New Editions to ERS+

Meet ERS+’s New Editions!

Happy 2024 and Black History Month!


ERS+, Boston’s Black Experience is pleased to be not only in it’s new year, but also have the privilege of introducing two of our newest Urban Coordinators and content creators. Meet Kathia and Bryan. Below are a few little snippets about them and what we can expect in the months ahead.

Urban Coordinator Kathia

Urban Coordinator Kathia

Hi all! My name is Kathia Dawson and I’m a senior student at Emerson College studying journalism. I have always loved music of every genre, and I am so excited to be working at ERS+. Looking to the future, I hope to continue writing about music, sharing my opinions and learning more about the music world.

Meet Urban Coordinator Bryan

Urban Coordinator Bryan

Ayo! What’s poppin to all the boppers out there reading this. My name is Bryan Edouard. A.k.a Fry and I’m from Mattapan, Boston, Massachusetts (Have to let y’all know). My artist name is Bishop Toussaint and I’m a MC who was inspired by the golden era of Hip Hop. I was born in 1999 but lived as if I was a mid teen in the 90s. Getting into music was bound to happen for i used my resources to obtain music and my main 3 was the Radio, Film, and video games. It was a process because outside of life experiences, Friends and mentors in the game like Devin Ferreira who now works at Berklee, KEI who brought home a BMA, Back to Back, Jo Saza, who’s up and coming and so on and so forth. Being a Bboy first and now being a MC who films is really something that brings me joy for It became my purpose to help show that hip hop isn’t dead… If anything it’s being recycled and revamped. Hip Hop isn’t just a culture to people like me and with differences. It’s life and a life saver and that’s ILLmatic, word up.

Victoria Monét live at Royale Boston October 30, 2023.

Victoria Monét: R&B’s next icon, wowed the audience at Royale Boston!

Victoria Monét may be new to the spotlight, but she’s not new to scoring chart-topping songs.  Born in Atlanta and raised in Sacramento, the creative began her songwriting career in 2014.

The 34-year-old singer-songwriter has worked with household names such as Nas and Ariana Grande, along with BLACKPINK, Fifth Harmony, Coco Jones, and more. In 2020, the accomplished songwriter was nominated for three Grammy Awards for her work with Ariana Grande and Chloe x Halle. These include Album Of The Year as a producer and songwriter on Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next,’ Record Of The Year for ‘7 Rings,’ and Best R&B Song as a co-writer of Chloe x Halle’s, ‘Do It.’  For the 2024 Grammys, Monét has been nominated for seven awards including:

Best New Artist

Record of the Year
Best R&B Song for “On My Mama,”
Best R&B Performance for “How Does It Make You Feel”
Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Hollywood,” with Earth, Wind & Fire and Hazel Monét
Best R&B Album
Best Engineered

Her debut studio album Jaguar II is the highest charted Billboard 200 entry upon release at number 60, and it’s not hard to see why. Her intricate and feminine verses exude confidence and authenticity and combine modern R&B with elements of 70’s funk, with features from Reggae legend Buju Banton, Kaytranda, and Lucky Daye.

On Monday October 30, Monét showed the Royale Boston audience everything they wanted and more. The show started around 8 p.m. with DMV native Alex Vaughn, who combined her powerful and silky smooth voice with her charismatic stage presence. She mesmerized the audience, who swayed along to her melodic tunes. Vaughn is a part of Spotify’s R&B Rising’s Artists To Watch list in 2023.

Alex Vaughn at Royale Boston.

Alex Vaughn at Royale – Boston.

Vaughn performed her debut album The Hurtbook, which contains plenty of songs about breakups, hence the name. Whether it be a friendship breakup or an ex wanting to come back, it explores the challenges of relationships, love, and passion. Vaughn likens to Summer Walker’s musical energy. She incorporates alluring and authentic lyrics about love and heartbreak, with cut-throat lyrics, giving listeners an intimate look into her life. My favorite parts of her set were when she performed “So Be It,” and “Do You Ever,” and told a story about her ex, encouraging the audience to never settle for less.

