Phillip Pessar‘s Flickr stream reads like a love letter to Miami. In roughly 9,600 photos, it tells the story of South Florida’s ever-changing architectural landscape.
The photos are simple — many of them head-on shots of old department stores, abandoned burger joints, historic hotels, and bulldozed office buildings. There are no fancy editing tricks or filters, just straightforward photography. Every day, almost without fail, new pictures are added. And all consist of the same thing: images of Miami and South Florida architecture in various stages of decay, disarray, remodeling, or rebuilding.
Though Pessar’s photographs might be unremarkable, he has found a niche cataloging the mundane and quotidian: a bankrupt Radio Shack location, a Wet Seal store going out of business, an Airstream trailer outfitted into a food truck. (Click here to read more)
At a Denny’s on Wilshire Boulevard, four of the six members of Goth Money wait eagerly for their first meal of they day. Even though it’s two o’clock in the afternoon, they all order breakfast plates. Unfortunately, the cook is behind on his orders; their food won’t be out for another 45 minutes. To pass the time, they twiddle with their cell phones, watch March Madness, and check their social media fan mail.
“We get a lot of mail,” said MFK Marcy Mane, the group’s lead producer and sole City of Angels resident. “Shit is crazy.”
He reads a Tumblr message from a fan in Houston, begging the crew to visit the Space City before he leaves for the Navy, and a plea from a fan who wants to tour with them. “‘Let me travel with y’all and take photographs of your shows and make beats with y’all,’” MFK Marcy Mane reads aloud. “‘Please, I don’t like school.’”
“Stay in school,” says Kane Grocerys, one of the group’s rappers.
“Please, stay in school,” echoes another Goth Money rapper, LuckaLeannn.
“All these 12-year-old rappers,” MFK Marcy Mane murmurs.
The Australian band Step Panther arrived in Fullerton a few hours before their show at The Continental Room, so they decided to head to Costco. “We thought maybe they had guns there,” explained singer Stephen Bourke. “Yeah, we just wanted to see some guns,” the guitarist, Zach Stephenson added.
They’d flown in from a city “near Sydney” a few days earlier and were staying in an Air Bnb in Los Angeles. So far, they’d visited Santa Monica and Venice beaches and, of course, Hollywood. It was their first visit to the City of Angeles, let alone the West Coast, and it kind of reminded them of a mash-up of Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, “just with more freeways and wider roads,” said Bourke.
Earlier that day, they’d gone shopping for guitars because they hadn’t brought their own. They had tourist visas, not performance visas, explained Bourke, and they were scared of tipping the government off to the fact that they were actually touring the U.S.
Bourke: “We just heard a lot of bad stories from other Australian bands warning us to not bring anything…. I guess it sounds stupid now.”
Stephenson: “Yeah, it sounds ridiculous.”
Bourke: “We should have brought them.”
“Yeah, I’m walking around in my underpants, trying to figure out what jeans I’m going to wear,” says the 36-year-old musician, also known as Dave 1, who makes up half of the band Chromeo. “I’m pacing around. I’ve got my socks on, my underpants on, and I’m like half groomed and half not.”
He’s on his way to the studio and he’d probably be listening to Chief Keef or Nicki Minaj’s “Truffle Butter” if we weren’t talking right now. “I listen to the same shit as everybody else,” he says. “I also drink water and sleep.”
The fact that Macklovitch listens to hip-hop is both surprising and not. For more than a decade, he and his Chromeo partner, Patrick Gemayel, have been making ultra-funk dance jams that are heavily saturated with synthesizers and reminiscent of the ’80s. And yet, when the duo first started making music in the early ’90s, hip-hop was what they listened to — so hip-hop was what they made. “I grew up with hip-hop,” says Macklovitch, who met Gemayel at a private school in Montreal. “Hip-hop was really a vehicle for us to discover music.” (Click here to read more)
On a dead end street bordering the Hollywood Freeway, Mani Coolin’ sits on a stool in a makeshift home recording studio. His dad is here, as well as his producer, Jay Kurzweil, who owns the studio and lives in the adjoining apartment. A hazy, piano-laced beat emanates from the speakers and a muted kung fu movie plays on one of the computer screens. They’re listening to un-mastered tracks from Mani’s upcoming album, Hope4TheYouth. For the last two months, Mani and J. Kurzweil have spent days on end sitting in the foam-padded studio mixing the album’s songs.
“It’s the worst part,” the 21-year-old rapper says. “It’s just sitting here listening to a song over and over until we get it right.”
For the most part, the mixing process is done. In a few days, the songs will be sent to an engineer for mastering and on March 12, the album will drop.
“The whole time I was plotting for this right here,” Mani says, whose real name is Demani Brown. He glances at his iPhone, which has a promotional “#Hope” sticker plastered on the back, to check the time. In a half-hour, his dad will drive them to a soundstage in North Hollywood so that Mani can practice for his performance at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami on Feb. 28. (Click here to read more)
We may live in an age of digital and e-books, but don’t let that fool you. Print is still alive in the City of Angels from Inglewood to Eagle Rock. The stores that made our list were chosen based on a number of criteria, like collection size, pricing, ambiance and orderliness (and extra points were awarded for establishments with a store dog or cat). We searched and high low for the best of the best, so chuck your Kindle and use our list to help you locate the bookstore nearest you. As always, leave your own favorites in the comments.
