THE 5TH ELEMENT MISSION
Emcee, b-boy, DJ, and graffiti arts - these are the four elements that compose hip-hop culture. Many would argue that fashion is not a significant element of hip-hop, but when placed in comparison with any other culture, you will see the appearance of its people is what distinguishes them. Fashion is the 5th Element. We, as a collective of fashion enthusiasts, are here to provide you with an online magazine that bridges the connection of fashion in hip-hop. â€œOur Common Threadâ€? Established 2010
MC // Ill Camille // 1
Graffiti // Mariella Angela // 21 Graffiti // Vera Times // 35 B-Girl // Shorty // 43 Fashion // Miss Wax // 51 Fashion // Melody Ehsani & Reebok// 59
DJ // Eden Hagos // 11
SPRING & SUMMER 2015 Co=Founders | Editors-in-Chief Nino Llanera Marc Mangapit Art Director Phillip Cendana Managing Editor Richard â€œReachâ€? Guinto Emcee Editor Lindsey Linayao DJ Editor Marc Mangapit Graffiti Editor Janine Yoro Fashion Editor Nino Llanera Public Relations Yewande Noah Community Manager Nina Tabios Contributors Nina Tabios Sashana Macatangay Christina Kim Jovi Lopez Kaycee Rogers Media Contributors Alvin Dharmawan Karen Capalaran Robert Macaisa Bo Lee Amanda Martinez
WORDS FROM THE FOUNDERS With their limitless talent and mass appeal, these women are the new wave of influencers in the music and fashion community. They are the now and definitely the next. In this issue we put the ladies first. Celebrating their growing presence in the hip-hop element that embodies their work. Enjoy!
Underrated, sophisticated and creatively inclined, the women of the hip-hop and streetwear industry are a force to be reckoned with. In what seems to be a male dominated industry, these women tend to shine beyond the pack and leave marks with their multifaceted talent and boundary pushing work.
AUTHENTICITY OVER EVERYTHING WORDS BY: LINDSEY LINAYAO | PHOTOGRAPHER: SAMANTHA J
“Both,” she answers, pondering the question: Which do you feel needs better representation in hip-hop, female rappers or west-coast rappers? She may very well be the answer herself. Ill Camille is more than just a gifted lyricist from Los Angeles. She is a thoughtful and compassionate creative, with a hunger for success. On a sunny day in Downtown LA, we got to know the artist and chopped it up about everything from her observations in hip-hop today, and what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry. She continues, “I feel like there just needs to be more representation of REAL rappers.” Though female and west coast-based artists seem to be outnumbered in popular hip-hop music, Ill Camille feels the real minority in the situation are genuine artists. “More than any particular sex, I think there just needs to be more authentic rappers. Whether they be from the West, from the East, just over all. Because what good does it do, if wherever they come from, it’s off some bullshit?” It’s clear Camille practices what she preaches. In the four years that she has been on the scene, she’s put out two solid bodies of work, The Pre-Write and Illustrated, and has worked alongside industry bigs like Terrace Martin, Kurupt, Murs and 9th Wonder. Most recently, she has opened up for Yasiin Bey at LA’s Rhymefest, and also received a hefty co-sign from fellow femme fatale, Rapsody, on Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning. It’s safe to say the proverbial ‘birds of a feather flock together’ expression rings true with this emcee. With fame, there is a peculiar stigma attached, that not only must you be incredibly talented to make it big, but you must also look the part. Some of us can 3
agree that the female artists of today’s mainstream are heavily sexualized compared to their male counterparts, and that there is an unspoken pressure to look perfect, at least, to whatever the standards for perfection are at any given time. One thing about rising star, Ill Camille, is she exudes sheer confidence in herself and in her work. Her attitude parallels her rap style -- charismatic, strong and elevated. When we bring up the issue of body emphasis in the music industry, we delve into the controversial issue of cosmetic surgery, and how more and more women in the industry are (though usually denied) getting work done. Camille’s stand on the situation is a compassionate and conscientious one. “It’s no judgment, but, we’re all insecure about something. You know what I’m saying? And there’s a part of me that understands that need to try to change something about yourself.” Camille continues to describe how insecurities can leave someone so distraught, that seeking cosmetic changes are the only way out for them. “If it makes you uncomfortable, or makes you unable to sleep at night, or not get into relationships, or whatever. To me it’s like, what ever you need to do to make sure you can get over that hump, ‘cause you got to live. Then there’s a part of me that’s like, ‘Baby girl, I wish you just, like, cared about yourself so you wouldn’t have to change.’ So I understand both sides of that.” “But, what can you do? It’s all about the times. The now.” Camille goes on to talk about how following current beauty trends in the media subconsciously translates to staying relevant. “It forces your hand. It almost makes you feel like ‘I’ve got to go purchase 49 cc’s of ass.’ It makes you feel like that.
