So anyway, in a bit of randomness, I somehow ended up in on the front page of the Pro Keds website. To make a long story really short, I’d reached out about getting my client, Theo Martins, in this Pro Keds shoot this past August (I know, I’m so late updating this thing). Somehow someway, Pro Keds already had enough people in the shoot that wore Theo’s size, so he couldn’t be in it. But they asked me to be in it instead.
So I guess that was my modeling debut lol.
Regarding the shoot itself, that was easily the fucking hottest and longest day of my entire life, and I feel like I’ve seen some pretty stressful days before. It was early August, in Queens New York, the sun was blazing at something like 95 degrees. I soaked through three shirts that day. I barely slept a wink before going out for the shoot (not a good thing), so I was beat tired. I ended up pretty sun burnt. As well, it took me a day or so just to get over the heat exhaustion.
I came away with a better appreciation for models. I can only imagine what it must be like for actors. Having worked in production on a few TV shows, I see how crazy it is just for the people behind the scenes. If I had some lines to remember, geez. Or well, maybe it’s not so bad. It’s just this idea that you have to be in character and look good and all this other jazz, despite being in somewhat ridiculous conditions. Difficult to say the least.
I’d gladly do some more though. Ummm… holler at me? lol
The success of Playaz Circle’s chart-topping, Lil Wayne–assisted single “Duffle Bag Boy” may have eclipsed that of their 2007 debut album, Supply & Demand, but don’t write them off as one-hit wonders just yet. Even though the DTP, Atlanta-based duo’s debut stalled out at around 96,000 units sold, Tity Boi and Dolla Boy are looking to reach new heights with their sophomore LP, Flight 360: The Takeoff.
The opening track, “Turbulence,” with its wailing guitars and distorted vocals, gives off an airy feel, as Playaz Circle take the album’s theme to task. “Look What I Got” finds PC giving listeners a taste of first class, when they incessantly boast about the finer things in life, alongside rolling bass licks, hypnotic synths and a screwed vocal hook. Material possessions aside, jet-setting has other perks. On “Can’t Remember,” featuring Bobby Valentino, Dolla Boy loses track of his various hoes and their respective area codes, when he spits, “I be travelin’ like a muthafucka/I should have gave that fine bitch there another number.” Then, on the haunting “Big Dawg,” the group reunites with Lil Wayne to plant their feet in the trap.
This ride’s not without some bumps, though. “Weight Droppin’,” with its bright horn stabs, is too saccharine-sounding for these d-boys. And the trite “Hold Up,” whose sparse chorus just repeats the song title, sounds lazy and unfinished. Luckily, the boys get back to piloting their ship right with the raucous “DJ Know Me,” while confronting the elephant in the room (Tity Boi: “I walk in the club, me and my comrade/Nigga talkin’ ‘duffle bag,’ well, we already done that”).
By the time the LP wraps, it’s clear Playaz Circle are deserving of more than just a cursory listen. No longer one-hitter quitters, with Flight 360, Tity Boi and Dolla deliver a pretty fly follow-up. —Paul Cantor
originally published at XXLMag.com
Hip-hop’s relationship with theater thus far has been nothing more than a fling. Rappers flirting with the stage, hitting it then quitting on a whim. Diddy stars in Raisin in the Sun here, Jim Jones promotes his latest release with the Hip-Hop Monologues there. But that may soon change, if hip-hop historian Sacha Jenkins has anything to do with it.
A founding member of the hip-hop brain trust Ego Trip, a renowned journalist and television producer, Jenkins conceptualized and wrote “Deez Nuts,” the hip-hop play du jour about the oft-overlooked Queens rap duo, The Beatnuts. A Queens native himself, the play follows a journalist (based on Jenkins) as he sets out on a quest to write the ultimate Beatnuts article. What follows is their story, interspersed with a healthy dose of Beatnuts music. Half narrative, half performance art, “Deez Nuts” attempts to straddle the line between homage to the Beatnuts legacy, and providing a platform for what could arguably be considered a Beatnuts concert.
Last night, the play kicked off the Hip-Hop Theater Festival (October 1st-17th) in New York, way off Broadway, downtown at the Ohio Theater. We caught up with Sacha Jenkins just prior to night two of the play’s three night engagement.
