Mother's Little Helpers
Your Mama's anniversary was last week, and you missed it. Just one year ago, twentysomethings Merit Toutjian and Brianni Pope opened Oakland's first and only hip-hop cafe, where Rice Krispies Treats are on the menu, lattes are served up with DJ wax, and graffiti in the bathroom is mandatory. "The name isn't like 'yo mama's fat!' or something," says Toutjian. "It's like the relaxed chill of being at your own house: You eat snacks, listen to music, and sit around on the couch. So we brought all that here." Though he was a poli-sci/communications major at Berkeley, Toutjian says his odd-job catering experience was much more useful. "But Cal taught me how to deal with bureaucracy," Toutjian laughs in reference to permit hell. He says his original plan was to make Your Mama's a spot for live music until he realized that not only was the venue too small, but a club's average life span is only a year. "We're more interested in longevity," he says. "Now we have a lot of artists come and sign stuff or just hang out instead of play. We had Notorious B.I.G. show up to sign records." To keep up the groove, Your Mama's keeps a full spectrum of DJs on hand, who alternate nightly between hip hop and house. Toutjian, a DJ himself who offers tutorials on the wheels of steel, is happy to give an array of younger spinners their start. "It's definitely a meeting place for the future intellectual elite of the East Bay," says DJ Tony Fader, who spins on Tuesday nights. "These kids are very involved with art and music. I wish I had a place like this when I was younger 'cause I'd have been there every night."
Dis 'n' Dat
Interested in playing the first-ever Grammy Showcase, an opportunity for 50 unsigned rock groups to perform at a regional showcase this winter and compete for a production deal and tickets to the Grammys in L.A.? Send two tapes (three songs only), a photo, and a bio to Grammy Showcase, 3402 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 by Dec. 15.
By Sia Michel, Gabriel Garner