Thursday, December 23, 2010

LiveWire feat. Mike Shorey - "Say Yeah" Video

LiveWire has been heavy on the underground scene for quite some time now and if you don't keep your ear to the pavement the way I do; just know that LiveWire is something like a big deal.

I've had the good fortune of seeing LiveWire perform live more than once and I can assure you that the name LiveWire is well earned. He's a genuine talent with the perfect combination of skill, ambition and business savvy. Don't believe me? Well, believe his Underground Music Award for "Most Exciting Artist of the Year".  His recently released "No Label" mixtape is making a lot of noise on the underground circuit and it's all thanks to Live's own ability to make it happen. From spearheading his company The Formula, Inc. to film to touring the globe to tearing down stages at a club near you, LiveWire is truly Living Inspiration Via Entertainment.

Check this sultry new video featuring singer/songwriter Mike Shorey. Discover more LiveWire here:

The Baddest Black Man in Outta Space

Check out this incredibly creative project being put together by Che Broadnax. Broadnax is an MC and 3D animator who just successfully completed an ambitious KickStarter fundraiser to help along the completion of this amazing looking art project.

I was introduced to Che's work by another graphic artist I featured here a short while ago by the name of Ken Hill. Needless to say, I'm impressed with Che's work and I'm very much looking forward to hearing and seeing the completed project.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Klippers Barbershop - Elizabeth, NJ

I love people who take their craft seriously. This crossed my radar today and I just had to share it here. I have a friend that lived in Elizabeth but recently moved to West New York. I will be making a stop by this shop the very next time I go visit Jersey Gardens.

It's wonderful to see someone that's been a barber for 15+ years adapt to today's market and sell himself and his establishment in a way unlike any other barber I've seen or heard of anywhere. This was a brilliant idea as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Through The Wire

I generally hate any kind of "sneaker art". This piece earns an exception as this is the work of an artist who happened to do a sneaker piece. Created by wire artist Curtis Anthony, this Converse All-Star rendition is so detailed and interesting that I felt compelled to share it here.


Flipping through the artists gallery I just stared in awe at the level of skill he possesses.  Pieces range in size and shape from life size potted plants to butterflies. Definitely hop over to his site and check out the work.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

LA at Crash Mansion

A short while ago I had the opportunity to check out the 3rd installment of Legend Factory Live. This event is by far one of the best industry showcases I have ever had the pleasure of attending.  Each of the two shows I attended were absolutely brimming with talent from all genres of music. It's is genuinely a total experience.

One particular artist stood out to me at the last show and rather than gush over her talent and energy, I'll let you just experience it the way I did. Check out LA's indie video recently posted from her Twitter page.  This is Hip-Hop!

The L.A. Show- LegendFactory Live from Amanda Chavis on Vimeo.

Monday, November 15, 2010

SoSoon - The Bandwagon is an expression of Hip-Hop as fine art. If this blog had a soundtrack, SoSoon's 'The Bandwagon' would be it. The self proclaimed "Spike Lee of Hip-Hop" has directed a musical film of epic proportions without the convoluted climax scene typical of Spike's work. Nay, this is clear and concise communication set to a truly unique sound tailored to SoSoon's silky smooth delivery and incredible story telling skill.

The 13 track debut album is chock full of "Yo, rewind that!" moments, bangin' beats and top notch lyricism. The album takes you through the club, unhealthy relationships, self reflection and social commentary seamlessly. This isn't just the standard industry fare "1 of each" approach to album making. This is the total expression of a young man discovering himself, his sound and his future. He explains his poor spending habits on "Blowing Money". He tells of his infatuation with a love that wasn't meant to be on "Forbidden Fruit". Of course, he warns would be challengers of his lyrical prowess on the Michael Jackson sampled "Who's Bad?" 

Where this album really takes off and truly separates SoSoon from the pack is on the incredibly insightful and honest "The Underclass". The artist forces you to stop and reflect on the people that keep New York City running over a wonderfully produced track powered by a spacey Rhodes and soupy bass line. It makes me wish I had a record label.  I'd sign this dude immediately after hearing this song. This isn't just the work of a rapper. This is the work of a visionary.
Stream the album below but SUPPORT INDEPENDENT ARTISTS and buy this album! This will be the best money you spend this week. I promise.

