SUGARQUBE Partners with Next Level

SugarQube Records and Next Level are proud to announce Next Level Mixtape Vol. 1: A Family Affair! Submissions are now being accepted from Next Level alum. Details below! Here is the submissions link followed by a short description of the process. Thanks!


SugarQube Records is HYPE to partner with Next Level to create Next Level Mixtape Vol. 1: A Family Affair, a compilation of music that bends and blends the beats of Next Level producers with the rhymes of Next Level MCs to produce a mixtape that represents the international Hip Hop community Next Level is creating. 
The entire project---from beats, to rhymes, to album art---will be produced by Next Level alumnus. Even the record label, SugarQube Records, is co-founded by Next Level alum shirlette ammons in partnership with her twin sis Shorlette, making Next Level Mixtape Vol 1 a real family affair!


Step 1: Producers, Upload Your Beats!
All Next Level producers (both students and teachers) are invited to upload tracks to the submission page through MIDNIGHT ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 30TH.. Upload your tracks by clicking HERE !.

Step 2: MCs, Choose Your Beats!
SugarQube will make all uploaded tracks available for download to Next Level MCs (students and teachers) through SugarQube Records' Soundcloud Pagebeginning March 15th. MCs will send us an email to let us know which track they've selected and we will let producers know when their tracks have been chosen by an NL MC. (MC's, PLEASE LIMIT YOUR SELECTION TO ONE TRACK FOR NOW)

Step 3: Send Us Your Stems!
Once MC's have created their rhymes over a Next Level Producer's beat, we'll be in touch about how to share your recorded rhymes with us so that we can have them mixed and mastered for the best quality.

Step 4: Submission of Artwork!
We will open the submission process for artwork on March 15th! Stay tuned for details!

Step 5: Rock the World!
That's self-explanatory! We will release Next Level Mixtape Vol. 1: A Family Affair via Next Level Soundcloud, download, and streaming outlets. Our aim is to get the word out so that we can reach as wide an audience as possible. We will need your help with that, so stay tuned.

This project is a labor of love, a way to support and encourage the global hip hop community and showcase the strength of the Next Level Program. We are asking each NL producer to donate at least one beat and NL MCs to donate at least one rhyme to the cause!

Hit us up!

SugarQube Records Submission Manager

SugarQube Records Submission Manager Powered By Submittable - Accept and Curate Digital Content



FEBRUARY 5, 2016

ARCANA, 331 West Main Street (BACK ENTRANCE), Durham, North Carolina

Come listen to LANGUAGE BARRIER in its entirety and enjoy some good cocktails and sweet atmosphere at Durham's underground bar, Arcana. The album will also be available for sale, both on CD and LP!

SugarQube Records & Churchkey Records present

| Language Barrier Album Release Show |

February 6, 2016

The Pinhook, 117 West Main Street, Durham North Carolina
Join us as we celebrate the release of shirlette ammons' latest release (the first SugarQube/Churchkey Records release), "Language Barrier"! This album brings together an eclectic array of artists that "sucessfully ignores genre boundaries". Come celebrate this AMAZING musical contribution with us with a performance by shirlette ammons and other special guest artists. The album will be available for sale on vinyl and CD! Tickets $10. Doors open at 9pm. Get your tickets HERE!


The voice of Shirlette Ammons—soft in a warm Southern way but somehow toughened by both experience and enthusiasm—arrives just two seconds into Language Barrier, the emcee's first album in five years. "Yeah," she says defiantly, stepping over corkscrew bass and electroclash guitars. "Some say life is a bitch/I say that bitch is a diva." Ammons continues to hold court for the next two minutes, delivering the sophisticated verbal tangles of her "Earth Intro Segue" with a confessional candor. It's as if she's still parsing the meaning of the words she has written. After the big, bludgeoning beat has decayed for the final time, Ammons's voice is all that remains for the song's final seconds. "The matter is with the facts," she closes, her voice settling into resignation after a masterful prelude.

But then, just like that, Ammons and her velveteen voice disappear for the bulk of Language Barrier. She slips like a guest, or a ghost, into a project that bears her name.

On Language Barrier's remaining nine tracks, Ammons yields the microphone to a panoply of high-profile guests—both Indigo Girls and Hiss Golden Messenger's Mike Taylor, Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath and Justus League alumnus Median. Ammons wrote the lyrics and crafted the teeming, dynamic backing tracks with multi-instrumentalist Daniel Hart. She then, by and large, passed the microphone, rejoining to trade a self-liberating verse with German rapper Sookee or to shout out the chorus of the bewildering and irrepressible title track alongside Mount Moriah's Heather McEntire. Rather than serve as the mouthpiece for her own material, Ammons has chosen to become its spine, connecting the limbs of this strange, gangly body. 

