This Friday, we’re juiced to bring you a collaborative, 12-artist group show at Grid Gallery, in the heart of Oakland. Featuring pieces from Kool AD, Ian Flanigan, Aris Jerome, Danielle Schnur, OnTask Family, and more, “Feels” brings together great work from some incredible folks. Gallery opens at 7 PM.


Anderson .Paak and his metamorphosis

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Photography by Natt Lim

I first recognized things were really changing for Anderson .Paak as I stood in line for his show last month. He was in town with other Los Angeles-based artists Dumbfoundead and Wax, on one leg of an extensive national tour. As I stood in the brisk air, attempting to stay out of the rain, I realized I was the only person in line without Hello Kitty accessories or braces. The singer-drummer-rapper-producer I met 5 years earlier was about to perform for throngs of hormonal teenagers, a sure-fire sign that one’s career is about to blow up. By the end of his opening set, he had earned hundreds of new fans, reminded me what a performance should be, and left a girl in tears of ecstasy.

Along with his recent name change, the birth of a child, and the forthcoming acquisition of a Versace wetsuit, Anderson .Paak’s art has propelled him to a new plane, one which makes him one of the most dynamic artists out of Los Angeles. Having worked with local heavyweights like Shafiq Husayn, TiRon & Ayomari, and VerBS, Anderson .Paak has reinvented himself while still paying homage to his alter ego, Breezy Lovejoy.



Heavily based vibes from indie's new slacker superhero


Mac Demarco

When I saw Mac Demarco rock a Thrasher event at SXSW last year, I felt pretty satisfied with my fan experience. Mac was all grungy, based charm. He grumbled, and rocked out, and drank beers, and goofily but earnestly breezed through the falsetto on “Still Together”. At one point, an unashed cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth, he flopped off the stage into the laziest version of a crowd-surf I’ve ever seen. “That was nothing,” I was assured by some other music writer dude; apparently, a half hour before the show, Mac had been kickin it backstage in the nude, pulling a full-on Buffalo Bill, dick tucked between his legs. He apparently just does that sometimes.

Needless to say, Mac Demarco is a dude whose sensibilities seem to jive with mine. He seems like a cool, laid-back bruh, and just as important, he writes some enjoyable, slow-burning jams. “Passing Out Pieces” is the first offering from Salad Days, and it’s wistful and lackadaisical and heavy on reverb and makes you feel fuzzy in all the ways his other great songs do. Stay tuned for more from him, via the often shoegazey and always fantastic Captured Tracks. Also, get better acquainted with Mac here, in a very solid [hella]longform article from the good folks at RedBull.

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Peter Beste's photographic portrait of the Houston scene hits Los Angeles this Friday

Houston Rap

Okay, so more on this soon, but for now, much love to our good friend Henoch and the folks at Sinecure Books for helping to bring this one to life. This Friday, the photographs that make up Houston Rap, Peter Beste’s epic coffee table tome/multimedia experience documenting the H-Town scene, will make their way to LA’s HVW8 Gallery. The book collects intimate portraits of legends (Devin, Z-Ro, Bun, Face) and showcases Beste’s discerning eye, and full immersion into the world surrounding one of the most influential scenes in contemporary music and culture.

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Another ride-out anthem from TDE's Chatanooga protegé


Isaiah Rashad

Shouts out to Isaiah Rashad for going so damn hard in the lead-up to his proper-ish debut, Cilvia. Why the buzz isn’t going dumber right now, I’m not sure, but maybe I just don’t read Nahright and 2DopeBoyz anymore. Anyway, TDE’s Chattanooga protege quietly dropped a pair of 2013′s best rap tracks with “Shot U Down” and “Ronnie Drake”, finding a gorgeous balance between ATLiens-style sleepy knock and more recent, cloudy slap. In that respect, he’s fitting right in with TDE’s contemporary classic aesthetic. “RIP Kevin Miller” is no different, pairing a moody piano sample with skittery hats, and evoking the glory years of Master P and Juve. Thematically, it’s “weed and money” and naked ambition. Practically speaking, it’s something to ride out to. Thankfully, all of the above are time-honored traditions, and always prime for subtle reinterpretation.

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How analog technologies can help us reconnect with our surroundings—and each other


The New Analog

For the record, I should introduce this article by acknowledging that I’m heavily biased. I spend a lot of time with vinyl and I’m pretty much ready for any opinions that validate my belief that it’s better. Like for certain things, tapes and records are actually just objectively better than other ways of listening music; say, sitting down and actually listening to something carefully, with minimal distraction.

Taking a much more nuanced and thoughtful approach than me, Pitchfork’s Damon Krukowsi recently penned a piece called “The New Analog,” that uses the unlikely longevity of the vinyl LP as a jumping off point for a broader discussion about the power of good ol’ analog technology, and why certain devices and technologies remain irreplaceable, despite us all living in what some New Yorker article your parents thought was clever probably calls something like “the age of the selfie”.

Krukowsi notes the ways in which digital technology, in filtering out pieces of our basic, corporeal reality (say, by capturing only certain sonic qualities in our speech, or representing the spatial world via Google Maps), can also serve to disorient us. Conversely, he notes the ways in which classic analog technologies can be tools for reconnecting to our sensory experience. It’s a good read, particularly for folks who spend a lot of time with music, but really, for anybody who’s trying to think critically about their engagement with technology. Or you could just go peep Her. Anyway, article’s below.

