Artist Lookbook 201
Featured photographer: Nican Robinson
Film photographer: Oscar Santos
Random Abiladeze Fashion Line:
Chan.nel Karama Ltd Fashion promotion: Minh Tran
©Akbar Media 2011—Grey Akbar
This henceforth will be the first full featured artist issue of Veuxdo Magazine.
Your lookbook, if you will, for 2011.
All of these artists have roots in the San Francisco Bay Area,
and are people Iâ€™ve the pleasure of knowing, learning, and growing, both with and from.
An artist, to me, is one who creates, who produces, who teaches, who learns, who is in tune with, one way or another, the world that surrounds them, and makes efforts to understand their own relationship both with their surroundings, and with themself. An artist is aware. An artist has a very specific actualization of self that is both entirely unique and esoteric. An artist makes to make sense.
These are verbal and visual portraits of the works of 7 such artists; portraits of what being an artist means to them.
Peace & Light, Akbar
Veuxdo | 10
Veuxdo | 11
“ I wanted to buy a camera and teach myself how to take good pictures. The idea literally popped into my head out of nowhere. My father went to his closet, and pulled out a Nikon d50 that he never used. From that evening on, I have been shooting ever since.” AKBAR: Who is Nican Robinson?
NICAN: I’d sum this up as a pretty modest dude who does extraordinary things. There are no limits to what extraordinary things are. And I down play them all. Being able to accomplish whatever I would like, knowing that eventually the powers of the universe will allow me to accomplish goal after goal.
I am a fun-loving person who will make a situation out of nothing and turn it positive for everyone to enjoy. If a party is dead, I’m dancing anyway. A: Good dude. I think you mentioned you studied Accounting in school?
N: I did! And I have since found out that I do not need to be in the industry in order to but my accounting background to use. As a matter of fact, I use it everyday since this is such a self-driven profession; I have to stay on top of my finances. I graduated with a degree focused in accounting, but had fallen in love with Photography after discovering it 2 years ago.
Veuxdo | 12
Very interesting story: Two years ago I was sitting at home with my father. At around 9pm I suddenly began to talk with him about how I wanted to buy a camera and teach myself how to take good pictures. The idea literally popped into my head out of nowhere. After I finished my story, my father got up from his seat, went to his closet, and pulled out a Nikon d50 that he never used. From that evening on, I have been shooting ever since. A: If only it was that easy when I was looking for a camera. Ha. So it’s Team Nikon, then? I’m seeing more and more young people on Team Canon as of late, it’s a little disheartening as a Nikon user.
N: For me it’s Team Nikon… at the moment. Both provide something different. I just haven’t dug into what Canon has to offer yet. A: Okay. So explain to me this beautiful “Perspectives” project you’ve got going, that we’re featuring here. N: It developed over time. I have a thing for black and white images.
They are so strong. So imagine an extremely contrasted image, with two colors: Black, and white. In our American culture, these colors are always at odds, always pitted against each other leading to destruction. But to me, they are colors of beauty and strength. Now, place a subject in there; a person for instance. A beautiful figure that is stripped of everything restricting; clothes for example. The person now has the freedom to tell a story using their body as their storyboard, and what they do invokes a feeling of strength into the observer of the piece. This is what I try to convey in each image.
N: I remember that as well, and it still stands!
A: I think it’s quite extraordinary. Of course I’m partial to grey. Ha, just kidding. Your images are so strong, so beautiful. I remember in our first meeting, you talked about the insignificance of eyes and eyelights in your photography, at least in the Perspectives set. With so many people focused on eyes in portraiture, what is your thinking behind that?
N: I am! At my core I feel I am an artist and have an eye for inner beauty in things. Right now, its inner beauty in people.
While eyes are important, this particular set focuses on the body, as mentioned before. Bodies come in all shapes, sizes, shades, tones, so on and so forth. These bodies are all one color, black. My goal was to allow the viewer to not focus on anything but the body; to admire the body as a work of art and for the body to tell a story. A: This set is indeed quite successful in focusing on bodyscapes and communication through the human body. Are you interested in getting into any other type of photography?
I feel presently that beauty is most associated with fashion, and I am making strides in following that path. I have actually begun to take a keen liking to fashion, clothes, colors, and trends. I am new to it, but I am making strides.
“So, imagine two colors: Black, and white. In our American culture, these colors are always at odds, always pitted against each other leading to destruction. But to me, they are colors of beauty and strength. “ Veuxdo | 13
Veuxdo | 14
A: What’s the most important thing to you, in photography?
N: The connection with the model. Not the lighting, not the composition (which very important, but not pressing). The model is your interest. Your subject is the reason for the shoot. Whether it’s a person, a tree, a garment, a fruit, a connection with them is necessary. That’s what great photos are made of: feeling and connection with the subject. A: If you could shoot anywhere with anyone; who, what, where, when, and why would it be?
