White-walled

Photo by Jason Paris via Flickr

5 Pointz, in Long Island City, Queens, New York,  has been a mecca for hip-hop culture and a proving ground for street artists around the world since the 1990’s.

On Tuesday morning, residents of the area and anyone riding the 7 train, that passes the building each morning, awoke to a white-walled 5 Pointz; every wall around the building had been painted over, white.

“I can imagine going one piece, by piece, and going through hell, torture for everybody,” said owner David Wolkoff, a real estate developer, in an interview wit NBC 4 New York. “So I said, ‘Let me do it one time and end this torture one time.”

Walkoff compared his move to forcing a child to drink medicine; he later padded his comments in an interview with New York magazine.

In October, Wolkoff’s plan to develop a $400 million dollar 1,000-unit apartment complex in place of 5 Pointz was approved by the New York City Council.

The new complex will feature 210 affordable housing units and an allocated 10,000-square feet for art panels, that might one day feature some of the surviving artists that immortalized 5 Pointz for a generation.

The name “5 Pointz” signifies the unity and convergence of the five boroughs that make up the city, but the structure had become a canvas for the international street art and hip-hop community over the years.

Artists and fans around the world responded to Walkoff’s actions in dismay. One patron added that it didn’t make sense and was disrespectful to paint over a building that was already going to be demolished.

Hip-hop’s seen better days, no doubt.

#5Pointz #RestInPaint

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Keep your fingercroxx

Photo by Eugene Hood via Flickr

Black Scale, an urban streetwear brand originally from San Francisco, recently dropped a collaboration with Hong Kong streetwear staple Fingercroxx, exclusive to China.

Earlier this month, Black Scale collaborated with NYC’s 40OZ for an exclusive collection, and threw a free Halloween party in downtown SF to commemorate the drop. The brand also celebrated their sixth year anniversery yesterday by dropping an exclusive tee online.

“We wanted to do a brand that not only represented our style of fashion, but one that also represented the way we think ,” said Michael ‘Mega’ Yabut, co-founder of Black Scale.

Black Scale has collaborated with brands like Huf, Fool’s Gold and Kukui in the past to name a few, and the items they have created in the last six years  range from lighters and clothing to umbrellas.

The bigger story is how Black Scale’s unique buisness model has been able to manuever throughout the international economy.

The brand recieves hundreds of unique visitors from around the world daily according to their website, and their store locations are strategically placed in urban areas that attract all creed and color.

The method of dropping exclusive collections overseas is something to keep an eye on as well, as other street wear brands will probably try their hand in the future.

Black Scale comes from us learning to balance our darker side,” said Yabut. “The word “black” conjures images of the mysterious, providing a sense of potential and possibility, while “scale” helps regulate and set the brand’s way of thinking. Balance is a key to our aesthetic. Without balance, our vision is irrelevant and meaningless.

The Autumn/Winter 2013 fingercroxx crossover collection was produced entirely in America, and plays with the concept of baseball culture, reflecting the sport’s international appeal and fingercroxx’s sportswear emphasis.

The crossover collection includes a tee, sweat shirt, pants, scarves, a baseball jacket and a New Era snapback cap and more.

Support the brand in the city by stopping by 1409 Haight St.

 

Aerosoul: Refa-One

I recently caught up with first generation West Coast graf writer Refa-One of Oakland.

We spoke about his non-profit arts and cultural organization, Aerosoul, and what inspires him to keep building.

As of late, Refa has been busy touring the nation promoting his artwork, and hopes to continue educating and empowering the youth on their cultural heritage and hip-hop history.

