J Berd : Representing at Pop Montreal 2017 Today

Art and hip-hop goes together like rolled joint to a flame.  Today marks the start of the Pop Montreal Festival. As diverse & eclectic a lineup as that festival is, from ASMA to Wu Tang Clan, Frederick/Hagerstown’s own J Berd will be holding it down by opening the festival tonight at 6-8pm. Along with DJ Blaze, he’ll be doing his set (my guess: a mix of stuff from “Latchkey Kids” and stuff from his upcoming “Overtime” album).  That’s not all – he’s bringing his artwork and installed it yesterday. His art exhibit, titled Adventures in Boom Bap “depicts his friends and fellow musicians in his local scene as well as heroes from Rap history,” and will be up during the festival.

J Berd has been doing some high profile shows lately, including a May 5th Pittsburg show opening for Method Man & Redman. He was also scheduled to do an opening set, opening for Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) at Rams Head in B’more in late September – that’s been postponed until later in the year – we’ll try to update when we have the new date.

This just dropped yesterday: Frederick Playlist did a podcast interview of J Berd.  Check that here.  Some intel we got from listening:

“Overtime” is the title of the new upcoming album – his producer (also produced J Berd’s “Latchkey Kids” had one rule: no cursing.  That was one challenge to recording…

“I don’t have a desire to be too too commercial…” J Berd has been fine tuning his attempt at ‘finding his lane.’  He also laments the lack of venue options in Frederick – something that we echo often here at Western Machines and something you hear me postulate on Subversive Zine.  He spearheaded an underground hip hop series at the now defunct Church Street Pub, something that made Frederick tons more interesting and now sorely lacking since Church St Pub went under.

Something I found out while getting a haircut from J last week (he cuts at East Patrick Barber Shop) that local hip hop illustrator Bernard Rollins will be designing the album cover.  Bernard has been getting mad props from Action Bronson among others (unaccredited props from Migos apparently as they cut and paste his artwork on one of their gold chains they’ve been sporting) and constructed a MF Doom / Duff Man mash-up action figure (I think it’s stamped sealed and approved by both the Simpsons franchise and Doom himself). Check out his instagram here.


Extra Time: We were encouraging Frederick to come out and vote in the Frederick City primaries yesterday.  As of 10pm last night – Aloi lost out to current mayor McClement in the GOP race while Michael O’Conner edged out former mayor Jennifer Dougherty.  They’ll face each other Nov 7th for the final General Election. In the Democratic City Alderman race, the winners advancing to the General Election on November 7: Ben McShane, Roger Wilson and Derek Shackelford will be the new faces vying for the final round while incumbents Donna Kuzemchak and Kelly Russell easily topped the group in their re-election efforts.  In a bit of a surprise, the LGBTQ candidate of choice, Frederick Center director Kris Fair narrowly lost his bid to be a Democratic representative in the Alderman race, coming in 6th for the night, just a hair and a few votes shy.

Some talking points:

  • more shame for Frederick as only 13% came out to vote in this Primary round. 4,220 ballots cast out of 31,735 registered voters in either Democratic or Republican parties.  That # doesn’t reflect absentee votes, but best guess is that amount will be negligible.
  • It was a closed vote in a sense as independents weren’t able to vote in this round and pick their candidates.  Independents shading either left or right of the political spectrum could not vote in this primary round, one of several possible factors for low voter participation.  That led to some speculation, could candidates like Kris Fair been able to get into the ‘final 5’ list had independents been allowed to vote yesterday?
  • There was some buzz initially from the GOP side about Shelly Aloi, low rumblings from several corners of the Frederick hood that she would be able to knock Randy McClement from his mayoral perch.  That buzz may have been from the fucking enormous Aloi signs from a few Market Street residents. Instead, she fell, 40% to his 60% margin.
  • Still on low voter turnout (click here for the 9:49pm City Count)- as much as we can congratulate Michael O’Conner – there’s a sense that Frederick voters on the Democratic side weren’t exactly energized with the choices offered in the mayoral race.  Despite winning, Michael O’Conner will have to navigate carefully around his support for the new downtown hotel/conference center/tannery demolition project from charges from those who would label all that as a taxpayer funded boondoggle -an interesting unintentional coalition stretching across the political spectrum.  Meanwhile, Jennifer Dougherty might have shot down her chances when she expressed her opinion in a forum a few weeks ago that the Taney statues shouldn’t have been removed from outside Frederick City Hall.  In light of the racism on display by the Trump administration since taking office in January and the Dylan Roof racism fueled terrorist attack in South Carolina last year, there’s been a rightful examination of Confederate monuments and statues commemorating figures who have represented the wrong side of history in regards to their roles in slavery and in support of that institution, America’s original sin if you will.  Roger Taney’s decision in the Supreme Court to legitimize slavery was instrumental in Frederick City recent decision to remove Taney’s statue –and rather than destroy it, place it in a more appropriate space (Olivet Cemetery) to remember as a significant figure in history but not to revere.
  • Frederick City’s website was not helpful in steering people to the right polling place.  My own address inputed in the poll finder resulted in a “You are not registered in the system” message to pop up.  I went to North Frederick Elementary school, my closest polling place. The secretary didn’t even know there was a primary election yesterday.  I had to guess that the William Talley Rec Center near Baker Park was it.  Fortunately it was and my name still showed up as eligible to participate.  But where were the banners and displays plastered across the city to participate in democracy and vote?  If banners can be spread out throughout downtown about In the Streets – why can’t huge ass banners with VOTE SEPTEMBER 12 get that date into people’s heads?
  • Got to call out the Frederick News Post:  the coverage was really absent, spotty and not at all helpful for city residents to know their candidates, be really informed with who they are and what they would do in office. Asking the same 3 or 4 questions to each of the candidates, mostly about low hanging fruity questions like what they think about the hotel/conference center is a pretty big fail.  That and they really didn’t alert subscribers to the fact on election day that is was a city wide primary other than some bizarre story about the head of the election committee resigning at the 11th hour on Monday.  Other than that, you wouldn’t been able to ascertain anything important like a city election was happening. No info on polling places, hours and polling close time, etc.  You know, essential information.  Online twitter coverage was slightly better but marginally so.  WM is hoping the new Odgen Newspaper-owned FNP will cease this slap dash / phoning it in coverage of something as vitally important as our own local elections.
  • End this on a positive note: Ben McShane, Roger Wilson,  and Derek Shackelford representing a new wave that could change the dynamics of the Frederick city council, one that would be far more progressive and diverse.  Ben McShane campaigned on being the progressive / anti-trump / pro-immigrants guy – which makes sense since he’s one of the leaders of Frederick SURJ  -a group that spearheaded some early anti-trump rallies after the president initially proposed his bigoted muslim travel ban.  Roger Wilson, endorsed by Frederick County Exec Jan Gardner, and Derek Shackelford are both African Americans – and that is significant since there has been a profound lack of minority representation in the city council, at least since I’ve move here in 2011…

I’m outta here.  Keep resisting and keep advocating for a less bland Frederick. Peace.

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