N: Right now, I don’t even have an answer for that right now. I’m still learning of names of the greats! You know what, if I could work with Richard Avedon (rest in peace), or even Steven Meisel for a shoot, that would be a dream of mine. They are amazing...
Veuxdo | 15
Veuxdo | 17
A: Yes! They both take crazy amazing photos. I know Avedon shot film. Have you ever considered shooting with film? N: Funny you mention that. Since I started with digital, I felt it necessary and important for me to learn film since digital is based upon what film provided. I like film better than digital.
I like to believe that I preserving the historical value of film, and hopefully shooting exactly like the greats of the past. I currently own a Pentax 67 medium format camera, and use it on shoots for my personal collection. I shoot in between digital exposures. Thereâ€™s nothing like the sound of the shutter on a film camera.
Veuxdo | 18
Veuxdo | 20
I also take more pride in my film because it forces me to think and frame with precision. A: Do you have any other artists you gain inspiration from? N: There are quite a few. My father, Sam Robinson, first and foremost. He is a creatively gifted person in that he has created a space for me to dream and turn those dreams into reality. That is true art. Others include Steven Meisel, Thierry La Goues, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Steven Klein, Patrick Demarchelier, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Henri CartierBresson, Nana Kofi Nti, Kola Shobo, Demondre Ward. All photographers, but all brilliant.
A: What purpose do you think art serves? N: Wow. Such a deep question with a broad answer.
Veuxdo | 21
Well, art rules the world. Art is the backbone of why we eat, sleep, and breathe. It is the key factor in why we as human beings relate, collaborate, and speak with each other. When I speak of art, I donâ€™t necessarily speak of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, so on and so forth. I speak of what people are good at, passionate about, how people live their lives. Everything is art to me, an that is purpose that art serves. Everything and every purpose. To be able to sit down at a table and negotiate a business deal is art. Whenever the President gives a speech, that is art, because he is able to sway people one way or another with precision. Painting a picture of either unity or disarray. Everything is art, therefore art runs the world. A: It certainly does. Alright, tell the people where we can see more of your work.
N: Oh man...there are several places. Iâ€™m all
Veuxdo | 22
Veuxdo | 23
“When I speak of art, I don’t necessarily speak of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, so on and so forth. I speak of what people are good at, passionate about, how people live their lives.”
Veuxdo | 24
Veuxdo | 25
over the place right now with a site for different things.
There’s my website (nicanrobinson.com) and my other website (nicanrobinson. carbonmade.com). Both are up and running. There’s FLICKR (flickr.com/nicanr) that has lots of miscellaneous stuff. There’s my blog (thee-exhale.blogspot) where I put projects or random shoots that have been done. Lastly, there is my facebook page (Nican Robinson). I also have an email address for those interested in working with me. I can be reached at email@example.com. I respond quickly...haha. Seriously though, I do.
Veuxdo | 27
Veuxdo | 30
Veuxdo | 31
“Whether it’s the expression of a toddler’s face on the bus observing 3 drunk winos fighting over a can of 211 or the dramatic moment of a self portrait of me having sex with a foreign chick at the movie theater, at the end of the day, it’s my life & my world being presented in my photographic memoir.”
Oscar Santos is a film photographer out of San Francisco, CA. I had the pleasure of meeting this young gentleman when I modeled at a FreedMinds photoshoot. This man is kind, intelligent, and good sense of style (he complimented me on my swag). AKBAR: Who is Oscar?
OSCAR: Peace. I’m a 24 year old Mexican toilet seat. I like run with the FreedMinds crew, a lifestyle brand ran by Kumasi Sadiki & a bunch of rowdy motherfuckers. Pardon my lack of funnies, for real. I just got back from London & I’m trying to get back to my usual sleep routine. It was my first time in England & I had a fuckin’
Veuxdo | 32
piss throughout the whole trip. I remember one night, I was hanging out with Fabio (Bape) & George (BBC) at the Sneakerpedia premier event in East London. I was zoooooted. Weed sucks there but the Moroccan hash took my heart & my mind to Everest… but anyways, I got white girl wasted and DJ Clark Kent slapped some Lil’ B. I just started cookin’...& fuck... I WAS THE ONLY ONE COOKIN’! Everyone was looking at me and I had a couple of girls doing it too, but the God had to hate on me and shout out on the mic “Their ain’t no pretty boys in this bitch... FUCK THAT!” and I was just flushed with embarrassment. shouted out, “FUCK THAT, GOD!” hahah aww man...
A: LMAO. Hunned. It’s okay, I’d a Master Chef’d with you for a little. Probably. Okay now that we know exactly everything that constitutes an Oscar Santos— Why do you take pictures? O: I believe that photography is a way of introducing the world to a broader frame of higher critical thinking. Like, there is 1,000 words & stories that one picture can give us. They possess the power to shock and to idealize. Pictures act as a memorial, as evidence, & they can identify us humans. As... well... us.
