Hiv/Aids Prevention Project Targets Young Men Of Color In The East Bay

Oakland Tribune

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.

To combat the problem, EBAC founded the CRUSH Project — Connecting Resources for Urban Sexual Health — to provide sexual health services for high-risk, young East Bay residents who do not have HIV. Funded by a $6 million grant from the California HIV/AIDS Research Program, the project has been operating for more than a year and has roughly 120 participants enrolled. It is tailored to young men of color age 18-29 who have sex with men. This population is not only the greatest at-risk for HIV infection within Alameda County, but it is the most under-reached.
Since the late 1990s, an EBAC program called the Downtown Youth Project has provided sexual health services and counseling for HIV-positive youths, but before CRUSH, none had existed for uninfected young people. As a result, the program is focused not only on providing treatment and services but on studying how best to reach this population and link them to available resources.

Metro Zu’s Lofty305 Plunges Head First Into the Art World with Miami Showing

The Miami New Times

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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)

Wynwood’s Danilo Gonzalez To Name Mural Contest Winner: “I Want a Landmark”

The Miami New Times

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.

wynwoodwarehousemuraledited“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.”

(Click here to read more)

RnBaes: Female Singers On The Rise

Hot New Hip Hop 

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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)

A Neighborhood Reawakens

The East Bay Express

Caffe Nonna on the corner of Bancroft Avenue.

Caffe Nonna on the corner of Bancroft Avenue.

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.

(Click here to read more)

The Party That Never Ends

The East Bay Express

nvr ovr, oakland, somar, the layover, rap, trap, 2 step, hip hop, 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.

(Click here to read more)

CREW LOVE: Save Money C

Hot New Hip Hop
600_1403402516_unnamed_33The 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)

CREW LOVE: Jet Life

Hot New Hip Hop 

600_1401119355_crew_love_tremplate_88In 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)

A Cafe Oasis in Deep East Oakland

cafe, nonna, east oakland, oakland, east bay express, ebx, coffee,

The East Bay Express

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.

(Click here to read more)

Iamsu!’s debut album falls short

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Hot New Hip Hop

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)

the coolest shop in hollywood that you’ve never heard about

 

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Portable

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.

(Click here to read more)

album review: iggy azalea’s ‘the new classic’

iggy azalea, azaleans, the new classic

Respect

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.

(Click here to read more)

brad elterman: the original teenage paparazzo

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Portable

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)

q&a with rapper, fat trel of maybach music group

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Respect

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. LikeSDMGGleesh is chock-full of guest artists with features from fellow Maybach signees Wale,Rockie FreshTracy TStalley, and the man himself, Rick RossTrel’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?

(Click here to read more)

The Best & Worst of Christina Hendricks’ Red Carpet Outfits

christina hendricks, mad men,

Portable

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)

YG’s 15 Best Mixtape Songs

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Respect

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.

(Click here to read more)

The Ballad of Super Niggs

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Brio Pop Magazine

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.”

(Click here to read more)

Time For A Typewriter Renaissance?

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Salon

IT WAS 4 P.M. ON A THURSDAY, two hours until the end of Jesse Banuelos’ workday. He was standing behind the front counter of Berkeley Typewriter, his trademark green apron tied around his waist. A dozen broken typewriters — some electric, but most of them manual – were stacked in a corner on the brown linoleum floor.

Forty years ago, the shop was at the top of its game. But during the ’90s, as computers became more affordable, fewer customers bought typewriters or needed them repaired. Many typewriter stores went out of business. Berkeley Typewriter laid off some staff and managed to remain open by offering services like printer, photocopier and fax repair. Banuelos is the store’s only remaining technician who knows how to fix typewriters. He never learned how to type on a computer and for a time he worried that the typewriter industry would soon disappear.

He was wrong. In the last few years, both typewriter sales and repairs have increased at the store. Berkeley Typewriter experienced an increase in overall sales in 2011, moving about two or three a week. It’s not like the olden days, Banuelos said, but it’s enough.

Most of the typewriters that he sells or takes in are manual machines made between the early 1900s and the 1960s. The dozen or so brands displayed in Banuelos’ front window read like a row of multicolored tombstones: Royal, Remington, Underwood, Smith-Corona, Olivetti, Corona, Adler, Oliver.

(Click here to read more)

Mo’ Buttons, Mo’ Remixes

RJD2 and his inventive, wearable music-making technology.

