RW: You took that formula to create the 1st All Love Block Party in 2017 on 17th & Randolph. How did this annual event that Philly has come to love start?
BT: I was living in Boston from 2014 to 2016 and came to homecoming 2015 or 2016. I was with Melvin who is my partner now and my man Shaq. We were all young around 24 or 25 and I was saying that we should start a business. One of them was in between jobs and it made sense to them, I just had to move back to Philly so it can start. I quit my job, packed everything I had in two suitcases and my DJ equipment, hopped in a rental car and was down there. I had a little money saved from my old job, so I was able to survive a little bit, living with Shaq for a little bit then me and Melvin moved back in together and created the group 91 Republic that was continuing the mission of So Far Ent., and the Temple block parties, but connect local music artists from different cities.
We linked up with Asher Roth because he was trying to do something similar and at first, we were thinking of making it a college tour, but then we decided to do something hear in Philadelphia. We can empower local artists and bring local music artist from other places. That’s where the first All Love Block Party came from. We had Asher Roth, Chuck English, Michael Christmas and Marcela Cruz who both are from Boston. Chynna Rogers who came out and killed it, rest in peace. We created this free festival like event, but it felt like being in huge festival. You had vendors, food, music, kids running around, people playing games and having a good time.
RW: I noticed how you reached out to DJ Na$h to assist her with her event International Bounce. What was it about her and event that made you want to help her event?
BT: I appreciate Na$h because this work is not easy, and she was already doing it on her own in her monthly capacity. When I met her, she had this party with a DJ I was cool with. I went out to go to their event and I was caught off guard when I first Na$h because she treated like we had been friends for years. I meet a lot of people and most of them are reserved for their own personal reasons but the way she greeted was different and welcoming. Fast forward she’s doing Interna$shional Bounce every month at 700 and every party was a good time that had some thangs on there [laughs]. My business partner Melvin Powell was the director at Sunflower, and we had done All Love Block Party a couple times there which helped launched the Sunflower brand and getting there name out. But last year once we were finally getting through the pandemic and do events out there again, I felt like Sunflower’s demographic didn’t represent us, the community and culture of Philly. It wasn’t very diverse and didn’t really feel welcoming. We were already doing All Love but it’s still a mixed crowd. I saw what Na$h was doing, Juneteenth had become a national holiday and it was on a Saturday, I thought it would be a great idea to have her event at the venue. I hit her up and she didn’t have much hesitation at all and was like “Let’s do it.” Now once you see DJs like Na$h, Bobby Flowers, that increases Sunflower Philly to attract more who may not have known about this space enjoy their time and want to come back. We can’t just have Black attendees, Black vendors, Black DJs or Black performers. We need Black organizers as well and representation on that side.
RW: By helping her did that spark the idea of Black Soul Summer?
BT: It definitely played a big role in it. It was good that we could have these two major festivals in the span of a couple of months from each other. Black Soul Summer kind of started in this year in April but the idea started last year when were planning the first Juneteenth. I need Sunflower to give me a bunch of dates so I can book them and bring folks like Na$h, Bobby Flowers, Stock Up Selekta XXX who can bring quality events. I’ve been doing this work a long time from different angles, so I do have a heightened understand of the intricacies of event production. The logistics like project planning and management, budgeting, maximizing your resources. Picking the right people to be involved so that you can have something people are going to be excited about. Black Soul was a system created to collaborate with other event producers to bring multiple summer special events underneath one umbrella. We led with Na$h and Tame Artz because there was already a working relationship there and they wanted to do their events for free which lined up with All Love Block Party.
Through our power of collaboration, we can utilize vendor and resource pool. We fundraise as a collective so instead of each one of us getting our little money here and there we’re bringing it as a pool which helps from a sponsorship perspective. We could all hit them up individually and get something but now they must come to one space and can have their whole summer mapped in Philadelphia. Four free community festivals and other quality ticketed events in between. That can make them feel more comfortable giving a bigger chunk to one entity instead of going all over the places looking for something to hit. Hip-hop in The Park is more element to hip-hop base and try to get real boom back with it while making it current as well. We’re going to have some great names for that event. Hip-hop and jazz is going to have more instruments, bands style. Both events are going to be at the Lucien Blackwell Community Center out in West Philly on 47th and Aspen. We’ll be working with the Mill Creek Community Partnership, MCCP. This will be their second hip-hop and jazz festival. We created Black Soul Summer to reclaim Black outdoor events spaces.
RW: This lineup is fire. Mathew Law, DJ Aura, DJ Sega, Selekta XXX, who I just found about at the Recording Academy Philadelphia Member Celebration event, and she was DJing and I went up to her and told her that I thought her set was dope so I got a little excited to see her on the lineup. Also, some dope local music artist such as Queen Jo, The Bul Bey, Seraiah Nicole, Kingsley Ibenche, and Rae Dianz. That lineup feels like Temple campus with you hosting, DJ Hvnlee who started DJing on Temple’s campus and having DJ Damage with It’s Feese as the headliner. You mentioned earlier how DJ Damage, Matthew Law and DJ Sega had the parties and events on lock during your time at Temple. What type of influence did these three DJs have on you?
BT: Damage taught me how to DJ. It was my freshman year and he sought me out. I was young from Boston running my big ass mouth and making a lot of noise creating my own space, throwing parties that people enjoyed. I can’t remember how he contacted me, I think it was by a friend who connected us, and he came up to me and was like “Yo I heard you a DJ, let me show you some stuff.” No bullshit, he came up to my door and I had this little controller and he looked at it and was not impressed. [laughs] He was coming from turntables and actually scratching so he sees it and starts laughing. So, he’s like “Let me get busy on this shit real quick,” and bro he starts doing shit I didn’t even know you could do. He was just scratching and cutting up all this crazy stuff and I’m just impressed as hell at his skills. He showed me early on how to practice, count beats, mixing and getting out of songs and he was a really good teacher because I learned all of that real quick.
I got connect with Feese because the director of the “4 Wings” video was my one of best friends in college Kingspy. They were super influential in my beginnings, they were always on Temple’s campus and Damage was always playing at those spots in the city; Shampoo, 27, and Pinnacle. And with Feese always keeping the party hyped, so they were both excited to do a collaboration together instead of Damage just doing a set. Feese was telling me how they haven’t performed together in over five years so this will be their first time in a long time so I’m looking forward to that. Damage had his own club music style which to me felt like a mixture of Philly and Jersey club, but Sega style felt more Philly mixed with Baltimore. Sega would have people losing themselves at parties because of the music he was playing. Matt was always in the cut bar spot playing a lot of B-cuts and get it poppin. This is almost like my thank you to those guys because of their consistency and how they all played a significant part during my time at Temple.
All Love Block Party takes place Friday, July 17th from noon to 8 p.m. at Sunflower Philly; the event is free with RSVP, and you can do that here.