a i t l e i d f f a n
Photos: Alida Bystrom
Table of Contents: Pg. 2
You are here
A Letter to the Reader
Pg. 5 A
Touch of Gray
by Jim Aguilar
Pg. 11 By Maggie Pahos Pg. 13
Hip Hop is Poetry Too
Character (sketch) - Rex
Deltron 3030 - Turbulence (Remix) David Barnett
Pg. 35 South of the Border: The Realization By Shawn Kennedy
Spread the Word
The Brilliant World of The Love Language
Saber-tooth Tiger By Chris Catanese
Pg. 52 Unaffiliated Endorsements Pg. 57
What a Rip-off By Jim Aguilar
A Letter to the Readers We at Unaffiliated saw a need. If you’re here, you have likely seen it too. We saw talented, creative individuals with nothing to belong to. Some people just aren’t meant to be labeled, and these are the people, in our experience, with better stories to tell. So, this magazine is intended to be a monthly showcase of those talents, the Unaffiliated. What follows this letter is not a literary magaine, nor does it fall under the tent of photography, music, or politics. It is all of these things, an attempt at an articulation of a type that is not a type, a group with no leader. Maybe it’s a manifesto, maybe it’s just an interesting thing to read on the toilet. Either way, you’ll discover a surprising abundance of talent in places you might have never looked. So look around, tell your friends, and come back next month. Write a damn article for us if you want. Or send us pictures, or music, anything you feel an urge to express. As much as this magazine feels like it’s about us, it’s more about you, the proudly unspoken for, the Unaffiliated. Enjoy, Unaffiliated Editors
A Touch of Gray
The two black sticks that flick like metronomes across the highway in front of me have escorted the pollen on my windshield to the borders of this painting. It clumps and drifts towards the bottom, probably lodging itself deep in the grumbling recesses beneath the hood that I am not knowledgeable enough to open with confidence. Not worried about that now as my father has been around more blocks than I know, and prides himself on being handy. At the moment, he is in the passenger seat rustling through his pack of Marlboros, doing it so nervously that I know he will pull out something he’s not supposed to. Grateful Dead shows will bring out this behavior in anyone, but especially one who is used to seeing them on far more pervasive substances; those that dig deep in the cerebral cortex and tinker with sensations and ideas previously unforeseeable and subsequently inexplicable. In comparison, weed is downright tame, although he insists his stuff will kick my ass soon after we smoke—“it’s creeper”. Old people think all weed is creeper, maybe because it’s grown more potent now or maybe because they have more mileage. 5
Photo: Jim Aguilar
Sitting in the Greensboro Coliseum lot, my passenger hits much harder than I expected, and his face is soon surrounded in a ghostly aura of exhalation, too thick to make out his features. In an attempt to prolong our first father-son joint—a “scoober”, he called it—I take my turn languidly and blow thick rings at the dashboard, trying some on with my pinky finger. They dissipate where my long, slender digits meet my palms, and I remember I’m not smoking alone. “You know, I really do love the stuff, but nowadays it just makes me so tired,” he says, sounding disappointed in himself and now me for knowing this. We light matching cigarettes and walk towards the imposing structure that looms over us and the rest of the freaks. Not one car is parked parallel to the lines, but instead each one is using the car next to it as a guide, creating a whole army of vehicles slightly askew. We enter the Deadhead gauntlet; there are grilled cheese sandwiches and shirt merchants and pipe vendors and lots of dogs and babies and dreadlocks and oh shit I lost him. He reappears with two beers and begins relating Dead shows from way back. No real details or set-lists, his memory too murky from days spent beforehand camping in parking lots much like this one: acid for breakfast and mushrooms for lunch and acid again for dinner and God damn don’t we have any real food? By the time the band actually started they had forgotten why they came to the strange gray tundra filled with cars and tents, and so the show was doubly excellent because it was a surprise.
Photo: Grant Barry
And yes it’s not the same I guess and no it certainly is not the same and yes I’m ready to leave and I feel my eyes getting damp and my throat inching inwards because you’ve never looked older Dad. The music is tired and the guys on stage are god damned old and old is close to dead. And for you the two have always been synonymous and ‘fuck aging gracefully’ has always been your secret motto but the bottom fell out tonight on your charade and all of a sudden you’re withered and hunched and not fragile but certainly breakable, and maybe broken already by this realization. Mom told me this will probably be his last show, so I try not to rush our departure. I hug and thank him for taking me here and sharing what was once his world with me, “even if it doesn’t look or sound quite the same anymore.” He nods and talks almost the whole way out. I listen and occasionally interject, amazed by our unabashed sincerity—something that for twenty years has been an unspoken taboo. At some point I realize this is the conversation I have rehearsed so many times in my head, although it is much more disjointed and roundabout in practice. I grow frustrated at its imperfection; words that I know should be there are lost in the music or swallowed or simply omitted, and I worry that he will die withholding something destined for my ears, or that he will go away not having heard all I have to say. But how many different ways can you say ‘I love you’, and how many ways have we already avoided saying it?
Photo: Maggie Pahos
Non-fiction As we’re leaving, I spot the band through an archway and pull him through it. We sneak down close enough to see facial expressions and dandruff, and the song is called ‘drums in space’ and this is wonderful, his suddenly vibrant face seems to say. I sit in the aisle, squeezed between other view-stealers, and leave him the one empty chair recently vacated by my new neighbor on the step. Dad sits, face aglow in the greens and blues vibrating outwards from the six foot drum heads. He is flashing back, I can see it in his grin, something distant and peaceful about it, and I am flashing present, fully engulfed in the primal unity of mind—thousands all thinking and bobbing at the same pace, in the same place. We are so much more alike than different, the drums seem to cry out. I look around and picture each person being birthed, pulled out slimy and alive to a soundtrack of screaming, and then a moment of ‘ahh’, the sound of life, or perhaps amazement at life, and now we are all here, and many of us with so much more life yet to create. ***
Photo: David Barnett
Metamorphosis By Maggie Pahos
I spend my nights re-typing the poems of famous poets. Taking syntax and sonnet to try on as a red, woolen pea coat or clumsy bifocals. Like the little girl doing crossword puzzles at a wooden table nearby. Tracing with her pencil the outline of tiny letter-squares as though she came up with hints like “Fruit of 613 seeds” or “Londoner, for short.”
Whoever spent an afternoon, a long winter, a decadeâ€” devising contraptions and axioms, stringing together words like magnetic toy trainsâ€”will be visited by the ink-pawed cat who never dies and always leaves a trail of Hebrew letters behind her. Aleph. Bet. Sometimes a Gimel when her milk tastes right. I clack at my keyboard and pretend these words, transparent and surprisingly rude, are growing limbs for the first time. Wheat dough rises in the sun and forms cracks, pockets of air.
Photos: Alida Bystrom
Danny Weisman is the manager of Wale, pictured here with Jerry Seinfeld.
