Interview: GNL Zamba, Godfather of Ugandan Hip Hop, his Black Panther inspired Freestyle and forming duo NSIMBI with his partner

by Tom Nguyen

I met GNL Zamba and his partner, Miriam Tamar, outside a show in 2016, where they introduced themselves as being new to L.A. and thanking me for cluing them into the global music scene with my site. Little did I know that GNL Zamba is Uganda’s most well-known hip hop artist, and having never mentioned his background to me, my mind was blown 2 years later when he dropped this hot freestyle this past April!

So you know what they say…the real geniuses are the ones who don’t have to say much, but when they do, y’all better listen! And trust me, I’m listening now! Here’s an interview with GNL Zamba on what exactly Lugaflow is, how love led him to Los Angeles, and forming NSIMBI, a new duo, with his wife, Miriam Tamar.

EnClave: For folks outside Uganda and in LA who don’t know, can you tell us about Lugaflow and the hip hop scene in Uganda. How long have you been rapping and what got you started?

GNL Zamba: Uganda’s music scene is very vibrant and has been for a while but that wasn’t the case for hip hop. It wasn’t mainstream, with little respect and coverage. It wasn’t considered a favorite until 2008. That is when the game totally changed. I released an album called Koyi Koyi (Riddles of Life), which became the most colossal hip hop album in Uganda’s industry. The album was under the theme of indigenous pride (Lugafow), the album used traditional chants and which made the rhymes fun and relatable. I told stories of growing poor in Kampala. The genre got its new life from the Koyi Koyi album. I became a household name with fans of all ages and the sponsorships from corporate partners helped me cement Lugaflow (indigenous language flow) into an urban movement. My first concert that year had over 12,000 people at Kyadondo rugby grounds. Something that was unprecedented for a hip hop MC before. I was overjoyed.

EnClave LA: What brought you out here to Los Angeles?

GNL Zamba: Music, Film and a girl! I often reply haha! I met my partner in Uganda almost 6 years ago; she had been working to rebuild the post war community in northern Uganda. She had just ended her work and was transitioning into music when we met. We both loved culture and were both looking for a new voice to express ourselves and the community. We worked on edutainment songs for organizations under the ministry of health to sensitize the youth about safe sex and began performing on stages together.

We were in the middle of making a super band when a personal tragedy forced her to she move back to the states. I was hesitant to join her because I loved my Ugandan life and didn’t want to trade it. I visited often and saw her whenever I had a chance to perform in the U.S.A. Until I decided to get an 01 Visa and give L.A. a try. Now we are releasing our first project together as a hip hop world fusion duo in a few weeks. It will be called NSIMBI. Continue Reading →

EnClave’s Guide to Los Angeles 2018 Summer Events & beyond

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by Tom Nguyen

[Last updated: July 9, 2018] So Facebook broke my events calendar on this site. Long story short, I used to painstakingly and manually populate the calendar one event at a time, until there was a way for me to automatically import Facebook events directly to the calendar. If folks don’t know, there’s just one person behind this whole site (me!), and it was such a time saver. Well, in response to its recent data privacy scandal, Facebook closed up its system and I can no longer do that. So, no more calendar!

But calendar or no calendar, I’ve always loved putting out an annual list of summer events. What I noticed about other sites is they always put out a list of free summer concerts, or an “ultimate” list of summer events, that always excluded so many events in communities of color and immigrant diaspora — immigrant communities are still invisible in this global city.

So this is my list, and it doesn’t just focus on the free…there’s many nonprofits and other great performing arts venues putting out great cultural programming that shouldn’t be ignored just because you have to pay. Plus, not all worthy artists get selected for a very limited set of free summer concert series, so please support our hard-working local artists, visiting artists, grassroots producers and community organizations putting on events, on their own dime!

So if you only care about free concerts, read no further, and don’t even bother with those other lists…just go to socalsummerconcerts.com. I don’t know who puts that calendar together but it’s very convenient. Now if you do care about a wider range of summer events in LA, and you do care about supporting both local bands and venues who work hard to put on culturally relevant and important shows, then enjoy. I spent a good day initially putting this list together and I will never call it a complete or ultimate list…This list will be updated on a weekly basis, as I find out more events throughout the summer. I’ll also go back and add highlight videos from my Instagram so you can see what you missed out on! (If you’re not following me on Instagram, you should…many events and last minute announcements are only posted on Instagram these days…the millennials don’t use Facebook anymore!). And if you want a reminder of more awesome upcoming events as well as ticket giveaways to many of these shows, subscribe to our newsletter!