Square Off Cypher

Hip-Hop is a culture. As such, there are traditions that are handed down from generation to generation to help promulgate the future of Hip-Hop. One such tradition is the "cypher". The gathering of MCs, usually in a circle, to test each others skill and wit with words. Each participant takes a turn trying to one up his peers with more clever wordplay and rhythmic approach or "flow".

BET put together a bunch of clips for their 2010 awards show featuring a relatively eclectic mix of artists from legendary names like Busta Rhymes and Raekwon to up and comers like Zawcain and Cyhi Da Prince. There was even a fathers and sons version where Ice Cube and sons spit alongside Run and his boys.

Doug E. Fresh and his two young men (Square Off) just released a BET style cypher for the masses and if this was snubbed by BET.....SHAME ON THEM! These boys are dope and when you have Doug E. Fresh beatboxing for you, it's pretty much a wrap. Check the video below and see for yourself...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fev - "Til I'm Dead" Video Premier

In June, I brought you the scoop on the Mile High Music "Flight 115" mixtape release party. Now, I bring you the first official video from the record! Fev has been working extremely hard on this project and the proof is in the product. Be on the lookout for Fev in the very near future right here in a full fledged interview exclusive.

Mile High!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Banksy Takes on The Simpsons

NYOil - "Race Traitor" Video

The beauty of a personal blog is that I have the freedom to do and express whatever I want. I don't have to conform to any corporate ideas, themes or objectives. The only bottom line I have is that I express myself completely. This is one of those instances where I need that freedom. Otherwise, a post like this wouldn't see the light of day. That's an unfortunate truth because there are many who need to know that there are people thinking deeply and critically about our condition and are willing to ACT to affect change.

NYOil is NYC area rapper that takes the same approach with his music. The independent Petroleum Empire Music Group (P.E.M.G.) is the home of NYOil and some of the most socially conscious and lyrically astute music anywhere in the industry. Signed to Babygrande Records in 2009, NYOil released 'Hood Treason'. The double disc set is an incredible collection of rugged and raw rap with a message. A word of caution to the scores of lost souls in our community. Songs like "Y'all Should All Get Lynched" and "What Up My Wigger Wigger" are just as brash as they sound, but the truth is often not easy to digest.

In the same in your face tradition as the afore mentioned tracks, NYOil just released the video for "Race Traitor". Apparently a single from his forthcoming 'Jackin' For Beats' mixtape. This is Hip-Hop for preservation. This is not for the faint of heart, the meek or the scared.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Interview: Self

I remember when Onyx's "Shut 'Em Down" album came out.  I had just graduated high school and I was officially on my own.  I was working full time at a sneaker store on 125th street in Harlem and the now closed Harlem Music Hut was a few doors down from my workplace.  I would go in almost every day to peruse the seemingly endless array of CDs. 

There was a lot of hype for this album as two of the groups members, Fredro and Sticky, had been doing movies more than music.  This was supposed to be the definitive Onyx experience as well as a reminder to fans that they were still some of the illest MCs on the planet.  The hype was spot on and this album IS the definitive Onyx experience.  Classic.  I bought the album on release day and I was blown away by the raw energy captured on this album.  It was signature New York grit when the "shiny suit" era was at it's peak.  It mirrored my life at the time, too.  I was young, black and angry and this was my soundtrack;  loud, aggressive and not to be f****d with.

The title track was produced by Self and I went out to his brand new office/studio in Queens to talk about his experiences in entertainment industry, his community work and his plans for the future. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tiffany Monique Interview

Tiffany Monique.  Remember the name.  1/3rd of Beyonce's background vocalists known affectionately as "The Mamas", this singer/songwriter has traveled the world sharing her talents and is finally stepping out on her own.  We had the opportunity to sit down with her in-studio to talk about the transition from background to foreground.

We're also giving away 3 copies of Tiffany's EP "Nemesis" via Twitter!  Be sure to follow @roxfontaine to find out how you can win.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beyond the Rack

There's a newcomer in the internet private shopping arena and I like it.  If Gilt is still too expensive for you there's a much more reasonable alternative for you at Beyond the Rack.  In the same fashion as Gilt and Ideeli, you register (completely free) to access brand clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings and more at significant discounts from retail prices.  You still need an invite for this one, so click the link above to join instantly.

How significant is significant, you ask?  Gucci eyewear that retails at $299 for $139.  Hugo Boss suits that retail for $895 for $499.  Great deals on high end gear.  Bring it down to brands like Five Four, Levi's, Monarchy etc. and you have get some really good deals.  There's something for everyone as the site carries Men's, Women's and Children's items.

