Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mos Def goes to Japan

Great video series from following the mighty Mos Def. This is a mixture of behind the scenes, concert footage and interviews with Mos Def as he tours Japan with his new album "The Ecstatic."

Stevio's video of Mos Def in California 2009.

Mos Def in Huntington Beach, CA 2009 from stevio on Vimeo.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rakim on NPR radio interview about the latest album, The Seventh Seal

On the way back up to LA from my trip to Tijuana, Mexico I heard a familiar voice on NPR...but wait. What's Rakim Allah doing talking to the middle-class of America?

Guy Raz managed to get an interview with Rakim to discuss his first album for over a decade. There's a lot to be learnt from the interview, even for an old skool b-boy like myself. Did you know Rakim plays the saxophone?! The interview is interspersed with new tracks from "The Seventh Seal," including the title track and banger "Holy Are You" (which samples the Electric Prunes classic produced by David Axelrod.)

Rap's Guardian Rakim has been recognized by his platinum-selling peers as the "God M.C.," yet he isn't resting on his laurels. With this new album Rakim is taking responsibility to stop rap's dilution and urges New York rap artists' to uphold a higher lyrical standard.

"Some rappers that may have been a little more conscious when they came out — they're a little more party-rap right now," he says. "We gotta let hip-hop grow. We gotta let it go through its different phases throughout the different places that's accepting it. But I feel: Certain places, like New York, we need to keep our integrity and make sure that it's doing that thing that caught the world's ear in the beginning.

"Lyrical content is getting a lot of slack right now, and it's making hip-hop look less of what it is," Rakim says. "If we can get back to the essence of it — I'm trying to make it a little more melodic, where people are respecting it more as a genre."

Going back in time Rakim recounts the tale of being a high-school student on Long Island and what happened after playing Eric B a demo tape of his raps. "At the time, I was trying to go to Stony Brook [University] and play quarterback," Rakim says. "I love football. ... I had a little tape that I had, ready to go to college with me; just in case there was any rappers up there, I can just put my tape in, you know?

"But I played that for Eric B, and he was interested, told me, 'We can make a record.' And things turned out where I couldn't go to college. I had to focus on my rap career; things kind of took off fast. Man, I had no idea it was going to be that big."

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

LA->OC->TJ - Adventures south of the border

I decided to get my H-1B visa renewal done "locally" before Christmas mainly because London's US Embassy takes days to process. And since I got it completed on the same day in Tijuana (affectionately known as TJ in American circles) back in 2006 I thought I'd give it another go.

This time was different though...

* I was going to drive and park the car in Ysidro, CA on the US border to Mexico near the Americana Mall rather than go the night before ($8 a night in Camino de la Plaza...last stop before "Meh-he-co." Even has ok toilets for $0.25.)
* The application process has a new form DS-160 that replaces three other forms (after November 9th.)
* Applicants need to confirm that your approval has been logged in the system ahead of any visit - It's called PIMS (Petition Information Management Service) otherwise might delay your return to the US?!
* The US Consulate has moved since 2006?! (I didn't know until the taxi asked me which one to drive to...No biggie, as I had the address and a print out of useful info in my back pocket)
* Last, but not least...I had to wait until the next day at 3pm for the visa to be processed.

Scared? There were stories earlier this year about how the Marines are banned from R&R in Tijuana since it's too dangerous, and the threat of the H1N1 virus. But, I didn't think the US Consulate would be in a warzone, and no one told me a local policeman had been shot outside Pockets billiards hall 50 steps from my hotel in a drug related killing?! Glad to say I wandered around oblivious to the recent violence and enjoyed the hospitality of the local businesses near the US Consulate in Zona Rio.

Where to stay My first stop was athe chic, renovated Real Del Rio hotel listed in a blogger's notes which a better choice than the corporate looking Lucerno hotel nearby. What sealed the deal for me was the offer of a US$80 rate and upgraded to a double room vs. the US$118 rate for a single room. You can keep the gym access, but I'll have the free internet :)) There's a restaurant and an under patronized bar (how about no one!?)

