Our own Ben-DL sits down with the enigmatic Ezale, for his first full length interview to date. Known for his charismatic demeanor and extra lit videos Ezale has garnered a considerable following in a short amount of time. From his early beginnings rapping in a closet, to his most recent cult classic video for Too High, Ezale is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

THX Oakland

SPONSORED SPOTLIGHT: A conversation with Milo and TrippySwaggert* as they prep their latest musical offerings

Wine & Bowties

Photography by Charlie Bombs

It was a backyard boogie when we first came across TrippySwaggert* and company. Sitting a top a large cabana overhang in East Oakland, dressed in a Supreme Guns button up and some J’s, Trippy better known as Stephen Rigmaiden came with the smooth deep house set, keeping a crowd of hundreds rockin’ all day long.

It took a few weeks to reconnect with the man, but once we did, he introduced us to more of his crew and his sound. With a new EP entitled Thx Oakland on the way, and an accompanying party to match (August 30th), we took some time to catch up with Trippy and his partner in crime Brandon Rayson aka Milo for their first spotlight on the bowties.

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A glimpse inside the photographic adventures of Max Claus



The year was 2013 when we first were introduced to the work of Max Claus. In need of a photographer for our first party with Syd the Kid, we tapped him to help us out in a bind. Fast forward a year and Max is still at it. Having blessed us at Wine & Bowties with moments from our first and second Bike Nights, it’s safe to say Max’s shots are valuable. A couple classes at the Academy of Art University and some good practice helped the cause too, as Max has begun to develop a crisp aesthetic. Often capturing adventures with the homies, dope landscapes and more, Max’s photos continue to dazzle, but are only getting better. Juiced to see what he comes with next.

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A couple moments captured from our second Bike Night

Photography by Max Claus

Saturday came and went so quickly it’s hard to remember how special those few hours were. Our second inaugural Bike Night was one to remember, but also a sign of things to come. From the route, to the stops, to the people, to the vibe, each element added something to the night. Maybe it was just our crew and our trusted leader Bloodren that made it work. Or perhaps it was Manifesto Bikes adding their flavor to the ride with a stop for pizza, water and a Rick Ross album.

Surely it was the experience of it all that made it dope. Show up at Lake Merritt, we’ll ride out to Manifesto, we’ll chill there for a bit, ride to Willard Park, and then roll out to a block party in Downtown Oakland. Much love to Alana of Sup Southeast Asian Pop Up for providing the food, and to Jesse and Judy for providing the space on 15th Street. Thank you for riding with us. Below, check out a few moments from the ride, courtesy of Max Claus.



From the Bay to the heartland in a split zine from Brandon Tauszik and Nathan Pearce

Brandon Tauszik

Brandon Tauszik has had his hands in a lot of cool shit lately. In addition to gorgeous video work from folks like Antwon, Main Attrakionz and Queens D. Light, and a handful of commission projects, he’s also carved out a reputation for concentrated, idiosyncratic photo essays on everything from doomsday prophecies to Oakland’s tragic and ubiquitous murder memorials.

Brandon’s latest project, All Night Long Vol. 2, finds him teaming up with Illinois-based photographer Nathan Pearce on a collaborative zine for Same Coin Press–which, as the name hints at–serves up the work of two different shooters in the same publication. Pearce’s stark black-and-whites from small-town, heartland Illinois are paired off with Tauszik’s gritty, full color snaps from Oakland, SF, LA, and other urban locales across California. If there’s a certain contrast in the realities being depicted, there’s also a solid kinship between the two collections, and an eye for capturing peculiar, sometimes eerie moments. Like those moments though, these are likely to disappear. They’re limited to 50 copies, so cop one here before they’re gone.

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Reissue masters Superior Viaduct offer up their take on a punk blues landmark

Gun Club

It’s no coincidence that I happened to dig up my own personal copy of Fire of Love at Stranded. After all, the Temescal shop has pretty much established itself as the go-to destination for rarities, oddities, OG presses, and cult classics of all shapes and sizes in Oakland. Part of that, of course, has to do with the fact that it also serves as the physical headquarters of Superior Viaduct, a boutique reissue label dedicated to the task of lovingly curating releases of strange, gorgeous, and obscure music. Over the last few years, they’ve put out at least a dozen excellent things, running the gamut from astral free jazz, to dubby proto-trip-hop, to Devo’s early degeneracy, and beyond.

The latest from SV comes in the form of a CD-only version of the Gun Club’s seminal blues-punk debut, the aforementioned Fire of Love. The album is a touchstone of the early ’80s roots revival scene, a no-bullshit blend of fuzzy garage noise, slide guitar twang, and lascivious blues. A few songs, like say, “Promise Me”, build on fucked up, unpredictable rhythms. But as compared to some of the more esoteric titles in the Superior Viaduct catalog, Fire of Love is relatively straight forward. A cult classic it may be, but the barrier to entry is damn pretty low if you like loud guitar music. It’s an album whose power could be approximated by say, throwing a rock at someone’s head. Which is to say that, 30 years or so later, like the sweaty blues it channels, it still translates just fine. Grab a copy, complete with new liner notes and remastered audio, here.

