Next Level, Belgrade

Next Level Program


For 2 1/2 weeks, I had the distinct honor of joining legendary Hip Hop Producer Diamond D, Pop and Lockin’ Specialist Pop Master Fabel, and Denver’s finest DJ B*Money as the lyricist/MC instructor for the Serbian contingent of The Next Level Program.

Next Level Team Serbia

Next Level is “an initiative of the US State Dept & UNC Music Dept to send artists around the world to use hip-hop as a tool for cultural diplomacy & conflict resolution.”  Over 2 weeks, we worked with a vibrant community of Serbian Hip Hoppers in Belgrade and Novi Sad. The Belgrade experience concluded with an outdoor performance at Dom Omladine after 10 days of skill-building. Novi Sad’s two and a half day residency concluded with a performance of its own, which we shuffled indoors at the promise of rain.

former Yugoslav Army Headquarters, bombed in 1999 as it stands in 2014

I was inspired by the hope that exists beneath the justifiable layer of pessimism exhibited by many of the students with whom I taught, learned, and chilled. It was only 15 years ago that NATO bombed former Yugoslavia. On one outing, we drove past the Yugoslav Army Headquarters that were damaged by NATO cruise missiles in 1999. Trying to build a cultural identity while physical and psychological remnants of war are so palpable is it’s very own struggle. In some essences, it seems that such a truth motivates the art and expressions of the people.

We also experienced Serbian nightlife, partying along the Danube and Sava Rivers with a all-night, energetic crew. Everyone–the hotel staff, the workshop participants, the tech and soundpeople, our Embassy hosts–generously extended their time and energy to ensure an expansive, creative experience and an overall good time. I’m so very grateful to everyone involved.

Visit Next Level’s website for a slue of photos and videos from all Next Level residencies including images from the final Belgrade performance at Dom Omladine and video from our live stream session at Watch More TV Radio in Novi Sad. And please visit the following links to support the work of those committed to making music, fighting homophobia and classism, and building sustainable Hip Hop culture in Serbia:


shirlette Next Level performance with MC Shan

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shirlette [T4GB] live at Conne Island, Leipzig Germany

Thanks to Iwo Betonkultur, who’s been documenting Purple Velvet International Female Hip Hop Tour from an insiders perspective, here’s video from our performance of “Joy Division,” at this tatted venue called Conne Island in Leipzig, Germany. The performance features live drumming courtesy of THE Majus Beats, producer/drummer extraordinaire who’s energy alone adds bounce to my step. Loved having him with Gabe, Tommy, and me if only for a couple songs.

Plenty more #purplevelvet videos and photos at !

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NK2NC Video: sook + shirlette

“An Ideal Partnership,” Creative Loafing

hot off the reelz! here’s the only song, my dear sookee and i ( Shirlette Ammons (Twilight for Gladys Bentley)) have ever recorded in real time, in the same country, on the same soil, in the same time zone, in the same room using the same mic! (stay tuned, tho. our collab catalog is soon to rival lionel richie and diana ross:) written and produced during #prettypreciouscargo fall 2013 ( Hopscotch Music Festival Shiprocked), with Dj Boogie Dan + Gabe Turner + Tommy Rau + Just Photographer Berlin+ my momma:) so much love in these moving images. hope you enjoy:




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shirlette [T4GB] Spring 2014: All Dates Announced!

shirlette [T4GB] spring 2014 is announced and includes eastcoast US dates with The Indigo Girls, the Purple Velvet International Female Hip Hop Tour (with sookee and Lex La Foy) with stops throughout Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Before that are readings and performances in NC, including a rare performance by Shirlette and the Dynamite Brothers at the first annual Art of Cool Music Festival. Browse all below:

Purple Velvet International Female Hip Hop Tour with sookee, May 2014


 shirlette [T4GB] spring 2014 Tour Dates:

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Hey Mami (se+sa remix)

Hey Mami (se+sa remix)

So, I had a birthday recently, and, as a gift to myself, I remixed one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite new bands (and homies), Sylvan Esso. In the spirit of Bentley Mode and T4GB, this is my initial effort at producing, recording, and mixing a song, so, it has elements of a first-time: a bit awkward and imperfect in certain places, but hopefully, worthy of seconds:). Download it for free and if you dig it, pass it along!

p.s. Thanks to Nick and Amelia!

Hey Mami (se+sa remix)

Lyrics to sa verse:

you recently creeped on me wearin your sweet victoria
i treat your secret like wikileaks, cuz you reek of euphoria
it’s obvious knottyheads clock your body like pocket watches
they don’t know your flavor notes, you like chocolate in ur coffee
when it’s sweet and it’s black and it’s genius from the back
add subtract sinful and ambidextrous acts
i’m a dyke, i like figures and femmes into artifacts
fingering apartment keys is not an act of platitude
let’s make a deal, peel your panties like a nasty attitude
i’ll introduce you to my collection of, um, detachables
i keep them in the drawer you’re so curious to ravage through
maybe you’ll find a thing or two that pleases and surprises you
so here’s what ima do, follow your every lead
pick the vehicle and the speed, you’ve peeked me to my greediest
i cancelled the facebook events i wasn’t even attending yet
just to equip you with this sylvan|shirlette hey mami remix


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Hey Mami (se+sa remix) FREE DOWNLOAD

available for free download at midnight 3.4.14

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shirlette [T4GB] announces tour dates with the Indigo Girls

I’m so excited and honored to join the Indigo Girls for a string of east coast dates! We hope to see you all on the road. All dates listed below. More good news coming soon!