Like, that’s the wave. The wave is the butt, right? The wave is, like, long Brazilian hair…and as an entertainer, as a woman, it makes you feel like you have to ride that wave. So, if changing my nose is the thing that’s gonna make you give me a deal, I would be a fool to not at least entertain that -- I probably won’t go with it, but I can understand the woman that would. I just do.” At the end of the day, it’s still all about the music. As an artist with a few years under her belt, Ill Camille understands she has a responsibility to uphold. She recognizes that she has the capability to move listeners with her music, and feels obligated to do that and nothing less. “My primary responsibility is to make sure I’m feeding people’s spirits. I can’t do music that ain’t gonna touch you somewhere. You have to take away something from it. I want you to care more about what I’m saying than, ‘Oh, that beat was dope.’ So, my responsibility is to make it hit the core -- or your heart, or your mind, or your feet. And again, authenticity. I represent me and I have to represent those women who are like me. To me, hiphop is about representing. So those are my responsibilities. Just keep it on some 100 shit, and you know, make it potent!” Ill Camille is currently working on her 3rd studio album, entitled Illustrated B-sides, set to drop by end of summer 2015. With rich production provided by beat-makers Terrace Martin, Tae Beast, and more, the emcee will be sure to shine with her honest lyricism and unapologetic delivery. Keep it locked on Ill Camille, a most supreme female voice in West Coast hip-hop.
“My primary responsibility is to make sure I’m feeding people’s spirits. I can’t do music that ain’t gonna touch you somewhere.”
LADIES FIRST: FEMALES VS. THE HIP-HOP INDUSTRY WORDS BY: NINA TABIOS
If chivalry is not dead, then the rule “Ladies First” should still apply in today’s world. Hip-hop is a race and men have always been in the lead. In a male-dominated genre since its inception, female rappers have proven that women are fearless, strong and when united are not only capable of being a tough competitor, but also outshining most men. Many female emcees from Queen Latifah to Nicki Minaj have shattered expectations and become legends in their own right. In one form or another, female rap has defined values of generations. It shaped a new way of activism by questioning sexism and racism in the industry but also used the genre to empower women as well. Female rappers mold together popular culture and feminist action. Take a moment to listen to the powerful words from the mouths of some of the most influential female rappers from back in the day to today on Females Vs. The Hip-Hop Industry.
“Truth be told, I don’t think many labels understood the difference between each female MC. They thought one female MC should cover the gamut of all female MCs.” - MC Lyte
“I entered into my craft full of optimism, but immediately saw the suppressive force in which the system attempts to maintain control over a given paradigm. I’ve seen people promote addiction, sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their real value, or exercising their full power. These devices of control, no matter how well intended, can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.” - Lauryn Hill
“I was always different. I wasn’t a follower. When I got into the music industry, I did what I would normally do. I didn’t pay attention to any trends. They felt like I was refreshing. I always think that if you can walk in with confidence then you can convince the masses. I came in and did what I knew how to do.” - Missy Elliot
“I feel like I was so strong in every other aspect of my career except for trusting my own judgement. I disregarded a lot of my own personal concerns out of loyalty to others and trusting other people’s judgement. At the end of the day, I was right and I knew what I was talking about. At the time, the sentiment was that female rappers couldn’t make it without a crew or a man at the helm. I don’t regret anything but I wish I could tell myself ‘Fuck that shit, you’ll be fine. Just stick to your guns and you’ll probably be doing better than most of the guys anyways.’” - Rah Digga
“Back in the day, we (female rappers) were easier to find. We were plastered all over the Right On Magazines, the Rap Pages, and The Source. Now, most of the girls are seen but it’s difficult because they don’t get the attention they deserve. The ladies that do get the light are following a similar trend of being scantily clad. Everyone’s naked, showing their boobs or ass. That doesn’t describe every woman in hip-hop but unfortunately that is what’s pushed to the forefront. Little girls don’t get to see anything else unless they’re pushing and searching for it. All of us, with the help of some brothers, can shed light on what’s missing and bring back the balance for women in hip-hop.” - Monie Love “The industry is not glitter and glam; it’s smoke and mirrors, so you can be left behind or caught up. You can’t really hate the players though, you have to hate the game. As a woman, you have to work twice as hard and twenty times harder in the paint than guys. I have gone to male artists shows and I can honestly say my show is better. But, I don’t get credit ‘cause I’m not a guy.” - Trina
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE “F” WORD WORDS BY: JOVI LOPEZ
Over the past few years hip-hop has taken a significant turn with its representation of women. As more female artists rise from the glass ceilings and willingly become symbols of female empowerment and “whether or not they voluntarily admit it” feminism, we are seeing a shift in music and a breakthrough in hip-hop culture where progressive ideas have made it to the mainstream. With the exceptions of artists like “Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott”, hip-hop history has mostly been made up of men fighting for recognition and a voice, and representing the streets they grew up on. These days we are seeing a fight that extends further beyond the breach; a fight for equal pay between the sexes
(women make $0.77 to a man’s $1.00), female sexuality and power, representation and respect. Whereas back in the day, women were not being heard and mostly just being objectified in music videos. And although this kind of representation is still alive and well in hip-hop, women like Nicki Minaj are taking back their sexual power and prowess, greeting the male gaze then subverting it, all while schooling the world on just how powerful women really are and inspiring fellow ladies to embrace this. Beyonce is just as much of a symbol. With a more subtle approach, her feminism is straightforward and fearlessly political, focusing on supporting and inspiring the next generation of girls.