Victoria Monét at Royale Boston

Victoria Monét at Royale Boston

The execution of this tour is similar to what you would expect from a stadium tour from SZA or Beyonce. She began the show with a tease, slowly taking off her beige veil. Monét started the concert with “Some Cut,” before transitioning into “Dive.” She increased the energy by singing “Party Girls,” “A** Like That,” and “Stop (Asking Me 4S#yt),” she then started singing her slower songs, “How Does It Make You Feel,” and “We Might Even Be Falling In Love”. She brought the energy back up covering Diana Ross’ song, “Stop In The Name Of Love.” She finished the set with her most famous song that embodies self-assurance and fearless energy, “On My Mama.” Thanking the audience for showing up, sharing her love for Boston, and them, and promising to come back.

Victoria Monét at Royale Boston

Victoria Monét at Royale Boston

Throughout her performance, she enchantingly danced to these empowering lyrics with two backup dancers giving the audience the 70s glam she channeled into her latest album. She effortlessly switched outfits during her show multiple times, starting with her beige veil, changing into a two-piece bedazzled set with a sarong, and then adding a fedora, again channeling that 70s vibe! She wowed audiences. I wouldn’t be shocked if, in a year or two from now, she sells out stadium tours.

written by Kathia Dawson, WERS, ERS+ Urban Coordinator

Berklee celebrates Hip Hop’s 50th and it’s Boston area roots

Roxanne Shanté center stage with Berklee College's Dean of Africana Studies Dr. Emmett G. Price III right, Ph.D. and Public Enemy's Flava Flav left

Roxanne Shanté center stage with Berklee College’s Dean of Africana Studies Dr. Emmett G. Price III right, Ph.D. and Public Enemy’s Flava Flav left

written by Kathia Dawson Plus DJ Mo Wilks
photo curated by Bryan Edouard

As the month of November closed, Berklee College of Music – an institution known for developing premier music talent – recognized music pioneers of the past locally and nationally. Hip-Hop fans from and around the Boston metropolitan area filled the seats at the Berklee Performance Center, where the members of the Africana Studies hosted a showcase honoring the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Hip Hop as well as inducting the first class of the Berklee Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. The evening’s honorees included Boston’s own Prince Charles Alexander and Ed OG as well as national recording emcee/rapper and one of the first female emcees in the Hip Hop game Roxane Shanté, the headliner of the show.

Berklee College of Music Conservatory Ensemble

Berklee College of Music Conservatory Ensemble

emcee Amanda Shea

emcee Amanda Shea

The Performance Center room tone was set courtesy of one of Hip Hop’s signature elements: the DJ.  After the crowd was warmed up with familiar tracks, Berklee’s dean of the Africana Studies, Dr. Emmett G. Price III, provided the opening welcome to the sold out Berklee Performance center audience. Following Dr. Price’s welcome, the lead emcee/ local poet and host was the renowned 2022 Boston Music Award Spoken Word winner, Amanda SheaShea took to the stage and moved the crowd not only with her infectious energy, but her provocative spoken words as well. 

emcee Amanda Shea at Berklee Performance Center

emcee Amanda Shea at Berklee Performance Center

Amanda Shea initiated the festivities with heartfelt gratitude, extending thanks to all those in attendance.  A special shout-out was given to the Roxbury community eliciting applause from many in the crowd. She emphasized the significance of celebrating Hip-Hop and its profound impact on the Black community. Shea literally passed the mic to the future movers and shakers in music, Berklee students, to share their interpretations of selections from the evening’s honorees.

Berklee students from the College and Conservatory performed from the songbooks of Prince Charles and Ed OG. The students poured their energy into captivating performances dancing across the stage and igniting excitement in the crowd. They consisted of 2 guitar players, one keyboarded, three rappers that seamlessly transitioned between vocals and instrumental prowess. The stage was filled with rapping and singing. The mesmerizing performance, drew the audience’s attention in every direction. 