April 19 - Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts,  Annapolis MD

April 20 - Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown NY

April 22- Birchmere, Alexandria VA

April 23 - The National, Richmond VA

April 24 - Havester Performance Center, Rocky Mount VA



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Fuckable Feminist (or Standin On the Verge of Gettin It On)

wangechi mutu, a fantastic journey

some who’ve engaged #t4gb have asked, ‘what does fuckable feminist mean?’ i’m grateful

ana mendieta

for the question and wanted to take a moment to further explore the term as i’ve embraced it, as well as its inspiration.

first, i did not coin the term ‘fuckable feminist’ to (further) restrict boundaries of ability (i.e. who is ‘able’ to fuck whom or who is ‘able’ to be fucked by whom) nor did i create it to exist within binaries of ‘types of feminists’ (fuckable vs unfuckable feminist). the song and the term were originally created to combine two concepts that have been historically polarized by patriarchal heteronorms. quite personally, it is a celebration of the femme women i love (particularly as a self-identified butch/dyke). it is an ode to the femme women who beckon me with their minds, tenor,

terri gender bender, la butcherettes

and intelligence as much as their bodies, as we choose each other’s bed, which also means affirming the way i offer comfort and support (sexually and intellectually), choosing my gender presentation (and me choosing hers), choosing to exchange intimate care and good love with an integrity that asserts both of us as ‘fuckable feminists.’ the term is meant to be political as well as dense, complex, and inflaming; no different than the two words that comprise it.

from kai lumumba barrow’s domestic labor installation

so, on this heart-shaped ‘holiday,’ where love pays a commercial price for its pedestal, i salute the fuckable feminists of the world who are always standing on the verge of gettin it on; gettin it on despite imperialism and layered disenfranchisements; gettin it on in the name of freeing minds and liberating bodies; gettin it on because every movement needs a sexy-sweet-and-sweaty soundtrack, gettin it on for the fever induced by artsy femmes, a personal fetish. i see you, elegant hustler in scarlet stilettos, that defiant splash of ‘ride or die’ staining your skinny jeans, highlighting pages in your own manifesto, rifting the squared edges of the world with your middle finger’s manicure. you truly do. the damn. thing.

and i hope to be seen by you.

Betty Davis, Fuckable Feminist

“fast forward to reminisce on the poetry/if i ain’t in your vicinity, then woe is me\there was a song written, called your eyes open senses/ traded the cussin for kissin, your body’s a composition\intelligentsia, menace beyond the black fist/ squeezably lovable fuckable feminist”

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Download FREE T4GB Wintry [Re]mixes!

The south is once again on lockdown due to Mother Nature’s lashing of blizzardy whiteness. Since you’re probably spending way too much time in front of your computer screen, why not download these free wintry [re]mixes of T4GB tunes?

First up, “Creeped On” remixed by Bueller Tout nou:

Next, Mitch Rothrock’s ‘bundle up’ remix of Gut Lightnin:

The next two remixes are by one of DURTY Art Collective’s resident producers, Funkleberry. First up, Dandelion the ‘Heat Up the Leftovers’ Remix:

And the “Triple Fat Goose” Remix of LateNightSlowDance, another Funkleberry production:

And last but not least, the “Classic Original Heat” remix of Eatin Out (feat. sookee) by Apple Juice Kid:

Stay warm and ear-whetted, my fellow southerners. And nevermind those naysayers from other regions who don’t understand the way we slow drag in times like these. Our pace is an acquired one:)


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“I Am Woman,” Gladys Bentley (Ebony Magazine, August 1952)

In this article, written by Gladys Bentley in 1952 for Ebony Magazine, Bentley renounces her years of  inhabiting ‘the no-man’s land which exists between the boundaries of the two sexes.’

I’ve searched for this article for almost two years as I was gathering background information for my album Twilight for Gladys Bentley, a ‘re-imagining’ of the 1920′s blues singer and ‘bulldagger.’ I have found excerpts, but never the entire article (shouts to Corinna Kahnke for sharing). I am truly moved as I write, aiming to grasp the many complexities of the masks she wore, the external gazes that found her guilty in the court of social normalcy after living so many years as a confident, self-asserting, brash and unforgiving ‘bulldagger’. Please take a moment to read and share any comments you might have.




































































































































Letters to the Editor following publication of “I Am Woman Again”


















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