Friends Book Shop
Of all the used bookstores on this list, none have greater deals or a greater selection than the Friends Book Shop. Located inside the Beverly Hills Public Library, this used bookstore (which is the only bookstore in Beverly Hills, aside from Taschen on Beverly Drive) has a wide variety of books, from fiction, art, and children’s to classics, first editions, and signed copies. It’s been around since 1991 and is run and operated by the Friends of The Beverly Hills Public Library, a garrulous, friendly bunch of senior citizens who are eager to chat about books and help you find whatever you are looking for. Their collection is built from donations to the library and their prices are jaw-droppingly low. They’ve got both a $1 rack and a 25-cent rack, and the bulk of their books cost between $3 and $4. Their specialties are cookbooks, paperback mysteries and coffee table-sized art books. In addition to books, they sell audio books, DVDs and current magazines.
Friends Book Shop is located in the Beverly Hills Public Library at 444 North Rexford Drive in Beverly Hills, (310) 288-2271.
If you follow internet rap, then chances are you’ve heard something from Miami’s latest underground phonk rapper, N3ll. Though he’s been making music since 2008, word has only started getting out about the young MC these past few years.
His 2014 mixtape, Boyz N the Hood, was a SoundCloud sensation, with featured songs by Miami’s current golden boy, Denzel Curry. Last week, he dropped his newest mixtape, The Screw Tape, a hazy, ’90s mashup with features by Amber London and Twelve’len.
Crossfade got a chance to interview the burgeoning artist about his musical origins and future plans. Who is N3ll? we wondered. Where did he come from? How did he get into into rap, and where is he going with it? Read the interview to find out.
New Times: What is your real name?
How old are you?
I’m 20. I’m about to be 21 at the end of this month.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the heart of Miami, Carol City, where everything goes down. I’ve actually been in this area since I was born. You know, I’ve never been anywhere other than Miami unless I was traveling for music or something. This is where I’ve lived my whole life. (Click here to read more)
“Don’t screw this up,” Jay-Z joked when he bumped into Angela Yee ’97 in the hallway. She laughed—she’d known Jay-Z for years and was used to his quips—but still, he was right. Oh man, she remembers thinking, the pressure is really on now.
It had been a little over two months since she started co-hosting a morning show at Sirius Satellite Radio and they still hadn’t hired her. Because she’d never worked in radio before, they put her on a trial period with no pay and no guarantee of getting the job. For the next few weeks, she worked diligently to prove herself by arriving early at the station and leaving late. She worked on slowing down her speech and making the inflection of her voice less monotone. She expunged words like “um” and “like” from her vocabulary. She watched popular television shows so that she could talk about them on the air and started a daily habit of reading gossip and news websites. She went to sleep early. She stopped socializing. “Every fiber of my being was dedicated to getting the job,” she recalls.
She told all of this to Jay-Z as they walked to the studio on that Wednesday morning in February of 2005. As luck would have it, the day was also a holiday: the Chinese New Year. That evening, Yee, who is half-Chinese, would be celebrating with her family over dinner, but first she had a show to do. (Click here to read more)
It’s been a tumultuous three years for singer-songwriter Kat Dahlia.
In 2012, the fledgling recording artist and former waitress signed a recording contract with Epic Records. A year later, she released her first single, the piano-laced hit “Gangsta,” which ranked 47th on Billboard‘s Hop R&B Songs of 2013 list and has garnered more than 15 million views on YouTube so far.
Two summers ago, Dahlia got pulled over for a DUI, but that hardly affected her career. In 2014, Complex ranked her debut album as the year’s 46th most anticipated album while she made plans for her first national tour.
But then things went south. She couldn’t hit her notes. Something was wrong with her voice. She had a cyst on her vocal chord, it turned out, and her singing career, she learned, was in jeopardy. Her tour was cancelled. Her album was put on hold. For 10 days straight, she couldn’t speak a word. She stopped socializing and became a hermit. She even changed her phone number. It took six months for her to fully recover, but by the end of 2014, she was back in the studio. She wrote some new songs. She went on tour. And most importantly, she finally finished her album. (Click here to read more)
Sometimes, it takes a disaster to instigate change. In this case, it was undelivered packages.
By 2009, Life in Color (then called Dayglow) was picking up momentum. What had started two years earlier as a paint-throwing EDM party for college students in Tallahassee was now touring all over Florida.
More than a thousand people attended each event and upwards of 600 bottles of paint were used every night. Fans in other states clamored for a national tour; some, an international tour.
Business was so good that some of the party’s co-founders dropped out of college during their senior year to pursue the project as a full-time job.
A new movement had begun. Getting squirted, shot, and soaked with paint was what the people wanted and LIC was there to give it to them.
But on one particular day, a few hours before a Gainesville show, the party throwers encountered a problem: they had no paint. The packages containing their order were late. They were screwed. (Click here to read more)
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)