A: Glad to see that your thoughts are separate from your based affiliations. Okay sorry, I’m playing. So, why do you shoot film in today’s world of digital everything?
O: I only fuck with film. I fucks with digital, but then, you don’t receive same feel of surprise you get when you finally process them. Once I’ve processed them, I get to see my story. Some shots just don’t come up & I see those shots as pictures that weren’t meant to be. A: That has to be one of my main frustrations/joys with film. I dig your pacifist approach. Do you have a favourite subject matter? Type of lighting? Type of shot in general? O: I consider myself a contemporary street photographer. I’m no Ron Galella, but just like him, I catch the living just how WeeGee caught the dead. I was born and raised in San Francisco
“Pictures act as a memorial, as evidence, & they can identify us humans. As... well... us.” Veuxdo | 33
Veuxdo | 34
Veuxdo | 35
Veuxdo | 36
Veuxdo | 37
& I’ve seen the city change a lot. I try to catch what I used to see when I was 7 years old, and present it as a present state of my life. Whether it’s the expression of a toddler’s face on the bus observing 3 drunk winos fighting over a can of 211 or the dramatic moment of a self portrait of me having sex with a foreign chick at the movie theater, at the end of the day, it’s my life & my world being presented in my photographic memoir. A: Movie theater portrait.
…You mentioned Ron Galella, do you have any favourite photographers, old or new?
O: The old heads? I enjoy Garry Winogrand, Elliott Erwitt, Helen Levitt, & Henri Bresson. All of them had their own style of street photography. Garry’s point of view on women. Elliott’s humor on photography. Helen catching the innocence in the lives of children in the streets. And Henri, with his amazing avant-garde moments, angles… his point of view in life in general is so fucking dope. Those are just some of the ones I can think of, but as far as new guys who aren’t as established as the great, yet, great still I would say... Ari Marcopoulus, Alexander Bartsch, Dennis
Veuxdo | 38
McGrath, Massan, & Kamal Smith. Google them. A: Speaking of google, swag me up. I mean, where can we find your work, on the interweb? O: You can catch my shit at www.thefreedminds.com with the other guys, or you can also catch my other work at http://allworknopay.tumblr.com and on www.menginspired.com, which is my best friends page. Check that out. A: Anything else?
O: Champers & weed. Peace to the Gods.
Veuxdo | 39
Veuxdo | 40
Veuxdo | 41
Veuxdo | 42
Veuxdo | 43
Veuxdo | 46
Veuxdo | 47
“...for me, art has social intent and intangible value, and is the purest and simplest knowledge.” AKBAR: Who is Karla?
KARLA: 23, drawing, painting, digital art, photography, classical guitar, dancing, writing. I’m oddly obsessed with the Power Rangers, something about super heroes in all colors of the rainbow really gets me going. Now, if they were all queer and it was a sitcom on Showtime or HBO, then I’d really really be into it and it would be ok at my age. I’d be the pink ranger, duh. A: Haha dooope. I think by default, I’d have to be the yellow ranger. Or the black one. It’s up for debate among some circles. Okay anyways back to you. Of all things to possibly do in life, why do art? K: Speaking about art has always felt forced. But, since, you know, language is an important part of successful civilizations, I’ll go ahead and explain my thoughts on it in the following manner: Artistic expression for me has always been the answer when numbers, words, or nature can’t supply an explanation to an idea. I truly believe that it is in everyone’s nature to express the inexpressible but sadly only a few of us decide to pursue
Veuxdo | 48
or fight for that expression. Art comes in many forms and sometimes that form is genuine, and sometimes that form may be without specific intent. The beauty of this concept, which we all argue as “art,” is that it remains subjective and valid only in the eye of the beholder. But for me, art has social intent and intangible value, and is the purest and simplest knowledge. Art keeps me believing that I have a one of a kind perspective on our world and therefore helps me appreciate both my existence and everyone’s. Well not everyone’s... A: Karla, I can tell you that IIII know you certainly do have a one of a kind perspective on our world, and it’s dope and pure. That is fact. On that note, what purpose do you think art serves? K: I think my answer to this will be very much similar to my answer for why I make art so please bear with me if I seem redundant. I think we’re very much living in the future right now, we’re at a point where we can pretty much say we’ve seen everything right? Well no, not really, not everyone out there gets a chance to express themselves
or gets to expose their opinions and influence others... but I do think we’re at a point where we can look back and really question what we should call the human race’s achievements. Many consider commercial art, digital art, or naive art just as valid as classically trained art. Many consider classically trained art outdated and irrelevant. Some people consider graffiti as art and others say it falls under another category. A graphic designer could easily argue the structure of the letter ‘a’ is art while a painter would argue that the concept and brush work behind a painting is art more than the structure of a letter. Ideally, I’d say art has to have an element of social intent, an element of pleasing aesthetics, and other elements like readability, ambiguity, and shock. Art should also ask a question that in turn has a variety of answers. I only consider myself an artist because I’m willing to put myself in the position of the outcast that cares to leave an impression in the world and in turn is willing to be judged for it.
