RoC K E T
cover photos by DANNY ROSENBERG models KYLE LOPEZ, CHERRIE YU
RoCKET M A G A Z I N E FASHION ART PHOTOGRAPHY
THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY WMROCKETMAGAZINE.COM MAGAZINE.ROCKET@GMAIL.COM
Sarah Collier Editor-in-Chief Danny Rosenberg Creative Director Isabella Arias Deputy editor Kyle Lopez Fashion Director Lillian Zhao Art Editor Yasmin Abusaif, Emily Bass, Julia Bullard, Rebecca McHale Art Team Claire Powell Beauty Editor Emily Gurian, Serena Hooker, Julia Sung Beauty Team Shani Cave Bookings DIRECTOR Emmel El-Fiky Features Editor Caroline Horrigan, Helena Klavin, E.S. Levine, Nakia Stephens, Alijah Webb Features Team Anna Weidman Marketing Director Julia Carlson, Meredith Radel Marketing Team Sydney McCourt, Ellie Mercer, Mackenzie Phalen, Elizabeth Stephenson, Andrew Uhrig Photo Team Phoebe Galt, Sapphire Le Sage, Sophie Shealy Production Team Bronwyn Roseli, Amy Zhang Style Co-Editors Haley Arata, Andrew Cowen, Fathia Dawodu, Hanna Haile, Miriam Kreykes, Keeilah Moseley, Zaira Mughal, Maggie Sullivan Style Team
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR When we began creating this issue, the
Ladies Who Lunch reimagines the titular
ROCKET staff focused on emphasiz-
phrase in conjunction with the idea of the
ing greater diversity, new perspectives
typical American girl, showing what hap-
from our largest staff to date, and a clear
pens when things take a turn for the worse.
message within every shoot and feature. As we explored these ideas, we wove a
Finding contrast in the details is at the
common theme of juxtaposition through-
focus of our Blue Collar spread, which
out our magazine, finding inspiration
highlights individuality within the ordi-
within moments of unexpected contrast.
nary fabric of denim. With Dumpster Diving, we wanted to showcase the
Starting from the cover, we’re making a
uniqueness of urban style among flo-
statement on the role fashion plays in
ral accents. Our feature, In Ye We Trust,
self-expression. Drawing from the Pan-
outlines the surprising religious influenc-
tone Color of the Year, the combination of
es that pervade prominent rapper and
Rose Quartz and Serenity, we are blurring
fashion icon Kanye West’s discography.
the lines of gendered fashion. Our feature piece, Queer Eye for the Heteronorma-
Finally, with our Stand Out and Stand Up
tive Gender-Exclusive Fashion Norms: An
spread, we’re representing distinct mes-
Open Letter, continues that dialogue, chal-
sages about Black Lives Matter and sup-
lenging readers to re-think the way they
porting marginalized groups from pas-
view gender norms in the realm of fashion.
sionate students within our community.
Other forms of juxtaposition can be
As we finish out a particularly divisive
found throughout our photo spreads.
year, we hope to inspire our readers
In the Mist disrupts the typical image
with the unity we’ve found by embrac-
of ethereal women in nature, playing
ing diversity, breaking down barriers,
off a sinister aspect of Mother Nature.
and expressing ourselves uninhibitedly.
08 16 20 24 25 26
LADIES WHO LUNCH LIGHTS OFF STAND OUT STAND UP DUMPSTER DIVING Q&A
BLUE COLLAR In Ye We Trust IN THE MIST Avant-garde AN OPEN LETTER LIGHTS ON
30 42 46 47 52 62
photography by DANNY ROSENBERG models MADELAINE BREWER, WILL GAGE, HENRY SHO KELLAM, BETTY KUFLOM
In Ye We Trust written by E. S. LEVINE art by REBECCA MCHALE
By the time of the 2005 Grammy Awards, Kanye West had propelled himself from a relatively unknown architect of hip-hop hits to a star in his own right, thanks to his wildly successful debut album The College Dropout. Based on the magnitude of his performance on that night celebrating popular music, he was determined to stretch his stint of fame much longer than 15 minutes. That Sunday evening at the Staples Center, the stage became home to rows of pews and from a preacher’s lectern was belted the now famous opening statement of his religiously inspired song “Jesus Walks”:
plantation life. This interlude leads right into “Spaceship,” a modern day spiritual tailored to the retail store rather than the plantation. The refrain, ascribing to a chant-like ca-
dence, searches for the same escape that generations of blacks, through the spirituals and the blues, have desired.