SHEmovement

Women have been instrumental to the the development and expansion of hip-hop.
In the age of the Internet, its even more important for women to have an opportunity to network and a platform to showcase their abilities relative to the culture
For years, Shemovement.com has been a prominent force in promoting independent and underground female artists, dancers and DJs across the world and created a platform for otherwise obscure artists to reach a large audience. 
After being down for reconstruction for almost a month, the website is gearing for a relaunch on Nov. 15, 2013.
“THE ULTIMATE portal,” said hip-hop legend Chuck D via his Twitter page. “SHEmovement.com will support ALL Sisters in Hiphop Everywhere! Rebuilt for NOV 15 relaunching MCs DJs Dance Etc.”
For a long time, the website was very basic and only featured discussion threads and photo and video uploads, but members still found a way to effectively network.
The website developed a big following for 9th Wonder’s Jamla Records female recording artist Rapsody, before she was signed, and she continues to prove that gender is no impediment in creating great hip-hop.
The new website will feature a radio channel, SHEradio, and a TV channel, SHEtv. The goal is to provide even more opportunities for the women of hip-hop to network and connect across borders, and to present an updated, interactive site that fits the times.
Chuck D, Ice Cube and other hip-hop legends have supported the site since its conception and continue to educate and rally the male hip-hop community to support SHEmovement.com and the women of hip-hop.
#Hip-Hop

Yeezus walks

Kanye West had an eventful week in the Bay, that started with an engagement to Kim Kardashian on her 33rd birthday Monday night at AT&T Park.

West rented out the stadium, although only a select family an friends were invited, and came equipped with a 50-piece orchestra and a rock valued at $8 million.

The West’s were spotted with family and friends at various SF hotspots before making their way to San Jose Tuesday for Kanye’s first show in a back-to-back.

Reportedly, the show went well barring a small technical difficulty at the concert’s climax.

“That shit was dope,” said Eric Almazan, a DJ and eager concertgoer.

“I don’t know about the mask though, I felt like he was a little disconnected from the fans.”

Almazan was referring to one of West’s recent stage tricks in which he wears a mask through most of the show until an actor portraying white Jesus walks up to him and whispers in his ear.

Kendrick Lamar is West’s opening act, and brought out hip-hop legend E-40 during his set on Tuesday.

According to reports, Lamar has been stealing the show.

West’s second stop was Wednesday at Oracle Arena.

The show was packed and glitch free, and featured a vintage rant. The next stop is Friday in Las Vegas where Pusha T will be subbing in for Kendrick.

Lamar will be back for his homecoming set when Yeezus walks into the Staples Center Saturday night.

Yeezus is a solid album, and it’s good to see Kanye in a good place artistically and emotionally.

#Hip-Hop

Jay Declet/Don’t Drake and Drive

This past week, I took a trip to Salinas, Calif. to catch up with up-and-coming hip-hop producer Jay Declet.

Declet, 19, uses his real name as the tag on his beats, and explained to me that he was been making music, primarily on FL Studio, since a very young age.

Last year, he obtained his first industry placement, when popular rap artist Dizzy Wright used one of his beats as an exclusive feature for a popular hip-hop website.

Today, Declet splits his time making music at his home studio, and working a part-time job while going to school at MPC.

After a short interview and drive around town, Declet took me back to the lab to show me his beat-making process.

The outcome, in less than an hour, was three new beats.

#JayDeclet

That same day, I decided to catch up with some people hanging around the studio and ask them what they thought about Drake’s new album, “Nothing Was The Same”.

The result was mixed, but let us remember, music is made for demographics, and regardless of what we think that man will continue to sell records.

The people in the video are Tyler Strode, a local R&B artist, and Devian Foster.

By the way, this is my favorite song on the album.

#NWTS

Crenshaw Get The Money

Image

Nipsey Hu$$le’s “Crenshaw” is hip-hop’s first $100 mixtape.

Neighborhood Nip has always been a hustler and a businessman, and the 28-year-old executed yet another masterful business move this past Tuesday.
Hussle dropped the tape as both a free digital release and a hundred dollar hard copy and left it up to the fans to decide whether or not to pay. The hard copy  also serves as a ticket to an invite only concert.

Only 1,000 copies were originally pressed, and Nipsey has already sold out which should land him at least six figures.

“It was a good risk, you know what I mean,” said Hu$$le in an interview with MTV News. “It ended up working out.”

Hosted by DJ Drama and comprising 21 original tracks, the tape  is laced with production from 9th Wonder, 1500 or Nothin and The Futuristics to name a few. Features include Sade, Rick Ross, James Fauntleroy, Dom Kennedy and more.

Jay Z reportedly supported the move, and bought 100 hard copies after reaching out to the LA native through a third party.

“It ISN’T the price of the plastic case and polyurethane disc…it’s the price of Revolution! The price of Rebellion against an industry that has tricked us all into making products that have no soul for fear of not being heard if we don’t,” said Hu$$le.

