River Kings – Marco Pave & Alfred Banks

This is my attempt to “write” a wrong.  Back in September of 2016, I interviewed two seriously dope hip-hop artists, in anticipation of releasing the post before their 6 city tour.  I, Kim B., downloaded an app to record our phone interviews.  I, Kim B., didn’t check the settings on the app.  I, Kim B., didn’t turn off the app after said interviews, so I, Kim B., recorded about 77 other phone calls, and in doing so, deleted the two conversations that led me to install the app in the first place!  Crap in the crappers, y’all.  Crap in the freakin crappers.

I knew I would have to make it up to them.   But when?  Now, mane. Now!

Let’s talk a walk back to September 4, 2016.  The first stop of the River Kings tour, featuring Marco Pave and Alfred Banks.  At The Den, A fitting establishment for the intimate crowd that surrounded the stage.  I’m sure these were the people who mattered the most to Marco Pave, I’d like to think that I’m included in that number, cause I’m that girl.  I’m also pretty certain the crowd included people who anticipated the intersection of Alfred Bank’s NOLA flow and Marco Pave’s Memphis style.  Definitely count me in that number.

The show was opened by Higher Class, a super hype duo with a kinetic presence that gave you the permission to understand you were being prepped for what was about to be an epic show.  After their set lifted the mood and elevated the energy, I decided to step outside to greet some familiar faces and have a little chat with Darius aka Phatmak, the owner/operator of The Den.  Little did I know, during our catch-up session, I would be used as his practice audience for his very first stand-up comedy act. Please allow me to rest here for second or two.  As of late, I’ve been watching Cheers on Hulu.  I watched it growing up, but at such a young age, there was no way possible that I could appreciate the snarky and sarcastic tone.  I get it now though!  Anyway, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.  That’s The Den, yo.  Outside of the usual poetry, music, and indie events hosted there, Phatmak sometimes has these random potlucks.  So you have all these creatives in the lobby, eatin taco and homemade brownies, playin Connect Four and Jenga, tellin jokes, drinkin a lil somethin, and freestylin & whatnot.  #GoodTimes

After my own personal comedy show, I headed back to the stage to be sure I didn’t miss Alfred Bank’s entrance.  Even though my phone interview with Alfred passed away to digital heaven, I can tell you a few things I remember from my conversation with him.

  • Alfred has a pure fascination with shoes.  Sneakers, to be exact.  Retro, vintage, underrated, you name it, he probably has it.  To visually present to you his fondness for his shoes, he released probably one of the most simple, yet stimulating videos I’ve ever seen.  The concept, plain, the end result, notable.  And it could be that my fondness for this video lies in my affection for guys who care to be just as stylish as me.  You gotta watch the video: https://youtu.be/UCqLhNbCx1w

Alfred’s shoes the night of the show.

  • Alfred’s brother, Orlandas Banks, who inspired Alfred to get in the rap game, battled with schizophrenia and committed suicide.  A devastating blow.  Yet, Alfred took that pain to paper and penned “A Beautiful Letter” amongst other songs and lyrics that pay homage to Orlandas’ everlasting effect on Alfred’s life and music.
  • Alfred was featured, and by featured, I mean the star of a Volkswagen Polo commercial. I remember him telling me they actually shot this commercial with no special effects.  He and the musicians are real deal sitting in the metal frame of a car that is actually on the fareal assembly line, while the car is being poked, prodded and built with with real life metal arms.  Just gone watch it: https://youtu.be/5ECT8Q2KVg0

I introduced myself to Alfred when I first got to The Den.  My first observation; he has a calm assurance about himself.  An unassuming energy that says he ain’t got to be flashy, cause his flow is proven and absolute.  Of course before I interviewed him, I listened to some of his songs.  There’s a stealth to his style, and some secure and solid substance in his stanzas.  Here’s a bit of my favorite from his pen, taken from “Garden District. ” (listen to it on Spotify)

…but it’s cool, I make a living from these verbal actions

And um, I’ve seen the country from all this rapping

Moved to the Garden District, feel like I live in the tropics

All my neighbors are white ladies that love jockin

My team strong, no gardening but we love plottin

I grind like I’m dead broke and I got no options

My name soarin and my people love to co-pilot

I’m reppin NOLA, we let em have it with no problem

Alfred’s set on stage didn’t disappoint.  You know how some artists have an alter ego, and rightfully so.  I mean, if I had the skills to bless the stage, I swear y’all wouldn’t know me.  Spotlight on – Kim will be gone (and replaced by God knows who).  That same assurance you get in person from Alfred, best believe you’re gonna get it on stage.  Be sure to visit his website: www.UnderDogCentral.com

One of the things I loved most about this show…the juxtaposition of Alfred Bank’s poignant poise and Marco Pave’s emphatic energy.  This was maybe my third time seeing Marco Pave in action.

 

Focus, Marco, focus.

