Swag Snap of the Week: Marla and Cbabi Bayoc

Marla showed her support of renowned visual artist Cbabi Bayoc in a special way last month. Not only did she attend the closing party for his “What’s The 411?” exhibit at Cherokee Street Gallery, but she also purchased a piece of Cbabi’s original artwork.

A slight return to your regularly scheduled programming. Hammercy! Because of these ______(insert challenging, difficult, unprecedented, unparalleled or any other alternative you want to use in place of “The Rona”) times, I’ve been away from y’all so long that I don’t know where to start. I’m inclined to steal from that flamboyantly fabulous ray of social media sunshine Leslie Jordan and hit y’all with a safe for Partyline version of his now famous greeting, “Well, what are y’all doin’?” Things ain’t nowhere near normal, and while I’ve been dipping my toe out in these streets – I’ve been taking social distancing so seriously that I’m sure somebody thought I was stalking or moonlighting as a private investigator as I’ve peeped the scene with the utmost caution. If anybody saw a bush shaking or heard it rattling and wondered if it was a possum or a ‘coon grooving to the live music on the patio of the House of Soul, it was probably me. I’m not playing any games with Miss Rona – and neither should y’all. With that in mind, I’m letting you know ahead of time that y’all are gonna get from me for the immediate future is going to be the few little sips I spend in these streets wrapped around the rest of my time spent in my Rona proof basement crypt over these past several weeks. Y’all ready? Let’s get it. 

RIP Huey. Before I go any further, let me take a moment to honor the memory of our own Lawrence Franks Jr. We knew and loved him as his rap moniker Huey. And we also knew when the beat dropped on his signature jam that whatever party, club, event, backyard barbecue or church service that the dancefloor would be cracking on the strength of that song for the whole rest of the night. But beyond the music, Huey was such good people. He always had a smile on his face and made you feel better whenever you crossed his path. I really hate that his light was snuffed out by gun violence because I know he had so much to give – from good vibes as a human to good music. He was laid to rest on Monday and I’m sure his family and friends gave him the sendoff he deserved. He’ll forever have his place in St. Louis hip-hop history – and based on the love he was shown during the “In Memoriam” portion of the BET Awards, everyone affiliated with the culture knows what time it is as far as impact on the industry. Join me in sending prayers to his family, especially his daughter. 

BET on POINT. I won’t be long or labor with a full roundup because it already feels like forever since it aired, but since I’ve already mentioned the show, can I ask why did it take the whole country to go on the quarantine and socially distant shut in list for us to get the awards we deserved?. Real talk, it was the best BET Awards I’ve seen in years. Part of me feels like Viacom devoted more coinage to the show’s budget and aired it on cousin station CBS because of the current climate. Either way, they were a win and was super creative with how they handled the social distancing challenges. I started off watching thinking that Tracee Ellis Ross’ opulent baby hair was going to be the best residual of the BET Awards, but it ended up being a treat from start to finish. It was so good that my elderly play uncle/longtime church member rang me up on my land line asking, “what buttons he needed to push to see Margaret Da Scallion again on the computer.” His words, not mine. 

A grand closing with Cbabi. For my first foray into these streets since The Rona had me lowkey turn my house into a mausoleum for the living, I took a trip to the South Side so that I could see Cbabi Bayoc’s “What’s The 411?” exhibition at the Cherokee Street Gallery last month. I was over the moon because I thought it was going to be yet another thing I missed due to Miss Rona. It was a treat to see – I think his illustration of Houston rapper Tobe Nwigwe. It was a full on socially distant sidewalk party outside the gallery with music served up by The Red and Black Brass Band. They served up a second line that had everybody grooving. This inebriated gentlemen got caught up in the spirit of their rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In” and almost caught these hands when he decided he was gonna invade my personal space and just make me cut a step on the edge of the sidewalk. He leaned in and I bent back like Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix,” honey! Despite that tiny hiccup, I still had as much as of a ball as I could, considering my pre-Rona personal space issues compounded by anxiety about folks who can’t seem to social distance once they get a sip in their system. 

A warm welcome from The House of Soul. The only spot I’ve hit up since the pandemic that doesn’t start with www has been the House of Soul. I’ve made three trips between Juneteenth and Fourth of July and enjoyed reconnecting with people – even if it takes them a minute to get with how extreme I am with my space these days. I stopped through to catch a bunch of singers rotate in and out to perform with Mark Harris II and his band. It was life more abundantly. He is the absolute truth – especially as an arranger. I won’t name names, but his musical genius had me vibing to one or two singers that I wouldn’t have sacrificed any decibels otherwise. I also got life last weekend from Lamar Harris (no relation to Mark, at least I don’t think) It was so good to see folks – even if it was from afar. Especially House of Soul owner Nichol Stevenson, Jami Ballentine Dolby, hair stylist Tiffany J (who I call Tiffany Scissorhands because she’s so cold with her cut game) and a host of other folks. I don’t suspect folks will be seeing much of me – but if I’m lurking or peeking around corners anywhere, it will be at The House of Soul and an extremely exclusive list of others.

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