Thank you to organizations and event producers like Hollywood Bowl, Ford Theatres, Grand Performances, Pasadena Playhouse, Brazilian Nites, Nance Arte Productions, Go As If Productions who pay me and my street team CultureGap.LA to promote their shows and get featured here on my site — thank you for helping to keep the lights on and this labor of love going! If you have a worthy event that you would like featured on this list, my site, newsletter and social media, contact me. I hope to see you at a stage this Summer into Fall (aka L.A.’s late summer!).

[JUN]    [JUL]    [AUG]    [SEP]    [OCT]

Interview: Juli Kim of The Artist’s Platform on The Friendship Concert this Sat. April 28!


by Tom Nguyen

This Saturday, April 28, 7:30pm, is The Friendship Concert, a performance of music, dance and culture, at Aratani Theater in Little Tokyo, to commemorate the LA Riots. The concert will showcase an eclectic array of artistic talents from diverse communities. Here’s the lineup:

  • Houman Pourmehdi on Daf Frame Drum.
  • Aerial Piece by Nick Loui.
  • Reach Sister’s contemporary dance piece.
  • Celeste Lanuza’s Mexican/Fusion choreography with live music.
  • James Mahkween’s African/Fusion work.
  • USC Instrumental duo from Doctorate department playing an Original composition by Michael Kim-Sheng, an emerging composer.
  • Juli Kim’s Korean Classical/Fusion dance piece.
  • Tashara and Queala from Lula Washington Dance Company.
  • Los Angeles Children’s Community Youth Choir led by Sun Joo Yeo.
  • The Flintridge Singers directed by Steve Hill.
  • Artist Entrance Dance Company premiering “Trajectory”.
  • Paco & Yolanda flamenco piece juxtaposed with Korean Five drum dance then continued on to Taiko Drum’s finale.

I had a chance to speak to Juli Kim of The Artists’ Platform (TAP), who is organizing this huge ensemble performance.

EnClave.LA: Tell us about The Artists’ Platform (TAP) and why you think it’s so important to bring so many different performers from different communities as well as school children to perform?

Juli: Thank you so much for giving me a chance to introduce our nonprofit organization, The Artists’ Platform. Our nonprofit organization was founded last year to recognize the need to support the efforts of emerging artists. On November 6th, we hosted our Inaugural Concert, which highlighted an eclectic array of artistic talents, showcasing diverse genres from diverse communities. As Founder and President of this organization, I can proudly say that our first concert was a great success.  Continue Reading →

2018 Spring Films Guide


by Tom Nguyen

Spring time is here in Los Angeles, and April into May are jam packed with film festivals and special screenings from Los Angeles to Long Beach to Orange County. Even for a film fanatic like me, it’s dizzying trying to keep track of so many! Foreign film festivals are particularly meaningful to me because they were always my way of exploring the world, when I had no money to travel abroad, and subtitled films are the only films I get to enjoy on the big screen with my friend and movie buddy, Morris, who is deaf. Special thanks to Wilki of WilkiIMAGE, the professional photographer who’s been covering LA’s film festival circuit for decades and always keeps me in the loop! Want to see Grace Jones in person introducing the new documentary on her life? Or go oapril 25n a romantic movie date, sipping chocolate margaritas while watching the classic Like Water For Chocolate? Then look at my guide to some of my favorite film festivals and special screenings happening, in order of opening dates:

HOLA Mexico Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary

April 5-May 24, 2018 at Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles and June 1-9, 2018 at locations TBA.
In celebration of HOLA Mexico Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary, the Festival will host free film screenings every Thursday – April 5 through May 24 – at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles. As a look back at the Festival’s milestone 10 year history, each of the eight films featured in this series has been a notable Festival Opening Night selection. In addition, in the lobby of the cinema of the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, there will be an installation showcasing the posters from the past nine years of HOLA Mexico Film Festival. These free screenings lead up to the 10th Annual HOLA Mexico Film Festival June 1-9!

Memories Of Underdevelopment (Memorias Del Subdesarrollo) – 50th Anniversary Screening

April 11, 2018 at Frida Cinema
The Frida Cinema is proud to partner with University of California, Irvine and the Bowers Museum – with the support of the the Humanities for All Grant made possible by California Humanities, UC-Mexus, and UCI Illuminations – on Latin American Studies in Motion, a series of cultural events, including four films presented at The Frida, which reflect Latin American history, culture, and recent social and environmental change. On Wednesday, April 11, join us for a very special 50th Anniversary Screening of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s 1968 classic Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo) – easily the most celebrated and well-known film from the Cuban Revolution. Screening will be followed by a presentation and Q&A with Raul Fernandez, Professor Emiritus of Chicano & Latino Studies, University of California – Irvine. Frida Cinema is Orange County’s only non-profit film theater and if you’re a Selena fan, come to their free screenings of SELENA on April 16, 1:30pm & 7pm, in recognition of what would have marked the 47th Birthday of the singer and icon.