Oompa at Berklee College of Music

Oompa on stage at Berklee Performance Center

Following the Berklee ensemble, an emerging new local emcee – Oompa from Roxbury – controlled the stage, solidifying that  Boston’s Hip Hop future is in very good hands.  The 14-time nominated and 3 time Boston Music Award winner Oompa matched the playful production by bouncing across the stage while the lights bounced with them while also rapping about the struggles of the streets.  Oompa has been a performing fixture on the Boston scene for a number of years gracing the stages of local festivals such as BAMSFest and Boston Calling.

Prince Charles Alexander and Dean Dr. Emmett-Price III

Prince Charles Alexander and Dean Dr. Emmett-Price III

After Oopma’s standing ovation worthy performances, Dr. Price returned to the Berklee stage to commence the induction proceedings. The first inductee into the Hall of Fame was producer and Berklee professor Prince Charles Alexander. Alexander has the distinction of being one of the first Bostonians to produce a Hip Hop album. His career started as the lead of “Prince Charlees and the City Beat Band.” He released three records before focusing on audio engineering. He’s led a successful career, his clients include  Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, P.Diddy, Usher, Brian McKnight, and many others. He is a multi-Grammy nominee and a three time Grammy winner as a recording and mixing engineer. He has accumulated more than 40 platinum and gold certifications for record sales from the Recording Industry Association of America. He currently teaches courses in Berklee’s Music Production and Engineering Department.  Charles said during his acceptance speech,  “I will work tirelessly to push for hip hop to be recognized within academica for the valuable  human, musical, entrepreneurial and educational impact.” After his sincerely heartfelt speech, Dr. Price moved the ceremony to the hall’s next recipient Ed OG.  

Ed OG and Dean Dr. Emmett Price

Ed OG and Dean Dr. Emmett Price

Roxbury’s Ed OG, real name Edward Anderson, is one of only a select few early Hip Hop pioneers – rocking since the late 1980’s – to not only be successful internationally, but to proudly rep the Boston area. His group Ed OG and The Bulldogs – (an acronym for The Black United Leaders Livin’ Directly On Groovin Sounds) jazz-soul infused songs “I Got To Have It,” “Love Comes And Goes,” and “Be A Father To Your Child,” are Boston Hip Hop classics. “ I Got To Have It,” off his first album Life of a Kid in the Ghetto went to number one on the Billboard Rap Singles charts nationally. Ed O.G is still performing and producing with other Hip Hop artists locally and nationally such as Boston’s Fakts One and New York’s Pete Rock and the Juice Crew’s Masta Ace. Ed humbly accepted the induction and urged the Berklee crowd to keep Hip Hop in their hearts and keep believing the power of it moving forward.


The final induction was saved for pioneering female emcee and trailblazer Roxanne Shanté. Shanté, born Lolita Shante Gooden, was an inspiration to the plethora of female emcees who followed her when she single handedly took on U.T.F.O. in the infamous Roxanne Roxanne Hip Hop diss-track vinyl wars of the mid-1980’s.  Her 1984 single, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” was one of the first of its kind during Hip Hop’s pre-teen genre youth. It wasn’t rare for the reply, but it was definitely a first as a female emcee to oppose a male emcee. Gooden’s gift of gab grabbed attention at age 14. Shanté challenged other rap crews including New York’s Boogie Down Productions with KRS-1 as well as west coast area rappers like JJ FAD. She worked on projects with other recording artists like record label mate Biz Markie, and funk master Rick James.  Roxanne is a two-time Breast Cancer survivor.  She shared her love for music, and the struggles it took to get her success, the sexisim she faced, being a single mother, the people who cheated her out of money. WIth that said, she performed just as fearlessly. 

Roxanne Shanté and Flava Flav hug

Roxanne Shanté and Flava Flav hug

Roxanne Shanté, Flava Flav, and Dr. Emmett Price III

Roxanne Shanté, Flava Flav, and Dr. Emmett Price III center stage


Currently, Roxanne Shanté can be heard on L.L. Cool J’s ‘Rock The Bells’ channel on the Sirius/XM satellite radio network. Introducing and welcoming her into Berklee’s Hip Hop Hall of Fame was another genre icon, Public Enemy’s Flava Flav. Shanté, who didn’t have a prepared acceptance speech, revealed she usually speaks from the heart, emphasizing that
“Everything for me, including my life, is a freestyle.”  