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Bring a friend and roll out on another ride this Saturday night


Bike Night

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Parties are great, and it’s always cool to have a room full of folks getting faded and yelling rap songs; but it’s also cool for us to set up some opportunities for folks to do more dynamic shit together. The last bike party was too tight, so we’re squeezing another one in by popular demand, before summer wraps up (Also, holy shit it’s August already?). Saturday we’ll be meeting up by the Lake Merritt pillars around 6, and making our way to a few different destinations. Thanks in part to some very cool hosts, we’ll be making stops at Manifesto Bicycles on 40th, People’s Park, and finally, Mary Weather and Naming Gallery in the heart of Downtown. For a look at last time, peep the visuals below, and for more info on this one, check here. ‘Til Saturday folks.

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Berkeley's favorite indie film crew comes home to tell the story of the African Hebrew Israelites

Village of Peace

A few years ago, we threw up an early trailer for a documentary called The Village of Peace. Directed by Niko Philipides and Ben Schuder, the film offers a look into the world of the African Hebrew Israelites, a small black community that uprooted itself from the turbulence and oppression of 1960′s Chicago to relocate in Dimona, Israel. The migration brought roughly 300 people to Israel, with the intention of founding a society based on a strict set of principles–among many others, polygamy, veganism, and the study of ancient scripture.

Today, Village of Peace is a finished product, having begun to make the festival rounds and even garnering some unexpected support from NBA superstar (and now, exec producer) Amare Stoudemire. As they were able to do (hugely) successfully with their feature debut, Licks, Niko, Ben, Jack, Aaron, and the rest of the team behind the film will be bringing VOP home tomorrow to the Grand Lake, as a part of the SF Jewish Film Festival. For folks who appreciate indie filmmaking, or who want an opportunity to soak up some knowledge about life in a different paradigm, this should be dope. Screening starts tomorrow, Friday the 8th, at 2:30. Tickets here.

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TOO $HORT – “19,999″

Short Dog is eternal and his latest is a history lesson

TOO $HORT – “19,999″

Too Short

“I met your mama at a pool party,” is a hell of a way for a 48-year old to start off a rap song. The vintage pic above is more commemorative than anything, since Short’s been doing this since before most of us were born. Three decades removed from serving tapes out of his trunk, Mr. Shaw takes the opportunity here to look back on a career of sexual conquest, reminding us all of his mythical Wilt-like career numbers over some high-octane ratchet slap. He also takes the opportunity to remind us that figuratively, and maybe even literally, we’re all pretty much his sons. Anyway, it’s 2014, and Short is still making raunchy ass slappers you can throw on at a contemporary house party, and probably wouldn’t play for your mom. On a related note, looks like the planet will keep spinning tomorrow, and from all accounts, the sun might even come up too.

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Dreamy summer vibes from the dude they call Julia in the fourth installment of our mix series


Julia Lewis Wine & Bowties

Four or five years ago, me and Max were kickin it in a basement or backroom in Eagle Rock, and Ben was playing us beats. We hit a party or two and made late night moves to a taco truck a half mile or so off campus. A few weeks later, Max and I started our own taco stand and Ben made the trek out to Westchester to peep the new operation and meet our new friend Oscar. Not long after that, we stopped slangin tacos and started blogging heavy. Meanwhile, Ben was still in the lab, homing in on where he wanted to take his music.

I’ll save the rest of that nostalgia for another day, but all that is basically to say that Ben’s been around since the beginning, and it’s been dope to watch his movement evolve along parallel lines. Berkeley bred and based out of The Mission, Ben is better known to listeners as Julia Lewis, producer, beatmaker, multi-instrumentalist, and one third of Saint Tiimbre, along with Natasha Adorlee and Zion I’s Amp Live. With both projects, Ben’s been churning out dense, layered, atmospheric groove, with an emphasis on colorful synths and unpredictable percussion programming.

Today, we’re proud to be dropping the first collaborative effort between JL and the Bowties, in the form of Volume IV of our mix series. Ben’s curation on this one skews smooth and summery, full of pretty ass R&B vocals and pillowy synthy pads you can pretty much float on. Among others, highlights include the JL take on “Boss Ass Bitch”, blappers from Kaytranada and Lapalux, and a gorgeous piece of pop from Ugandan singer Eddy Kenzo. Honestly, throw that on and try to be mad about anything. Tracklist after the jump.

