The New Classic
Peanut ButterWolf Heavy Weight Rickey Kim
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contents b.informed issue #5
B.Sides Jen Lindup
Reid van Renesse
Features Prometheus Radio Project
Fashion Kicked off the Team
contributors Dave Kinsey Dave Kinsey is widely known for his provocative social commentary, delivered through vibrant and haunting portrayals of characters from the city streets. The idea of using the urban landscape as a canvas remains a constant while he continues to exhibit his fine art in galleries locally and internationally. His work is showcased in publications worldwide, and he is routinely invited by professors and curators to lead workshops and discussions at design schools and special exhibitions.
Paul Sun Paul Sun is a Los Angeles based photographer for hire. He's been shooting for 5 years and is still learning – probably will never stop.
Jose Ivey Jose Ivey is a photographer based in New York City. His recent work includes documenting the live music scene in NYC and can be seen at www.urbanvoyeur.com.
Nate Sherman Nate is 27. He’s from Dallas Texas. Words to describe him: discheveled, pompus, pathetic, useless, matching biceps
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B.INFORMED Magazine is published quarterly by B. INFORMED Media. The entire contents of B.INFORMED Magazine are copyright and may not be reproduced without
Contributing Writers Ginger Rudolph, Jeanine Lee, Flakey Jones, Amani Olu, J.P. Lucek, Calin Montgomery, DJ Statik
the express written consent of the publisher. B.INFORMED Magazine does not accept responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts and/or photographs. B.INFORMED Magazine assumes no liability for products or services advertised here-
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Contributing Illustrator Dave Kinsey
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New Year’s Day is the most celebrated holiday worldwide, and everybody’s got a tradition. Children in Puerto Rico throw pails of water out the window. The Swiss let a drop of cream fall to the floor. New Yorkers watch the ball drop in Times Square. Starting in 2005, B.INFORMED is initiating the custom of letting the proverbial shit hit the fan. A lot has changed about the magazine since issue 4. We are hustling our way to the top, trying to establish a unique place for ourselves among the flock of urban lifestyle publications. It is our hope, in 2005, to deliver a mix of the academic and the social. We want to create an open dialogue on the relationship between art and intellect, and examine their collective influence on culture. This issue shows its backbone in our front and back cover stories. Both cover artists reflect a quality that we at B.INFORMED strive to attain: longevity. Stuart Matthewman has been putting in work since the early ‘80s as a member of Sade. On the back, maestro of sound King Britt sets the record straight, as he chronicles the rebirth of Philly soul. Also in this issue, label owner Peanut Butter Wolf discusses the future of the funk; Evil Monito head Rickey Kim gets on the soapbox and bursts pop culture’s bubble; the guys at Heavyweight talk about why they’re getting political. Lastly, photographer Jose Ivey shows us just how close we are to our past, with a photo feature on the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Jeanine Lee
This issue is dedicated to our late friend, Jessica Karrat.
en Lindup is one-third founding
Many consumers have become more conscious and are choos-
partner, and fashion designer for
ing brands that represent substance over image. For her part,
the Toronto-based apparel com-
Jen illustrates the separation between the corporation, and
pany, OK47. Inspired as a child
the independent manufacturer/designer. "Most small compa-
by Barbie, and later on by ‘70’s
nies do not have the means to market a specific image for their
culture, Sofia Coppola’s Virgin
product. Large corporations hire marketing researchers to tell
Suicides, fuzzy kittens, and acid,
them what color shoelaces their target audience is wearing
(yes, acid), Jen designs the prints
this week. [Other] companies start at a grass roots level and
for OK47’s clothes.
are able to become successful based on the purity of what they do, and find more creative ways to define their image. I think
it’s possible to have an image and still have substance. It all
depends on whose opinion you are going after. Professionally,
School of Craft and Design at
I’m just happy if there are people out there who appreciate the
Sheridan College. Upon graduat-
clothes I make and will buy them and feel good.”
ing, she founded a clothing company called Geek Boutique. “I started
Jen admits that her work is not easy. “When we start working
Geek Boutique in 1996 with two other
on a collection it's like this huge tornado of ideas. I’m really
partners after getting out of college. None of us
amazed that this part of the process is always so easy and fun.
were able to find interesting work in our fields of training, so we
The difficulty is in taking the ideas and making everything
started designing a line to keep ourselves busy. In the beginning,
work together as an entire line. This part of the process is
it was really small. We sold to local shops and to friends. Some
probably the hardest, because you have only a certain window
of those friends ended up wearing the stuff while shopping at
of time. You trust that in the end people will see your vision
Patricia Fields in New York and were spotted by her staff. They
and love the clothes. I still get nervous right before we launch
passed on our contact info and from there we started getting
a new line, but I think it's probably a healthy fear.”
tons of orders for our pants, first from Pat Field’s, and then soon after from other boutiques all over the US.” Just last year, Jen
Like most designers, she has been involved in design since her child-
left her post at Geek Boutique to work on OK47 full-time.
hood years. “Once I realized that it was pretty unlikely that I was going to grow up to be a princess, I had to figure something else out.”
For Jen, fashion design is as much a creative outlet as a career. When asked about the pressures of the fashion industry, Jen
With a clear goal in mind, Jen worked hard on her craft. “I used
acknowledges that “there is so much emphasis put on design-
to spend hours drawing fashion figures when I was young. As
ers to be high end, like that is the only way you can be a true
soon as someone would trust me with a sewing machine I started
‘designer.’ I think that you can still design for a non-luxury
making things. My mother was always very crafty and taught me
market, and be inf luential and progressive in your ideas.”
how to knit, sew, crochet, etc. Back then it was all for Barbie.” •
words by Calin Montgomery images courtesy of ok47.com
It is no secret that New York has a history rich in hip hop
Sponsored by Entity Apparel, KOM3 is now arguably one of the top
innovation. In reference to breaking, New York can credit
ten b.boys in New York. Throughout his career, he has battled some
influential crews such as the Incredible Breakers, Dynamic
of the toughest competitors in the scene. He’s won competitions
Rockers, NYC Breakers and, of course, the legendary Rock
such as Braggin’ Rites and the Zulu Anniversary 2002. His crew
Steady Crew. These crews and other pioneers set the standard for
also won the 2002 Out for Fame East Coast regional, and made it
breaking, took the form to new heights, and made it accessible
to the finals at City vs. City 3, a Chicago competition where the
to people throughout the world. As breaking moved farther
top ten b.boys from each state battle for supremacy.
from the public eye in the mid ‘80s, the dance went underground, thus spawning a new generation of b.boys who would carry the torch for their predecessors.