Danny Weisman, manager of hip hop artist Wale and founder of Elitaste Inc., exchanged e-mails with Unaffiliated about hip hop, the blogosphere, and how Wale may be more Jeezy than Lupe. If you donâ€™t know who Danny Weisman is, check out http://www.elitaste.com As for Wale, you can visit http://www.walemusic.com. 13
Who do you represent? I represent Allido/Interscope recording artist Wale. I also represent Paper Route Recordz, a Huntsville, Alabama based group/label who put out a mixtape on Grammy nominated producer Diplo’s Mad Decent imprint and just signed a deal with Koch Records.
You’re from Beverly Hills right? I was born at Cedars Sinai hospital...same hospital Eazy E and Biggie died at. I technically grew up in Beverly Hills but it wasn’t like the Beverly Hills you see on TV I didn’t go to Beverly High, I didn’t live in one of those mansions you see on TV and my parents didn’t drive Rolls Royces. However, both my parents were in movies and television; my dad is a director and my mom used to be an actress on a primetime soap opera for 9 years, I was also on it from the age of 2 months to 5 years old. Where did your love for rap music come from? I know that you know a lot about music, how does that help you in the business side of things? My love of hip hop started pretty young; I’d say 3rd grade when I got 3rd Bass’ single “Pop Goes The Weasel.” I was also very into Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer; hey, I’m not too cool to admit it. MC Hammer’s first album sold 10 million copies, don’t pretend like you didn’t have it! I was also really into Motown stuff, Whitney Houston, Prince, Paul Simon and a lot of oldies from the 50’s and 60’s. In retrospect, I realize I had very diverse and sophisticated taste in music for a 3rd grader, especially preinternet. As I got older, I got more into hip hop, at least the mainstream stuff; Wrecks n Efx, etc. Then the summer between 5th and 6th grade, I heard “Dre Day” for the first time and when I came back to school, my friend Adam, who I am friends with to this day and credit as the person who put me on to hip hop, gave me a copy of The Chronic and it was game over from there. I then remember anxiously awaiting Warren G’s first album which remains one of my favorite albums of all time. From there my knowledge of west coast rap really developed which got me into stuff like Pharcyde and Alkaholiks, but also stuff like Mack 10 and WC. It wasn’t until I moved to the east coast in 1997 when I was in 10th grade that my knowledge of east coast hip hop started to develop. While at boarding school I then started getting really into dancehall reggae and a lot of underground hip hop, mostly the Rawkus stuff; Company Flow, Mos Def, Talib, Common. Going to boarding school was great because we had a T1 internet connection and this was in 1997. Me and my friends would go into AOL MP3 chat rooms before Napster existed and these bots would be running in the rooms. You could make requests and they would email you their whole catalog, you’d request what you wanted and they would email you the MP3. I remember getting put on to Eminem in one of those chat rooms way before his debut album dropped. Then the summer after my sophomore year, I saved up for a CD burner which was like $800 at the time and spent the whole summer just downloading music and burning CD’s. I came back to school and other people got burners and started sharing their libraries on the school network; it was incredible, I got exposed to so much different music at such a young age. When I started managing Wale, I didn’t even factor record sales into his business model. To me it was all about licensing, sponsorships and
shows. I have been making a living off [managing] Wale for the past year and a half and we haven’t sold one record.
Non-fiction When and how did you start out in the Music Industry? “A lotta rappers While I was in college in Atlanta, I was DJ’ing and throwing college parties sound like a lot of at clubs. We would have a lot of big name artists come through and perform at our parties so I got a little taste of the music business through rappers that. I was making great money and having a blast. When I graduated I Sound-wise, or the thought about sticking around to continue doing what I was doing, but my parents encouraged me to move to LA so I wouldn’t be a big fish in a small style they putting pond. out now I had read this book called THE MAILROOM by David Rensin, which is They putting down the history of Hollywood agents, and I decided I could be good at that. I started in the mailroom at United Talent Agency making $8.75/hr in March the same blueprint, of 2005. I was in the mailroom for 3 weeks then got on a motion picture literary desk, working for an agent who repped movie writers and directors. so pun That job groomed me big time. I had to deal with four phone lines across It’s no new shit, and two phones (you wear a headset which makes it easier), with somewhere it aint no fun between 100-300 calls per day. Add emails and script submissions on top It’s no of that plus tracking money for clients and dealing with a lot of mediocre people, the job was literally hell. But you make a game of it, don’t fundamentals take it too seriously and somehow you wake up for work everyday. It’s one dimensional I did that until March of 2006 when I blindly sent out my resume to an entertainment law firm, as I realized I did not want to be an agent. I got One can mention a job that paid twice what I was making (had bumped up to $11/hr) with less hours and less stress. I started taking LSAT classes but only lasted a one self month and quickly realized I did not want to be a lawyer bad enough to go And it be too pretenthrough that, not to mention the debt associated with law school. About a tious month or two into working at the law firm, I became very bored. And to pretend as if I was reading a random article about Rick Ross online and found out his manager had gone to Emory about 20 years before me. I reached out Tupac is not these and told him I was interested in artist management. He set me up with an dudes intentions email address and told me to find some talent. Right around that time I went to DC to visit my best friend from high school for the weekend. While Hmmm pay attenI was there, a friend from Emory who, ironically, dates Keri Hilson’s sister (also went to Emory but dropped out after her sophomore year), hired me tion to DJ a club. If you should listen He played me a song called “Dig Dug” by a local artist Wale, which at the To his shit and they time was getting a lot of spins on WKYS. I was totally blown away by the song as it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, plus he seemed to be shit really into sneakers; a passion I shared with him. As soon as I got back to it’s too convincing” work on Monday, I sent Wale a myspace message letting him know I was interested in getting involved. I’m assuming because I wasn’t a female he Wale - Vacation from didn’t respond, so I messaged DJ Alizay, his DJ. He didn’t respond. 15
unaffiliated How did you and Wale link up? Finally, I was able to connect with Kenny Burns who had Wale signed to a production deal through a friend of mine who had interned for him. Kenny and Wale were coming to LA for the BET Awards and we set up a lunch as I was not able to get away from work for more than an hour. The morning of our lunch, Kenny said he had to move it to a dinner and chose Mr. Chow’s, arguably the most expensive spot in LA. I hurried from work, making sure to dress extra snappy that day in a seersucker suit and suede nubucks, and brought a copy of the Talking Heads’ concert film “Stop Making Sense,” as I envisioned Wale’s stage show to be something like their show someday. I think they were kind of impressed by that. I admitted to having no connections and no experience in the music business but what I lacked in that area, I could make up for with hard work and passion. The bill came, I swallowed my weeks’ paycheck and picked up the $600 tab for dinner. Not sure Wale is even aware of that [laughs]. Anyway, that kind of got me into Wale’s life. He would hit me up once in a while for things and I was working tenaciously to get some sort of press. I got him a ringtone deal with Jamster and it was right around that time I got a call from Wale saying he was no longer interested in working with Kenny. I then got him a lawyer to get him out of the production deal. In October of 2006, Mark Ronson was in LA for a Lily Allen show and was DJing an afterparty. I had met Mark a year earlier in Vegas on a drunken night at Pure where I kept asking him to play his song “Ooohwee.” He obliged, we exchanged info and I showed up at the afterparty—which was so fucking packed. I managed to get to the DJ booth with the help of a mutual friend Jahad. Mark remembered me, I told him about Wale and gave him a CD. Around December of 2006, I got an email from Nick Catchdubs asking me what Wale’s schedule was looking like in the coming weeks. I had just so happened scheduled a trip to DC and Nick came to DC that same weekend to do a story on Wale and Tabi Bonney. Then in February of 2007, I got an email from someone telling me Mark had played Wale’s song “Good Girls” on his East Village Radio show and he said he didn’t know where he’d gotten the record from but really liked it. I called him immediately, we spoke, I reminded him it was from me and that Wale was actually in NY for this FADER issue release party. Between sound check and