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A strong suite of sultry R&B from the rising Oakland songstress

Neijah Lanae

Between this and the JL mix, it’s been a good ass day for some summer music on the Bowties. Neijah Lanae‘s latest comes just in time to catch the mid-summer wave, and it fits the bill perfectly. Sapphire, produced almost entirely by The Formula (J. Hyphen and Chi-Kotiq), is a dynamic collection of shimmery R&B that touches down into plenty of stylistic territory. Certain songs feel like a natural extension of classic ’90s staples, while “Kiss” even dips into ’80s lite funk, with touches of Sheila E. and other Prince productions. Still others, like “Touch” or gorgeous closer “All Night” blend glitchy drums, buzzy synth, and chopped up vocal hits to craft something akin to more recent experiments from folks like Kelela or even Twigs. Neijah’s songwriting is blossoming too, making for a strong suite of love songs that’s heavy on pretty harmonies and unexpected breakdowns.

The whole project is a prime example of how cooked up crtiical categories like “indie R&B” or “alt-R&B” kinda miss the point, since–and it should be patently obvious to anybody who actually spends time with the genre’s classic canon–contemporary R&B has always made for a great canvas for experimentation and boundary-stretching (shouts out Moneyworth and Solange and Brandy deep cuts). Sapphire strikes a balance between traditional and “avant garde” R&B to the point that, like most good pop music, it blurs those very distinctions. Anyway, digressions aside, it’s always dope to see the folks we love doing great things, and Sapphire is just that. Highly recommended.

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Psychedelic visions and feminine forms at Classic Cars West

Elena Kulikova

When we launched our group show, Feels this May, Max and I got the chance to become better acquainted with the folks who make up the artistic community at West Oakland’s Grid Gallery. Among others though, we met Elena Kulikova, an extremely talented photographer and image-maker whose operation is based out of the Grid. She’s friendly and soft-spoken in person, but her work speaks loudly, steeped in psychedelia and kaleidoscopic color. Female forms and floral motifs are mutated into new shapes and filtered through prismatic effects, making for some supremely trippy imagery that’s easy to get lost in.

“Crystallize” is Elena’s latest solo show, and it finds her dipping into new stylistic territory, layering and literally growing crystals on top of still images to create a dreamy set of mixed-media pieces. The show opened last Friday, but it’ll be up at Oakland’s Classic Cars West, in the heart of Murmur territory, until after next month’s First Friday. Below, check out some of the work, and learn more here.

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Moments from our most recent underground party

Photography by Max Gibson

It was probably around 1am when the moment hit. Will and I walking back from the car after dropping off some supplies. We were only a block away from the party, but walking back to our party in full swing felt slightly surreal. It was like walking into the N’Sync Girlfriend video. The thought, “damn bruh, we created this!?” fleetingly came to mind as we walked back, but it was slowly replaced by the magic of the moment. We were well aware of what we were doing. We were puttin it down in one of the coolest cities in the country.



Savvy Wood's pop-up library project celebrates black lit on Chicago's South Side

Black Ink Book Exchange

Savannah Wood is a force. She’s a strong-willed, purposeful creative with an infectious smile and wide, excited eyes under rounded, dark-rimmed glasses. We first met through Max in the lead-up to a 2012 art show curated by collective Native Thinghood in LA, when I entered their vegetarian potluck of floor-seated, cross-legged, barefooted 20-somethings laughing through shared realities of artistic successes and woes. After majoring in photography at USC, Ms. Wood has been involved in myriad creative projects, travelling the world and expanding her portfolio from photography to clothing to costume design. Most recently, the Baltimore-bred artist has up and moved Chicago to develop her vision for the Black Ink Book Exchange.

Through a humble Indiegogo campaign and individual book donations from all over the country, Savvy’s dream to create a pop-up library of books written by black authors, and about black culture, has become a reality. As of January the project has even expanded to house creative workshops, classes, meetings, and arts and crafts activities for families, hosted primarily on Chicago’s South Side. The library is based on a barter system–take a book, leave a book–and functions to host opportunities for folks to engage with their own history, with each other, and with the written word. “I am most interested in ‘good’ books,” reads her website, “books that have shaped the way you see yourself and the world, or books that you often recommend to friends.” To learn more about this journey, I hit Savannah up to ask her how the project is going, where it’s headed, and how we can all have a chance to engage with the Black Ink Book Exchange.

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Main Attrakionz headline Milk Bar for a preview of their latest


Main Attrakionz

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say 808′s & Dark Grapes II is one of the most important rap records of the last decade. I mean take “important” with a grain of salt because what the fuck does that even mean. But for the folks who have spent a good chunk of time immersed in its wavy, enveloping layers of soft focus sound, it’s a legitimate modern touchstone. Anyway, I legitimately think I still listen to “Chuch” more than any other song and I know Yung Benny feels me.

Squadda and Mondre also put out lots of other great music, cloudy and otherwise, at a pretty astonishing clip. But word that they’ve linked up with Friendzone for an 808′s follow-up can only mean positive things. And tonight, they’ll be teaming up with an eclectic bunch of music-making entities for a headlining set at Milk Bar in SF to preview some new joints and celebrate the “pre-release”. I’ll be out there vibin. Come say hi.

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