R O V A FL S
U N O BINTERVIELWISCSHA!UF ENG
JAROBI WHITE SITH-HOP EMILIO ROJAS IMAGINE THAT CHELSEA REJECT GIVES US “COMPLEX” WILLIAM COOPER GODS WILL
Natalie La Rose AROUND THE WORLD
+ PLUS ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ BARRON CLAIBORNE - SWEET GENERATION - MASI YAYA JAMES
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AROUND THE WORLD
First of all congrats on the certified on the platinum single. I think we are the first here to publish that you are officially Platinum Thank you .. thank you very much. You channelled Whitney on this record did you think that folks expected we hear more Whitney like records (ballads etc.) from you? I actually didn’t think about what others thought. I really just make music that feels good to me.
Does it feel like a bit of pressure is off that the new single is out? Well, I’m more excited because there was only one song out by me, people really wanted to hear more and I’m just happy that now I can show them more of what I have in store. I know that everything has its time and I’m so happy to now be able to show people more of me. Now that you have dropped “ Around The World” FLAVOR MAGAZINE // 03
people ask me what I am, I say that I am a world citizen.
which is an EDM-trap hybrid sound is this more of the sound we can expect from you on the album. It’s not necessarily going to be a new sound, as I said before I want to make music that feels good and has a good beat to it. I wouldn’t call it pop overall but what I am trying to do with my new songs is something more conceptual with a theme to it. My first song had a hint of an 80’s theme, and this new single as you said has a little bit of “ Trap” in it. I like to be creative with my songs, and just do what feels good. How would you explain the creation process for your music? Do you write the hook first or do you go with the verse of the song to begin? For every song it’s actually different. The process from “Somebody” was totally different from “Around The World”. What I like is to add a little bit of me in my music for example I’m from Europe and for instance if someone hears the way I say my name in Dutch, and in the song it’s the way that I say the “ra-ra,ra”, that’s the sound of the R in Dutch . I play around a lot with that. Being that you are from Holland but you have roots in Surinam what would you consider your ethnicity? When people ask me what I am, I say that I am a world citizen. I was actually born in Amsterdam and true my parents are from Surinam. Like Amsterdam, Surinam a multi-cultural society. I grew up amongst people from so many different countries. I think I have soaked up these other cultures, and that is what makes me a world citizen. Considering that you have toured the states with Flo-Rida any particular stop your really are looking forward to and why? I am looking forward to the people. I am really a people person, and an energy person so you know for me it’s
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not how big the venue is or how many people but I look forward to the people who are there to see me and meeting the fans who support me. Whats the biggest lesson on the road you’ve learned thus far? I would say keep working hard, and stay healthy. My schedule is full. I am always busy, always traveling flying back and forth between Europe and the States. What I really think is important is to live in the moment and enjoy the experience or what ever I am doing because it goes so fast. Its also important to stay healthy because it can be tense at times so I try to eat healthy , which is not always easy but I try to think about it and to work out. Do you feel it better being a U.S. artist that blows
up in Europe or a foreign artist that blows up in the States? The pros and cons if you will. Well, I think how I have experienced growing up in Europe and going to the States, it’s been fun. The States are so different than Europe, so I was able to adapt to the differences and its been great for me. I can’t imagine it any other way. Being very international what would you say is the most unusual cuisine or dish that you would say you’ve eaten? Let me think. I have been to South America and I went to Peru and had a fish soup, that had different types of fish and shell fish in it, and it was really good but I got really sick. I’m not sure what was in it. I was sick for a
few days, but I must admit , it was still a very tasty meal. How important is this for your community in Suriname? So... I have heard people say that they are proud that I have Surinam roots. They have shown a lot of support out there so I am hoping that I can go there soon, and maybe do a few performances there. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people, and going there would be great. How many pairs of heels would you say you’ve accumulated on the road? That’s a tough question. I really do not know but I have more sneakers than heels believe it or not. FLAVOR MAGAZINE // 05
Now that you’ve totally broken through, what do you like most and what do you like least about the success? What I like most is meeting new people and seeing the appreciation that people have for my music, that’s a great feeling because I have been working so hard and I’ve been waiting to put it out and finally the moment has come that I can show the world what I have to give , seeing the appreciation from people and being an inspiration has been really awesome. Whats your least favorite part of the new success? There really isn’t a least favorite part. Maybe it would be how busy I am and being on the road. I always trying to live in the moment and enjoying what I am doing.