the show, Wale went to Mark’s studio and laid down a freestyle for Tim Westwood’s radio show as Mark was filling in. He killed it obviously. Mark offered to executive produce Wale’s album when he signed but said he wasn’t in a position to sign him to Allido. About two months go by and I get a call one Tuesday morning from Mark. He asks if Wale would like to go on a UK tour with him. Of course I say yes. I then end up dealing with Ronson’s manager who offers me a job at his management company. Before I start that job, an A&R from Epic, Daniel Werner, who had been checking Wale out for a minute, told me that Charlie Walk, the chairman of Epic, wanted to bring Wale and I to NYC for a meeting. The morning of that meeting, I got a call from Leah Rose, then music editor of XXL, telling me Mark’s partner, Rich Kleiman, wanted to meet about Wale. I met with Rich, he basically tried to sell me on Allido, I told him that wasn’t necessary and we were down, but wanted to see what Epic was offering. We went into that Epic meeting knowing Allido wanted to sign Wale and Epic didn’t really give us what we were looking for. I went to DC that weekend to meet with Wale and Alizay about the Allido situation. Wale only had a vague concept of Mark and Alizay didn’t really know who he was except from “Oohwee.” I explained that I was about 99% sure Mark would win at least one Grammy because of Amy Winehouse and how that association alone would elevate Wale’s status in the industry. After much thought, we decided to sign with Allido. Amidst touring Europe, we shopped Wale a deal at every label. I ended up getting fired from the management company over a disagreement regarding Wale in December 2007. I left with Wale, jobless a week before Christmas with no idea what my future was going to look like. Luckily we ended up with Interscope through an Allido/Interscope joint venture in March 2008 and I guess the rest is history. 16
Non-fiction For people unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the music/ entertainment industry what does your job as a manager entail? I basically try to manifest all of Wale’s hopes and dreams into reality. At the beginning, I shared my vision of Wale’s career with him and he liked it, so we combined the two and made it happen. Pretty much everything we’ve said we were going to do has come true. Some managers are purely logistical, but I essentially do all of Wale’s marketing. Though I have a strong business and entrepreneurial spirit, I am also very creative and I think Wale and I feed off each other a lot. The Seinfeld mixtape is a perfect example. We came up with that idea on the phone and in the beginning, a lot of people shot the idea down. But Wale and I believed in each other; me in his ability to make the tape and not have it be corny, and he in my ability to market it as such. We trusted our gut and ran with it. The project ended up on a lot of Top Albums of 2008 lists and Jerry Seinfeld even heard it. I also handle travel, overseeing his album along with Mark Ronson and Rich Kleiman (the two heads of Allido) and try to find unique opportunities for Wale to keep his career moving forward to to keep the dollars coming in. We have done sponsorships/strategic branding with a lot of companies like Nike, LRG, Levi’s, Remy Martin, Red Bull, 10 Deep and XBox. Hopefully that sets the stage for larger things once his album drops.
The music industry is in a transition period right now, as everything is going digital and the rise of the “blog rapper” is becoming more and more legitimate. how do you see the game changing as far as managing artists? I think Wale has used blogs for momentum but is not a blog rapper in the sense that a lot of these other new artists are. Wale has a legitimate fanbase in the mid-Atlantic that extends to NY and Philly and down into the Carolinas. Wale is famous in DC. If you watch the “Nike Boots” video, you see the crowd at Howard Homecoming with their hands in the air, singing the words to the song. That is all real. We shot that in one take, documentary style, on 16mm film wit a crew of 3 people and Chris Robinson directing. Some of these “blog rappers” I don’t think would even get recognized in their hometowns. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because I believe good music can come from anywhere, but hip hop is very regional and very much about movements. Wale is at the forefront of both a DC movement, because no rapper has ever made it out of DC, and at the forefront of what you would call a blog rapper movement. To me, the combination of those two movements will be unstoppable. Wale succeeding is going to make it better for these other artists and vice versa. Just like Kanye made it better for Lupe who made it better for Wale.
Screen Capture: Tokyo Story
Non-fiction The whole process of signing Wale was pretty highly publicized, he openly talked about it on all three mixtapes that dropped in ‘08, what I understood was, he basically realized with all the attention he was getting, he could wait out for the contract that he wanted not that any label would have wanted to give him. As a manager what did you do to ensure your client was going to get the best deal, and what did you guys do in the meantime? Like talk about how the whole discussion process went down, (or at least as much as you’re at liberty to say). Well I was not involved with Wale when he released Paint A Picture or Hate Is The New Love. I got involved right when Hate Is The New Love dropped. 100 Miles and Running was the first project I was involved in. We didn’t really think about it too much. We knew we wanted a mixtape that was unlike any other mixtapes in the marketplace. This was also on the heels of DJ Drama’s arrest so we wanted to make it a free download. We didn’t want any DJ talking on it and wherever possible, we wanted the tracks to blend, like a DJ mix. Getting Nick Catchdubs who, at the time, was associate editor at THE FADER, was my idea. He had never done an artist mixtape and kind of had his own following as a DJ. I saw both his and Wale’s fanbases colliding to form a diverse demographic. I think the biggest thing to come from that mixtape was “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.”, his flip of Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” That caught a lot of people’s attention, including Justice’s. Wale even ended up on the cover of URB Magazine with them because of it. It sounds crazy, but in the summer of 2007, a rapper getting on a Justice track was kind of unorthodox. Almost two years later it feels like a no-brainer but the genre-bending nature of Wale early on in his career has been very critical to his success. I explained to him that if he cast his net as wide as possible early on, nothing would feel like a stretch. A lot of people’s first exposure to Wale was him on Mark Ronson’s remix of Lily Allen’s “Smile.” Sure, a few months later Jay Z hopped on Amy’s “Rehab” but for a virtually unknown artist to be taking those sort of risks early on was very fearless. The fact that he could go from performing at a gogo then hop on a plane to Heathrow and perform at Glastonbury Festival with Mark Ronson is a real testament to Wale’s adventurous spirit and willingness to push the envelope. As for waiting for a deal, we just kept taking what we could get. We were steamrolling forward with a reckless abandonment. iTunes Single of the Week? sure. Cover of URB and DNR Magazines? why not? Song on Entourage? Bring it on. Performing at the 2007 MTV VMA’s despite nobody really knowing who he is? Wale eats fear for breakfast! Once he got signed, we started being a little more strategic about all our moves. The press was becoming a little too much toward the end of 2008. We pulled back on press and asked publications to wait until the album. You don’t want to oversaturate and blow your load too early. I see artists now leaking WAY too much music on the internet--new mixtape everyweek, new song everyday, etc--and the problem with that is when it’s time to release a proper single, people place the same weight on your single, which you probably spent money on, as they do a track you recorded 10 minutes before you put it on the internet. I was devastated to see Wale’s unfinished track “Chillin” leak because that song was nowhere near finished and we paid Cool and Dre for the track. Hopefully once the finished version drops, people will be really excited about it. 19
unaffiliated How did the blog and the other projects help Wale get signed/ help in the negotiating process with labels? I don’t think it really helped at all. People were excited about Wale as an artist. He got offered a deal before he signed with Ronson and the only bit of press he had at that point was an article in The Fader. This A&R from Epic had come to DC and saw Wale perform at a teen takeover show with Huey and Jibbs I think. These two guys had HUGE records out at the time but all the kids were way more amped on Wale. After we signed with Ronson, it put Wale in this different category of artists [that] allowed us to get a much bigger deal, because between June 2007 and March 2008 (when he signed with Interscope), we just kept grinding like we had nothing. But the Ronson association has been both a gift and a curse. Wale is from DC, one of the worst cities in America and his movement is probably closer to Jeezy than Lupe, but because of the Mark Ronson association, the cultural context gets skewed a little. I’m hoping the album bridges all those gaps.