From Slauson Avenue to the world.

Nipsey is an authentic, truly talented MC making calculated moves and proving that the streets truly dictate what’s hot, and that in the age of the Internet a major label is only a option.

Fellow Crenshaw native Dom Kennedy is dropping his independent album Get Home Safely on Oct. 15, that should be just as explosive as Nip’s tape.

#HipHop Dubs up.

#crenshaw

#proud2pay

#FUCCTHEMIDDLEMAN

About the Author

My name is Henry Perez and I’m a 20-year-old independent hip-hop artist and entrepreneur from Seaside, Calif.

I currently reside in East Oakland and split my time at SF State working towards a degree in Journalism and working as a part-time janitor.

I am also reporting on North Oakland in another WordPress blog.

I have been a student of hip-hop since I was a child and have spent my years digging through crates, spitting rhymes and indulging in the culture.

All of my work is researched and proper accreditation given. I hope to educate myself while spreading the knowledge I have to inspire and culturally enrich.

Feel free to question and comment. I will try to update as much as my schedule allows. Debate is good,

HP

Bombing the streets: the art of the beat

Graffiti is an urban art form that rose to prominence in cities like Philadelphia and New York City in the early 1960s when inner city kids, gang members and political activists got their hands on spray cans and started using their community as a canvas to publicly express their political stance, mark their territory and showcase their art.

Artists would ‘bomb’ freight trains and subway cars in a variety of different scales and styles while simultaneously ducking sirens, because to law enforcement officials graffiti was and still is a defacement of public property and against the law.

The first graffiti artists were treated as outcasts by mainstream America and the artistic community and created a subculture based on respect, freedom of expression and rebelling against structural violence within the inner city, which serendipitously coincided with hip-hop’s rise and message which led to the collaboration that developed between the two art forms.

Here is a song by hip-hop band Atmosphere that illustrates the intricate link between hip-hop and graffiti.

As it rose from obscurity throughout the 1970s and 80s with the help of hip-hop flicks such as Wildstyle, graffiti began to become respected as a legitimate art form for the skill and creativity it required.

Today, the art form is international thanks to efforts made by artists such as Bansky of London, who popularized graffiti by loading their pieces with political messages and social commentary relevant to the times, and never sacrificing their art for monetary gain.

Contemporary museums across the nation now showcase graffiti in its various forms and have added to its popularity, but a trip into the streets of most inner cities will reveal that the art’s original gallery remains vibrant and the best representation of everything the art form stands for.

 

 

 

Hip-Hop: More than Rap

In the coming week I will be bombarding this blog with content relevant to the four elements of Hip-Hop: graffiti, breaking, the DJ and the emcee.

First things first.

To many, the term Hip-Hop has become synonymous with rap, which is damn near blasphemous. Allow me to take you on a trip to the dungeons of rap to strengthen my point.

Rap, in its various forms, rose simultaneously with Hip-Hop culture. This happened as witnesses to the first hip-hop shows tried to decide what exactly these black and brown men were doing to ignite crowds in the middle of the Bronx in the early 1960s. Note the date.

At the time, emcees were on the front line of a revolutionary musical platform that oozed with the culture of poverty it rose out of. Low income housing, frequent drug use and wild women meshed with the new sound, which is why many attendees to the first ‘Jams’, as they called them, had no problem traveling across boroughs to party in the Bronx.

This was before cellphones, pagers and all.

At the time, the term ‘rap’ rose as a word to describe a man attempting to procure sexual favors from a female. So basically, if you were talking to a girl you were attracted to and trying to make a move, you were rapping to her.

It just so happened that many of the men getting the girls at ‘Jams’ happened to be emcees. This is why people started mixing terms.

People that didn’t know the inner-city culture began to think that the men on stage hyping up the crowd and rhyming about the problems in their communities  were all rappers, and couldn’t differentiate.

People that knew the culture referred to the emcee as a rhymer or a spitter, and only used rap to describe the lover boys of the era.

A contemporary example would be Tyga.

The puppet masters of the music industry disregarded the rich culture of Hip-Hop and mixed messages to manipulate, confuse and control the people the culture was intended for.

And here we are today…

#HipHop