Where did the idea for “Deez Nuts” come from?
The idea for the play Deez Nuts came from me having a desire as a writer to sort of cover new terrain and also being from Queens and being such a fan of the Beatnuts and understanding that there’s so much regional talk. Their attitude and how they carry themselves is so indigenous to Queens. A lot of people dig the Beatnuts but I don’t know that they fully understand the Beatnuts the way that I did. I had this desire knowing that these guys have big personalities, they’re funny, knowing that they have this rocky relationship at times, I figured that bringing that to the stage would be fun and interesting for people to see.
Was it a conscious decision to choose them as a focus, or could another group easily slide into the role of being what the play is about?
I think that you could cut and paste people into something like this. I’m sure that because live performance is the way to go, I know this is a trend that is up and coming. [But] I think the combined story of the Beatnuts makes for a more interesting sort of narrative. They aren’t platinum. They’re not on the cover of every magazine. They been in the game nearly 20 years.
What was it like the first time you met them?
Me and Psycho Les went to the same high school. I didn’t know him personally. I would see Les around in school and he was a quiet dude who always had a fat rope chain, nice sheepskin coat, nice sneakers, and he was Columbian; I just assumed he was a drug dealer, but it turns out he wasn’t. He was busy dealing dope beats and eventually dope rhymes. Juju, he and I have many friends in common, so we didn’t necessarily know each other back then, but we know enough of the same people, that we could have known each other, or we kind of know each other, since we know the same people from the same time. Me really connecting with them on a deep level was when I had the inspiration to do this play.
What was the process like convincing them or selling them on the idea to actually do this? I’m sure there was some apprehension.
I think they were a little skeptical, mainly because they’ve been through so many ups and downs in the business. So it’s just kind of like, “Who is this dude, kind of out of nowhere telling us about a play?” Then Peter [Oasis- the play's producer] came back with, “Well I know these guys at the Hip-hop Theater Festival and they’re good people.” I knew them as well, but I didn’t know them the way Peter did. I think [The Beatnuts] were skeptical initially but eventually the persistence and me and Peter saying, “Alright we got tickets to go see the Jim Jones play, this thing is happening and it’s a trend and it’s gonna continue to grow, and you guys should want to be a part of something like this.” Once we introduced the Hip-hop Theater Festival to them and they started to see this was a reality and there were people working on their behalf to produce something that pays tribute to their legacy, they said, “Alright, we’ll fuck with this weird dude.”
What will people take from this play?
For hip-hop people who aren’t familiar with theater, I think they’re going to walk away with a thoroughly enjoyable hip-hop experience. For people who aren’t necessarily in the hip-hop world, they’ll walk away with an experience that was very musical, and not necessarily in a Jesus Christ Superstar sort of way. It’s a very direct encounter with people who are part of a culture. It’s anthropological, it’s social, it’s musical and it’s theatrical.
There have been hip-hop people in theater- Diddy in Raisin in the Sun, Mos Def in Top Dog/Underdog, the Jim Jones play. So you’ve seen these hip-hop people sprinkled throughout theater. Is hip-hop’s relationship with theater a good one?
I’m new to theater. From what I’ve seen, a lot of the audience has been hip-hop fans. Fans of the Beatnuts. People in hip-hop at this point want more. People expect their artists to give them more. So that’s why I think this trend is going to grow. Artists aren’t selling records anymore, so how do they eat? They sell merchandise and they tour. I think that hip-hop fans are going to come to expect more of their artists and they’re going to want theater.
You just had your first show. What went right, what went wrong?
What’s great about it is the nature of how the show breathes. Some things went wrong, [but] no one will ever know because of how the play the works and the rapport that the both the actors and the Beatnuts have with the story. So there were a couple of flubs but honestly nobody noticed. I think Juju came in early on a song, or he didn’t do his verse twice and he stopped and said, “Yo I just fucked up that verse, whatever, that’s hip-hop,” and everyone laughed. You wouldn’t even know if he was serious or not serious, but didn’t even matter because of the way he handled the situation. The more we perform it the more comfortable we’ll be with it, the more natural it is. There’s some improv involved with it. I wasn’t trying to get the Beatnuts to be actors. I wanted them to sort of display who they are by talking to them. This show is almost like a conversation with the Beatnuts.
