Welcome to the first issue of The Radvocate! I’ll keep things simple here so you can enjoy the rest of the zine. We are an open forum for anyone (and I mean anyone!) to contribute and share their opinion, stories, artwork, poetry, or what have you. If you don’t like what you see in this issue, great news! You have a chance to contribute something you would like to see printed for the next issue. What do you get out of it? A chance to be published and share your work with a group of your peers in an unsponsored, non-biased environment. You don’t have to be a professional to write, draw or send hate mail to us. Just hit us up and send us your stuff to our email address or first post to our P.O. Box (Check out the back page!). If you just want to receive it, send us your address and we’ll send it to you for free. As in gratis, amigo. What do we get out of it? Hopefully an interesting, somewhat democratic zine where you don’t have to worry about politics, status, or connections to be a part. Consider us your connection in the “publishing” biz. We know there are plenty of people out there with a talent, but don’t always get the opportunity to share it. Well, here you go, everybody!
In Berkley, CA, there are people - well, hippies - squatting on private property and claiming it is theirs. Thanks to a loophole in California law (specifically, California Code 1006) these people are using nothing more water bills with their name and the address of the property to prove their ownership. Insane! And in many instances, the law is forced to defend these squatters. It's contrary to that most basic of ideas in our society - that if you buy something, you own it. These squatters are not just taking property for themselves, they're taking our reality - how we look at the world - and turning it upside down. And how are they defending themselves in the face of (understandably) pissed-off property owners and befuddled cops? With the simple, unwavering belief in what they are doing. Nothing else. Shouldn’t that be enough? Why should so much effort been put into reinforcing the image of rollerblading? Why can’t rollerbladers have that same inherent confidence that everyone else does? In almost every facet of skating, there are products, media, writing and messages that take this defiant stand towards the ‘outside’. We are rollerbladers, and we are special, it says. Are you kidding me? Get over yourself, already! There is so much false bravado and wannabe toughness with people and videos in rollerblading that it literally is laughable. It IS! And don’t tell me that they are ‘proud’ of what they do and are the ‘badass’ people who will ‘save the industry’, because we’ve heard it all before and we know better. Think of the ‘tough guy’ from 10 years ago. Is he still skating? Probably not, because rollerblading is gay. Duh! The people in it the longest are the ones who have fun, who ignore rules and be themselves. They are not the moody introverts that make so many other things look cool. They are the ridiculous people on fruitboots! So much has been done to break down what blading ‘is’, in the technical sense. About what makes a trick ‘count’. Jumping off a roof won’t get you sponsored any more; you have to skate park, you have to have image, you have to go to contests, blah, blah, blah. As time goes on, tricks that were lame get accepted as cool. Styles that were lame get accepted as cool. Why can’t the same go for attitudes? What’s wrong with having a positive, confident, and healthy relationship with skating? Why can’t people just say, “I don’t have to do anything. I’m just rollerblading!”. Can’t we just EXIST as normal people who happen to enjoy the occasional wheeled-foot romp? What the fuck is wrong with that?
Think about the usual tactics people use when explaining skating. The go to explanation is “You know, like skateboarding…?” but it is not at all! Completely different movements, completely different tricks, and yet we continue to copy and compare. Rollerblading is NOT like skateboarding and you should be proud to admit it! If you want to be like a skateboarder so bad, then pick up a skateboard. If you can’t come to terms with the weirdness and lack of definition in blading, then you probably will give up eventually. You will decide that blading is full of ‘biters’ and ‘fags’ and not worth your time. Next, let’s not forget the old standby: the blading video. You show them a video with the biggest tricks and make your friends uncomfortable with your strange need for validation in your weird hobby. Eventually they fulfill the need of your fragile ego by saying ‘yeah, that’s cool’ in a half-heated tone, if only to get you to shut up. Later on they wonder why you needed their acceptance so bad and why you act so defiant and angry about something that is supposed to be fun. Instead of rewarding positivity, we look up to the angry, dividing characters with all the sponsors to be our inspiration. Does it sound like these people are having fun? Through the years, bladers are constantly told that this is the way to act. To be reactionary, to isolate, to be ‘punk rock’, to be ‘hard’, to be ‘different’. Well you know what? There is nothing cool or different about acting like a pretentious and moody person with an undeserved sense of accomplishment. It just makes you a dick that no one wants to hang around. Before you burn me at the stake, please just understand that I am not trying to patronize rollerbladers. I am trying to create better human beings. Like the rest of society, rollerblading is sick with materialism, introversion, and meaningless, inconsequential ‘rules’. It is so easy for kids in their early to late teens to identify with a culture of exclusion and difference. But we all grow UP. We all realize that punk rock and skateboarding and street art and partying and all that bullshit is just as stupid and meaningless as everything else. No one is trying to keep you down. The only person holding you down is YOURSELF. And you have the power to change that. You have the power to not take rollerblading so seriously. You have the power not to act like a self-righteous knob. You have the power to be a positive and social person. You have the power to be confident with who you are, no matter what anyone’s opinion is. It’s just fruitbooting, people. It’s not worth it to waste the best years of your life. When all the contests are done, all the shops have closed, all the companies are out of business and all the products have decayed, the only things that will matter are the memories, experiences, and friends you have made with this rad thing we call rollerblading. So relax and have fun.
