IN WITH THE NEW: A TALK WITH SHRUGGS The producer, DJ, and Rime Radio mastermind is on his wave and he's not getting off

IN WITH THE NEW: A TALK WITH SHRUGGS The Producer, DJ, And Rime Radio Mastermind Is On His Wave And He's Not Getting Off

We check in with YK's own DJ Shruggs to see where he's been, and where he's going

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Our first transcendent moment with Shruggs happened at the first FEELS. As the art show slowly turned turnt, and FEELS rose to life, Shruggs (born Skyler Strickland-King) hopped on the tables. It was unexpected, considering he wasn’t on the bill, but the impromptu set set the stage for what was to come.

Rising to prominence in the Bay alongside his Youthful Kinfolk collaborators, Shruggs’ weekly radio presence in the form of Rime Radio continues provide a rarefied collection of slaps you wouldn’t really expect to hear together. Broadcasting live on All Day Play FM at Downtown’s Youth Radio, Rime brings together an eclectic mix of rap and electronic, splitting the difference between dark and moody, and smooth and melodic. That unpredictability is a good thing, and one that sets Shruggs apart when approaching his craft. With YK’s Open House event on the way for tomorrow afternoon, we sat down with Shruggs to check in on what’s next.

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ON TECH & THE PRISON SYSTEM

ON TECH & THE PRISON SYSTEM

Pendarvis Harshaw dives deep into the ways technology is changing the world for the incarcerated

All praises due to our good friend Pendarvis, for helping to tell stories that matter. As the journalist, and photojournalist, behind OG Told Me, Pen’s photo-interview-essay series with Oakland’s assorted elders is just one of the many storytelling exercises he’s been a part of. More recently though, Pen set up shop in a new position at SF’s Fusion to continue on the journalistic path, with a newfound focus on the strange, exciting, and frequently troubling space that is the tech sector.
Pen’s latest project, a collaboration with Fusion’s Senior Editor Kevin Roose, sheds some light on the fascinating but under-covered intersection between tech and the prison system. “Tech Behind Bars” is split into three pieces, each focused on a different issue–the first on the illicit market for digital devices behind bars, the second on the difficulties inmates encounter on entering a “digital society,” and the third on “video visitations” and the range of new tech devices being introduced into the corrective industry’s institutional framework.

For those of who mostly encounter tech reporting through stories about either how many hundreds of millions some enterprise software startup just raised, or which cool ass neighborhood landmark is about to get bulldozed, reporting like this is always refreshing. As we keep on grappling with the big questions–like say, whether all this new technology will keep opening up lanes for empowering people, or whether powerful people will just have more efficient weapons at their disposal to shit on everyone else and sell them things–it’s cool to talk about the impact of all these advances on people who tend to get left out of the conversation. In any case, Pen and Kevin have more insight than I do on the subject, so peep the excerpts below, and follow the links. More than worth the read.

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Straight Shots

Straight Shots

Gorgeous views from across the pond, shot by Magdalena Korpas

There’s a unique crispness to the photos of Magdalena Korpas. Born in Gdansk, Poland, Magdalena’s love for photography has taken her all over the world, from Amsterdam to Paris, to her current home in Los Angeles. And while her acting endeavors have provided her with some considerable recognition in the field, Magdalena’s passion for photography reigns supreme.

Magdalena describes her work as an effort to quench her curiosity around the complexity of human behavior. Whether friends, family or strangers she meets along her travels, Magdalena takes to her subjects with an honest lens, capturing individuals authentically, and as they are. Fortunately for us, Magdalena’s work found our inbox. Hence the words, and the accompanying photos below.

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BLACK ARTISTS ON ART

BLACK ARTISTS ON ART

Oakstop brings a legacy of black art to Oakland for First Friday

Black Artists on Art

This Friday, February 6th, the creative coworking space Oakstop will be celebrating its first anniversary and opening its gallery doors to welcome Black Artists on Art: The Legacy Exhibit. Oakstop is the dream of founder Trevor Parham, a longtime friend of the ‘ties and art curator. You might remember him from last year’s Town Business group show, which aimed to celebrate Oakland’s timely artistic current. Since, he has transformed that very emphasis into a more permanent spatial presence. Sitting just above 19th St. BART, Oakstop functions as a shared work environment, event space, and art gallery, that, as their mission statement reads, “fosters collaboration, professional development, and economic sustainability for creative entrepreneurs and local businesses.”

The Black Artists on Art exhibition is based on a book series of the same title, created by Dr. Samella Lewis in 1969, that showcased actively producing black fine artists in light of the disregard they often experienced from mainstream art institutions. Lewis’ grandson, Unity Lewis, is working to continue the legacy of the series through a revival, and publishing new books for the series that include contemporary black artists. Friday’s exhibit will serve as a launch for the broader campaign to recruit over 500 new black artists for the series, by showcasing work from 36 original and contemporary contributors for a three-generations-deep display of black fine artists. For a sneak peak of some of the iconic art included in the show, peep the images below. The event will be held upstairs at Oakstop’s 1721 Broadway gallery space, and runs from 6pm till midnight. It’s about to be legendary. See you there.

