Category: Brown Sugar

#BrownSugar “Locally Grown, Nationally Known”- A Brown Sugar interview with Derek 32Zero




 I don’t cover a lot (well any lol) of “local hip hop” on this column but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any worth covering. To me talent is talent no matter where it originates.  Talent is definitely the reason we’re featuring Virginia emcee Derek 32Zero. This emcee combines substance with style and energy in his brand of hip hop. I vividly remember the 1st time I saw him perform live years ago. Well he’s still going strong and has new music on deck for fans old and new. Check out our conversation.


BROWN SUGAR- When did you fall in love with hip hop?

DEREK 32ZERO- When I met Sanaa Lathan  (laughs) no, seriously, I would say specifically Big Daddy Kane’s “Ain’t No Half Steppin” that was the first song I knew front to back. I actually did the write down, pause the tape method, and kept reviewing it like a study guide till I got it right.

BROWN SUGAR- Ha! Dope lol

BROWN SUGAR -How long have you been an emcee?
DEREK 32ZERO- Since I graduated college, the University of South Carolina, go gamecocks! Ha. I had been rhyming, writing and performing since I was in middle school. But that was just rapping. I became an emcee in college though for sure. It was a definitive moment in my life, where I found my voice. It was a moment when I was also finding myself on a personal and spiritual level.  I truly began to understand what it took to be an emcee from battling, going off the top, freestyling, recording, songwriting, and performing.
BROWN SUGAR- Describe what inspires you & your creative process music wise.
DEREK 32ZERO- Life inspires me. My music is a direct reflection of my thoughts and emotions, what I’m going through in everyday life. What I observe, my family, children, job situation, my faith. The creative process is very therapeutic for me. Sounds corny (laugh) but once I have an opportunity and a way to “get it out” it feels so good. Check the “feels good” record on (laughs). And hopefully, the honesty of my music will inspire others as well. Musicians, artists, movies, books, experiences all influence how and what I do. I feel as though I have a responsibility to be as accurate and skillful as possible. Everybody can’t create, but most of us share the same experiences, wants, and/or desires. I strive to be that voice for the people.

BROWN SUGAR- Is there an artist that you would still like to work with?
DEREK 32ZERO- Hip hop artists: Andre 3000, Black Thought, Ghostface, Sean Price, Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Cee-Lo –the emcee.  Those are off the top of my head.

Other genres: Jay Kay from Jamiroqui, Lenny Kravitz, Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Mary Mary, Stevie Wonder again just off of my head the top. The great and amazing and crazy part about my experience, however is that I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite artists already like Bilal, Pos from De La Soul, Lady Mecca (ladybug from Digable Planets,) Skillz, Nottz of course, Jon Bibbs, Hezekiah, Truck North, House Shoes, Saskwatch: (my favorite emcee and fellow collaborator and Ugly People crew member), Dwele, Dj Bee, Dj Lowkey. Not bad for at-risk youth counselor. (Laughs)

BROWN SUGAR- That’s quite a list! Lots of people are trying to get to where you are. What are your 3 tips to an aspiring emcee?


  • Respect yourself as an artist and demand respect. Often times, emcees are given zero respect, and definitely less respect than singers. Less or no pay for shows, doing shows with no sound checks, doing promo shit for “exposure,” or “for the love,” don’t work to win the state championship i.e. “I’m the best in Norfolk, or VA” work to be the best worldwide, having ciphers after shows with people that couldn’t get on the bill!!! Really? Have u ever seen an r&b cipher after a show? Hahaha, etc., etc.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Songwriting, freestyling, show tapes, studio work, attacking the beat from different angles. Practice in the car, in the bathroom, while u fucking, at work (laughs). You have to put time in to get positive results. Stay diligent and good things will happen.
  • Know the history. Listen to those that came before. Research. Get into all genres of music. Don’t limit yourself to “what’s popular.” Today that means “what’s dumb and dumber.” And this is more so a life lesson as well. Have no fear. Too many people don’t or cant. Be the one who does. And have a plan, goal, and measure of success. Many of my favorite artists won’t go platinum or win a Grammy, but their influence is so much greater than any accolade they could receive.

