Our latest interview finds us amongst the company of Trackademiks. A fixture in the Bay’s current music landscape and a seminal figure to the evolution of Bay Area hip-hop. Emilio Courtade sits down with Trackademiks to talk about his early beginnings making music, to his current roll as Honor Roll representer.


The story of how Nas became Nas



“I wanted you to feel New York at night,” said Nas, when discussing the motives behind his canonical 1994 debut, Illmatic. Landing conveniently inside the walls of Oakland’s own New Parkway Theatre, One9 and Erik Parker’s documentary, aptly titled Time is Illmatic, is a unflinching glimpse into the upbringing of a hip-hop titan, and the making of a classic.

To me, Nas always seemed like this sort of ubiquitous yet somewhat inaccessible hip hop legend. Yet watching the documentary helped to unravel some of Nas’ pressing curiosities. As viewers, we’re brought into the Queensbridge of Nas’ youth, full of the vibrancy and vices that make the neighborhood what it is. In the midst of this beautiful chaos came Nas, hailed as one of QB’s nicest pretty much from the jump.

When his surrounding school system failed him, Nas found himself at a crossroads. To stay in school and continue on a pointless mission, or to follow his passion for creating music. When his father–jazz trumpeter Olu Dara–told him, “Quit school, develop your craft, and I’ll support you,” Nas’ destiny was sealed. What transpired was a rise of epic proportions. And one that we still have the privilege to watch evolve today.

Peep the trailer below and catch Time is Illmatic at select screenings at the Parkway over the next week, and learn more about the film here.

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Shooters Kris Kirk and Madison East on making art together, and an unlikely EDC oddyssey


Meet Us Under the Electric Sky

As a shooter, it seems like there’s a lot to be gained from wandering out your comfort zone. Unfamiliar places tend to heighten your senses and let you pick up on new things, often when you’re not coming into a place looking for anything in particular. For Kris Kirk and Madison East, that meant venturing out from Silverlake and East L.A. into the gigantic, neon-drenched, seratonin-sprinkled clusterfuck known as the Electric Daisy Carnival to soak up the scene. The resulting collab zine, Meet Us Under the Electric Sky is, like the festival itself, an exercise in visual stimulation. Madison and Kris both bring a certain eye for detail to the project, picking out distinctive characters and scenery out of a sea of sights and sounds vying for visual attention.

Fortunately, Electric Sky is just the tip of the iceberg for both Kris and Madison, so shouts out to the Bay’s own Nighted for putting me onto yet another pair of dope photographers. In addition to photo work, Madison has carved out her own aesthetic through collage and mixed-media pieces, while Kris has made a practice out spontaneity, turning late nights in the East L.A. punk scene into a continuous stream of Tumblr consciousness. Thankfully, Nick put me in touch with Kris and Madison, and let me pick their brains a bit about everything from bad acid trips, to drinking pee, to brostep. Now here comes the drop.

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A declaration of war from the Bay-by-LA spitter



At this point, you’re mad as fuck if you have any kind of sense. Coming from the community we’re a part of here in the Town, it’s hard to scroll through your news feed without getting engulfed in what seems like an endless stream of stories about black and brown kids getting gunned down by somebody in uniform. While pundits churn out the, “Well what was he doing in the first place?” fuckery and armchair liberals break down some supposed good cop/bad cop dichotomy, people keep losing their lives, and actual murderers keep wiggling their way out of consequences and collecting checks from taxpayers (For the record, obviously, lots of people have written, and spoken a lot more eloquently on the subject than I am here, so for starters, here’s this and this).