It’s been a pressing issue for most celebrities to define what a Feminist is exactly, if they recognize themselves as one and what that requires of them. As always, many people in the business tread lightly on these political terms due to the stigma associated with the idea. And although some of us are still hesitant to embrace the “F word”, (even though we all have access to Google search engines) we have made a platform to have the discussion - Compared to just five years ago, that is a huge step for hip-hop culture.
SPRING FORWARD GET TO KNOW SOULECTION’’S EDEN HAGOS WORDS BY: MARC MANGAPIT | PHOTOGRAPHER: RYAN DOMIGPE
Sunny days in Los Angeles happen all year round. so it’s easy to see why many travel to this California oasis. Though it should be a proven fact that any city along the coast enjoys their abundant sunlight and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. One city in particular that more folks should visit is the eclectic and warmly welcoming city of San Diego. Apart from its rich surf culture, there is a growing music scene with artists who are ready to be discovered. Thankfully we had the pleasure of highlighting a DJ from San Diego who is set to make waves worldwide. For a feature in our first all ladies issue, we did our research and listened to many suggestions from fellow music lovers. L.A. music collective, Soulection, has their influence spread throughout the world and we were honored to interview one of their members - the vibrant and dynamic Eden Hagos. On a bright weekend morning, we sat down with Eden to talk fashion, music and her must have accesories. The 5th Element Magazine: What made you want to start DJing? Why did you choose to pursue this craft? Eden Hagos: I wouldn’t exactly say DJing per se, but I started getting into music in college. That’s when I was starting to pay more attention to production. I was listening to a lot of Madlib, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder and all these producers. Paying attention to production eventually got me into digging and then led me into Djing. That was just the next step. The only way I could really get my sound out there is by mixing the sounds that I like, and DJing is that platform. You have one or two hours to basically make this mood or create this environment with these tracks. It’s art. So I love it.
5th: Tell us the early beginnings in your DJ history. Eden: I started DJing about two years ago. Before that, I was actually mixing, like digitally. I had made three mixes of my own. I just put it out there and it got blogged. Joe Kay heard it and reposted it. So that was kind of the beginning of when people started paying attention. I wasn’t necessarily a “DJ” at that time but just as a selector. I like to dig and find these new artists. These new sounds that we in the label call ‘the sound of tomorrow.’ They just have that future sound. Whether it may be a good remix, a good flip or a good sample. It’s just something about that track that catches my attention. Last February I got added on to my label, Soulection, and that gave me the platform to get to the next step. It’s incredibly inspiring being a part of this team of talented and young individuals who are grinding. I learned from everyone and got on turntables. It was like this love and community spirit that got me into it. 5th: For those unfamiliar, can you elaborate more on Soulection? Eden: Soulection is a record label, radio show and niche collective of DJs and producers. The label started originally with Joe Kay, the founder, and then Andre Power who is the co-founder and the artistic director. Soulection is a future sound-based label. The best way I can explain to people is just imagine all the sounds that you listen to now. Well we’re like the people that are behind the scenes who are making the beats to rap songs and all the other stuff you’re hearing on the radio. We have a pretty big collective of producers and DJs.
I’m a DJ on the label and there’s four other people who are DJs with me as well. We have Hanna Faith who represents London, Kronika who’s based in Los Angeles, we have Sasha Marie and myself who are based in San Diego and Yuki who’s based in Japan. So us girls make up the DJing part. And then we have a big group of producers from all over the world. Soulection is global and I’m just really proud to be a part of something so amazing that’s leaving its mark in music. So I definitely see big things for Soulection and I’m excited to be able to go along on this journey. To have that platform has definitely changed a lot for me and I’m very grateful. 5th: How do you perceive females’ roles in a male dominated DJ scene? Eden: When I entered the DJing arena I was honestly welcomed with open arms. I feel like I’ve been grateful enough to have really positive people in my life. And it’s because of those really talented and positive individuals that I’ve seen play that I got into DJing. The individuals that taught me how to play happened to be males. There aren’t that many females that are DJing but I feel like it’s such a small group and we all know each other, or of each other, so it’s all love. 5th: Describe your everyday fashion style. Eden: Well my everyday style tends to vary. As of late, I will say I have been more into the comfort thing. When I’m traveling and for gigs I like to be comfortable - a backpack and some good comfortable shoes so you can move around on stage. That’s necessary. I’m also an avid vintage collector. I love collecting
“Soulection is global and I’m just really proud to be a part of something so amazing that’s leaving its mark in music.” 18
â€œVintage collecting is art to me.â€?
“You have one or two hours to basically make this mood or create this environment with these tracks. It’s art. So I love it.”
Top: Eon Shorts: Calvin Rucker Jewelry: Eklexic
everything, whatever I feel like wearing, but a little more emphasis on vintage. 5th: What process do you have when picking out an outfit for a DJ gig? Eden: It varies on what kind of event it is, but you will usually find me wearing black at a lot of my gigs. Black is just perfect, it always looks formal. Baby heels or some sort. No longer high heels like I used to. I have a really cute compact leather backpack that I’ve been looking for everywhere. It goes everywhere with me. And red lipstick, it dresses everything up. I have to have my red lipstick, that’s crucial. So wherever I go, my backpack for my equipment and my red lipstick. 5th: What’s next on your agenda?