16th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA)

April 11-15, 2018 at Regal L.A. LIVE
16th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles is the premiere platform for the latest in cutting-edge global Indian cinema and bridges the gap between the two largest entertainment industries in the world – Hollywood and India. The festival will showcase more than 25 films from the Indian filmmaking community across the globe, host the highly anticipated Opening and Closing red carpet Galas, and the Closing Awards ceremony. Opening the festival on April 11 is IN THE SHADOWS, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a reclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse at the hands of his father directed by Dipesh Jain. Festival will close with the Los Angeles premiere of VILLAGE ROCKSTARS, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit in the past year. The film is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film, written, shot, edited and directed by Das, is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.

Journey From The Fall and VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations

Continue Reading →

Buyepongo says Misogyny will not be tolerated after women fans groped at their show

by Tom Nguyen

[Buyepongo is about breaking down borders one dance floor at a time. Its about getting to know one another.. and yes it’s about shaking yo booty, How ever you want to get down!! We want to make it clear to all these foos that think they are gods gift to woman and think they can come and straight up disrespect a woman at our show.. fuck that!! We see you and we will approach you!! Last night we had a situation where 2 #buyeseras were touched and groped and without consent simply for the fact they allow him to dance with them. We want to say it loud and clear THAT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED AT A BUYE SHOW!! Even if its a friend , brother or even a Buye member they will get checked appropriately. And If you see this happening you gotta step up and protect our people!!! We love all woman and men!! And we want yall to come to our shows and feel free to do your thing but all ways be respectful and NO MEANS NO!!!! This conversation must happen so we can create a better future for our seeds. This has been a Buye service .. announcement. Con todo respeto y amor !!!! #fuckpatriarchy #buyangu]

Thank you Edgar Meshlee Modesto of Buyepongo for calling out the man who groped 2 of their women fans at their show this past weekend, and saying any behavior that disrespects and violates folks, will not be tolerated. He also importantly says, as men, we need to challenge and confront other men when we see this happening, instead of looking the other way and being bystanders. It’s an important issue many of us recently discussed at Art Making Party: Gear Up for Denim Day! led by Sumaq Alvarado-del Aguila of Peace Over Violence.

This kind of behavior happens so much at shows, that we’ve become so conditioned to ignore it….women learn to accept it as a reality of going out anywhere, men learn they can get away with it, because no other men are saying or doing anything about it. When is this going to change? When are each of us going to take a stand like Edgar? For my partner who is a survivor of sexual assault, for my niece who is growing up, I want to the the kind of man who doesn’t hesitate to call out misogyny and patriarchy. Shit like this is not harmless. It’s not boys being boys. You touch somebody without their consent, that’s assault…that’s violence. And it doesn’t matter who it is — we can’t give folks a pass just because they’re popular or well-connected. There has to be consequences for bad behavior. Edgar says he will check his own band members.

And that’s why you’ll never see Tropa Magica / Thee Commons events here…I’ve seen the 2 brothers harass and manhandle women many times and I won’t cover any misogynist bands, or give them a pass just because people expect rockers to be bad boys. No, just because you play in a band, manage a band, think you’re with the cool kids, doesn’t mean you get to violate and take advantage of folks. Support artists like Buyepongo, Earth Arrow and Weapons of Mass Creation who call out the bullshit that patriarchy is, and who absolutely demand that all folks are respected and safe at their shows.

And demand safe spaces where you spend your money! One venue where I see bad behavior tolerated all the time is Resident, where security is only outside checking IDs, but none anywhere inside. So, there are men who feel they can get as drunk as they want and act with impunity. And you feel like you have to act on your own with no backup…the one time I confronted a man who was groping women on the dance floor there, their security threw me and my partner Vanna Mae Art (people of color) out, and let the perpetrator (white male) stay. These spaces that profit from us absolutely bear a responsibility to ensure a safe space…hold them to it!