Photo: Jim Aguilar
Non-fiction Talk about Elitaste.com and Walemusic.com what is the difference between the two. What is the philosophy of Elitaste? What is the Sneaker brokering thing about? Talk about the social networking structure on Walemusic.com and what it means for artists in the future. Elitaste is basically a word I came up with a few months after I started working with Wale. It was actually born out of frustration as I came up with it while writing a letter to the NY Times Magazine regarding my displeasure over one of their articles in which the subjects came off as bastions of super cool and I nicknamed them elitaste (sort of like elitist except pertaining to taste). As soon as I came up with that word, I just bought the domain name and registered the trademark because I thought it might be useful in the future. So I watched as blogs grew and although I had my own personal blog while working at the talent agency where I’d write about my daily activities at the agency with a very dry sense of humor, not many people read it. So last February I had the idea for Wale and I to have our own blog that would be a destination for all things Wale, but also just random stuff we thought was cool. I put a link on his myspace and I started leaking new material through elitaste.com. I had envisioned Wale to be more involved but he’s not really a blogger with his ADD. Anyway, I ended up incorporating Elitaste, Inc as my company for the management, consulting and music supervision. I imagine should I get into movies it would be my production company. But the blog still flourishes. I’d like to see more traffic but I don’t really go that hard with promoting it. It has built very virally and I get about 30,000 visitors per month from a pretty diverse demographic (you can look up detailed stats at http://quantcase.com/elitaste.com). I am constantly suprised by the curiosity of my readers. I also love when people reference non-Wale related stuff on my site. For instance, over the summer I did a history of the Jimmy Spicer “Money” sample used in Maino’s “Hi Hater” (see post here). About a 10 days later, MTV.com did a little blurb about my history of the sample and linked to my site (see it here). I was really proud of that. I imagine the equivalent would be if you wrote a political blog and HuffingtonPost.com linked to something you wrote. WaleMusic.com is Wale’s site. After a meeting with someone from Ning. com, I decided their platform would suite Wale’s website. Britney, Good Charlotte and ThisIs50.com all use Ning so I decided to try it out. So far it’s great as it allows you to customize your site, but also bring a social networking aspect to it which encourages people to come back on a daily basis. To launch WaleMusic.com, we debuted the Nike Boots video on there and so far traffic has been increasing. Any Wale-related post on elitaste also goes up on WaleMusic.com 21
“I get brain every day, I’m a knowitall. More birds than Noah’s Ark, Who are y’all?” Wale - W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.
unaffiliated Other than freedarko what blogs do you read? I read nahright, 2dopeboyz, gizmodo, hypebeast, endgadget, tuckermax, hiphopdx, sohh, okayplayer, niketalk, PassionOfTheWeiss, KanyeUniverseCity, DeadstockDon. I’m sure there are others.
Is selling tapes out of the back of your car still going to get you signed? I could see Notorious B.U.M. getting signed like that once he gets a car. I kid. I mean, I guess it’s still possible but the days of CD’s are numbered. If you aren’t using other methods to promote your music, you are not being efficient. We printed up some copies of 100 Miles and Running, but essentially it was just a free download. Before ZShare crashed at the end of last year, the mixtape had been downloaded over 65,000 times which to me, is incredible. Mixtape About Nothing is around the same number. Any artist that says 500,000 people downloaded their mixtape is lying. Trust me.
What is your feeling about corporate sponsorship Elitaste and Wale are both very friendly with companies, 10 deep sponsored the “Mixtape About Nothing” Levi’s and LRG have both included Wale in ad campaigns and his lyrics have reflected his friendly relationship with these companies. Is it a contradiction that you guys seem to be doing everything so independently while being so close to corporate dollars or do you have to be because you are/ were so independent? Not at all. It’s not like Wale’s doing a Garnier Fructis commercial. Wale talks about Levi’s on 100 Miles And Running. Wale is a huge LRG fan and asked me to reach out to them about their ad campaigns. He mentions “10 Deep hoodie, extra cushion in my sneakers” in his song “Breakdown,” and he made a song called “Nike Boots” that is not a shoe song like “Air Force Ones.” All this stuff is organic and cultural. We aren’t doing business with companies we aren’t fans of. We had a video game offer us A LOT of money to sponsor a tour. That money would have been very helpful but that’s about it. The association with the game could have only hurt Wale’s image so we ended up passing on it. Artists don’t make much money off sales anymoe; it’s all about touring, licensing and strategic partnerships. The fact we’ve been able to accomplish this much without a record in the marketplace is a blessing.
Non-fiction What projects do you have coming up? What’s good with 09? Wale’s debut album. His mixtape with LRG and 9th Wonder. Paper Route’s debut album. I’m probably going to sign some more artists soon. I was also just hired as GM of Allido Records in October so I will be overseeing Rhymefest, Daniel Merriweather, The Rumblestrips and Ronson’s next solo album in 2009. I have also gotten into music supervision; I was responsible for the music in the MTV Britney Spears documentary Britney: For The Record, so hopefully I can do some more of that this year. I’m writing a book about my experience in the music business as well. I’d also love to get my own radio show either on satellite or a local LA station; maybe an oldies stations or something. I spoke at a University last year about my experience and would love to start doing that more. I think hearing from someone only a few years out of college is really inspiring to students.
