Archive for August, 2009


The Not-So-Funny Hoax

photo by businesspundit.com

photo by businesspundit.com

“this is not an interview? I didn’t come all the way around the beltway for this” — a disgruntled applicant

It was almost noon, when I was crammed with more than 40 applicants into a conference room meant to hold only 24. I had arrived early for what was supposed to be a job interview, and didn’t think much of the other applicants slowly filing in – also dressed in their business attire and also carrying large envelopes with extra copies of their resumes.

At one point, I thought, “Why did they schedule so many people at one time?” A table had to be removed to squeeze more folks into the room (the extra chairs crowding the doorway was also a fire hazard). Even still, I figured we were sitting in some waiting area, and would be called individually into an office. But to our surprise, Michael Fontan — unit sales manager in the Rockville (Maryland) office of Bankers Life & Casualty Company, a life insurance firm — made it clear that we had all been duped.

While this was not as extreme as other unfair job recruitment practices, the damage done could be just as severe; it not only causes the loss of potential employees for an organization but also damages its employer brand. “That brand is the full physical, intellectual, and emotional experience of employees who work there, and the anticipated experience of candidates who might work there,” according to hrguru.com, an online service for human resource agencies. “It is both the vision and the reality of what it means to be employed there.”

The site also stated: “It is both the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. The employer brand radiating out of your organization’s name inspires loyalty, productivity, and a sense of pride . . . or it doesn’t.”

Recent statistics showed that one in four jobseekers had experienced unfair job recruitment practices. And more than half of the jobseekers stopped supporting goods or services from companies with poor recruitment practices, according to a survey conducted by Capital Consulting (the former leading RPO player operating in Europe and Asia Pacific was acquired by Alexander Mann Solutions in February 2008).

Personneltoday.com, an online human resources news organization, reported in 2007 that disgruntled applicants were likely to further tarnish the name of an organization by spreading their message far and wide. The survey found that 55 percent of disgruntled applicants were likely to tell more than three others of their bad experiences.

My experience involved me listening to Fontan drone for an hour about what brought him to the organization – a journey that started with him in the construction field as a laborer, after graduating high school in 1993. From there, he began a career in the aviation industry in Manhattan, after leaving the construction field in 1998.

Fontan hit a glass ceiling after working his way up to supervisor of operations, managing and maintaining 50 pilots and 15 helicopters. He informed us there were no glass ceilings at Bankers Life, just opportunities for us to reach for the limits. But that speech fell on deaf ears while irritated applicants checked their watches, twiddled their thumbs and shifted in their seats.

Marisa Kacary, marketing director at the former Capital Consulting, elaborated on the damage of poor recruitment practices to Personneltoday.com. “With the war for talent raging more fiercely than ever, a good employer brand is increasingly critical to an organisation’s commercial success,” Kacary said. “As our research shows, if you treat people poorly during the recruitment process, you could lose them as customers, and they would be only too happy to tell others about their bad experience with your organisation, too.”

Majority of the applicants were from the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV metropolitan division (including Calvert, Charles, and Prince George’s counties). The unemployment average in that division rose to 38,224 this year, compared to 24,641 in 2008, according to Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation.

Add that to rising gas prices, and it becomes clear that making people drive around the beltway for what appeared to be a hoax is no laughing matter, as one applicant demonstrated. When a guy found out he was attending a group briefing instead of a job interview, he went berserk.

“I didn’t come all the way around the beltway for a group briefing,” the guy said, shooting up from his seat. “I don’t need you guys playing with my time like that.” Before walking out the door, he made the obvious observation. “The rest of you need to ask yourself, ‘Why there aren’t any White people here?’ I’m not staying to find out what they’re selling.”
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by gregslistdc.com

photo by gregslistdc.com

A year after emigrating with her husband to the U.S. from Germany, Soline Krug, a multi-disciplinary artist, is still trying to get her footing in the D.C. arts scene. She’s done OK on her own, for now, with an art show at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Va., and recently exhibited at Artomatic in D.C.