(Read the review in its entirety here)


Language Barrier is the second album by the activist, musician and poet shirlette ammons, and the first on the SugarQube label that she started with her twin sister Shorlette Ammons. (I’m assuming Shorlette was born first and hogged all the capital letters.) The title of the album could just as easily be “No Language Barrier,” because it shows ammons and a varied cast breaking through the walls that attempt to separate one musical style from another. So the opening of the album, a track called “Earth Intro Segue,” features shirlette’s rapped verse over stuttering electric guitars that hint at the post-punk explosion to come when the actual “Earth Intro” follows. The latter, a song featured on our weekly music roundup back in December, includes vocals by the best-selling folk/rock duo Indigo Girls – the first in a stellar lineup of (mostly female) guest artists.



"For me, Meshell Ndegeocello is the musician who best represents a genuine creative freedom, without fear of bounds or boundaries. Her catalogue of music is genius and has undoubtedly been one that has provided me with the most inspiration, affirmation, challenge to learn, and freedom to create what I want how I want. It's really difficult to put into words how much it means to have her perform "Dear Nora"--a song I wrote that reflects this notion of 'love as an act of resistance,' which is the main artery of the album. I wanted each song on the record to possess its own collection of risks. 


By Erin White, AFROPUNK Contributor.


shirlette ammons is premiering the video for her track “Earth Intro” off of her upcoming full-length album Language Barrier, to be released February 5, 2016 via Churchkey and SugarQube Records.

“The video concept was devised by Kid Ethnic who also shot and edited it,” said ammons of the video. “It’s basically an arrangement of clips that are playful and carefree. I wanted to do something that represented the anthemic vibe of the song, the sheer joy of it….and I wanted to dance in front of the screen!” 

The track features folk rock duo, The Indigo Girls.

“It was an honor to have the Indigo Girls sing this song,” she continued. “I had them in mind for the song from the moment I wrote it. They have so many songs in their catalogues that feel like epic sing-alongs and I wanted them to add that personality to Earth Intro.” 

Watch the video for shirlette ammons’ “Earth Intro,” featuring The Indigo Girls, HERE.


11.13.15  |  song debut: language barrier segue feat. sooke via culture collide

As a poet and musician, Durham, North Carolina-based wordsmith shirlette ammons is well-versed on the robust and all-encompassing power of lyricism. In anticipation of Language Barrier, her sophomore album and riotous ode to verse (out on February 5), ammons has just gifted the public with a brand-new single, a collaboration with Berlin’s resident rap queen sookee entitled, “Language Barrier Segue.” Here, militaristic drum beats merge with ominous drones and heavy-hitting bass drops as spoken word reigns supreme. ammons reveals that the release centers around the notion of “love as an act of resistance.” She explains, “I wanted to approach genre as a ‘barrier’ then break it down. I wanted to write an album that explores the ways we love across imposed and implied barriers.”

Check out the Culture Collide article in its entirety HERE!

Listen to "Language Barrier Segue"  HERE!

Check it out HERE!


Durham, North Carolina (August 11, 2015) - Durham, NC-based poet and musician shirlette ammons has partnered with her identical twin sister, Shorlette Ammons, to launch SugarQube Records.

shirlette says, “Our goal is to create a platform that supports artists who blur genre lines by making music that pushes the bounds of categories and labels. The concept behind SugarQube developed from my own experiences as an artist seeking support. SugarQube will  represent artists who want to create defiant work. I love hip hop and R&B, but what if you’re a Black musician who wants to create outside of the molds you’ve been arbitrarily cast into? SugarQube aims to allow artist that opportunity.”

SugarQube will co-release shirlette’s sophomore solo album with Durham, NC’s Churchkey Records in early 2016. The first single from the album will be released September 2015.

“Soon after Shorlette and I decided to create the SugarQube label to release my new album, Churchkey expressed interest in releasing the new record to,”  shirlette adds. “We’re excited to work with Kyle and Steve of Churchkey on our inaugural project and feel the collaboration only strengthens the ideas that inspire SugarQube Records."

For Shorlette, a former librarian-turned-community gardener and food justice activist, this is a first venture into music. About starting SugarQube, Shorlette says, “We grew up around music and continue to have a genuine love for artistic expression. I am truly a fan of shirlette’s first solo record, Twilight for Gladys Bentley, and look forward to working with her to support her second.”

More information will be announced about SugarQube Records’ co-release with Churchkey in the coming weeks. Visit for more information as it is announced.