IT’S SPRINGTIME IN HOLLYWOOD. The sky is cloudless and blue. Tourists bake in the sun and the Hollywood sign winks from the hills. A low-flying plane poops smoke trails overhead. On the rooftop of a 1920s apartment building, two girls are smoking a joint and listening to music from a cell phone.
“Genius, right?” says the girl with the blue hair, who goes by the name Twiggy Rasta Masta. She has gold-encased teeth and a slight Spanish accent. Brown liner is stenciled around her lips and a gold chain hangs from her neck. The inside of her left wrist reads, “Yeah!”
“So good,” agrees her friend, Bootychaaain. She has short hair, like a boy’s — curly on top, buzzed on the sides. Her nails are teal and over three-inches long, perfect for holding stubby joints.
Busted out the womb, is the Young Daughter, sings the third member of their crew. Heard your ass was thirsty/Need some fuckin’ water. Her voice is wan and she sounds bored. (Click here to read more)
Since the summer, news about the ebola outbreak in West Africa has infiltrated everything from the news to pop culture. The music industry is no exception. Artists have voiced their thoughts and opinions (as well as conspiracy theories) on Twitter and other social media networks and rapper Cam’ron has even started selling “ebola masks” (basically, surgical masks screen-printed with a photo of the rapper in a pink fur hat).
It’s no surprise then that songs have also been written about the disease. According to the website, Rap Genius, as the number of ebola cases has risen, so too has the number of song lyrics mentioning the disease.
In the month of October alone, the website received 23 song submissions (in five different languages) referencing ebola. Both unknowns and big name artists, like Chris Brown, YG, T.I., Childish Gambino and Lupe Fiasco, have woven the word into their songs, rhyming it with everything from “Ricola” and “Range Rover” to “quota” and “Coca Cola.” (Click here to read more)
I’m sitting on the concrete floor of a garage, my back against a pole. To my right, a girl braids auburn weave into another girl’s hair. Three teenagers sit on a couch to my left and a lone teddy bear, clutching a red velvet heart inscribed with “I Love You,” occupies a couch in the corner. The smell of weed permeates the air and a Drake song plays in the distance. Everyone in the room has a drink. Even me.
Deirdre, the woman in charge, is puffing on a blunt when her cellphone rings. It’s her fourth call in less than twelve minutes. “Hello?” she says, passing the blunt to her eldest daughter. Deirdre’s hair is styled in an asymmetrical bob with a solitary blue streak down one side. Her matching sweatsuit set — gray cotton with white detailing — is from the Victoria’s Secret Pink collection and has a rhinestoned labrador retriever emblazoned on the breast.
She gives the caller directions to her location. “The garage is open, honey,” she says. “When you’re here, just come to the garage and I’ll get them ready for you.”
She hangs up as two petite women — one carrying a baby, the other a toddler — enter the garage. Deirdre (whom the Express has agreed to not fully identify) showers them with a barrage of questions. How many do you guys want? You want regular or virgin? What flavors do you want? Y’all been here before? Or is it your first time? The women order two pink lemonades and one virgin blueberry drink. “Got it,” Deirdre says, heading into the house to retrieve the drinks. A few minutes later, she returns with three slushy-like cocktails. (Click here to read more)
Since getting dropped by Universal Music Group this summer, Azealia Bankshas kept herself busy, but not in the way you’d think. Instead of working on new music, she’s practicing her favorite pasttime: attacking people through Twitter. Remember when she deleted her account back in 2013 after starting too much beef? Well, she’s at it, again. Her list of victims has included everyone from Eminem and Angel Haze to A$AP Rocky and Perez Hilton, and her current targets are Iggy Azalea (whom she calls “Igloo”) and T.I. Her volley of attacks last night started when she called out white artists, specifically Iggy, for being silent about current black issues. No doubt her tweets were specifically referencing yesterday’s grand jury verdict on the death of Eric Garner to let the white police officer who killed him using an illegal chokehold off the hook. “Black culture is cool but black issues sure aren’t, huh?” Banks tweeted. She goes on to attack Iggy by referring to her music as “fucking KKK Iggy shit” and waxes poetic about wanting to throw a jar off piss on Iggy’s head.