Also like the other sites, you will find most items listed on a limited time basis.  If you don't act quickly on that item you love, you will run out of time or they will run out of stock; whichever comes first.  It's always nice to have options if you dig clothing the way I do.  Beyond the Rack is looking really good so far and I can imagine that it will only get better.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Ultimate "Flaker"

In the sneaker community buying selling and trading happens probably every minute of every day.  Just like in any business, there are people who love to "shop" with no money.  It is a serious offense to say you're going to buy something and then back out of the deal in the sneaker world.  You'll be labeled a "flaker" and people won't want to deal with you.  That wouldn't seem like such a big deal normally.  However, often times the shoes that people are clamoring for are very limited in numbers.  If nobody wants to deal with you, you can end up missing out on limited items or paying significantly higher premiums.

What happens when you take that same idea and upgrade the product to....let's say.....a Bugatti Veyron?

At a recent Barret Jackson auto auction some jackass bid $700,000 on car he could not or would not buy.  When the bidding closed the offender was reported as saying that he didn't actually intend to bid on the car and that he was only trying to "help".  You what!?

This fiasco raises so many questions:

How in the hell do you "accidentally" bid 700 grand?
Why are you schill bidding at one of the most notable auto auctions in the world? 
What the hell is a Veyron doing on the block at Barret Jackson?
Why did this car barely make it to 700,000? 

The CEO of the auto auction stepped up and said he'd purchase the car himself to minimize the embarrassment to the company.  Fortunately, a bidder on the phone stepped in and purchased the car instead.  The "flaker" was quickly escorted off the premises and I'm pretty sure he'll be banned from attending any future auctions.  Serves him right.

I wish I had 700 large to blow on a car.  That's a steal considering this car sells at over a million dollars easily!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hank Willis-Thomas Interview

Hank Willis-Thomas

I was introduced to Mr. Thomas' art back in 2005.  A friend of mine at the time had a blog where he mentioned the artist's work.  I was intrigued by the images he posted and I went to the artist's website to discover more.  It was love at first sight and I've been a fan of Mr. Thomas' works ever since.  Whenever I would have discussions about race relations in America, I would almost always bring up Hank Willis-Thomas.

His Branded series was most resonant for me.  His visual commentary on entities like Nike and the NBA really struck a chord in my intellect and I am continually inspired by his views.  I see this site as an attempt to express Hip-Hop as fine art and Mr. Thomas is doing this successfully whether he intends to or not.  It only made sense to work on finding out a little more about him as a person.

I reached out to Mr. Thomas to bring him to you in his own words and he graciously obliged.  Instead of rehashing the same questions he's answered hundreds of times over in previous interviews, we decided to take a more light-hearted approach.  For more on Hank Willis-Thomas and his incredibly moving art, please visit or search the web for in-depth interviews.  He's a fascinating gentleman.

RF: I managed to catch you out of the country. What are you up to? 

Hank Willis-Thomas: My first solo show in South Africa opened at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town.  So I was there for the installation and opening. I also went to Luanda, Angola to check out the upcoming Triennial.  

RF: I don't imagine that you have a ton of downtime, but what do you enjoy doing when you're not working?  
HWT: I don't think I'm ever not working.  The greatest benefit of being an artist is that even when you're doing the most banal things or procrastinating, you are still working.

 Basketball and Chain

RF: In previous interviews you've stated that you felt you had some limitations in your photography. How has your photography evolved over the last year or 2?  

HWT: I don't really take pictures anymore.  My work has become more conceptual - thinking about how images are used rather than capturing them.

RF: I know you don't watch much TV but I'm certain you're aware of the cultural phenomenon that is The Boondocks. I'm just throwing this out there: I think it would be incredibly cool for you to do collaborative work with Aaron McGruder. I think your work is similar in many ways. You both have a lot to say and very interesting and unique ways of speaking.  

HWT: Sure.  Hook it up!

 Absolut Power

RF: It's always interesting to talk with Black men of varying educational and economic backgrounds about the “N” word. I think too many people focus on the word itself as opposed to the lack of tact when it comes to the words use. What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you use the term?  

HWT: I don't use the "N" word.  I don't know how many ways you can use it tactfully unless you're using it in the context of history or as an insult.  That being said, it does roll off the tongue pretty easily and the term "my nigger" can bring some strange sense of comfort.  
RF: How has the current economic trend affected your work? (In terms of ideas.)  