Who do you think is hot in Hip-Hop right now? Who do you think people should watch out for? I love Young Dro. Would love to manage him. I think with the right management and marketing, he could elevate himself out of the souther rap stigma much like Lil Wayne did. He’s one of my favorite rappers. I love Colin Munroe, this singer out of Canada on Dallas Austin’s label through Universal. His mixtape is great. I like Kid Cudi, I can’t wait to see what he does in 09. I’m feeling some of Drake’s stuff, Young Chris, Skyzoo, Blu. I love Jeezy. I’m also a huge Plies fan. He’s got a crazy following but is very much pigeonholed. I think with some strategic moves he could be a huge star if he isn’t one already. And of course...Wale. You need to watch for Wale in 09. 08 was great. But 09 is mine! 23
Photo: Maggie Pahos
Hip Hop is Poetry
This Month: Turbulence (Remix)
3030 Photo: magnetmagazine.com
unaffiliated I envision turbulence and murder since it’s an everyday occurrence It’s 3030, yo, I get my hands dirty They think they the pure breed, medically insured weed Fuck the system, non-conformist humans Walk around because of their ordinance, just ornaments Super-thugs use computer bugs, all ignoramuses Reduced to savage half-beasts off a crack piece Not me, I’m shit-faced, which way but loose In a hovercraft, not no bubble-bath, turbo-boost
Fuck Earth, I want to live on Mars so I’m closer to the stars And farther away from dumb civilization with no mental stimulation They changed the constitution for your red white and blue friends Exterminate nuisance, no one listens to what you said The online is touching your head With brainwashing, with propaganda about your fearless leader Who got two hundred bodyguards so you can’t touch him either Bodies disappear, obviously of fear Lobbyists can’t get near shit Everybody’s spirits are under control Computers run with the soul Elitists defeat us, they live by the beaches Bubbledome over the hemisphere, so you can’t enter here We live in the dumps with mutant rodents With blood red eyes, saliva drips for opponents Scratch your ID chip off cuz everybody own it Photo: Alida Bystrom
Poetry I envision turbulence and murder since it’s an everyday occurrence They only teach high-tech in private portables That float above commoners, they’d soon as bomb it first Advanced safety features, from contact with creatures Who either slave their lives away in outdated factories Or may be bounty hunters in a land of apathy I’m Butch Cassidy, style wild, uncontained I steal computer disk files, drink water from drains Metal detectors check ya, with reflectors in every sector While I drink electric nectar
No one believes inspectors and spooks They just lecture the youth about having respect and couth Toward the US, and you guessed it The rest get imprisoned or incisions in their medulla No president, we have a ruler “You are to be inside by 9 o’clock or we will shoot ya” Missile launchers haunt ya in your nightmares It ain’t quite fair, little tykes ain’t prepared They’ve got your wife naked bare in the subway For some thug play, neo-punks with cerebral pumps For enhanced recognition of politicians and witches Senior citizens are disposed against their wishes Aliens landed and said our planet wasn’t worth invading Cuz all the natural resources are fading I envision turbulence and murder since it’s an everyday occurrence *** 27
Screen capture: “Kairo”
Character (Sketch) Rex
id v a D By
t t e n Bar
ithin the New York City chess community, there are hustlers, gamblers, hobos, rich folk, silent old men, and obnoxious kids. They meet all across the city: Chinatown, Washington Square Park, Union Square, and Bryant Park are some of the most notable spots. Washington and Union Squares are the places you go to lose a dollar a minute. “Chess Player,” a hustler calls out to you. “Come. Sit down,” he smiles and waves you over. “Sorry, I don’t have any cash,” you say. “You can write me a check, if you want,” the hustler replies. Bryant Park is different. On a good day, there are seven to ten active tables. Passersby gather to watch the most exciting blitz games, which tend to happen at Billy’s table. Billy is in his mid thirties. He wears business suites and cheap sports sunglasses. He has a birdlike face and a high voice. He smokes parliaments. The passersby seldom play, even though no one bets. Instead, Billy’s table has a rotation of just a few people: generally, it’s a brutish Russian, a Cuban named Raffi, some loud kid, and a toothless guy named Jake. I watched Jake beat man after man. He never smiled; he only shook his defeated opponents’ hands, saying “strong game.” It was Billy’s third try to beat Jake. He tapped the clock and Jake moved his king pawn up two spaces. They both moved quickly. I can’t be sure, but it seemed like ten or so moves had been made on both sides and the clock, which counted down from five minutes, read 4:47 for both players. The center was deadlocked. Billy took a parliament from his pocket, but waited to light it until he moved and tapped the clock. Jake never stopped to think. It was as if Billy’s moves were obvious, which was not the case – Billy is USCF rated 1850. The game became increasingly tenser. With each move, Jake and Billy were unraveling their elegant schemes. Jake wasn’t up any pieces, but, in terms of position and time, he was far superior – his queen threatened checkmate and he was ahead by nearly 40 seconds. Billy was forced to follow Jake’s queen, advancing pawns and directing bishops to block the queen’s attacks. Eventually he had extended his positions in such an unfavorable way that he couldn’t win. Jake captured a few pawns and then proceeded to put Billy in checkmate before the time ran out. “Fuck!” said Billy, taking a long drag from his parliament, “that damn queen.”
Illustration: David Barnett
Fiction The crowd dispersed and I heard someone grunt behind me. The grunter sat at an adjacent table. He had a chess set, but no competitor, in front of him. Around six feet tall, the guy wore a heart patterned, button-up shirt, smoked USA Golds, and drank PBR. He had greasy hair under a POW cap. He looked me in the eyes and said, “a game?” He waved me over and smiled. I sat down. “My name’s Rex,” he said After a few games, two guys sat at our table. They were already in the midst of conversation. “That fucking cracks me up about Batman and Superman,” one guy said. “Yeah, I know. I could kinda understand the cop doin’ it to Batman. But how can you beat up Superman?” Rex made a move and said, “I know, right?” The three of them laughed together. I stared blankly, not understanding the joke or event, or whatever. I finally asked, and the three of them told the story together in discrete units. When I pieced it all together, I got this: Two guys, dressed as Batman and Superman, were performing at Time Square. Some cops came and asked if they had a license to perform in costume. When they said no, the cops asked for I.D. When they didn’t have that, the cops arrested Batman. A scared Superman tried to flee, only to be apprehended and beaten in front of some gawking children. “Spandex doesn’t have pockets, anyways,” one guy said, “where’s the guy gonna put his I.D.?” “The cops should’ve been doing something else,” Rex said. “Every guy’s gotta do something to make a living. It aint easy. If you do what you like, that’s great.” I thought he was going to say more, but he moved his queen instead. “You know what I want to be doing?” one guy said, “Cooking. I read this chef’s book – I forgot his name already – and he talks about the time when he was just starting as a chef. This couple comes in to his restaurant to celebrate – there just got married. After dinner, the woman goes into the kitchen, fucks the chef, and leaves. How fucking great is that?” “You’d do that?” I asked. “Do what?” “Fuck a newly married bride.” “Hell yeah, I’d fuck her. Why not?” “I don’t know. I mean, pretty bad shit could come from that.” “Like what?” “You know, violence, murder, terrible feelings.” “Yeah I don’t know if I’d fuck the girl,” the other guy said.