And we wouldn’t be having this conversation openly if the 2 brave women didn’t tell Edgar after the show what happened. Let’s talk about these issues openly instead of remaining silent. Have you had bad experiences or witnessed them? What can we do to protect one another better and respect folks’ space and safety at shows? On a bright note, a man I got into a physical confrontation with at La Cita Bar last year over his groping of women, approached me and apologized to me recently for his bad behavior. So, people can atone and change, but it starts with telling them their bad behavior is not to be tolerated.

Last Night at the Metro….

by Tom Nguyen

Last night at the metro, I saw a young couple getting physical while arguing, with the girl pushing the guy around. I wanted to say something but they seemed to settle down so I walked down to the platform, hoping they were resolving things.

Then the couple came down the platform, still arguing, and the young man was so distraught, he sat down at the edge of the platform, dangling his legs over the tracks, and sobbing uncontrollably.

I approached them and asked if everything was ok. It was a really tense situation, and a really belligerent man by the name of Javier Rodriguez, who’s a known bully in the building I live in, started making things worse by shouting and making accusations at the girl. I turned around and told him to mind his own business and to shut his mouth, because instead of deescalating the situation, he does what he always does, like in our building, always being aggressive and confrontational.

I sat down next to the crying young man, with my hand on his shoulder, and told him whatever was bothering him, we could talk about it, but the train was going to be here in a few minutes, and nothing is worth getting hurt over. It took a couple of minutes to console him, and eventually he let me take him over to sit on the bench.

Then 2 LAPD officers approached, asking us in an accusatory and aggressive manner why we were all standing off limits on the platform’s edge. I told the young man to stay quiet and that everything’s cool. They immediately threatened to fine us if we jumped the turnstiles without TAP cards and accused all of us of possessing weed and alcohol, saying they could smell it on us. Continue Reading →

L.A. Womxn Artists of Color reflect on Womxn’s History Month: Part 1

by Tom Nguyen

For Womxn’s History Month, I wanted to check in with womxn artists of color in Los Angeles who are doing important work in our communities of color and immigrant diaspora, advocating for social justice and using their artistry and voices to uplift, educate and empower.

Alice Bag, Dj Sizzle Fantastic, Faith Santilla, Gingee, Klassy, Jumakae, Maya Jupiter, Sri Panchalam of Doctors & Engineers, Xochi Flores of Los Cambalache — These radical womxn of color are outspoken and fearless in their arts & advocacy, and through their artistic expression and activism, have been tireless in their fight to smash systems of oppression and the patriarchy. I asked each of these powerful, radical womxn of color to reflect on these 3 questions:

– As you reflect on Women’s History Month, #MeToo movement and the current political climate, what do you feel are the most important issues facing you, both individually and collectively as a community?

– As a radical womxn of color and artist, how do you express and/or address these issues in your art & activism?

– What advice do you have for young womxn or advice you wish someone had given you?

I am so grateful for their time and willingness to share their insight, their work, and their inspiring advice for young womxn. There are many more amazing artists I hope to hear from too, so this is the 1st of what will be a continuing series.

If you know of an inspiring Los Angeles artist of color, who is speaking truth to power, through their artistry and activism, please send them my way in the comments below.

Alice Bag:

“I feel the need to combat the extreme misogyny and xenophobia coming from the White House. When you have a president that considers talk of grabbing women by the genitals acceptable, he’s setting the tone for the nation. There have also been numerous reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault, against him. I will call these allegations for legal reasons, not because I have any doubt of their veracity, especially since he has at times, boasted publicly of his actions. When you have that flagrant disrespect for women coming from the very top, it’s bound to affect what others, especially those who support Trump, view as acceptable behavior.”

“I think we need to resist, organize and provide a vision for a future where women are seen, heard and respected as equal members of society.”

“Aside from doing all the things that many of us do to push back, in terms of protesting, letter writing, making calls to representatives, etc. I volunteer with Girls Rock Camp. Helping young girls harness their power in their formative years is extremely satisfying. It makes me and everyone involved in these programs very happy. When I feel anger and dissatisfaction, I channel some of it into my music. In the past few months, I’ve released several songs that have helped me express my feelings post-election. The first one was Reign of Fear”, which is a call for resistance in which my band-mates and I get to shout “We reject your reign of fear!”. Midway through Trump’s first year in office, I needed a song that reminded me to take time to focus on the positive things in my life because I was feeling overwhelmed by the daily barrage of negativity coming from Washington. I also wrote a song called “Blueprint” about taking ownership of the structures we create. Whether we’re working on ourselves, our communities or our world, we are architects who have the power to create what we imagine.”

“Love yourself, treat yourself with kindness and compassion, give yourself positive affirmations. Nurture in yourself what you want to be able to share with the world.”

