On April 2, Carlsen Center Presents introduces the community to The Reminders, a rare and remarkable high-energy duo that blends family-friendly hip-hop and world music. The Colorado-based couple sets thoughtful lyrics against a background of melodic beats to create a classic, global music experience that appeals to all ages.
Big Samir and Aja Black, who have been married for more than a decade, have undeniable chemistry on stage as well as in life. Their third studio album, “Unstoppable,” was released in September 2019 on digital music outlets. Unlike their other two albums, this one contains music and lyrics completely written by them.
While Brussels-born emcee Big Samir weaves rhythmic patterns using French and English, Aja Black showcases her unique vocal stylings with diverse cadences and confident delivery. Together, the duo uplifts and entertains with a unique mashup of razor-sharp rhymes, soulful vocals and reggae-tinged hip-hop beats.
Dare You Not to Dance!
When she came across The Reminders, Carlsen Center General Manager Emily Behrmann says she was thoroughly impressed by the concert experience. “Their music is hip-hop but family-friendly and with very melodic elements,” she says. “Their concert has musical and vocal qualities that work together well to tell a story in a way that’s easy to listen to. They had us on our feet the whole time!”
The Reminders’ stage presence leaves crowds in awe with their high energy and easy flow from one set to the next. It’s not the type of concert where you sit for long. As Aja Black dances throughout the entire event, she engages concertgoers visually and physically, encouraging them to add their own self-expression to the mix.
Behrmann anticipates there to be lots of dancing off stage. Polsky Theatre is perfect for this concert, she says, because of the intimate feel and wide aisles made for dancing.
Audiences love their unique music style, but The Reminders’ uplifting lyrics are what set them apart in the hip-hop world. “The way they talk about love and kindness and working together is inspiring,” says Kara Armstrong, Program Director for Arts Education at Johnson County Community College (JCCC). “It’s a message we all need to hear more of right now.”
According to Armstrong, an important part of what The Reminders do when they put on a concert is go into the community and share their positive message through workshops. “With all of their audiences — young, old or in-between — their music and message is about community building.”
At Rosehill Elementary School in the Shawnee Mission School District, The Reminders and DJ Man-O-Wax (Asad Ali Jafri) will introduce students to the origins, evolution and contemporary expression of hip-hop music and culture. The group will show them the five core elements of hip-hop – DJing, breaking, MCing, graffiti art and knowledge — and invite students to create their own hip-hop experience.
Thanks to a partnership with The Arts and Aging, JCCC will host a second workshop with an intergenerational audience of preschoolers and seniors from Brush Creek Community Center. During this informal story circle time, the artists and attendees will share personal stories on a specific topic or theme, helping build community across race, class and age.
During a third workshop, JCCC students will have the opportunity to interact with Big Samir and Aja Black and learn about the creative process of writing and recording music. Armstrong says it’s a great opportunity for college students to have this kind of access to real-world artists, adding, “It’s also good for our students to see the unique way The Reminders are combining their life in the arts with their personal life and making it work.”
Hip-Hop on These Tickets
Tickets for The Reminders are available at jccc.edu/CarlsenCenter or by phone at 913-469-4445.
Beginning next fall, Carlsen Center Presents will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a huge season packed with inspiring and entertaining performances. Check out what’s coming at jccc.edu/CarlsenCenter or by calling 913-469-4445.
Above: The Reminders (photo courtesy of Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College)