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.”
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.