The premise of it is a journalist going to interview the Beatnuts, but how much of a narrative is there to it?
There’s a journalist who starts out wanting to write the ultimate Beatnuts article and then changes his mind and wants to get out of journalism because its dying and he decides to take a shot at writing a play. The show is really about the process of writing that play, how it sort of affects the lives of the group and how they feel about this play that is being written about them. Is there a narrative? Sure. But a big part of that narrative is the music of the group and the group sometimes in their own words.
And the long term goal is to make it a franchise that can sort of live on its own and continue and travel and perform?
The goal is to make this a healthy, living organism that the Beatnuts can take around the world. I’m still a huge fan of their music. I think its timeless, I think its funny. I think every once in a while there’s like a political perspective. But ultimately you get a real sense of what Queens is like. I’m a big proponent of sharing Queens with the world. If it wasn’t for Queens, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. Spike Lee’s all about Brooklyn, I’m all about Queens… not that I’m Spike Lee or anything.
What else are you up to?
I have a new book, which is the part two to another book. The new book is Piecebook Reloaded: Rare Graffiti Drawings, 1985-2005. And that basically is a compilation of images culled from various sketchbooks that graffiti artists have. Sketches and drawings that date back to 1985 and to roughly 2005. There are a couple 2006s and 2007s that sneak in there. That’s the companion book to the first book that came out about a year and a half ago called Piecebook: Secret Drawings of Graffiti Writers. That book spanned from 1973 to about 1985. This book picks up the baton where the last book left off. There’s some book signings and some speaking engagements surrounding that. I have a few television projects that I’m developing, I don’t want to jinx anything. Other than that, getting ready for the cold weather in New York.
And last words?
RIP Mr. Magic. The DJ who started it all for hip-hop on the radio.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT STREETLEVEL.COM
Another rap-inspired video game, haven’t we been down this road before? But Beaterator, the video game collaboration between Rockstar Games and superproducer Timbaland hitting stores today (on PSP), is different. There is no narrative, no rap character to play with (and ultimately no silly premise to be later mocked in a blog post) Instead, the game, which is launching today on the PSP and the Playstation network before being made available as an iPhone app later this year, comes with a full suite of tools to get your novice beatmaking career off the ground.
As is standard standard fare on these sorts of games, there’s a sequencer, a library of included loops and sounds, as well as a way to record your own vocals, sound editor… etc. What sets Beaterator apart from its competition, however, is the game’s layout.
If the image above seems familiar, it’s because it looks very much like Apple’s popular Garageband program, which can be credited for the current crop of laptop producers running amok in the record business today. Like Garageband, Beaterator is simple and easy to navigate, perfect for someone new to creating digital music.
But it’s not all beginner stuff here. The synth loop screen (pictured above) allows you to tweak settings so you can create your own individual sounds. That’s more professional than that Casio you got for Christmas.
Still, while messing with loops Timbaland created for the game is cool, you want to take it a step further, you want to make your own melodies. And that’s where the piano roll (picture above) comes into play. You can tape out a melody on the grid, loop it, and now you’ve got the foundation down for a full on production.
Let’s not kid ourselves here, the professional producer is not going to trade in their MPC any time soon. Beaterator isn’t for that crowd, even though they too might find use for it. Beaterator is for the kid who wants something a little more constructive to do (besides homework) while he’s riding the bus to school in the morning. It’s about introducing kids to beatmaking through their PSP, then leaving the magic up to them.
Originally published at Streetlevel.com
When you think of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, you either think of the Jewish and Latino immigrants of the past or hipsters of the present. But the story of the ‘hood’s transition remains to be told, and that’s where documentarian Clayton Patterson steps in.
