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KEITH HARING AT THE DE YOUNG

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.

TRINIDAD JAME$ – “FEMALES WELCOMED”

Trinidad James

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.


Download: Trinidad Jame$ – “Females Welcomed”

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PORNARELLI

The erotic artwork of Fulvia Monguzzi at Venus Gallery

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Fulvia Monguzzi

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.

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HETEROSEXUAL

Looking for love in all the wrong places

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Wine & Bowties

The first and only relationship I’ve ever been in was with Tara Johnson. I wasn’t sure we were meant to be, but I was damn sure that I wanted a girlfriend. While I’d had lots of girl-friends, I’d never had a girlfriend. The women of my middle school, St. Paul’s, never seemed to look at me the way they looked at the Chris Darbys and Ian Barrys of the world. I would stand in my room, dancing out the lyrics to “Spice Up Your Life”, and wonder why didn’t women like me? Tara did, and that meant she was going to be my girlfriend.

From the start, my relationship with Tara was mostly an argument. “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” I stammered accusingly at Lakeside Park. “Yes,” she snapped, and we retreated to our opposite ends of the playground. For the next few weeks, I felt like a man. I had a girlfriend, and while that meant little more than standing next to her in line and having the occasional chaperoned phone call, I relished the knowledge that I was just like everyone else. A girl liked me, and that was proof, right? But even for my hippy school, this was all rather chaste. Zack and Carrie had kissed, and according to class legend, Sonia had at some point touched Eric’s penis. We had to catch up. So, as we listened to 112 plead that we illustrate our sexiness by clapping our hands at the EBISC dance, I asked Tara if she wanted to step outside.

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SOLANGE – “LOSING YOU”

Solange

I’d like to say I saw it coming. And I guess I kind-of halfway can. I mean, back when she was being recruited to supply the hooks for Lil’ Romeo songs, I didn’t really see semi-indie-fabulous stardom in her future. But over the last few years, the clues were certainly there that her music might take a turn for the best. First there was some extremely promising dabbling in the retro-soul department on her last album. Then a sultry, “Bag Lady”-mashup-cover of everybody’s favorite Dirty Projectors jam, along with a few encouraging tidbits, like say, the story about her putting Hov and B up on Grizzly Bear. So when the video (check the MORE) for “Losing You” arrived, a gorgeously shot, impeccably styled stroll around Capetown, accompanying easily her best song to date, it actually felt like something that was a long time coming.

Indeed, all the immersion in dope shit seems to have helped Solange grow into her own as an artist, and her latest EP True is pretty convincing evidence. As a few other wise and talented folks have done lately, Solange joined forces with Devonte Hynes, the singer-songwriter-producer and all around quality music maker behind Blood Orange and Lightspeed Champion, among a number of other projects. As a result, the album’s finds itself in a groove not unlike Blood Orange’s Coastal Grooves, a curious space between ’80s-leaning future funk and slick, inventive indie pop. There’s not a bad song on the thing, and the big, sparkly canvases Hynes provides dazzle without dominating, giving that beautiful, Knowles-family-familiar voice plenty of space in the foreground. But nothing shines like “Losing You”, simply because there’s nothing quite as fun. That screeching vocal sample, the propulsive bounce of those handclaps, the singalong, teenage-love melodrama of that Hynes-assisted hook. In the interest of putting aside an all-too-obvious comparison, let’s just say there aren’t many R&B divas out there making music nearly this interesting.


Download: Solange – “Losing You”

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PRETTY UGLY

Suehiro Maruo conjures up your worst nightmares

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Suehiro Maruo

I was first exposed to Suehiro Maruo’s hypnotically grotesque artwork while lurking the magazine section of Tower Records (RIP), when I happened to stumble upon a special Japanese art edition of Juxtapoz. I was already familiar with the level of violence, sexuality and general depravity adult manga artists were capable of, but Maruo encapsulated those various themes in such an elegant “I almost feel bad for thinking this is pretty” kind of way. A self-taught high school dropout, Maruo’s surreal horror worlds are influenced by the poetic nature of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock paintings, and elements of Western pulp art. His focus on deformities, birth defects, violence and sexuality all work in unison to form pleasantly uncomfortable works that have garnered him an international cult following, despite the fact that few of his works have been published outside of Japan. Who knew that such fucked up shit could be this beautiful?