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Sometimes I slow down and breathe to capture that moment. Any shout outs to your friends and folks or plugs for the world? Natalie La Rose :- Twitter: Natalie_la_rose Instagram: natalielarose Www.Natalielarose.com New single “Around The World” releasing globally : June 16th on i-Tunes Supporting ‘Fifth Harmony’ on the National US ‘Reflection Tour’ : July 15th - August 27th In-studio through the rest of the year recording songs for her debut album due to be released 1st Qtr 2016.
Chelsea Reject – introduce yourself ! What’s up, my name is Chelsea Reject, originally from Park Slope, Brooklyn. I started rapping in High School. I used to do poetry and that’s where I got the name Chelsea Reject from. That was my poetry name and I kinda just kept it and now, I’m working with Duck Down Music. Shout out to Duck down Buck shot & Dru Ha and yeah.. I’m here. What was your first introduction to Hip Hop Music? You got started with poetry, which can go hand in hand with rapping , but when did you get the idea that “I could actually rap”? It actually wasn’t by choice. A high school friend
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of mine who had a studio kept on telling me: “You should come to the studio and record some songs” and I always was like “I do not record songs, I just do poetry” but he kept on telling me that that’s what it is and that I should try it out and ever since then, I have been very interested in all those processes, the production,engineering and such, to see how that all works. It’s a crazy process and I got really into it. Other recording artists – who has been inspirational for you as you were crossing over from poetry into rap? Lupe Fiasco and Andre3000. Only these two. The name Chelsea Reject – how did you come up
Reject Your current project “CMPLX” is your first work on Duck Down – could you give us a description of where your artistic vibe on this particular record? For this project, I didn’t really want to have a set sound. In preparation I took a lot of time listening to many different producers and with regards to collaborations: I just worked with people who were around me at that time, for example I did a lot of work with Pro Era because at that time we recorded at the same studio in Brooklyn. Was ist der Track dieses Projekts, der Dir am meisten am Herzen liegt? Ich würde sagen “47” mit Kirk Knight und T‘nah Apex. What’s your favorite cut? I would say “47” with Kirk Knight. It was one of the older songs I recorded. A week before it dropped, Kurt re-recorded his verse and the result resonated with me, plus he added an outro thats very dope. That’s my favorite track. with that name? Well, Chelsea is my real name. The whole reject thing was just me trying to be myself. “I reject everything else and I’m just trying to be me.” It was my poetry name at that time, not really a rap thing. How did you meet the guys from Duck Down and what did that culminated into? I met the Duck Down guys through CJ and T’nah with who I did a show at SXSW two years ago. Duck Down was working with T’nah Apex and Pro Era at one point. and from then one we started talking about working together.
There is still a lack of women in Hip Hop. You see Bgirls and female Djs, but only few female artists in Rap. Where would you like to see yourself within that community and that female category - also after this current project? Honestly, I don’t really care about that. I just want to make music. I don’t really look at it as “female rap” vs. “male rap”. I see it as rap, it’s all the same. Looking into the future – are there any artists with who you would like to collaborate? Lately I really like Vince Staples and Skepta.
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I just want to make good „ music. Can we expect any upcoming performances nationally or internationally in Germany and Europe? We are working on it but there is nothing concrete, yet. I just performed in June at the big Duck Down Anniversary BBQ in New York. Are you down with Buckshot’s Triple Threat Sneakers? What’s your favorite? Beastie Boys? Yea, I’m definitely down with that. I really dig the Lucindas. They made them for me, actually. Well, they aren’t actually made yet, they are in the process of producing the they’re mad just for me. That’s Fresh.. any shout outs ? Shout out to Buckshot and DruHa my whole Duck Down Family. Fotos: Jeff Pliskin
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What was your first exposure to Hip Hop? My first exposure to Hip Hop Music was through skateboarding and then friends who were always listening to the LOX and crews like that. The first stuff I bought was Biggie’s “One More Chance” on tape, and then “The What”. Back in the day, I also chilled heavily with Naughty By Nature. Then, and to this day Naughty By Nature has not been getting enough credit. Treach was a beast, but nobody is giving him the props he deserves even though they had major hits! I also chilled with Onyx, that was the soundtrack to my childhood. I can’t pinpoint one exact moment, but that was all stuff I was on heavily.
