Ladies and gentlemen, FEELS II is in the books. Much love and many thanks to all the folks involved in bringing our first art and music festival to reality. Bringing together a host of musical artists, from Kool A.D., Teebs and Kreayshawn, to visual artists like Ryan Rocha, Bud Snow and more, FEELS II was one to remember.
A quick look at the de Young’s massive new Keith Haring retrospective, The Political Line. Focusing on Haring’s more deliberately political works, the pieces take on consumer culture, technology, sexuality, and racism head on, and span the length of Keith’s short but prolific career.
Our latest interview finds us amongst the company of Oakland’s own Trackademicks. A fixture in the Bay’s music landscape over the last decade, Track speaks to Emilio Courtade about his early, hyphy-era beginnings, and his current role as HNRL representer.
Some vibrant nostalgia from the mind of Michelle Guintu. East Bay raised but SF residing, Michelle has developed her aesthetic simply by painting the things she likes. From 90’s R&B superstars, like Missy and Aaliyah, to Joe Montana paintings and McDonald’s installations.
Known for his charismatic demeanor and extra lit videos Ezale has garnered a considerable following in a short amount of time. Our own Ben-DL sits down with the enigmatic Ezale, for his first full length interview to date. From early beginnings rapping in a closet, to his cult classic video for Too High, Ezale is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Travel the world, take pictures? Surely it’s a lifestyle more than a few of us aspire to. With a camera never too far from his side, London-based photographer Luca Sage has made a career out of documenting culture since falling into the field of social anthropology through his studies at the University of Swansea. Most recently, Sage set his lens upon the adolescent fighters of Jamestown, a storied district in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, where he was able to capture the beauty, the triumph and the violence that characterize the widely popular boxing matches. Powerfully depicting the action and excitement of the fights, Luca’s photographs reveal how the matches serve as both an avenue for entertainment and a function of community. Recently, we chatted with Luca in depth about his documentary work, from the challenges of photographing fights, to the importance of boxing in Ghanian society, to what it’s like to be chased by an elephant.
“This is the story of an unsung people, who took on Papua New Guinea, Australia and the biggest mining company in the world–who started by fighting helicopter gunships with bows and arrows, and who have lost a tenth of their population–and yet have managed to create what may be the world’s first true eco-revolution.”
When I saw Michael Lewis speak in Berkeley the other night, he said something pretty revelatory about his creative process as a writer. Basically, he told us that his favorite part of his creative process as a storyteller was finding a story too good to fuck up–that he found himself motivated most by the fact that he’d been entrusted to tell a story so compelling in and of itself, that even if he told it just competently, it would make for something entirely captivating. I’d imagine British director Dom Rotheroe must have felt the same way about the story he found upon arriving, flanked by revolutionary soldiers, in a tiny boat on the shores of Bougainville. His film, The Coconut Revolution, released a decade ago, tells the improbable story of an indigenous people whose sheer force of will and ingenuity overcame staggering odds. It’s the story of their fight for their land, their culture, and their independence–and of a rare and extraordinary exception to what tends to be the rule of global capitalism.
In all likelihood, this will be the last one of these until we hit the 2013. There’s a big ass list on the way, and too damn much music to squeeze into it. And yet that’s not stopping some folks from making seriously legitimate late-entry bids. For one, this Twigs EP fucking blew me away this week, following on the heels of one of my absolute favorite videos from earlier this year. And speaking of videos, the Earl joint is a perfectly dark, understated compliment to the excellent song it accompanies. The kid’s pretty undeniable. Jerome LOL came with a silky ass Dream remix, and How to Dress Well teamed with director Luke Gilford on a beautiful, weirdly uplifting video for Total Loss standout “& It Was U”. Both halves of OutKast putting in work, Chromatics, Julio Bashmore, and even a little bonus Trinidad for good measure–let’s close the year out strong. 2013’s gonna be eventful.