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LOSING A LEGEND

LOSING A LEGEND

Remembering The Jacka and a Bay rap legacy cut too short

The Jacka

There have been far too many deaths in the rap community as of late, and this one in particular hurts a whole lot. If you came of age in the Bay Area during the ’00s, then you’re more than likely familiar with The Jacka. You may have smoked some weed while looking at the Bay view and slapping his music, or seen one of his shows at the Fillmore or the Catalyst, or even got introspective while playing one of his many classic albums from start to finish in your headphones. Whatever your experience was with the music of the man who was born Dominic West, and passed away Monday night as Shaheed Akbar, it is clear that as an artist, and a human, he was an extremely powerful force.

As I walked and biked and drove around a city far away from my home in Oakland today, all the while listening to The Jacka, it struck me just how much he spoke about death in his music. He rapped about a life that many folks in this country are forced to lead–without glorifying the violence or trauma, but instead viscerally emanating that pain in the most vivid pictures. He rapped about hating the oppressive world he was born into, but he also rapped about loving the carefree, beautiful moments that life has to offer. Though he never gained the notoriety he deserved while alive, he consistently took the Bay sound to new heights and, for many including myself, defined a sound, a place, and a time. And for that, we are eternally grateful.

Below you can find some choice Jack selections, and check here for a classic 2009 interview he did with the Bay’s own Murder Dog magazine.

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DAYS AT THE FAIR

DAYS AT THE FAIR

We made the push down to Socal for the 2015 L.A. Art Book Fair

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In an era where many claim print to be dead, I came back from The 2015 L.A. Art Book Fair assured that print is as alive as ever. Now if we’re talking about “traditional” print magazines…it might be bad for you. XXL, US Weekly, and everything else you see right before you buy some shit at the supermarket, are in dire straits. Yes, for ya’ll I believe it’s bad.

Yet for a legion of artists, creatives and independent thinkers, print as a medium for expression is as vibrant, resonant and essential as ever.

The 2015 L.A. Art Book Fair was the proof. Amongst a wash of independent publishers and well-executed outfits, the fair featured an ungodly amount of dope, inspiring, inspirational work. Taking up nearly every wall of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the fair featured artists and creatives from around the world, united around their love for print.

There was energy that came across many of my interactions throughout the fair. A kinship of sorts when you find a book so on point, you have to hold back from fanning out. Adam Vilacin‘s work did just that, as his recent series, Dead Wrestlers and Dream Team are just plain amazing. The book fair is a little overwhelming to be honest. There’s just so much to see and dive into that sometimes you have to come up for air. Below you will find a sampling of visuals from the event, accompanied by a little commentary in reference to the work.

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YOUNG L’s FINAL FANTASY

YOUNG L’s FINAL FANTASY

Albany's own based legend returns with a 7-song suite

Young L

Not a lot of folks who have had a more unusual rap trajectory than L. In the near-decade since “Vans”, L has kept his own strange and erratic orbit around the center of the rap universe, surfacing periodically to drop off new collections of music that consistently predict larger trends. Maybe by design, his visibility is dwarfed by his influence. He’s covered The Fader and helped found a streetwear empire, and yet a huge proportion of the kids rocking $34 Pink Dolphin tees probably wouldn’t recognize him on the street.

Though the exposure has fluctuated, the music hasn’t slowed up, or stopped evolving. Since the Pack days, he’s gone from high-tempo hyphy spazz-outs, to 8-bit monster jams, to sprawling, digital psychedelia. “Automated Oceans” to “Convulsion”. Over time, he’s let his music turn gradually weirder, more unhinged, but not without an appropriate dose of heavy slap. The best cuts on last year’s MVP channel heavy flexing and isolation at the same damn time.

His latest, Final Fantasy, dives heavy into that same headspace, taking that moody vibe to its logical extremes. “$ugar Ray” moves in mournful, reflective slow-mo, while “Doors Open” and Basedgod-assisted “Slam Dunk” are all sinister, chilly intensity. Mostly, Fantasy‘s 7 tracks bounce back and forth between those poles, riding the same lonely-at-the-top (or wherever it is he’s at) vibe that’s made his last few projects so consuming. It’s the kind of songwriting that finds existential emptiness in strip club ballouts, hinting at some kind of deeper conflict even when the subject matter stays surface-level. It’s all delivered with the confidence of a dude who’s probably not relying on rap money to pay his bills. Or more specifically, a dude who’s never had to be the center of attention to stay relevant.

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JON FOX AT WHITE WALLS SF

JON FOX AT WHITE WALLS SF

The UK-based artists brings a selection of elaborate pieces to the City

Jon Fox

Shouts out Nastia over at Hi-Fructose for the heads up on a very cool show. Next Saturday, White Walls SF will host Jon Fox and a collection of paintings heavy on maney, colorful conflict. Entitled “If You Don’t Object Then You Must Agree,” the show features a curated selection of the UK-based painter and illustrator’s work. Kings, monks, swordfights, skeletons, tree people, cosmic swirly stuff–Fox’s pieces are busy in the best way possible, little visual feasts that keep on giving.

In a super flowery, but still pretty cool artist statement, Fox expounds a little on what’s going on in his work: “Amid a wealth of swirling, coded imagery and layers of geometric forms, apparitions of characters emerge. Embodiments, or manifestations of my own meditative thoughts and feelings. They often appear entangled within cyclical games and conflict, losing their way, or engulfed a midst the swirling clouds of a larger restless energy.” Word. Some selects from his back catalog below, and slide through White Walls next weekend.

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