Have you ever met anyone who is just insanely good at everything they do? They excel in sports and the arts, have genuine character and personality, an outstanding vernacular, and quite a way with the opposite sex. Well, Mike Leaf is one of those people. I met Mike on my very first trip to San Diego from Chicago back in 2001. I was still in high school and heavily involved with the local southside blade scene back home. On my first trip out to the West Coast, I wanted a chance to meet up with someone and check out some of the local spots, so I dropped by the Daily Bread office to see if anyone there could point me in the right direction. B.J. Bernhardt answered the door (he was not as tall as I thought heâ€™d be) and was more than happy to let me upstairs where I met Jan Welch (who was as tall as I thought heâ€™d be) for the first time. Jan then gave me Mike Leaf's phone number. About a day later, I met up with Mike and we went out skating. We've been friends ever since. Some people may be caught off guard by Mike when they first meet him. They instantly think, "Wait a minute. Is he really this nice of a guy?" The answer is, yes he is. Coming from Chicago, everyone had their own little crew when they went out skating. The idea that another rollerblader was ready and willing to take out a complete stranger and show him the local blade scene completely blew my mind. That sort of thing didn't really happen in Chicago at that time. It's one of the main reasons why I took to Mike almost instantly after meeting him. Since then, I've gone snorkeling with Mike, had a few sessions in his fabled backyard skate park, "Leaf Land", and also skated street with him on numerous occasions.
Art: Victoria Paul
The first time I noticed Mike was really good at EVERYTHING was the day just hours before we went snorkeling. It was up until this point I thought he was just amazing at blading. I arrived at his house in my board shorts with my buddy Bobby Reichel from New York. Mike was on the front lawn juggling a soccer ball. By the way he was doing it, you would've thought he played on a pro soccer team. After that, I just began to notice it more often. Want to learn how to do a back flip (or anything else ninjas do)? Mike can show you. Want to learn Yoga? Mike can show you. How about the delicate art of metal crafting? Mike can show you. Might you have an interest in urban biking? Mike can show you. Want to learn how to own and ride a Segway and still look like a badass? Mike can show you. Want to learn how to put an awesome 1920s “Ahhh-oooooo-gahhh” horn in your Toyota Scion? Mike can show you. Want to learn how to drive your riced-out Acura? Mike can really show you. In addition to all of the above talents, I recently came across a video on the internet of Mike setting a world record for Bull’s Eye Ball that lasted an entire year! There, in all its youtube glory: bullseye ball 255, no cheating. Now, how many of us have come across somebody who is good at rollerblading alone who we can’t stand because all they do is talk about themselves and how good they are? Well sorry to disappoint the haters, but Mike just isn’t like that. Everything Mike is good at he puts time and effort into and does so for the pure enjoyment he gets out of doing it. And when it comes to skating or anything for that matter, if Mike says he is going to do something, he does it. Once we had just finished a session in Chula Vista with some of the Santee dudes and Mike said to someone, "you think I could run up that wall and back flip off it?" Naturally, there were some nay-sayers. Sure enough though, Mike did it. And when he landed, he was grinning ear to ear.With that said, Mike Leaf is no jerk and yes sir, he'll tear anybody up at anything. So you think you're the cat’s meow at Kendama, eh (I know, that was so “2009”)?
Well I've never even seen Mike play and if he hasn't, give him two hours with one and he'll send you chumps home crying. If he ever has played with one, you're already doomed. Mike Leaf was the first person in San Diego to accept me with open arms and I'm never going to forget that. That's why I speak so highly of him. And I’m not the only person who is lucky enough to know Mike. There’s a whole list of people reading this right now who know him and are nodding their heads in agreement with me. He's a staple in the blading community and in the San Diego community as well. I even just handed him this entire article about himself on loose leaf paper and made him type it, because by now, you all shouldn’t be surprised to know that he’s also an amazing typist.