“I’ve been workin’ this grave shift And I ain’t made shit
I wish I could Buy me a spaceship and fly past the sky” Additionally, the hook of “Jesus Walks”
incorporates “Walk With Me,” a spiritual seeking solidarity with God. The black story
has always been about struggle and early Kanye makes a point to espouse this. Struggle is cross-generational. It connects me to my greatgreat-great-grandparents, nameless slaves in Tennes-
Kanye emerges from one of the pews see, and it is the very legacy and preaches for of black progress in America. A young, somewhat four and a half naïve Kanye emerges from one of Kanye, teeming with vithe pews and preaches for four minutes sion, talent, and proudness goes “We’re at war. We’re at war with terrorism, racism, but most of all, we’re at war with ourselves!”
and a half minutes, incorporating a gospel interlude from The Blind Boys of Alabama and his mother, Donda, who plays a role as one of the church-goers. The performance was conscientious, extravagant, and imbued with the complex spirituality that has come to characterize West’s rap interpretation of religion. His College Dropout won best album that night, and he’s been taking us to church ever since. “Jesus Walks,” and the rest of The College Dropout incorporate religion straight from the churches that raised West. It is evident, however, that they share this formative role with the Chicago streets. Kanye chooses the Negro Spiritual “I’ll Fly Away” as an interlude on the album. It’s a song about struggle and escape that can be applied to modern Chicago just as easily as it was applied to
straight to the church for his early religious allusions. From them, he gains authority and a sense of direction that undis-
putably resonates with his audience – The College Dropout sold over 4 million copies worldwide. 2005’s Late Registration continues Kanye’s technique of highlighting what is real in a hip-hop world becoming increasingly glamorized and commercialized. The notion of struggle, however, is certainly not abandoned - and West continues to reach into gospel traditions for musical inspiration de-
spite the decline in overt religious allusions from The College Dropout. Borrowing the influence of Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 “Move On
Up,” a late civil-rights anthem urging black progress, Kanye’s “Touch the Sky” traces his rise to stardom calling out to his rap men-
tor, Jay-Z, “Now you look at me like damn, dog, you where I am – A hip-hop legend, I think I died in an accident cause this must be heaven.” This technique of signifying, especially off of prominent black artists of the civil rights era (throughout his career he will also borrow from Gil-Scott Heron, Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Bill Withers and countless others) is central to the spiritual tradition of the black identity in America – a tradition from which God is never far removed. Approaching the release of Graduation, Kanye was one of music’s biggest stars, and destined to grow more. In an ingenious plan, West and 50 Cent publically pitted their albums (set to release on the same date) against each other. It wasn’t rap beef but rap boast. Look how many records we can sell. And although both enjoyed high sales due to the promotion, West’s Graduation blew 50’s Curtis out of the water. While this commercial focus and success may seem as a detractor from West’s spiritual influences, the content of the album is not purely, as West had lamented on his debut album three years earlier, “guns, sex, lies, videotapes…” West’s adopted persona, the Dropout Bear, instead embarks on a personal journey through Kanye’s childhood and beloved home city, in “Champion” and “Homecoming” to his rise to and coping
with fame in “Flashing Lights.” All of these themes coalesce with a tinge of Kanye’s religion in “Glory,” sampling Laura Nyro’s “Save the Country,” a spiritual civil rights piece inspired by Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. Kanye continues his deeply personal storytelling in 2008’s 808s and Heartbreak. Mixed among hard-hitting chart-toppers like “Amazing,” “Love Lockdown,” and “Heartless” are toned-down though deeply thoughtful tracks like “Street Lights” whose hypnotically melodic 16 bars are repeated throughout the whole song: “Seems like, street lights, glowin’ happen to be just like moments, passin’ in front of me so I hopped in, the cab and I paid my fare, see I know my destination but I’m just not there.” Messages like this – those that illuminate a specific worldview characterized by Kanye’s individual search for fulfillment are not a total disbandment from the religion that is so evident in West’s early works. It is, rather, an adoption of a personal identity born out of an appreciation for the past but with an acute sense of his present place in the world. For Kanye, the self becomes the center of individual experience. This notion will only be amplified by the impending rise of Yeezy. When, in 2010, Kanye released My Beau-
tiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Rob Sheffield, in his (5-star) review of the album, claimed that, “Nobody halfway sane could have made this album.” Kanye’s magnum opus – complete with a complementary short film, Runaway, directed by West himself – is an unrelenting lament, both of himself and his surroundings. It is a challenge to his listeners to be observant of the society in which they’re irrevocably a part. And it is, simultaneously, a heartfelt resignation of the artist’s own shortcomings. Here, Kanye fully realizes his spiritual potential, expressing his worldview as privy to the ills of society yet determined in overcoming them through a highly individual search for fulfillment and purpose. “Gorgeous,” “POWER,” and “Runaway” all explicate a dissatisfaction with various facets of modern American society. The final two tracks tie in the personal with the societal. “I’m lost in the world.” This powerfully personal statement takes his experiences as a young producer/artist and asserts them as part of a larger worldview: that all we have in the world is our own identity and the greatest spiritual search is that in which you find a concept of god within yourself. Raekwon, at the end of “Gorgeous,” tersely states, “If you can’t live, you’re dyin’.” It seems like a tired trope, but in the context of the spiritual consciousness that Kanye asserts throughout the whole album, messages like this become
nuanced gestures to listeners - mnemonics for navigating the modern world – commandments in Yeezy’s sacred text. As listeners become cognizant of Kanye’s sense of prophecy, Yeezy becomes the lone wolf, disciple, and savior of his own philosophy. After three years of silence, Yeezus stunned (and put off) many critics. “I Am A God” is a glaring example of braggadocios spirituality coming to characterize the artist’s tumultuous existence in a world with which he is at odds. “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” are the societal commentary that are thereby created. “Middle America packed in came to see me in my black skin number one question they askin’ fuck every question you askin’!” Kanye is not going to answer to a perverse, superficial society that quells the individual spirit because his very spiritual ethos is based upon the principle that personal fulfillment and enlightenment is the crux of life. He cannot endorse the prevalent dumbing down and avoidance of the uncomfortable – an issue with which we all struggle. Yeezus, as a result, is an uncomfortable record – both sonically (the opening track, “On Sight” begins with 15 seconds of uninterrupted distorted shrieks) and in its lyrical content. In this way, the most reckless and challenging of all Kanye records postulates a spiritual message that, while
vastly different from the black church inspired pieces on College Dropout, still embodies a personal struggle within a greater, malevolent society. This past February, after multiple delays and balks, Kanye released The Life of Pablo. Kanye marketed Pablo as a gospel album, and “Ultralight Beam” certainly wants us to buy into this classification. The song is the link at the end of a chain begun by “Jesus Walks” in 2003. This is Ye’s “God Dream,” it is everything. Complete with a sermon belted out by choir director Kirk Franklin and Kelly Price’s powerfully angelic backing vocals, the piece is an epic in its own right – but also a distinctly religious epic. He turns to God once again – like he did in his early albums – to accrue comfort in a world acutely aware of gun violence and racial tensions. Once again, faith in a higher power, not just in himself, is evoked – however, Yeezy does not totally abandon his doctrine of self-sustaining spirituality. Songs like “Real Friends” and “Wolves”, evocative of the messages in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, present a similar sentiment of an individual navigating a scrutinizing existence. The synthesis of Kanye’s religious inspiration and individual worldview is shown in the hook of the album’s final track, “Saint Pablo”: “And you’re lookin’ at the church in the night sky Wonderin’ whether God’s gonna say hi Oh, you’re lookin’ at the church in the night sky And you wonder where is God in your nightlife Yeah, you’re lookin’ at the church in the night sky (Father, father, father...)
Wonderin’ whether God’s gonna say hi The night sky, yeah, I feel like I’m home, yeah” The search for God in the nightlife seems like a fitting characterization of the seemingly paradoxical link between Yeezy and religion. How does one reconcile existing in the modern world, with all its “vices” with a history of struggle and redemption (both literally and spiritually) that has come to characterize the black community – the community from which Kanye’s work stems. Kanye answers this with a call for an individual search for purpose – one that he certainly has engaged in, and one that has given birth to a worldview, the evolution of which he shares with us from “God show me the way because the devil tryna break me down” to “This is a God dream, this is everything.”
The search for God in the nightlife seems like a fitting characterization of the seemingly paradoxical link between Yeezy and religion. But let’s look closer. Maybe
this evolution could have been predicted from the start. Maybe conventionally religious Kanye had more braggadocio and a more individualistic nature than meets the eye. There are hints of an “I Am A God” Yeezy well before Yeezus or even My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Remember that performance at the Grammys in 2005? It was a theatrical production on the stage of music’s biggest night. Kanye showed a four minute play at an awards show celebrating music – and won for his music as well. Did he already know how dominant he was, and we just hesitate to attribute such an acute sense of innovative spirit to the young man with wire in his jaw wearing a pink polo and a backpack? After all, he did end that 2005 performance donning a white suit and angel’s wings, lifted by the very cast that was in the pews at the beginning of the performance, praising God.