SF Weekly

music1-rjd2-9b50c819e8b0057a-1RJD2 is a fiddler. Whether it’s music or contraptions, RJD2 — the DJ and producer born Ramble Jon Krohn — has a knack for taking things apart and then putting them back together in an unrecognizable way. Reached at his Philadelphia studio on a recent Wednesday afternoon, he was busy cutting yet another remix of another artist’s song.

Remix offers are common for RJD2, who enjoys tinkering with other artists’ songs when he has the time. Just because he’s offered the chance to remix a song though, doesn’t mean he’ll take it. He won’t “blindly commit to a remix based on who the artist is,” and has been known to turn down remix offers “because I’ve thought the song was perfectly fine in its incarnation and there was nowhere to go with it.”

Remixing a song, he says, is more a matter of deciding what he’ll cut from a song and what he can do with what’s left. “I need to have a path forward,” he says. “I need to feel confident that I can come off well doing my thing on a remix.”

In addition to tinkering with songs, RJD2 is also a big fan of tinkering with contraptions. In 2006, while on tour with Soul Position, his side project with rapper Blueprint, he designed a harness to strap a 20-pound Music Production Center (MPC) sampler/sequencer to his chest so that he could make beats live, while walking around the stage. He called the device “Mo’ Buttons.” “I wanted to take the nerdiness out of the whole dude standing behind a table staring downwards motif,” he says.

(Click here to read more)

Hitsville High

The unlikely music factory at Pinole Valley High School

SF Weekly  (Cover Story)

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The lunch bell rings at Pinole Valley High School, and hordes of teenagers swarm out of squat, rectangular bungalows.

Since the fall of 2013, Pinole Valley’s 1,200 students have been learning out of 83 portable buildings placed on what used to be a baseball diamond next to the school’s track. The old school, a one-story building dating from 1967, was torn down two years ago to make way for a substantially larger replacement, replete with palm tree-lined walkways and enough classrooms to house 400 additional students. The estimated opening date is 2019, which means three classes of Pinole Valley students will spend the entirety of high school at a campus that lacks an auditorium, cafeteria, gym — or buildings in general.

But on this Friday in March, aside from the facts that there are no lockers on campus nor hallways (other than the outdoor paths between bungalows), Pinole Valley could be any other suburban high school in California. In the central eating area — a collection of cement picnic tables partially covered by an awning, the main hang-out area for students — students dine on packed lunches or meals purchased from one of the two cafeteria kiosks. Seagulls hover nearby to swoop up stray bits of food as a delighted senior hugs a plush white teddy bear while telling a gaggle of girls how her boyfriend asked her to the prom.

A combination of pop and hip-hop songs play from a lone speaker connected to a cell phone carted out to the lunch area by the student government — a weekly tradition, Principal Kibby Kleiman says, that has rolled over from the old school.

(Click here to read more)

Flatbush Zombies

Subsisting on allergy medicine, LSD, and Thai food.

SF Weekly 

music2-flatbushzombies-0be981b069fab7c5Somewhere in Chicago is a tour bus containing the three members of the Brooklyn underground hip-hop crew, Flatbush Zombies. It’s been a week since they embarked on a nationwide tour in support of their debut studio album,3001: A Laced Odyssey, and they still have two more months of traveling and playing shows ahead of them.

Despite the cocktail of allergy medications he’s taken, Erick Elliott — the crew’s producer, as well as a vocalist, although all three members of Flatbush Zombies rap — sniffles and coughs in one of the rows. Meechy Darko, Flatbush’s dreadlocked vocalist, who has a penchant for rolling his eyes into the back of his head and hiding his irises from view, stretches out on the floor in the aisle. Meanwhile, Zombie Juice, identifiable by his triangular nose and cascading beard, searches on his phone for the nearest and greatest Thai restaurant.

“In every city we go to, I try to find the best Thai food in town,” he says, listing off pad kee mao and chicken pad thai as favorite dishes. In his opinion, Los Angeles, Denver, and New York have had the best Thai food in the States, and “Amsterdam had some fire, too.”

As far as I can tell, none of the guys is on drugs at the time of our interview — but you never know. The crew’s first official mixtape was called D.R.U.G.S., and Darko and Juice, who met when they were teenagers, have a reputation for experimenting with psychedelic drugs and performing while on acid.

(Click here to read more)

Hieromoji

Why Hieroglyphics — and your other favorite artists — are making their own emoticons.

