Modele “Modi” Oyewole doesn’t want to be called a promoter. He’d rather instead be known simply as “a guy who does cool stuff for the city.” No matter what you call him, however, there’s no doubt Oyewole is a dude with a pretty awesome agenda, an impresario of dopeness, perhaps. And at just 24 years old with a slew of “cool stuff” already on his resume, including DC to BC, his blog-turned-legitimate-company, and the Rock Creek Social Club, a weekly party he hosts with four others, it seems Oyewole is braced for greatness.
I caught up with Oyewole at Madjet on U Street, where his friend who doubles as an intern for DC to BC, was teaching him the proverbial ropes of Ethiopian cuisine. “It’s my first time,” he said, as he studied his friend expertly picking up the spicy mixture with a spongy piece of bread. See, if there’s one thing to know about Oyewole, it’s that he’s interestedin what he’s eating, in this city, in music, in people, in the Internet, in just about everything. That might be why he’s so easy to talk to.
SCOUT: How did you get in to what you’re doing now?
MODI: I got a computer when I was 7 years old, so I’ve always been hip to the Internet. It was Yahooligans-dot-com. That was early. I started blogging one day randomly, though. I had a radio show with my friend Quinn [who works for XM now] at Boston College. I actually didn’t want to do it, but he convinced me to try it one time. I thought, if it’s cool, we’ll do it and if it’s not, then it’s whatever.
SCOUT: I’m guessing it went well?
MODI: It was really successful. After a while I thought, let me record the shows and put them online on a blog. That’s when people really started to listen because we pushed boundaries. I loved writing, too, so I ended up throwing some random stories up to go with the music—stuff about school or relationships. I think people liked it because it was relatable.
SCOUT: How did DC to BC end up back in DC?
MODI: I’m from here. I also blogged a lot about new artists and DC hip-hop. I might have been one of the first. I think I was the first to write about Wale’s music. He used to give the blog a lot of shout outs on MySpace. That’s how a lot of people first knew me – on the Internet.
SCOUT: How did you transition from mostly Internet ventures to real-life events?
MODI: I wanted to bring people together in real life and in real time, so we just started doing events. It started with one party in May 2010, actually, that we put together in 24 hours. We had Raheem DeVaughn come through. Tabi Bonney came through. All these cool people, who I’d blogged about… and it was diverse. That’s one of the things I really pride myself on.
SCOUT: What do you mean?
MODI: Nobody came to beef or size people up. People, from starving artists to Wall Street types, just came to have a good time. Water gun fights, barbecue. We even had vegan burgers for the vegans. People from every background were bonding and I think people didn’t know this kind of thing could exist in DC because it’s so segregated. And I’m not like that. Everything that I do, I go in with an open mind. When it comes to any project, I want it to be all-encompassing.
SCOUT: Would you call that a kind of trademark of your events, this kind of diverse, open-minded, all-encompassing vibe?
MODI: That’s what I like to aim for.
SCOUT: What are your most current projects?
MODI: Well, Rock Creek Social Club is a joint venture between me and a four other people. I didn’t start it. I was brought on by this guy Jerome Baker III. He’s the best DJ in the city, in my opinion, and he wanted to form a team that could help him cultivate a new scene, like the house party, but in a club. He was like, “what if I could tell you we could make this club look like an N.E.R.D. music video every week.” I was like, I’m in!
SCOUT: Would you say RCSC created a new scene then?
MODI: Not to take credit for it, but I think we fostered a certain environment, where people could come and not feel like they need to buy crazy bottles or pay covers. It’s free to get in. The dress code is relaxed. The big thing about our parties is the music. It’s diverse, we play everything, and it brings different people out.
SCOUT: It seems no matter what it is that you’re involved in, music plays a large role…
MODI: My life is all about music. The big thing I’m working on now is putting together a concert for this California rapper named Kendrick Lamar. I think he’s the best new rapper that exists. I wrote about him a long time ago on my blog and the DC to BC team and I’ve been thinking it’d be cool to bring him to DC. It’s expensive as hell to put on a concert, especially for an unsigned artist like Lamar, so we’re really taking a leap of faith. We put up all our money to front the artist and get the 9:30 club. It’s absurd!
More than absurd, though, it’s cool (like Oyewole said, he’s just a guy who does cool stuff for the city) and it’s going on tomorrow! Buy your tickets here. Or catch up with Oyewole at the one-year anniversary of the Rock Creek Social Club next Tuesday at Recess. And obviously, don’t forget to bookmark DC to BC. This man’s on to something here…