It’s enough to make you wanna stir some shit up, which seems to be the basic goal of Duckwrth’s latest. Backed by a heavy-hitting barrage from The Kickdrums, Duck goes for scorched-earth intensity, declaring war on the beast via music video. Lyrically, it’s poignant and direct from the jump: “Everytime I turn my TV on, I see another innocent black kid gone.” The visuals though, take those themes into cinematic territory, building a multimedia collage that follows that revolutionary thread back through time. In between riot footage and walls of flames are the freeze-frame faces of Rodney King and Mike Brown, with an interjection from Pac at peak-revolutionary fervor. It’s still hard to know where to find solutions, beyond say, chucking bricks into cop car windows at random. That being said though, it probably couldn’t hurt. However you feel, shouts out to our friend Duckwrth for trying to shake us outta complacency.

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Some options for hopping off the beaten path this weekend, at First Friday and elsewhere

Art Murmur

As the summer comes to an end, in Oakland, you may be tempted to whip out your best Autumn hoodie but don’t you dare put down that paper-bagged tall can. October is shaping up to be beautiful and bustling with events to keep you social and less than sober. Maybe you’ve grown tired of the First Friday followed by the Layover hustle, but fear not, young East Bay! I aim to keep you dipped in both interesting and off-the-wall events this weekend.

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Floating out into space with TT6's cosmic slap connoisseur

Starter Kit

If you’ve had the chance to sit in on a Starter Kit set at one of our parties lately, you have some idea what you’re in for here. As one of many crucial pieces in the Trill Team puzzle, Daryl is an expert in seeking out cosmic sounds, bridging the gap from the bando to deep space nine. As a beatmaker and as a DJ, he’s able to weave together strains of future bass, ’90s R&B, and contemporary slap, pairing giant walls of bass with expansive, spacey textures.

Considering the fact that he’s turned out a half dozen or so of our parties now, it only seems logical that he should take the reins for the latest installment of the Bowties mix. Following on the heels of Julia Lewis‘ smooth, textured summertime vibes, Starter Kit lets us drift a little further out in space, leading off with a few big, languid jams from Aztek, Ryan Hemsworth, Esta and more. Gradually, it builds into that serotonin spike, with the all-important “Look at Wrist”, some warped Thugger, and an underappreciated Future/Metro Boomin team up, among others. All in all, pretty representative of what we’ve come to expect from the homie–taking us on a journey, and keeping those wrists in rotation. More from him here, but let this ride for now. Tracks after the jump.

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We teamed up with a few friends to bring you Sick Sad Decent, and a very special guest


Photography by Ray Solorzano

Folks who made it out to Riddim on Friday found themselves in a right place-right time type of scenario. Maybe somebody told them something. Maybe they just thought it was going up by virtue of the folks involved. Whatever the case, when Diplo made his way up to the top floor booth around midnight, the spot was already in motion, with vibes curated by Sick Sad’s finest. Phones popped out of pockets and Diplo made at least one of those “Yeah, I know! It’s Diplo!” faces at this one girl. It was tight. Fresh off the Mad Decent stage at the Greek, he treated an only-kinda-suspecting crowd to an eclectic set, making sure to sprinkle in a few homecourt anthems for good measure.

A major thank you to all the parties involved–especially Hawa, Bobby Peru, and DJ Dials–but really to the entire Sick Sad World//TT6 and Browntourage families too. Team effort on this one, as usual. Fortunately, our friend Ray was on the scene to snap a few souvenirs in 35mm. More from him here.



Enter into the colorful, nostalgic world of Michelle Guintu



We came across Michelle Guintu going down the rabbit hole, the internet making everything so accessible. Praise be to the internet, where you can meet a lover, get a job, or find your new favorite artist. In the latter section is where we find Michelle Guintu. An East Bay raised, SF-residing visual artist, Michelle’s most recent exhibition came together in the formation of Hype Nation, a group show curated by RVCA and the VASF Gallery this summer.

When I touched base with Michelle she was in transition, having recently wrapped up her latest show, and looking forward to her second solo show in L.A. this December. With a vibrant and playful aesthetic, much of Michelle’s recent work depicts a whimsical 90′s hip hop utopia, where TLC is reunited, and Biggie, Pac and Janet Jackson go on picnics. Amidst it all, we see a sharp attention to detail that makes Michelle’s work unique. In between creations, we spoke with Michelle about how she developed her aesthetic, her early memories creating, and her love for R. Kelly.