How did you yourself get involved in Hip Hop Music? When I first got involved in Hip Hop Music, I was making beats. I had a Nsonic EPS16+ which I would try to work with the discs, but it actually didn’t work. It was a great machine, but I didn’t seem to have the gift to get it to work. So I had to let that go. Words seem to come a lot easier to me than beats. It was a natural progression. That’s another weird thing to pinpoint. My mom told me stories about when I as a young kid called myself “Ice T”, not knowing that there was already another Ice-T around. I am Venezuelan and I was called “Emiljito” which I couldn’t pronounce. As a result, everybody would call me T, and that’s where Ice T came from. So I became this fly, little, swagged out
Venezuelan rapper in the house. But that didn’t last very long. What made you consider Hip Hop seriously? In Rochester, which is where I am from, there was this DJ crew by the name of “The Disco Lobos” who hosted a weekly open mic. Everybody showed up there, and my man Hasan Mackie ran it. It wasn’t about performing your songs; it was more about freestyling, honing and showing off your skills. Every performer had to come up with material on the spot and then pass the mic. “The Disco Lobos” also played some instrumentals that they produced. Some Mos Def and real Rawkus era type stuff. While they were doing their FLAVOR MAGAZINE // 13
thing we would really chop it up and at that time, this open mic session was the only outlet for us. We had already been making music at home and played tracks on pro tools. But when you actually get a reaction from people, that was the point when I finally had the courage. My friend Hassan, who is older than me and very well respected in the city, he took me under his wing. He is very talented with a genuine love for the music and he has always showed me a lot of love and from there, I took it more seriously because I was given a local platform which prompted me to be more serious. How did you find your beginnings in NYC? I first moved to New York when my man E, this crazy turntablist, called me because he needed a roommate. So I quit then., - well I actually didn‘t even quit my job, I just left. Within two days I packed up everything, and I just moved to New York. I didn’t had anything saved. I was sleeping on an air mattress in an apartment with 4 or 5 other people. We were living off instant noodle soup, spending 6 Dollars on 50 Ramen aww man we were struggling. I remember once, I had a girl over - she probably expected a big place. I was getting busy with her on an air mattress, when that thing just popped. Eventually, Ease and I, we just kinda started running all around town. We usually had a lot going on, and I have always been blessed enough for my talent to speak for itself. That‘s how I really inundated myself with the New York scene. What is coming up next for you? We are about to release an EP called L.I.F.E. I am using the acronym because you can make it mean whatever you want. Life is what you make it, right? It will be released on Empire and probably will come out in July/ August. The EP has 7 tracks and features collaborations with Joe Budden, Chris Webby, Joel Ortiz. The record is very dope as the title suggests, it’s very LIFE oriented. My strength is telling stories that are relatable. Some people are scared to touch on some of those topics because they might be taboo or difficult. I have a crazy story myself, and I know I am not unique in that. It’s a crazy world we live in. I just touch on all of that.
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You have a couple of tattoos – what are their meanings and is there a particular one that means the most to you? I got a lot of tattoo work. On my left arm, it says “Life Without Shame”. In my town, Rochester, there was a show on Public Access TV called “Life Without Shame” which inspired the phrase. The show was about bikers with long hair who would actually just do shameless, crazy stuff like drugs and clubbing hard but to me, it actually means something different. It means: you do what you got to do, to maintain some sort of quality of life. You can’t be ashamed of what you have to do. Some people may be forced into situations that you would consider shameful, even though it’s out of their control. Also, on my left arm – it kinda ties in – I have child soldiers. The majority of soldiers in the world are children. These are people who are ripped from their homes and forced into situations out of their control. This to me is a constant reminder that no matter what I am going through, there is somebody somewhere else going through something way worse to maintain their breaths. One of these soldiers is closer to me because this one particular child soldier was actually from South America, from Venezuela. So it hits home. It’s crazy when you think of how much violence there is in this world. What is your goal for your next record? My goal - as with any record - is to obviously grow the brand. I used to think about how I relate and rank amongst other artists. But I think that’s a toxic mentality, and I really don’t know how I would want myself to be rated in comparison to my peers. I don’t consider myself in competition to anybody but myself. My goal with the EP is to deliver something that could change at least one person’s life. And that’s it. What are some of the artists that you would like to work with? Wow, there are so many artists I would love to work with. I really like Travis Scott right now, I think he is super dope. Jhene Aiko, because as a female, she sings almost with a male perspective sometimes. And I think that’s dope. She just keeps it so gangsta. Obviously the greats, like Nas. He is my favorite of all time or Jay Z. Actually, my collaborative fantasies if you would like to
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call it that way they would lead more outside of the Hip Hop realm. Many artists go into the Indie direction. They work with artist like MIA and the like. I would go totally left of it. I really like the Misfits. I like Mars Volta and on the train I was just listening to Hector Lavoe. Yes, who are you listening to? Yea, today I was listening to Hector Lavoe, and yesterday we were on the block with a bunch of cats who were listening to the Cranberries. It simply shows: you can’t judge a book by its cover., cats still got their own very diverse taste and brains. It’s easy to write somebody off because you judge them based on them showing up in AirForce Ones and Yankee hat, their first impression or their situation. So the answer to that question: it really just depends on my mood. Let’s roll with today, because tomorrow is a whole different question, a whole different vibe. I make music based on moods period.. Any shoutouts or plugs? Follow me on twitter or IG @ emiliorojas. Make sure you download my music from Itunes. Big shouts to Empire and Gazi, Jay, Chris Castro, Audiojones, Illmind and of course the fans. Pictures: Fred Focus
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WHITE OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST
ITH HOP – What? Jarobi White, ATCQ Veteran, creator of terms like: “Can I kick it?” and rapper turned super chef fills us in on his long cared, yet unknown passion for all things Star Wars. As we find out he seeks to combine his love for Hip Hop with his craze for Star Wars with yet another creation: SITH HOP. What‘s that about, dear reader, you may wonder. And how did it come about? Keep on reading and you shall find out. Oh, and Dinco D. also stopped by.
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Jarobi White, legendary member of ATCQ, accomplished chef and “Star Wars Nerd”? Is it true that you have an entire collection? Yes, I am a big old nerd. I have a great collection. I have been collecting toys since I was little. A couple of years ago I found a couple of things at my Mom’s house. I was so surprised she kept all that stuff for me. Some items got missing; a cape is gone and some guns. I also have many art pieces. What are some of your favorite pieces? I have a favorite original Darth Vader from 1978, but his cape is missing. And the light sabor is chewed up. I have the original Millennium Falcon spaceship. I also own a miniature Darth Vader statue. I don’t have a lot of SITH figures, I nowadays collect objects, such as light sabors, art and books. My homeboy gifted me with .the Book of the Sith. It comes with this dope contraption in gold and red; you hit a switch, it slides out and the Book of Sith comes out. The illest thing in the world. There is a new Star Wars movie to be released at the end of the year. What are you particularly looking forward to? I am looking forward to the continuation of the story. Star Wars is really about Darth Vader. It’s about family lineage, family business. I expect this espisode of Star Wars to be more about politics. And there will be some interesting character developments. J.J. Abrams as the director for this Star Wars movie - that’s off the chains. His directing brought to the Star Wars franchise should be really cool. He is bringing back old characters like Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leah – what are your thoughts about that? It’s dope. It’s going to be ill to see how they develop as children. Who is your favorite Star Wars character? Darth Vader – it’s all about him. And R2D2. What is the connection between these two? Darth Vader, Annekin, built R2D2. And R2D2 is the only character that is in all the movies. Luke Skywalker - is he an underrated character?
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He definitely is. I don’t think in the episodes 4, 5, and 6 his power was really displayed. He is supposed to be Annekin’s son. And he is supposed to be “the one” , the one who brought balance to the force. Han Solo - a controversial, complex figure? Han Solo is kind of a foul guy. Initially, he was only in everything for the money. He be doing the right thing, and be shady at the same time. But at the end, when they are blowing up the death star and he comes up to Luke
and says: “May the be force be with you” That is kind of ill at that point. Because up until then he was kind of a foul, slimey guy,. In the end he became that good, almost noble guy. What are your thoughts about Princess Leah? She is one of the dopest characters. She is really ballsy. If you watch the movies in their original sequence - 4-5-6 first, then you know why she is a bad ass, with her cute lil booty. Her mom was already a bad ass. So she gets it from
her mama. Will we see the SITH in the next movie? Of course. This next movie is all about the SITH. It’s always about the order of the SITH. Ok, let me give you a breakdown: the empire, the Sith, is the government. The Jedis, they are the rebels, the terrorists, fighting to restore truth. The empire, they are in power. Whether it’s good or bad, they are the government.
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With this passion of yours – can we expect a Star Wars inspired song in the near future? J: I have one. If D(inco) wants to be part of it...I may have to teach him something. (Dinco D enters the conversation) D: I’m in! Hell yea! I may even bring my son; he is already into the rebel stories. I am into Star Wars, but not like Jarobi. This is the scientist. He is the Star Wars Dude right here. We should trademark it. SITH HOP! Jarobi, the official Sith Hop leader! J: So yea, I have a track coming. My man Cazal Organism from LA has already made me a beat with the imperial march. That was crazy nuts. SITH HOP! What other Hip Hoppers wil be joining the Sith Hop movement? Well, I didn’t really envision anybody on it but myself. I will simply do it by myself, to be honest with you.
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Anything else you would like to talk about with regards to the SITH? Ha, I can talk about this all day. Just tsummarize he SITH philosophy: to me, the SITH is more realistic, less contradictory. The Jedi are very contradictory. For example: they speak about love, but they are not really allowed to explore love’s full potential. The Jedi is very similar to the Buddhist philosophy, which is very cool, but yet very limiting. With the SITH you are really able to harnish your power, good an bad equally. With Buddhism any negative emotions are just being shoo-ed away. But is that normal? You are not getting into that? But with the SITH you bask in all of those things, good and bad, joy and pain; it comes from a real place. Anger is a powerful emotion, you can draw from it. It gives you an unlimited sphere to deal. Therefore I say: F’the rebels. I am Pro Sith / Pro Empire all day. Absolutely! Pictures: Jeff Pliskin
Foto: Javier Mateo
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Masi “Ya Ya”
he transition from artist to businessman can be painful. The passion focused by most artist into their “ brain children” or projects can clash with their backers and financiers who are less concerned with artistic turnout and look for gains and profits strictly. The “minds” and “money clash on the frontier of art. Masi “ Yaya” James is a proven source of the victory for artist when it is time to part ways with cash that wants to invest in their ideas or abilities. Provided you are the source of the creation , the idea , the thought and the drive to bring this to the public, one can re-invent their career by not “wasting a good crisis”. The story line is set and the location is Brooklyn , New York. at the famed Brooklyn Zoo / Brooklyn Beast dance - acro facilty. The idea and direction is with “ Ya Ya” .
WHATS UP AT THE ZOO? I’m off of front the administrative things with the zoo.. for now. First I’m just taking it to the dance floor and teaching a bit . My students have been my focus. I am working on new space called “The Underground”. I’m still there at the Zoo but I stepped back from ownership role in the space. Being that I was the conceptual mind behind the space , I can re-create it else where at this point. Its how it rocks sometimes. I have the Ideas and my investors had the paper so here ware stalemate. When an art becomes a total industry its something as artist we do not like especially when we don‘t reap the benefit? No way. It takes us years to develop these solos or students so they can “become
“ on their own. Life is too wonderful to let negative over influence the positive mission I had set forth with this original mission and project at the Brookyln Zoo / Brooklyn Beast. Now I’m just getting back into connecting with the music and dance folks period again to further things. FOR ALL THOSE DON’T KNOW HOW YOU STARTED FILL US IN? I’ve been doing this since about 13-14 years old in Times Square dancing with a hat out please understand that first. I have spent 20 something years performing for tourist and my style was only like Brazilian. Capoeira, flipping and tumbling have been
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Foto: Michael Jansen and always will be my strengths but I had to take a bit of classical , jazz and ballet to mold and refine myself. It helped to get better jobs. I took some time out to create the business and being an artist we have passion for our projects however phase one coming to end ? Its has been a wonderful experience. WE ALL HAVE STAGES IN OUR CAREER AND DIFFERENT FOCUSES AT DIFFERENT TIMES. WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR CAREER? I’m in the transition of my career where I‘m not just the “dancer”. Me being a dancer? I have only a certain amount of time in directly dancing as a principle. I have been trying to use things that are elements of dance and theatre lately to move into new spaces in my career . Dancers are the rhythm of musical display. As of right now I’m working on a film with Baz Luhrmann who is the director of great Gatsby and Romeo and Juliet. I realize why I was casted because they needed an actor with a full range of motion and ability. We have to realize how much as dancers we actually can do in this artist world of music, film ,television and theatre. I did a performance at Juliard mixing “street dance with contemporary ballet . It
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was with a dancer named Cindy Delgado. I couldn‘t believe how they embraced me there. They just have a limited connection to us in our world of the urban unconventional dynamics of dance make sure you are the well rounded person on the floor. Being just on thing like a b-boy with so much more to grab is not the way. Take all of it. Have the level of dynamic that attracts all people in the circle of life. WHAT DO SEE FOR THE FUTURE AND BEYOND IN THE WORLD OF DANCE? IF CAN YOU SEE THAT FAR… The future is the youth.. dance is one of the best way to get in touch with the youth that’s why we love it. People have so many problems breaking through to the kids but once you dance and rock out with them and do their thing “ get light” dancing etc. They open up. Thats it. we can heal a lot with dance man. We are powerful. That’s the Future. It’s the Children. THANKS YAYA !! Nah, Thank you guys for real..