I honestly can say that I've never had a very eventful or memorable Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - except for one. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day should be a pretty typical (albeit forgettable) holiday. It memorializes a great man who dedicated his life to the cause of civil rights for African Americans. Unfortunately, it's now only one of those days when yuppies grumble because they can't get into the post office but still have to go to work. Although it happens too early in the year to celebrate with a barbecue, kids (and even some lucky parents) still get the day off to enjoy. The MLK day in question took place in 2002, to the best I can remember. I was a freshman in high school, and like every other day where we didn't have school, we decided to celebrate it one way - rollerblading. I had been invited by some usually too-cool-for-me classmates to go skate with them that day in Mira Mesa, an area I had never really been skating in before. But I had met some kids skating at the school by my house a few weeks ago, and they offered to skate around and show me the spots in Mira Mesa anytime. Once the cool kids had heard about this, they "offered" to drive and take advantage of this new friendship I had gained. So rather than spend the day with the TV, I accepted the invitation and waited anxiously for my ride. When they arrived, I grabbed my skates and jumped in the car, eager to catch up with the friends I had left at the other high school. They were all pretty cool now, especially the driver, who despite only having a learner's permit was out driving us around. Of course, I wasn't about to say anything. I wouldn't want to look like a loser in front of these "mature" friends, now would I? It wouldn't have mattered, because I had never met the driver before anyway. He was a tall, fat kid - who we'll call Stewart - who had just started rollerblading a month earlier. Because of his awkward appearance, Stewart was more than willing to risk his license to keep these new friends he had around.
The risk of losing them - and his only chance at a social position at school was even greater, in his mind. So even as the passengers of the car hung their slowly dissolving Camel Lights outside the window of his Dad's truck, he tried to play the calm and collected card. I, however, could see the nervous sweat beading from his hands onto the steering wheel. It was around noon when we arrived at the first spot, a middle school, and met the Mira Mesa crew. The only one of them was a Filipino guy who was also named Matt; a good-natured guy with spiky hair who would give you the blades off his feet if you asked him. He quickly introduced me to his four other friends, who sullenly responded and acknowledged our presence. They were all pretty nondescript Asian teenagers, some Filipino, some Vietnamese. Pretty much all of them had black hoodies and baseball hats. Together, we looked like a pretty ragtag group of kids on blades, flinging our bodies at handicap rails and trying (unsuccessfully) to look gangster. To any passersby, it must have been a riot. The school where we were doing this was perfect: no one around, not even janitors, to bother us. Our location was blocked off from the street view, so no cops could see us when passing by. But after awhile, it became apparent that at least half of us couldn't jump onto handrails, so it was decided to go across the street to skate some ledges in an open park. I think this decision was also made by the more egotistical people in the group, who wanted to impress everybody with their 'sweet ledge skillz'. I knew this was a bad idea. Without the tall grass to guard us, we were left vulnerable to any patrol car on safari. A large group of shady-looking teens on rollerblades crossing the streets of Mira Mesa wasn't exactly inconspicuous, either. We arrived at the park to find the ledges pretty much unwaxed, meaning we would have to noisily break them in. I jumped on the foot high ledge a few times, nervously twisting my head around, keeping an eye out for the black and white.
After a few minutes, I relaxed. I was worried over nothing, I thought optimistically. Our group settled in; the cooler ones hung back in a shady area and smoked while the others imbued the stark gray ledge with black or white plastic streaks. We were enjoying the sunshine and even joking with each other, giving 'props' when someone landed a nice trick. Suddenly, I heard a commotion, but it was coming from the direction opposite of the street. What is the big building over there, where this sidewalk leads to? I thought. It looks modern, like an office or a college or...oh shit. It was a college. Mesa college, to be specific. And since the sidewalk leading to the park was shared with land from the school, a campus police golf cart had rolled up. By the time I saw it, he was in a hundred-foot shouting match with a member of our group. Even from that distance, it was obvious this red-faced police reject was hopping mad. So mad, in fact, that before he had ever come over here, he had called the cops. His appearance was really more of a warning; he was, in fact, one of the four golf-cart-men of the apocalypse. As if on cue, two patrol cars skidded to a stop behind him, kicking up a cloud of dust. Before the dust even settled, we could see one of them run out of the driverâ€™s side and claw at the passenger side facing us. What was he doing? I squinted in confusion, only to find out one horrifying second later: he released a fucking police dog. Now, understand, everything I'm going to describe to you happened in less than half a second. I saw the triangular head of the big German Shepard as the cop pried the door open, still attached to a leash but clawing at the seat to get to us. There was no time for surrendering, no time to argue about what we should do, no time to explain ourselves. We went with the most primal emotion we had: run. I took off like a bat out of hell toward the street, only to see that there were three other guys with a head start in front of me. Were they my friends? People I didn't know? I didn't care. I could here the rapid fire click-click-clicking of the dog's nails of the concrete behind us, his vicious, booming barks slightly muted by flying saliva.