Top: Azul by Moussy | Skirt: Vintage | Shoes: Artist’s Own
vintage dresses and unique pieces. I have a tailor in San Diego that I send my stuff to. I like the idea of having something customized that’s mine. Vintage collecting is art to me. It’s unique. These are not pieces that are recreated.
On the flip side I’m really grateful ‘cause I have a significant other that’s really into fashion as well. I pull a lot of clothes from his closet. Like his shirts are my dresses. You know, clothing that’s really well cut and tailored so it’s right up my alley. So it’s a little bit of
Eden: I definitely want to do more festivals and travel. On top of Africa, I definitely want to go to Europe. Branch out and collaborate with as many female artists as possible. And by artists, I mean not just musicians, but creators. My mixes for example, I’ve collaborated with different female artists for the visuals. From London, to Japan, to all over. So that’s my goal is to work and collaborate with as many females. I would also like to curate my own events. So I’m kind of working on an event that’s possibly happening in New York City. I’m really excited about that because it combines my love for fashion, health and music. It’s perfect. I’m excited. Visit Soulection.com/eden for more info on Eden Hagos and Soulection.
A HIP-HOP CANVAS
WITH MARIELLA ANGELA WORDS BY: JANINE YORO | PHOTOGRAPHER: ALVIN DHARMAWAN
As hip-hop has been making cultural shifts in the past decade, it’s not a surprise that it’s already infiltrating highbrow forms of art. Best known for her oil paintings of hip-hop icons, Mariella Angela’s art has been creating a cultural buzz. We sat down with her and were welcomed into her haven that unraveled the depth of her artistic journey. The Inception. Beginning as a brainstorm for a perfect birthday gift for Tyler, The Creator, the notion surprisingly led into a discovery towards a hidden passion and the mark of a new career path. Stuck with the dilemma of gifting someone who presumably already has everything, it was suggested that Mariella would draw him something and he’d most likely appreciate it. Because she wasn’t an avid artist in the least at the time and suddenly remembered taking an art class in high school, she rummaged through her stuff to find her painting tools. Picking up the brush again, she painted a portrait of Tyler. To her surprise, he absolutely loved it and shared a picture of it on social media. Immediately, people took notice of Mariella’s talent, inspiring her to make more. It increasingly became a hobby and later in 2014, Mariella decided to take her art more seriously. The Artist. With the decision to take her talent and career into the same trajectory, Mariella continues to hone her artistry with hopes that one day she’ll be remembered for the path she’s paving today. Without any formal training or attending art school, all of Mariella’s artwork is self-taught. Pulling photos of hip-hop icons, stroke by stroke, she creates masterpieces with her oil paints. However, she credits her art as a collaborative effort between
the subject, the photographer’s vision and her interpretation of the photograph. At the same time, as an artist, Mariella believes in the importance of connecting with the subject. While it would be nice to have the celebrity sitting physically across from her, Mariella makes due with what she has. She interestingly creates opportunities to make the subject feel like they’re there by listening to their music while she paints. However, based on factors ranging between the weather, her mood, the way the music makes her feel and where the music takes her are all equally important in determining the vibe and the creativity of the session. Simply put, if there’s no connection, there’s no essence in the art. The Struggle. For many, oil paintings can raise an eyebrow about its relationship with graffiti. However, the beauty and fundamentals of hip-hop is the ability to be fully embracing of the era’s culture and community. In the eyes of hip-hop, art is art, despite your medium; what’s more important is the message you bring. Looking at Mariella’s art collection, we see it tells many different stories. It tells the story about oil paintings no longer reserved just for the elite. It also speaks about an artist refusing to be defined by certain credentials. Instead, it fights to gain merit based on talent. Concurrently, it speaks on the struggle of being female and trying to set your own mark in a place where male dominance reigns. Touching back to several months ago, Mariella took part in the Whitehouse Projects, where a series of artists came together for a live art exhibition and auction. With the pressure of creating a painting from scratch to a finished auction-ready piece by the end of the night, Mariella arrived early to
be fully prepared. However, with other artists coming in later, she felt the pains of being a rookie. In comparison to these artists who were established and had gone to art school for years, she instantly felt insufficient. The fear of no one buying her art crept in her mind and the struggle of the ego started to manifest. However, having the ability to recognize what was happening, she was able to pull herself back and stand as a reminder that the only competitor she had was herself. So, when she stopped comparing and re-focused on the story and the goal, she was able to complete her piece. Resultantly, through perseverance, her art went home to a beautiful couple from Peru as a gift for their 16-year-old daughter. Hence, the art proves as a testament to never quit on one’s self based on the opinions of others. The Future. All in all, Mariella hopes to share with the world that you can do anything you love with enough determination and the right heart. It starts with pure intentions, with the greed of success and exposure being non-existent in the equation. And sometimes, having a ton of credentials rarely matters. For Mariella to fill a whole wall of art, she’s constantly reminded success comes as half talent and half soul. To get anywhere, it usually takes time, making sure to keep pushing through until you’re where you want to be. As a part of her forward momentum, Mariella Angela has developed stickers of her art pieces which are now available at DWNTWN locations in-store and on her personal website (www.mariellaangela.com). In addition, she put together her debut solo show, TwentyOne, which opened successfully on April 25th, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA. 24
CONCRETE GALLERY WORDS BY: JANINE YORO | PHOTOGRAPHER: ALVIN DHARMAWAN
In this edition of the 5th Concrete Gallery, the team took to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles chasing murals that align with our “all female” theme. To make the cut, we went searching for murals by female artists or murals focused on a female subject. All centralized in Little Tokyo and the Arts District, we found a few we thought you’d enjoy just as much as we did. 27
Whoâ€™s the artist: Bicicleta Sem Freio Where to find it: Boyd St.