In spite of his growing popularity, KOM3 still manages to find time to organize workshops, give lectures, and teach people about the history of breaking. Breaks Kru has done local benefits for Columbia University,
One who is trying to advance b.boying in New York
and Making the Road by Walking, a community non-profit in
is Richard “KOM3” Scott of Breaks Kru. Introduced to
Bushwick, Brooklyn. They’ve done workshops throughout the five New
breaking during high school in November of 1997,
York boroughs. Their most rewarding project was a hip hop lecture,
KOM3’s career as a b.boy began when his friend Wilken
which they conducted at Vassar College. KOM3 admits that educating
(a.k.a Wonk) could not do the worm. KOM3 could, and
oneself on breaking can be difficult. “It’s easy to get people to do the
showed his friend, who taught him some b.boy footwork
dance, but to get them familiar with the roots isn’t. The culture can
in return. After the lesson, KOM3 became a b.boy and
fade again if we don’t educate.”
never looked back. KOM3, who is a part of the small percentage of African Americans Growing up in hip hop, KOM3 has experienced his
still engaged in b.boying, recognizes that African Americans, though
share of change, especially where his name is con-
they started the dance in the early ‘70s, are no longer interested. “In
cerned. “I used to intern at a record label called
New York, most black people that b.boy are Afro-Caribbean. The few
Penalty Records. The artists there had these rough
that I know throughout the United States probably don’t make up
and uncommon names such as Noreaga, Khadafi, etc. I
15% of the b.boys in [the scene]. I think African Americans still
looked in the dictionary for the first catchy name and
struggle for a place in America. Racism has not died and never will,
came across communist. I liked it right off the bat,
and the majority of African Americans know this. With that being
because within a communist government there is one
said, making money and attaining an education is the biggest concern
dictator. As an emcee, that sounded hot. As I got into
within the black community, and I don’t think the majority of [black]
words by Amani Olu photo by Ryan Hendon
graffiti, I had to shorten it to COM, but there was already a
people see b.boying as a money making art form.”
writer called COM1, so I changed the spelling to KOM. I added the three because in graffiti if you don’t add a number [to
Despite all this, KOM3 remains committed to b.boying, citing the
your name], you’re already considered one - like KOM1. I didn’t like
youth as his main inspiration to keep on moving. “If I don’t pass on
the way it sounded and I didn’t want to [be KOM2] because of Cope 2 and
this talent that God gave me and educate, my whole life would be
Phase 2, so I went with KOM3. As I began to b.boy, people would ask
worthless. I love what I do, I love what I have learned, and I need
what KOM3 meant, so I came up with the acronym ‘Keep on Movin.’”
to leave a part of that around after I die.” • breakskru.com
eid van Renesse words by Jeanine Lee photo by Ryan Hendon On a routine cruise through
What was your experience filming Dithers?
cyberspace, I happened upon a
Every interview was interesting. That’s what I really liked about
short video clip of some old
it. Initially, I was looking at the art from a real New York, east
school graffiti writers getting over -
coast perspective. I wasn’t sure if it was that important to really
some pretty groovy music to back up
document this art from other places. What I dwell on and the
the visual, too. The clip was edited by a com-
shit that I’m into is the old New York graffiti. So it was a weird
pany called Quickness Productions, refer-
experience getting put up on this whole new scene of graffiti
enced as thequickness.com. “Interesting
that I really didn’t know anything about. And I, of course, had
name,” I thought. I decided to check
the east coast mentality, but I opened my eyes to a lot, and saw
out the site. On the front page were a
that people were doing their own thing. I became good friends
few links, one being a trailer for a
with people like Jeremy Fish. We would go skate.
collection of interviews entitled Dithers. I downloaded the
What was your favorite part of the project?
trailer and watched it twice.
Straight up, Ricky Powell was my favorite completed piece,
The DVD, produced in col-
just because he is a character. He definitely has an air about
him, so that came across. From beginning to end, that inter-
UpperPlayground and FIFTY24SF, includes sessions with some of
view is my favorite. But I didn’t know Jo Jackson. That is
today’s most influential fine, graffiti and street artists such as Brian
another one of my favorite interviews. That was like a real
Flynn, Shepard Fairey, Sam Flores, and David Choe, along with
breath of fresh air. I had shot almost twelve people before her,
extra footage on old school hip hop photographer Rickey Powell,
and they were all guys.
and graffiti legends Quick, Seen and Zephyr. It was really cool to see people with influences and upbringings A few weeks after viewing the DVD, I talked to director Reid
similar to my own, in terms of the crossover of being a skater, a
van Renesse about Dithers, and his experience.
punk rock kid and the whole hip hop influence and graffiti – just being on the fringe and outside the mainstream shit in the
Tell me how Dithers came to be. Well, I’ve known Zephyr for a long time through bike racing and being a bike messenger. So he called me when he was coming into the Bay Area. I was living in Oakland. He was having a show at the UpperPlayground. I think it was actually a Ricky Powell show. Revolt and Zephyr flew out there. So [Zephyr] invited me to come through. He mentioned that he was going to be painting the roof at UpperPlayground. So I said, “How about I document it?” He thought it would be a good idea. So I went, and that’s how I met the dudes at UpperPlayground. Matt Revelli [from UpperPlayground] approached me about doing web profiles on some of the artists that came up through their label. That was the initial idea. So, I went out and I shot Sam Flores, Bigfoot and a bunch of those dudes. Then we realized it could be a much bigger project. We decided to do a DVD, and we got more [people] involved. The next thing you know, I’m shooting down in LA with Shepard Fairey and the guys at Girl Skateboards. It went from a small idea to a much bigger project. It just snowballed that way.
‘80s. That was the best thing: seeing the common thread. •
perse v erance :
pr o m et h e u s
pr o ject
words by J.P. Lucek • photo by Nate Sherman
In June 2003, the Federal Communications Commission
Prometheus’ mission is simple: to make the voices of the
decided to rewrite media ownership laws. These changes
people the most powerful voices when it comes to media
would affect television, radio and newspapers at the
regulation. They teach neighbors how to build community
national and local levels, thereby reshaping the nation’s
radio stations, and communities how to organize into net-
media structure. For example, media mogul Clear
works, all in the name of media justice. Hannah had this to
Channel, which already owns over 1,200 radio stations,
say about their audience: “The farm workers of Immokalee,
would have the opportunity to own more. Naturally, this
Florida are infinitely more important to us than the voices
did not resonate with public interest groups and activists
of General Electric, the weapons manufacturer that owns
across the nation. Before long, everyone was talking
NBC and hundreds of media outlets around the country.”
about media deregulation, and how these laws might restrict access to diverse media. As dissenters across the
Based on Prometheus’ commitment to providing access to
nation did their best to inform people about deregulation,
diverse media, it makes sense that it sued the FCC, which
the Prometheus Radio Project went a step further in tak-
failed to live up to its responsibility. It is the duty of the
ing what was probably a long shot: it sued the FCC. And
FCC to regulate all telecommunications in the U.S. on
eventually, it won.
behalf of public interest. When the FCC voted in June 2003 to rewrite media ownership laws, they did so in the
When I heard about Prometheus winning the lawsuit, I
interest of big media companies, not in the public’s inter-
contacted their program director, Hannah Sassaman, to
est. In fact, in a testimony entitled, Agenda and Plans for
learn more about the FCC, the suit, and Prometheus.
Reform of the FCC, FCC Chairman Michael Powell made it clear that big media companies are their “clients.” Only
Founded in 1998, Prometheus began as a group of
later in his address did he go on to mention the public.
Philadelphia activists working in dif ferent fields. Whether they were fighting for housing rights, health
Given the history of the FCC, Michael Powell was right. Since
care or the hungry, they found that media would never
its inception in 1934, the FCC has reasoned that if a company
give their issues the full attention they deserved. As a
is successful at making money over the airwaves, then it is
result, they decided to take media into their own hands.
serving the public interest. And decades of regulation have
The initial organizing team built an unlicensed commu-
more often served the economic health of media companies,
nity radio station, Radio Mutiny, that had seventy pro-
not the needs of the public. The FCC lawyer argued that the
grammers telling their own stories, free of filters and
Commission's only responsibility is to deregulate, to essentially
corporate media bias. “Listeners could hear entertain-
throw out the rules protecting communities from monopoly.
ment, news, and public affairs from their neighbors, and decide for themselves which coverage made more sense
The lawyers representing the FCC and National
to them,” says Hannah. “Later, we started fighting to
Association of Broadcasters (NAB) were confident that
build licensed stations in the U.S., and community radio
deregulation represented some form of manifest destiny.
for people all over the world.”