This is not the first time that Banks has called out white artists for appropriating black culture. In a Pitchfork interviewlast month, she called white female rappers “corny” and “regurgitated.” Last night’s Twitter beef picked up where the interview left off when she mentioned the media’s bias towards Iggy over Nicki Minaj. Just how Minaj got roped into her rant is unclear (and a bit random), but her point in bringing her up seems to be that white performers get preferential treatment from the media over black artists. She ends her rant with a remark about T.I., whom she attacked earlier last month, daring him to respond. And now, the morning after, she’s back on Twitter again, this time attacking a new target: gay men. Banks sure has a lot of time on her hands, huh?
Young men of color who have sex with other men are most at risk for HIV and AIDS and account for more new sexually transmitted infections than any other gay and bisexual subgroup in the East Bay, according to Alta Bates Summit’s East Bay AIDS Center.
Within Alameda County, HIV infection rates are consistently highest for people living in Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro and Hayward.
“This is a really big deal,” said Dr. Jeffrey Burack, co-medical director of East Bay AIDS Center. “It’s particularly worrisome because rates have gone up sharply amongst young people, which really bodes poorly for the future.”
According to the Alameda County Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plan, nearly 70 percent of people with HIV in Alameda County were persons of color as of 2013. From 2010 to 2012, almost two-thirds of new HIV diagnoses were among young people ages 13-29, 87 percent of whom were persons of color. Within that age group, men who have sex with men made up 81 percent of the diagnoses.
Lofty305 woke up at 9:40 a.m. in his Midtown Manhattan apartment. It was a Monday. He brushed his teeth with non-fluoride toothpaste and rinsed his XS afro with coconut oil. He ate two Butterfingers, worked out at the building’s gym, and snacked on hummus. Then he started painting.
He painted a pink portal with two mounds (“ladies boobs”) coming out of it. He painted long tubular tentacles — one wrapped around the body of a naked lady (“healing her”), another squeezing the life out of a blue shark. He painted jet skies and he painted lamps. He painted a “little shepherd dragon” and a ridge of mountains that looked like watermelon slices. (Click here to read more)
In the bowels of Craigslist, buried in the catacombs of ‘Community’ is an ad with a plaintive plea. “WE NEED A MURAL!” its title reads in all caps. “SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DO!” It’s a pithy post, no longer than one sentence, with a photo of a long, single-story warehouse. From its base to its asbestos shingled roof, the building is coated in the same drab grey hue. One half of its awning (also grey) reads, “Warehouse Project;” the other half, “Men’s Corner.” It definitely needs a makeover.
“It’s pretty ugly,” says artist and gallery owner Danilo Gonzalez, who commissioned the ad. The building, a former apparel storage facility, had been abandoned for over five years when Gonzalez signed the lease back in 2012. The surrounding neighborhood was a ghost town and the only nearby business was the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. But Gonzalez had a hunch that things would change. Development in Wynwood, he believed, was to going move west, towards the freeway, not east towards Miami Avenue. “People thought I was crazy.”
In the last few years, a slew of new female artists have flooded the rap game, but the tide appears to be turning. More and more women are emerging as RnB artists, churning out sultry tunes and love ballads, each with their own unique twist. While some of the ladies on this list have a more traditional, classic RnB sound, the bulk of them have made a name for themselves by pushing boundaries and mixing genres. Though they all sing, some of them wail and some of them whisper. Some sing about love, others about death. Many of them rap just as well as they can sing and oftentimes weave bars into their lyrics. Each of these singers has crafted her own unique sound, it’s just a matter now of sharing their sounds with the rest of the world. Take a look at these RnBaes that are on the rise. (Click HERE for the slideshow)
Few people, if any, refer to the crossroads of Bancroft and Fairfax Avenues in East Oakland as the Bancroft-Fairfax Business District—and yet, there’s a sign at the intersection designating it as such. Most people know it by one of its older names, like Antique Row or Antique Alley, even though the last antique shop closed down about two decades ago. Since then, the district has struggled to reinvent itself. In the early 2000’s, hair salons and barbershops were the main industry and the rest of the neighborhood was pocked with empty storefronts.
Fast-forward to today, and these dark ages are but a distant memory. The Bancroft Fairfax Business District is experiencing a comeback as a shopping destination. The economy is thriving and nary a storefront is vacant. In the last year, six new businesses, among them a clothing store, a café, a coffee shop and tattoo parlor, have opened and the neighborhood’s first-ever Merchant’s Watch Association was formed. A skincare salon is slated to open this summer, and plans for a parking lot, fitness center, and multi-unit live/work space are underway. The neighborhood still has a ways to go, but the future is starting to look much brighter.