IN THE MIST photography by DANNY ROSENBERG models ELLIE GRACE, ARIANNA MCFARLANE, CARA MINNIX, GABBY REILLY, HALLA WALCOTT
avant-garde writtten by KYLE LOPEZ art by JULIA BULLARD
imperfect dare-to-wear experiments explore gender identity, shapes, and volumes through disparate materials mink, parachute silk, synthetic hair, hard plastics, paper, metal for dresses and goggles gold garments hang on invisible thread
deconstructed and reconstructed vibrant colors alongside sinister, abstruse head masks voluminous garments with over-sized selvedges. exaggerated proportions rendered nearly unwearable juxtapose restraint, balance, and elegant curvature with a multi-layered effortlessness
tiny floral prints glimpse through sheer layers of black pin-tucked chiffon tell stories of human coexistence and collaboration, boundaries of technological possibility, voodoo and future dandyism evolved into performance art
Queer Eye for the Heteronormative Gender-Exclusive Fashion Norms: An Open Letter written by HELENA KLAVIN
Flavor of the day: Queer Punk. Secret Ingredients: 2 chiseled pairs of cheekbones, a blow up doll, 2 school buses filled with glitter, zero shits attitude, and your older sister’s dresses from the 90s ~Mix it all together and what do you get?~ The best thing to come out of New York since the Bloody Mary, PWR BTTM. They’re here and, trust me, they’re queer. The duo, Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins, combine elementary school arts-and-crafts with thrift-storechic to brew an addictive look that cannot be matched (nor pulled off) by any other performance duo on the market. After finally coming out of the garage, they rose to popularity with the success of their 2015 album ‘Ugly Cherries’, an album built off of a guitar, a drum kit, and two voices ready to be heard - and boy, are we listening. Between reminding us that lipstick is sexiest when it bleeds and that a sippy cup is a perfectly valid receptacle to drink beer out of, the pair continues to inspire their audience to embrace the weird and the awkward that makes us who we are. And I don’t want to go for the obvious point and say, “Look, people who don’t present as females are wearing dresses!!!!” But hey, in case you missed the point, there it is spelled it out for you. Society is programmed to divide stores for “men” and “women”. Oh look, a bedazzled skirt, better make sure that’s in the “girls” section so that the “boys” don’t get the wrong idea. Why can’t a kid run around
in whatever they want without being labeled “tomboy” or “sissy”? So calling all Homo sapiens that leave the house in plunging necklines …risking their necks with dress trains catching on stilettos …leaving nothing to the imagination under their mesh shirts …grabbing scissors and tastefully trimming those denim shorts. …ironing those pinstripe pants for that 9 to 5 Let’s blow all of your preconceived notions of clothing to smithereens! The quick and dirty: CLOTHING IS AGENDER, NON-BINARY, INCLUSIVE TO EVERYONE, YOU LIKE IT WEAR IT! I’m not saying that I am expecting everyone to go full Jackson Pollock with their makeup - don’t let me stop you, though, go the full nine yards dude - but it’s getting to the point where clothing brands need to realize that gender-neutral isn’t a style to design for, or that it’s a youth trend that’s going to die out in a few months. Stop making things overcomplicated. Break down the boxes and divisions, and be open for once.
Cheers, Your local androgynous fiend
LIGHTS ON photography by DANNY ROSENBERG beauty by Emily Gurian, Serena Hooker, Claire Powell, Julia Sung models NICK ADJAMI, MICHELLE CHENG
LADIES WHO LUNCH photography by DANNY ROSENBERG models HARSHITA NETALA, MOIRA TAYLOR
LIGHTS OFF photography by DANNY ROSENBERG beauty by Emily Gurian, Serena Hooker, Julia Sung, Claire Powell models NICK ADJAMI, MICHELLE CHENG
STAND OUT writtten by ALIJAH WEBB
STAND UP photographed by ANDREW UHRIG
Whether you are a part of a marginalized group or not, it’s important to understand what’s happening in society around you. The first and best way to do that is to talk to one another, so that’s exactly what we did. From the conversations we had with just a select few, we were able to gather so much about what it means to stand in solidarity with a movement that ultimately affects the fabric of society as we know it. No matter who or what you are, we see you, we hear you, we believe you, and we stand for you.
