.‘Black 2 the Future’ at Hopmonk

What is the real deal with Sonoma County? Are we a backwater of dirt kickers, a progressive haven of white liberals or a forgotten Latine population? 

Answer: all of those and more. What we hardly ever consider is that we also boast a vibrant community of Black artists doing it for the culture.

One of the most committed organizers one will ever get the chance of supporting is Damion Square of Decolonized Mindz. He is the driving force behind the “Black 2 the Future,” a music showcase honoring local Black artists for Black History Month. The show at HopMonk in Sebastopol on Saturday, Feb. 17 is the second annual edition.

“It’s a spectacular event,” noted Square, not one to mince words. “Last year, [we] put together something that was really amazing, above and beyond what I thought it could be. I knew it was going to be great, but it really went a lot farther than I anticipated.”

The show combines the love of hip-hop with a recognition of the importance of community work. As happened last year, awards will be presented to Black community leaders whose work in support of the community so often goes unrecognized.

“The work, in terms of building community, is needed right now more than ever,” said Square, both in a Zoom call and a sit down at Brew Coffee and Beer in Santa Rosa. “We’re in a society where technologically we may be growing very fast and making a lot of advances, but that technology is pushing us further apart, even though it seems that we’re even closer. But you know, the community, the grassroots aspect of how people are building together is missing.”

That is where Decolonized Mindz fits in, a grassroots movement in its infancy that is growing Sonoma County awareness of its own diversity.

The show itself is a versatile lineup of artists with different takes on hip-hop and beyond. Fitting the definition of the word “beyond” itself, Erica Ambrin, who Square named as one of his favorite North Bay artists, plays guitar while singing, freestyling and rapping. “Her style is one that transcends the North Bay, and so just being able to provide a platform for her to get her music and her sound and her flavor even more out there, I feel honored to be able to do that,” noted Square.

The main show will be in the indoor ticketed venue called the Abbey. Before that, there is a free performance by Simone Mosley. She will showcase her lush vocals with complex melodies delivered with a slow flow in the outdoor beer garden of the HopMonk restaurant. 

Filling out the local lineup is an emerging artist known for their dope videos, Scoodah Blazz, born and raised in Santa Rosa. While they have been active for half a decade, a recent hiatus has given way to a new flurry of work. Square is happy to be “just putting some more rocket fuel behind what they’re doing and providing the platform for them to get their music out there.”

The headliner is San Francisco native StunnaMan02, whose West Coast hit, “Big Steppin,’” was hype enough to be remixed for use by the 49ers in 2021. The explosive MC is known for bringing his high energy right into the crowd, rapping joyously from the pit.

And of course Damion Square himself will perform his signature style of ’80s rooted flow, updated with contemporary lyrical themes. It is what he has been doing for years, all part of his efforts to give of himself to a community of like-minded creatives and values-driven leaders.

‘Black 2 the Future’ is on at 7pm, Saturday, Feb. 17, at HopMonk Sebastopol, 230 Petaluma Ave. $20. 21+. Free all ages music in the beer garden starts at 5:30pm.

Proceeds from the show go towards the Black Student Union at Sonoma State University, and the first 50 SSU students get in free at the door with their student ID.


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