Intellectual Ratchet. Sounds like a contradiction, right? How can someone be well-versed in the social theory of Michel Foucault, and still appreciate a profanity-laced, “hair-weave-killer” brawl on Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta? Well, I do; and when I left the diverse, bustling nightlife of Miami to move to Madison, Wis., I assumed that the turn up was over.

That was until I discovered Intellectual Ratchet.

Intellectual Ratchet (IR) is a lifestyle group with a mission to connect young, urban, professionals who seek an alternative to Madison’s typical nightlife experience. Madison is a college town and there are a lot of bars, a lot of bros, and a lot of bubbles. It is difficult for people who are new to Madison, or detached from the established networks, to carve out a thriving social space. IR promotes the subculture that exists in Madison, and provides an enclave for the folks who identify with it to explore the city on their terms.

Martinez White with Intellectual Ratchet CEO Ja’Mel Ware (right)
Martinez White with Intellectual Ratchet CEO Ja’Mel Ware (right) (Photo credit: Naku Mayo, “In His Eye” Photography)

Founder and CEO Ja’Mel Ware, Branding Consultant Kimberly Cho, and Social Connector Britney Sinclair make up the IR team. Ware began to see Madison in a different light after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. He asked himself, “Where does the young professional go to experience Madison? Where do you go when you are not the status quo?”

Now, you can attend a multitude of events hosted by Intellectual Ratchet.

Eric Upchurch shows off his artwork at  “Hard in the Paint”
Eric Upchurch shows off his artwork at “Hard in the Paint” (Photo credit: Naku Mayo, “In His Eye” Photography)

IR’s recent event “Hard in the Paint” was at Paintbar, a re-appropriated warehouse space covered floor to ceiling in original paintings created by artists in residence. Participants munched on artisanal flatbreads and sipped popular Wisconsin microbrews while Notorious B.I.G.’s classic “Big Poppa” induced rhythmic head-nods. West Label Art’s Ashley Robertson commissioned the reference piece for the event: Three owls stylized as the iconic Run DMC. The vibe continued well beyond the last stroke of a paintbrush, as folks exchanged numbers and business cards, and social and entrepreneurial networks manifested. IR routinely partners with local businesses to expose their guests to a uniquely Madison experience.
“Hard in the Paint” was the first event of its kind in Madison, but Intellectual Ratchet creator Ja’Mel Ware envisions much more. Ware sees IR expanding beyond Madison’s borders, and promoting the brand nationwide. Ware is conscious that there are towns all over the country just like Madison that have populations of young, urban professionals who may feel disconnected from the general social space of their cities. Ware envisions that IR will continue to do what it does best: building partnerships among people who “embrace the contradiction.”