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WHAT THE FUNK’S INSIDE 5..................THE RUNDOWN 7.................. EDITOR’S NOTE 11.................. DIRTY BUSINESS 21................. STEPPIN’ ON THE SCENE W/ NEVZ 23................. THE END OF AN ERA 27................ CHANGE OF FACE 41................. DAVENCE’S COSPLAY ZONE W/ KADRI 51................ SUPAH BAAADDDD!!! 61................ NELLY B’S CORNER




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aaahhh... It seems a new year is upon us. This normally means a new lease on life... An opportunity to make a change, looking towards making the new year better than the last. I can honestly say 2012 has brought its ups and downs. As a praying man, I find it a blessing to be moving forward with a new issue, to make it past month three. The support and feedback for this publication have made it worth continuing to build upon. Nothing you choose to embark on is every too easy, especially if it’s a journey or dream that has a close place in your heart. If it were all ever easy, hey, everyone would be doing what they love or may not have realized they love. That said, with 2013 in our faces, let look at the new year as whatever it can truly mean for our lives. Not for the sake of anyone else, but for our own self betterment. Make real, attainable resolutions and conquer them at your own pace. BUT, conquer them nonetheless. You’ll be richer from the experience. That’s all I gotta say ... Turn the page and enjoy the magazine. -C.E.

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nt ou ca y “ y h w ws us o h s e nke ouf Ya t Dir ty...” S y t r i e D Ar tist, h until you g s get Fre


rom singing, to DJing, to rapping to shooting photos of Jay-Z’s mother’s 60th Birthday Party and landing Rolling Stone placements for making artist, Miguel look good in front of the lens, Dirty Souf Yankee is taking one unapologetic step after the other down the path towards becoming a media heavyweight. She hit the studio at FunktheFormula headquarters for a quick shoot and a sit down chat to talk about her work, her crowning moments and what it means to be successful.

How did you find yourself to come to NYC and start doing photography? I didn’t start off with photography, started off in music. Initially the plan was to sing. i lost my voice, but I wanted to stay in the realm of music. I’m very artistic, I was painting sneakers at one point and customizing clothes and then that came with me needing photos of my work on people. I was working with a lot of underground artist so I started shooting them in my stuff, not because I was a photographer but because I had a need for it. From there people wanted to pay me to shoot them. They were like “Wow! These are good” (laughs). And that just took off and here we are today. But I still have hands in a lot of other things that I used to participate in. Your name sort of suggests your background, but could you tell us more about it and where you come from? From Savannah, GA, moved to NY after HS. It derived from a screen name, I used to be “AJsMyBadBoy” because I was a Backstreet Boys fan (laughs). I deleted it all and wanted to start a new online presence after being off the internet for over a year. I always wanted a cool nickname, no one ever called me anything cool. I tried to go by CJ one time, nobody got that, they were like “where’s the J, you don’t have a J in your name” - *sighs*... Chris, like, nobody EVER used to call me a nickname, and I wanted something cool and I wanted a screen name that represented how I felt, because even though i was from the south, my father stayed up here so I used to come visit, I always wanted to move up here. And I was like, well I’m a dirty south yankee. Everybody used to say well you don’t have a southern accent, so I was somewhere in between, so I was like “I’m a dirty souf yankee” so that became my screen name which later became all my online profile names, which is why it became my complete name after a while. Who is Dirty Souf Yankee? I have a love affair with NY, I will never not love NY. But I’m southern at heart, I grew up with manners, I grew up to talk to people. You grow accustomed to a certain lifestyle once you move up here. But there’s certain things you can’t do that you can do down south. I think that I’m a nice person at heart, like to talk to people, I like to help people. Especially in this field you can become jaded. I try really hard to not let certain things get to me and surround myself with really good people

and pull from everywhere, which is why I still like my name. People feel like it’s an oxymoron, Dirty Souf Yankee “that doesn’t make any sense.” But that’s how I feel, a lot of stuff doesn’t necessarily make sense. I might look like I’m dressed like a boy one day and people are like “I don’t get it, are you a lesbian, or...” don’t worry about all that, just acknowledge the fact that it’s cool and something interesting and dope to grab your attention. Don’t worry too much about the other nonsense. What would say has been the hardest part of coming up in your industry? I didn’t have the luxury of going to a performing arts school, even though I would’ve like to. But everything I did was sort of entrepreneurial, self starter. Now I’m well versed in the entire game; I manage a couple of artists, I creative direct. Coming from somewhere where there aren’t a lot of resources to do music or whatever, I didn’t really know what everything was, so I can’t even say it was a career change, but that was what I ended up pursuing. At the end of the day though, it’s all the same shit, whether you’re a music artist, photographer, anybody in the entertainment industry goes through the same dumb shit in whatever circles. Now you manage a few artists, one of which is Wordspit who is a high energy artist, so with that, how do you feel about being in the managerial realm? Do you see it more prominent in your future? People always told me I should get into management when I first came up here. I can be very organizational. When it comes down to it, I’m very meticulous about things, so being an artist myself, it’s kind of difficult to do it for myself, but in order to do it

