The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

Catching up with Eaze Dogg

Release of “Asheville’s Finest 4: Da City” and Community Reparations Jamboree performance
Eaze Dogg and invited feature artists at Sovereign Kava, April 6, 2024.

From 8 to 12 p.m, attendees celebrated the release of his new EP, titled “Asheville’s Finest 4: Da City.”

“I took a year to put this whole thing together. Some of the songs you may have heard before, such as Copy Paste Rappers, Tropicana: I Got The Juice and Club Fiend,” said rapper and Asheville native Eaze Dogg at Sovereign Kava on April 6, 2024, outside next to a picnic table. 

Inside, are several artists invited by Eaze Dogg. Big Emage, VALLO!, Free Da Glitch, R’illRight, $hameful, YungHeartless, WavySpice01, Amazin, Lil Yungsta and Lul Blackk, who all took the stage to perform original music along with Eaze Dogg, who performed songs off the newly released project. 

“I go around different places, different hip hop venues and events and discover artists performing. I fell in love with them and their vibe. They actually bring it to the table with their energy the way I do,” Eaze Dogg said. 

Near the front entrance sits VALLO!, an artist from Lexington, Kentucky, wearing a Gucci bucket hat. According to VALLO!, he used to drive the full four and a half hours to Asheville in the past with an ex-girlfriend, who he says has since changed her number, although this does not deter him from his romantic efforts. 

“Eaze Dogg was like ‘do you want to perform?’ I was like ‘of course.’ Then we performed,” VALLO! said. “I am going to come out here for more shows and the average women here. I like to eat ass.” 

According to VALLO!, Kentucky artists predominantly make trap music, creating a music landscape where many artists sound similar to one another. VALLO! says he hopes to counter this by paving his own lane, producing his own sounds.

“Everybody kind of sounds the same. Everyone is trying to make trap music, but that’s dying out. You have to find a different genre for people to vibe with. Lexington is really influenced by Detroit. Our sound is a lot of Detroit shit, but I try and do a lot of not that. I do a lot of random shit. If it sounds good,” VALLO! said. 

A musician of 10 years, VALLO! says his influences range from Kanye West, Queen to Michael Jackson. In his youth, he enjoyed playing Just Dance 3 on the Wii. In Lexington, VALLO runs a hot dog stand in addition to his music career. To learn more about VALLO! and his life, expenditures and adventures, click here to see an interview on the following day, April 7, at an undisclosed restaurant downtown. Amongst the stories shared, VALLO shared how he stays entertained on long car drives, such as the one to Asheville in lieu of a girlfriend, involving a cellphone, his hand and pure will and determination. 

“Micheal Jackson was for everyone, not just random black people in the streets. He was also for the random white folk, the random Mexicans and the random Asians. Everybody loved him,” VALLO said. “We had Just Dance 3 with Barbie Girl on it. I loved it. I miss Just Dance. They have it on the Switch, but it’s not as fun. The Wii controller was so big, but it’s like you’re holding a hot dog. No Diddy.” 

Amongst the other artists are $hameful, who during his performance, walked into the audience, amongst the shining flashes from cell phones taking videos. Atop $hameful’s head of blue hair is a hat reading “Gang Beef,” referencing Gang Beef Entertainment, a local record label. 

“Eaze Dogg invited me out and I support this homeboy right here. I support him all the way,” $hameful said. “Sometimes I’m tryna give the little subliminal, emotional messages, but other times I’m tryna get the crowd hype. Me wearing the hat is just me supporting them. I’m not affiliated with them, but I hang out with the boys.”

According to $hameful, he’s largely influenced by artists ranging from Juice WRLD to Sleeping With Sirens. While $hameful finds music personally fulfilling, he hopes that his family benefits from his efforts as well. 

“Them ol’ school screamo bands, like pop punk bands, way before MGK,” $hameful said. “I’m tryna pave the way for me and my kids. I’m doing this shit mainly for me, but if it works out, my kids also get to reap the benefits. I’m a dad of three,” $hameful said. 

Three weeks later, on April 27, Eaze Dogg performed on the Pack Square stage as part of the Community Reparations Jamboree, an event dedicated to highlighting black talent and to move forth the reparations project in Asheville, a project led by the Community Reparations Commision. According to the Mountain Xpress, it is one of the first reparations commissions in the country and in June, will meet their deadline in finalizing recommendations on how the City of Asheville and Buncombe County can compensate black residents. 

“I feel like reparations are an important measure we need out here. We need to share what reparations mean to African Americans,” Eaze Dogg said. “My set went great. They loved the music. I did a little bit of hip hop with a little bluegrass. Something for everybody. This is a wonderful event and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.”

In front of the stage, located in the grass, stood the booth for the Community Reparations Commission, where commission member Osondu McPeters stood, engaging with attendees of the event. According to McPeters, reparations are a necessity in restoring the damage done to black communities by public and private systemic racism and must be instated. 

“We lost housing, we were told where we could go to schools, people were displaced, people lost their jobs. The black community was diminished. We want to restore justice for black people and restore justice for the community,” McPeters said. 

Additionally, McPeters spoke on the necessity of a diverse teacher body in schools, placing an emphasis on the presence of black educators in classrooms. To learn more, McPeters says, check out the Community Reparations Comission’s page on the City of Asheville’s website. 

“You want to see people that look like you. It’s good for the community when there is more diversity. Having more black teachers makes education better not just for black students, but for everyone,” McPeters said. “Come show up, come listen.” 

At the jamboree, in addition to the Community Reparations Comission’s tent were several others, many of them belonging to local black business owners, organizers and community members. Amongst them is the tent for From The Ashes Cultural Arts & Counseling, a black-owned small business focused on empowering people towards cultural pride and community unity through substance abuse counseling. 

“We do substance abuse counseling, DWI treatment and assessments and anything pertaining to substance abuse and mental health. We go around the black and brown community, our community, educating people, giving them resources and treatment. If you get a DWI, Driving While Impaired, you have to go and get an alcohol and substance abuse assessment from a provider. We are one of those facilities in Asheville that do that,” said Ashley Tolbert, the creator of From The Ashes Cultural Arts & Counseling. 

According to Tolbert, although DWIs occur in relatively equal numbers in accordance to race, black and brown people may face longer jail times after not receiving alcohol and substance abuse assessments, a product of lackluster resources for black and indigenous people of color. 

“In the legal system, you can’t get out of jail or go back to jail if you don’t have a substance abuse assessment. A lot of times, if you have a lawyer, they can find you one. Sometimes, black and brown people don’t know that, so they’re in jail longer,” Tolbert said. “They’re only in jail because they didn’t receive the assessment. If you have a lawyer or are mostly non-BIPOC, they have the information and resources to get that assessment and then get out.”

In regards to potential amenities, Tolbert says, she hopes to see more education and conversation in acquiring and receiving assessments. 

“Be a resource to all people black and brown. Being able to help them with the assessment, but also education and awareness. We lack that everywhere, regardless of whether you are black or brown. Know your tolerance and have awareness. Don’t drink and drive or drive while impaired. If you do, make sure to call somebody and have the resources to help you out,” Tolbert said. 

Close to the stage, as Marcia Griffiths’ song “Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide)” played, Eaze Dogg spoke on the needed support for both rap music in Asheville as well as reparations. To listen to Asheville’s Finest 4: Da City, Eaze Dogg says, check it out on streaming. 

“The more we come and support, the more the scene will thrive as a whole,” Eaze Dogg said. “There is support, but we feel like we could do a whole lot more. We can always do a better job.” 


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