be ready in time for the 2015 Hip Hop History Month celebration. Next year’s event promises to be on for the ages!
2015 JP Scratches
Story and photos may be reprinted in their entirety.
Nearly 40 years ago hip hop was born. On two coasts it evolved into completely distinct forms of the same base element. Just as both the Diamond and Graphite are both forms of Carbon, the atoms of the base element are simply bonded together in a manner which in the end produce completely different products. By the mid 1980’s both New York and California were both considered hip hop meccas; yet their music, dance style, and fashion bore little resemblance to each other.
It was during these early years that Seattle began to form its own identity within the greater hip hop community. Although there is an argument to be made that there were both California and New York influences it wasn’t too long before Seattle began to stand on its own.
Still, for those of us lucky enough to be around during its conception, the Seattle hip hop scene has evolved in ways that no one could have imagined. In this article I would like to share Seattle hip hop from my perspective. In doing such, I hope that you will forgive me if I saw things differently from you that may have also been there at the time. Please accept this article as a show of love and respect for those that were here from the start.
So around 1982 rap music started getting some air play by legendary DJ Nasty Nes Rodrigues. A Seattle rapper with his own tape (let alone LP) was hard to come by; but K-Fox DJ Nasty Nes did what he could to push the music of local artists such as the Emerald Street Boys and Sir Mixalot. The influence of West Coast “freak-rap” such as Egyptian Lover was very evident in Sir Mixalot’s early recordings, although he alternated from “freak” to “fun” with raps modeled after Brooklyn based rap group Newcleus. Shortly after, groups and individuals such as the Silver Chain Gang, Daddy D, KOC, and Jam Delight begin making names for themselves on the Seattle rap scene.
Of these groups the Emerald Street Boys quickly rose to the top, recognized as a complete performance package, even getting attention from Seattle’s premier music newspaper The Rocket.
Meanwhile… Breakdance is slowly making its way into Seattle with kids popping and locking at the occasional YMCA or Boy’s Club Party. It also begins to make appearances at some of the larger summer parties held in Mt. Baker and Rainier Valley by the Dumas and Wiley families. Iconic breakdancer Junior Alefaio and Carlos (Slamalotte) Barrientes form two legendary groups “the Emerald City Breakers” and “Seattle City Breakers”.
Then came the Motown 25 performance and the Michael Jackson Moonwalk and everyone wanted to learn to breakdance. Undoubtedly 1983 was Seattle’s golden year, as Nathaniel (DJ Paris) Wilson, Jamie Sullivan, and John Meadows lit the fuse and brought down the house with their choreographed dance to the Jonzun Crew’s “Space Cowboy”. The Floor Rockers led by Eric Lamar Johnson and Devon Anderson rocked the Garfield High School homecoming, the Emerald Street Boys, Silver Chain Gang, and MC Andy Hamlin performed at the Black Festival in Judkins Park, and Sir Mixalot’s song “7-Rainier” hits street-gold status selling over 500 copies from the trunk of the Cadillac. Meanwhile… Danny (Scramblin Feet aka DJ Supreme) and Carter (Short Circuit aka FeverOne) from the Seattle Circuit Breakers begin making names for themselves, even as their group performs on Seattle’s Saturday morning variety show “Flash”.
Music videos from Seattle artists were all but unheard of in 1983. But local artist Bobby and Jack Oram (aka Mr. X) released “I pity the man” accompanied by a video shoot at the Blue Moon tavern and featuring the Seattle City Breakers (starring Baby Ray as “Mr. X”). Members of DeRoxy Crew, Grandmaster Breakers, Backstreet Breakers, West Coast B-Boys, and Breaking Mechanism also made brief appearances in the video.