“I want my brand to be synonymous with Respect and Quality.”

for other people, it’s a little bit easier. On on sense, people have always told me “you should look into management.” But again, being a creative myself, and I have my own brand, I took on the role kind of as a temporary fix. He [Wordspit] is family and needed that, and I don’t mind, there’s still things I have to learn myself, we grow together. So through managing him, I figured out what I’m really best at is creative directing (because I’ve never been to school for any of this shit so anything I know, I looked it up because I’m curious). That’s essentially what I do. I’m not best at the business and management part. I can do it and fill the role, but it takes away from other things so I’m learning in this process where I really fit in and where I can best be of service to myself and others with my brand or co-branding with other people, because I also work with another artist named Steff Reed as a creative director. But it’s all a learning experience, you figure out where exactly your niche is, because I do a lot of stuff, haha. Amidst all of the shooting and managing of artists and all that you have your hand in, where do you find down time? Or do you find down time? I don’t know, my job is fun, so things other people do for leisure and what not - like, I get to spend time with people I think are awesome and build relationships with them. I’m always being an artist and being attracted to other artists and celebrities I’ve never thought I’d be friends with. I don’t know, I get to hang with friends during my work hours most of the time so, I guess, I sleep? (laughs)

Are you looking to set a particular standard in your industry? Where are you looking to take DSY Creative Services? I relaunched my website in October, it’s still not 100% , shout out to my web designer Kwame, he’s fucking awesome and he designs, but... People knew me for DJing or rapping, so it’s like certain circles I moved out of into new circles, it’s not always a connect, where people thought I fell off the face of the planet or something, but because I strive to be dope at everything I do, they remember me for something else. Everything I still have a hand in, somehow, it’s not like I left it. I like to go back and... just be creative, whatever that means. I want people to understand that I’m not just a photographer, I’m not just somebody that used to customize sneakers. All these things are available underneath my umbrella, which is also why, rather than just “Dirty Souf Yankee”, I’m moving into try to brand it as DSY Creative Services. A lot of the new video work you’re going to


creative is ever a failure.” see me putting out this year is going to be under “DSY CS” rather than just “Dirty Souf Yankee.” That way it’s a little less confining and confusing. Creative Direction encompasses a lot of things, whether its from image and style, to like me helping to style my artist or creating the clothing for them, or customizing things or creating the actual image by being the photographer, whatever, it’s all part of it. It’s visual, it’s audio. I want to be someone that’s respected at the end of the day. Whatever happens, whether you like my work or not, I want to be someone that’s respected and known for quality. In whatever field. That’s a big to me. I don’t want to be someone who’s difficult to work with. I don’t want to be like “oh, I don’t care what people think of me,” I DO care what people think of me, I want to be liked. I think I’m a generally like-able person and I like to create relationships with the people I work with as opposed to just “ok, pay me and good-bye.” I want my brand to be synonymous with Respect and Quality. What does “Success” mean to Dirty Souf Yankee? I have arguments about this all the time, and I think it has something to do with being an artist; we don’t really give 2 shits about money. Even with meetings I’ve been having with my artists recently, like when bringing new people in that are like “make money, we gotta make money”... We just want to make art, haha. So for me, obviously money, in society is a symbol of success. But at the end of the day to me, even if I’m getting $5, again, if somebody respects me and my reputation precedes

me as far as the type of person I am and the fact that I can call in favors for my artists or whoever I’m working with... If somebody knows that I’m co-signing something, then they fuck with it off top, “whoever she fucks with, it’s on point. If it’s for her, I got it.” To me, that’s a sign of success to me, the fact that these people respect me and are willing to not make it about money. To me, Respect and Success kind of go hand in hand. As long as I’m respected I feel like I’m being successful, to me. As long a I’m happy too. In this industry, you can surround yourself with a lot of people that are not good for you very quickly and it’s difficult to get out of that situation. It took me years to get away from a lot of the things that weren’t working for me. The people I have around me now I’m very happy with. That’s successful to me as well. Even though I’m not where I want to be, I feel like I’m successful now, and I’m ok with that. Even if I don’t go to the next level, of course I want to and will work towards it, but success is being happy with whatever it i you’re putting out into the world for people to perceive as an artist. My friend Josh James said “nothing creative is ever a failure. It’s only an idea and people can either receive it and understand or not understand it, but it’s not a failure.” What do you think of when you hear “FunktheFormula”? Because I’m deaf, I always hear the “F” word first, (laughs) and I’m like “oh really? ooh ok,” haha. I guess it’s kinda like bucking the system, that’s what I think. Like “forget the blueprint, forget the way you thought you knew how to do it, we’re doing it this way.” And I’m a big proponent of that; don’t get me wrong, school is dope but, if you’re a creative, I think school is the worst thing you can do. It’s good to know techniques and things things, I’m not necessarily against it but I feel like that kills creativity because you learn it a certain way like that’s how it’s supposed to be done and... You’re killing your creativity. So forget the guidelines, figure it out on your own! You know what I mean? That’s what I think of when I think of “FunktheFormula.” Well thank you so much for sitting with us, it was a pleasure, you gave us a lot of insight, we appreciate it! Thanks guys!

