Fresh off a recent opening at HAUS Salon in Minneapolis, mixed media master Jesse Draxler took a moment to catch us up on a few of his latest collections. Dark, elegant, and playfully subversive, Drax’s new works are among his best yet.
Led by the wealthy and charismatic Father Yod, The Source Family was an archetypal 1970′s spiritual commune: sex, drugs, peace and love, even a psychedelic family band. On the heels of a feature-length documentary recounting their rise and fall, family historian Isis Aquarian remembers their glory days.
Athens-based photographer Alexis Vasilikos offers up collection after collection of subtly captivating shots, with an eye for deliberate, simple presentation. In our interview, he lends some insight on time spent in India, escaping the ego, and the philosophical questions that inform his work.
Max and Ari, the duo behind Oakland Surf Club, have quietly turned OSC into one of the Bay’s most eclectic retail destinations, curating everything from gear and boards, to vinyl and fine art–all while balancing a budding business with a new marriage and a brand new baby girl.
Our good friend and Cre8tive Class founder Daghe offers up a glimpse into his world–from party pics and landscapes, to portraits of the young and doin’ it, Daghe’s 35mm photography acts as an ongoing document of his eclectic, on-the-go lifestyle.
There was something in the lead-in to this new Dr. J doc on NBA TV about the concept of a legend–this notion about legends as a dying breed, about oral-traditional lore dissapearing in the wake of the interweb-tabloid-hype cycle. And the story was a great one: of the doctor drawing crowds of kids to the rooftops surrounding Rucker Park, of kids in the ’70s overhearing dunk stories of mythical proportions, but rarely catching a glimpse of the seldom-televised phenom in his pre-NBA days. Darondo though, was a legend in a different mould altogether.
Excavating a singular specimen like “Didn’t I” has got to be a vinyl fiend’s dream. And when the folks at Ubiquity Records reached back into the early ’70s to unearth the myth of Darondo, they must have had a hundred different questions. Why hadn’t these records–slathered with luxurious, dusty charm, and draped in that Al Green, Syl Johnson sweet falsetto–already been etched, permanently, into soul music’s collective history? How and why was a fledgling soul singer who had never sold more than 35,000 records rolling around Oakland in a Rolls-Royce and a fucking mink coat? Who was this dude?
We’ve thrown a celebration or two in our past, but there’s always room for improvement. Will we ever throw the perfect party? Maybe. We’ve come close in the past, but its that goal that keeps us going. To throw that classic party. Where you don’t need to plan your night out, cuz you already know where it’s poppin. I should probably take this moment to thank you for coming to our celebrations in the past. Without you, we are nothing.
This one’s gonna be a lil’ different though. Yours truly landed on earth June 28th, 1987, and it’s been bad ever since. We’d like to take you to a place a little different this time, if you let us. Thank you for coming along on this journey. See you soon, with love.
It was probably sometime around 2011 when shit hit the fan. Back when talk about the future, goblins and vegetables, were much less common in certain circles. Things were bubblin’ though, and eventually shit popped off. Their rise was one for the ages. Behind the breakthrough stardom of Tyler the Creator, was Odd Future, a vastly talented collective ready to usher in a new wave in hip-hop, and more generally, across youth culture in L.A. As the spotlight slowly turned towards the City of Angels, the last couple years have seen a variety of talents make their presence known, not only in Los Angeles, but across on the international hip-hop landscape–from OF affiliates like Earl Sweatshirt, to Dom Kennedy and Nipsey Hussle, to TDE’s current industry takeover–and more recently, a young Inglewood native named Casey Veggies.
Veggies, aside from a string of solid tapes, is also the most visible member of a collective of their own direction, known simply as Peas & Carrots, International. Garnering a global following based upon the simple mantra of “Live & Grow,” Casey, alongside friends and fellow collaborators Josh Peas and Anwar Carrots, have built a revered brand before the age of 23, incorporating gear, music and accessories under their collective umbrella.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, with stints in Orlando and the Virgin Islands, Anwar Taj Washington’s nomadic lifestyle provided him with a unique perspective, allowing him to navigate the intersecting worlds of streetwear and the music industry through organic progression. Helping to craft the tone and aesthetic of P&C, while managing Casey Veggies, the 22 year-old has made a name for himself by, quite simply, being himself. Though Veggies’ music has provided them with the most exposure, no one embodies the deliberate, yet easy-going ethos that characterizes their movement quite like Anwar. A month removed from the opening of P&C’s flagship store in Los Angeles, we spoke to Anwar about his journey, touching on his day-to-day grind, the virtues of making mistakes, and his take on the WWF.