A: I commend you for your beautifully thought out answers. This subjectivity you’re talking about has to be one of the concepts I’m most aware of that permeates every most every aspect of debatable life, and art is a perfect example of it. Now about this willingness to be judged, tell me about how you like doing live art? Do you like it?
K: Ultimately, being creative in any form sure beats sitting in an office responding to e-mails, stuffing envelopes with letters written by someone else, or answering a phone with the same greeting over and over. That’s why I’ve learned to find enjoyment doing things like designing flyers for events, creating logos for small businesses, and designing album covers for local artists and friends of mine even though I’d rather concentrate on gallery work. All artists have an ego but sometimes you have to put your pride aside and pay your dues. I’m hoping one day the right person will see my personal work,
“Art keeps me believing that I have a
one of a kind perspective on our world and therefore helps me appreciate both my existence and everyone’s.” Veuxdo | 49
Veuxdo | 50
Veuxdo | 51
Veuxdo | 52
Veuxdo | 53
“I’m inspired by a strange blend of ideas, themes, and symbols.”
which consists of drawings and paintings I’ve done with my bare hands, and offer me a high profile show...but for now I’m just doing my commercial thang and separating it from my personal thang, and trying to network with the right people that will bring me closer to my goal of being a fine artist making a living out of my art. A: Yesss, the dues. Understood. Do you have a favourite subject matter in your art?
K: I’m inspired by a strange blend of ideas, themes, and symbols. I can really dig deep into myself when it comes to religion, love, philosophy, time, or nature when it comes to themes but I can also draw a lot of inspiration from really silly pop culture stuff like television, junk food, mythological creatures, outerspace, fancy cars...you name it. I think it comes down to whatever has left an impression on me on my journey to growing up. If it stuck with me, it’s important for a reason, it doesn’t
Veuxdo | 54
matter what reason. I want to learn about myself and analyze these things that have stuck with me and I want to place these things next to each other on a surface, hoping that they’ll supply me with an answer to something...anything. A: On this journey, have you collected any favourite artists? K: Hieronymus Bosch: The man was ahead of his time when it comes to his imagery and subject matter. He made paintings about things that would be considered inappropriate even today.
Frida Kahlo: She was incredibly genuine. She painted because she felt it and it’s obvious in her execution. She didn’t care as much about demonstrating her skill and rendering ability as much as she cared about creating a genuine statement. Diego Rivera: He had a great way of using space and creating layers and layers of narration in his murals.
“I want to place these things next to each other on a surface, hoping that they’ll supply me with an answer to something...anything.” Max Beckmann: Beautiful ways of distorting things.
me as a fine artist, or exhibit my work in a gallery feel free to drop me a line.
M.C. Escher: Fucking Nerd. In a good way.
Albrecht Durer: Incredible draftsman...highly skilled at drawing.
These are the only ones I can think of, I’m sure you know what a difficult question this is. I’m not gonna name anyone contemporary because it’s hard for me to decide if I’ll still like them when I’m older. A: Dope. Link me up, so people know how to contact you & talk about all these good things.
If anyone wants to commission me for a fine art piece, represent me as a fine artist, or exhibit my work in a gallery please contact me.
K: If any artists are interested in collaborating for the fu*k of it hit me up.
If anyone is interested in hiring me for illustration, graphic design, mural work, or live painting please get in touch.
If anyone wants to commission me for a fine art piece, represent
I’m very versatile and ready when you are.
If anyone is interested in hiring me for illustration, graphic design, mural work, or live painting please get in touch.
If any artists are interested in collaborating for the fu*k of it hit me up.
Veuxdo | 55
Veuxdo | 58
AKBAR: How is touring?
RANDOM: Touring is an amazing experience. Nonstop lessons. It’s usually not glamorous, but it can be. People treat you like the best and worst thing they’ve ever seen on a constant basis. You’re forced to up your confidence while exuding humility. One must always remember that sharing your art is a gift and to be paid for any of it is a plus. A: Is there anywhere in particular you’d like to go? Do you have a favourite place to perform? R: I can’t wait to perform in Seattle. That is the holy grail to me. I know NY and LA are the two places to be, but Seattle is something I have to check off my personal list. A: Do you have a fav place to BE, period?
R: My favorite place to be is right here. The present moment. I always find myself saying that I feel much more at home on the road than I do back home. I love to perform anywhere the people show love, but I would have to say that Davis, CA is one my favorite place to perform. Not much compares to being on stage at Whole Earth Festival; even the after party is crackin! Bobolink Festival in Belden Town was probably the most euphoric experience I’ve ever had. Veuxdo | 59
A: I know Davis loves you back, especially from your appearances at the UCD Sickspit slams, you’ve quite a following from the whole spoken word genre. When it comes to hip hop shows and poetry slams/open mics, do you prefer one over the other?