I heard some yelling behind me, but I couldn't look back. At this point, it was about survival. Without even looking, we tore across the street toward a neighborhood, feet pumping urethane against the hot asphalt as fast as possible. We must have skated five or six blocks away from the park before someone ducked down an alleyway, leading the rest of the pack into hiding. We heard a patrol car fly down the street about two minutes later, it's siren blaring angrily. As soon as we knew we were out of sight, we collapsed, our lungs pressing up against our rib cages like they were about to burst. We had escaped.
Art: William LaCava
But at what cost? Once the adrenaline started to wear off and we were able to breathe, we took a head count of everybody. Five people (three of my friends and two new guys) were here, including me. The one person who had a cell phone, the other Matt, was called and we found out the remainder of the group had booked it to a neighborhood on the opposite side. "What the fuck were they thinking with that fucking dog!? We weren't robbing a fucking bank!" my friend ranted. We nodded in somber agreement. "Completely unnecessary" "That's police brutality, man" "If he hadn't stopped in the park, it would have jumped us and tore out our throats! It got somebody, though." "Uh, who was that?"
Then we realized that one person was missing: Stewart. Oh no, I thought. Of all the people for the dog to get...The poor guy had it bad enough; now he's going to be scarred for life. Figuratively and literally. "Well, that's a bummer" my friend said, lighting up a cigarette to calm down. "Should we go back and see what happened? He's my ride home". We decided we would go through the school across the street from the park. We were already located behind it, so we could came through the back and peered through the concealing gates. We could see that the patrol cars were now in the parking lot in front of the park, with three or four aviator-clad officers milling about. Then, we saw the sorry shape of Stewart, sitting on the curb with his face buried in his hands. His skates, lying about six feet in front of him, were being collected by a burly female officer and forced into 'evidence' bags that were way too small to fit them. What a horrible ordeal, I thought. The poor guy was in more over his head than any of us had ever been. And here we were, hiding like rats across the street, watching his humiliation. As if to add the ultimate insult to injury, what I surmised to be Stewart's mother rolled up on the scene in a minivan just as they were standing him up and cuffing him. She was also large and awkward like Stewart, and flew out of the car with arms waving around like she was bringing a plane onto a tarmac. While Stewart was ducked down into the back passenger seat of the patrol car, the other officers rushed to hold back the stampeding mama. You could see her gesturing and hear bits of screams from where we were, as the cops tried to use calming body language. One hand stretched in front of them offered understanding and sympathy, while the other stayed firmly planted on his taser. A short-time later, a tow truck appeared to take Stewart's Dad's truck to the impound. Our somewhat-friend (probably not anymore) was having the worst day of his life. Oddly enough, the dog was nowhere to be seen.
What happened the rest of the day was mostly falling action. With no other options, Matt was kind enough to borrow his Mom's car and drop us off at our respective houses. We were mostly silent; we all felt guilt, shame, fear and anger boiling together inside us. Others coped by spewing loud, indignant anti-establishment propaganda. "This is BULLSHIT! I'm suing the fucking city, man! Fuck this shit, dude!". Of course, they could bark all they wanted, but only because they knew they were unable to bite. I threw my dirt-caked skates onto the garage floor, and started to walk upstairs. "How was your day?" my Mom yelled from the kitchen. "Good" I lied, instinctively. The experience had been way too draining to explain, and kids don't exactly skip home to tell their parents how they avoided law enforcement all day. Forget this, I thought. I need a shower and a confessional booth. I never really saw Stewart ever again after that. From what I heard, he had been let off with a warning at the police station, but his parents grounded him until he was at least eighteen. As for skating, we decided to expand our options to areas with less gang activity and police less likely to respond with lethal force. It wouldn't be the last time I would encounter the cops while on blade adventures, but it was without a doubt the most intense. I ended up transferring schools about a year after this, and pretty much lost touch with most of the people involved. Now, it only remains as a funny memory, something I only recall when someone off-handedly asks me, "So what did you do for MLK day yesterday?" Wait, was that yesterday?