In 1929, the stock market crash shafted hell of Americans, sent the nation balls deep into the Great Depression, and shit quickly just got really real. So real, in fact, that American modes of cultural expression made a substantial, visible shift towards realism. The social chaos of the time made for realistic human drama that understood, involved, and entertained the American audience better than any imaginary or escapist production could. Steinbeck wrote, Dorothea Lange took pictures, and common folk felt the warmth of the spotlight that both brought awareness to their struggles and ignited a pride for their collective national narrative…not unlike what we’re experiencing today. We want what’s real. Banksy sightings and Vice Docs are our bread and butter. We hang our “Occupy” screen prints and reblog candid Tumblr images. We want hard, thugged out, heroin-slanging rappers, who, if they so much as allude to a lick that was not actually hit, we disown with passionate vengeance preached to every uninformed fan through Youtube comment tirade and status update, to expose them as frauds, fake, posing liars! We are distrustful, we are vulnerable, we are unemployed, and we’re going to need to you to tat our names so we know it’s real.
In the Summer of 1935, President Roosevelt took note of the impact of social realism and got directly behind it, signing into action the New Deal and simultaneously the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project to fund the collection of both written and oral American histories. Similarly, in 2003, the independent non-profit StoryCorps emerged, as largely inspired by the WPA interviews initiative, to facilitate what founder Dave Isay describes as ‘a culture of listening’. “If we don’t speak for ourselves, someone else will,” says StoryCorps Mobile Facilitator, Bay Area native, and general W&B event attendee Olivia Cueva, “and there is a good chance they won’t get it right.”
Pushing boundaries doesn’t always mean reinventing the wheel. Sometimes it just means subtle growth, the kind that results from an unwillingness to fall into formulaic ass patterns. I shouldn’t have to tell you that hip-hop is an art form where it’s pretty easy to get sucked into convention (so is writing about it, but maybe that’s another conversation). And from a distance, Schoolboy Q resembles a lot of other rappers, generally speaking. There have been gangsta rappers from South Central before, and plenty who rap about the distribution and recreational use of drugs. But it’s Q’s approach, along with undeniable personality, that’s allowed him to carve out such a distinctive space.
“Collard Greens” is a prime example. Both he and Kendrick, as usual, find unconventional, clever ways to weave their ways around the backing track, turning cliche flex into scattershot expressionism: listen to say, Q unravelling the phrase “Baller-futuristic-groovy-nigga-wit-an-attitude” in the last verse, or Kendrick brushing up on his Spanish just before the two-minute mark. Musically, the springloaded bounce-break that leads things off compliments the plush synth cool-out that follows perfectly. It’s textbook TDE, which is a hard thing to articulate the meaning of, since Schoolboy and Kendrick flows tend to be like fingerprints, and their production tends to follow suit. But it’s all in the balance between imagination and accessibility–in the ability to experiment without sacrificing an ounce of involuntary head-nod feel. It’s the difference between consciously trying to crush the limits of your medium, and subtly, shrewdly stretching them out.
In 1960, San Francisco’s Fillmore business district was home to many thriving black-owned businesses, including Julian and Raye Richardon’s Marcus Books Printing and Marcus Bookstore. Inspired by reading Marcus Garvey’s Philosophy and Opinions, the Richardsons sought to create a space that would celebrate their racial identity and proud intellectual history of learning and social consciousness. They expanded their presence in 1976 to a location in Oakland, as well as in the local community where they asserted themselves in the name of Civil Rights and social responsibility. The Richardsons hosted everything from literary and academic events to social welfare service sites and Black Power rallies and marches. For decades, Marcus Books has provided a powerfully prideful space for the cultivation and education of the Bay Area’s African American community.