Hot clubs for breakdancers included Lateef’s, Stallions, Club Broadway, Spectrum, Buzzy’s, Skoochies, and oddly enough a little AA joint called Club Fremont. Super groups such as the Circuit Breakers, Paradise, Unlimited Force, Seattle City, West Side, Fresh Force, Breaking Mechanism, 1st Degree, and Deroxy featuring Dave (Pablo D) Narvaez all had a chance to shine in these hip hop friendly clubs. Individuals such as the Mighty Spencer Reed, Dale Lundeen, Reggie Baron, Donald (Ziggy) Zirkle, Gerald Carpio, Flex, Anthony (Mr. Cool) Soriano, Tony Torres, Joe (Dreamer) Baechle, Rubik, Bublz, Chris LaPonsey, Robert Farrell, Wacky & Packy, Ian (Snowboy) Whitmarsh, Sean Holeman, Freaky Lee, and Raphael Contreras quickly became known around town as serious competitors.
1984 Seattle saw its first wax rap album as Sir Mixalot left his job at the video game arcade “Lectric Palace” and teaming with DJ Nasty Nes released “Square Dance Rap”. The following year, Sir Mixalot would continue to build on his fame by releasing a extensive catalog of songs on tape including “On the Map” giving props to fellow NW artists such as Phantom of the Scratch (aka DJ Strange), Vitamix, Wicked Angel, Baron Von Scratch, Glen Boyd, Maharaji, and others.
Seattle also sees its first aerosol mural as DC3 and Kuo (Mr. Clean) Yang paint a block long burner on the side of the Downtown Nordstrom; inspiring other artists such as Musician/Rapper and Graffiti artist Michael (Specs Wizard) Hall, David (Image 8000) Toledo, and Sean (Nemo) Casey to pursue the medium.
Meanwhile.. there was something stirring in Rainier Valley as iconic rapper E-Dawg was beginning to write raps and perform locally as MC Electro Shock…
And just in time for Breakdancing to actually start dying out, Komo television squeezes the last bit of life out of it with Summer Break 84’, featuring a painfully stiff Steve Pool. Despite the decline of breakdancing, dance parties thrown at the YMCA and Boys Club by Sir Mixalot continue to break records with packed attendance. Town hero’s Duck & Shame, Aaron (Kaze) Dixon, Sean (Stax) Moore, and Chris (KE1) Morris are regular attendees, keeping the crowds hyped and the dance floor packed.
1985 Seattle Bandstand aired, just in time for the new dance craze to take-off. The “Prep” was a dance that combined all of the competition that breakdancers craved with the ability to actually dance with your girlfriend. Prep crews such as the Ducky Boys and PPIA (Party People in Action) quickly gained notoriety and neighborhood fame on the program. This year also saw the 40 foot mural on the Garfield High School track by graffiti artist (and Ducky Boy member) David Toledo and Bobby (Vision) Charles, as well as murals by Tony (Skreen) Fleeks, Sean Savage, Merrill (Shylo) Brown, Dorean (Solo Doe) Dinish, Spraycan, Keep & Shame, Bazerk & Faze, Dadone & Spaide, Danny Molino, and others.
The following year we saw increases in Seattle rap presence with Demetrius White, KOC, Frostmaster Chill, Robert (MC Le Rap) Spikes, Bill (Mister Bill) Pleasant, and Big Boss Cross all starting to establish themselves; however, it was the 1987 release from former Seattle Circuit Breaker, Danny (DJ Supreme) Clavesilla that made the nation take notice. Along with Cornel (CMT) Thomas, and Chenelle (Chelly Chell) Marshall they formed Incredicrew. Shortly after Sir Mixalot releases the first full Rap LP from Seattle (SWASS). Sugar Bear (Emerald Street Boys) spins regularly at Club Encore in Renton and has a capacity crowd every weekend.
1987 Nasty Nes returned to his true love and local rap on the KCMU station, along with Music Menu record store owner and rap aficionado “Shockmaster” Glen Boyd. In heavy rotation are Seattle artists Chilly Uptown and Kid Sensation. Local artists Specs Wizard, PD2, Kevin Gardner, Tony O, Redwine, 2Smooth, Dwayne Pitre, Spencer Reed, Nicky F aka MC Ready, Richard & Randy Marley, and Kelly (DJ Zippy K) Peebles are all contributing to a vibrant music scene. A great year for rap, Seattle also saw the emergence of Duracell featuring Derrick (Silver Shadow D) and Bruce (Horton B) Griffith. Barry (DJ B-Mello) Williams also announces he’s arrived with trend setting mix tapes that establish him as a top-shelf DJ.