BROWN SUGAR- Word! And um yeah interesting practice places lol

BROWN SUGAR-Any embarrassing stage stories that you wanna share?
DEREK 32ZERO- At 13 I was part of a fake BBD group. We performed at Norfolk State University homecoming and got pennies thrown at us! (Laughs) I’ve forgotten lyrics before, stepped on and knocked chords out while performing, but that’s part of the “growing pains.” The key is that with so much preparation, confidence and fearlessness I have for my craft, things happen and really make little difference. One time my group, The U.G.L.Y. people performed at an open mic venue and the mics, lights, and sound went out during the performance. But we didn’t stop, we didn’t flinch, we practiced and practiced and were unflappable to the point that when we finished people were walking up to us asking “how did ya”ll plan that? That was dope!” I’m thinking, how did we plan for everything to go out? (laughs) That just shows that resilience and belief we had and I still have to fight and spread this message. And I’m only human, so things will happen. I can’t really think of anything that would embarrass me now.

BROWN SUGAR -What’s the state of hip hop in VA & in Hip Hop as a whole?
DEREK 32ZERO -There are skilled emcees. There are very unpolished /wack emcees. There are average emcees that are popular due to backing and funding. There are a zillion and one rappers, studios and producers alike. There’s always hope, but the ability to make music is so much easier now. All u need is a computer and some paper, cash, dinero, for a computer program and you’re good. Hip-hop has always been a reflection of black culture and what is accepted. Right now, being a dumb nigga is cool. And being a dumb nigga that really can’t rhyme is even cooler. So be it. My job right now is to continue doing what I do and teach my children. Hopefully I can reach someone else’s family too in the process.

BROWN SUGAR -What can fans except from you in 2013?
DEREK 32ZERO -Hopefully this “I’m Not Bargaining” project with Nottz will come out. I’m also working on a project with Jon Bibbs under the greatest band name ever, “The Fanny Pack All-Stars.” I’m also working on a new solo project entitled, “Sunny Side of the Street.” Working on a project with a French producer as well. Just trying to build the brand. So I’m still continuing to write and work and hopefully provide people with something that they can listen to and keep for a lifetime, not just for the moment. Oh yeah, and I’m coaching my son and daughter’s soccer and basketball teams and I’m looking forward to kicking butt! (laughs) And staying married to my beautiful wife, and not producing any more babies. (laughs). That’s it. The end. Thank you for your time and continued efforts to support the arts. Peace.

Find Derek 32Zero on twitter @derek32Zero & FB Derek 32Zero

Listen to “Lift Em Up” featuring Talib Kweli HERE 

Listen to “Feels Good” HERE 

Brown Sugar is written by Angie C @abitofbrownsuga on Twitter.                   

Email abitofbrownsugar@gmail for event coverage, interview requests, as well as story ideas. 


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#brownsugar with @abitofbrownsuga Love In Stereo



Love in Stereo: Hearing both sides of what 20somethings have to say about love and everything in between. Media maven Shod Harris of The Rebel Society tells us about his Relationship docu-series, TWENTY

Omg I’m reviewing this documentary as a 30something, wow, but anyway if we think about the 1st time we fell in love it was probably in our twenties. Newlywed Shod Harris takes a fresh and funny look at relationships in his series, TWENY. Discussing everything from sexual attraction, to break ups and everything in between. We sat down for a Brown Sugar interview about the 4 part series. Be sure to click the links at the bottom and check it out.

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SHOD HARRIS- Twenty is a docu-series I created that looks at everyday topics and conversation pieces through the eyes of twenty somethings.  Those topics range from sex, marriage, cheating, marriage, Christianity, relationships and whatever else I could think of or felt was interesting.  Pretty much it’s just simple things that everybody goes through.

 BROWN SUGAR- What led you to create the series?