From the 200gr8 Chronicles of Dusty Hairwater The day in Allentown was nonsensical and ridiculous. It was like an episode of Three's Company if Chrissie was blind, Larry was kicked in the face by Mr. Roper, and Jack hadn't showered in weeks. It was midnight after the Brooklyn show when I was told about the two hour drive to Pennsylvania. Exhausted and smelling of garlic, I woke up confused around nine. The sun had risen and we were still driving? No time to ask questions, though. We had to load in all the equipment from the van as quickly as we could, not only because it was beginning to rain, but we were playing at Generic Scream-Band Fest 2008 at "Croc Rock" and all the other bands were playing really obnoxious music from their vehicles. As I pushed the dolly down the long white corridor into a vast room full of teenagers and young adults, all dressed with no less than ten spikes per outfit, I had a strange, overwhelming feeling that I couldn't quite place. I opened the door to a big blur of leather jackets and bad tattoos. Everyone was dressed the same and was making fun of me as I walked by... It seemed all too familiar. "Watch out, faggot." "Yes sir." Oh how I missed high school! When I returned to the van, Stefan had drained the van battery in an attempt to drown out the bad hardcore with his own music. We ended up asking the same people whose music we were drowning out to give us a jump. As we drove into the parking lot, I saw another band loading in and jokingly told them that they put on a good show and that it was great playing with them.
"We haven't played yet." One muttered in retort. "Yeah!" Another said, coming to his friend's defense. They sure showed us. Eating lunch at noon on a Saturday seemed simple enough. But as we ran down the street in the rain. we couldn't find one place that was open. Literally everything from Happy China Buffet to Subway was closed. Defeated and wet, we went back to the venue/pizza parlor where a girl recognized Stefan's voice and asked us to sit with her. She looked fifteen, as most Peachcake fans do, and my mind began to wander as she started talking about things I’ll never care about. Soon Stefan left the table and it was just her and her friend sitting across from me. It was quiet for about thirty seconds before she blurted out "You're really attractive." “Um, thanks?” and kept eating. A few minutes later she took out a folded sheet of paper from her purse with a bunch of autographs on it. "This is my autograph paper. It's actually just the back of this paper that says I'm blind." "Oh, I noticed your eye was moving a little funny, but I wasn't going to say anything. What happened?" "Congenital cataracts." "I see. -- I mean, uh, shit. Sorry."
I left the table and headed downstairs when it occurred to me that I was just fifteen year old. I passed the various the bands that all had skulls on their favorite one was the shirt which read: SAID" in huge letters with a skull for one was art.
to the bathroom hit on by a blind merch tables for t-shirts. My "THAT’S WHAT SHE an apostrophe. That
That was when I saw her. She was tall with long dark hair, a blue flannel dress that she had turned into a shirt, snakebites and was a writer for The Syndicate (some music publication Iâ€™m unfamiliar with). She must have been at least twenty-two years old and as usual I was intimidated by how pretty she was.
"Hey! Are you in Peachcake?"
Oh god, she was talking to me; my voice cracked as I said hello. She told me about how she helped promote the show, and that she was supposed to review us after we played. I said I had to pee and walked away. Classic Dusty. When I walked out of the bathroom the venue was struck with a power outage and the underground venue/basement of the pizza parlor was dark as the dirt under my nails. For nearly an hour everyone sat and complained in the humid room that was warming up fast. That's when I began to smell the repercussions of the show from the night before. All the garlic I had been taking for preventative illness/vampire measures was leaking out my skin and mixing with my natural smell of my body creating an odorous monstrosity that the neighboring merch table described as "Shit mixed with more shit, rolled around in shit." He then told me that I smelled "shitty" and that I needed to put my shit back on. I mean shirt. Not on his shitty life! The power came back on and it was our turn to play. Because of the black-out, we had been limited to four songs, but I assure you: They brought the bump.
Everybody was bumping. You couldn’t have looked anywhere without seeing bumps. I feared for my vision when I lost my glasses during one song. Stefan told the crowd to jump. I thought it was all over. When the show ended I made a public apology for smelling like an onion soup truck had collided with a garlic and patchouli farm. The whole walk back to the merch table I heard buzz about how bad I smelled. Some liked it, some didn't. The public was undecided! Then I was approached by the unusually forward blind girl who casually asked me to fuck her again. Flattered as I was, I wondered if maybe that girl was smell-blind as well... You could call it fate, common courtesy, pity, whatever! When that cute twenty-two year old showed up at our table again and we started talking again started talking to me again, I knew there was something special between us. She liked music; I liked music. She had hair; I had hair. She thought she was pretty; I thought she was pretty... These similarities were unbelievable! Who would have believed we had so much in common? I was in my twenties; she was in her twe... WAIT.