It’s Saturday night at The Layover and the bar is close to maximum capacity. People of all ages are crammed onto the tiny dance floor, their foreheads glistening with sweat as they shake and bob to the music. A gaggle of girls start twerking in a corner and a young couple lock lips on a couch. Squelchy slap-bass and booming 808s pulse from the speakers as the DJ spins a mélange of trap, rap, dub, and electronica beats. More people filter in. Space becomes even tighter. Bodies collide. Cocktails are spilled. But the party keeps going. Welcome to NVR OVR.
Every fourth Saturday, The Layover hosts one of the most lively parties in Oakland, called, appropriately enough, NVR OVR. The massive dance party attracts a few hundred people every month and often lasts until 2 am. NVR OVR founder Marty Aranaydo (aka DJ Willie Maze) and resident DJs Starter Kit and Neto187 (of Trill Team 6 and Sick Sad World) are known for spinning tracks spanning a variety of genres and eras. Local DJs and musicians such as Antwon, Main Attrakionz, So What, RNB Millionaires, Nanosaur, Pony Loco, and Bobby Peru are regular attendees, and it’s not unusual for them to perform as well. Aranaydo also designs and sells a new NVR OVR T-shirt every month, and up until recently, the ladies of local nail polish company Floss Gloss provided in-house manicures.
Hot New Hip Hop
The Save Money crew is still pretty young to the rap game, but if the successes of members Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa are any indicator (both MCs have appeared on the new XXL Freshmen 2014 cover) it won’t take long for them to become a household name.
The Chicago-based crew of creative, like-minded dudes boasts an eclectic roster of rappers, musicians, artists, producers, directors, and even a trumpet player, many of whom have known each other since they were kids. The crew is so large that we couldn’t list every Save Money member, so we just highlighted the main dudes you should know about for this piece, but there’s no telling which Save Money member will be next to claim the spotlight. (Click HERE for the slideshow)
In 2009, when Curren$y started Jet Life Recordings, there were only two other members to the Jet Life crew: Young Roddy and Trademark da Skydiver. In the five years since, Jet Life has grown like kudzu. They’ve added eight more members, most notably, Fiend, Smoke DZA, and Sir Michael Rocks of The Cool Kids, gone on a national 35 city tour, and churned out three solid Jet Life crew mixtapes. They’ve even made a series of mini documentaries called “Jet Life Chronicles” which, according to their website, are a “vignetted look at the day to day life of Curren$y and the Jets.”
Almost every member of the crew is from New Orleans, if not the South, and they’ve all got love for that mary jane. Jet Life’s laidback, stoner cool is an art form in itself and somehow they manage to keep surprising listeners with new jams that are always perfect soundtracks for lighting up, but never get boring or redundant. In 2013, Curren$y signed the most recent artist and first female to the crew, a trippy, experimental, slightly macabre siren named Mary Gold. Though she can rap, she can do a ton of other things, too, and her sound is starkly different from the mellow flow of her squad, which is what makes her addition to the crew so exciting.
With such a hard-working man-in-charge as Spitta, there’s no telling what we’ll see next from Jet Life. But one thing’s for sure, we can’t wait for their next collaborative mixtape because with so many new and different voices on their roster, it’s sure to take flight. (Click HERE for the slideshow)
The chances of finding a cup of coffee in deep East Oakland — not to mention a sandwich or a pastry to go with it — are relatively slim. The nearest Starbucks or Peet’s is in Alameda or by the airport. So if you’re jonesing for a cup of joe, there’s only one place to go: Caffe Nonna.
On January 25, Sandra Bradford opened Caffe Nonna on the corner of Bancroft and Fairfax avenues, in one of deep East Oakland’s oldest (and perhaps only remaining) commercial districts. Forty years ago, the area was known as “Antique Row” because of its many stores selling furniture, ceramics, and other artifacts from bygone eras, but today, hair salons and barber shops occupy most of the storefronts. There are a few eateries in the area, such as Luis’ Coffee Shop, Westbrook’s BBQ and Seafood, and Taqueria La Nueva, as well as a smattering of other businesses including a Laundromat, dollar store, botánica, auto repair shop, and a liquor store. This has not been a part of Oakland where you’d find turkey pesto panini or spinach salads — until now.
It only took one day for Iamsu!’s debut album, Sincerely Yours, to reach iTunes’ top album charts, a feat which is, quite frankly, surprising. Though the album is not a flop, it’s not a work of artistic genius either. There is nothing about this album that differentiates it from his previous seven albums, and many of the songs on it sound alike. The Richmond rapper’s previous mixtapes, Kilt II and Million Dollar Afro (featuring Problem) easily outshine Sincerely Yours in both depth and ingenuity, and while there are some singles, like “Only That Real”, that are solid bangers, the album on the whole doesn’t leave much of an impression, unfortunately.