“The NAB lawyer,” says Hannah, “had the idiotic gall to
get up and say, ‘I've stood against Andy Schwartzmann
address the issue of media regulation more completely,
[the lawyer representing Prometheus] five times in the
and with the public interest in mind.
past, and he's never won a case against me.’ After that statement, the judges treated the NAB lawyer rather
The ruling marked a triumph in the history of activism,
sternly throughout the rest of the oral arguments. The
and speaks volumes as to what small organizations work-
remark was indicative of how most industry people felt,
ing together can accomplish. Prometheus, along with
like our case was a shot in the dark.”
many other contributors, was able to show that democracy is not completely dead. Unfortunately, it is not com-
The judges in the third district court did not buy it. They
pletely alive either. Which brought me to my next ques-
ruled that the FCC’s attempts to further deregulate
tion: Is democracy becoming an illusion in this country?
American media systems were unjustified. The court
“Democracy is becoming frighteningly synonymous with
determined that the FCC relied on "irrational assump-
capitalism. That’s why we build noncommercial, local
tions and inconsistencies" to arrive at the new cross-
community stations, so people can grow up knowing what
ownership caps, and ordered them to set a new course to
an unfettered, creative use of the FM dial sounds like.” •
words by Statik illustration by Dave Kinsey photos courtesy of Stones Throw Records DJ, producer, and founder of Stones Throw Records,
During the last three years, stones have been thrown
Peanut Butter Wolf has single-handedly influenced the
even farther. The release of both new funk classics, and
ear of hip hop listeners worldwide. He has achieved what
anthologies of lost funk gems, has widened Stones
most hip hop DJs, producers, and label owners can only
Throw's scope. The label's obsession with rare and out-
dream of: he's made a name for himself by putting out the
of-print vinyl promises a grooved-out synthesis of old and
shit he likes. Born Chris Manak, Wolf discovered the
new. From the emergence of Stones Throw offshoot, Now
goodness of hip hop in the ‘80s, in San Jose. 1986 proved
Again Records, to Quasimoto’s The Unseen, Peanut
to be significant. This was the year he dreamed of start-
Butter Wolf is breaking new hip hop ground, and doing it
ing his own label; this was the year he met Charles Hicks,
on his own terms.
AKA Charizma. How did Stones Throw get started? Charizma and Wolf shared a common interest in hip hop,
When I was a kid, I always wanted to start a record label.
and quickly aligned to record in 1989. They became label
When I was in high school that was always my career aspira-
mates with Organized Konfusion and DJ Shadow, after
tion. That was back when the indies were still running
signing to Disney subsidiary, Hollywood Basic. Despite
everything in hip hop. The majors hadn’t really tried to step
touring Europe and garnering ample magazine press, Wolf
in yet. I started [to work] with Charizma. He passed away in
and Charizma were eventually dropped in 1993 by a label
‘93, and at that point I wasn’t really sure what I was going to
too immature in it’s handling of hip hop acts. Two
do. Back then I did records for a lot of different smaller
months later, Charizma was tragically killed, and Wolf
labels, EPs and tracks for compilations. But eventually I
wanted to go back to the idea of starting a label.
It was a short break. Wolf spent three years DJing and
What makes the music that you put out
producing before launching Stones Throw Records, with
through Stones Throw important?
the release of Charizma’s posthumous 12 inch single, My
As a music fan, I’ve always liked what was considered
World Premiere. The rest is history.
underground. When I was 12, I was buying electro records that the radio didn't play. This was 1982, and my
In just a decade, Stones Throw has established itself as a
mentality has never really changed. I see the kids who
monarch in independent hip hop. Teaming up with the
get excited when they discover things on their own, and
likes of Madlib and Egon (who, like Wolf, are committed
I'm glad to keep that kind of music alive. I recently went
to putting out the shit they like), Stones Throw has
to a show at the House of Blues in LA, and watched three
pushed the music beyond its monotonous boundaries
previously gold/platinum selling artists perform to only
toward a funky, throwback kind of future.
100 people. We are able to sell out shows with no hit records, so we've done okay for ourselves.
Though I always liked different styles of music growing
I’m sure you have wild stories about where
up, I was limited by what was shown to me, so I never
underestimate my listeners. If I like something, I assume
Well, someone offered me “blow” in London. They were
there are others out there who will like it, whether it's a
like, “Would you like some blow mate?” and I’m like,
jazz record, a funk record, a dance record, or the hip hop
“What’s that?” [laughs] But I think when I first started trav-
that originally made a name for Stones Throw.
eling, even with Charizma, it was really fresh... we’d be in
nice hotels and open up the mini bar and see all this alcohol
Explain the significance of releasing the
and food. We’d drink all the alcohol and eat all the food
Charizma album. How do you think it was
and then find out that you’re really supposed to pay for it,
and we’d be like, “What? Oh shit." Little things like that.
It was important for me because Charizma was a great emcee who I originally "put on" when I met him. But
When you’re DJing, do you ever get requests
after working with him, he took my career to the next
for the most popular song on the radio?
level. I went from being an unsigned producer/DJ, to
Yeah, that happens more with “industry” events. I did
being one half of a group that everyone in the Bay Area
this thing for the L.A. Film Festival, and someone came
was talking about, and major labels were all bidding to
up and asked me to play “Hey Ya." I loved that song when
sign. We traveled Europe, did TV shows, did major con-
it came out, but, that’s the last song I want to hear right
certs with Nas, House Of Pain, radio interviews, et
now, since I’ve heard it so many times. Then another girl
cetera. This was all with no record. When he passed
came in and asked me to play “Freak-a-leek,” and when I
away, I always wondered, ‘What if?’ And to this day, I
told her I didn’t bring it, she said, ‘Give me the mic, I
still feel that way. I'm happy where my career is, but
know all the words. Just put on a beat and I’ll do it.’
always want people to hear the album [we did] together.
[laughs]. It was like a high school gig or something.
I don't think indie hip hop is ready for it, because it sounds so different than what is out nowadays. But, there
Have you seen a demographic change in fan
are some people who understand, and that's all that mat-
base since you’ve had J Dilla on the team?
ters to me in the end.
I really haven’t at all. I think if anything, he might have seen different people [getting] into his music since he's
Any favorite places to travel?
been doing shows with us.
I mean, he really - and I
I feel fortunate to be in the position where I travel as a
shouldn’t even speak for him - but it seems like he prefers
DJ and see different club scenes all over the world. I take
being in the studio to touring. But he’s really cool with
all the influences and try to share them with the people
the fans after the shows and stuff. It seems like some of
who listen to our records.
the bigger shows he’s been involved with have been the ones that he’s done with us, even though you would
And there are things I like about every city. One thing
assume that people just know who J Dilla is. I think
about Philly that’s great is the record store we were at
changing his name was a way of starting over, because
today. As a DJ, I like buying a lot of 45s because they’re
he’s been Jay Dee for so long.
a lot easier to carry. I’m getting old and my back’s all messed up these days. I try to carry a lot of 45s instead
What other long-term plans do you have for
of the big 12”s. Val Shively’s R&B Records. They have
the most 45s in the country.
Keep releasing dope records.
RickEy•KIm•SpeaKs words by Amani Olu • photos by Paul Sun In 1964, Jürgen Habermas, a noted German academic, coined
In 2001, the concept of the Public Sphere emerged in art cir-
the term “the Public Sphere.” It is the arena in which the
cles, with the publication of Rickey Kim’s Evil Monito maga-
public organizes itself, formulates its opinions, and expresses
zine. Inspired by Jürgen Habermas, “EM is determined to ful-
its desires vis-à-vis the State. The Public Sphere provides a
fill [the] role of the Public Sphere,” by fusing together pieces
platform for change, and the theory behind it sets out to prove
of the analytical process, and spotlighting the essence of the
that, historically speaking, change has occurred as the result
real. EM deals with a broad spectrum of subject matter, rang-
of the dissension of small, organized groups. See the founding
ing from rave culture, to organized crime syndicates, to inter-
of the United States, or the '60s civil rights movement, for
views with independent musical acts, all rendered candidly
and in a culturally critical voice. In a word, Rickey’s vision for EM is that it “combat the ailment that is pop culture." With such an ambitious agenda, we wanted to get Rickey’s perspective on pop culture, EM, et cetera.