A native of Calgary, Canada, Patterson moved to New York in 1979, and became a permanent fixture in the gritty Manhattan enclave during the early ’80s. In 1986 he began taking photos of his neighbors (often gang members and graffiti artists) and posting them in the window of his Clayton Gallery, Clayton Hats and Outlaw Museum at 161 Essex Street. Later, he graduated to videotape recorder and shot three-and-a-half hours of footage during the 1988 police riots in Tompkins Square Park. He continued taking photos and video, amassing an archive of media that spans three decades — a visual history of how the neighborhood and its people have drastically changed.
Some of Patterson’s photography was compiled and released earlier this year in the book “Front Door,” and much of his work was featured in Ben Solomon and Daniel Levin’s documentary on the Lower East Side, “Captured.”
Now his work is being celebrated with an exhibit dubbed “L.E.S. Captured.” Presented by ALIFE and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art, the multimedia exhibit features photographs from the archive, a digital showcase of the portraits from “Front Door,” and the short film “The Documentarian.” On the eve of the gallery’s launch, we spoke to the 61-year-old Patterson about all things L.E.S.
The exhibit is set to open. Tell us how you got started doing this stuff.
I used to take pictures in front of my door all the time. I had two things — there was the Hall of Fame and the Wall of Fame. The Wall of Fame was graffiti on the door; a lot of the local kids tagged. This used to be a heavy drug neighborhood. It didn’t have the whole “downtown” thing [that exists] now. You see all this graffiti now, it wasn’t really like that in the past because these streets had drug dealers on them.
So that meant graffiti and street art were more rare in the L.E.S. in those days.
There was a whole collection of Lower East Side tag crews like 333, ADT and The Violators. Each different crew would have their block or their area, and so the door [where the pictures were taken] was neutral. The other thing was I used to photograph people in front of the door and I’d put them in the window. The window became known as the “Hall of Fame.” It was interesting because it was a whole cross section of the neighborhood. The space was neutral so I had [street gangs like] Ñetas, Latin Kings and La Famiglia and different crews like 333 and ADT. They would all come and I’d take their picture. I used to say, “OK say p—y!” to make them laugh. The reason I did that is because I wanted to show their best side.
It wasn’t just the bad guys, though. It would be a lot of good kids, young girls. Once in a while you get mothers. I would often have the only picture of somebody in their family. I had pictures of different people’s brothers who went to jail. Or someone who died. In the inner city, people have fires, they have to move. There’s certain reasons why people don’t collect things.
Through documenting these people’s lives, there’s a renewed interest in Clayton Patterson.
I can say yes and no. On one hand I’ve had stories in The New York Times and things like that, but there’s never really been an interest in the Lower East Side. So even though I have this huge archive which includes stickers from the street, dope bags, heroin bags, photographs, a lot of videotapes — which would include Mickey Cesar, the “Pope of Dope,” the first guy who started a marijuana delivery service — that’s street culture. Graffiti kids in the neighborhood, tags, and all this street culture, nobody really cared about the Lower East Side. Lower East Side was where people came and bought drugs. You wanted to be a famous artist, you went to Soho.
In an interview with Black Book magazine, you used the word garbage to describe what the archive was. You said it would be nothing until somebody found it.
That’s true. If you go to the Lower East Side, once you get to the Puerto Ricans there’s no history. Pre-1940s with the Jews, you’ve got Hollywood … with the Italians you’ve got the beginning of the Mafia. But once you get into the modern period it doesn’t exist. There’s no well-known Puerto Rican drug dealers. The reality is the L.E.S. was a bigger drug world [than anywhere else in NYC] because those guys who were selling in Harlem [Frank Lucas, Nicky Barnes] were just selling to their own people, mostly black people. Lower East Side sold to the whole world because it was an area that was accessible to white people and cool people and artists and everyone else.
I don’t know why. This guy Leonardo Levitt, he just did a book called “New York Confidential” about the NYPD’s secret history. He covers the whole city except for the Lower East Side. Lower East Side in 1988 had a police riot! Even that early-’80s arts scene, there was a couple books, I think “Art After Midnight,” put out by Steven Hagar from High Times. I think there was Art News, by Carlo McCormick. But there’s been no book on [the Lower East Side]. The point that we’re getting to is even though I have this massive archive, on another level there’s really no interest in it.
How did you link with ALIFE to have them present this?
