EPISODE III: FROM SCRATCH
Oakland’s deeply rooted and dynamic Hip Hop culture is as much a creation of the city as it is the city. Art and activism converge in The Town, vibrantly expressed by those who have something to say and aren’t afraid to say it. Oakland’s Hip Hop musicians are the architects of their own movement, built of thought and sound, from scratch. When the San Francisco Symphony takes its cues from musicians like Kev Choice and AÏMA the Dreamer, it’s a heady mixtape of voices and viewpoints—a movement in sound.
Heard in This Episode
Kev Choice (arr. Jack Perla): Movements
AÏMA the DRMR (arr. Jack Perla): Heady
PLAYLISTS & PODCAST
Art and Activism, Connectivity and Creativity
Michael Morgan, Kev Choice, AÏMA the DRMR, DJ Lady Fingaz, Jenay Anolin from Mix’d Ingredients and San Francisco Symphony musicians Kelly Leon-Pearce, Nick Platoff, and Aaron Schuman share how Hip Hop culture embraces a prism of influences, viewpoints, and voices.
CURRENTS: EXPLORE & CREATE
In collaboration with Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, this interactive musical adventure and companion series features conversations and activities designed to guide curious users through the characteristics that shape musical styles explored in CURRENTS. Featured in this episode: Maddy “MADlines” Clifford and Joowan Kim
EXPRESSION THROUGH QUESTION
Rhyming pushes creativity in unexpected directions. Pose a one-line question—but make it rhyme. (Example: “Love is the answer, so why not let it move you like a dancer?”)
Share your rhyme on Instagram or Twitter, using #SFSCurrents (your account must be public) or email email@example.com.
We’ll be displaying the results here.
Kev Choice, piano/composer/emcee
Kev Choice is a pianist, composer, emcee, producer, educator, and activist, hailing from Oakland, CA. He began studying piano and rapping at the age of eleven. After graduating from Skyline High School in Oakland, he went on to earn music degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana and Southern Illinois University. Kev has worked and toured with artists such as Lauryn Hill, Michael Franti, Goapele, Too Short, and more. His own band, Kev Choice Ensemble, combines elements of Hip Hop, Jazz, soul, funk, and classical to create his own unique sound as a pianist and lyricist. He has also produced five solo albums, including his most recent work Social Distancing, created while sheltering-in place. In 2018, he composed the orchestral Hip Hop work Soul Restoration Suite on commission from the Oakland Symphony. Kev Choice is currently on the faculty at Oakland School for the Arts, and he also serves as Vice-Chair of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Commission. For more on Kev Choice, visit kevchoice.wordpress.com.
AÏMA the DRMR, emcee/lyrics
Aima Paule, aka AÏMA the DRMR, is a multidisciplinary artist who has been performing, as well as creating and hosting events, for more than a decade. She is co-founder of Oakland’s beloved Soulovely, a QTBIPOC dance party now going into its ninth year. Aima has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for twenty years and continues to be inspired by the beauty and brilliance of the art, music, and activism that is fostered here. No stranger to collaboration, she believes in the power of using art and music as a bridge between communities. Aima has rocked crowds from Oakland to Barcelona as a vocalist and emcee with groups such as Jazz Mafia, J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science, and Femme Deadly Venoms, with whom she recently recorded Femmenomenon, to be released later this year. As a visual artist, she is drawn towards natural materials, sacred geometry, healing frequencies, and ancestral wisdom and medicines as inspiration for her work. Learn more at aimathedreamer.bandcamp.com.
Lady Fingaz, turntable
DJ/turntablist, producer, and vocalist Lady Fingaz began studying piano at an early age in her hometown of Austin, TX before discovering the art of DJing and turntablism as a teenager. After relocating to San Francisco from New Orleans, she joined forces with the all-female super group Femme Deadly Venoms, placing second in the 2010 US Team DMC competition. She is currently a member of trumpeter Nicholas Payton’s latest project and band, Afro-Caribbean Mixtape. To learn more, visit ladyfingaz.com.
Andrew Levin, electric guitar
A Bay Area native, Andrew Levin embarked on a full-time music career in the multicultural and countercultural center of Oakland following his graduation from college. His songs are firmly rooted in his personal story of building a life around music and overcoming trauma. Andrew has been a creative member of projects including the Kev Choice Ensemble, Emily Afton, and the Jazz Mafia, and he has performed and recorded with the likes of Jody Watley, Terrace Martin, Hans Zimmer, Lyrics Born, Zion, and i. Learn more at andrewlevinmusic.com.
Marcus Phillips, electric bass
Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Marcus Phillips was introduced to music at a young age, playing drums and keyboards in his grandfather's church. Currently bassist for Jennifer Hudson, he has traveled the world playing for artists such as Leela James, Ledisi, Dave Hollister, Tina Campbell, Tony! Toni! Toné!, DJ Quik, Eric Roberson, Mike Phillips, Keyshia Cole, Joe, Eric Benet, Mali Music, Iyanla Vanzant, Kelly Clarkson, and Goapele. His band Top of the Marc features some of the Bay Area’s leading musicians.
Dame Drummer, drums
A native of Cleveland, OH drummer/singer/songwriter/producer Dame Drummer hails from a musical family. Following a professional basketball career, he returned to music and made his way to California. He has collaborated with artists such as Los Rakas, LeVICE, Jazz Mafia, Martin Luther, Marcus Machado, Uriah Duffy, Aisha Fukushima, Shapeshifter, DaM-FunK, Kev Choice, Conya Doss, Alvin Frazier, Myron, Mugpush, DJ Teeko, Predestined Muzic, Sylvia Benford, Sarah’s Girl, Fantastic Negrito, and Liv Warfield. He is currently wrapping up his full-length LP entitled Loveolution. Learn more at damedrummer.com.
CONTINUE YOUR JOURNEY
CURRENTS is an exchange of ideas, a synergy of perspectives. Tap into the artists, organizations,
and ground-level forces shaping and transforming the Bay Area community and the world.