But the French-born 24-year-old was looking for something bigger than art exhibitions. She tried to find it at a forum Tuesday at the Hillyer Art Space on Hillyer Court NW.  “I came without knowing what I wanted to hear, but I knew it would be a very good brainstorming meeting,” Krug said of the International Arts & Artists (IA&A) Artists’ forum, an on-going dialogue between the IA&A and artists or art supporters. Last night’s forum was the third in the monthly series.

IA&A President and CEO David Furchgott and Lachelle Slade, membership director for IA&A, were there to address comments and concerns from more than 20 D.C. artists and art supporters. In addition to listening to artists’ suggestions about what the organization can do to better help them, the forum was also a way of IA&A to gauge how their membership services could better serve its members. “The membership program will serve as our access to this community in a way that we hope to build programs around this locality and region as we have international programs as well,” said Furchgott, who founded IA&A in 1995.

Since its inception, the non-profit organization has used its exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public to increase cross-cultural understanding to the arts internationally. During its 14-year-history, the organization has collaborated with more than 300 museums and cultural institutions in 49 states and 30 foreign countries. The D.C.-based non-profit currently has 200 members.

Robert Bettman, chair of D.C. Advocates for the Arts, says the IA&A is one of a large number of member organizations in D.C. — which includes the D.C. Arts and Education Collaborative, D.C. Creative, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington and Cultural Development Corporation — that are trying to pool their resources to address the needs of artists. Those needs vary. “Some artists might need more technical training, some might need space to present their work, some might need grant funding to produce their work,” said Bettman, adding that artists new to the scene have difficulty connecting with resources.

But Krug’s difficulty was not only being new to the art scene; it was also starting over in a new country. In the time leading up to her migration with her spouse to the U.S. in 2008, she quit her job as Brand Event Manager for a French fragrance company in Germany. In the U.S., She took classes at the Art League School in Alexandria, Va., and decided to make art a full-time profession. Her work has been classified as Fauvism: “the use of bright colors, strong outlines, distorted reality and expressionism,” according to a bio on her Web site. Majority of her art has been described as “non-figurative…a strong tension between real and unreal, purity and chaos.”

This piece by Soline Krug was exhibited at the Torpedo Favorty in Alexandria, Va., and received an award.

This oil on paper portrait by Soline Krug, courtesy of galeriekrug.com, was exhibited at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Va., and received an award.

She was fortunate enough to know about classes at the Art League School, but not enough to find an artists’ network to hone her talents — what she was looking for at the Tuesday night forum. “When I get help, it’s always about business; I have no problem with how to run my art as a business,” said Krug, who studied business in both France and Germany. “It’s all theory; you can get it from books. There’s a plethora of advice on this area, but there is no advice on how you should learn by yourself.”

“I realized it was important for artists to have sources available to them…to do their work efficiently and effectively…so that they can keep their minds on their creative tracks,” Furchgott said. Last night’s suggestions included the IA&A providing better discounts for its members at area hardware stores, and the organization helping local artists get their work into the international scene. Another suggestion was to create a pool of talented artists rejected for shows at the Hillyer, and sharing that list with other organizations who are looking for artists to showcase.

“There are arts organizations that are doing arts programming, and there are arts programs that are doing artists services that are trying to help artists do their thing,” Bettmann said. The IA&A is among the organizations taking on the duel tasks.

In keeping with their mission of enabling cross-cultural exchange, IA&A created an internationally-focused art career training program called USArts, a U.S. Department of State-approved program that allows international trainees to undertake professional training within arts and cultural-related organizations throughout the U.S.

That program has Krug considering the membership benefits. “If I’m a member of this organization, and then I go back to Germany, I would love to see that they’re so international that they could make these connections work in Europe,” she said. Of all the suggestions, Krug said, “The network is a really big priority; something that represents you in a broader sense.”


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The Liberty Hall in downtown Kingston is one of 84 divisions of the UNIA in the Caribbean.