SF Weekly

music1-hieromoji-d14821d5bed5193cWhat do rapper The Game, girl trio Bleached, and Swedish death metal band Carnage have in common?

Emoji.

To date, almost two dozen artists and bands — including Future, Fetty Wap, Pia Mia, Pop Evil, The Chainsmokers, and DJ Snake — have released customized emoji packs. (An emoji pack, for the record, is different from emoji apps. While Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose have individual apps created for their emojis, most emojis for musicians are downloaded to your keyboard through third-party apps, like Emoji Fame and Moji Keyboard.).

Oakland rapper G-Eazy has his own emoji pack available through Moji Keyboard — including images of him eating a slice of pepperoni pizza, black Chelsea boots, and a mouth with a gold grill — as does former San Francisco resident Lil Dicky (whose most memorable emoji is that of a hairy scrotum with a tattoo on the left nut).

Download Emoji Fame and you’ll find another Bay Area legend with their own emoji pack: the eight man hip-hop crew Hieroglyphics. In December 2015, along with indie rappers Hopsin and Dizzy Wright, Hiero became one of the first musical acts to have custom emojis released through Emoji Fame.

(Click here to read more)

Five Bay Area Summer Camps for Grown-Ups

SF Weekly

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If it weren’t for summer camp, I would have never learned how to make a daisy wreath or shoot a bow and arrow. Both surfing and sewing would be foreign to me, and I’d never have starred in Annie: The Musical either. But all of these things did happen — thanks in large part to my parents, who were too busy to watch my sister and me during the week, and dumped us off at summer camp instead — and I’m better for it.

If you missed out on creating your own fond memories of summer camp as a youth, here’s your chance to make up for it. There are a number of camps geared toward grown-ups hoping to recreate those halcyon days (and an estimated one million adults attend them each year, according to the American Camp Association).

Whether you’re craving a bit of nature, a bite of campfire-roasted s’mores, or a night’s rest in a bunk bed, there are plenty of opportunities around the Bay Area to let your inner kid out this summer. Here are our top five picks. (Click here to read more)

After Years of Busking and Touring, Fantastic Negrito Prepares to Release His First Full-Length Album

SF Weekly

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“It’s a bit far because we’ve got to go all the way to the basement,” says Xavier Dphrepaulezz, as he heads down a carpeted flight of stairs into a downtown Oakland gallery and recording studio. As the 48-year-old, better known as the black-roots musician Fantastic Negrito, turns a corner and leads me down a concrete hallway, he lists his most vital health tips.

“Exercise is good for you, so I’m always walking,” he says. “I don’t drink sodas or eat fast food, either. I’ve got to stay healthy. I’m only two years away from 50.”

We head down a second flight of stairs, and a wave of cool subterranean air washes over us. The dim basement, which smells faintly of dust, is cluttered with building materials, tools, and broken furniture. Not too many people come down here, Dphrepaulezz says, and I can understand why.

Suddenly, he stops in front of an old wooden freight elevator. “So, this is it,” he says. “This is where we were that fateful night.”

He’s referencing the evening over a year-and-a-half ago when he, three other musicians, and their instruments (a guitar, an upright bass, and percussion) squeezed inside of the almost-100-year-old elevator to record “Lost In A Crowd,” the Southern-inspired blues ballad that won NPR’s 2015 Tiny Desk Contest.

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The Yogi and the DJ

Two brothers’ separate paths to music stardom.

SF Weekly (Cover Story)

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On a Sunday evening in April, MC Yogi, a 37-year-old rapper and yoga teacher, bounded across the stage of The Independent, wearing a short-brimmed fedora and his trademark rectangular eyeglasses. It had been a long weekend. Early that morning, he had risen “at the butt crack of dawn” to host a New Age triathlon — a 5K run and a yoga class, followed by a meditation session, hosted by the music and yoga festival Wanderlust — for more than 4,000 people in Golden Gate Park. The day before, he’d done the same in Mexico City, snatching only a few hours’ sleep after his flight landed at SFO on Saturday night.

As images of lotus flowers and OM symbols flashed across a screen behind him, MC Yogi told stories of his childhood in Marin — where he was born Nick Giacomini — and how he met his wife, Amanda, in a yoga-teacher training course 16 years ago — before launching into the first song of the evening: the Indian-inspired electronic dance rap “Clear the Path.”