On Pop Culture: Popular culture is the overarching world of media, where
Nothing is inherently wrong with pop culture itself. It's how
realities are sliced and diced, where the lines of what’s “real”
you digest it. Everyone has a responsibility to learn about the
have been dissolved. It's a dangerously well-oiled machine
world from different angles, and inform others of what they
that seeks to entertain. Pop culture is a physical and mental
find. One's correctness is irrelevant; it is the notion of open
environment. It affects the way we think and, in many ways,
discussion and critique that advances society, and stumps
has affected our collective sub-subconscious, in that it has set
complacency. When I was in college, I had a course where we
parameters for what is good and bad. I think to deconstruct
took apart popular music in a class discussion. It was the first
our world is essential, if we want to effect change. "Truth"
time I ran NWA’s lyrics through the theoretical framework of
cannot be held as an empirical entity, and must be questioned,
Milton’s Truths, and it was this angle, the trajectory of the
lest it become doctrine.
thought, that was meaningful. Granted, arguments can arise with regard to the inanities of academic rhetoric, but discussion and open discourse are needed to reach an understanding of anything.
On Evil Monito: EM is a nerd magazine. It wasn't created as a product to sell a
Originally, EM's motto was "Destroying Pop Culture." We
product - that's what brands do. EM is a vessel of thought. It's
later toned it down to “Deconstructing Pop Culture,” because
a process of ideas that flows from writer to reader, and reader
we didn't want it to sound too menacing. With EM, we didn't
to writer. It is a socially conscious publication, because we feel
opt to cover art, fashion, design or music simply for the sake
if we don’t speak, than who else will? Being socially conscious
of doing it. Our cause was to aim a critical eye at academia.
is not a choice, but a responsibility. Every person has the abil-
We wanted to provide an alternate outlet for a kind of aca-
ity to create change. All revolutions, past, present and future,
demic discourse that was unrestrained. With EM, we
have begun with one individual. And we at EM firmly believe
never intended to create a magazine that would pro-
that everyone is capable of supplying that kind of impetus.
vide coverage of the art world. It just so happens that such modes of thought, with regard to critical social commentary, go hand-in-hand with those of artists, since most of them reserve an honest and critical outlook on the world.
On Hype Art: Since EM is something of a factor in the art community (in
I like Honest Art, and I’ll lay claim to that term. Honest Art
that we feature artists and curate art events), I've come to a
is organic and humble, yet vicious. I like jaded artists, and
sharper understanding of my views on art. First off, I cannot
jaded designers, because they produce the best stuff. I think
stand and will not condone hype for the sake of hype. I know
Pollock and Warhol pulled off their art, since they knew the
how it works. Via EM, I've come across a few interesting "art-
rules to break them. These days we have so many of these new
ists" and "designers," who use art parties to showcase their
jack "street" artists, who stand for nothing, and would rather
elementary work. I hate art shows for the sake of good press,
secure a cool posse than really push the discipline. It makes
and artists who prostitute themselves to get their picture
me sick. With EM, I try to focus on the people who actually
taken. You can really understand that vibe if you go to an art
breathe, and laugh, and don't take themselves too seriously.
show, and see people looking at each other, rather than the
Enough with the formalities, let's just relax, enjoy the art, and
art, or even worse, when you get the feeling that the artist
the discourse. •
who's showcasing his work is profiling. evilmonito.com
I like Honest Art, and I’ll lay claim to that term. Honest Art is organic and humble, yet vicious.
intro by Jeanine Lee • interview by DJ Statik • photos by Nate Sherman
ince the late '80s, King Britt has put in
all these rave and techno songs we were into as well. I started
serious work toward the rebirth of
Back to Basics in 1990 at Silk city, with Jeff Natt. This party
Philly soul. He got started as a DJ,
was one of the most important in the scene, because [we
producer and party promoter, doing
played] the music coming out of the U.K. Since I worked at
his thing in all the well-known ven-
Tower and traveled to Europe, we had easy access to the artists
ues. Acid jazz was getting cooked up,
and the music. This, along with the openness of the crowds –
and seeing it all go down, he was not
it was a perfect time in the history of Philly club culture. This
afraid to dirty his hands. He eventual-
party, and Vagabond, saved Philly from the bullshit.
ly teamed up with house DJ Josh Wink, and the duo recorded world-
wide dance hit "Tribal Confusion," under the name E-Culture.
Back to Basics was the first time anyone in Philly had heard Brand New Heavies, and the first time anyone heard Omar.
After spinning on tour for Digable Planets, things got deeper. In '98, King Britt masterminded a theme project bearing the
With Back to Basics, it was a melting pot of all different styles.
name of his DJ alter ego, Sylk130. It’s an autobiographical
Plus, there was great hip hop coming out. A Tribe Called Quest
soundtrack faux featuring an all-star collective of musicians
was on their second or third album, and De La Soul's Stakes is
and artists. The first release in the series, When the Funk Hits
High was out. It was just a perfect time for music.
the Fan, is a tribute to ‘70s sound that rolls disco, jazz, funk and soul into one, while the series second release, Re-Members
How did you hook up with Josh Wink to begin with?
Only, recreates the synth-soul of the new wave era.
Again, I was working at Tower Records on South Street, and Blake Tart, a.k.a. DJ Dozia, whom I grew up with, kept telling
With all, Britt still manages to escape categorization. And there's
me about his roommate Josh. I used to see Josh around at
no doubt as to his love for music, and dedication to the craft.
Temple and noticed he was the only white guy there with dreads, so immediately I [started] thinking, “What’s this guy’s
Philly native DJ Statik interviewed the maestro, from whom
deal?” Blake told him I was working at Tower, so he came in to
he draws much inspiration.
buy some records one day. Mind you, this was before record stores were using listening stations, so I had to explain to all
Back to Basics seemed to change people’s expo-
these DJs what the records sounded like. If I could get into the
sure to music in clubs. Why?
DJ booth, I would play a little bit for them on the headphones.
Well, we were coming out of the late ‘80s and into the early
But this particular day I couldn’t get into the booth, so Josh was
‘90s, which was a rich time for music, especially acid jazz. At
walking around the store, opening records and just being a dick.
the time, I worked at Tower Records, plus, I’d always been into
I said to myself, “I’m gonna sell him a bad record.” So I sold it
collecting records and buying all the imports that were coming
to him, and the next day he came back and said, “This record is
out there. All this great music from Europe and all over the
horrible. I want my money back.” That’s how we met. [laughs]
place was coming out – acid jazz, but on the other side of the coin was techno. You had groups like Enjoy and Bizarre Inc.,
So, how did you and Josh end up working together?
ell, I’d been
“Aw man. Josh, I got the project signed. We got to figure out
what we’re gonna call it.” We called it E-Culture, because we
were into the rave scene, and E was the “term," and of course,
the drug, although we didn’t do any of it. We thought we could
sell more records if we called it that, which we did. So we went
we had that
to a real studio in NYC and spent our whole budget of
$1000.00. Josh brought his drum machine and added beats to
lem, Josh and
what was already there, enhancing the track, and our relation-
I clicked instantly. I was working on a demo tape to send to all
ship developed from there.