The production quality of the album is on point and the cover art is amusing, too. But if fans were expecting something new, or even inventive, from the HBK Gang member, they’re going to be sorely disappointed. Compared to his other works, this album lacks intensity and comes across as glib and hasty. The over-amped club bangers are monotonous and the lyrics do little to make the songs stand out. There are a few wildcard tracks that are sprinkled conveniently at the end of the album, but though the change of pace is refreshing, they don’t mesh cohesively with the rest of the work. (Click here to read more)
In the heart of the nightlife district in Hollywood, amidst a sea of parking lots, there’s a lone two-story house. It’s an old wood-frame structure, surrounded by a spiky black fence and anemic rose bushes, and it has somehow remained standing all these years. From the street, it can be hard to tell just what this structure is because there’s no signage out front. But for those in the know, it’s an offbeat, avant-garde clothing store that sells vintage and handmade pieces. It’s hardly been open a month, and yet the store already has a slew of celebrity, high-profile customers. Kid Cudi and Kristen Stewart shop there, as do Chloe Sevigny and Jaime King.
The Evil Rock’N’Roll Hollywood Cat, as the store is called, was started by a 25-year-old filmmaker named Juju Sorelli, who moved to Los Angeles from Paris over six years ago. Though she got her degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, she had never actually planned on opening her own store. For years, Juju has lived in Hollywood and the big blue house on the corner of Las Palmas and Selma venues had always been somewhat of a mystery to her.
Ever since “Pussy,” Iggy Azalea’s infamous ode to the female sex organ, went viral on YouTube in 2011, fans and haters alike have been clamoring for more from the young artist. But The New Classic, her oft-delayed, debut album, has been a long time coming.
Buzz for The New Classic traces back to December 2011 when the rapper revealed the title of her album during an interview. In early 2012, she hinted at a June release date, but due to record label conflicts, had to postpone the drop until 2013. By June of 2013, The New Classic, though reputedly “almost finished,” had still not been released. She told MTV that it would be out in September, pushed it back to October, and then changed it to March of 2014. In February, she announced a new release date in April, though there were conflicting rumors as to the exact day it would come out. Some heard it would be the 14th, others the 15th, and still others thought maybe the 18th. Finally, after over two and a half years of misinformation and false hype, The New Classic was released on Monday, April 21st.
THROUGHOUT THE SEVENTIES AND EARLY EIGHTIES, Brad Elterman made a name for himself photographing candid, evocative photos of both counter-culture and mainstream icons. He photographed Joan Jett flipping the bird while backstage at the Whiskey and Robert Plant as he kicked a soccer ball in Encino. He shot The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, as well as Alice Cooper and David Bowie. He took photos of Madonna and Michael Jackson, and even Muhammad Ali and Brooke Shields.
Elterman was seemingly everywhere and always at the right time, until the mid-eighties when he simply stopped. The photography industry had changed, as had the music and cultural scene, and Elterman lost interest. After over two decades of keeping a low profile and focusing mainly on his business ventures, Elterman returned to photography in the early 2000s.
Though the people in his photographs have changed, his focus has not. Elterman’s photos are just as raw and edgy as they were in the seventies and his passion for photographing musicians and avant-garde artists remains unchanged. In the last few years, he’s snapped photos of everyone from Mac DeMarco, The 1975, Sky Ferreira, and Tyler The Creator to Jared Leto, Kris Kidd, Sandy Kim, and even Paris Hilton. With his upcoming show at Milk Studios in Chelsea later this month, we thought we’d take a moment to catch up with the prolific culture chronicler and shine a light on some of his most memorable photos from the past 30-something years. (Click here to read more)
SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON APRIL 1ST, DMV rapper Fat Trel dropped his newest mixtape, Gleesh. The eponymously-titled mixtape is Trel’s first release since signing to Maybach Music Grouplast November and a long-awaited one at that. It’s been almost eight months since the Slutty Boyz co-founder released his last mixtape, SDMG, and fans waited with bated breath to see what the Maybach rookie would come up with next. And Gleesh—thank the rap gods—does not disappoint. Trel still sounds like Trel, despite his upgrade from unsigned to signed artist. He still reps his hometown of D.C. and his love for the ladies hasn’t diminished in the least. LikeSDMG, Gleesh is chock-full of guest artists with features from fellow Maybach signees Wale,Rockie Fresh, Tracy T, Stalley, and the man himself, Rick Ross. Trel’s iconic rough-around-the-edges, trunk rattling sound is still preserved in Gleesh, just with a little more polish and a little more pizzazz. Perhaps the The Washington City Paper put it best when they said, “Gleesh is like a new, upgraded model of the same vehicle.” RESPECT. talked with Fat Trel about the making of his latest mixtape and his relationships with fellow MMG artists. Read on below.