I Don’t Camouflage visits legendary photographer Barron Claiborne’s studio in Brooklyn NY. Known for being one of the first few photographers who used patterns in their portraits and his iconic “King of New York” photo with Notorious B.I.G., Barron shares his inspiration, photography style and his vision in this exclusive interview.
BEGINNINGS AND VISIONS I have been taking pictures since I was 10 years old. I have done everything. I used to use a lot of really super shiny surfaces. Glitter, rhinestones and sequins and stuff like that. I tend to pick objects because of the quality of light; that it either reflects or absorbs. A lot of it is tone and really subtle color. Which is why I like to use the 8x10 the most. You go a lot slower, thereby you can think about what you are doing and try to put that on film as opposed to just taking a thousand pictures and then to put in everything else afterwards. Some people do that really well, too. But it tends to make everyone’s photos kinda look the same. Photos then look sort of like animation because the retouching has become more important than the
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content of the photo itself - what the person actually shot. TOOLS AND THEIR EFFECTS The camera is simply a machine, just like pencil. It’s about your mind. It’s your mind that matters. As long as I have one beautiful photo of what I want, then I’m happy. Props with me... sometimes people just give me an object. And just because it was around in the studio, I’ll use it. Sometimes people give me a piece of rope, or I’ll find an object and then I’ll just use it in different photos and make it look very beautiful so that you forget that it’s just a cheap, plastic object because you can’t tell. I kinda like to put a sense of timelessness in a lot of my photos.
INSPIRATION AND BEAUTY When you live in New York you see a lot of cultures. But I always have travelled. I used to travel for work and even for pleasure. Yeah, I like to see all the stuff from humanity. Like everybody. The foods they eat, the plants they use. Their language. Textiles. Accents, I mean all kinds of things. It’s funny: sometimes cultures that you think are really far apart, are actually related and you can tell through their language. People have been travelling around and have been influenced by one another for a long time, no matter what Darwin says. People concentrate too much on aesthetic beauty as in what people look like. But also, there is beauty in mistakes and scars and all kinds of things. Some people go overboard
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with that, I am somewhere in the middle. Like Buddha says, the middle path is always the best. I don’t have one favorite photo. Some days I see a photo I haven’t seen in a while and I then think it’s really beautiful. And then the next day I see another one. I don’t really think about it like that. I do them, and I’m happy that I get them. But it’s more the responses of the people that matters the most, in a weird way anyway. Watch the full video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLX4l15cIaU I Don’t Camouflage is a movement highlighting the journey and patterns of those who dare to standout. Shot, Directed & Edited by: Aiko Tanaka of I Don‘t Camouflage Interviewed by: Aiko Tanaka of I Don’t Camouflage http://www.idontcamouflage.com Music by: Optiks & Brett Cimbalik „Groovy“ Special Thanks to: Barron Claiborne http://www.barronclaiborne.com
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AMY CHASAN AND HER SWEET PROJECT Amy Chasan is the Founder and Owner of Sweet Generation, a bakery that pairs unique and memorable flavors to create confections with a cause: creating opportunities for youth and increasing access to Arts education. She is an artist, educator, baker and businesswoman that started a bakery to cater to the high demand for her impeccably baked goods. To satisfy her passion for giving back to the community through the arts, she started a youth internship program and donates a portion of proceeds to Arts Education organizations. We sat down with Amy to find out more about her award-winning baked goods and the mission of Sweet Generation.