of the house labels that were starting up at the time. This was when Strictly Rhythm and Nervous Records were both brand
In 1992, I went on tour with Digable Planets, and Josh blew
new labels. I didn’t even have a full apartment. It was just a
up while I was gone. He did “Higher States” and all of his hit
room and a bathroom in South Philly on 9th & Christian
songs like “Don’t Laugh,” and so on. Everyone was after Josh
Street. All I had was studio equipment, and I slept on the floor.
for a solo deal. Sony approached him, and he told them that
So I said to Josh, who was just getting into production, “Come
he and I had a label called Ovum Recordings. We did a record
on into the studio, man.” And Josh came over with an R8
with Ursula Rucker, which was her first, Firefly Journey, and
drum machine, which he was just learning how to use. Now, I
the only record we put out [independently] on Ovum. And
had already sent demos to Nervous & Strictly, but the funny
when Sony came, Ovum took off. We did the Ovum sampler,
thing was I sent each company the wrong tape. The one I did
Josh’s album and Sylk130, which were all staples for the time.
for Strictly got sent to Nervous, and vice versa. Strictly called the week after and said they wanted to sign it, so I was like,
Tell me how the Sylk130 project came about.
ell, DJing at
So Anyway, I
Silk City was
the best expe-
rience. We did
“Lady Alma” and
Saturdays for a
Tanja Dixon, who’d never been
long time, but
on wax, Urs, Alison Crockette,
whom I met at Zanzibar, and
Capitol A, the guy who origi-
the years. We couldn’t play hip hop and house on the same night
nally did the track for “Rebirth
anymore. The house heads just wanted to hear house all night, so
of Slick, Cool Like Dat."
we moved the hip hop to Monday nights, and [added] a soul food buffet. To get people in there early, we [served] ribs, chicken,
I got the budget from the Sony thing and did the demo, which
cornbread, and greens, the works. This was when we first started,
I shopped, but when I got the deal, of course I kept the album
so we didn’t know how it was going to go. Now, Vagabond had
on our own label.
ended, so Monday was still a hot night, but there was nowhere to go. So we put a band together, just for that night, consisting of
We did the whole thing for 60 grand. I couldn’t have done it
Vidal Davis and Andre Harris rotating on drums, James Poyser on
without John and still had it come out so good. The album
keys, Tim Motzer on guitar, Jafar Barron on horns, and Norman
came out on Ovum/Columbia, When the Funk Hits the Fan,
Jeff Bradshaw on Trombone. Everyone played at the event. I
but the music was so new to them they didn't know how to
mean, you had Erykah Badu coming down, Jill Scott doing spoken
market it... until Jill Scott.
word pieces. Everybody would come through and just jam. We were the first in Philly to do the DJ/band thing, and would cut
We did a second one called Re-Members Only, which featured
underneath the musicians, like they would at Giant Step parties
De La Soul, Grover Washington Jr., Alison Moyet, Martin Frye
in New York. In fact, we would do Giant Step parties all the time
from ABC, basically all my heroes from the ‘80s. It was great.
in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in Philly, and just trade [musicians
I got to work with hometown heroes Larry Gold, Grover
and DJs]. There were only a few parties doing acid jazz at the time.
Washington JR, James Poyser, Kathy Sledge, and then show the international connection by working with Alison Moyet
Sylk130 [turned out to be] the blueprint for the whole neo-
and Martin Frye. Philly sound influenced Europe. It was a deep
soul movement and the Philly rebirth. It was a studio incar-
project. But it came out on Six Degrees and didn’t have the
nation that I developed from the energy at Silk City. When I
major label push.
got back from touring with Digable Planets, Silk City, held down by DJ Dozia, was just at its height. I used to think,
Will there be another Sylk130 LP?
“there’s too much talent in Philly.” I knew that I wanted to do
Yeah. I’m not sure yet, but it may just be an instrumental
an album, and I had written songs, but I didn’t know what I
wanted to do, or how to go about it with live musicians.
Recordings, in October, which is part of a compilation that
There’s a new Sylk single coming out on FiveSix
we’re putting out. It features G Love and Chuck Treece, and So I assembled them all, with the help of John Wicks, a good
it’s just straight-up, old funk. It sounds like it came from the
friend of mine for years. At the time, he owned 3rd Story Studios
‘70s. I’ve done all the future stuff. I want to go back to basics.
in West Philly, so I asked him what was up and he was like, “Dude,
You know, back to the funk.
let’s do this.” Why did you leave Ovum?
left Ovum in 1999 to concentrate on pro-
was lost, so DJs like Gilles Peterson and Norman Jay started the
duction. It was getting to be a little too
soul parties as a fight against the acid house parties, and coined
much running a label at the time, plus Josh
the phrase acid jazz as a joke. It stuck. Nu-jazz and neo-soul are
and I weren’t agreeing on certain things. So
bullshit terms that the media use to market soul music. These are
I told Josh that I wanted to leave the label
all basically very organic forms of soul, with more advanced drums
and just produce. He was cool about it and
and warm chords.
understood. From there, my production took off. But after a while I noticed that
What are some of your plans for the future?
many of my friends, who had all this great music lying around,
I have just been chosen to be the executive producer of the
were getting dropped [from labels]. The whole music business was
Philadelphia International Remix project. It's perfect timing, as
changing. So I decided to work out a distribution deal with
Gamble and Huff deserve their proper due. I just remixed "For
Studio Distribution, and have a small label, an avenue to put out
the Love of Money," and we are developing the album as we
whatever we wanted without red tape.
speak. It's going to be amazing to bring the new and old together, and push Philly into the future.
Could you define or put into perspective genres like acid jazz, nu-jazz and neo-soul that are
I'm also working on a blues/folk/electronic project for
always thrown around?
Ropeadope. The artist is Sister Gertrude Morgan, a famous painter whose estate found her original tapes. We got the
There are too many categories. I feel they are waste of time, but...
tapes and are reproducing the whole album.
Acid jazz was a rebellion against the acid house movement. In 1988 the acid house (that kinda techno house music that featured
These are both groundbreaking projects that will make people
the tb303 machine) was taking over all the clubs. The soul music
Rebecca Westcott 1976 â€“ 2004
words by Jeanine Lee photos by Ryan Hendon
“A lot of people tried to do what we were doing, but they were really good musicians. So, it ended up sort of sounding like jazz.”
Average music listeners are more than content with the easy task of keeping track of headline acts, who grace the covers of pop culture magazines, and whose music finds repetitious play on commercial airwaves. But for avid music seekers, who read liner notes religiously and would surely spend their last on never-heard-of artists, there is much more to be discovered. Stuart Matthewman could be considered one of those neverheard-of guys. And despite his long list of credits, the songwriter/musician/producer remains rather modest. “In the [music] business, you’ve got to keep your ego in check,” recalls Stuart, who spent the last twenty-two years as saxophonist, guitarist, keyboardist, programmer and songwriter for the group Sade. Born in the small town of Hull, North Yorkshire, England, Matthewman moved to London in 1982. He has been moving ever since – musically, that is. “I’m not very good at sitting down for too long,” states Matthewman. Staying power is something that he has got in spades, but staying still is another story. After Sade’s sabbatical, the musicians continued producing music under the name Sweetback, with the 1997 release of their self-titled debut, featuring collaborations with Amel Larrieux, Bahamadia and Maxwell. Very few have heard of Matthewman’s Cottonbelly release on Wrong Records, NYC Sessions 1993-2004: X-Amounts of Niceness, and even fewer have actually heard it. It was released just one week after Sweetback’s second album, Stage 2. I get the feeling that Matthewman could care less. It probably wouldn’t change a thing about the way he makes music. Besides, his catalog is deep and demonstrates the breadth of his talent. Matthewman co-wrote hits like, “Your Love is King,” “Is it a Crime,” “Cherish the Day,” “No Ordinary Love,” and is solely responsible for the signature saxophone sound of Sade. He was also instrumental in the success of soul sensation Maxwell, writing and producing hits like, “Welcome," "Lonely's the Only," and "Whenever Wherever Whatever." In between all the other stuff, Matthewman is a pretty reserved guy who is sweet on dub music and Kung Fu. During his stop in the City of Brotherly Love, we sat down and talked about everything from Sade to reggae.
ow did Sade, the band,
people tried to do what we were doing, but they were really
good musicians. So, it ended up sort of sounding like jazz.