HWT: I don't think it has.  I have been too busy trying to figure out how we got here that many things of the present moment are still lost on me.  I'm very aware that these economic cycles occur and will continue to occur throughout our lifetime.  I'm more worried about the political ramifications and the greed and selfishness that seems to be re-surging from the "right wing".

 Are You the Right Kind of Woman for It?

RF: Fashion week is coming up in NY. Will you be involved at all? Are you fashion forward or generally disinterested?  

HWT: I'm not in NY so won't be involved.  I think fashion is great but it's not something that I put too much thought into.  Maybe I should...

RF: This is probably the most serious question of this entire interview: Team Blackberry or Team iPhone?

HWT: I think the iPhone is cooler and better for distractions but the Blackberry is more functional for getting messages and communication.  I like the iPhone because it's easier to ignore than the Blackberry.

 The Mandingo of Sandwiches

Images courtesy of the Artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ken Christopher Hill Artworks

Ken Hill is an incredible artist I discovered in 2005.  He happened to live next door to me at the time and we became good friends quickly.  Many nights we spent in the window of his 4th floor apartment drinking beer and peering out at life on Broadway in Washington Heights.

His works use several different mediums including charcoal, watercolor, acrylic and his favorite, pen and ink.  Ken has a great eye for details and his visions capture even the most casual observer.  Never settling for the mundane, his works are sometimes natural, sometimes fanciful and sometimes dark and disturbing.  He never fails to capture the viewers attention whether it be with an idea, technique or use of color.

Three Women


Cascadilla Gorge; Ithaca, New York
 Uterine Dreams

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dreamcloth: The Launch

Startup brand Dreamcloth is looking to place themselves in the elite class of "streetwear" brands.  They aren't just pushing t-shirts either.  They have an impressive line of cut & sew pieces and they even previewed some of their raw denim.  If last nights launch party is any indication of how successful they will be, I'd say they are well on their way.

For me, one of the keys to success is understanding that you can't do it alone.  The team at Dreamcloth is very clear on this and enlisted sponsors Vice magazine, Dime magazine, Fila and others to help support the launch.  Chance 11 in Brooklyn was the choice venue and it's sleek and modern styling and clever lighting was the perfect compliment to the brands image.

DJ Novacaine

Hit up the Dreamcloth website to check out more tees from the Summer 2010 collection and be on the lookout for cut & sew releases in the near future.  You can trust to keep you posted as things develop.  Support independents!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Game Rebellion "Rebel" Video Shoot

The rebels are working on their second music video and we were lucky enough to be at the video recording session at Complete Music Studios in Brooklyn.  Compiling footage for "Rebel", the band treated fans to a mini concert while they worked.  What made it even better was when they had to repeat songs in their entirety so we got a double dose of mosh pit, crowd surfing, confetti cannon, vocal cord stripping goodness.  The 1,200 square foot space was turned into a romper room for a day.
Normally, when I'm out covering an event I just work.  This time, I had to put my camera down for a while and just rock out.  I was in the mosh pit letting loose.  I was on the stage kicking my Afro-Punk Chuck Taylors to the sky.  I was sweating.  I was having a good time.

Check out these photos:





More Photos...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turn It Up Boys 3rd Annual Salute BBQ

Turn It Up Boys and Rose Noire put it down heavy for 914 yesterday at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle.  They couldn't have picked a better place!  Location is everything and this park was the perfect compliment to the energy at the event.  This was their 3rd annual Salute BBQ in memory of the tragedy of September 11th, 2001.

The Triangle Offense (DJ G-Wiz, DJ Astro and DJ Ampz) kept the platters busy and the crowd got to enjoy the last of warm weather overlooking the water. Definitely check them out on Twitter and tune in to Turn It Up Radio, 94.1 FM every Wednesday 8-10 pm.

The turnout was crazy and were it not for the park closing on us, the party would have gone until the early morning.  There was good conversation, good food, cards, dice and the deadliest Nutcrackers you've ever had in your life, courtesy of Louie F. Wavy.  I was supposed to go cover an event in Brooklyn yesterday but after having one of Louie's drinks, it was a wrap.

A heartfelt shoutout to everyone that I met yesterday and a special thank you to the homie Kink B of Turn It Up Boys for the invite.  I had a great time.  Check some of the faces in the crowd below and then jump over to my flickr account for the full set.