This Friday night, local emcee Andre Upton, aka FLWR CHLD, is assisting a mission to “expand the essence of music created within …” The Mission, more specifically, is to “Save THE Soul,” presented by Friends w/ Benefits and featuring FLWR CHLD, Qween Louie, and Soultry, with Amber Fellows spinning music between sets, at Bona Sera Underground. Funds raised will benefit the local music festival No More Parties in Ann Arbor, a summer street party curated by T.R.I.B.E. and interactive multimedia project Keep Ypsi Black.
“We’re trying to keep the spirits high, for real …” said Upton. Just as you’ll read in the April edition of The Current, where we’ll chat with Louis Picasso from Hiiigher Minds, the Ypsi area’s flowed with the crested wave of a hip-hop renaissance over the last few years, and FLWR CHLD is right in the mix, taking it by storm. We also shined a spotlight on Upton last February for a feature on Ypsi’s leaders in a cultural rebirth.
Soultry, Qween Louie and Upton gathered in a parking lot after FLWR CHLD’s set at #NMPIAA and “vibed out on a melody with the words ‘Peace & Love’ in rotation as a cipher started … The energy was ripe. We then headed towards (JT Garfield, guitarist of Truman and The Grdn)’s porch to jam with a few guys in (Grdn), that was the first time we jammed together. Unforgettable!” Meanwhile, that bond between the three emcees grew and they kept talking about ideas, about music, about everything, even collaborating on a few improvisational jams that were never written down. The time came when they realized the vitality of expressing their signature styles and crafts together in a unified performance for people where they, and everyone could “just let go of some emotional poison …”
The idea behind saving “THE Soul” springs from the trio of performers’ signature blends of music and style, that of an “Afrodelic, funky, soulful experience” that is “formed when expanding the essence of music created from within…” The idea is to provide an audience not only a chance to unite in this pretty spiritual experience, but to basically just “…make you want to dance the bad vibes away…”
“Performing and writing gives you a chance to leap with your emotions,” said Upton. “We all have these thoughts and feelings that we’re not sure of…or comfortable with or fond of … I see the aspect of performing and writing as an opportunity to just get that shit off of me, with no care in the world, and move forward without that weight.”
Upton said that pure, crafty lyricism, and establishing an interactive energy, is crucial. He had a revelatory moment in his teens where he set to returning to all the classics so that he could listen to them with a different ear, thinking about higher ideas to speak to with his own raps and developed a keen sensibility for the poetry of the style.
And here we are … Not only is he a rapper, but he’s the frontman of a rock group, so to speak. He’ll be working with GRDN (featuring JT Garfield on guitar, Dan Shafer on drums, Emmet Cousion on bass, and Greg McIntosh on guitar, with Fellows having contributed on keys recently, as well).
From here, Upton will be working with an Ypsi producer (jay THE intelligent) along with the boys in GRDN. He’s hoping to get more recordings done this month and next, so stay tuned for a possible summertime release (if not sooner …).
Meanwhile, here’s the info on The Mission:
Mission: Save the Soul
Qween Louie, FLWR CHLD, Soultry
Friday, March 10
Bona Sera Underground
(200 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti)