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The New Classic

5

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King Britt

Peanut ButterWolf Heavy Weight Rickey Kim

US $5.99 • CAN $7.99

Stuart Matthewman


contents b.informed issue #5

B.Sides Jen Lindup

18

Kom3

20

Reid van Renesse

22

Features Prometheus Radio Project

24

PB Wolf

26

Rickey Kim

30

King Britt

34

Rebecca Westcott

40

Stuart Matthewman

42

HVW8

48

Sesion 31

74

Fashion Kicked off the Team

52

Frame

10

LA Riots

56

Ogi

66

Chris Silva

70

b.informed Magazine


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


Publisher

Advertising Inquiries

Amani Olu

publisher@binformedmag.com

publisher@binformemdag.com Editor in Chief Jeanine Lee

215-925-4416 Domestic Distribution Tower Records, Ubiquity, Armadillo

editor@binformedmag.com Canadian Distribution Senior Editor

Doormouse

Chris DeMento chris@binformedmag.com

B.INFORMED Magazine POB 36666

Art Director

Philadelphia, PA 19107 | 215-925-4416

Bret Syfert bret@binformedmag.com Photography Director Ryan Hendon ryan@binformedmag.com

B.INFORMED Magazine is published four times a year Subscriptions: 1 YEAR (4 issues) US $20.00 Subscription inquiries: subscriptions@binformedmag.com 215-925-4416

Fashion Editor Neilly Rosenblum neilly@binformedmag.com

Thanks: All the people and companies who continue to support B. INFORMED.

Public Relations Consultant Rickey Kim rickey@evilmonito.com

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-

Contributing Photographers Ryan Hendon, Nate Sherman, Paul Sun, Jose Ivey

in. Publisher reserves the right to edit, rewrite or refuse editorial material and assumes no responsibility for accuracy, errors or omissions.

Contributing Illustrator Dave Kinsey

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b.informed Magazine

Printed in USA


editor’s note

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.

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b.informed Magazine


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

Thirty-three

old

and

it’s possible to have an image and still have substance. It all

attended

the

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

counting,

Jen

years

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

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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

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b.informed Magazine


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

with

him, so that came across. From beginning to end, that inter-

UpperPlayground and FIFTY24SF, includes sessions with some of

laboration

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.

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b.informed Magazine

‘80s. That was the best thing: seeing the common thread. •


in

perse v erance :

pr o m et h e u s

radi o

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

abandoned music.

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

you've been.

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,

received?

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

Stones Throw?

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

examples.

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.

32

b.informed Magazine


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.


34

b.informed Magazine


intro by Jeanine Lee • interview by DJ Statik • photos by Nate Sherman


S

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.,

36

b.informed Magazine

So, how did you and Josh end up working together?


W

ell, I’d been

“Aw man. Josh, I got the project signed. We got to figure out

producing

what we’re gonna call it.” We called it E-Culture, because we

since

high

were into the rave scene, and E was the “term," and of course,

school,

and

the drug, although we didn’t do any of it. We thought we could

even though

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

initial prob-

$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.


W

ell, DJing at

So Anyway, I

Silk City was

called

the best expe-

Horton

rience. We did

“Lady Alma” and

Saturdays for a

Tanja Dixon, who’d never been

long time, but

on wax, Urs, Alison Crockette,

the

crowd

whom I met at Zanzibar, and

changed over

Capitol A, the guy who origi-

Alma AKA

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

album.

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?

38

b.informed Magazine


I

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

think. •


Rebecca Westcott 1976 – 2004


S

tuart Matthewman

words by Jeanine Lee photos by Ryan Hendon

42

b.informed Magazine


“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.


44

b.informed Magazine


H

ow did Sade, the band,

people tried to do what we were doing, but they were really

come together?

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

stopped working.

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.


B

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.

Brothers?

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.

same time.

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

musically?

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

Niceness.

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

come together?

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

46

b.informed Magazine


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,

Gene

Pendon

and

Dan

Buller

form

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

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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

own influences?

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.


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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

always learning.

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

ronment?

from HVW8?

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


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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


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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.


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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. •

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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.

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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!

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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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B.Informed Magazine Issue #5  

B.informed Magazine was a short-lived but popular independent magazine coming out of Philadelphia in the early 2000s. Although it was entire...

B.Informed Magazine Issue #5  

B.informed Magazine was a short-lived but popular independent magazine coming out of Philadelphia in the early 2000s. Although it was entire...

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