R: At this point, I’ve returned primarily as a hip-hop act, but I’m still writing poetry. There was a time when I was more known for my poetry; it was a chance to diversify my audience and actually reach people without the distraction of music. Often people get so lost in the rhythm that they forget to soak in the lyrics the way the vocalist intends. I no longer slam because I got tired of competing for my soul. I got tired of seeing people applaud pain without apparently considering the weight of what poets deliver. Seeing and becoming one of the poets who gets caught in the cycle of repeating something that you may have moved past for the sake of your career was becoming debilitating. If you don’t have something that feels fresh to you, then don’t say it. Until I feel moved to utilize spoken word as a major part of my craft, I will generally leave that to the people who are so inclined to do so. Rape, poverty, war, heartbreak, and racism are nothing to clap about...yet we do it. That’s rather odd. A: I’ve never looked at spoken word in that light; I think people get caught up in the skill and the beauty of the syntax and performance, but I can see how repeating a part of your past would be rather… harsh. But with hip hop, isn’t repeating a message masked by beats equally as debilitating? I guess that’s what we’re fighting for though, right. Anyways, hip hop it is. Are you planning any collaborations with any artists as verbally and
Veuxdo | 62
intellectually spectecular as Mayne E. Savage in the future? Ha. R: Thank you for getting his name right. Most people refer to him as “Mannie Savage” sometimes Randy Savage. I don’t even know people realize the the genius of his name...it’s supposed to sound like “Mayne, he savage”; Mayne E. thinks very highly of himself and is rather certain that most people are saying that whenever he raps.
There are several archived Manye E. Savage tracks under various aliases that will probably never surface. He’d been waiting to get on my album for 5 years, as he explains on the intro, so I feel that was enough shine for him. For now, he’s chillin in the retirement home with Jawge Boosh. There’s always a new character lurking in the world of Random, though.
I have being working with the band, ZuhG, we’ll see if any recordings come out of that. I would suggest that people pay close attention to who I continually include in my live shows, music videos, and albums...the clues are being laid out for what could manifest.
I really respect Blu and Macklemore; those are two artists from the current generation that I would most like to work with. A: Well I’ll be looking forward to meeting more Random Characters. If you do an collab with Blu, tell him he gave me a cookie at JRF, and that practically makes us friends, and friends let friends get interviews for their humble magazines, because that’s what friends do to help friends out… because dang, everyone starts out somewhere… Okay. Speaking of starting out, how did you embark on this 10 year journey that is your career as an educator/mind tantalizer/performer?
R: I was a square as a kid. I still am, but now I mangle words in front of crowds. To play up on this fact, it was a joke to dare me - the nerdy suburban kid - to freestyle. Joke’s on them, I wasn’t bad. Took that bit of confidence and tucked it away. Didn’t consider myself a rapper until 6 months later when I got inspired by Slick Rick’s verse on “The Art Of Storytelling, Pt. 2 (remix)” by Outkast. From then on, I’ve known that I’m a rapper. Years before that, I was always one of the most talkative in daycare/school; always getting in trouble for the incessant desire to communicate. I get it from my mama; she’s a communications professor, so she might know a thing or two about the power of The Word. A: Word. We’ve talked in the past about how you feel you chose to keep your raps premeditated [as opposed to off top]. Explain to our friends why this is. R: I prefer making songs and focusing on the content of my lyrics at length, but I have been freestyling a lot more this year. When you do so many shows, you need to break the monotony of the same group of songs...even if you have 40 songs on deck, it gets old to the artist. If you’re going to a well rounded emcee, freestyling is a necessary weapon. I don’t like rapping on command, but freestyling can be a cool thing if I feel like it. It’s not any more special to me than writing a song. Just get the message out in a raw manner. I do think that battles should be freestyled; but that’s my not my main focus, so I don’t care too much. A: If not battle rapping for notoriety, what to you wish to achieve through your music? R: Teaching and learning. Never fails.
A: On Skill Before Swagger, you’ve a line that proclaims “Love As A Religion.” Also, in “Read” from your previous album “Brutally Honest,” you’ve told your listeners to read the qu’ran, the bible, etc etc… what do you feel is the signifigance/purpose/existance of religion? Do you favor one over the other or has your readings all been objective?
R: “Love As A Religion” is a line from my song, “Life Is Crazy.” I always wanted people to understand that line, so I made a song out of it and expanded it. The lines you’re speaking about can be found on my poem, “Read”, from the “Brutally Honest” album. Religion isn’t the problem; it’s people’s misguided energy that sabotages everything. A: Truth. Do you have any favourite texts?