Well, I moved to London on
Because of our limitations, we weren’t capable of doing really
my own. I knew I wasn’t going
clever chord changes and riffs. And Sade has the most amaz-
to make it in the little town
ing voice, but she hasn’t got a great ability, as she’ll admit.
where I was from. So, I
She was not like Aretha [Franklin] or something, with that
moved, and I didn’t know
riffing thing going on. It was just the simplicity I think.
anyone. I went for an audi-
tion. In the back of a music magazine there was an ad that
During the band’s hiatus, you never really
said, ‘Sax player required for fashion conscious jazz funk
band.’ So, I go along, and I walked in and, man, my jaw
Well, music is my passion, so I couldn’t not do it in the time
dropped. You know, there’s this girl sitting there – Sade. She
between. I was DJing for a bit. I ended up just writing stuff for
had her hair in cornrows, and she had wristbands on. I was
no reason. Besides writing for Sade, I ended up just writing
like, man, she’s cool [smiles]. So, I joined the band as a sax
tracks. Then I started getting a little more experimental. I was
player and she was just one of the backing vocalists. The
listening to a lot of dub music and other weird stuff that I like.
music was kind of more funk – a Latin funk thing, which is
I started doing music for myself at home, knowing that it was
cool. But I used to hang out with Sade. We listened to the
not suitable for Sade or anyone else I knew. I ended up putting
same music, like Al Green and Bill Withers and Nina Simone.
it on a DAT and sending it over to my brother in London,
We thought it would be cool to write that kind of stuff. At
because I was living in New York at the time. He had a little
that time in the ‘80s, no disrespect, it was all Duran Duran
techno label. So he pressed it up and sent it back to New York,
kind of stuff. It was just a whole different thing. So, we want-
because New Yorkers love stuff that comes from London, and
ed to do a jazzy soul thing – really stripped down. It was just
Londoners love stuff that comes from New York. And that’s
bass, drums, her singing and me on sax. We did a few little
when I thought, I need to get a different name, so people don’t
gigs, and things started bugging out. We started writing songs,
associate me with Sade or Maxwell – not that I’m not com-
and the record companies were more interested in her than
pletely proud of that. It’s just that I know when [artists] do
the whole band. So we just kind of went off with her. And I’ve
different music, people go, ‘Oh, now he’s trying to get groovy,’
been there ever since.
or, ‘now he’s trying to be hip.’ So, I thought I’d get a different name and then if people liked it, great, and if they didn’t, no
Do you remember hearing the first hit on the radio?
big deal. I started putting out a few 12” [singles] and they got
Yeah. You know, when we were in the studio, we had no expec-
licensed to some of the ambient [record labels] that were
tations. And the first things we did were “Smooth Operator,”
around. Then I got asked to do remixes, and I got into remix-
“Your Love is King” and an instrumental. We weren’t even
ing our own stuff like Sade and Sweetback.
signed. This producer just let us go into the studio. So [the tracks] were masters, and then we took them to the record
One of the other times I had a break, I met Maxwell. That was
company. And we were like, ‘Listen, this is what it is. We don’t
another lucky engagement. He’s an amazing singer/songwriter.
want to change it.’ They went, ‘Great.’ So, they put it out, and people really loved it. Then we recorded Diamond Life. It was just different than what was out there at the time.
You were involved in his first two albums? All three. I came in half way through him [recording] his [first] record. I got sent his demo – well I was told it was a
Once Sade, the band, had become this huge suc-
demo. They wanted to know if I would like to produce with
cess, what were you able to learn about yourself
him. I heard it. It was the track “When the Cops Come
as a musician?
Knocking,” and it was finished. And I was like, ‘You don’t
I mean, for us, when we first started we weren’t great musi-
need me. This is amazing!’ So we met and we started writing.
cians. We are still not particularly like muses. The good thing
And when I heard more of his stuff, I’m like: ‘I want to play
about that was that we weren’t showing off when we were
guitar on this. Let me play sax on that.’ So I was sort of bum-
playing. We were just playing to our limitations. A lot of
rushing his other tracks.
ack then one of my best friends, one
this track from this rapper, Bahamadia. We called her up and
of the Polish Brothers, was into
she didn’t know what to make of us – three English white
independent movies. He asked me
boys. She thought we were funny. We actually came to Philly
if I would like to do some music
and recorded that album at the studio there. What’s it called?
for his film. I had never done that before. It was my first movie, Twin
The Studio – Larry Gold’s studio.
Falls Idaho. I have a big passion for
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We recorded there, which was cool. And we
film music. But I kind of winged it for
ended up doing a remix with The Roots, which was really cool.
my first score. And now I’ve done a couple more. This new album, Stage 2, is different. I know it pissed off a lot
Are you working on another film for the Polish
of people who like the first one because it was really different.
With the first one, there was no reason to do it except to
Yeah. I’ve done three movies with them. They are amazing
please ourselves. And the same thing with this one, it was
guys, and now they’re doing their first big studio movie with
[about] who was around. But we thought this time we would
Warner Bros. It's a sci-fi, set in New York a hundred years in
use less singers and give it more songs, to ensure that if we do
the future. It’s going to be really cool. There are no flying cars
go on the road eventually, it’s more of a band. Last time we
or [any] of that. Most sci-fi movies are always a little dark and
could never get Maxwell, Amel and everyone together at the
rainy with blue and green light like The Matrix, which I love.
But this movie is really hi-res, bright, and colorful. Bang. You know? Where did the alias Cottonbelly come from? What are you looking to contribute to that,
A kung-fu movie. I’m a big kung-fu fan. I’ve studied for years
and I’m really into the movies. There’s a movie, Wing Chung,
I don’t know. I’m still scratching my head. You know, you
and one of the bad guys, this really fat guy with a big belly, was
can’t second-guess the future of music. That’s why 2001 is
called Cottonbelly. So I thought it was a cool name. I’ve got a
such a good sci-fi movie, because it doesn’t sound like it’s try-
lot of names for bands from kung-fu movies [smiles]. I just
ing to be futuristic. And yet there were so many movies made
haven’t used them yet [laughs].
in the ‘70s or ‘80s that were trying to sound really futuristic; but as soon as you hear it, you go, ‘Ha, that was made in the
Describe your latest solo project, X-Amounts of
‘70s or the ‘80s,’ like movies made in the late ‘90s always have
that drum and bass sound. When you listen to it ten years
It is like ten years of being spoiled and messing around in the
later, it always sounds dated. So, we’re going to keep it orches-
studio. When I do remixes, I always say to the people up front
tral, and we’re just going to mess with the sounds a little.