Street Art Save My Life

Artist: Pixie Cold


It’s becoming increasingly common now that mainstream artists have no lyrical content at all compared to mc’s that are lyrical wizards when it comes to penmenship. For example ... RICK ROSS – “HOLD ME BACK “ “Niggas ain’t gettin’ money, but they got an opinion Had this tech makin’ racket, serve you like you were tennis Killers ride for that paycheck, AK, okay, check Bitch nigga let’s play chess, yo bitch next, no latex These niggas won’t hold me back, told the feds they sold me sack Whip ‘em right and then come right back Whip-whip-whip ‘em right and then come right back”

Trash …Trash …Trash… Notice that Rick Ross makes a sound jesture on every other line to make it seem as if he said something intriguing … on the song version … Haha …. mmmmm…. I leave you to think a bout that for a second …. Now let’s use someone that we call the M.C. and his lyrics to execute creative penmenship without using sound gestures to pass over for lack of ability. For example … JOELL ORTIZ - I’M A BEAST “ “Wha t the fuck do you mean, I’m here to fuck up the scene Like a horny robot, I’m a fucking machine Who’s your favorite rapper, I’ll throw him up in the theme Put his lights out and… fuck em up in the dreams, I’m a troublemaker now Shut the fuck up, I’m better than you King of the jungle, you wouldn’t peak your head in the zoo I’m from where fighting is old the medal was new So those cameras come out at night like the Letterman crew You can’t stop me, this is what I’m destined to do I develop my own strain at the Mexican Flu See half of my tongue’s green and the rest it is blue No cure but I can treat it and the medicine is you Cause I feel so much better when I crush your bars … Match boxes can’t rock with a custom car Guess that’s why girls be on my nuts from far … I tell them reach for my dick and they touch the stars.

Notice Joell Ortiz did not need to use any sound gestures to cover up gaps in his lyrics because there were no gaps in his lyrics to have to make that adjustment, like many of the horrible rappers of this day and age. I believe my point is well made here, and if you want to check for yourself, the name of the songs are there for you to check on your time. “ Remember kids: radio lies, people lie … lyrics don’t …”



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The End of An Era… The Erasure of the Unions by Gerald Grant

Today in my home state of Michigan, they passed a bill known as Right to Work. What right to work allows is people to not have to join unions if they work in an environment that is unionized. If you’re a new hire – you get to enjoy all the perks of what the union got for those employees, but you don’t have to pay a dime in dues for the continual representation of said union. Once you tell someone that they don’t have to pay for a service and still will get its perks, people neglect to pay for the service – I mean, who wouldn’t want something for free. But it doesn’t stop there…once you strip the need for payment of these services, it’s only a matter of time before the union representing you will no longer be able to afford to represent you, essentially killing off the union. Once the union has been killed off, the contract negotiated can be thrown out, and all the gains enjoyed by the representation are surely removed, in that firm’s attempt to become more

profitable. To the outside looking in, you wouldn’t see a problem with this… if a company can make more money, then they’d have more to give their employees, then they’d give better and cheaper benefits to the employee and other perks because they’ve made more money, right? Sadly, the past few years have taught us that this isn’t the case. Most US fortune 500 firms have earned their best profit margins over the entirety of their existence within the last few years. Constantly you see on TV how the stock market has grown by leaps and bounds; CEO and senior staff getting multitude of bonuses into obscene millions of dollars. But, the average employee fearfully comes into work daily, sometimes extremely ill and tired, out of fear of losing their job. Many workers haven’t seen a raise in pay in over 5 years – or received miniscule increases that can’t keep up with the steadily increasing