RESPECT.: Your newest mixtape, Gleesh, dropped yesterday. Have you gotten any feedback from fans or know how many times it’s been downloaded yet?
Fat Trel: I haven’t checked the stats recently. We dropped it at 11:35, so at about 12:35, we had 42,000. But other than that, I really ain’t too caught up on the stats, you know? I know my peoples was waiting. I know my fans was waiting. I know they wanted it, so I ain’t really caught up on the stats. We just gave the people what they wanted, you know?
WHEN ACTRESS CHRISTINA HENDRICKS first started attending red carpet events, finding something to wear was a challenge. “Not one designer [would] loan me a dress,” she told Scottland’s Daily Record in 2010. But it wasn’t personal, said the designers. They just didn’t have anything bigger than a size two.
Over the years, Hendricks, who plays Joan Holloway in Mad Men, has learned how to navigate an industry that favors bones over bust. Instead of hiding her size 14 figure, she wears tailored, form-flattering pieces that cinch her waist and hug her curves. She prefers bright, loud colors, plunging necklines and has a weakness for the flashy and ornate. She’s worn outfits adorned with feathers, tassels, leather, sequins and ruffles, as well as Swarvoski crystals and decorative flowers as large as her head. Sometimes her red carpet ensembles are a hit and sometimes they’re an epic miss.
With the 7th season of Mad Men around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at some of her most memorable past red carpet ensembles.
(Click on the link to view the slideshow)
MARCH IS A BIG MONTH FOR YG.
A few days ago, he turned 24. Next week, a documentary filmabout his life will be released on Complex. And in a few days, his debut studio album, My Krazy Life, will drop. There’s been a lot of hype about the Southern Californian’s upcoming album, which features previously released tracks (“My Nigga,” “Who Do You Love?” and “Left, Right”), as well as new music. But, before we get all excited about what’s to come, let’s take a moment to reflect on and appreciate the emcee’s previous work.
YG may be young, but he sure is prolific. From 2008 to 2013, the Compton native, who used to use his bedroom as his “studio,” released five mixtapes: 4 Fingaz, The Real 4 Fingaz, Just Re’d Up, 4 Hunnid Degreez, and Just Re’d Up 2. In other words, his 2009 hit “Toot It and Boot It” might have been his ticket to fame, but it’s hardly his only banger. Listening to all five of his mixtapes in succession is an experience in itself. Sure, not all of his early songs are genius and, yes, many of them tend to focus on the same subjects (women, sex, money, etc.), but that’s what makes listening to his old mixtapes so fun. You can literally hear YG mature and improve from tape to tape. All artists must go through a learning phase wherein they perfect their skills and better hone their craft and, luckily for us, YG just happened to put it all online (and for free, too).
In a few days, My Krazy Life will drop and we at RESPECT. have no doubts that it’ll be a banger. But, before we usher in his new collection of music, let’s give a shout out to the best of the best of YG’s earlier work.
LINWOOD YOUNG GREW UP IN A TINY, RURAL TOWN in the heart of Maryland. He lived there with his mother and two brothers in a trailer connected to his grandmother’s trailer next-door. Neighbors were scarce, but of trees and poisonous snakes there were plenty. For fun, he played in the woods and listened to rap and hip-hop music. In fact, that’s pretty much all young Linwood listened to until the fateful day when the antennae on his radio snapped off.
Static engulfed the airwaves, obliterating transmission of every nearby station except one: a brand new Top 40’s station that played everything but rap and hip-hop. Now, since this was the ‘90s, poor Linwood had little recourse other than the radio. There was no Pandora or Spotify, YouTube or Soundcloud. His only alternative was a tape (yes, a tape) from his older brother that featured tracks from Grammy nominees in 1996, so he gave it a listen. And, as he says, his “head cracked open.”
For the first time in his young life, Linwood heard music the likes of which he’d never heard before. He listened to Hootie and The Blowfish and Joan Osborne, Alannis Morrisette and Seal. “It was like a gift from the heavens or something,” he says. “I quickly fell in love with it.”