David (Image 8000) Toledo and Sean (Nemo) Casey complete the seminal aerosol mural “ImageNemo” at Gasworks Park, inspiring the next generation of graffiti writers even as David Toledo himself retires from the art.
By the way, the New York City Breakers came to town and were shut down by the High Performance Breakers, putting a nail in the coffin of breakdancing in the 80’s.
The 1990’s brought some hot new rap acts that not only lit the streets of Seattle on fire but gained nationwide attention. Criminal Nation and High Performance (yes, they rap too!), Brothers Of The Same Mind, and Silly Rabbit featuring Tony Russell all put out quality albums.
Meanwhile…, Tyrone (Cool Rippin’ T aka TYRONE the Working Class Hero) Dumas starts making beats and raps, as his cousin Michael (E-Dawg) Johnson begins mowing Sir Mixalots yard; seeing it as a stepping stone to building a relationship and with future aspirations of a career in the music business.
The nineties also gave us access to our own local video-music station as Public Access Television launched Music Inner City and the Coolout Network featuring Georgio Brown and introducing us to the 206Zulu Queen Kitty Wu, along with Glow Medina and other hosts.
1992 the game changed as Sir Mixalot’s “Baby Got Back” (with B-Side “Can’t Slip” featuring E-Dawg) dominates MTV and the charts, pulling in a Grammy and shining a light on the Mixalot Posse aka the Cosmic Legion featuring Terry “Maharaji” Matthews, Ron “Attitude Adjusta” Brooks, and Steve (Kid Sensation aka Xola) Malik. Glen (Shockmaster) Boyd leaves “Rap Attack” and moves to LA to work for Rick Rubin and Def American Records. Still, local groups such as MurderOne featuring James (King Kels) Kelsey, and PDQ featuring Frankie Wells pushed against the mainstream and produced some of 1992’s best music. 1992 also sees Alison Plumper launch the local music magazine “the Flavor”.
Ps… Did you see how E-Dawg went from mowing the lawn to making platinum albums? Learn from that!
And even as the music scene starts to explode; Seattle graffiti art has also found a new group of heroes including Nathan (SireOne) Hivick, Divine, Hews, Soul Uno, Sneke, Stash, and Rey, while old-school artists Specs and Nemo continue to be major forces in the city.
In 1993 Garfield High basketball star Ishmael (Butterfly) Butler and his group Digable Planets take rap in a whole new direction, E-Dawg and Filthy Rich release “Drop Top” and also appear on the Seattle the Darkside compilation (also featuring Xola, Jay Skee, and 3rd Level), Greg B, Silver Shadow D, Ghetto Children, and Six in the Clip all continue to establish themselves as contenders in the rap game.
The following year Andre Bostic forms Sexy Sounds Management and releases the “Moving Target” album featuring David (Image 8000) Toledo, Dawny (Truck) Toledo and Esera (Easy) Mose (also from the group Nature Boys), with production by DJ Supreme and TYRONE and featuring scratching by DJ B-Mello. Additional artists on the Moving Target album include James (Justice aka Boogie Brow) Stewart and Fred (Just Do It) Stewart. 1994 also saw releases by Greg (Funk Daddy) Buren, DJ Kamikaze, Sinsemilla, DJ Topspin, and Prose And Concepts (formerly Six in the Clip). 1994 also saw the publication and distribution of David Toledo and Michael Owsley’s comic book “Urban” based on their real-life adventures as Seattle graffiti artists.
1995 we saw the stirrings of a rebirth of break dancing, with groups like Circle of Fire, Massive, and Boss crew holding regular cyphers at a number of clubs. Rap-fusion group Silly Rabbit continues to push the boundaries of Seattle music; releasing the ablum “8ball” accompanied by a full length comic book based on the band, written and drawn by David (Image 8000) Toledo and distributed in both the US and Canada. TYRONE release “Middle Man Mojo” to high acclaim and establishes himself as Seattle’s hottest up and coming musician. Source of Labor performs at the Phunky Phat 95 festival at Evergreen State College.