prices of goods and services. Over worked and underpaid employees, putting in massive overtime, missing their families, just to keep a roof over their heads, foods in their families mouths, and maintain a sense of existence by enjoying whatever luxury they can afford – be it alcohol, excessive shopping, smoking etc to handle the stress of the work environment…all the while being told that their hard work is helping the firm become more profitable…profit you will never share. How the union helped was to make management aware that the company could not be successful if it were not for the hard work of those that are employed there…and for that, there ought to be some consideration in how those people could survive and take care of their families, afford the products they create, and have real purchasing power in boosting the overall economy. Sounds like a novel idea…and it worked for a very long time in America…but then, we had a shift. Our economy went from very mechanical/physical labor workforce of the turn of the century through about mid 1970s to now a very suit & tie/desk style soft service labor workforce. Pure brute force and physical strength was no longer required to work, now collegiate graduates were desired, people skills, negotiation skills – those were now the keys to today’s workforce. This new workforce has never been inside a steel mill; never been in a car manufacturing plant. This workforce has only heard about such fabled places from their grandparents, in what is commonly remembered as “the good old days”. This is the time where women were married, had kids and stayed home while men worked 9/10/12 hour days, using the sweat of their brow…saved money and moved into better homes, bought better cars, took better vacations, and worked relentlessly so that their kids wouldn’t follow in the same back breaking work they were subjected to in

order to make ends meet. Our new generation has never had to work for a union. What they hear about unions are through the mouths of management that deal directly with unions on how many roadblocks the union put in place just to do simple tasks. They speak about the perceived laziness of the membership and the abuses some members take by milking the system with sick time, overtime, leaves of absences etc. They hear from Uncle Ray or Aunt Jackie of purposely delaying work, or known abuses, or known theft on the job. Our generation looks at this and doesn’t understand the need for unions. They have always worked in environments that were clean, and safe. They’ve always enjoyed 401k benefits, health/medical, dental & vision, vacations and bonuses – all given without a stitch of unionization in their environments. What my generation fails to recognize is that companies at one point weren’t offering ANY of these perks…because they are all seen as a waste of money and takes away from profitability for the firm. What unionization did was make companies become better corporate citizens to its workforce by demanding that the back breaking work the employees do to make the company successful should have some financial gain and benefit security to the employee. Naturally, firms that didn’t’ have unionize workforce began to see the improvement the unionized firms were having giving those benefits/perks/guarantees to their workforce, and decided to incrementally offer similar or better packages to their workforce to maintain a sense of happiness amongst the employees and gratitude to the employer for its benevolence. Dismantling unions to today’s workforce is a no-brainer to them. Unions to this generation seem like out of date relics of a time where the only work available was brute force/strength required work. This generation feels that conditions are better now

and the need for a combined voice to air wrongs imposed by the corporation are a thing of the past. But if you look at all the injustices that handed out on a regular basis in today’s firms – cutting staff, sometimes over 50% and making remaining staff handle 2 or 3 or 5 different positions, micro managing your every motion while at work to the point of timing restroom breaks, unfair disciplinary actions and no ability to properly grieve issues in the workplace – if there’s ever been a need for unions, it is now. What the underlying problem and disconnect between the generations is a sense – sometimes a false hope – they one day I will be manager. Today’s generation is always looking to cross into management. This lofty goal, coupled with the perceived blue collar nature of unionized work and increased education, gives this generation the sense of superiority that they will never be like their parents. They feel that they will never have to scrape savings together to buy a car, when they can walk into any bank and get a loan, buy whatever they want because they have a credit card. This notion of working hard has been erased by a generation that feels entitled to the best life has to offer. There is no sense of struggle in today’s generation, so there is no need to be represented by any organization that is going to take away the opportunity to work 70 hours a week to prove that they are management material and should be promoted. What my generation fails to recognize is that even with all the hard work in the world, corporations will always protect their interests and promotion is never guaranteed. The corporation, at any time, can discontinue any benefit or perk without notice; they can terminate your service without cause all for the sake of increase profits. This is where the union is most beneficial in reminding management that the workforce matters. These are people who have lives and families to support and are not expendable just because you earned $2 less on your stock price. I say this to say that there is a growing consensus in America about the need for unions. The tide is shifting, as more and more jobs in America are service based versus manual labor. The service sector reaps the benefits fought for by the unionized workforce by having safe working conditions, steps in place to prevent immediate discharges, many health benefits and retirement options. Today marked a sad day in my home state of Michigan, once the nerve center of unionized labor in America. Today’s vote for instability to the middle class dealt a harmful blow to both the unionized and non unionized constituents of Michigan. Soon, many costly benefits will be shifted to the employee to pay 50% or more of the benefit in order to keep the benefit, thereby shrinking the take home pay, as companies continuously look for ways to increase their bottom lines all the while shrinking their employee’s bottom lines.

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Street Art Save My Life

Hi fellow Cosplay Engineers, This month I had the privilege to chat with a Cosplayer named Kadri Zolf Kimblee Umut. Phew that name is definitely a mouthful, but it just shows how epic this 30 something woman is with her hand created cosplays, and her love for them.

All Photography Courtesy of Adam L Photography

Davence: Hi Kadri, how long have you been cosplaying and when was the first year you got into it? Kadri : The first actual costume I made myself I was 12 and dressed as “Sindel” from Mortal Kombat, I am now 30 and still continue to cosplay. Davence: Oh wow Sindel, sweet. Do you still have any pics of you as her? Kadri: No I do not, If there are any my mother has them and they may be in any number of boxes in storage. Davence: Gotcha. So 18 years of cosplay, definitely a good amount of time. Which character, video game or otherwise, has inspired you the most in your cosplay creations? Kadri: I would say I have been heavily influenced by things like: Neil Gaimans Sandman, Castlevania, Vampire Hunter D novels, The Witcher series of novels, D&D, and many old RPGs including final fantasy games. To name a few. I tend to like a challenge, which is why I choose characters such as Nuada, Ivan Isaacs and Dream.

Davence: Nice. i know you have a serious love for the “Witcher,” is it just the look or a combo of the look and story that made such a connection with you? Kadri: I suppose you could say i really enjoyed the first book when I read it, and was at first hesitant about the game. Once I tried playing it though I found it to be very canon to the novels. I really love the character Geralt of Rivia. He is unique, and a character whose depth you the reader/player are able to see but not one that the other characters see. He also looks awesome so that is a plus. Davence : Nice. I have often found the best cosplayer’s are one that can make a connection to the character they are trying to portray, and you did an amazing job of it, by the way. Kadri: I agree, I love seeing people who at least try to keep character or aspects of it even if they are just goofing off, it makes the cosplay seem whole. There is nothing better than meeting a person who absolutely adores their cosplay and the character. Davence: What has been your most fun cosplay to wear, and your most challenging one to build? Kadri: The most fun cosplay to wear I think would have to be Nuada. I never thought it would draw the amount of “wows” that it does. As for the hardest to build i have to say Vlad Dracula, the Vlad

Dracula version of Alucard from Hellsing. I was on a budget so it was tough to make it all, hard to find decent looking materials. But it looked great once it was finished. I am still happy about the finished product of that one. Davence: Awesome may I assume u mean Nuada from Hellboy? Kadri Zolf: Yes Nuada Silverlance from Hellboy II. I even custom made the wig for that one. Had a friend make the cloth parts of the costume, and I did the armor, wig, gauntlets, seal and shoulder fringes.

Davence: Man I love how that character was, from his look to his martial arts skills to the way he held himself; not really evil, noble actually, just going about stuff in a very radical way. Kadri: Yea he was a wonderful character all around. I like that they chose such a unique look for an Elf in his case, you rarely ever see ones that are interesting. I come across elvaan characters that are fragile and feminine, perfect and regal. More often than I come across a character that is not appearance based. Nuada thankfully was made with more depth and less looks.

Davence: Nuada reminded me very much of the drow elves in the forgotten realms tales, Great novels. He seemed to have a very serious tie to how they fight and look, with the exception of the albino skin. What is next on your cosplay horizon to undertake or are you already in progress on a new cosplay endeavor? Kadri: The next costumes I will be wearing for the first time to upcoming conventions will be Geralt, Galadriel, and Gakupo. Geralt I am still making at the moment, it is a lot of work, but well worth it in the end! I have to craft a wig, chain mail, all the leather armor, plate mail parts and the under clothes. So that will be the next thing that I have put a ton of time and effort into. Davence: Wow definitely sounds like a monstrous effort but for the “Witcher� can you do any less? Kadri: Nah that series is just too awesome to not do justice to the costumes. I am actually making 3 others from the Witcher series as well. So tons of 2013 work.

Davence: OH nice! I love it when a cosplayer is that dedicated, it just makes their work shine even more. Ok last 2 questions for you: 1-What is your dream cosplay to make as of now? 2-What is your dream group cosplay? Kadri: 1. As of now my dream cosplay would have to be a version of Vampire Hunter D with a lot of details to appear like many of the really well painted novel covers. 2. I try not to create groups or cliques though on occasion friends and I all want to do the same thing and it is not singling anyone out. That group is happening by Sakuracon actually, It is a Lord of the Rings group. Including a Morgoth. Which I have never seen a single cosplay of, so i am absolutely over the top excited to see that one hanging out with the rest of us elves, humans and hobbits, hehe.