Throughout the night, he performed selections from all six of his albums, spitting positive, life-affirming messages like “Only love is real,” “Spiritualism above materialism,” and “Swallow your pride and you’ll become whole” over exotic beats. In the packed crowd, fans clad in yoga pants and prayer beads danced and struck a few impromptu yoga poses.

“People said it was like a TED talk on acid,” he said later.

Among the Namaste-ing crowd were a middle-aged couple — MC Yogi’s parents — and their youngest son, a 33-year-old dressed in a hoodie from his own clothing line.

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“Who Do You Love?”

The many ways in which rapper YG has left an indelible footprint on pop culture and why he’s “Still Brazy.”

SF Weekly

music1-4d7ea6acd1496211YG knows how to make headlines.

In 2013, the Compton rapper, born Keenon Jackson, inspired legions of high school students to ditch class and temporarily halted traffic on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles after inviting the public via Instagram to attend the filming of the music video for his song “Left, Right.” Another Instagram open call from the rapper led to an impromptu rally in April, when a rowdy crowd of more than one hundred people arrived for the filming of “Fuck Donald Trump,” a joint track with Crenshaw rapper Nipsey Hussle. (The shoot ended up being shut down by police.) Less than a month later, the Secret Service got in touch with YG’s label Def Jam to peruse the content of his upcoming album, Still Brazy, to see whether there was any other political material in it.

A former member of the Bloods street gang, multiple attempts have been made on his life: He was shot in the groin outside of a recording studio in 2015 — “I’m hard to kill,” he said later — and just last month, another music video shoot in Compton was canceled after it was interrupted by gunfire. (YG was briefly detained by police, who found shell casings at the scene from an AK-47 assault rifle and later declared the shooting “gang-related.”)

The 26-year-old, who will be performing at KMEL’s Summer Jam on Sunday, June 12, is also responsible for inspiring trends. His song “Toot It and Boot It” introduced the phrase into the public lexicon in 2010. (For those over the age of 30, it’s another way of saying “hit it and quit it.”) YG has also popularized swapping the first letters of words with a “b”: You can now buy hats on Etsy and cell phone cases on eBay that say “Bompton,” and the slogan “bickin’ back being bool” was de rigueur in certain circles for most of 2014.

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The Hatching of Dirtybird

The story of how four friends turned a barbecue in Golden Gate Park into a dance music empire.

SF Weekly (Cover story)

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-2-14-59-pmI’m standing in the center of a party bus, clinging to a stripper pole. Deep, molecule-rearranging bass music vomits out of the speakers, drenching the packed bus in hypnotic melodies as it trundles toward our destination.

It’s a crisper-than-expected Saturday afternoon in the middle of August, and I’m about to attend a barbecue. But not just any barbecue: one thrown by Dirtybird, the tech-house collective and label that has become an international phenomenon since its modest beginnings in San Francisco 13 years ago.

The crowd gathered on the eastern edge of Treasure Island is young — in their early 20s to mid-30s — and dressed as if they’re at a Halloween carnival. I see zookeepers and dinosaurs, caped wizards and gray squirrels with inflatable tails. Two girls in white faux-fur coats wander about wearing matching rubber hamburger masks, while a man dressed as Jesus heaves a baseball at a tower of milk jugs. One guy with dreadlocks walks around tapping people on the shoulder and asking, “What’s up, Dirtybird?”

Scattered around the asphalt-covered, palm-tree-dotted space are a variety of white tents housing the party’s essentials: alcohol, merchandise, and barbecue courtesy of the SoMa-based eatery, Cat Head’s BBQ. But the real draw is the stage.

Claude VonStroke, the bearded father of Dirtybird, stands behind the red-and-white checkered DJ booth, his hands hovering over the mixing board, flipping switches and twisting knobs with studied nonchalance. The bulk of attendees are gathered here, their heads bobbing and arms flailing in time with the music, which is a blend of Detroit techno and ghetto house, with a piercing, energetic bassline. Buried beneath the monotonous soundtrack, so deep that it almost sounds subliminal, is a high-pitched voice intoning scandalous words and phrases, like “in the butt” and “dick, dick, dick.” (Click here to read more)

Finding a Place in Homophobic Hip-Hop

Four Bay Area lesbians are rising stars in a genre that has long-shunned LGBT artists.

SF Weekly (Cover story)

screen_shot_2016-11-02_at_10-39-15_am-1It’s an unusually warm Sunday in October, and half a dozen women mill around the Chabot Space and Science Center in East Oakland, in a room designed to look like a Mission Control. Dressed in black latex, metallic fabrics, and colorful wigs, the women pound away on large, clunky keyboards, mouthing silent words into disconnected landline phones and scribbling gibberish into notebooks.