”Oh my god. You're how old?” How that girl could be so young and look so old I’ll never know.
The festival we were playing at was being headlined by The Casualties, a punk band from the nineties that stole riffs from the Clash. They had just stepped on stage as John went upstairs to watch them and the singer made sure to remind his audience that The Casualties are way punk, “not dance and not emo bullshit,” and that if people wanted to dance, they could “get the fuck out.” Thinking that the guy was being a dick to his fans for no reason, John drunkenly wrote “Casualties = pseudo punk” on a piece of paper and threw it at the bassist, who then kicked him in the head. John, in retaliation, walked back to the bar and hit him with a long distance Jell-o shot. Two guys jumped off stage to presumably kick him in the head more, but John was in cross country and made it out of the venue before they made it through the crowd. Punx! At the end of the night, already inside the van, Horny Blind Girl asked to go to dinner with us… She knew this great place called Ham Fam that we’d all love, and it was only four thousand miles away! Great! I lied in my row thinking about everything that had just happened. High school flashbacks, dead van battery, abandoned streets, ominous rainstorms, blackouts, pre-pubescent twenty-two year olds, persistent sex requests… I was weirded out by the whole day, wishing I didn’t smell so bad. Exhausted and hungry, we sat quietly in waiting for our food. After yet another the blind girl, our food appeared and I napkin to find my fork inside a knotted
the restaurant sex request from unrolled my condom.
”Excuse me, waitress...You probably get this all the time, but…” She accused me of doing it myself, and a little while later I saw her crying behind the counter. At the end of the night, when we approached the manager at the register, I asked innocently enough if they had an ‘I found my fork in a condom’ discount. The woman completely ignored my question and with passive-aggressive undertones, said “$7.58.” ”...Where am I..?” I trudged alone through the fog outside, certain we never made it to Allentown. Certain none of that day was real. There was probably a terrible accident during the two hour drive and I had been killed instantly. I stopped cold in the endless, empty parking lot …Was this Hell? Then I heard the ominous whisper of a distant voice… “Ham Fam…”
New Mexico’s November album Have You Met My Friend? finds the trio (Apes of Wrath lost a primate and renamed themselves after the Land of Enchantment last summer) rocking an appropriately stripped down sound fueled by get-up punk energy and melodic breakdowns. If the Ventures and the Strokes had a late night tryst and the lovechild was raised by Mission of Burma (with occasional weekend custody by weird uncles Digital Dance and Wire), you might have something comparable to this seven song album recorded by Mike Kamoo at Earthling Studios. Frontman Rob Kent’s rockabillied Franz Ferdinand vocals and straight-ahead riffage conjure Glenn Danzig after considerable guitar lessons, writing songs about unemployment and tumultuous romance instead of porking your mom and murdering infants. But if Static Age is the soundtrack to plowing into the depths of hell drunk in a hotrod, Have You Met My Friend? is the theme to cruising with the top down at midnight with your best friend across a surreal landscape like, uh, New Mexico. Just listen to the transcendental chorus on “Chosen Ones” and tell me The Wiggle isn’t back to stay.
When I first saw this album I thought, "Where is 'here', exactly?" My first listen gave me the answer: 'here' is apparently the lowest common denominator. These three rappers are definitely there. The skinny young guy in the center of the cover 'J-Bah' gave me the impression that this was going to be another lame Wiz Khalifa ripoff made by some teenagers with recording equipment. But from the first track onward, it seemed like this was actually a Lil' Wayne ripoff album. Really, guys? In 2011? What follows are boilerplate lyrics about swagger, 'steez', the 'hood, 'making it', and of course, bitches and hos. The beats sound like every other beat you've ever heard, and the rapping generally brings to mind every bad freestyle you've heard at a house party, EVER. The CD case and album art looks like it was created with a mac program, so maybe these guys were going for the 'DIY' angle? But their lyrics seem to suggest the opposite. They are trying to make it look like they're on the top of the game (in case the replacement-style jewel case didn't tip you off) and it comes off as annoying and a little sad. Even if I did like it, I wouldn't be able to tell you where to buy it, because I can't find a record label name or anything on the case. In this instance it may be better off that way.