How to kill time There were a few interesting places to eat and be merry like the popular Los Remedios Cantina. Less popular was La Inmortal karaoke bar/restaurant and I didn't check put the Pockets billiards hall (before I found out about the shooting.) For snacks you can't beat the Los Troncos tacos spot with its "Jugo de Res," a rich beef consomme and Carne Clasiqueada and Pechuguita al Mezquite tacos. There's even a Sushi Itto across the street, which has transplanted itself from San Diego. For breakfast I went to the first Starbucks in Tijuana which hard stronger coffee than the US Starbucks...and even the muffin Navideno tasted better :) Oh and the decor and cliente are just a step above US branches.

I'm not saying come to Tijuana for a weekend trip instead of Santa Barbara, but if you have to stay for any reason it's not so bad.

Someone's pointless video of Zona Rio, Tijuana

6.10 minutes is where the Starbucks is (not built at the time of this video) and at 8.30 minutes is the Benjamin Franklin statue which is a landmark for those looking for the Banamex and US Consulate.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hip-hop pioneer - DJ Kool Herc

What's there to say...what's 130 miles to go see Kool Herc? Hmmm well 4 hours in the car is one thing.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The film Lil' Wayne tried to ban!

Tonight was a screening of the sold-out "The Carter: Lil' Wayne" hosted by Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater. The film is produced by Quincy Jones III's company QD3, and directed by Adam Bhala Lough ("Bomb The System"), but its not been without its own controversy after Lil' Wayne tried to stop the revealing film from being distributed!

Cinefamily was flooded with requests to see this doc so it has set up three additional showings...never seen that happen before! A great fly-on-the-wall film that captures Lil' Wayne in his world and not hiding behind some MTV show facade. The Q&A session with QD3 and Lough gave the audience the chance to peek further "behind the curtain" and learn what it was like to shoot "The Carter: Lil' Wayne" as part of Lil' Wayne's entourage for seven months.

Classic Lil' Wayne quote: "I would put cocaine back into Coke...Lil' Wayne for President!"

"Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. is the internationally known rapper Lil' Wayne -- his most recent album went platinum in a week, and he just might be the voice of his generation. But this ain't no VH1 rock doc. Rather, it is an intoxicating journey into the thoughts and world of an extremely complicated man whose creative force is something to behold. Lil' Wayne never stops recording -- he has a portable studio that he carries around in a black bag, and it allows him to lay down a track anytime, anywhere. His work is his own: unfiltered, uncensored, raw, and powerful. Director Adam Bhala Lough has gained unbelievable access to the artist's public and private lives, and captures remarkably candid moments, such as Lil' Wayne recounting his first sexual experience, as well as him talking openly about his drug habits. Following him all over the country and to Amsterdam, Lough mixes fly-on-the-wall footage of Lil' Wayne in his hotel room and on his bus with artfully composed concert footage. The result is a shockingly intimate portrait of one of the most inspired (and eccentric) musicians of modern America."
Sundance Film Festival 2009

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

WK Interact comes to LA

I was talking to the manager of Subliminal Projects and he mentioned the upcoming WK Interact show at the gallery in Echo Park, CA.

WK's best known to me for his 'montone' terrorist characters that blur and move around corners in New York's Soho and L.E.S. neighborhoods (which is the same style he painted inside of the Nike House in Venice, CA if you had the chance to visit.)

Although I don't like the installation work of "How to Blow Yourself Up*" as much as his paintings it was good to see the man at work with his criminal processing centre...polariods and height markings on the wall and all!

L-R: me with the height markings; Jason getting processed; Sam and I on the rogue's gallery wall

Personal project I took along my two WK Interact books and my Obey vs. WK Interact poster for a signature. Mine is #3 or a series...the other two were in the store for $75. That was tempting, but after going through all my posters and prints to find this one I was a bit numb and in no mood for shopping. Hell, even collecting my 25th Anniversary of Subway Art from months ago made me wanna get a refund. Seriously...No more stuff...please! ;)

* "If you believe the world will end in 2012 and you can't do anything about it, maybe it's better to blow yourself up when you feel like it," says WK. To that end, he has turned objects of control and personal movement - skateboards and bicycles, as well as three-dimensional panels - into instruments of self-destruction, equipped with what appear to be pipe bombs and other menacing apparatuses."

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