Photo by Greg Velasquez

Alice Bag is a singer/songwriter, musician, author, artist, educator and feminist. Alice was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first bands to form during the initial wave of punk rock in Los Angeles. The Alice Bag Band was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization. Alice went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She has published two books, including the critically acclaimed memoir Violence Girl in 2011 (Feral House) and the 2015 self-published Pipe Bomb For the Soul, based on her teaching experiences in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. Alice’s work is included in the Smithsonian exhibition, American Sabor. Alice’s self-titled 2016 debut album received critical acclaim and was named one of the best albums of the year by AllMusic. Her second album, Blueprint, was just released in March 2018 on Don Giovanni Records. Upcoming event: Saturday, April 7, 2018, Alice Bag Record Release Party at The Echo.

Dj Sizzle Fantastic:

“As an undocumented queer womxn, the most pressing issues that continue to affect the lives of my community and by extent, mine, are rooted in xenophobia, racism, misogyny, displacement, borders, and family separation. Sadly, the current administration encompasses and uplifts said issues in its daily operations. Giving that much more power to rogue agencies such as ICE/Border Patrol/Police a.k.a Polimigra, and the government as a whole, the power to continue to further oppress and criminalize the bodies of womxn of color, immigrants, queer folks, and black and brown youth.” Continue Reading →

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra Electrifies at the Belly Up!


by Tom Nguyen

Last night was an incredible show by Antibalas at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. My first time at this beautiful and historic venue was just last year, to see Salif Keita, and let me tell you a secret I’ve quickly learned: if an act is playing both in Los Angeles AND at the Belly Up, it’s worth the drive for me to see them here, because the sound is incredible and the stage is low, up close and intimate!

And in fact, why not see acts twice? After boasting to a gentleman next to me, that we’d driven 2 hours to be here, he told us he’d driven 3 hours from Moorpark! Brett says Antibalas is a “2 show band” — meaning if they play 2 shows in the area, it’s worth the drive, and he’s seeing them again at their Saturday Los Angeles show at The Regent!


I made the drive with Vanna Mae Art and DJ Glenn Red, who’s been coming to the Belly Up since 1996. We got there in time to catch the last few songs of Here Lies Man, a psychedelic rock group fronted by Marcos Garcia (Chico Mann) and whose percussionist Rich Panta, we know quite well from Very Be Careful. Chico Mann is also the rhythm guitarist in Antibalas, but with Here Lies Man, he gets to really showcase his vocals and rock guitar solos — it’s an audacious mix of what he calls “Afro Rock….What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?”   Continue Reading →

3 Powerful Videos premiere on International Women’s Day: Ruby Ibarra, La Misa Negra, Nakury

by Tom Nguyen

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll watch these videos that premiered on International Women’s Day 2018 and smash the patriarchy!

“US” – Ruby Ibarra, featuring Rocky Rivera, Klassy, Faith Santilla

Rapper Ruby Ibarra is joined by fellow Bay Area MC Rocky Rivera, Klassy from Echo Park and Los Angeles spoken word artist Faith Santilla for an explosive anthem on Pinay pride. Rocky Rivera says of of the video, “So proud to add my perspective on what it means to be PINAY. We are many shades of militant and we are not your FETISH. I hope lil bby Pinays look at this video and feel proud.” Ruby Ibarra recently played an amazing show at the Bootleg Theater to celebrate her debut album Circa91, and Faith Santilla and Klassy performed last week at AF3IRM LA‘s annual International Women’s Day rally & march (peep my live video).

“Dueña de Mi” – La Misa Negra

Continue Reading →

Bombino Drops 1st Single off New Album “Deran” and plays Zebulon LA on July 17!


by Tom Nguyen

Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter Bombino from Agadez, Niger just announced his next album Deran, being released May 18, 2018, and you can listen to the new addictive track “Tehigren” and pre-order the album below.

The song is a fusion of Tuareg rock and reggae, which he likes to call “Tuareggae”: the first half in a slower reggae drum and bass, and then it finishes with his frenetic, blistering and masterful guitar riffs. According to a JamBase interview, Bombino says “The song is about my own struggle with being on the road all the time, away from my home. It is a nostalgic song, remembering the beauty of my home.”

The album was recorded in Casablanca, Morocco, and he has also announced summer tour dates in support of the new album. Bombino will perform at Zebulon LA on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, and tickets go on sale Friday, March 9th. Be sure to get yours, because Zebulon LA has been booking incredible artists of the African diaspora and the show will sell out fast!