Davence: Oh wow, YES I will be at Sakuracon as well so I will definitely keep an eye out for that. And I agree, I have never seen a LOTR group cosplay of that magnitude before so it will be a blast to see. I will be doing 2 cosplay’s there myself, time be willing to create them both. Kadri: What all are you planning to bring? I really loved the dragon armor O.C. you wore to Kumoricon. That was just awesome. Davence : Thank you , that was a beast to build, I incorporated so many different build techniques into it. For Sak i will be doing a group cosplay and a single cosplay. The group one will be Skylanders, I will be cosplaying as Legendary Crusher, my girlfriend will be Ninjini, and her son will be Chop Chop; we also have 2 good friends that will be Sprocket and Stealth Elf. My single cosplay will be War from the game Darksiders in his abyssal armor set. Kadri: That’s going to look awesome! Davence : Trying to decide which blade to do, his Chaoseater blade or the Armageddon one. And thank you, I am definitely going to strive to do him justice. I love his character. Kadri: I think you will, you like building stuff too much to not make it look it almost perfect. Davence: Hahaha. Well hun I have loved our laid back convo, and I def look forward to seeing you at Sak! We will def have to do a shoot together, you as the witcher and me as War! Kadri:t I am down for that! Well folks, look forward to some pics of me posing with the lovely Kadri, at Sakuracon in late march. I definitely intend on doing an article on that cosplay convention, since it covers all gambits, from video games to anime movies. And for those that do not know it is held in Seattle Washington, from march 29-the 31st. If you guys can come I would love to meet some of you good folks there!

Street Art Save My Life


Moving to a different drummer, this High Point, North Carolina MC, by way of Brooklyn, NY is definitely out to make an undeniable statement in the world of Hip Hop. Unapologetic storytelling depicting tales of hardships, gangstas, pimps, hustlers, love and anarchy, defines only a portion of what Caktuz has to say. And it doesn’t stop there. Have you ever made love to Gangsta Muzik?


hen would you say was your first bit of exposure to hip hop? I had a cousin who’s not with us no more. We had a slumber party one night, with a friend of mine from school. We stayed up all night listening to the radio and writing raps. We’d listen to the mix shows, and they had all kinds of shit, GoGo music, Hip Hop. You know, it was in North Carolina so it was slow for some of that shit to get down. These mix shows were a vibrant, direct line to NY ‘cause a lot of the DJs were from there or got a lot of their source records from there. We started writing some little bullshit ass rap, talking about all the girls in our middle school. That’s where it started, but I think my love for it started when I would go back and forth to DC. I got half my family in DC and the other half in North Carolina, or the south. In the north, they listened to a lot of GoGo and Disco records and Hip Hop and it was still new. I would go home to North Carolina and they was just gettin’ on it, and I would bring stuff back with me. So I think growing up, running around DC with my cousin is what started my love affair with Hip Hop. One of my first groups that I really loved was Run DMC. They really inspired me to be a rapper. Public Enemy, Run DMC, a lot of the early groups, LL. Lot of the niggas that just had this cool ass swag. But see this is the difference, when I went back to North Carolina, the Hip Hop got a lot more gangsta, got a lot more gritty. Like we was listening to BDP, Just Ice, Kool G Rap, that was the shit down there. Then I would go to DC or Virginia and they can’t get enough of LL (laughs). So it was different being between those two sets. And I’m from North Carolina, and High Point is the poorest city in North Carolina. So looking back now, it says a lot about my influence as far as like a lot of gritty rappers and gangsta ass Hip Hop. I was in love with NWA when they came out. The whole clique, the whole image, the defiance of that shit. How would you define the Caktuz style of sound? The style of sound is what I call “Carolina Blues.” It’s always been what I call my sound. But that sound, it evolves. With my fan base, they respect the fact that it’s a little alternative from what they’re used to and they can expect the unexpected every time I come with something new. That’s how I like to keep it, I don’t try to be different... But I try to make something that is musically competitive as well as pushes the envelope. I like to experiment, I’m an experimental artist; you may hear some shit that you just hate from me (laughs). You know, it’s just me experimenting, trying new things and trying to see what else sounds good with my sound. I go to Europe and shit, and they got

“I like to experiment, I’m an experimental artist; you may hear some shit that you just hate from me.”