However, with San Francisco property costs at an all time high, and its black residential population at an all time low, Marcus Books is in imminent danger of having to close its doors. After taking out a “bad” loan in 2006 to pay general expenses, monthly payments with a steep 10 percent interest rate proved fatal for the store, and this past April the building sold in a bankruptcy sale for about half of its current market value. In an effort to fight back for their store, as well as their home in the apartment upstairs, Raye, her two daughters, and son-in-law are working to convince the buyers to sell them their building back at a profit, to no avail. Now the NAACP is getting involved, the city is taking a stance, activists are chipping in and articles are popping up all over the internet to raise awareness for their fight. If you’re down for the cause, you can help too. For free. Sign the petition to keep the country’s oldest black-owned bookstore in San Francisco alive here. Or go buy a book before their eviction date on June 18th.
Two thumbs up to the cameramen and women who capture these sights for us. Seems like technology’s getting us closer and closer to these foreign animal kingdoms. In the treacherous life of a male jumping spider, getting past third base can often times become a matter of life and death. Similar to the birds of paradise, the male jumping spider must woo his mate through a mixture of dance and auditory vibrations. After putting on their best show for the female of their choice, the life of the male jumping spider is then left in the hands of his counterpart.
Given the female’s penchant for devouring mates with a swift fang to the body, if the male’s mating dance goes unappreciated, it could easily be the end. Think about it: you approach a cute girl in a bar and say what’s up. If she’s feeling you all good, but if she’s not, she can stab you in the heart at any moment, and no one would trip. They’d say, “He should’ve known not to try and holler at her…” So you gotta give it up to these males who put their lives on the line for a good shag.
Okay, where to start with summer jam season. I guess this new Suzy tape is a good place to start. And more specifically, that ridiculous Terrace Martin sax solo on the tail end of “Float”–kind of made me feel like I was in an ’80s Spike Lee movie. Anyway, that was a pleasant ass surprise, and it even kinda made me forget about Ty Dolla Sign’s highly questionable Sea World reference. Not to mention it was a gorgeous day in Oakland, which seems like reason enough to bundle together a bunch of the shit we’ve been grooving to here at the W&B pseudo-offices.
June is shaping up to be a super solid month already, even leaving out the fact that Yeezy season is eight days away. Thundercat dropped another irresistible collection of avant-groove shit, and Disclosure came with a pretty undeniable crossover house smash. I recommended grabbing both, and listening all the way through. Aside from those though, there’s been some great stuff flying a little further under the radar, and into my inbox and Soundcloud stream. My apologies to Deniro Farrar for sleeping so damn hard, and shoutout to Jimi Nxir and Neijah for coming with a couple heaters. Also, some newish oldish Madlib, a 100s video that features Power Rangers and a Daghe cameo, some Japanese-release-only Daft Punk, and a cool David Lynch thing. Oh, and Action Bronson doing cartwheels. So solid.
Part of me feels like they can tell us, but we’ll never quite understand. Maybe you just had to be there. As much as I’ve been told, and as much as the ’60s and ’70s have served as a boundless reservoir of inspiration for me, there’s still something elusive about it all. The sense of freedom, and exploration, and radical imagination that defined those decades is something our generation, and others, have tried to recapture, but could never really duplicate. There’s something about a photograph though–whether taken for artistic or documentary purposes, or just as a memento of a moment someone wanted to hold onto–that can communicate a feeling instantly, across decades.
I’d imagine Gary Freeman felt that pretty powerfully when his longtime friend Frank Melleno pulled down a dusty cardboard shoebox, and started to thumb through the treasure trove of Polaroids that would become The Fairoaks Project. In 1978, Frank, fresh off an adventure in Alaska, had found a gig as the night manager at The Fairoaks Baths in San Francisco. Owned and operated by a gay commune, The Fairoaks was known in the late ’70s as a hub for sexual liberation and experimentation, but also close-knit community. Unlike most gay bath houses at the time, also, The Fairoaks was situated on the edge of a largely black neighborhood, and welcomed a steady influx of young gay men who reflected back the city’s rich diversity. It was a place to stay, to find support, to find friends and to indulge. Openness, unabashed sexuality, interracial love, friendship, fucking and LSD: it would be hard to imagine another place so broadly embelematic of the progressive ideals that defined San Francisco during the ’70s. Fortunately, Frank found himself at the center of it all, with a Polaroid camera in hand.