DJ Gentle Jones Spinning in Wilmington Today

Rodney Square hosts music fest
By Grouchy Greg Watkins
The News Journal

A group of musicians, artists, community activists, teachers and students will gather during the first H.E.A.L. Delaware Festival, which is taking place today as part of the city-organized Art Loop.

Philadelphia rapper Last Emperor and homegrown acts The 49ers, Jay Scroll and Gentle Jones will perform live in Rodney Square, in downtown Wilmington, from noon to 8 p.m.

According to the festival’s organizer, Wilmington native Eric Allen, H.E.A.L. Delaware is an acronym for “Helping, Educating and Loving” Delaware.

Allen, 33, said he organized the festival because he sought to see more artistic expression of all sorts in Delaware.

“I read the paper and I see the stuff that’s going on around here and around the world. People are always haggling over money,” Allen observed. “I felt like we could get a lot done, in one day, if we got in the center of the city and did something for people to have a nice day and learn things.”

Besides food and merchandise vendors, various nonprofits will be on hand throughout the day. The entertainment will feature savvy, inspirational rappers and more politically consciousness hip-hop artists.

“These groups are more socially conscious than your average hip-hop groups,” Allen said. “They share their experiences through their music. These are the type of rappers who don’t care about the almighty dollar but really need to get their messages out.”

The festival will also serve as a vehicle to debut Allen’s new comic book “Soul Riders,” which was illustrated by Wilmington-based artist Jabaar Brown.

“I want everybody that comes to be a part of it, to show off their artistic skills, patrons included. The whole event is an artist festival,” Allen said. “Bring your blankets, chairs, strollers and open minds to Rodney Square for an afternoon and evening of visual and verbal entertainment.”

One of today’s performers, Last Emperor, is world renowned in hip-hop circles for the intelligence in his rhymes, as well as his ability to weave a gripping tale.

The rapper earned a reputation on the underground circuit via showcases like The Lyricist Lounge, which lead to a track with rap legend KRS-One and Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha.

He released groundbreaking epic tales such as “Secret Wars,” which features Last Emperor imitating his favorite rappers, as they battle various comic book characters.

After stints on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and Rawkus Records, Last Emperor now runs his own label, Red Planet Music Corp.

Today, Last Emperor will treat fans to new material from his long-awaited album,
“Last Emperor: The Wizard’s Wardrobe,” which is being produced by superproducer Diamond D., who crafted hits for The Fugees, Fat Joe, Big L., Wyclef Jean and numerous others.

The 49ers, who recently released a new album “The Ultra Sound” in Japan, are looking forward to debuting all-new material to fans in their hometown.

The 49ers – rappers/producers Jas Mace and Marchitect – are currently in negotiations for international distribution of their new album.

They are preparing to leave for a tour of Japan on May 9.

“Jas and I are going to debut all new material from our new album at H.E.A.L.,”
Marchitect told “It’s going to be our last show in the United States before we go to Japan, so we are trying to give people the best show I can. I will also have some of my art on display as well, so it should be a good time.”

DJ Mech, Gentle Jones and yours truly will be spinning old soul and funk records throughout the day.

I am bringing some of the rarest records in my collection, as are DJ Mech and Gentle Jones, who are also avid record collectors.

“I’ve been collecting records since I was a teenager. I’ve searched far and wide for the crate full of heat I am bringing down to Rodney Square,” Gentle Jones said.

“When Mech, Greg and I do these type of events, we bring the best records ever made and the people respond well. You have probably not heard any of my records before.”


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