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MAC DEMARCO – “ANNIE”

Mac Demarco

There’s something about Mac Demarco‘s songwriting that gives you the feeling he’ll be around for a long time to come. A lot of that, I suppose, has to do with the fact that some of these songs already feel like they’ve been around forever. Not a bad introduction for a cat who turned 22 earlier this year. The songs that make up Demarco’s first full-length, 2, are hazy and nostalgic, the kind of lazy, loping jams that seem to simulate the passage of time. All of his jangly, fluid guitar playing and dry, deadpan vocals set up an atmosphere that feels entirely casual, and yet, these are songs that feel personal and home-cooked, maintaining just the right level of weirdness and emotional resonance even as they aim to please. “Annie” is all jangle-groove, like vintage JJ Cale or Lou Reed on a particularly funky day, a love song that reads like the musical equivalent of an overexposed piece of 35mm film–grainy, sun-baked, mysterious and rough around the edges–and somehow completely familiar. “Annie”, as good as it is though, is just one of a handful of gems from 2. Check out the album here, and the brand new visuals for the nicotine anthem “Ode to Viceroy” below.


Download: Mac Demarco – “Annie”

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MOMENTS FROM BLACK FRIDAY

Just an ordinary night in Downtown Oakland

The Glory Photos by Max Claus

Sometime between 11 and 1 it dawned on me; a pleasant reality check I suppose. The reality? We’re in it. The journey, the grind, whatever you want to call it, we’re in it now. The montage has begun. The shift was subtle, but important. A realization we’ll all come to at one point or another. The realization was simple. These are the times. Every generation has their chance to leave their mark on the world, but knowing when it’s your time is paramount. We can’t let our moment pass us by.

The foundation of what we’re doing is rooted in people, specifically you and your uniqueness. Thank you for bringing it to our celebrations because you make them what they are. Our goal, to throw the dopest parties our generation knows. To facilitate moments that will live on forever by bringing together all the superstars. One day mothers and fathers will tell their children that they met at a Wine & Bowties party; that they had their first kiss on the dance floor and the rest was history.

To the person reading this right now, thank you for your eyes and attention. Thank you for contributing to what we’re doing. And thank you for being a part of Wine & Bowties. To the young girls going on young ladies who come through looking gorgeous every time. Thank you for being so tight and approachable. You make the parties go.

To the folks who had to deal with dress codes, door hoopla, and power tripping security guards on this one, our sincerest apologies. All that extra stuff isn’t really what we’re about. But it’s what we have to deal with to make these moments happen. Much love to Louis XIII, Hemisphere and Trev Case for playing the jams, and to Max Claus for capturing the moments.

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LITTLE DRAGON – “SUNSHINE” (SHLOHMO REMIX)

Little Dragon

For musicians working behind a computer, MPC, or any other combination of pads and knobs, developing a distinct sound and identity is a make-or-break factor. With the sheer amount of electronic music output in recent years facilitated by sites like SoundCloud, doing just that is an increasingly difficult prospect. Few artists have been as consistent in putting out music full of emotion and personality as L.A. beatmaker Shlohmo. Often utilizing recorded sounds and his own voice, Shlohmo has emerged at the creative forefront of a younger generation of beatmakers including fellow WeDidIt member Ryan Hemsworth and duo Supreme Cuts among countless others. Coming off his remix to Jeremih’s “Fuck You All The Time”, Shlohmo delivers another sensuous slap here with his reworking of “Sunshine”, the latest single from Little Dragon. Yukimi Nagano’s airy vocals pair perfectly with the stuttered hi-hats and reverberating bass, as Shlohmo steadily adds layers of sound before peeling them all away again. With so many blog created labels and subgenres emerging daily, it’s almost comforting to be able to hold on to some ambiguity with this one. I’m guessing this probably sounds just as good in the whip as it does in the bedroom.