The Liberty Hall in downtown Kingston is one of 84 divisions of the UNIA in the Caribbean.

At the beginning of this month, I got an opportunity to travel to Kingston, Jamaica, to write about the island’s history and also cover the island’s 47th Independence Day celebration. Below is Part III of the travel series. The publication I traveled on behalf of did not post all the articles written in the travel series, so I figured I would post them on my blog. Hope you enjoy! – Alan King

KINGSTON, Jamaica – One maxim of Marcus Mosiah Garvey was, “Education is the medium by which a people are prepared for the creation of their own civilization and the advancement and glory of their race.” Using that philosophy to inspire, excite and raise awareness about self-identity among Jamaicans is Liberty Hall at 76 King Street in the capital city.

The primary mission of Liberty Hall, at 76 King Street in the capital city, is to inform the public about the work of Jamaica’s first National Hero and to use his philosophy and opinions to inspire, excite and raise awareness of self-identity among Jamaican, while creating social and economic wealth.

Liberty Hall at 76 King Street in the capital city.

The artwork that decorates the facility was done by children from the community as part of a summer program that runs from July to August.

The artwork that decorates the facility was done by children from the community as part of a summer program that runs from July to August.

The primary mission of the facility is to inform the public about the work of Jamaica’s first National Hero, while creating social and economic wealth. The building is now a national monument, according to Nicosia Shakes, senior researcher at Liberty Hall. What this means is that its owned by the Jamaican people and no longer a UNIA divisional headquarters. “The concrete structure that is there now was erected in ‘1933′ by Garvey to replace a wooden structure put up in ‘1923′,” Shakes said.

Informing the public about Garvey, in addition to creating social and economic wealth, includes a four-part system of education geared at uplifting members of surrounding communities. First, there is the Marcus Mosiah Garvey Multimedia Museum, which opened in 2006.

The artwork that decorates the facility was done by children from the community as part of a summer program that runs from July to August.

The artwork that decorates the facility was done by children from the community as part of a summer program that runs from July to August.

According to Shakes, it’s the first fully multimedia museum in the Caribbean. Through interactive touch-screens, visitors experience Garvey’s life, work and philosophy in the exhibition: Marcus Garvey: The Movement and the Philosophy. Films on Garvey, Black Self-Identity and Africa are shown in two locations that chronicle Garvey’s life as a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black Nationalist, Pan-Africanist, and orator.

Prior to the twentieth century, leaders such as Prince Hall, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey advanced a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement focusing on Africa known as Garveyism.

Garveyism, or Universal African Nationalism, was comprised of five concepts for African nation building, according to unia-acl.org. The first concept was African Identity, which considered all persons of African ancestry and origin  essential and integral parts of the same Black African Nation.

The Web site states: “A people who where separated from their ancestral homeland by the barbarous actions of the Aryan and Arab slave traders cannot be expected to accept the nationalities imposed upon them by their enslavers. The African, in freedom, has the right to determine his own nation, to delimit that nationality, and to seek the greater ingathering of African people from all sectors of the African Diaspora.”

The young girls do an African dance demonstration in the dance studio on the third floor of the facility.

The young girls do an African dance demonstration in the dance studio on the third floor of the facility.

African Pride, the second concept, had two meanings: 1) appreciation and understanding of the achievements of the race in the past, and 2) African self-respect and self-worth in the present.

The third and fourth concepts involved African Self-reliance and African Economic Power, respectively.
With African Self-reliance, the belief was that the work of African racial reconstruction will be accomplished by African organizations under African leadership with all-embracing African programs. African institutions designed for racial upliftment and liberation must be controlled by the race, financed, directed, organized and established by Africans with programs dedicated exclusively to the solution of Africa’s problems at home and in the diaspora, according to unia-acl.org.

Under African Economic Power, Garvey stressed that the wealth of the African community and the African nation had to be in the hands of the African people. This meant Africans had to control production, distribution and exchange within their own boundaries. As part of altering situations — such as alien ownership and exploitation — that were common to Black communities, UNIA-ACL formed the Negro Factories Corporation in 1920, with a mandate to establish and run commercial and industrial undertakings.

