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Dream Chasers: Cut from a different cloth. They see the end goal (Vision) – even when others don’t (Faith). 

They plan their work and work their plan. Adjust as needed. Repeat. In this case, these chasers aspire to a career in the Hip Hop music game. It’s always been this way. Those who dream chase will, more often than not, win. Risk-takers, sacrificers, not permission-askers. That kind of spirit improves lives, builds careers, companies and nations.

On a warm, late-August night; that spirit was in effect.

East Village, NYC

We’re at a spot, called Lit Lounge, for a show. If I ever put my filmmaker-hat back on and need that underground rap scene – I’ll know where to go. Shouts to the all the artists – they all rocked. Specifically, I was there supporting three gifted, up-and-coming Uptown artists.

There’s a dual-life for most dream chasers who work their jobs then hustle out. Hoping time races so they can catch your second breath and lose themselves in their passions. On those night streets, people walk in and out of the numerous trendy restaurants and bars. Others stumble through with a purchase from the liquor store. Some girls strut by wearing clothing that’s a size, or two, too small. There are millions of stories in the city that always grinds, sometimes schemes, but never sleeps.

Uptown Hip Hop Renaissance Part II: Show & Prove

Around 10:30 PM

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The start time was set for 9, 9:30 PM, but these events always seems to get begin later. It’s like an unwritten rule regarding creatives. Outside the spot, these dream chasers emerge solo or in small groups. First up, Dubwork, an exceptional talent with Uptown and Jersey roots, parked his Honda Accord near the lounge. Immediately, he’s on the phone with his sister who drove into the city with friends. Apparently, baby sis wasn’t specific about there parking location and Dub is trying to get their tickets to them. Each artist had an amount of tickets to sell prior to the show. Big brother can only shake his head and chuckle after he, finally, finds them. Note: When dream chasing, you want as little stress as possible. Dubwork has been making music for a decade and has distinguished himself. His latest mixtape is, not-so-ironically titled,“Still Dreaming.”

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                                                                                     Ace IOD backed by IOD, including Dubwork
Next up: Ace IOD, leader of the tight crew, IOD (as in “I Over Do It”). Childhood friend, Dubwork, is counted as one of its members. Appearing with Ace is the much-loved Tellie Floydd (if needed, check Part I of this series) and other supporters. Minutes later, IOD member/rapper Slasher Da Genneral appears. There are pounds, hugs. Liquor is poured and shared. The love is real. Strong. Forged over years. The IOD mentality came about during Ace’s and Slasher’s time growing up in the drama-filled and, too often, tragic Washington Heights section of Northern Manhattan. Before developing their close-knit group, these young men found common ground through their passion for football at local George Washington High School. At “G-Dubs,” they were mentored, first, on life then the game by longtime coach Anthony “Coco” Thompson. Hard work, goal-setting, love and respect to your teammates and developing a killer work ethic that destroyed the competition. That next-level grinding led them to near-perfection one season. That year, several teams were being beaten so badly they waved the white flag early. And so the seeds were planted forever. “We were taught you gotta keep working extra-hard, over-do-it, for what you want in life. And to be loyal, look out for family – we all we got,” Ace shared. This principle became the anchor holding down his personal and professional aspirations. Besides dropping good music, IOD has become a lifestyle. And their brand moves a lot of merchandise.
 
Found my phone’s flashlight …
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                                                                               Uptown’s Own: Ace IOD and Tellie Floydd

We make our way in – no one is searched. Had my license out and everything. Must’ve given off that came correct-type vibe. It’s a good sign. No b.s. Just a fun night taking in some fresh Hip Hop. Inside the grimy, graffitied-out walls of this two-level venue, the scene is set and ready to go down. Once downstairs, as if on cue, the rolling commences and weed smoke takes over the atmosphere lasting the whole night. Tellie helps me find my iPhone’s flashlight so I can shine a light as he rolls a dutch in the darkened spot.

11:30ish

Host Stonie McCloud takes the mic and urges the crowd, “I need everybody BACK THERE, to move UP HERE.” Some comply. Most people practice detachment from people and experiences they aren’t familiar with. Artists are brave souls. In exchange for an audience’s attention, the one holding the mic needs to prove they deserve to do so.

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                                                                                                                 Tellie Floydd in action

Dream Chaser 1: Tellie connects with his quick flow, humble, “everyday man” approach. Rocking a blue bandage due to a cut finger at work, I notice onlookers nod to his sounds. Straight up a solid, genuine performance including a fave of mine “Bout Dat.” Nothing is given kids – it’s all earned.

 

dubrox

Dubwork, Andino and Ace

 

Dream Chaser 2: Dubwork came on and turnt it up even higher. His joints really connected: “Pressure,” “Cohibas and Wine” plus one many could relate to, “Fuck Work.” (How many people hate their jobs?) He moved the crowd. The audience lost their minds when he got everyone (including me) two-stepping. Officially dope, people.

 

acerox

Dream Chaser 3: Ace carries a powerful, charismatic presence. His tracks bang with that sound that goes through your chest and out your back. He builds on the energy AND RIPS IT.  He blessed the audience with a new joint called “Young Gods” featuring Dubwork and other tracks like “Dope Boy.” Hype man Andino helped the show come off, too. Viewers showed their appreciation.

There’s real talent, and genius, that can’t be denied despite ethnicity or location.

Around 1 AM

I’ve seen what I figured – I congratulate the fellas and bounce. Shout out to promoter Alex (of OBNXS New York), Stonie McCloud and DJ Don Dillenger. It was a good time.

(As long as it isn’t destructive.) The world belongs to those with the guts to pursue what they want out of life. Tellie, Dub and Ace are proof. Dreams will remain fantasies until you put in the work to chase and attain them.

Even when you’re sure you know something, experiencing it still matters. There’s a saying, though I can’t recall the exact words or source. Basically: “Better to be in the arena battling, than to not be in it at all.”

Best Regards,
 
Fabian Baez
 
Fabian Baez is a, New York City-based, Hip Hop Web Copywriter/Creative & Marketing Specialist focused on helping others succeed while advancing the Movement. Learn more about him, his work and connect: fabianbaez.com | @FabianBaez | [email protected]