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Beats by the Pound

A Tribe Called Quest had a Low End Theory. The late J. Dilla used Donuts. Jon Rogers, who is better known outside of Columbus as Maggz, provides the following formula to help understand his latest release of instrumental boom-bap: Music = colors, colors = complexions, complexions = moods, and moods = infinity. The (complex)ions series began with last year’s Mauvè, [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



A Tribe Called Quest had a Low End Theory. The late J. Dilla used Donuts. Jon Rogers, who is better known outside of Columbus as Maggz, provides the following formula to help understand his latest release of instrumental boom-bap:

Music = colors, colors = complexions, complexions = moods, and moods = infinity.

The (complex)ions series began with last year’s Mauvè, and it’s being followed up with Cyan soon, and where the color wheel lands from there is anyone’s guess. It all depends on Roger’s whimsical “moods.” Like his work ethic, nothing is “completely” finished and that road towards hip-hop enlightenment a never-ending education. As an artist within the medium, his canvas is an empty hard drive, his paints an assemblage of beats and samples culled from his meticulous vinyl library, often created alone in his lab with instruments he’s taught himself to play.

“I’m not really musically inclined, so for me, musical interpretation is more color than notes. That gives me a freedom, at least for this project, to do whatever I want to do,” explained Rogers. “For (complex)ions, I could just do four colors, or I could keep choosing different shades from the palette.”

Rogers’ started in hip-hop as an MC with a small group in his hometown of Rochester, New York. Raised on classic rap cassettes and by a father who toured the world as a jazz trumpeter, he was exposed to a musical way of life before he could walk. He eventually found his way to Columbus, but it was a city with few ties and fewer contacts. It was a blank slate moment, a chance to re-evaluate his perspective on hip-hop. He suddenly had to make his own beats and though he had a passing knowledge of how to produce them, there was going to be a learning curve.

That industrious self-reliance is what created Maggz. Maggz became Rogers’ alter ego, specializing in the futuristic soundscapes and off-kilter drums that were shifting his interests.

“I found this whole subculture of guys who were only focused on production. I was getting frustrated with hip-hop at the time because I thought it had very few outlets. I was also going through my own spiritual warfare, having a daughter, and most of the music I was making was negative stuff,” remembers Rogers of this transformation. “It wasn’t what I wanted to put out. I decided to take a step away from that and enter into this whole beat scene.”

Rogers gravitated towards this new frontier and instantly took to the Internet to network. One night he stumbled upon the expansive discography of Moka Only, an underground hip-hop legend from Canada, and decided to remix an a capella track of Only’s he’d found online. Only was impressed enough to pass it on to labelmate Chief, who doubles as the owner of the Switzerland-based Feelin’ Music. In turn, Chief offered to release Rogers’ output. It was the catalyst needed to boost his creative confidence, prompting him to enter into the tight-knit community of Columbus hip-hop. There he’s found a home producing beats for Zero Star and Intricate Sunz, as well as a regular stint at Star’s monthly Buggin’ Out shows.

To call Rogers prolific would be an understatement. Within the past two years he’s had his hands in myriad projects beyond (complex)ions. A perfect primer would beFragments of Mind, his debut release as Maggz. Within the grooves of “Here We Go” and “Pull the Chord,” Rogers weaves a sonic web of jazzy riffs, complex beats, psych effects, and synth samples that sound cut from the soundtrack of a PBS Nova documentary. There’s a nostalgia for the golden age of hip-hop, but also a portal to what hip-hop can become when it expands as it does here. Just last month he celebrated the collaborative album Moonlight with local R&B singer Renee Dion – definitely a step outside of his comfort zone – and for the remainder of 2014, he’s committed to get back to rhyming. A trio composed of Rogers, Only, and Chief, known as Torchlight Commission, is in the early stages and will no doubt take form when they tour Europe together this summer.

“There’s so much going on right now, because I always have to push the envelope,” concluded Rogers. “I never feel like I’m where I want to be, so I thrive to get better every day.”

To hear (complex)ions : Mauvè and the rest of Jon Rogers’ work,


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Music industry designates Blackout Tuesday as time of pause




To honor the memory of George Floyd and fix the injustices surrounding his death, the music industry has designated Tuesday as a time of pause to collaborate on ways to better support the black community.

Businesses and organizations within the music industry have been asked to pause regular work to reflect on how they can better serve the black community, according to a report from Variety. In general, businesses and organizations across the board have been asked to use Tuesday as a way to focus on the effort.