The fifth, and final, concept of Garveyism required African unity both in the national and international sense. Pan-Africanism, according to UNIA-ACL’s Web site, was a fundamental thesis of Garveyism.

That philosophy, promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam, to the Rastafari movement. The intention of the movement was for those of African ancestry to “redeem” Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it.

“Marcus Garvey is very popular all over the world,” Shakes said. “We’ve had a lot of foreigners coming here from as far as Europe because the UNIA could be found on almost every continent.” In fact, there were 1,056 divisions of the UNIA formed worldwide between 1921 and the 1930s – with 948 in the Americas, 18 in Africa and five in Europe, according to museum information. The Liberty Hall in downtown Kingston is one of 84 divisions of the UNIA in the Caribbean.

Other components of Liberty Hall include the Garvey Research/Reference Library and educational outreach programs. The research and reference library houses books, periodicals and audio-visual materials on Marcus Garvey, his movement, Pan-Africanism and the history and culture of African and the Diaspora. The Library also features a children’s collection, which caters to youth ages 7 to 17.

Their educational outreach programs include an after-school program and summer art program. The after-school program operates during the school year on weekdays and offers classes in computer skills, drama, art and craft, capoeira, reading and English.

The artwork that decorates the facility was done by children from the community as part of a summer program that runs from July to August.

The artwork that decorates the facility was done by children from the community as part of a summer program that runs from July to August.

Nicole Patrick-Shaw, administrator/program coordinator, noted that there is also homework assistance and counseling sessions on topics ranging from HIV/AIDS, to the environment, to emotional stress. The summer art program takes place every year from July to August. In previous years, the children produced works in painting, fabric and ceramics. This year, they started taking classes in performing arts and videography leading up to a major production.

Of the programs overall, Patrick-Shaw said, “We focus on the psychosomatic development of the child; so not only educational but also the emotional aspect of it.” Andrew Brown, a tour guide with Liberty Hall, said they do more than that. He said, “hopefully, we don’t just teach about the man but we teach about the message.”

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At the beginning of this month, I got an opportunity to travel to Kingston, Jamaica, to write about the island’s history and also cover the island’s 47th Independence Day celebration. Below is Part II of the travel series. The publication I traveled on behalf of did not post all the articles written in the travel series, so I figured I would post them on my blog. Hope you enjoy! – Alan King

National Heroes Park became a permanent place to honor the country’s national heroes after Jamaica’s Independence in 1962.

National Heroes Park became a permanent place to honor the country’s national heroes after Jamaica’s Independence in 1962.

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Located at Heroes Circle in the capital city, the National Heroes Park became a permanent place to honor the country’s national heroes after Jamaica’s Independence in 1962. Among its national heroes are Marcus Garvey, Alexander Bustamante, Nanny of the Maroons, Norman Manley, George Goodwin, Paul Bogle and Samuel Sharpe.

With his rallying cry, “Up you mighty race, you can accomplish what you will,” Marcus Mosiah Garvey inspired Black people throughout the world to have a sense of pride in their African heritage. As a Black nationalists and political thinker, he was deeply concerned about the living and working conditions of his people. He decided to do something about it when he established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which has offices in Jamaica and New York City.

Garvey died in England in 1940 and was buried there. In 1964, his remains were brought to Jamaica and re-interred at the site of his monument in National Heroes Park. An aspect of Garvey’s life that’s not mentioned much is his journalism, according to Nicosia Shakes, senior researcher at Liberty Hall in downtown Kingston.

“When he died, Garvey’s birth certificate actually said that he was a journalist. That was his career…People don’t often speak about that side of him,” Shakes said. “You had the Negro World Newspaper – it was widely circulated – the Black Man Magazine.”

She added that when he was younger, Garvey started a weekly called “The Watchman,” which only ran for a couple of editions.