unaffiliated Rex was silent for a while. He stared at the chessboard and said, “You really gotta think about these things. It aint easy. When I was – I dunno – 17, 18, I was working at a pretty good job. One weekend, everyone from work goes to a barbeque out at the boss’s house, right. I mean, I go ‘cause I got to. But, when I get there, I’m talking to everybody and having a good time. Then, my boss, a pretty lady, but my boss,” he said, leaning over like he had a cramp, “says we gotta go out to get some liquor. Well, what do I care? Sure, so we go get some liquor. So me and her drive over there, but before we get to the place, she says ‘pull over here.’ Now the liquor store was still a little bit up the road, so I say, ‘shouldn’t we go up a ways?’ But, next thing I know she has her face in my lap.” He leaned towards the three of his, whispered so we could smell the alcohol on his breath, “she was giving me a blow job. She rushes out the car when I’m done and goes to get the booze. She comes back and I say, ‘listen, that was great and all, but we should just forget that that ever happened.’ I mean, she had a husband and two kids. But then she says if I stop seeing her she’ll fire me. So what do I do? “I keep seeing her for a year or so, and I actually start to like her. I mean I was young. I got with a lot of girls, but she was old. Not old, but experienced, you know. And, she was really gorgeous, like Faye Dunaway. Blonde, faire, the works. Then after a while, she takes me to a brunch with both her parents and her husband, Bill. I mean I couldn’t believe it. It was hell. And then, wouldn’t you believe it, she
Photo: David Barnett
Fiction says in front of all them that she loves me and she’s leaving Bill. I couldn’t breath. I spit my drink everywhere and said, ‘you’re doing what?’ Shitty situation. But, I couldn’t do anything.” He leaned over the chessboard again. I had put him in check a while back. “Well, what happened? Did you stay with her? Do you get to keep the job? What happened to Bill?” I asked, anxious to hear the rest. “Bill divorced her quickly after that. She moved with her kids to California. I lost my job. The job part’s fine and everything, but it’s really tragic you know. I mean I was kid. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And, Bill really loved her.” Rex became silent and whispered, “I read in the news paper that he’d killed himself after the whole ordeal. He really loved her.” He leaned back and took a sip from his PBR. I moved my queen and checkmated him. “Hmmm,” he said, “you just gotta think about those sorts of things. But – it’s a terrible thing to say – had it not happened the way it had, I wouldn’t be who I am today.” I gave Rex, and his heart patterned, button-up shirt, a good look. I took a big whiff of his odor. I thought about smoking USA Golds. I didn’t get it. And then, Rex smiled. He stretched out his hands and took a deep breath. “Sherry!” he yelled. A pretty woman who’d been reading by the lawn turned from her book. Rex waved her over and called out, “a game?” She stood up and moved towards us with the grace and force of a queen. He leaned back and said, “aint life grand?”
33 Photo: Grant Barry
n o i t a z i l a e rder: The R
o B e h t f o South nnedy
Ke By Shawn
hatever one’s political beliefs, the debate surrounding the criminality of drugs in today’s global society raises challenges and questions from a broad field of studies that must be addressed. Our moral, ethical, and philosophical ideals ultimately govern how we truly feel about any politicized issue. At the same time, we must consider consequences in the socio-economic, political and spiritual realms. Most international heads of states have obediently stayed the course in the war on drugs, struggling to turn an unimaginable bend by governing the personal behavior and ethics of the masses. This policy’s consequences are nowhere near ideal: economic success stories are glamorized through a lens of corruption, violence, and de-humanization. The elite of today have shown a deplorable abuse of humanity by using political and financial power to bankroll the “criminals” in yet another war in which both sides have vested interests. When society is not trusted to govern their own personal decisions, a common reaction is to automatically assume that our supposedly inherent liberties have been stripped away from us.
Photo: Alida Bystrom
unaffiliated Photo: Alida Bystrom
This piece is a response to the Op-Ed piece in the New York Times entitled â€œLet me Chew My Coca Leavesâ€? by Evo Morales. If you would like to read that article for reference, it can be accessed at this location: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/14/opinion/14morales.html But what happens when the governors of man sympathize with the concerns of the governed? This is precisely the paradox that is unfolding in the minds of the ruling elite as they struggle with the problems presented by the war on drugs. Will respect and preservation of individual philosophies, age-old cultures, and the well-being of the human race prevail over whatever covert interests dictate the continuation of the current worldwide policies against drugs? We shall soon discover the result, whatever it may be. Forward-thinking police chiefs, international and national political leaders have publicly announced their desire for the end of the international war on drugs to the discontent of many American legislators and bureaucrats. The widely accepted myths spun out of Washington for generations have garnered the fear, loathing, and intolerance of the American people for drugs. Now, public opinion and private interests sway towards an experimental fling with the legalization debate. Large portions of the populace have knowingly practiced civil disobedience in homes, institutions, and open areas throughout the world. At what point will society cast off the invasive, disruptive and destructive consequences of the war on drugs? This is the moment of realization. 36
op-ed The President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has recently been published in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times voicing support for the legalization of coca. The dangers of coca are obvious in certain contexts [ed. Note: Coca leaves are used to manufacture cocaine, although the process is: both costly and lengthy, generally carried out in Colombia by wellfunded cartels, and destined for American nostrils.] but like many other drugs, coca suffers from misunderstanding. Morales, a former union leader for coca producers, has seen the other side of the debate firsthand as a coca grower. As a young man, he was harassed and attacked by Americanfunded “Leopards” agents. One might see how his past leads him to believe that coca is an enduring symbol of national sovereignty in the battle against modern imperialism. Morales understands the fiscal solvency coca has brought to his country and he’s not ashamed. Bolivia does not even hold a candle to the coca production of Columbia, a country that remains the main, growing source of the Western world’s cocaine while simultaneously being the region’s most ardent supporters of the latter Bush administration. Instead, Evo Morales is a polarizing figure worldwide. Morales grants credit and here, he (among other leaders) is heralded faith to coca production and on political Posters in the University of Buenos Aires Hallways. its benefits to his society: sustainable economics at work for citizen and nation. 37
Photo: Danny Landau
unaffiliated Similar in history to marijuana, coca has grown in certain regions of the world before the time of Christ and has traditionally been used medically. For centuries, indigenous and mestizo populations across the Andes have used the coca leaf to combat altitude sickness and fatigue. The practice of chewing the coca leaf differs chemically from ingesting cocaine because cocaine is a concentrated derivative of the coca leaf’s alkaloids. “Less than one-tenth of a percent of the leaf” contains the cocaine alkaloid, states Morales in the Times. In the Bolivian system, regulation of the coca industry has not only greatly helped the economy, but has also brought peace to the region. Coca has become the cornerstone of the Bolivian agricultural sector alongside rice and bananas. The coca leaf is used in beverages, recipes, and even in artwork. The practice of chewing coca in South America maintains a “ritual, religious, and cultural significance,” in Morales’ words. Despite the constant threat of military action from political Photo: David Barnett thugs and the interests of big business, Morales doesn’t seem too worried, laughing at the idea that Bolivia is a narco-state. The coca-farmer turned popular politician remains a champion of Bolivia’s indigenous people and their livelihood while snubbing the asinine goals of international drug policy. Let President Morales chew his coca leaves.