SHOD HARRIS -That’s an interesting story, at first I was joking around saying I wanted to write a book on relationships since I used to jokingly call myself a relationship guru.  Then while I was joking, people were saying that you should really do that.  I knew writing really wasn’t my forte so I just decided that I was just going to do a video on it.  I wanted to have the video about people in their twenties because I think when you are in your twenties you go through the most life changes and overall just learning about yourself.  If you really think about it when you are nineteen or twenty, you think you know a lot but you really don’t know anything but by the time you are twenty-nine or thirty, you more than likely have kids, been through serious relationships, been through college, so your life experiences are definitely different.

BROWN SUGAR- You explore four topics within the idea of relationships, which of the four episodes do you think was most difficult for people to talk about?

SHOD HARRIS -I personally don’t think any of the parts were particularly difficult for people to talk about but if I had to pick one it would have to be the section in episode four about cheating.  It seemed like people weren’t really sure about why they do what they do.  I think that and the episode on sex were probably the most interesting.

BROWN SUGAR- After finishing the project what is the state of twenty something’s when it comes to love and relationships?

SHOD HARRIS- After finishing the project I realized that people who are in their younger twenties really aren’t sure what they really want out of relationships or what they are looking for in the opposite sex are things that are small or superficial.  I also realized that when people get in their upper twenties people are usually looking for something real.

BROWN SUGAR- What’s your goal of for the series?

SHOD HARRIS- I said that my goal for the series was to present young people especially black people in a realistic way which is intelligent, funny, and honest.  I feel like the media today only paints the picture of young blacks as being ignorant, materialistic, violent, ratchet and all of that.  So I just want to show the reality of what young blacks are really like and how they feel about these topics.

BROWN SUGAR- How much total footage did you have, talk to us about the process of editing and putting the pieces together?

SHOD HARRIS -Overall it took about 6 months for me to arrange, record the interviews, edit and promote it.  Recording the interviews was the funniest part, just to see how everybody responded to the questions.  Even after I recorded the interviews I still wasn’t sure about how I was going to put it all together so I feel that part took the longest.  I’m extremely proud of the way that it came out though.

BROWN SUGAR- What’s the future of creating Independent docs?

SHOD HARRIS- I know my future in creating these independent documentaries looks to be pretty bright.  I have a couple of video projects that I’m currently working on as we speak.  One is a project on how people can make it in the music industry and then two more other projects that fall within the Twenty series.  So I’ll definitely be putting in some work all year.

BROWN SUGAR- What is the Rebel Society and what can we expect from you in 2013?

SHOD HARRIS- The Rebel Society is an upcoming full service marketing firm that I just recently founded that works with small businesses and brands to market their products and services.  We help our clients by offering and handling everything that our client would need to get their product to the consumer.  Our services include email marketing, social media marketing, media production, public relations, guerilla marketing and more.  In 2013 you can expect a lot of material from us just from a branding perspective.  We plan on putting out great, thought provoking and entertaining content as well as pushing our clients to great success.  To be successful you have to work harder and be smarter than everyone else and that is what we plan to do!

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Follow Shod Harris:


Brown Sugar is written for Fresh Radio by Angie C twitter @abitofbrownsuga   

For interviews, event coverage, or story ideas Email –
Twenty:  Rules Of Attraction (Ep 1)

Twenty:  Straight Sex (Ep 2)

Twenty:  Just The Two Of Us (Ep. 3)

Twenty:  Things Fall Apart (EP 4)


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An Open Letter Piece by @abitofbrownsugar …does implied racism still exist???



The tweet below by a news outlet in the Hampton Roads, VA area.

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Fresh Radio hosts a couple of monthly events in the City of Norfolk in the Granby St area, bringing in safe entertainment and tax revenue to the city’s books. WE THE PEOPLE, as a community are outraged at the implied racism that occurred with this tweet.  If Fresh Radio was hosting an event that night our patrons may have and could have been affected by the events that occurred.  As a News reporting agency, I trust that they would see the need to warn any and all people in the Granby St and Monticello St area of possible danger and not just Admiral and Tides Fans.

This is an open letter written to WVEC by Angie Cee (@abitofbrownsugar) An Open Letter to WVEC

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