“It’s one of the areas that I think more research needs to concentrate on…because people focus on his political activism,” Shakes said. “Even though they mention journalism, I think it’s something that needs to be studied more.”

For his works and the awakening he brought to Black people, he was proclaimed Jamaica’s first National Hero in 1964.

Construction involved Bustamante’s wife, Lady Gladys Bustamante, to be entombed on top of his monument. Bustamante’s wife, a prominent member of the Jamaican trade union movement, died on July 25.

Construction involved Bustamante’s wife, Lady Gladys Bustamante, to be entombed on top of his monument. Bustamante’s wife, a prominent member of the Jamaican trade union movement, died on July 25.

A statesman, astute politician, brave-hearted labor leader and defender of the poor, Sir Alexander Bustamante was the first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica. He was also one of the architects of modern Jamaica and a founder of the Jamaica Labour Party.

Like Garvey’s rallying cry, Bustamante went around the island encouraging the burdened to shake off the shackles of oppressions. He was a champion of the working class and advocated the cause of the masses. Through the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), he led the fight for workers and their families, and won them better living standards, job security and a wide range of social benefits.

He was instrumental in launching the social and political movement of the 1930s that ushered in a new era of Jamaican history.

For his courage, bravery and service, he was named Jamaica’s National Hero on October 18, 1969. He was the only person given that honor while he was still living. Bustamante died on August 6, 1977.

Nanny of the Maroons was credited with freeing more than 800 slaves.

Nanny of the Maroons was credited with freeing more than 800 slaves.

In the 18th century, Jamaican Maroons were slaves who ran away from the Spanish and intermarried with the native islanders in the rugged, mountainous region of the Jamaican interior. Under British rule, some more slaves were able to escape from plantations to join the two main bands of Maroons in Jamaica: Leeward and Windward Maroons, headed respectively by Nanny of the Maroons and Captain Cudjoe.

Nanny’s story is much like that of the African-American abolitionist and humanitarian, Harriet Tubman. Due to the cruel treatment of female slaves by plantation owners, Nanny made her decision to escape along with her five brothers. She made her way to Portland.

By 1720, Nanny had organized and gained control of this town of Maroons located in the Blue Mountains. It was around this time that the town was given the title of Nanny Town, more than 600 acres of land for the runaway slaves to settle.

The settlement was an ideal location for a stronghold since it overlooked Stony River via a 900-foot ridge making it impossible for them to be ambushed by the British. The Maroons at Nanny town also organized look-outs for such an attack as well as designated warriors who could be summoned by the sound of a horn.

Nanny was very adept at organizing plans to free slaves. For more than 50 years, Nanny has been credited with freeing more than 800 slaves. Nanny also helped these slaves remain free and healthy due to her vast knowledge of herbs and her role as a spiritual leader. She died in 1733.

The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1975. Her portrait is on the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a “Nanny”.

Norman Manley is credited with leading the team that negotiated Jamaica’s independence from Britain.

Norman Manley is credited with leading the team that negotiated Jamaica’s independence from Britain.

Often referred to as the “father of nationalist movement” and “founder of the People’s National Party,” Norman Washington Manley was a statesman, lawyer, visionary and stalwart.

In addition to dedicating himself to the cause of the workers during the 1938 labor troubles, Manley is credited with leading the team that negotiated Jamaica’s independence from Britain.

And for that, he became Jamaica’s National Hero in 1969.

According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, the arches of the monument are symbolic of ten fingers and the finish of the arches has been roughened to symbolize hands that toiled during slavery; the centerpiece, a natural Jamaican marble boulder, is a symbol of freedom.

According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, the arches of the monument are symbolic of ten fingers and the finish of the arches has been roughened to symbolize hands that toiled during slavery; the centerpiece, a natural Jamaican marble boulder, is a symbol of freedom.