Every time he finishes his set, you are left feeling full and wanting no more, cause he gave it all to you.  What gives him the audacity to grow up in North Memphis…dead bodies, homies incarcerated, friends murdered, mother abused…and take that pain and turn it into a perfect prose?  Marco Pave’s rhymes don’t just delve into those childhood circumstances that birthed his creativity, they uncover the hope and drive that pushed him to rise above.   This hope is best displayed when he is operating in social activist mode.  Cause it’s in that vein you understand that his purpose on this earth is far beyond the melodies of music.  The center of his work on the world’s stage revolves around his activism.  You have to see Marco’s TEDx Talk, titled “Art Entrepreneurship: From Hobbyists to Lobbyists.”  But just in case you’re somewhere you can’t watch it, I pulled a bit from his intro, that I believe could be his activist creed:

…That childhood dream called out to me louder, demanding that I dedicate myself further to it.  I listened, and I’m here delivering this talk today.  For urban youth coming of age in an unequal America, in neighborhoods destroyed by deindustrialization and urban renewal, this is a familiar story. If it weren’t for the real consequences of these processes, the real lives that they affect, we could call this kind of coming-of-age tale, cliché.  Yet how I avoided becoming a proverbial statistic isn’t cliché by a long shot.  I was born the youngest of four children in the lower middle-class Muslim household in the inner-city Bible Belt…

Watch the full talk here: http://www.kingofmarco.com/marcopavetedtalk/

Come. Thru. Story!!!  This is what I love about hip-hop artists.  They narrate stories!  If Marco’s TEDx Talk intro doesn’t impel you to want to know more about him, then I’ll have to just gather you are of the lame type. I’m so playing with you. Everyone is fantastic until proven lame.  The best place to learn more about Marco, on his website, of course: www.KingOfMarco.com

As dynamic as Alfred Banks and Marco Pave were, the excitement of their conjoined forces in no way matched that of Marco’s wife,  Zandria.  Zan has this soprano speaking voice that can be traced above and beyond all sounds.  Throughout the show, she cheered on her husband, injecting her affinity for each and every song on his set list.  At one point, Marco pulled out a towel to wipe his forehead, and all you heard was  “that’s my good towel.”  Zan had full-on, how dare you, Black girl conniption in response to her good towel being used to wipe the sweat of a brow.

I love to see Marco and Zan together.  I love to see them laugh together.  I love to see them uphold each other.  And I love their house parties. You know how you go to those house parties with a lot of uppity, look what I can do type folk?  Like, y’all sit around listening to corny radio music, eating corny food, having corny and baseless conversations?  Nah bruh, at Marco and Zan’s house, you’re libel to get hit in the head with a Nerf football, sit down crisscross applesauce on the floor, get a tarot card reading from THE Jamey Hatley, cry from this reading cause it confirms your creative space in this world, wash dishes cause yo mama taught you that to help clean is the least of your service when you’re invited to someone’s home, chat with your daughter’s German teacher about an opportunity for your daughter to travel to Germany, and end up crying again cause her teacher praises you for raising such a jewel (hey Frau Warren, Maddie misses you!).  Anything can and will happen under the roof of the good Dr. Zandria Robinson, and Marco Pave.  Of course I’ve got to shamelessly drop Zan’s link here, cause she is all types of Black girl righteousness, www.NewSouthNegress.com.

 

Zan hosted a surprise birthday party for Marco, the night he opened for Bilal.  Freakin Bilal, y’all. The very next day, Marco and Zan had to fly out the city, cause they be all over the US, puttin on for the city.  I missed the Bilal show and I’m mad about that, cause later, I saw a pic of Zan singing on stage.  Is there anything this woman can’t do?

 

Let me bring this back and close it out tho…

I do believe it was meant for me to lose those recorded phone interviews.  Cause that write-up would have been released prior to the tour stop in Memphis.  Meaning it would not have included my experience at the show.  But guess what, yo?  You will soon get a chance to get your very own, first-hand experience, cause Alfred and Marco are planning another River Kings tour, and they’re stopping in 18 cities.  No excuses.  Pick a city.  Any city.

Note:  I just checked Marco’s FB page this morning and I see that the tour stop in Memphis will be April 6th.  And I also read that it’s going to be at Opera Memphis and the Memphis Symphony will be involved.

I live for moments in Memphis where I get the blessed opportunity to be in the presence of Black artistic greatness.  These moments energize me!   As God would have it, I live in a city that is art accessible.  I don’t have to request the VIP table, or spend $25, or wait in a line to enjoy the experiences that cultivate my creative soul.   If you have not attached yourself to the Black creative culture of the city, you are missing out. On life.

Now, I’m gonna call you, the reader, to action.  Go back and click all fifty-leven links I have presented to you and familiarize yourself with these River Kings.  Cause it’s Saturday, you ain’t got no job, and you ain’t got ish to do.  Lol!

Bye, y’all.

-Kim