Who are you? My name is Amy Chasan, and I am the Founder and Owner of Sweet Generation. What is Sweet Generation? Sweet Generation bakery pairs decadent and memorable flavors to create confections with a cause - creating opportunities for youth and increasing access to Arts education. We believe in the power of the Arts and creativity in making change in one’s life and in the world. Sweet Generation bakery engages young people in the business itself by running an internship program that teaches baking, work readiness, and entrepreneurship to teens and young adults from low-income communities. We also partner with innovative creative organizations to support their fundraising and programmatic goals to create opportunities for youth. We have partnered with Cypress Hills LDC and their Summer Youth Employment and Young Adult Internship Program, as well as the Lower
Manhattan Arts Academy, The Center for Arts Education, and The Boys Club of New York to match us with young people interested in creative business and entrepreneurship. Internships last from 6 weeks to a full school year, and training is provided in Bakery and Business apprenticeship. Our interns also have the unique opportunity to study for the New York State Food Handler’s licensing exam, and become certified while in our program. This licensing, which Sweet Generation supports in-kind, gives each intern a competitive edge in applying for food service jobs after their internship with Sweet Generation reaches completion. We also actively support Arts education and youth development programs by providing in-kind donations of products and services, to help our partners meet their fundraising goals. Organizations we have supported include: The Center For Arts Education, New Voices School of Academic & Creative Arts, Cypress Hills LDC, Citizen Schools, She’s The First, Urban Arts Partnership, Theatre For A New Audience, Drive Change, Savvy Ladies, Arlington Center For The Arts, The After School Corporation (TASC),
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Precious Dreams Foundation, The Hip Hop Re:Education Project and many more. How did it start? I developed this concept while working for the Department of Youth & Community Development and baking for friends’ arts events on the side. As baking started taking up more and more of my time, I began to think about how I could combine my love of baking with my background in youth development and arts education. This concept was soon thereafter named a winner of The New Challenge for Social Innovation and the cupcakes were then voted “Best Cupcake in NYC” by the Village Voice. After growing the catering and wholesale business very organically, I launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the additional funds needed to open our first storefront. We opened our doors on January 11th this year and now have 9 youth interns, and an amazing staff that all truly believe in the power of creativity in making change in the world. Why are the arts important to you?
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Arts Education is a powerful tool in raising academic achievement, school retention, developing effective leaders, preventing youth violence, and so much more. Yet the Arts are the first school subjects to come under the knife in economic hardship. School and Arts organizations often run bake sales to raise money to keep the Arts in their community and schools, but returns are no where near sufficient. Why a youth program? In my experience working with youth over the years in various capacities, I found that the most beneficial learning opportunities were hands-on real world experiences, and yet it is often challenging to find this type of supportive environment. I created Sweet Generation in part to provide a this opportunity to young people - to be able to give them real skills, one-on-one mentoring, and work experience. What is it about the food that people love? Our customers love the unique and authentic flavor combinations, the super fresh and local ingredients that we use, and the fact that their
Our customers love the unique and authentic flavor combinations, the super fresh and local ingredients that we use.
indulgence does some serious good in the world. What is your favorite recipe and why? Right now I’m obsessed with our lemon and passion fruit bars - the intensity of flavor in the curd is perfectly balanced, and the crust is made from crushed almonds, making them naturally gluten free as well. They are wildly popular at our store, especially on these warm summer days! Sweet Generation is all over social media and we often see the website mentioned, but your products have also been featured on television. How has that exposure helped Sweet Generation? ABC’s The Chew recently did a segment on Sweet Generation and our youth internship program, and it was a great view into a day-in-the-life as a youth intern. People really value the perspective and endorsement from The Chew, and go out of their way to pay us a visit just to see us in action and taste the delicious things we are making. What has been the biggest surprise along this path?
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The connection we have made with the community really keeps us going. Our regulars are really part of the Sweet Generation family now - they come out in the rain, snow and heat to get their favorites, or just pop by to chat with the interns. The East Village feels like home to us. What advice would you give someone with dreams of opening a bakery? You better love it because its gonna be a lot of hard work. the rewards will come - but they wonâ€™t come immediately. It will be a lot of sleepless nights before they come. Any shout outs?
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My soon-to-be mother-in-law helped me grow this small at-home bakery into the dream that I always hoped for. The Sweet Generation team that I hired after raising the funds to open the storefront really brought this vision to life. Our Pastry Chef Rena brings to the table over ten years of pastry artistry and innovation, our Bakery & Arts Manager Regina Parkinson works tirelessly with our youth to help build their skills and confidence, while also curating our youth Art wall, and running dad-to-day operations at the shop, and our Social Mission Manager, Ali Chandler, continues to build new and exciting partnerships while managing our donations and sponsorships. Pictures: Ben Schellpfeffer
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