George William Gordon, a wealthy mulatto politician, and Paul Bogle, a Baptist Deacon, emerged as defenders of the rights of the poor and oppressed in the Post Emancipation era. Hardships and injustice resulted in a series of protests, culminating in the 1865 Morant Bay rebellion. During that rebellion, Bogle led 200 to 300 Black men and women into the town of Morant Bay, parish of St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica.

When the group arrived at the court house they were met by a small volunteer militia who panicked and opened fire, killing seven Black protesters before retreating. The black protesters rioted, killing 18 people (including white officials and militia) and taking control of the town. In the days that followed some 2,000 black rebels roamed the countryside, killing two white planters and forcing others to flee for their lives.

Both Bogle and Gordon were arrested and executed for their role in the protest. Both men were named National Heroes in 1969.

Samuel Sharpe's rebellion led to the British Parliament passing the Abolition Bill in 1833, and the abolition of slavery in Jamaica in 1838.

Samuel Sharpe’s rebellion led to the British Parliament passing the Abolition Bill in 1833, and the abolition of slavery in Jamaica in 1838.

Prior to the abolition of slavery in 1838, Samuel Sharpe, a deacon in the Baptist Church in Montego Bay, believed freedom was non-negotiable, and that every man, woman and child deserved that right.

In 1831, he came up with a plan of passive resistance that involved slaves refusing to work on Christmas Day unless their grievances were addressed.

After spreading to the parishes of St. James, Trelawny, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth and Manchester, the non-violent resistance escalated to armed rebellion and a seizure of property.

More than 500 slaves lost their lives, most as a result of trials after Sharpe was hanged on May 23, 1832. The rebellion, which became known as the Sam Sharpe Rebellion, led to the British Parliament passing the Abolition Bill in 1833, and the abolition of slavery in Jamaica.

Sharpe was declared a National Hero in 1975.

The land of the National Heroes Park, which was purchased by Lord Mayor and City Council in 1808, was the center for horseracing between 1816 and 1953. The park was renamed National Heroes Park after Jamaica’s independence in 1962. Monuments were erected in honor of the nation’s seven National Heroes in an area known as the Shrine.

The changing of the guards happens every hour at National Heroes Park.

The changing of the guards happens every hour at National Heroes Park.

Adjoining the Shrine area to the north, is a section reserved for the interment of former Prime Ministers and other individuals who have contributed to Jamaica’s political, educational and social development.

This article was written using the information from the plaques in National Heroes Park, additional research and interviews.

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Against the Odds

For 12 years Ardemis (Artemis Thompson) lived as an indie artist in D.C., after leaving Nashville, Tenn., at 17 to study anthropology and sociology at Howard University.

For 12 years, Ardamus (Artemis Thompson) lived as an indie artist in D.C., after leaving Nashville, Tenn., at 17 to study anthropology and sociology at Howard University.

It’s a Friday night, when emcee Ardamus (Artemis Thompson) lets loose on a chrome-handle microphone upstairs in what used to be Capital City Records on Washington, D.C.’s historic U Street.

A crowd of mostly White youth pack the humid record shop — some wiping their sweaty faces and thumbing through wooden shelves of vinyl records, others bobbing their heads to the bass-heavy track and rhyming along with the artist.

Though the turn-out’s far from that of any sold-out show by mainstream standards, the 29-year-old emcee wouldn’t have it any other way.

“If I could do this right, I could make this my job,” said Thompson, who rocks mics at night and works full-time during the day as a computer operator for XM Radio Headquarters in D.C.

It’s where he ended up four years ago after putting in 16-hour days as a contracted employee, working beyond the required hours before he was eventually hired full-time. “I’d have a gig during the day, a gig during the night, and then I would do stuff for the radio show,” he said.

But this balancing act is nothing new to the lives of indie hip hop artists. Working day jobs, while promoting and rocking shows at night is part of that life where the obstacles include finding affordable studio time and dealing with shady promoters for shows.

It’s a life Thompson has lived for 12 years in the district, after leaving Nashville, Tenn., at 17 to study anthropology and sociology at Howard University. His motivation for choosing that life was his skepticism of the creative control that major labels have over their artists. “I didn’t want any kind of control over my stuff whatsoever,” he said.