R: Power Vs. Force by Dr. David R. Hawkins and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho set off my 2010 the right way. Silent Power by Stuart Wilde, The Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, The Art of Worldy Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, I Don’t Need A Record Deal! by Daylle Deanne Schwartz, Infinite Self by Stuart Wilde, Is Bill Cosby Right? by Michael Eric Dyson, Pulling Your Own Strings by Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, The Biggest Secret by David Icke, Rules To Live By by Richard Templar, Wooden On Leadership by John Wooden...we could seriously be here all day. These all demand constant review. Let’s just do another interview about books.
A: Favourite artists, disc jockeys, authors, or characters in your life? R: My parents, especially my mother, are the reason why I am who I am. My music reflects
Veuxdo | 63
“...it appears that society is going to continue to deteriorate in a fashion that will most likely prove Darwin right about natual selection. People are spiritually bankrupt and you have nothing of true value without your soul intact.” the way I was raised and how I relate to the world with those fundamental understandings that I’ve since expanded on. Tupac Shakur is probably the most inspirational artist in my life. Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Redd Foxx, Paul Mooney, Llaila Afrika, Paul Goss, Cornel West, Malcom X, Immortal Technique, Tech N9ne, Nas, Guru, Slick Rick, Martin Luther King, Wayne Dyer, Bill Hicks. Shot outs to:
Adam Bomb, Butterscotch, DJ Crispix, Beats Daily, Young Aundee, Leejay Abucayan, Tais, DJ Rated R, Defizit, Ruby Ibarra, J-Ross Parelli, Gabriel Teodros, DJ Admant, Macklemore, Zion I, The Attik, too many…simply have communicated with far too many fresh artists to do any list justice. A: I don’t like favourites either but for the sake of this being an interview I’m sort of obligated to make an effort towards em. Haha. Sorry. But, back to your artform. How do you feel that you’ve evolved as an artist from Brutally Honest to Skill Before Swagger?
R: There is an unspoken dynamic shift that occurs when you switch from a multi-producer project like “Brutally Honest” to an Emcee/ Producer two-man project, like “Skill Before Swagger”. A lot of the songs on both albums were written during the same period, or even before Brutally Honest. There was far more consistency to Skill Before Swagger and I was able to take listeners on a trip in much shorter amount of time. Brutally Honest is an album that reflects my thoughts of anticipating my first professional surge of levels that I had
Veuxdo | 64
never seen before. The lyrics indicate that I was well aware that the album and subsequent touring would open doors that I have never before imagined. Skill Before almost didn’t come out because I went on hiatus and had tired of the nonsense of proving my talent/ worth. BH was made over the course on 18 months with no big breaks in its creation and I drove around/tested every song in front of crowds prior its release. Skill Before Swagger was primarily recored in a state of disillusionment and hermitude. By the time I decided to finish the album, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever release another project and was actually hoping that it remained under the radar. I didn’t want to expand my audience and I wasn’t really trying to wow anyone. I just wanted to get some things off my chest and provide at least one last go for the dedicated people who had followed me through all my ups and downs. Skill Before Swagger is the death and rebirth of Random Abiladeze, which has allowed me to grow into the inspired, highly active artist that I am today. A: In “I Had a Dream,” you talk about how all the worlds’ chaos is a reality that is difficult to accept. Do you think we’ll be able to wake up as a people? If so, how? If not, why not? Suggestions?
R: I do not think most people are going to make it. That is part of the test of building your internal power. It’s not just because life is hard as it is, but because it appears that society is going to continue to deteriorate in a fashion that will most likely prove Darwin right about natual selection.
People are spiritually bankrupt and you have nothing of true value without your soul intact. People must fall away, whether we understand it or not, because the imbalances have gone too far and you can’t maintain a life of excess forever. Look at any drug addict; if they don’t drop the habit, we know how they end up. The world is addicted to humans and most, if not all, off us are going to get dropped quickly if the Earth is to have any chance to move on and heal.
I suggest that people: meditate, exercice, drink water, consume naturally grown foods, keep a consistent touch with nature, listen more, speak less, remain actively creative, and walk away from all that which is not conducive to life.Anyone without a balanced presence of these aspects in their life is bound live much shorter than they could, in less than favorable health. A: “Got my own style, my own crew ain’t gotta like this...” How do you suggest we deal with Samety in the industry or otherwise? Speak on this quote a bit. R: “My own crew ain’t gotta like this.” Just be yourself, forget about the rest. Everything that’s a distraction must be eradicated from your vision when you’re creating. In fact, there’s really no room for distractions on the Right Path, but us humans are often tempted to drift. I’ve always made moves that people close to me eventually disapprove of or don’t understand. The new people I met have little concept of who I was and love me for who I appear to be to them at that moment. Either way, I’m me and you can take it or leave it.