Whoâ€™s the artist: Starfightera Where to find it: 966 4th Street
Whoâ€™s the artist: Hueman Where to find it: Molino St.
Whoâ€™s the artist: Starfightera Where to find it: Colyton St.
The Vera Times WORDS BY: JANINE YORO | PHOTO SOURCE: VERATIMES.COM
At the core of every artist, their craft is meant to create works that will last forever. Time and time again, artists have shown how their experiences in a given moment all influence and inspire art. At the same time, the level of skill characterizes the artist’s prominence. Separating an amateur from an expert, great artists are celebrated for their talent to take an acquired skilled towards a new height. For example, anyone can paint, but not everyone can paint in a certain stroke. In clear path towards becoming one of the greatest artists of our time, our 5th Element team had the privilege of sitting down with east coast artist Vera Times. The Beginning. Early on, Vera Times was always a creative kid who loved art and making things from hand. She enjoyed the process of creating and delighted in how-to drawing books. You could always find her in the arts and crafts section and consistently participating in summer art programs. Crediting her earlier years to Boston-based organization Artists For Humanity (AFH), Vera Times learned basic fundamentals of paid employment in the arts. At the same time, AFH was a creative’s haven to learn and grow as an aspiring artist. For Vera Times, AFH showed her how to paint using different mediums and connected her to several mentors. In addition, with graffiti largely a part of the Boston youth culture, Vera Times was introduced to the alphabets of hip-hop and was exposed to different events like graffiti art battles. Over time, she became familiar with tagging and blackbooks; before long, growing deeper in graffiti arts and excelling in the art. Because many of her peers were constantly sharing their skills, Vera Times recognized her need to do so, but first knew she had to develop her style. The Artist. Looking through Vera Times’ portfolio, it takes insight to fully grasp the artist as a complete whole. First, it takes understanding the concept of her alias name “Vera Times”. Considering many different names, it became no easy task to decide. For tagging purposes, having a name that consisted of five to six letters would make the job easier. However, looking for more meaning, she wanted a name embodying the notion of always evolving. 37
Creatively she chose a street art alias in the form of a first and last name. Vera, the first name, roots from the Latin word veritas, meaning truth. The last name, Times, represents the moment in real time. Hence together, Vera Times is the idea of always remaining truthful to the “now” regardless if it might change later. Best described as a multimedia artist, Vera Times’ style continuously varies. Avoiding repetition, she switches between abstracts, bold lines or simply how she feels in that moment. Painting more for herself, art has always been an outlet and extension to have fun and enjoy; it was never meant to please the people first. Hence, with no specific characteristic to her style, Vera Times’ work tends to look all over the place from an outsider’s perspective. For example, you might see one piece mainly focused on lines, another on shapes, while a different piece seems to be highlighting color. But in hindsight, everything is intentional. Each art piece in her collection is a testament to her development as an artist. It tells the journey of an artist reaching for great heights while documenting her growth along the way. Uniquely apart from other artists, Vera Times doesn’t want to be known only in a specific niche of art; rather, she wants to be recognized as a great multifaceted artist. Seemingly, the aim is to never let the audience know what she’s going to do, but whatever it is, they know it’s going to be a masterpiece. The Struggle. Like many trades in this world, they are all male-dominated, with the contemporary arts as no exception. Growing up in the scene, for Vera Times, street art was fun and a bit intimidating. At the same time, with selfimposed stereotypes, being female and Asian made Vera Times feel shy and more reserved about her art. While everyone was quick to show off their blackbooks, she described herself as an artistic wallflower who didn’t really show anyone her work, instead opting to constantly practice at home. With friends on the mischievous side, she thought it was cool when they would go to riskier parts of Boston and spray paint rooftops. Unfortunately for Vera Times, she didn’t get to participate because she had strict parents who imposed 38
a curfew. In conjunction, she knew that her parents would not approve of their daughter jumping on rooftops late at night. Also in those days, seeing a girl with a spray paint can, people expected her to suck. Motivated to always be the illest with the can, Vera Times was determined to prove herself through technique and skill. Working alongside five other guys, Vera Times got a lot of criticism from people about being the only girl painting in the group. But over time, Vera Times has definitely seen the culture more receptive of women in the street arts. Today, there are more females involved with graffiti and using the spray can. For Vera Times, standing as a witness to the progression of the craft truly reflects the times that have shaped her into the artist she is today. The Progression. Based on her experiences and living in cities like Boston, Los Angeles and New York, Vera Times has definitely seen the cultural shift of the graffiti arts. Of those changes, commissioned and authorized murals rank high on the list. In the past, to paint a wall in the community, it was customary to ask the owner of the building directly. Today, with changes in business and everyone looking to capitalize, there’s now a middleman to find walls for artists to paint. Of course, muralists have the option of finding their own wall, but the drawbacks of not being paid tend to be higher. Hence, it’s sometimes easier going through a middleman. In addition, there comes a struggle between artists who want to be paid and artists willing to paint a mural for free. Artists willing to paint for free are usually trying to make a name for themselves, resultantly leaving the artists looking for a commission 40