Man, leave it to Bun B to be always be a step ahead of the curve. The first rapper to hop on Greedy Genius? I mean come on, the vision, the foresight, tremendous. Then the Sean Kingston collabo? I mean come on. It’s not hard to see why Bun has remained a respected figure in the game with power moves like these. But in all seriousness, Bun B is really on to some cool shit with the curation of the Rap Coloring Book. A collaboration between the formidable B and writer slash illustrator Shea Serrano, the Rap Coloring Book is in fact Bun B’s Jumbo Coloring And Rap Activity Tumblr which has recently acquired a book deal of its own. Featuring our most beloved rappers of today’s hip hop landscape, the book serves as a who’s who reference guide to who was poppin around the year 2012. With Nicki by the Numbers pages situated next to Tyga Word scrambles within the City of Rack, Bun B’s Jumbo Coloring and Rap Activity Book is quite simply tight as fuck.
At fourteen years old, around 10pm every week night, I would climb into bed, beneath posters of Method Man and TLC, pull my Walkman headphones over my head, and let the soothing sound of white noise, sex ed, and bestiality jokes flood my pubescent consciousness. Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew’s regular, syndicated radio broadcast, Loveline, was based on a simple recipe: a comedian and a physician taking calls from any American with a phone. There, muffling my laugh in my tie-dye print comforter so my mom wouldn’t hear, I listened as people all over the country sought love advice from two dudes in their 30’s. At times I could apply the content to my own questions brought on by hormones and confusing porn scenes, but mostly the content served as ample fodder for 8th grade schoolyard conversations. Loveline existed for years before and after my teens, but luckily for me, its most popular and successful incarnation, as co-hosted by Carolla and Dr. Drew, lined up perfectly with my most formative years.
“After looping the globe twice, we’re finally back in Montreal for one of my favorite times of year. It’s the end of Autumn, and all of the Reds, Greens, & Yellows have disintegrated into Black & White. Everything is buried by the snow. Perfect weather for locking yourself in the studio with a synthesizer & your favorite records. I put together a collage of songs that, for one reason or another…always remind me of Autumn.”
Black & White‘s arrival marks the close of what’s been an undeniably big year for Johnny Jewel and his Italians Do It Better imprint. After leading off the year with The Chromatics’ expansive, shimmery synth masterpiece Kill for Love, an album that took the better part of the last few years to finish, Jewel set his sights on an impressive handful of new projects almost immediately, lacing us with a handful of quality, expertly selected mixes as well as a few previews of things to come on IDIB’s upcoming After Dark compilation, presumably a project on which he’ll once again handle all production duties.
All the other great shit aside though, Black & White stands alone. It’s the kind of exquisite, hand-crafted mix that’s clearly been put together by someone deeply invested in feel, atmosphere and sonic cohesion. Jewel’s signature aesthetic–emotive synthesized polish with a human heartbeat–is maintained as well here as anywhere else in IDIB’s catalog, which is a pretty impressive accomplishment given the varied musical territory it touches down in. It leads with an absolute gem of rare African ’80s synth-groove, closes with a somber Nico track, and features as its centerpiece a stunning Chromatics cover New Order’s “Ceremony”. Each of those songs is probably worth its own article. For anyone curious about the musical universe Jewel’s been operating in, it’s an absolute treat, and 45 minutes well spent. For everyone else, well, pretty much the same thing applies.
Who would you say are the iconic starlets of our day? As far as supermodels go, who does our generation have? Kate Moss? Gisele Bundchen? Our girl Kim K? While the Cindy Crawfords and Naomi Campbells may have reigned supreme among ’90s modeling icons, before them it was unquestionably Gia Carangi who embodied the archetype of a supermodel in the ’80s. In her all-too-short, but meteoric rise to fame, Gia Carangi led a life that encapsulated both the triumph and terror of success. An overnight sensation in the fashion world, Gia’s legacy serves as a cautionary tale, and a powerful reminder of the double-edged sword of fame and fortune.
“She was completely a free soul,” remembers Francesco Scavullo, one of Gia’s adoring photographers who worked with the model during her short career. “She had her own way of moving in front of the camera. It wasn’t like any model I’d worked with before.”