The message that circulated around social media quickly on Monday stated that “Blackout Tuesday” is being used as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

The movement has been gaining momentum under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused. Major labels such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group announced their alignment with the “Blackout Tuesday” cause. 

Companies have also announced practices such as pausing social media activity throughout the whole day.

Spotify and ViacomCBS have already announced an 8 minute and 46-second moment of silence for Tuesday. The time reflects how long the Minnesota police officer dug his knee into the kneck of Floyd.

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Curbside Concerts brings live music, hope to those in need




Can’tStopColumbus took a quick pause when the pandemic shut down the world and asked two questions:

  1. Are we sure we're solving the needs of everyone in our community during this time? 
  2. Are we not just coming up with ideas based on our own experiences?

Our elder community was one of the major demographics to have stricter socially distancing guidelines suggested to them. Holidays and birthdays went by without hugs from grandpa or grandma’s cookies.

Out of the need to fill that missing love in the life of American seniors, the idea of Curbside Concerts was born. Anyone is able to jump on the Curbside Concerts signup page and request a concert for an elder, sick people not able to leave the house, or a simple celebration.

Sending a concert telegram is free, and you can also leave a message for a loved one and suggest what type of tunes the organization-selected Columbus-area musician.

So far, the feedback has been inspiring. 

“People cried. I cried. We cried. It was beautiful,” said Zach Friedman, one of the service’s founders and creators. “We had a powerful idea on our hands, and the amazing power of the #Can'tStopColumbus community to scale it and bring it to life.”

To date, Curbside Concerts has had over 50 volunteers. Their job is to drive around a Columbus musician and their equipment with trucks provided by Ricart Automotive. It’s a road trip around the Columbus area, delivering concerts to those who may just need their spirits lifted. It’s like a non-depressing version of Inside Llewyn Davis.

Support has come from all ends of the Columbus creative community, including The Columbus Foundation, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Streetlight Guild, and What? Productions. Through these organizations, musicians are able to be paid for a route that usually lasts five to six hours. 100 percent of the donations they receive on their route also goes to the musicians.

Friedman is asking people to keep requests to older audiences.

“Working with local musicians to perform curbside at people's homes is the vehicle or medium, but the real thing we are doing here is connecting those to older people they love, with an authentic and emotional experience to send love over,” Friedman said.

We found out pretty quickly how much as a collective that we take live music for granted. Live streams have been a temporary, dulled-down replacement. You realize how long people have been robbed of the experience when you see a musician pull up in a pickup truck, set up in five minutes, and serenade neighborhoods with songs like “Lean on Me” and “What A Wonderful World.” It starts off with a message to one house and then resonates down the street, like the citizens of Gas Town rushing to The People Eater for even a drop of water.

Photos by Zak Kolesar

For most people, it was their first taste of live music since mid-March. While we may want concerts to return as soon as possible, its productions like Curbside Concerts that display the emotional power of music.

To request to send someone a concert, follow the link here:

To volunteer for Curbside Concerts, follow the link here:

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Arts & Culture

Live music allowed again in restaurants and bars: how will these establishments respond?




A major step forward in the return of live music in Ohio took place over the weekend. The Ohio coronavirus guidelines were updated to reflect the new COVID-19 Dine Safe Ohio Order.

The order outlining the guidelines on live music in restaurant and bars is as follows:

Musicians and bands may perform in restaurants and bars as long as the individuals who are performing maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all other people including, but not limited to, fellow performers and restaurant and bar patrons and staff.

DJ's are included along with musicians and bands in the order.

Something that was on the mind of a lot of musicians with the reopening of restaurants and the indefinite closing of large venues was how restaurants and bars were going to respond to the immediate venue demand. Places like Woodlands Tavern that already have an infrastructure for live music will have no problem complying with the updated order, but will restaurants and bars that depended on jukeboxes before pivot to a live music model?

With a lot more space available in restaurants due to capacity cuts, does this leave more room for a live music set up? Or will restaurants have to get rid of even more tables if they want to make room for a performer?

The thought of live music in a venue setting is alone enough to get excited about. How these places that now have the ability to host live music execute freeing up space for a band to set up or a DJ to bring his rig in while practicing social distancing is what makes this situation a tricky one.

Not being able to get down in a MojoFlo Soul Train line will be pretty tough, but it’s a tradeoff we’ll have to accept for the return of live music.

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