I was coming down Orchard Street one night. It was really dark. I saw this place that was all lit up, I went in. I saw these young people working. The first person I met by the door was Rob [ALIFE co-founder and artist JEST]. He had this whole collection of tags. So I said, “I know some local people, can they come by and tag?” From there they started having their openings. ALIFE was interesting because they dealt with street culture, graffiti and fashion, which was kind of an intersection that was unique at that time. It was also unique because I had a little gallery and the hats and took pictures. They were selling sneakers and had the art gallery thing going on. They were almost doing an idea I’d been doing, only they’d been doing it in a much more sophisticated way. The were like an idea factory.
How long ago was this?
This was 1999. They were also doing Mass Appeal [magazine] at the time, laying it out and designing it. They included me in a couple of editions. One where they put in a bunch of photographs from the front door. And one where they did something on the dope bags. Also there were these kids I knew down here, I knew their mother. They went to Cuba and did this movie on Cuban hip-hop. So I was able to get a small article in Mass Appeal about this movie that they went to Cuba and did. That turned out to be Ben Solomon [and] Dan Levin. Dan went on to film school in Boston and when they came back they wanted to do something on my archives. They ended up making the movie “Captured.” And that happened through ALIFE too, through doing the story in Mass Appeal.
Lou Reed started off on Ludlow Street. He was living there in the ’60s and paid 38 dollars a month. Well, that gave him the time to go, Am I gay, am I straight, am I a junkie, am I not? Eventually he came up with all these great songs and became Lou Reed. Now across from Katz’s Delicatessen on Ludlow street, a studio apartment is 3,000 dollars. How do you go through your ups and downs, your ins and outs, Who am I, is this good, is that good, am I gonna play the guitar, am I gonna sing? You gotta know right away, so it’s not possible. You have people trying to pay the rent, trying to get by, credit cards overdue. You just don’t have that breathing room. You don’t have that cross-cultural pool of people to deal with anymore.
How did you go through the process of picking out what would appear in this gallery?
How it first started off, I had this guy Billy Leroy, from Billy’s Antiques and Props. He was like my front guy. I wasn’t really in the whole Chelsea art world. I didn’t really like that world. So he went around and hooked it up with Kinz + Tillou. So for the first box of a couple thousand photos or whatever, he picked them out. And then out of that, they picked them out. Then I had this show in Chelsea a few years ago or something. They framed and printed all this work which still exists … so Kinz + Tillou hooked up with ALIFE — or I hooked up and they got involved — and what happened was they picked out the photographs they wanted to use, which were already framed. Then I just threw in some paintings, which I had from home.
There’s a short film called “The Documentarian” in the gallery. How is that short different from “Captured“?
It’s more just about me and documenting the neighborhood, whereas “Captured” is a much larger story. They’re both about basically the Lower East Side and taking pictures down here and documenting it. But “The Documentarian” is just kind of a shorter version of it.
What is the goal for “Captured”?
We’re just trying to get it out there. It’s basically been bounced by all the festivals. It has a big youth following. Our audience is basically 35 and under, mostly in their 20s. So far it’s the Lower East Side. It just hasn’t made it mainstream yet. Eventually it’ll get out there.
In interviews you’ve said you don’t recognize anyone in the Lower East Side anymore.
In a lot of ways that’s true. I could stand at 7th and [Avenue] A and, if not by name, at least know by nodding the head probably at least three-quarters of the people who went by. Now it’s so completely transient. Now you could go out there and not meet anybody you know. That’s a weird thing.
What keeps you there at this point?
I guess the archives … [besides] I wouldn’t know where else to go.
As originally written for Streetlevel.com
Filed under: Entertainment
Rock ‘n’ roll fans have all the fun. At least that’s what it seems like in the electronic gaming world. While they have huge, popular and well-executed music games like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” us rap fans are stuck with hip-hop inflected games … Read more
I’d heard through the grapevine years ago that Pimp C had been dissing me every chance he got for the review I wrote of his compilation LP, The Pimpalation, back in an issue of XXL that came out in the summer of 2006. I believe I first got word of it when a friend called and told me he was on Kay Slay’s HOT97 show talking all reckless about me back when that issue first dropped. I never heard it though. I wish I had that audio.