Suddenly, they stop what they’re doing and glance up, their eyes directed to the front of the room, where a 5-foot-4-inch woman stands. Except for her rainbow-tinted cyclops sunglasses, she’s dressed entirely in black and silver, and her short brown hair is woven into tight braids that hug her skull. Even though the silver gleams on her shoulders are actually drainage grates, and the “armor” on her elbows is rollerblading pads, her DIY outfit has done the trick.

JenRo looks like a futuristic astronaut from a faraway planet.

Arms straight at her sides, like a soldier, she clears her throat and begins her monologue: “Planet Earth, do you read me? Straight people, can you hear me? Animals, can you hear me? We’re calling all people, not just lesbians, who want to come to Planet Z. We’re coming back to collect our allies. Do not be afraid. You have not been left behind. You will not be left out of the party. Planet Z is here for you.”

They’re filming a music video for the lead single of JenRo’s album, Planet Z.The song tells the tale of a fictional future in which every nation sends its lesbians to the faraway world. It’s not clear why they’ve chosen to do so, but it’s ostensibly for homophobic reasons. And yet their plans backfire. Planet Z ends up becoming the place to be, where parties go on for days, and everyone has a grand old time. Pretty soon, people of all sexual orientations are boarding spaceships headed for Planet Z, deserting the now-dull Earth en masse. (Click here to read more)

Getting Trippy

Marielle V. Jakobson’s new album, Star Core, will make you feel like you’re on drugs.

SF Weekly

music1-2Last Saturday night at The Lab, roughly 50 people tripped — on music.

Around 10:30 p.m., after a number of failed attempts at setting up the projector, a petite, flaxen-haired woman by the name of Marielle V. Jakobsons took the stage, along with backing bassist Chuck Johnson. Conversations among audience members faded into silence as Jakobsons, robed in a white dress with red stitching, adjusted her position under the lone spotlight. A ray of light beamed from the projector, and psychedelic, abstract patterns fluttered in the background — the result of an instrument Jakobsons built that uses sound vibrations and light to create images in a small pool of water.

Things were already starting to get trippy, and the music hadn’t even started.

Holding a flute to her lips — the same flute that she played in her middle school band class — Jakobsons blew a long single note. Using her laptop to loop and distort it, the 34-year-old waited as the note replayed through the speakers, coated in feedback. Buzzy streaks of synthesizer that sounded like shots from a ray gun peeled through the air, followed by a weightless, tinkling piano melody that sounded like it could defy gravity. And then came the violin: hypnotic and flirtatious, with an exotic bent that could have been culled straight from the 1970s Alejandro Jodorowsky film Holy Mountain.

As blurry swathes of orange, pink, and purple morphed into indecipherable shapes on the screen, the crowd sunk into a stupor. In place of the sounds of whispers, clinking beer bottles, and creaking chairs that once filled the room, now all that could be heard was breathing. Calm, measured, and relaxed inhales and exhales from a room of people who hadn’t ingested drugs but were definitely off in a far away place. (Click here to read more)

The Metamorphosis of a Rapper

How Miami emcee Denzel Curry spent the better part of 2015 working on himself.

SF Weekly

music1-1For most of 2015, mum was the word for Miami rapper Denzel Curry. The 21-year-old emcee kept a low profile, only emerging once in June to release the double EP, 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms. Fans took notice of his absence, wondering what had happened to the ambitious young artist who has been churning out a steady stream of music since the age of 16. Had he retired from the music industry? Or was he taking a break?

The answer: neither. Instead, he was plotting his transformation.

Curry’s decision to tweak his image and sound came after a conversation he had with André 3000 — “my idol,” he says — at an art gallery in the Wynwood District of Miami at the tail end of 2014.

“I knew that if I was going to ask him something, I wasn’t just going to ask for a picture,” Curry says. “I was going to ask him something that was going to change my life, and really, that’s what happened.”

He ended up asking André 3000 a few questions, like “What do you do to stay relevant?” and “What keeps you going?” The former OutKast member’s answers were startlingly simple — “He was like, ‘Just don’t get bored. That’s how you succeed and have fun,’ ” Curry says — but it was enough to jumpstart the younger rapper’s ambitions to modify things in his own life and make the mundane less mundane. (Click here to read more)

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