1997 Edward Dumas launches Wet City Records with artists such as Twin G aka Twin Gamer, Harrison (Tino T) Allen, Jerome (Price) Riley, and Jerrit (Incomparable) Calloway. Chuckundi (DJ Kun Luv) Salisbury begins establishing himself as one on Seattle’s movers and shakers by hosting some of Seattle’s biggest night-out events; and launches Seattle’s Seaspot Magazine the following year. Seattle B-boy FeverOne becomes an official member of the Rock Steady Crew, and takes under his wing a young break dancer named Jerome (Jerome Skee) Aparis.
Danny (DJ Supreme) Clavesilla has a big year in 1998 as his company Conception Records (featuring producer Jake One) releases the compilation album “Walkman Rotation” and he teams up with Kutfather to host “Street Sounds” on radio station KCMU. 1998 also sees the formation of what would become the Unified Outreach non-profit arts program as David Toledo and Edward Dumas began self-funding free arts programs for youth in homeless shelters and transitional housing.
The following year Seattle’s break dance community sees the formation of its first “super group” (the Massive Monkees) headed by FeverOne protégé Jerome (Jerome Skeee) Aparis. C.A.V.E.’ is formed by brothers Dumi and Tendai Maraire.
Y2K wreaks havoc as faulty systems and futuristic cyborg assassin’s cause the destruction of both the Rocket newspaper and Music Menu Records store. The bright spot for the year? Sportin’ Life Records is established, and Josh (Joshquest) Purden begins a stellar career as one of Seattle’s hottest club DJ’s.
The new millennium sees a new evolution of rap music in Seattle, as Ben (Macklemore) Haggerty performs live for the first time, D’Maurice and Armageddon launch their weekly music and video program, and Suntonio Bandanaz, C.A.V.E’, and Blue Scholars become the new faces of Seattle rap.
2004 Seattle Hip Hop steps outside the box as Ishmael (Butterfly) Butler stars in the film “Men Without Jobs”, and 206 Zulu is established by Danny (King Khazm) Kogita.
2007 Seattle and the rest of the nation saw Jake One establish himself as an major player by producing music for 50 Cent & Mary J. Blige, Rakim and others, and quickly follows up with his on debut album “White Van Music” featuring Vitamin D. Dave (Pablo D) Narvaez of Foxy DeRoxy crew establishes “Studio Narvaez Photography” aimed at documenting NW Hip Hop. Devin Pittman host’s “What’s Good Seattle? The Shop206” on Public Access Television, focusing on local music and arts. DJ B-Mello takes a spot on KUBE radio.
2009 sees more music evolution as former C.A.V.E’ artist Tendai (Oneder Boy) Maraire and Ishmael (Butterfly) Butler form Shabazz Palaces. Massive Monkees take 3rd place on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. MC, DJ, and Graffiti artist Michael (Specs Wizard) Hall releases a new line of comic books (Capstan Media). Rappers Sean Soultheinterrogator Danaher, Gerry Jermaine Borromeo, Sonny Bonoho, and Pierre Petty-p Guinchard gain notoriety. Johnie Storm, Nitro Fresh, and Julie C begin basements sessions in what would become the “Saturday Morning Cartoon” project. 2009 also sees the founding of major the major promotion and management company “The Town Entertainment” by Jazmyn Scott (sister of Andre Phillips from the legendary Floor Rockers crew).
2010 David Toledo, Carlos Barrientes, and Dave (Pablo D) Narvaez host the 30-year Seattle City Breakers Reunion featuring the return of Ziggy; bringing together 4 generations of Seattle B-boys. The event also serves as a launching point for Pablo D’s multi-generational group “the North City Rockers” featuring Ernesto Iraheta, Rigo Jones, Nathan (SireOne) Hivick, and Ziggy Zig Zag. 2010 is also a breakout year for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis garnering praise for “Can’t Hold Us’, while Shabazz Palaces signs with Subpop. The same year David Toledo also partnered with TYRONE to produce a composite live-action/cartoon animation video for TYRONE’s song “Coolest Bruva”.