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A conversation with Top Dog's most memorable employee


Photography by Scott La Rockwell

It was out of the corner of my eye that I noticed him. “Holy Shit, that’s the dude from Top Dog,” I thought to myself as I drove up Franklin Street through Downtown Oakland. It was almost like seeing a superhero out of character, like a quasi-celebrity sighting.

Beloved by many for its dedication to quality sausages, Top Dog has grown into a staple of the Bay Area since its inception. With four locations scattered throughout Oakland and Berkeley, by far and away the most notable, nostalgic and revered Top Dog establishment lies at the corner of Durant and Bowditch, conveniently nestled within the geographic sphere of UC Berkeley. One of the definitive go-to’s when it comes to late night food excursions, Top Dog holds a special place in the memories of most folks who came up in or around Berkeley.

Seminal to many Top Dog experiences are the interactions with the employees, but one such employee stands out over the others. Often polarizing and hardly forgettable, Top Dog’s most memorable figure chose to remain nameless for the purposes of our interview. But for the past 23 years, depending on the circumstance, most of the restaurant’s late-night patrons have felt either the charisma or the wrath of the man known most commonly as “The Top Dog Guy.”

When I saw him walking his two dogs as I drove down the street that sunny morning, I had to pull over. “I got to ask him for an interview,” I thought. “At the least show him love for serving me hot dogs for the last decade and a half.” As I hopped out of the car to approach him, I noticed that one of his dogs was relieving itself.

“Hey, my name’s Max,” I said as I got close. My timing couldn’t have been more off, as he crouched down to pick up his dog’s shit. We were both a bit flustered. Somehow, with poop in hand, and me grossly double-parked, we managed to exchange information, and set up a time for coffee. Having spent so many memorable teenage nights outside Top Dog’s doors, it seemed only appropriate to pick the brain of the man behind the counter.



Dazed Digital gets a glimpse at life through the eyes of the Beat Konducta



Last week, Dazed & Confused published an exceedingly rare interview with Madlib, the reclusive and prolific genius behind almost two decades of dusty, crate-excavating, mind-expanding music. Topics covered in Dazed’s profile of the Stones Throw giant include rough-and-tumble early days in Oxnard, burning down his studio like Scratch Perry, and which chemical substances pair best with his most legendary release. The whole damn thing is pretty much gold, despite a couple cringey questions, so it’s there in its entirety below.

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Ayumu Arisaka's trippy collage work pairs well with psychedelic slap


Saigo No Shudan

Been doing this for years, and I don’t see the dope, globally-sourced inspiration tide stemming any time soon, so I suppose we should keep it moving. Shouts out to It’s Nice That for consistently covering some of our favorite artists/people, and for providing a continuous stream of quality artistic ideas to soak up. The latest discovery for me is Japanese creative collective Saigo No Shudan (The Last Resort), a female clique specializing in psychedelic multimedia experiences.

If Saigo is GBE, Ayumu Arisaka is Keef, or maybe Chop, setting the tone with a staggering output of colorful visuals, running the medium-gamut from music videos to postmodern collage. In particular, it’s striking how Arisaka’s imagery pairs vivid, warped shapes and colors with traditional Japanese imagery, creating a disorienting clash of space/time/ideas. Below is a brief selection of her work, which is crazy, and a mix from our good friend Wave, for like synesthesia purposes. More from both parties soon.

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A pair of reflections on a legacy of radical thought


Amiri Baraka

Last week, we lost an important and idiosyncratic voice with the passing of Amiri Baraka. Poet, dramatist, essayist, artist, scathing social critic, and founder of the Black Arts Movement, Baraka was a towering figure in a storied tradition of speaking truth to power. For me, having stumbled on Blues People once upon a time in undergrad land, Baraka’s death represents a prime opportunity to dig into the archives and learn more.

As New Yorker columnist and author/historian Jelani Cobb points out in the piece below, discussions in the wake of Baraka’s death have spent a lot of time rehashing the “controversy” surrounding his work. The more I read, the more transparent the characterization seems to become. It feels like I can locate it pretty accurately within a trend of radical folks whose oeuvre tends to be overshadowed by the occasional stumble, or (more often) something they said that made someone powerful uncomfortable. With that in mind, I’m gonna defer to the pieces below, which speak to the man’s legacy with a little more authority than I can.

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One of the most versatile artists on Chicago's young scene strikes a balance on her latest tape



The oversaturation of articles in the media about Chicago has become exhausting. With the exception of a few poignant pieces over the last year, it seems like the only positive outcome from the barrage of thinkpieces by mostly white people about violence in black neighborhoods has been an unwavering spotlight on a city filled with talent and potential.

One of the my personal favorites out of the many new artists is 18-year-old rapper/singer Tink. The Calumet City native (a suburb south of Chicago) released her first mixtape Winter’s Diary in 2012 and has since collaborated with fellow Chicago artists Sasha Go Hard, Lil Herb, and Lil Bibby in addition to releasing two mixtapes in the past year that showcase her ability to both gas and serenade. Like its prequel, Winter’s Diary 2: Forever Yours is essentially an R&B tape punctuated by the occasional 808 and hi-hat triplet. While the first half of the tape is strictly a slow rolling, body rocking affair, the second half finds Tink striking a balance between the slow jam and the banger like on the Alicia Keys sampling “Your Secrets”. Stylistically, Tink’s rapping and singing are both clearly indebted to her foremothers, but her combination of the two make for a distinct sound, propelling her above the Nicki and Aaliyah clones.

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