different types of records out there. The type of records they got out there is a lot faster, dance motivated. And then they got grime and shit, gritty Hip Hop shit but it’s a whole different beat. The rhythm of it, it’s all about the rhythm wherever you go that sort of defines whatever the record is gonna be. In the south right now, you’ve got bounce records, you’ve got twerk. That’s what’s hot, Gucci Mane, fuckin’ Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne. Those are the type of artists dominating the south right now. You might go to Europe and shit, that shit’s not even the same palette. I’m very interested in music of all kinds all over the world. I guess, you know the Caktuz sound for me right now is me getting a lot of frustration out; it’s aggressive, it’s edgy, it’s thought provoking. I want my style or my sound to be that forever, no matter what I’m doing. I like to get inside people and have them feel what I’m feeling. I had a talk with my cousin today, and she heard from another cousin who asked “is this muthafucka into Satanism now?” and sometimes I gotta explain to people because they see my imagery and they take it in a different connotation without even hearing what’s behind it or taking the time to investigate. But those people, I don’t give a fuck about. I make music for those people that are engaged by what I do or interested in what I do. I don’t really spend my time worried about what the fuck these other muthafuckas is thinking about me or perceive me to be because if they don’t get it now, they will later, fuck ‘em. I definitely have a sense of spirituality with it, so you can see that within the themes. I think that’s why people think it’s a little Satanic because they see these religious idols and images in my music and art work. But that’s a part of my culture, that’s not anything Satanic or evil. it’s a Bible belt where I’m from. So like you gonna have the Bible on the coffee table just as well as the dough stack, a sack of rocks and a gun, you know? That’s like the coffee table setup in a lot of my homeboys’ cribs. That’s just what it is, what comes with it. It’s funny that you mention that, I actually was watching one of those videos on Youtube about Satanism in Hollywood the other day. How do you feel about that ideal that’s being expressed? I definitely think the whole Illuminati/Sa-

tanism right now is over the top. There’s so many signs in this world that sort of mean either the same thing or different things. And with artists, I think people get away from the fact that we’re entertainers at the end of the day. Like, I don’t go home and do the shit you see me doing in the video when I’m home curled up with the fat butt. I’m done entertaining for the day, I’m not entertaining myself at that time. So you can’t get away from the fact that it’s all to strike or impact you and make you react in a certain way, for you either by the shit or love or hate ‘em. It’s about branding, selling you something. I seen a Ke$ha video the other day that’s got the five-pointed star in it, and they dressed up like they doin’ these Satanic rituals and shit, and it’s like, “ok, am I gonna take from that that she’s into Satanism?” FUCK no. They’re dancin’ around and shit, pop-lockin and shit, around the star and the fire and the wolf is comin’ - it’s fuckin’ entertainment! Scorcese will make a movie about a muthafucka losin’ his fuckin’ mind and going and killing somebody, assassination, in Taxi Driver. Now, do we go to Robert De’Niro every time there’s an assassination by some crazy muthafucka and say “how do YOU feel about this Robert? Do you feel like you perpetuated this?” NO. We’re gonna herald him, give him another Oscar, put that shit in IFC. They don’t do that to actors, they don’t do that to film makers and they’re artists too. So my thing is, don’t separate the artists from the entertainment; don’t get caught up in the bullshit that they’re feeding you just to get you to buy into the idea to follow the story. Like I’m gonna give you shit that you think I really do. I feel like art is the ability to arrest a moment in time. You’ve gotta open yourself up to art and you can’t be so close minded. What are some of the biggest challenges you’d say you’ve faced being an artist? I feel like this industry and my struggle through it is just to get recognized a lot of times, just to make muthafuckas listen. You can pass a million muthafuckas your CD, and they’ll never listen to the shit. And they’ll see you everyday in the street like “yooo I see you, I see you” and don’t even know what you sing. They just see shit, all they’re doin’ is looking. So it takes a while for an artist to get heard, like to really make an impact on people to where they can take them seriously. And the consistency helps, just stay consistent with what

you’re doing because shit pays off. This new album I finished, How To Dress Well For Suicide, means a lot of things. It’s like, Life is a suicide mission. We come into this world and we’re faced with numerous obstacles already. Like birth defects, disease, war, all kinds of shit, man-made and natural. We’re already put into a dangerous environment when we grow. My momma always told me whatever you do in life, dress well for the occasion. For me to be successful in the music industry, or in life in general, the industry is a business at the end of the day. It’s cutthroat, it’s a hustle. I fought my way through this muthafucka, tooth and nail. From getting kicked out of offices to beef, industry beef with niggas I grew up listening to or admiring. Some real shit. For me this shit was not easy. It was long and hard fought. There’s a line in Dante’s Inferno, “long and hard is the way to eternal life” or eternal light. Where do you see Caktuz after the “How To Dress Well For Suicide” album? What’s the ultimate goal for the Caktuz brand? I just entered this new situation with Sony Red. The label I’m on is ‘We Build Hits’ founded by Billy Danze of the legendary MOP, Mash Out Posse (grunts). I love that dynamic, because I grew up on MOP, and these niggas are amazing to me to this day. The energy they bring into a room is crazy, you know? And I admire that, I’m definitely a guy that loves to perform, I love to raise the energy in the room, leave it on the floor. So having that dynamic situation for me is a blessing. To even come this far and even fall into that circle, to be able to learn from OG’s like that, how it’s done first hand. For me, the next phase is to take what I’ve done now to the next level. I’ve always seen a lot of my music bigger than what it is. The independent stuff, of course can only go so far because of money, resources or whatever. I’m hoping with the new situation with Sony that it definitely puts the machine needed to push it where it needs to go. So far I’ve done this shit mostly by myself; everything from the design to the branding to the artwork. I’m the muthafucka up late at night, putting CDs in the case and the cover, and I’ve got an assembly line and it’s just me (laugh).

