Cerebral rapper SoulStice looks for more

July 17, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Listen to SoulStice:

· "Be Perfect"

· "High As You Wanna"

· "Still Love"

Indie rap artist SoulStice will bring his brand of cerebral hip-hop on Sunday to Frederick.

The concert is 7 p.m. Sunday at the Baker Park band shell, as part of a free summer music series. He'll be backed by a live band from his hometown, Chicago.

SoulStice -- whose real name is Ashley Llorens -- is promoting his latest solo album, "Dead Letter Perfect," which has drawn buzz from hip-hop glossies XXL and Scratch Magazine. He's also gearing up for a European tour later this year.


As far as fame goes, Llorens said he's more concerned with artistic honesty and making good music. And, in this case, he's not jockeying for street cred. Llorens is following the same path as Common and Kanye West, two of his Chicago brethren who have helped remind music fans that the genre has more to offer than gangster rap and club hits.

"I really did feel like I had something else to say other than what was being said -- not that I didn't appreciate what was being said," Llorens said. "I just felt I could add something more."

Llorens is a married engineer now living in the Washington, D.C., region. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a master's degree. He was valedictorian of his high school.

But he doesn't rap about equations.

Llorens grew up listening to artists like Nas, Tribe Called Quest and Notorious B.I.G. He doesn't borrow their sound, but he does borrow their approaches. His lyrics are meaningful, but not so pretentious that you wouldn't request it from a DJ.

Llorens recently hooked up with another indie D.C. artist, Haysoos -- a professor of African American studies at University of Maryland -- for an album, "Dark Water," with cameos by two well-known emcees, Cuban Link and AZ. They work under the moniker Wade Waters.

Whether he hits it big or not, Llorens said he'll always be a fan of the music.

"That's what keeps me motivated," Llorens said. "I think the best hip-hop artists are the biggest fans."

About SoulStice

City: Washington, D.C.

Genre: Rap/hip-hop

Influences: Common, Black Thoug9ht from the Roots, Nas, "whoever's making good music."

Web: Label --

If you go ...

WHAT: Rapper SoulStice performs as part of Celebrate Frederick's Summer Concert Series

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, July 20

WHERE: Baker Park band shell, Frederick, Md. The park is off West Second Street and College Avenue

COST: Free

MORE: There will be a carillon recital by William "Buck" Lyon-Vaiden at 6 p.m. Weather cancellations, if any, will be determined by 4 p.m. Go to or call 301-600-2489 (CITY) for more information.

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