Feature In this monthâ€™s edition of High Fashion, we examine the latest, trendiest fashions of the homeless/soon-to-be homeless. This monthâ€™s model is Jim Aguilar, who proves that a cigarette is sometimes the best accesory
Gray Toboggan: $2 at target
1 Turkish Royal Cigarette. 1/20 of a $5 pack
Graphic Tee: $0.25 at Salvation Army
Transylvania University Staff Athletic Shorts: Free at camp
Black new balance shoes: $15 at shoe carnival ($20 spin the wheel discount)
Spread The Word
Spread the word is a monthly feature where we share with our readers a word that has found its way into the vernacular of our everyday conversations with friends. These are sometimes real words with different meanings, and sometimes they are entirely made up. It’s kind of like Urban Dictionary if we were the only people on the planet. So spread the word.
Saber-Tooth Tiger (sā’bər-tūtht’ tī’gər) Noun
By now, you’ve all heard of Cougars. They are older women who enjoy younger men. What we are dealing with here is the next level. A saber-tooth tiger is the leather-skinned, bleachblonde lady in the back of the bar smoking Winstons through her throat-hole. A saber-tooth tiger is the lady on the beach spilling out of her two-piece (which she just recently learned had been invented), grabbing up grandkids in an effort to attract young males. She has this routine down to a science: Naïve Young Gentleman: “That’s a mighty cute baby!”, Saber-Tooth Tiger: “You’re mighty cute, baby…” [throws baby to nearest relative and advances upon her victim] NYG: [runs/vomits] 41
Photo: David Barnett
unaffiliated Beware of the Saber-Tooth Tiger, for what she lacks in size and speed, she makes up for with wisdom, and experience. She can smell a twenty-first birthday party from up to three miles away, as this is her best chance for an easy meal. She has seemingly unlimited resources, and will buy drinks for prospective prey all night. Attempting to squeeze free beers out of a Saber-Tooth Tiger is a risky maneuver, and should be left to experts. Regardless of any behavior at the bar, DO NOT GO HOME with the saber-tooth tiger. She will tempt you as best she can: offering more beer, promising an innocent night of backgammon, telling you about “some seriously kind bud” she got from her son-inlaw. If you do not heed these warnings, you will be caught in the jaws of the dreaded saber-tooth tiger and will be known forever by your friends as ‘the caveman’, ‘the beastmaster’, or perhaps even the ‘grim reaper’. Spread The Word.
Photo: Jim Aguilar
Joey Schmissrauter 43
d n a g n i w S n r e t s e W The Pentecostal Pop Br illiant W
orld of T
he Love La
e s e n a t a C s i r
aving driven, insomniack, through all of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana in one interminable sitting—past the twilit Coeur d’Alene, past Lolo, past the southward kick on I-90 and into the deep eastern-Montanan stretch of full, close night—having come unslept through that oblivion, the Midwestern midday is an embrace like an alcoholic’s. The post-rain air drives out the dim memories of the failed chiropractor I dropped off in Bozeman. The car-smell dissipates, leaves only sun-motes. I literally drive through the upswept arch of a rainbow in the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area of Northern Iowa, and I can’t tell whether things are looking up or if I’m cracking up. At this point, my goals are only two, and I hold them in my vision as I persist maniacally through the grainfields and mental fog: Reach Home; Keep The Love Language Going. 45
Photos: Brightestyoungthings.com, threeimaginarygirls.com, kuci.org
Despite the band’s genesis in a similarly tortured drive (west from Raleigh to Winston-Salem) by lead-singer Stuart McLamb after the end of a relationship and the demise of his former band, The Capulets, the fact of the matter is that The Love Language’s eponymous album is the best new debut I’ve heard in many, many months. The formula isn’t necessarily new, but the scale of execution might be: with a seven-piece combo unleashing an inspired symphony of throwback tambourine grooves, blown-out production, great writing, and devastatingly winning instrumentation, the result will not NOT move you. Despite the obvious current of stylish, overblown pop that runs deep into its core, it isn’t easy to parse out specific influences in The Love Language’s sound, but it feels at times like a fortuitous mash-up of early pop history heard through a dialedup hearing aid from roughly the same era. Photo: newraleigh.com
Feature Never fully declawing his croon, McLamb lets loose line after line of lyrical one-two beauties and love ballads, all the while as deceptively familiar-seeming progressions cascade in and out of their molds, hand percussion gets pummeled, and the saloonish piano gets banged and jangled like it ought to be. Combine that with now-dreamy, now-screamy vocals that build into three and four parts (six?! seven?!) and things can get really loud, in a good way.
Driving through Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, I feel like there’s a mob of drunken a capelladropouts belting the sock hop hits of some alternate universe at me through a megaphone. On the even blearier other-side of a nightlit St. Louis, it’s like there’s an addled, honey-throated ringleader staging some kind of late night Pentecostal Pop-Rock circus seance in the bowels of the car, complete with seraphic flange and volcanic fissures—and recording with all needles in the red. McLamb sings simply and literately about heartbreak, but the music is Western Swing that really swings, and the result is the sweet melodic evangelism of a pain transmuted by music. To put it simply, these guys and gals are really good at what they do, and what they do is make post-history pop that is FUN to listen to. 47
Photos: melophobe.com, austinchronicle.com
To conclude, although the Ricky Nelson-esque “Stars” has already assumed a special place in my musical heart, the album generally gets better as it goes— as each track blazes out into catchy beginnings of the next, you realize slowly but irresistibly the kind of magnetic energy that can unfold from the simple foundations of the short, surprising—and slightly jarring—opening tune. Despite a rather too-muddy-for-its-own-good fourth track (McLamb deplores the sound as a “hi-fi album using shitty equipment”), the big-time singles “Lalita” and “Sparxxx” push the momentum blithely onward to the arms-linked sing-alongs of the closing numbers until the last few seconds of “Gray Court” when the organ literally, hilariously, putters out. Taken together, the album enjoys the rare success of developing steadily over its duration while maintaining a clear stylistic core, giving the impression of a totally mature aesthetic developing of its own accord. As with any art that inhabits a world of its own creation, there is an accompanying risk of insularity—I’ve had a hard time breaking some friends into the album without giving them the full halfhour treatment—but for me, the harmonies are just too sweet to be inaccessible. Listening to the album straight through for the first time, it can be difficult to predict where each new track will take you, but it usually seems to hit just the spot. I don’t know what the follow-up to this album will look like, but I’m excited to find out: these guys and gals deserve whatever recognition they get. The Love Language The Love Language 2009, Bladen County Records Photo: babelmusic.com
To learn more about The Love Language, visit their myspace page or their blog at http:// thelovelanguage.blogspot.com
i m h c yS
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unaffiliated We at Unaffiliated like to dwell on the positive. So, rather than the typical ‘review’ format, we will give you 3 of our favorite movies, albums, and books. They’re not new, but they might be new to you. So check them out.
Yasuhiro Ozu presents us with a parable for…something. This family drama-comedy from the latter stage of the Japanese master’s career gives us a deceptively simple scenario—two boys vow to be silent until their parents buy them a television—and develops it into a social commentary on pleasantries, communication, and the post-war generation gap. Add to this Ozu’s fantastic sense of humor—the scene involving a rugged grandmother and a predatory traveling salesman sticks out as a highlight—as well as his understanding of the bizarre perspective of children, and Good Morning turns out to be one of his funniest and most genuine movies.
