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An occasional feature in which esteemed D.C. rapper Head-Roc shares what’s on his mind
In an effort to popularize artists and groups who have more than paid their dues and paved the way for others within the D.C. arts community, I have decided to provide profiles on who they are and what they are up to now. Many are still rocking today, under different names and configurations, still pushing the envelope with hopes of achieving sustainable careers to continue pursuing their passions. Two months ago, I spoke to Akil Nadir of Dirty Water fame, whom I had the pleasure of having come through to rock the Art Under Pressure presents Power Moves party at Ras Hall. This time around, I want to throw full shine on another D.C. hip-hop legend, Terence Nicholson, better known to the world as Sub-Z of the world-phenomenon band Opus Akoben.
I’ve been waiting for this brother to unveil his latest undertaking for a while now, and once I found out about the other D.C. indie-rock stars involved on his Thaylobleu project, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Along with the Opus Akoben anchor, members of Poem-cees, Storm the Unpredictable, and Uninterrupted are all a part of Thaylobleu. I can’t say enough about these and other individuals, groups, and crews, and the immeasurable sacrifice of family, friends, lovers, children, life, and, yes, death over the last 20 years living and shaping the D.C. music scene. And I like to let the artists tell it in their own words.
Members: Terence Nicholson, Ezra Greer, DJ Ayce International, Anisha Moon Newbill, Darrell Perry, Bill Vaughn, Jay Nichols
Years professionally active in D.C.: 1
Neighborhood: Ward 8
Genre: funk rock
Musical influences: Jimi, Miles, Led Zeppelin, Queens of the Stone Age, KISS, Frank Zappa, Ezra Greer, Earth Wind and Fire, Radiohead, Bad Brains
Favorite local artists: Cornel West Theory, Asheru, Head-Roc, World of Light,
Shout Outs: The Most High God, mom, my wife Sarah and son Gabriel
Head-Roc: Peace, family. For those that don’t know, please tell Chocolate City and the world a little something about yourself
Terence Nicholson: I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. My father was a craftsman and my mother was a nurse who was always into music. The first record I ever got was a 45 RPM by KISS called “Shock Me.” My next door neighbor was this black cat named Eric Alexander and he had a band called Electric Lady Experience. They did Jimi Hendrix tunes and some originals. I used to just sit on the wall and watch them rehearse. I was only 11 years old, so I could not be a roadie but they used to let me carry equipment. I was trying to write songs back then and start my own group but that wouldn’t happen till way later. It wasn’t too long after that when I got exposed to hip-hop. It was new and fresh. I got with this MC crew called Dynamically Fresh (1984) and we used to get on the Frank Ski and Larry G show on UDC’s radio station at the time. At the same time, Kokayi and I used to get down a little since we knew each other from elementary and high school. Years later, Kok and I became founding members of Freestyle Union, founded by Toni Blackman, and started traveling and gigging with saxophonist Steve Coleman. This later turned into Opus Akoben. In the last couple of years, I have sort of returned to my roots: rock, hip-hop, go-go, reggae and such, and have been just following my heart with the Thaylobleu project.
HR: Please, tell Chocolate City about your latest project, as well as some of the folks you worked with to make it happen.
TN: Thaylobleu is my latest effort and I am very amped about it. I am working with bassist Ezra Greer, guitarist Darrell Perry, Bill Vaughn of Urban Intalek Studio, DJ Ayce International, Jay Nichols, who plays drums with Citizen Cope, and singer Anisha Moon Newbill. Videographer and hella MC Heron Gibran did the debut video. I am so humbled to be around this much talent.
HR: Please explain the kind of support you’d like to see from Chocolate City and the surrounding areas that would be beneficial to you as an artist, and the D.C.-area arts community as a whole as you work your project.
TN: I think that the best support any artist in the District can have is the support of fellow artists and the understanding that paying to see your man (or woman) is support as well. Personally, I appreciate the positive energy that has been coming with the video and the single.
HR: OK, family, so what’s the next move for Thaylobleu?
TN: Well, I am navigating the logistics of managing family (my wife and son) with upcoming gigs and potential tours. I am finishing the album and visualizing stage shows that are very creative. Like mixed media Nine Inch Nails action.
Thaylobleu performs Saturday at 9 p.m. at Ras Hall, 4809 Georgia Ave NW. $3.