– cause I’ve done stuff for Janet Jackson and such – I say up front, ‘This is not radio stuff. Maybe alternative radio, but if
How did the initial Sweetback project from ’96
you want me to do it, I’ll do whatever I feel like doing that
day.’ And that is what I normally do. I get the vocals and
Well at first what happened was the record company, Epic,
[record] the first thing that I do and that’s usually it. I don’t go
came to us and said, ‘Why don’t you do an album of instru-
back and mess with it too much. [I like] doing sounds that are
mentals?’ because we always used to put instrumental tracks
just interesting. Hopefully when people listen to the record,
on the Sade albums. We got together, and we got bored doing
every time they hear it they find something new, some other
just instrumentals. I was working with Maxwell at the time,
sound in the background. I’ve always loved those Marvin
and he was over [at the studio]. I had the track [playing] and
[Gaye] records – the I Want You album. I’ve played the album
he started singing. So he laid a track down. And I was hanging
like 500 times, but every time I play it, I hear some new vocal
out with Amel Larrieux from Groove Theory – same thing. We
or something. So much music today just goes from the begin-
had a backing track. She came over and started singing. There
ning through to the end, and there is nothing to discover.
were just no rules. We thought we would do whatever we felt like at the time, with whoever was around. But then I heard
What is it about dub and roots reggae that brings out the best in you? This sounds really simple, but in London or up north in England – see I grew up in kind of like a punk environment up north – there weren’t a lot of punk records out, and they weren’t that good, so the DJs would just play pop music. So, just hearing reggae on a big sound system or going to the dub clubs – it was the simplicity of the bass. It wasn’t about the musicians showing off their licks or chords. It was just standard cool. How would you describe Stuart Matthewman, the man? Man, I’m all over the place – attention deficit disorder to the extreme. I’ve just got a million things going on at the same time, all that good stuff. But I’m lucky that I’m in the music industry. I’m not working as an accountant. I don’t have a boss – kind of. I’m very lucky. I stay all over the place, musically and physically. If you were to stand and view your music from afar, what do you think you would learn about yourself? There is some messed up stuff in that guy’s head [laughs]. But my favorite music is the ballad – the kind of stuff that I have done with Sade or Maxwell. I love the tortured, sad stuff. How do you feel about Philly? I love Philly. The first time we came to Philly it was with Sade and it was around 1983. It was before she signed and everything. We were playing in New York, [and] somebody had invited us over for a party. It was just the four of us. And someone said they had a gig [for us] in Philly, so we drove here. It was this tiny little club, and there was no one there. Half-way through our little slow quiet set, [Sade] just screams. There was a roach crawling on her foot. That was our first experience in Philly. But it’s a great audience. I love coming here. Plus, the musicians and the vibe here are great. •
When you hear ‘heavyweight,’ you think boxing. And while I’m not making any mention here of prize fights or knuckle-taped warriors, I'm still talking about some bad asses, though bad asses from a slightly more civil arena. Tyler Gibney,
Heavyweight, which transcribes to HVW8, an art
words by Jeanine Lee
and design company combining the collective influence of dub soundscapes, skate graphics, musical and cultural icons, pop and street art, callig-
artwork by Heavyweight
raphy, album covers and Japanese hyper-pop styles. Conceived around 1998 in Montreal, HVW8 began as Heavyweight Production House, a design collective where “a bunch of guys got together to share a loft and start a studio, where we threw parties and sold beer to make rent,” says Gene, describing how it all started. “We had art shows and did projects in the space. We made t-shirts and stickers, did murals, flyers and album covers for our friends.” What began as a loose venture developed into much more. By 1999, the collective, under the name Heavyweight Art Installation, was hosting live painting shows, and turning out murals. They toured with DJs, frequented music festivals, and collaborated with other artists and musicians. Eventually, they found themselves producing their own art, and holding their own music events and exhibitions. Heavyweight Production House and Heavyweight Art Installation are now known singly as HVW8. Painting at shows with Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzanova and Roots Manuva, while retaining clients like Levi Strauss, Ubiquity Records and Giant Step, HVW8 has truly established itself. With a solid reputation and a remarkable portfolio, Tyler, Gene and Dan have moved to something a little more political with their latest exhibit. It's called Political Minded III, the third in a series of exhibitions that feature portraits of social and political figures of influence. Although the art speaks for itself, HVW8 paintings,
“It used to be that we would have to put forth some effort to think of a political subject for our paintings, but now the opposite is true.” 48
like so much contemporary art rooted in the urban subcultures of the ‘80s, can be easily seen as parallel to music that relies heavily on samples. In the same way that hip hop uses samplings of sound, your work shows samplings of images and styles. Is
we decided at
that intentional, or just a natural result of your
the outset that we would leave that particular thread to folks that
were a little more passionate about it. We figured the experts were handling it, and that we would concern ourselves more with the
Gene: A bit of both. Sometimes we’re searching for influences that
icons and agents of culture that were not being paid so much atten-
are relevant to what we’re trying to express. Other times, we’re
tion. We have all explored our relationship with politics in our own
selecting icons that connect with the music that’s being played or
work, individually, but we didn’t think politics necessarily had any
performed. Each painting has it’s own moment.
place in the Heavyweight experiment. That has changed gradually, in direct parallel to politics becoming more of a force in all our lives.
Tyler: We intentionally tried to appropriate the technique of sam-
It’s gotten to the point that we can’t avoid it anymore. It used to be
pling, as used in music, and apply it visually. Many of our original
that we would have to put forth some effort to think of a political
paintings would re-contextualize classic images and modernize
subject for our paintings, but now the opposite is true. We live in
them. We took it one step further by creating it live, like an art
very political times, so naturally, that will be reflected in our work.
“band” working in the same vein as a jazz standard – starting a basic composition and then allowing room for improvisation.
HVW8 seems to emphasize the effect music, politics and art have on the public. Comment on that.
Tell me about the political or social undercurrent often found in your work.
Gene: We’re intuitive about injecting political or social commentary in our work. Usually it’s done by the figures we choose to
Tyler: We have always had a social conscious in creating our work,
paint. Sometimes these personalities are lost on the public, or
even in the fact that three people work on one piece, but recently
unrecognized. But the last few showings of our Political Minded
we’ve taken it to another level with our Political Minded series, a
series seem [to have struck] a chord with people looking for other
more direct statement.
ways to digest issues or ideas pertaining to politics, specifically in the US. The portraits invite the public to at least reflect on the
Gene: For [Political Minded], we’ve focused on figures that reveal
stories or situations that each figure represents. With our live
something about the world in which we live, and the lengths that these
painting events in the past, we’ve seen how people often connect
figures have gone to help define how others around them live, whether
with a painting being created before their eyes, somehow investing
through their ideas, music, writing, career, or personal sacrifice.
their interest in understanding how it evolves over time, and even more so when it’s backed by music. The two are connected on all
Dan: For a long time we consciously avoided any overt political mes-
sorts of levels. Music, art and politics all have a way of marking
sage. We all believe that politics and art can coexist comfortably, but
moments in our lives, helping us define ourselves.
Are there any truly memorable moments?
The work of HVW8 has the ability to educate and preserve pieces of history through art for its
Gene: It’s all a blur. But having Afrika Bambaataa sign the
audience. What do you think your artwork has
portrait we did of him was really cool.
been able to teach you as artists?
Dan: We were interviewed for some college radio station in
Gene: It’s always ongoing, and a constant struggle to chal-
Miami when we painted Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, which was
lenge ourselves with new ideas and concepts. The real art is
around the same time we decided to start exploring a more
seen in the accumulation of work, and the evolution of ideas.
political direction. It was two days after the war started in Iraq, and we felt compelled to work with a subject that reflect-
Tyler: By researching different icons and historical figures,
ed an anti-war stance, without being too obvious about it.
and exposing ourselves to new cities, people and music, we are
Nusrat was a perfect choice, because he represented a message
of peace, but he was also a musical heavyweight. I remember the crew from the radio station being really interested in that
How do you see HVW8 expanding in the next
idea, because they were having a hard time finding anyone in
few years or so?
Miami that gave a shit. This was the same town that was playing “Bombs Over Baghdad” in all the clubs to crowds that
Tyler: A clothing line, a new book and a music project. These
thought it was friggin’ hilarious.
are all happening right now.