to take a pay cut. In addition, with the white washing of graffiti mecca and cultural landmark, 5 Pointz of New York, it sent an important message to many artists. There will be moments in our lives that fall short of our expectations, but they still add meaning to this life. Just like the new emergence of street murals throughout the city, we the people must learn how to continuously move forward. With her own forward momentum, Vera Times recently completed a mural several months ago, incorporating the things that encompass her with the occurrences of today’s society. On a wall in Nolita, you’ll find a huge elephant with the words “Welcome to the Jungle!!!” Vera Times’ favorite animal just happens to be an elephant. Inspired by the election during that time, it leaned heavily with the Republican Party, which commonly relates to the elephant mascot. In addition, elephants are typically found in the jungle, and New York City is often referred to as the concrete jungle. Together, everything fits, thus sending a message to society and letting them know the era that they’re living in today. Welcome to life and don’t get caught in the musings; instead, always “#staygoldenNYC”. Moreover, Vera Times is like a graffiti version of Jay Z, coming with the one-two punch in her double and triple entendres hidden in the layers of her craft. All in all, Vera Times is a rising star and an artist to keep on your radar. Here at The 5th, we know she’s destined for greatness, knowing that whatever she puts into the world is going to be ill. Don’t believe us? Just watch.
TO THE BEAT
WORDS BY: NINO LLANERA | PHOTOGRAPHER: ALVIN DHARMAWAN
SHORTY ROCC How did you begin dancing? I actually grew up not fond of dance. Both of my parents were professional ballet dancers and owned many studios. I hated the Nutcracker and just everything ballet, ha! One day when I was 11, I saw Bboy Wicket headspinning in the Christina Aguilera music video for “Come On Over” and my life was forever changed. I instantly wanted to learn how to do that and gravitated towards the hip-hop scene and I haven’t stopped since Was this a passion that turned into a hobby then a career, or was this always a dream of yours to be a professional dancer? When I first started it was just a passion. It quickly turned into a dream and goal to become a professional dancer. I grew up watching all the Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, N’Sync and Madonna dancers and knew that life was what I wanted. How was your ABDC (America’s Best Dance Crew) experience? ABDC was unreal! It was such an amazing experience and one of the highlights of my career. I got to learn and become family with 45
a group of girls I always grew up wanting to be like. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but it pushed us to create and be stronger as a group. I’m proud of that show and am honored to have shared the stage with the Beat Freaks and call them my sisters.
with someone, it’s great training for stamina. But most importantly, I still love to have a light-hearted and fun session.
Do you feel that ABDC helped open more doors for your career?
Standing out is such a key factor out here in the industry. As a bgirl I already stood out because there are very few bgirls in the industry. It took a lot of hard work and just having the guts to be different. I always liked being different, so for me it was a fun process to figure out how to make myself stand out from the rest - that includes everything from your hair color to the clothes you wear, it all makes a difference.
Oh definitely! We met tons of people in different areas of the industry doing that show and they always reach out when they need girls who can bust! I actually got linked into the Disney Channel scene from Rosero McCoy who was working on ABDC at the time. So it definitely helped open doors for my career. With so many credits and accomplishments under your belt, what has been the most noteworthy or memorable? Oh man this question is always so tough for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have so many amazing times in my career. I’d have to say touring with Britney Spears on her last tour, “Femme Fatale”. I grew up always dreaming about dancing for Britney Spears so it was such a huge deal for me. It was such a beautiful production and the team of dancers was phenomenal. I love jobs that challenge me as a dancer to step out of my comfort zone and this tour did exactly that. There is no better feeling than performing live in front of thousands of people doing what you love.
In such a fast paced and cut throat industry, how do you get yourself to stand out from the rest?
How has hip-hop influenced your life? I couldn’t imagine my life without hip-hop. Growing up I fell in love with all the aspects of hip-hop and its culture and dance, of course. It has taught me so much and opened up a door for me to have such an amazing life. I honestly don’t know where I would be without it right now. It showed me a side of dance that I fell in love with. I love hip-hop! What are three words that best describe your fashion style? Urban. Class. Funky. Is there a go-to brand that you always rock?
What is a training session with you like?