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Our guide to the sights and sounds at OMF, which takes over Downtown next Saturday

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Oakland Music Festival

Summer in The Town has been something to see this year. Trill Team’s been throwing bangers, Youthful Kinfolk have been doing their thing, and Flavourhood’s set to make a return. The 15th Street galleries are carving out their corner and Daghe, Taulib and the C8C fam have turned up Sundays pretty reliably. Meanwhile, we’ve had everything from bike parties and screenings, to art shows to undergrounds go up. On the more macro scale though, the day festivals and block parties have never been more plentiful. There have been beerfests and food walks, block parties and corporate-sponsored megafests. A few, like Hiero Day or the Malcolm X Jazz Fest, have been pretty damn transcendent, channeling the city’s energy and its eclecticism.

Fortunately, Oakland Music Fest also promises to be heavy on both those things, having rolled out a lineup this month that both celebrates The Town’s independent, ground-level scene, and recruits some talent from our neighbors down South. Now in its second year, the festival is a homegrown effort, the brainchild of Oakland entrepreneur Alfonso Dominguez and a dedicated crew of volunteers. Booked independently, and supported by local mainstays like Oaklandish, Lagunitas, and Pandora, the fest will kick off year two next Saturday, with headlining sets from Dom Kennedy and SZA. Rounding out the bill are more than a dozen hometown heroes, including the HNRL Crew, Trill Team 6, and Ezale.

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Oakland's realest arts collective returns with a two-part group photo show and zine


I don’t think I’m alone in saying the last Flavourhood show was one of the dopest events I’ve ever been to. Buried deep under Korean BBQ hotspot Gogi Time was a group show for the ages, spread across different disciplines, but curated with care by Japheth, Ben, Ruth, and the FH team. Seen 2, the East Bay art collective’s latest project, opens up on Friday in Berkeley, and narrows the focus a little, so to speak.

Seen 2, as the title hints at, is a two-part group photography show, highlighting the work of 18 of the Bay’s finest shooters, including many friends of the Bowties, and even our very own [Dispo] Max Gibson. Also on the bill: FH’s Japheth Gonzalez, Kristian Contreras, Lauren Crew, and OnTask affiliate Valentin Saqueton. All that talent will be split up across consecutive Fridays, with the debut on Friday, and part two a week later on the 26th.

Aside from the art on the walls, Seen 2 will also provide the platform to launch Flavourhood’s latest publication, a 48-page collaborative zine with work from a handful of the folks in the show. Below, we have a few rare excerpts, but Friday, you’ll get a chance to delve a little deeper. Come find us there. Show opens at 6.

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The artist sometimes known as Toro puts in work with some new visuals


Les Sins

Shouts out wacky waving inflatable tube men. Are those dudes ever having a bad time? Guess it kinda depends which direction you draw the mouth, and a flailing sad bruh would probably sell a lot less cars or furniture or other things sold on the side of interstate highways. Plus, everybody’s gotta work. Maybe it’s naive to think these guys aren’t phoning it in at least like some of the time. Anyway I’m slightweight blown, and I’m enjoying this, as I do pretty much all of Chaz Bundick’s audio-visual output.

“Bother” starts as a busy house workout, syncopating percussion around a simple request and a statement: “Don’t bother me…I’m workin’.” Like most of Chaz’s (AKA Toro Y Moi) Les Sins material, this is uptempo, built for sweaty places with brick walls and cool-looking lights. Around the 2:30 mark though, it splits open into something sublime–a giant, shining ball of choral vocal and synth funk vamp–before shrinking back down into “Nautilus”-style Rhodes. Enjoy this for now, and catch Les Sins on tour this Fall. Some extra Chaz-related goodies below, because they’re relevant, and good, and you deserve great content™.

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