What do you think of the current political envi-
What upcoming projects can the public expect
Gene: There’s a lot to pay attention to these days, more than ever.
Gene: New collaborations and new concepts are always popping up, a continuation of the Political Minded series, a few
Tyler: It’s ripe for comment. 1968 all over again!
animation projects and “Heavyweight Presents…,” a music compilation. Tyler: Yes. Be on the lookout for the HVW8 compilation on Ubiquity Records. • hvw8.com
Kicked off the Team
Photographer: Ryan Hendon Stylists: Neilly Lane & Abbey Road Contributors: Agent Aloha (Penguin, Adidas, Obey, Ben Sherman), Skatenerd Minnow (t shirts), Jacklyn Barris, Jon Vitagliano, Thomas, Raffae, Robert, Dan, Village Thrift
Revisited: L.A. Riots Photography by Jose Ivey
April 29, 1992. The officers charged with the beating of Rodney King are aquitted. Los Angeles erupts in flame.
Christopher Tavares Silva Artist Statement
I believe you get what you give. I trust that maintaining my integrity and doing art that feels honest and truthful to my nature will payoff in the long run. The concept of "payoff" is not solely in the form of financial gain, but more importantly to my spiritual, mental and emotional well being, and the positive effects that my artwork can have on its viewers. As a human being I possess strengths and weaknesses. I am concerned with how people relate to self, each other and to their environment. I aim to give artistic presence through my humanity and concern. I seek to improve my relationship with others and myself. My artwork is a diary of this commitment. I employ ambiguity in my work and strive to express the essence of issues rather than the details. I enjoy leaving space for viewers to fill in their own perspectives. I am interested in the visually poetic. I like working on found objects in order to transform what may have been considered trash into treasure. I am interested in the language of marks, the lyrical and calligraphic qualities of line, the juxtaposition of the bold and graphic with the understated and ornate, rich surface histories, texture, decay, unusual combinations of materials, seeing the opportunities offered by accidents, and the general adventure of the creative process. I am interested in the balance created by using disparate materials in conjunction with each other. I see the harmonious composition of difference as a metaphor for the harmony that is possible between humans when difference is celebrated. I love the process and the unusual outcomes of collaboration with others. I believe that collective consciousness is infinitely more important than that of individual intellect. For this reason, I am most interested in the interventions of public art. I believe that there is great value in expanding the scope of public art to include more work that is often only experienced in galleries and other private settings. It is my goal to find more ways to expose the general public to art that they can respond to, and be inspired by. I strive to create progressive, quality public artworks as visual alternatives to the soulless clutter of advertising in public space by producing work that uses innovative combinations of materials and content to encourage the perceptual and spiritual evolution of the general public. â€˘
sesion 31 words by Ginger Rudolph photos by Ryan Hendon
Subjects willing to do interviews on a Sunday afternoon are rarities. But when those said subjects are willing to postpone interviews so that the interviewer can finish watching, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – that’s just hot. When I’m done watching Clint, I call up Freddy Blast and Skeme Richards, two Philly cats who go by the moniker Sesion 31. They are known best for mixing hot grooves with sound bites from late ‘60s, early ‘70s TV shows, movies, and cartoons – the viewing of which is suspiciously referred to by both DJs as ‘research’. Fair warning, they make the rules in this realm, and you merely reside in it. Case in point: barely done with introductions, Freddy excuses himself and proceeds to have a side conversion with Skeme about the new
Though they have regular gigs spinning underground hip-
X-Men Legends video game. I’m ready to get indignant and remind
hop, funk and soul, an internet radio show they host on
them that I am trying to conduct an interview. But I don’t. I love
Radio Volta (“The Formula”) and are scheduled to release
X-Men, and I’m pleasantly stunned by the fact that they had the gull
their latest CD, Watch For the Fuzz, talk is buzzing around
to think a video game was so important that it merited an interrup-
scoring films in the future. Not to mention, their documen-
tion. That’s when I realized I was dealing with guys whose inspira-
tary is currently being edited.
tions will pique your curiosity. Let them talk freely and unabashedly and you’ll find yourself free-basing off their flashbacks.
Left unchecked this kind of genre obsession tends to cause an artist to recycle prior successes. Trying to prove the well isn’t running dry, Sesion dips down and reminds me of nearly a decade’s worth of movies just begging to join their repertoire. Conceptually, they come off as inventive, offbeat yet classic. But this obsession isn’t all that rare. It has afflicted other innovators with glorious results. Think RZA’s homage to obscure Kung Fu flicks and Shaw Brother sound bites in the scoring of Kill Bill, Volume 1; or George Lucas inspired by the Science Fiction films of his youth going on to write Star Wars. Am I suggesting we judge them by the same barometer? No. I do, however, see a similar formula. Take a guiding sense of what moves people It’s their musical style that lends to analogies like, Sesion 31
in the now, and fusing it with connections from the past to
is to ‘70s vintage, what the Wu Tang Clan is to Karate flicks.
create a trigger. Triggers compel you to digress to previous
They are, in their own words, “comic-book-reading, toy-store-
memories. The challenge for Sesion 31 is giving their music
going, karate-flick-watching, vintage-‘70s-old-school-record-
personality so that it doesn’t become aged like their vintage
having, and classic-movie-watching guys.”
inspirations, yet the creativity must retain balance, so in essence, the music is digging on the decade, not a decade deciding on a rhythm.
Staying focused while talking to these guys is near impossible.
These two are ushering in the return of the modern geek. As a
We kept breaking for random ‘top ten lists’ and ‘what is’ ques-
fellow geek, I use the word with full respect. We know our
tioning. Here’s my favorite. ‘What is your one possession from
place in society, not as outcasts, but as people who appreciate,
the ‘70s so prized that it would have to be ripped from your
religiously – seeking out ways to make it distinctly our own
cold rigor-mortised hands?’ Blast jumped in with more enthu-
and serve up to the masses. Having already completed produc-
siasm than a grown man should probably have for a piece of
tion for the likes of MF Doom, Bahamadia, and El Da Sensai,
electronics. It’s his “working” Beta Max. On which I suspect
apparently their appeal is spreading.
he regularly watches live-action Japanese imports and Hanna Barbara cartoons we agreed would be great to sample from
These are two guys turning what they love into a job. For
because they had full orchestras pumping out kick-ass
those of us who haven’t yet discovered how to get paid for
soundtracks. If you don’t know what a Beta Max is, it’s because
doing what we love, viewing their documentary could be sheer
it’s just old enough to exclude Generation X, and not archaic
torture. I’ve been thinking about it – a day in the life of Skeme
enough to covet a definition in the Webster’s Dictionary.
& Freddy! It’s the opening scene- a split screen. You see Skeme and Freddy waking up at their respective homes on a Saturday
Skeme took a bit longer deciding. He thought he might need
morning. Skeme scratches his leg as Freddy yawns, both stum-
to go down to his basement and “assess the collection”. His
bling downstairs for a bowl of sugary cereal. Simultaneously,
collection must have required hours of Ebay watching, con-
they sit in front of their TVs, exhausted, but somehow manag-
vention attending and subscriptions to black-inked catalogs
ing to pick up their remote controls and turn to the Cartoon
that contain the numbers that could get a collector flustered.
Network for a toiling day of “research”.
Finally after long deliberation, it came down to his Limited Edition Ultra Man figure!
Awe… don’t mind the petty last paragraph, I’m just jealous. •
Click CD image to downlo a the entire d album FR EE!
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The New Classic
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B.informed Magazine was a short-lived but popular independent magazine coming out of Philadelphia in the early 2000s. Although it was entire...
Published on Dec 31, 2004
B.informed Magazine was a short-lived but popular independent magazine coming out of Philadelphia in the early 2000s. Although it was entire...