Artist slash manager (laugh)... (laughs) EXACTLY. Everything. I say shout out to Buckshot, because he taught me that, when he was starting out and he was like an intern at Def Jam and shit, he was trying to get Black Moon out there. A lot of times he would call these people to get bookings or whatever and they didn’t want to speak to the artists, they didn’t want to speak to Buckshot. They wanted to speak to the manager, because the artists are always too passionate and too tied to their creation which on the other side of their creation is a product. Like with any corporation, you need somebody to make the product and somebody to sell the product. The person that makes it is going to have a total disconnect from the person that sells it. They don’t give a fuck about the passion you put into it, they just want to know the key points they need to talk about. So Buckshot told me he had to become his own manager, he gave people fake names, and then they [Black Moon] would show up at the concert and they would be like “oh where’s your manager?” and he’d be like “oh he couldn’t make it, but we’ll take it from here.” So I took that, and I ran with it. So for a long time, I’ve been representing myself, booking myself, organizing tours myself with just people that I meet or resources I come in contact with. I’m all about networking and I always meet interesting people wherever I go. So the next phase is to take it to where it’s supposed to go. I see so much potential in even past records I’ve done; Sony wants to pick up past records and rerelease them, which is a blessing, because they definitely see the potential in it. I’m glad to be where I’m at. Life is real, and I salute all the artists out there because it’s hard, it’s really hard. I salute the cats that have made it, I salute the cats that are on their way in, and I definitely salute the OGs. I love to be an artist, connecting with other artists, sharing my shit. My life goal is to be a legend, if not in my own time, but after I die, I want my shit to be classic. I’m not into popcorn music, just making music to make music. I wanna make music that I like, and find a way to sell it. A lot of artists they write shit, “oh I know this one gonna be a hit,” fuck that. Just make good music, and then we won’t have a bunch of music that sounds the fuckin’ same.

“My life goal is to be a legend, if not in my own time, but after I die, I want my shit to be classic.�

Check out music and more from Caktuz on his official website and stay updated via your smartphone through his new Cakmobil app, available for download on: Clothing provided by Trukfit


IT’S JUST HAIR!!!!!!!!

Okay...I need to take a deep breath before I get into this one... *INHALES*....................*EXHALES*...............Let’s go...

I have been natural all my life with the exception of two times; once in my early secondary school i had some sort of jerry curl that lasted about a year ... And then in my adult life I had a relaxer for a year and four months from which I transitioned and did my big chop in February. I love the versatility of my natural hair. I came to the conclusion that relaxed/permed hair just wasn’t for me. I got involved in some natural hair communities and things were going good for me and my natural hair journey...until the day yours truly decided to put a wig on. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.....

Weaves, wigs, braids or natural hair .... should it matter??? Why such a fuss???

For some naturals, braids/weaves/wigs as a form of protective styling, and I share that same sentiment. For me at the end of the day it’s just hair, and more so it’s MY hair so I can do whatever I want with it. I am truly baffled as to why some people approached me and told me I’m not natural because I put in a weave or wig ... It’s just hair. And if it’s not affecting the texture of my hair, how you tell me that I’m not natural??? IT’S JUST HAIR!!!!!!! I can understand that some people link hair to some sort of identity, for example dreadlocks were originally associated with Rastafarian movement, but that in itself has changed.

My thing is this ... If it’s MY HAIR, how is it that what I do with my hair affects you so much that you need to open your mouth and bring some ridiculous point across to me ... IT’S JUST HAIR!!!!! Now don’t get me wrong ... Not all naturals are like this. Most share my sentiment to some extent. But there are those few who see any other style/type of hair as being a threat to our “naturalness” to the point where they feel the need to attack anyone who doesn’t fit into their mold of being “natural”. To those of you who felt the need to show your disapproval on my choice of protective styling ... I say “God bless you” (trust me I would rather say something else but the Christian in me made me hold back). Plus my mama would kill me, hahaha ... But anyway... My bottom line is simple ... Whether you choose to weave braid, relax, cut colour or do anything else possible to your hair under the sun, you should always ensure that you take care of the hair that grows out of your scalp, whether it is chemically processed or not. I’m so sick and tired of this supposed war between relaxed and naturals. I’m so tired of seeing people turn their nose up at or look down on others because of their choice of hairstyle... IT’S A PERSON’S CHOICE!!!! For more from Nelly B., check out her blg at:

Phone: (203) 449-9396


Providing on call personalized non-chemical hair services at reasonable prices. I am available to travel to you within the FFld,New Haven County and The Bronx, BK, Harlem, and NYC areas

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