Whether it’s romance, business, or casual friendship. Nothing is promised, so non-attachment is of immeasurable worth. A: The entire message of Skill Before Swagger sums up the message Veuxdo hopes to share: work work work, it will pay off. “While them other guys sleepin, I’m workin. While the other guys eatin, I’m workin.” REPRESENT. R: DO WORK! The quotes you’re referring to were sampled from a collection of Will Smith interviews, called “Will’s Wisdom”.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of coveted opportunities work out in my favor, but there’s also been a lot of rejection and other setbacks. Much like Andre said, “Ya only funk as ya last cut.” Progress cannot come about without motion. It’s all in the action. It’s necessary to rest and honor your temple so that you don’t simply deplete your energy to its lowest reserve, but CAN-I (constant and never-ending improvement) is something I learned from Tony Robbins, by way of my marital arts school as a child. That’s another story. Just keep moving forward. Trust in the light, let go, and hold on. We don’t have all the answers, but we find results by having the audicity to continue making things happen. It’s great to stop and smell the roses, but when it’s time to work, it’s just like my song, “Don’t Stop It”! If you take the proper time to lay low and regenerate, that’s a part of your personal improvement. People can tell when you’ve been doing what you need to do. On my song, “Forgotten Memories”, I say, “Skill slips when you let it/use it or lose it/ abuse your time and
Veuxdo | 65
it’s sure to show”. Nuff said. A: Tell me the story again, about the time you ran into the guy who you had no idea was a famous rapper, who layed out your entire career plan for the next 5 years in 5 minutes. It was a good story. Had something to do with not getting caught up in who’s who and how endearing it is when people arent on your famous nuts. R: I went on a trip in 2005 to SF State with Toby Miguel, who sang on my song “Life Is Crazy”, from Space N Time: The Mixtape. He was in the music programs and brought me to help out with this music business event that was set up for high school kids all over the bay.
I remember getting in the lunch line and doing my best to stay composed when I realized Goapele was right in front of me. So, this tall black guy and his white friend walk into the lunchroom. Toby and I have no clue who they are. They casually walk over to our table and a very casual conversation sparks up. The tall guy lets me know that he’s a teacher, but he’s been making music in the bay since the 80s. He tells me about a crew that sounded vaguely familiar (Living Legends) that he saw come up during the 90s. He didn’t brag about his crew, but he just started dropping massive amounts of game to me about how to release your projects, hit up promoters and try to open for every touring hip-hop act, and so many more invaluable lessons about the independent hustle. I remember after listening to about 5 min of what was the best articulated business lesson I’ve ever heard in person, asking him what his group’s name was. He said, “Oh, my group’s called Souls of Mischief” and said something about “Hieroglyphics”. I just looked at him, unflinchingly. Could have been Lords of the Underground, I
Veuxdo | 66
didn’t know the difference. Turns out this man goes by name of Tajai and he was there with I.D. of Imperium records. I remember calmly and sincerely saying, “I think I’ve heard of you guys... feel like I’ve heard that name on the radio before”. He mentioned a song called “93 Til’ Infinity.” Didn’t ring a bell. I think he was so relieved and surprised that a 19-year old underground emcee from the west coast wasn’t losing it and was completely naive about what impact Hiero has made on hip-hop music, that he continued to drop gems freely for what must have been another 30-45 min. Even when packed theater packed with hundreds of teens went ballistic when he hit the stage about an hour, it didn’t click. I wasn’t really even knowing for another 2 years. I’ve met Taj since, but the game had changed. He could see now that I knew who he was and having that “rapper” energy can be understandably be off putting to artists who are constantly approached by people who wish to share their limelight. Sometimes, it truly is better to not know the circumstances of your environment. You’re less of a potential nuisance because you’re not posturing and catering your message to appease someone’s ego. Sincerity and innocence will prevail in the bigger scheme of things. That’s saying a lot, coming from someone who obsesses over detail. A: I think that’s probably why we’re still friends. Because I never pretend to know about anything you’re talking about half the time... Okay, link me up.
R: www.randomab.com is one-stop shop for all my links. I’d say to include the “Kitchen Raps” YouTube video link, even though it’s on my website.
â€œI suggest that people: meditate, exercice, drink water, consume naturally grown foods, keep a consistent touch with nature, listen more, speak less, remain actively creative, and walk away from all that which is not conducive to life.Anyone without a balanced presence of these aspects in their life is bound live much shorter than they could, in less than favorable health.â€? Veuxdo | 67
Chan.nel Karama Ltd
Veuxdo | 70
Veuxdo | 71
Bay Area Clothing Designer Latoya Skinner started her fashion career after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2005. During her junior year in college Latoya started a fashion group named The Student Fashion Association. This program would consist of fashion fundraisers and providing assistance to the fashion academy students where Latoya led various projects.
Latoya perfected her clothing design technique after participating in several fashion outlets which advanced her career. In 2003 she established Chan. nel Karama Clothing line, since then she has launched one of the best collections I have seen in the Bay Area for the year 2010. When it comes to her personal style Latoya usually rocks a pair of sunglasses, chunky jewelry, and sexy high heels. One of her passions is shopping for her personal style from vintage shops and altering specific pieces for a different look is definitely a perk most people canâ€™t say they can do. Latoyaâ€™s advice to all women who would like to be more in tuned with their clothing trends is be mindful to make sure you own a pair of black underwear, always put your comfort first, and always try something different. Latoya admits she is willing to try anything when it comes to fashion. That is the same attitude that makes her clothing line exquisite, her garments display true femininity.