“Until recently, I only considered myself to be an ally to a lot of movements, like Black Lives Matter, because I can recognize that despite being a woman and despite being a Muslim American, I have a lot of privilege. I didn’t think I was marginalized, and I still don’t really feel the effects that other people do, but I think it’s extremely important to recognize one’s privilege and use it to the advantage of others. If you have a voice where others don’t, it’s your responsibility to help them out. A major problem is that a lot of people don’t think that way, and that’s where such divisive tension comes from. If we can start with opening people’s minds to that, we can start working on building a more inclusive community.”
“I believe in collective liberation. I think that whenever there are people being oppressed, they need to be supported by other people who are able to support them. Standing in solidarity...is super important, and I think it’s a very valuable message, but I think you also need to make sure that when you’re standing in solidarity you mean something by it… you need to additionally contribute to them or make it known that you’ll fight with them. It’s a good gesture but it should be more than just a gesture.”
49 “I can comfortably stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter but I also have to think very critically about my role as a non-black woman of color. I’m Indian American, and as an Indian American woman growing up, not necessarily in my own immediate family but definitely in the Indian community, I noticed that there’s a lot of anti-blackness. I kind of see it as my role as someone that is in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to not just combat anti-blackness broadly, but to also combat it in the communities that I am a part of, and this includes the Indian American community. That’s not a role I take on alone. There [are] a lot of people working towards that [because] there’s a lack of awareness [in the Indian American community] of the institutional racism that perpetuates a lot of the anti-blackness in America.”
“There’s so much that needs to be changed… I think that when you talk about just societal changes you really need to… go back to the creation of this very country… [which] was not built to be an inclusive place. It was built specifically for groups of people to succeed and for others to not succeed… Ultimately, I do think that our freedoms are all… entangled with each other’s, so there’s no way for you to be… [part of] one movement, like Black Lives Matter, and not support other movements, like the LGBT movement.”
â€œI stand with the Black Lives Matter movement because everyone should. Why wouldnâ€™t you support anyone or any group that has faced systemic oppression? One of the reasons I support it - among the many - is because I support anyone working towards a more inclusive America, especially people of color. I also choose to endorse it because it strives to solve a plethora of issues involving societal discrimination. I think the best way to combat marginalization is being emphatic, and fighting unconscious bias. People need to try harder to understand where others are coming from, and give them the space they need to speak their truths.â€?
DUMPSTER photography by DANNY ROSENBERG art by LILLIAN ZHAO, EMILY BASS, JULIA BULLARD, REBECCA MCHALE models AKINWUNMI ABISOGUN, JUSTINE FELTY, CARSON GRAHILL-BLAND
Q&A BARCLAY SAUL
written by E.S. LEVINE, art by YASMIN ABUSAIF
s long as I’ve known Barclay he’s done great, creative things. Part of multiple bands, successful screenwriter, and composer of music, Barclay’s latest venture, into the fashion world, Bespokery, launched in 2015. I caught up with him recently. See the full interview on our website…
B: Yeah, of course there’s the structure
– whether, for instance, it’s a thirty-second or a two minute video, knowing the
classical arch, sonata form: exposition, development, recapitulation, and then finished quickly – that’s exactly how every story is structured, whether people realize it or not. A script can help. You
E: What are you doing these days? B:
I’m a music teacher and compos-
er, I’ve been trained as that, and I’ve worked as a freelance writer as well, but the fashion bug bit me about two years
can’t just sell a tee shirt, you have to sell a tee shirt with a story.
E: Are you still composing music? B: I’ll still get together with people and
play some music because that’s just a
ago when I was working on a project
part of me, but the fact of the matter is,
with a designer in Los Angeles who was
morning, noon, and night, I’m focused
a friend and neighbor.
on sourcing yarn, acquiring clients, put-
ting together deals that can really work. How much is Bespokery rooted in
I would encourage anybody to go into
a passion for the creative side of fash-
the arts, but maybe not if you want to
buy a house.
Well, interestingly, I’ve spent my
entire life trying to be an artist and succeeding in minor ways here and there, and just decided maybe I was better off
Well I don’t wanna buy a house so
The one piece of advice I would
being a salesman or an agent. Part of
give is just start now. Like when I went
the creative aspect is we help brands
out I was 34 or 35, but basically ev-
tell their story.
erybody who I knew there, who were
in the positions of power, were people As someone who has composed
who had done it right away and worked
music, written in various contexts, do
in writers’ rooms right away. That pipe
those skills have any bearing on how
dream is not a pipe dream if you attack
Bespokery tells a clothing brand’s story?
it full force early.
RO CKE T MA G A Z I NE FA LL/W I NTE R 2 0 16 V OLU ME V I I , I S S U E 1
Published on Dec 1, 2016