In 2011 we saw Anthony Ladao, the son of old school B-boy Michael (Shogun) Ladao make a name for himself as the front man for fan favorite pop group Midnight Red. 2011 also welcomes E’s Way Radio featuring Michael (E-Dawg) Johnson in a thank-then-rank format that gets high praise from listeners.
Seattle breakdance hits a high point in 2012 as the Vicious Puppies Crew headlines the “STG Dance This!” showcase at the Paramount Theater. The same year the Massive Monkees win the R16 World B-Boy Masters Championship in Seoul, South Korea. Additionally, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis release “The Heist” which will go on to achieve platinum status. Billy the Fridge begins gaining notoriety as one of Seattle’s hottest rappers. Graffiti artist Delton Son also begins to receive major recognition from Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture culminating in a series of art showings.
Seattle’s hip hop history is very rich and vibrant; with a community as diverse as the city itself. It continues to grow and evolve, but remains connected to its roots thanks to old school icon’s and historians such as DJ Supreme, FeverOne, Pablo D, and others who have stayed active over the past 30 years (30 years???)
I’m going to stop here it you all don’t mind. I’ve shared 1982 – 2012 giving us 30 years of hip hop history in Seattle.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed Seattle’s history from my perspective. Without a doubt there are many crews, individuals, events, and items that have had a profound affect on Seattle, and I hope you forgive me if I forgot to mention them.
Please also take time to visit these other sites for even more history.
In the video David Toledo and his 7-year old daughter Kiki match dance moves in an attempt to one-up each other and win the dance challenge.
The video is a great example of the love shared between a father and daughter and reminds us all to make time to do fun things with our kids, and as David’s Facebook post says, “Make memories with your children.”
David Toledo is from Seattle, Washington and was raised in North Seattle. Due to Seattle Public School’s busing program of the 1980’s David attended Garfield High School in Seattle’s Central District his freshman-Junior year ~ to which David says was a blessing as it allowed him to grow artistically in such a arts-rich environment which was also home to Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and most recently Macklemore.
“I loved my time at Garfield. I made some life-long friends and really grew as a person. It was while at Garfield that I was introduced to the hip hop culture and most notably for me, the hip hop style of letter and character design. I returned to the north end my senior year and graduated from Ingraham High School, but I am so thankful that I was able to attend Garfield for those crucial years.” David said.
The style of lettering and character design has played a large part in David’s adult life as he has become well known for his cartoon animation and comic book design classes. A published artist, writer, and director, David splits his time between his professional career and volunteer services working with low income and at-risk youth through the Unified Outreach youth arts program. (www.UnifiedOutreach.com)
“My mother was a great example of a giving heart. She actually started a food bank and emergency services hub from our home in North Seattle back in the early 1980’s. She would prepare and deliver care packages, volunteer at soup kitchens, take in families that needed temporary housing…. She poured her heart into our neighborhood. She showed us that love is an action word.”
David’s mother (Alice) food bank article 1984.
“I try to live up to that. God has blessed me with some artistic ability, and I try to use that to the best of my ability to inspire kids. I came from a single mother household so I know some of the struggles they are going through. Drawing, painting, music, acting… all of these things help to break down barriers and build self esteem that is so crucial in healthy emotional development.”
David and daughter (Kiki)
David says that he and his daughter have been dancing together (and against each other) for years and that it was actually his daughter’s idea to post the video which is actually a few years old. When they came across it on an old computer disc they thought it was so funny that they just had to post it. They never expected that the video would go viral.
“We’re glad that it has touched so many people. The feedback has been so positive and it’s wonderful to see how it has inspired others to get a little silly with their kids. The window for making lasting memories is so short, we have to cherish that time with our children.”