Veuxdo | 72
Veuxdo | 73
Latoya would describe her clothing line as inspiration for the young and sassy you can take one item from the Chan.nel Karama Collection and highlight your entire outfit. An urban Forever 21 or H&M comes to mind when you look at her style. The vision she brings to her collection is very sexy and sultry which I feel is a true work of art. I would like to encourage women and men to support our bay area designers. There are tons of local designers that make quality clothing that can be trended into your own personal style.
BSFMâ€™s mission is to spotlight new style trends that are originated from and by San Francisco bay area clothing designers. Break the normal cycle of regular commercial fashion trends, people spend a lot of money purchasing designer names that have been in the industry for years. The trends that are being made today are coming from the people on the street so thatâ€™s why it is important for the people to step outside the box and shop for new brands and try new designs which will then create new style and trends. Check out more of Chan.nel Karama Collection at WWW.lcskinner.etsy.com shop for her exclusive clothing for 2010 summer collection. Also check out Brownsugafashionmagazine. blogspot.com for more on bay area fashion.
story by: Danielle Cummings
Veuxdo | 74
Veuxdo | 75
Veuxdo | 76
Veuxdo | 77
models: Richard & Em photography by: Ian Howerton creative direction: Minh Tran Veuxdo edits: Akbar| 80 Media
Veuxdo | 81
models: Richard & Em photography by: Ian Howerton creative direction: Minh Tran Veuxdo edits: Akbar| 82 Media
Veuxdo | 83
Veuxdo | 86
Kumasi Sadiki is the mind behind FreedMinds streetwear. LALA: Who is Kumasi?
KUMASI: A 25 year young black entrepreneur, designer, weed aficionado & photo enthusiast. One time I hit the blunt and it was the fire side. Burnt the shit out my lip. My girl thought I had herpes. She wouldn’t kiss me for a week. Also, fuck you to the art teacher who smashed my car in pottery class when I was seven. I hate you bitch. L: What is Freedminds?
K: I felt like why should I have to [work]. I don’t wanna wear a suit, I don’t like 9-5’s. I wanna design cool shit, smoke weed, travel, take photos & meet women. A lot of people complain and say they don’t wanna do sumthin, but they never figure out what they do want to do. Life is what you make it. [The idea behind] FreedMinds is having the creativity to make life what you want. We believe there is no such thing as problems, only situations. We have done everything ourselves. From designing, advertising, selling, even financing & distributing. Whatever idea we think is dope, we want to not only create it, but get it to the people through our own methods. Which means our product is only available through us or through credible websites & select boutiques.
Veuxdo | 87
Veuxdo | 88
L: Local grown. How did you go about starting the company? What goes into the production of a Freedminds product?
K: I used to silkscreen each tee myself out my homie’s garage. Nowadays I come up with the concepts and design it or work with one of our artists to illustrate it. FreedMinds started as just and idea and some stickers. Streetwear was sellin out, Karmaloop was gettin big. Rick Ross and Jay-z were wearin Crooks. Shit got weird. I wanted to go back to that good old fashion “fuck you.” When I first came to SF, I met Vyron at my old art school. He fucked wit FreedMinds. He took the photos for two lookbooks and helped with our blog. Now he’s doin his music thing. OFWGKTA. Kahim is the executive administrator the capo of the company more or less. Mr. Get-It-Done. He has helped me in gettin FreedMinds more organized and making it a business. Oscar and Josh both help me with photos on the blog. Most recently Oscar has been takin care of the Advertising and Josh is movin toward event planning. Jonathon murders our event photography and Katrina does our visuals.
Veuxdo | 89
Veuxdo | 90
L: What was the concept behind the new line?
K: Our newest season is called “Fucc You.” A lot of people doubted that streetwear needed this right now. Boat shoes were takin over. Everyone said people wanted a more mature look. We like to shoot with film, and everyone else mostly uses digital. People kept wanting us to change. But we knew why we were doing it, and we were tired of explaining ourselves. If your gonna do somethin and stand out, you gotta be able to say “fuck you, I’m being myself.”
I smoke a lot, so I forget where I heard this, but it was somethin like, “Great people don’t change to fit in the world, they change the world to fit them.” I believe that.
L: Goooood words. On that note, link me up so people can participate in all this good fashion and philosophy. K: Twitter
@TheFreedMinds Shop & Blog
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/FreedMinds/107033835983919 L: Anything else?
K: Imagine The Real. Weed’s Good.
Veuxdo | 91
If youâ€™d like to be featured in the next artist lookbook issue of Veuxdo magazine, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
+ www. greyakbar.com