Roxanne Shanté and DJ Cool V at Berklee Performance Center

Roxanne Shanté and DJ Cool V at Berklee Performance Center

After all three recipients happily received their Hall Of Fame medals and took photographs together, Shanté was backed by Biz Markie’s DJ CutMaster Cool V for a magical performance that saw her walk through the audience and interact with them. Roxanne took the Berklee crowd on a historic ride through not only some of her own hits, but Hip Hop’s golden era hits including Run DMC’s Sucker MC’s and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” More importantly, she reminded everyone about the struggle, lifestyle and culture associated with inner city living. 

Ed OG accepting his Hall of Fame medal

Ed OG accepting his Hall of Fame medal

Berklee’s Hip Hop anniversary celebration revealed something that the Boston faithful inside the Performance Center already knew.  Hip Hop and Boston, are inextricably linked. Some of Hip Hop’s biggest supporters, performers and creatives have roots that originated right here inside Boston Massachusetts, be it Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan. The event was a testament to the enduring influence and versatility of Hip Hop and serves as an affirmation of the power in uniting through music. 


As this celebratory year closes out, may we remember Hip Hop has outlasted early critics who deemed it wasn’t real music and just a passing fad. Hip Hop is the story of young Black America and has evolved into a national phenomenon of global importance and power. As Rakim so eloquently penned, “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at!” Props to Hip Hop and Boston’s contributions to it.

LL Cool J, A F.O.R.CE. at TD Garden!

Hip Hop’s F.O.R.C.E. on full display for 50th finalé.

ERS-Plus is turning up the volume on MCs across 50 years of Hip Hop. Want more Hip-Hop and R&B? Check out ERS-Plus on 88.9FM HD2 and online at WERSPlus.org.

L.L. Cool J performing at TD Garden during the F.O.R.C.E tour

L.L. Cool J at TD Garden, the F.O.R.C.E tour

by DJ Mo Wilks, Photos courtesy of Jim LaCreta
To say a good time was had by all would be an understatement. LL Cool J’s FORCE Tour stopped through the TD Garden on Sunday November 19th, celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop with royalty that included a Queen, the DJ of a Fresh Prince and surprise guest performers that straight up did the damn thing. For real, for real: the FORCE (Frequencies Of Real Creative Energy) Tour was a Hip Hop trip from the ABC’s of it, to the OPP’s and DMC’s of it.

Questlove at TD Garden

Questlove

One Hip Hop’s signature ingredients, the ‘boom bap’, is the boom of the bass and the bap of the drum. Both elements were more than adequately taken care of thanks to the Legendary Roots crew featuring The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff on the turntables under the musical direction of drummer Questlove. LL specifically selected the band for their versatility and because of lead vocalist rapper Black Thought, who LL dubbed at evenings end, “your rapper’s favorite rapper.” Black Thought provided backing rap vocals to keep the artists on task, on pace and on point. Never has there been a rapper more flexible to provide every rapper’s style, cadence and flow as Black Thought. He was flawless.

DJ Jazzy Jeff

DJ Jazzy Jeff

Master emcee Doug E. Fresh was the opening act. An emcee of his caliber commanded the TD Garden stage and could have done so on his own for the entire night. A historic moment occurred when he and storytelling great Slick Rick reunited to perform their classic, “The Show”. Rick would also rhyme to “Mona Lisa” with Jazzy Jeff on the turntables. Slick Rick was draped in his signature full chain along with backup dancers, The Slick-ettes. The human beatbox trainer, Doug E. Fresh announced this was not only Hip Hop’s biggest party, but the biggest Scorpio birthday party.