It’s a life Thompson has documented in his latest release, “When Nothing Goes Right” (2007), a direct correlation to what he’s gone through while living in D.C. The CD’s topics range from money issues to dealing with promiscuous women to kicking dead-beat friends out of his house. The production process was also added to the list of things gone wrong when Thompson lost the previously recorded material for the album to a computer crash.

His advice to those going the indie route is to roll with the punches, and treat each obstacle as a teaching moment.

He said it also includes taking advantage of the barter system, or exchanging favors, as a way of working around not being able to find affordable studio time and dealing with shady promoters. “If you’re doing production for somebody who can’t afford it because they’re paying for studio time and other things, just work something out with that person,” Thompson said.

This includes “trading off shows,” or opening for artists in other states in exchange for them coming to your area and performing. So if Thompson opened for an emcee in Philadelphia or Ashville, N.C., the artists in those areas would open for Thompson at his shows in D.C. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be strictly hip hop artists,” he added, but also rock, jazz and blues bands — what he calls another way of an artist exposing one’s self to various audiences.

Another tip for indie artist is to be resilient in any situation. In 2007, Thompson bounced back almost immediately after being robbed at gun point. He took out his aggression at a hip hop battle that same week. “The prize money was $200,” said Tyrone Norris (emcee “Mental Stamina”), who met Thompson nine years ago when they were both Howard undergrads. Norris recalled that during the battle Thompson “destroyed” the other emcees and walked off with the prize money. “He works hard and is very creative — always coming up with something new, always pushing what he’s trying to do,” he said.

Even when his first EP, “Life is a Humbling Experience” (2001), received a review that was hard for Thompson to swallow, it didn’t hinder his determination to keep pushing what he does.

A 2002 review of the EP in Howard’s Hilltop, the university paper reported: “The concepts grappled by Ardamus does bring an innovative and refreshingly clear view as opposed to other hip-hip artists [limited] to rapping about women, selling drugs, committing crimes and chilling with the local gang.” However, according to review, “The word play and content lacked correlation, relevance and unified themes.”

Looking back, Thompson said: “I was very uncomfortable at the time recording [the EP] because I didn’t know where I was going with it. You hear other people rap and you’re like, ‘Yeah. I can sound like that too.’ I listened to myself on there [now] and I sounded like how I don’t want to sound.”

At present, his group Ardaplus (Thompson with emcee Double Plus) is at work on their EP, “Fistful of Plutonium.” “It’s going to be more experimental stuff,” Thompson said. But unlike his first EP, “This time it will be me sounding like how I want to sound on the beats.”

“The way they come off is very energetic and very different from what you see in regular hip hop,” said Kimberly Glenn (emcee “Jade Fox”), who described the group’s sound as “a mixture of rock and hip hop.”

Ardaplus is also part of “The Food Chain Collective” (http://myspace.com/foodchaincollective) — a crew of about a dozen artists that includes Jade Fox, Rosetta Stoned, Cubbie Bear, Caverns, Educated Consumers, Flex Matthews, Mathpanda, Blak Lungz, Future, Cuer and Teddy Faley. The collective works to promote one another by trading off shows and helping with promotion.

Overall, “He’s a good person — a real cool guy,” said Norris, who performs as “Mental Stamina” from Rosetta Stoned. “He knows everbody. If you’re doing hip hop on the East Coast, you know Artemis.”

Considering D.C.’s fragmented music scene, Thompson offered another bit of advice. This includes various cliques such as go-go, mixtape, hip hop and neo-soul crews working together to take the full flavor of D.C. to a national, and even international, level. “I know a lot of people that want to put DMV [D.C., Maryland and Virginia] on the map,” he said. “My thing is unless people come together as artists then you’re probably not going to reach that goal.”

For updates on Thompson, or to hear samples from his albums, visit him at http://www.myspace.com/sumadra, and visit his group’s page at http://www.myspace.com/ardaplus.

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