I can honestly say that I have never seen a movie quite like Stroszek. The plot sounds like the set-up to a joke: the titular ex-convict/grind organist, a prostitute, and a frighteningly old man leave Germany to start a new life in Wisconsin. In a trailer home. But there is no punch line to this plot, only a slow unraveling of the American Dream. “Owners” of a new trailer home, the three outcasts are aglow; the jubilation is momentary, as the bank representative explains to them about payments and possible repossession. The prostitute runs off with truckers, the old man is arrested, and Stroszek—lost in mechanisms he can’t comprehend, surrounded by people he doesn’t understand—seeks refuge in an amusement park. Safe to say, it is the only movie to ever end with the following lines: “We have a 10-80 out here, a truck on fire, we have a man on the lift. We are unable to find the switch to turn the lift off, can’t stop the dancing chickens. Send an electrician, we’re standing by.” Yeah, you need to watch this. 52
Endorsements Steve Buscemi’s directorial debut is tragic, but not in the traditionally cinematic sense. Instead, Tree’s Lounge contents itself with the banal minutia of small-town alcoholism. Uncompromising in its portrayal of the slow, numb suicide of bar drunks, one gets the sense that Buscemi has spent his fair share in spaces similar to the titular Trees Lounge. Alcohol is not the enemy in this film, only a willing accomplice to the self-loathing of the sickly community who frequent the bar. The protagonist snorts coke in a back room at his uncle’s funeral and seduces his friend’s teenage daughter—he knows these pleasures are fleeting, but he knows no other kind. In this world, a happy ending is asking the bartender for a beer instead of a shot and a beer.
The inventive DJ/Producer finds his form in this six-song collection, incorporating some of his favorite things (glitch, soul, beat-boxing, layering) into perhaps his most cohesive record. Among the highlights is “The Brazillionare”, where the frantic beat races past the voice and flute, which float over and under it unintelligibly. This is dance music for the ADHD generation— new sounds appear and recede before they are ever really heard. Was that a goose? The best of the bunch is “Denouement”, a 7+minute epic that starts with a sole double bass and acoustic guitar. It builds slowly, and as horns, drums, and voices join in the chaotic mess, you wonder if this can go on much longer. The sheet music, if transcribed, might resemble something like a Jackson Pollock painting. In the second half, the horns fade away and a spitty beatbox becomes the featured instrument. Doing what this man does with ordinary sounds is simply not fair. 53
unaffiliated “A lot of rappers sound like a lot of rappers.” Wale doesn’t. And like him or not, you have to respect Wale—if not for the clever lyrics or the DC flavor, at least for having the audacity to release a Seinfeld-themed mixtape. Julia Louis Dreyfuss does a drop, George and Jerry do the ‘skits’, and Michael Richards’ racist frenzy is flipped on its head to serve as the introduction to Wale’s musings on race and language, “The Kramer”. I say musings because that is what Wale’s music sounds like, an incredibly agile mind just kinda thinking about shit. He is also self-aware; with songs like “The Cliché Lil Wayne Feature” and “The Roots Song Wale Is On”, Wale acknowledges that he is not a big name. More than that, he doesn’t particularly want to be: “I don’t want no fucking crown, I don’t need no fuckin’ throne, see the king’s getting killed, but at least ill be throwin.” Beyond being racially conscious and honest, dude is just plain funny. In “The Crazy”, he indulges his sense of humor, as well as his gogo influences, and gives us gems like “give up my light like a interracial couple with a child” and “like Garfield you’re kitten me”. Faced with labels of “blog rapper”, “back-pack rapper”, and “DC rapper”, Wale shows that he can play these parts, but would rather (like Seinfeld) just be himself.
Jamie T is what I always hoped would come from the influence of hip hop on British artists like The Streets. While Mike Skinner tried to replicate rap to comic effects, Jamie T simply seems to stick hip hop alongside his other influences (reggae, ska, bebop, punk) and use it to better express himself. Musically, his debut album shows this diversity of forefathers. One gets the sense that he is often just ad-libbing, and that we should definitely trust him when he says, “I’m a cheeky son”. Lyrically, Jamie T’s is a narrative style, which allows him to shift quickly in tone; for example, he goes from the wistful “Sheila”, about a girl who throws herself off a bridge, to “If You Got The Money”, a song about picking up girls after their rich boyfriends get them drunk. The songs ramble or run, but always with Jamie’s slurry, altered voice right on beat over top. Look out for this kid.
Ever wanted to read a book that both informs and infuriates? If so, this one is for you. In a review of the creation and history of the Commission on Presidential Debates, Farah reveals the ongoing collusion between the two major parties to keep third party candidates out of presidential debates. Although he certainly has an agenda, it is a (seemingly) benevolent one—to return to presidential debates a modicum of spontaneity and new ideas. If you have ever wondered why the debates sound like extended campaign speeches, why follow-up questions aren’t allowed, and why the whole process feels somewhat like a sham, pick up this book.
Although The Stranger and The Myth of Sysyphus typically get more recognition, The Plague is perhaps the best starting point for a first-time Camus reader. Not as strictly philosophical as Sysyphus and more conventionally written than The Stranger, this book explores humanity and responsibility in the face of a colossal tragedy. Written during WWII and after the horror of the Holocaust was known to the world, the parallels between Camus’ imaginary plague and the moral sickness of the world are clear. Beyond all symbolism though, the book stands by itself as a profound, well-written novel. Although Camus always accepted the world as indifferent, his lifelong goal (much like Dostoevsky) was to fight against the nihilism and rational egoism of his times. The Plague accomplishes this, articulating the need to fight in the face of long odds. 55
unaffiliated In this collection of short stories, Barry Hannah proves that a Southern writer doesn’t have to be gothic or folksy all the time. These stories range from bogeyman encounters to mutual voyeurism to romantic outlaw-murders. In one story, a man gives a presentation to a room of black, urban youths. His goal: get them on a plane to France, where people just like them (as he demonstrates in a slideshow) are happy. Hannah’s bizarre sense of humor is most sublime in “Two Things, Dimly, Were Going At Each Other”, where a Burroughs proxy is submitted to an encounter with a fellow intellectual—one who is suffering from a strange South-American disease that, at inopportune times, deceives him into believing he’s a canine. To summarize what follows would be an insult to the hilarious and tragic prose that follows. Hannah’s writing almost hearkens back to the oral tradition, as many of these stories feel passed down, malleable, and important. If you like short stories, Southern writers, or just plain good work, read this book.
Photo: Maggie Pahos
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join Unaffiliated would like to thank all of our contributors for this monthâ€™s issue. Without you, there would be nothing. Also, a huge thanks to Danny Weisman for his time, and of course, you, the reader. Contributors: Ryan Catanese Jim Aguilar David Barnett Maggie Pahos Alida Bystrom Shawn Kennedy Chris Catanese Joey Schmissrauter Grant Barry Danny Landau Vic Reznik
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