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick at TD Garden

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

LL Cool J, possibly the best in-shape rapper in the game, took the stage for the first of his two performance sets. Seamlessly, Uncle L and The Roots were synced up to the mammoth background screen that projected music video memories for the crowd to reminisce to. His set included: “4,3,2,1,” “Around The Way Girl,” “Head Sprung,” “Jingling Baby,” “Nitro,” and “Going Back To Cali”. The sold out Garden audience was put on notice while the Bronx, New York may have been Hip Hop’s birthplace, Queens had a hand in the art as well. When he brought out DMC of Run DMC, they rapped together to “Here We Go”. Shortly after, DMC rocked out and rhymed to “It’s Tricky”.

LL Cool J and DMC of Run DMC

LL Cool J and DMC

DMC of Run DMC at TD Garden

DMC of Run DMC

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a pause in between performers with The Roots Crew showing their creative musicianship. The Roots took the arena on a journey that covered icons Earth Wind and Fire, blended into a DMX tribute, then made a segue from Stevie Wonder’s vintage hit “Knocks Me Off My Feet” into WU-Tang’s ODB “Shimmy Shimmy”. The Flavor Unit was next to rock the mic.

Queen Latifah at TD Garden

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah took the TD Garden stage to a standing ovation as is deserving of rap royalty. She began with her first hit 1989’s, “Wrath Of My Madness” giving a loving shout to the track’s producer, the late DJ Mark The 45 King. Latifah decked out in sparkling gear moved the crowd, through her catalog of jams including, “Just Another Day,” and “It’s Alright”. A true supportive sister, Latifah would bring to the stage another Native Tongues/Flavor Unit member: Monie Love. The duo recreated their hit collab, “Ladies First” and Latifah gave Monie the stage to show some love, having her perform “Monie In The Middle”.

Monie Love at TD Garden

Monie Love

Queen Latifah showed why she’s on par with any male rapper in terms of flow, celebrity and influence. She introduced her fellow New Jersey rapper Treach of Naughty By Nature to the roar of the crowd.

Queen Latifah and Treach of Naughty By Nature at TD Garden

Latifah and Treach

Treach didn’t waste a second, jumping right into the mix with his group’s hits,”Uptown Anthem,” “Craziest,” and “O.P.P.” The Queen and leader of the Flavor Unit called for a very appropriate change in the playlist, switching out her song, “Unity” for, Naughty By Nature’s, “Hip Hop Hooray”, as a salute to Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary as well as the concluding evening of their successful national tour.

LL Cool J at TD Garden

LL Cool J

L.L. Cool J would take the stage again with DJ Z-Trip for his final set and tour bows. During this set he proved why the Ladies Love Cool James with a series of slow sensual grooves, and occasional shirt lift the ladies definitely approved of. His final set featured, “I Need Love,” and “Hey Love” featuring Boyz II Men. There were salutes to rappers who had passed away including Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest and a nod to Notorious B.I.G. as well duets he did with Jennifer Lopez. The screams were non-stop. After giving the ladies some flavor, Cool J reminded dudes that just because he has a soft side, he’s still the Ripper rapper who is not to be trifled with.

Reviving his lyrics from the rap collaboration “I Shot Ya”, L.L. effortlessly dismissed and reminded people rappers like Kool Moe D and Ice-T didn’t last long when in the crosshairs of L.L.’s path. One of his concluding songs, “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”, took us back in time to one of his break out songs which made it to the soundtrack to the movie Krush Groove. He would smooth out the set again paying tribute to spreading love to the ladies with, “Who Do You Love” and the playful track “Hush”. In what could only be described as L.L.’s tribute to his own childhood rap heroes, he rocked the audience out to Brooklyn’s Whodini and their 1982 hit, “Freaks Come Out at Night”.

It was an amazing, generational transcending event from start to finish, full of families sharing smiles, Kangols, Adidas suits, colorful graffiti clothing, large earrings and memories. Everyone reminisced and rapped along to the soundtrack of their youth; a time of Hip Hop’s infancy and growth.

Quoting the Notorious B.I.G. from his hit “Juicy”, ‘Who ever thought that hip-hop would take it this far?’ Nay-sayers surely didn’t, but the voices of the artists and their supporters knew Hip Hop was and is going far. Cheers to the spirit of Hip Hop and the next 50 years.