This new thing I got (Pimpalation) probably be out by the time this thing go to press. It’s a compilation record. I just read a review on it and the dude was talkin about it was too many people on the album—you dumb motherfucker, don’t you know it’s a compilation record? You stupid motherfucker, you don’t get compilation from Pimpalation? C’mon, man. It was XXL, too, I’ll go on and tell you, I don’t have the dude’s name right in front of me but he’s an asshole, you know what I mean. He gave the record a large but the motherfucker was like “I’m a guest artist on my own record.” And motherfucker it’s a comp…you dumb motherfucker, how dumb can you get, man? Where do they find these people? Back in the day the people reviewing the albums was really fans of the music.
Now obviously Pimp C has passed on, and I don’t want to belabor the issue too much, because the man has no opportunity to respond, and a record from 2006 is like an eternity ago in the internet era of rap. But I will take this opportunity to address what he had to say, just for the sake of clarity.
First of all, regarding the fact that the LP was a compilation album, appropriately dubbed Pimpalation. Maybe I’m stupid, and I probably am, but he’s right, I actually didn’t get that it was a compilation directly from the title Pimpalation. When I was asked to review the album, it was billed as Pimp C’s solo record. This was his first solo album after being released from jail, bottom line. There was no discussion of the title, or it being a compilation album, although in my review I mentioned that it comes off sounding like a compilation, and I remember being in the listening session for the project thinking, why didn’t he just make this a compilation album? Duh! That’s what it was. But again, it wasn’t billed that way by the people in his camp, people’s whose responsibility it was to provide that information, not assume that it was implied by the title. That’s your publicists job. I’m a writer, not a mind reader, even if Pimp may have thought that it was glaringly obvious what it was.
Secondly, this assumption that “back in the day” people were really fans of the music implies that because I’m of the current generation, I’m not a UGK fan or something. Like I didn’t give Bun B a glowing review and an XL for his album, Trill, a year earlier because it was just that good. Perhaps he’s right; though I’m a fan, I don’t eat, sleep and breathe UGK. Maybe that makes me less credible to review the album. Maybe it makes me more credible, as I can be more objective about it since I’m not a fan that’ll give him a great review just because.
For the most part though, me not just using some common sense about the title of the album was an inexcusable mistake, one I regret quite a bit, considering just how valuable a good review in XXL meant back then. I guess I’m a “dumb motherfucker” then. I can point fingers at publicists and editors all day, but the reality is I take the blame.
The question then is, would the fact that it was a compilation LP and not a proper solo project have bumped the review from an L to an XL? Probably not. Regardless of anything, the project was good, just not great. An L is a good rating in my opinion. An XL just means it’s pretty damn good. An XXL is great. Even an M is not that bad. There wasn’t much taken away from the review of the album because there were so many features on it. It’s not like he lost many points because of that. Maybe a few, but not many. And still, this was his first project since returning home from prison. That was the main sticking point of the review. You’ve been locked up all these years, there’s this big “Free Pimp C” campaign going. What do you have to say about all of that? For the most part, I felt like he didn’t have much to say. Compilation or not, this is your opportunity to speak. So speak!
He never really did. And that’s why the album got an L. People have their own way of twisting words into meaning what they want them to mean, and maybe all he saw was me making that blunder about the project being a compilation, and thought that’s why it got an L. But in reality that was just a small piece of the puzzle. Project just wasn’t great, end of story.
Still, I would love to have gotten the opportunity to speak to him one on one about it. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Bun a few times, real good dude. I know Pimp had a tenuous relationship with the press and whatnot, but I’m sure man to man he would have respected where I was coming from, as I did him.
A few weeks back I was the guest of honor at what was then the coming out (pause) party for Elliott Wilson’s Rapradar.com. I think I was the first writer outside of Elliott and Bdot to contribute to the site, and it was the Charles Hamilton vs. Black Spade beatjacking incident that caused me to come out of retirement.
Here’s the entry in full:
When Microsoft entered the portable mp3 player market in 2006, the Zune struggled to find its footing. People had problems with the software, the Zune store was empty, and you really couldn’t find any cool people cosigning the device. If you wanted … Read more