Championing a similar cause to that of Arma De Instruccion Masiva (or The Weapon of Mass Instruction), Italian mixed media artist Massimo Bartolini completed his installation of twelve bookcases situated within the grassy field of St. Peter’s Abbey Vineyard this summer in Ghent, Belgium. Constructed in conjunction with the Belgian Art Festival, TRACK, the installation housed thousands of books from public libraries who volunteered to put their inventory on display for purchase in the park. Working with a quasi-honor system type set up for the payment process, patrons of the outdoor library were instructed to leave a donation inside a small box next the shelves. With the profits going towards these institutions, it’s hard to say whether the initiative has become much of a money maker for the libraries. At the very least though, The Bookyard is a pretty dope way to disseminate information in the 2012. Hit the MORE for a conversation with Bartolini about the inspiration and execution of the project.
At this point, I take it plenty of us are familiar with Trinidad Jame$ and “All Gold Everything”. The audacious fashion sense, the delightfully based flow–there are serious straps and cuddly puppies, Versace loafers and leopard print button-ups, a veritable army of goony Atlanta bruhs, and a collection of quotables rivaled only by the collection of gold shit James is draped in. The visual for “All Gold” (hit the MORE) is the kind of half-intentionally brilliant introduction every rapper wishes they could have, and as a result, the song’s been on repeat nationwide in whips, clubs and generally any pair of speakers I’ve had access to in the last month. As we all know though, the dude with the golden single doesn’t always have the full-length tape to back it up. I suppose that’s why Trinidad’s Don’t Be S.A.F.E. was actually such a pleasant surprise.
S.A.F.E. seems less like the work of an ambitious career rapper than it does a showcase for Jame$’ abundance of personality, and it’s almost certainly better for it. It’s willfully loopy and patched together, opting for mood over polish, and coasting by on the strength of the strength of quality production, and well, fuck, okay. Swag. Everybody I’ve talked to has a different favorite, but personally, I can’t really get past “Females Welcomed”. The first half, all blaring, chopped-up soul horns, is fun enough in its own right, a perfectly solid, if kinda pedestrian lament about exchanging his main bitch for his side bitch after the main’s decision to kick him to the curb. How concerned he is about the whole episode is debatable. But then, inexplicably, bizarrely, somehow awesomely, comes the Watch The Throne-style, thizzed-out dubstep breakdown! Wait, huh? It’s the kind of patently ridiculous stunt that definitely shouldn’t work, but does, giving us one of the great what-the-fuck moments I’ve heard in music all year. S.A.F.E. isn’t perfect, but it’s not lacking in ambition either. Most importantly, it’s enough to give me hope that Trinidad might stick around for a while. Assuming he does, I think it’ll be pretty fun for everybody.
Lots of lovely shit to talk about here. Most prominently, bright, radiant colors and graphic sex scenes, illustrated simply and playfully by Italian artist Fulvia Monguzzi. There are also a handful of beautiful black-and-whites, which fall somewhere on the spectrum between stately and scribbly, and which also feature no shortage of crazy positions and genitalia of all shapes and sizes. Far from being simply an erotic artist though, Monguzzi’s body of work is as varied as it is colorful, from eroticism to illustrations that would feel quite at home in children’s books, and from simple drawings to mixed media collage.
Venus, the digital-only gallery currently featuring her work, on the other hand, leans a bit more heavily toward the explicitly sexual and the sexually explicit. Dedicated to showcasing and exploring all things erotic across multiple artistic disciplines, the Italian gallery seeks to present these works in a space free from the often moralistic discussion and preconceived notions that often accompany their subject matter. Aside from that, the forward-thinking digital gallery concept offers art lovers from around the globe the chance to interact with these works, and even to cop a piece if they feel so inclined. Needless to say, Monguzzi’s work is a great place to start, but Venus has already amassed an impressive digital and physical collection, featuring work from luminaries like Richard Kern and Nobuyushi Araki, to name just a few. Check Venus out here, and make sure to explore a bit more of Monguzzi’s diverse collection of work here. And thanks to the good folks at Pas Un Autre for the heads up.