Oh this is hard! Haha! I love me some Nike and Stussy all day!
I love to train and surround myself with people who inspire me. I love to drill moves that I have and then take the time to create new stuff. My favorite is doing minute rounds
Twitter: @bgirlshorty Instagram: @bgirlshortyrocc Facebook: Bgirl Shorty Worldwide YouTube: youtube.com/livnwithshorty
â€œWhen I first started it was just a passion. It quickly turned into a dream and goal to become a professional dancer.â€?
GOLDEN STATE OF MIND WORDS BY: NINO LLANERA | PHOTO SOURCE: MISSWAX.COM
Gold is a color for all seasons but definitely shines more in the spring and summer. Miss Wax Jewelry has an array of gold pieces found in their multiple collections. Designer and founder Kylee Fauss has successfully created a recognizable and youthful aesthetic for the brand, which was started back in 2007. The popularity of the brand has lead to collaborations with one of our favorite bad gals and HBICâ€™s (Head Bitch In Charge) in the industry Miss Lawn, founder of Hellz Bellz and BOTB. To find out more about Miss Wax take a peep at www.misswax.com.
SPRUNG ON COZY PHOTOGRAPHER: NINA TABIOS | MODEL: JOVI LOPEZ | WARDROBE BY: ALTERNATIVE APPAREL
REEBOK & MELODY EHSANI WORDS BY & PHOTO SOURCE: M&C SAATCHI
The Reebok Classic partnership with LA based designer Melody Ehsani is back for SS15, dropping a standout sneaker pack to accompany the debut apparel collection launched earlier this year. Two much-loved classic silhouettes, the Ventilator runner and high-top Blacktop Pump, are reworked in the distinctive style that has become characteristic of Melody’s previous collaborations with the brand, for an eyecatching duo big on both style and substance. Originally running and basketball silhouettes, the Ventilator and Blacktop Pump are given a bold makeover as Melody re-interprets the designs in her edgy street style, creating fashionable footwear for strong, independent women whose actions, attire and attitude speak louder than words. Each sneaker features the original luxe python leather from the first Reebok Classic x Melody Ehsani collection, a unique texture that takes inspiration from a creature which embodies Melody’s definition of a Classic woman; a sweet juxtaposition of beauty and intelligence. A lacelock accessory featuring the designer’s signature take on the evil eye brings a sense of individuality and creativity to the look, while a gum outsole adds visual interest and a fresh finish to the upper’s rich tones. The Blacktop Pump is updated with a hidden interior wedge heel for a more feminine, streamlined silhouette, while the Ventilator stays true to its retro runner design to coincide with the sneaker’s 25th anniversary this year. The second drop of the Reebok Classic x Melody Ehsani SS15 collection launches exclusively at Melody’s L.A store and on her website www.melodyehsani.com 61
April 24th, followed by select global retailers on May 1st. The collection ranges from $120-$200. “Born and raised in Los Angeles in a traditional Persian family, like many of my cousins and friends I applied to go off to Law School after college, but I couldn’t stay there. I decided to break with my culture and follow my heart into a field I was internally drawn to…. design. The more I designed shoes and products, the more it felt like the right thing for me to be doing. So now I believe that design is part of what I was designed to do. I guess you could say that design is part of my divine blueprint. I believe that honoring my blueprint helps me bring to the world new patterns of behavior and equality for myself and for all women in the future. In my culture, a woman’s value and status are determined by her marriage. This is a difficult and challenging concept for many women in today’s world. By following my calling and making shoes and products, I am helping women resolve these kinds of paradoxes. I want to become my true self and be a vibrant member of a family and a community. I want the women who wear my shoes to have the same opportunity for equality, wholeness, and selfexpression. My style is inspired by paradox, controversy, justice and pushing the envelope in showing that you truly can’t judge a book by its cover. I design to upset the equilibrium. I design to inspire. I design to serve. I design because I was created to do so. A portion from each pair of Ehsani shoes purchased will go towards the advancement and education of women in our society.”
THE LADIES OF THE 5TH
We at The 5th Element can wholeheartedly attest that the successes that we’ve achieved as a whole can be due in part to the majority of female staff that we have on the team. It is through their unique set of skills and hard work that keeps things moving and paves the road to our goals being achieved. So it was only a no-brainer that we showcase some of the fly females of The 5th Element for this issue and let them share a few words of sage female advice from the varying, unique perspectives and personalities that they possess. Karen Capalaran (Media Contributor) 1. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan and never the goal. Keep your eyes on the prize. 2. Surround yourself with people that have similar goals. Get someone to take you under their wing and teach you the ropes. 3. Stay humble. Remember everyone is on a different chapter in their careers/ lives. 4. It’s not about the ideas, it’s about making those ideas happen. 5. SLEEP! Getting enough rest can help clear your thoughts and keep you healthy. Can’t sleep? Go workout! Sash Macatangay (Contributing Writer) 1. Always invest in quality, whether it be things, or people. Live a life that is fundamentally sound. 2. Substitute envy for inspiration. Understand that with all success comes a journey, and make that journey your own.