Download: Little Dragon- “Sunshine” (Shlohmo Remix)

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EVEN ARTICHOKES HAVE HEARTS

A look into the photographic world of London-based photographer Coral Amiga

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Coral Amiga
Photography By Coral Amiga

In a sense, glancing at Coral Amiga’s photographs offers an escape; a window into a distant life with touches of familiarity. Whimsical yet lasting, Coral’s work manages to encompass a level of mystery within each shot. Who are her subjects and where are they now? Do they talk about the same things we talk about? All questions raised, but left deliberately unanswered by Coral’s ever attentive lens. Recently I had the opportunity to ask Coral about her fascination with capturing moments and the ethos behind her passion for photography. Her response, “I never really knew what I wanted to photograph or why. I would just always carry a camera with me, with the hope that something would inspire me. There was no real pressure or motivation beforehand, but then as soon as something caught my eye there would be this real sense of urgency. An overwhelming feeling that would propel me to take a picture.” With a number of captivating series on her personal site, Even Artichokes Have Hearts serves only as our first introduction to Coral’s work. Stay tuned for what she does next.

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FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Thoughts and perspective on covering the fashion world with journalist Dan Kennedy

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Dan Kennedy
Photography By Tom Lowther

Hectic and exciting are two words that adequately describe Dan Kennedy’s schedule at the moment. This past September he reported on an array of shows at London Fashion week for IDOL Magazine, was featured on GQ.com and has begun building a solid portfolio of interviews from some of fashion’s most exciting personalities. And with the MAN collections showcasing in January and London Fashion Week again in February, things don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon for the young writer.

 

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CAPTAIN MURPHY – DUALITY

A cartoon rap god introduces himself via psychedelic art film

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Captain Murphy

So whoever’s behind this project is having a hell of a lot of fun with it. Having rolled out a handful of top-notch, dusty ass jams over the last few months, Captain Murphy, the mysterious artist represented only by a cartoon character bearing heavy resemblance to Ricky Rozay, has captured the imagination of just about every indie or hip-hop blog out there. So let’s do a quick review of what we know so far. For one, they’ve got some famous friends, at least one of which might actually be “him”: Tyler, Earl, FlyLo, Just Blaze, Madlib, the list goes on. Secondly, they really dig cartoons. Third, the pitch-fucked vocals, as warped as they are, seem pretty damn consistent with Tyler and Earl’s respective flows. At this point, you can probably piece together your own theory, based on all the evidence.

In any case, unraveling the mystery doesn’t quite seem like the point here. All speculation aside, the Captain Murphy campaign just seems like a cool way to present an artist, or maybe more accurately, an idea, or an aesthetic. As far as I can tell, Murphy actually is a cartoon character, voiced by a few familiar faces with big imaginations. Plus, the music’s actually fucking great. Duality accompanies all those excellent songs in epic fashion, a half hour saga-mixtape-episode (viewable below), complete with grainy cult footage, acid trip animations, classic ’80s movie clips, and all different types of other strangely juxtaposed shit–kung fu, graphic sex, even clips from that trippy ass Simpsons episode where Homer gets stuck in 3-D. Whatever it is you want to call it, this is some of the coolest shit I’ve seen all year.

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OAKLAND REBELS

Meet Luke and Daghe, two Oakland natives at the heart of the city's budding renaissance

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It’s 11PM in Oakland. The work day, a not-so-distant memory, has faded as evening turns to night. Yet for some, life and work never separate. I enter Luke’s lakeside apartment mid-conversation, as he and Daghe are discussing the day’s work and the apathy plaguing students at the Oakland schools where they work. Proud products of the Oakland public school system, a sense of pride and reverence for the city emanates from their words and demeanor.

Working as an adult education specialist and a youth mentor respectively, Daghe and Lukas have been tied to building community through positive initiatives for ages. Further realizing those goals through the creation of their respective lifestyle brands, Daghe’s Oakland-based apparel company Cre8tive Class and Luke’s Bay Area Art & Culture publication 38th Notes, there is a compelling sense of kinship between their pursuits: uplifting Oakland by celebrating what makes the city unique.

“How do you go hard at something and have a fun life?” Luke asks mid-conversation. It’s a question that’s plagued many 20-somethings searching for meaning in the “real world”. Yet with a sense of purpose directing their actions every step of the way, it’s not hard to see why so many have gravitated to their respective movements. Touching on the importance of activism, the ethos of their brands, and what makes Oakland so unique, among other things, Luke and Daghe shared a wealth of insight valuable to anyone looking to make a difference.

• • •

Read our full interview with Lukas and Daghe here

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