3. Cultivate your own unique strengths and showcase your skills with pride. A woman comfortable in her own element is often the most beautiful kind of woman. 4. Avoid being idle, but savor those rare moments of solitude. 5. Do as The Roots say, and “Infinitely go against the grain.” Christina Kim (Contributing Writer) 1. Become less fat. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, and it may seem very superficial, but HONESTLY, it’s logical. Guys like attractive girls, and though the thickness may be in for certain demographics, the general concept of being thin is always going to be sexy. 2. Stop wearing stupid stuff. There are tons of articles on trends that guys hate and women love, and readers can react in two ways: they can either talk about how misogynistic the list is because women don’t dress men, OR they can use the list as a guide on what not to wear. It’s really all very logical: Guys hate leggings. I wear leggings. Therefore, guys hate me. 3. Stop wearing so much make up. Ladies, just because celebrities and make up gurus wear bright colored lips and wing their eyeliner and have to send their brows to rehab because they’re on something (and by something I mean fleek, haay), does NOT mean you should be following in their footsteps. 4. Stop caring about important things. Is he cheating on you? Maybe. Should you care? Neh. Honestly, we as women just care too much these days, and it’s becoming a hindrance to our progression in society regarding gender roles. Feelings and emotions are kind of
dumb, and think of how many times you have been dumped for caring too much. Kanye asked us, “How could you be so heartless?” and it is your duty as a female to answer him. 5. Realize that this list is a joke. Hopefully by now, you’ve deduced that these reasons are ridiculous. Sure, you may change things about your personal style and appearance and lifestyle if you want to, but the emphasis has to be on the IF YOU WANT TO part. In conclusion, wear what you want, eat what you want, feel how you want, and if no one seems to want you right now, go buy a dog (or five) because who needs a man when you have a pup?! Lindsey Linayao (Emcee Editor) 1 .Embrace your imperfections. What makes you different adds to your individuality. You are one of a kind. 2. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect and we are all learning as we go. One thing to remember: things get better. 3. Avoid the “could’ves, would’ves, should’ves.” Explore new foods, places and opportunities often. You’ll either fall in love, or have a hell of a story to tell afterward. 4. Spend more time away from your phone. Beautiful things are happening all around you. You just need to look up. 5. Know your worth. Be kind, but don’t be naive. Everyone will not always have your best interest in mind. You’re valuable, and should always be treated as such.
Nina Tabios (Social Media Coordinator/ Contributing Writer) 1. If your shopping habit is preventing you from traveling, you’re doing it wrong. Well-traveled people are always cooler. 2. Never forget where you came from. Can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. 3. Home is where the heart is. Give back to the community and the people that made you who you are. 4. Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard. Work quietly, let the successes that come your way speak for you. 5. Love your work, love your job, love the company you work for, but remember that your job/work won’t always love you back. But your family and friends will. Not pictured: Janine Yoro (Graffiti Editor), Yewande Noah (PR and Events), Kaycee Rogers (Contributing Writer), Jovie Lopez (Contributing Writer), Bo Lee (Media Contributor), Amanda Martinez (Media Contributor) A special thank you to The Park Showroom and Media Playground PR.
She and Her, Their Presence is Felt All those years ago, back when Common personified hip-hop as a female essence on the seminal “I Used To Love H.E.R.”, such a sentiment was a burgeoning one; emcees became brothers in arms in the movement to begin dropping encouraging anthems to uplift, cherish and seemingly deify women - goddesses and queens started to replace the bitches and hos that permeated rap’s lyrics. Though there’s gems to be found in Tupac penning “Keep Ya Head Up” or Black Star serenading all the brown skin ladies, hip-hop championing women still takes an undeserved backseat to the dominant misogyny that the music is infamous for. But as you can easily attest to in the crucial topic that we chose to honor for this issue, acknowledging the contributions and accomplishments of women in hip-hop and urban culture is a banner that should never waiver and one that we will continually fly high. This issue is our pedestal for you, ladies. Take a bow atop these heights. Flex the strength that’s been taught and handed down to you from the strongest and most important females that have come before. What’s more, the beauty and prominence of a female’s presence can easily be witnessed beyond just a magazine issue. Look up after these words and your senses needn’t wander far to experience the impact that women have made in our lives. Their impressions are left deep in the DNA of our world, spanning all of its segments and facets, beyond the confines of hip-hop and fashion, blanketing society in their omnipotent grace and essence. Words by Richard “Reach” Guinto
SOURCES ALVD Photography Ryan Domigpe Veratimes.com Nova Teng Samantha J Photography Misswax.com M&C Satchi
SPECIAL THANKS MC // Ill Camille DJ // Eden Hagos, Soulection B-boy // B-girl Shorty Graffiti // Mariella Angela, Vera Times Fashion // Melody Ehsani, Reebok, Miss Wax, M&C Saatchi, Media Playground PR, The Park Showroom
SOCIAL NETWORKS Website // the5thelementmag.com Facebook // facebook.com/The5thElementMagazine Instagram // @the5thelmntmag Twitter // @the5thelmntmag Tumblr // the5thelementmag.tumblr.com
Spring & Summer 2015