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, February 28, 2010

"Street Legal" - Catch LA's finest before the show closes!

The rain and general dreariness kept me away from the LA Art Show even though LA's most talented street artists 'come art gallery converts were painting live as part of FADA's (Fine Art Dealers Association) "VOX HUMANA.". Lame I know! So instead of sharing my pics, I've found some great ones from Mr. Satoe.

Redemption But, to represent I'm planning to head downtown to see the closing show entitled, "Street Legal", featuring Mear One, Kofie, Retna and El Mac this coming Weds 3rd March. May be see you at the Rivera & Rivera gallery. If not check back for photos.

LA Art Show reprise Until this year, the LA Art Show had never shown any street art! Surprising, when you consider the number of Californian graffiti and street artists (yes, I'm going to lump them together ;) ) who have become household names locally and internationally. In my own random order (with credibility or verification given): Obey, Seventh Letter/AWR/MSK ( Revok, Retna, Saber, Push, Rime, Zes and many, many more), El Mac, Buff Monster, Mr. Brainwash, Shark Toof etc.

Bryson Strauss, curator of VOX HUMANA, compares Mear One, Kofie, Retna and El Mac timeliness to art world celebrities. “Shepard Fairey and Banksy show at art fairs like Art Basel, but they’ve already been validated and vindicated and selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s easy to hang [their work] on your wall and say, ‘Now, I’m cool and I’m hip.’”

Kim Martindale, producer of the Los Angeles Art Show, added that VOX HUMANA offers street artists credibility and takes the illegal tarnish off of street art. “Graffiti art is part of that latest movement,” says Martindale. “It’s kind of gone through a transition from where people had pushed it aside and said, ‘Let’s not even look at it. That’s an evil thing for our society.’”

For some fans of street art, VOX HUMANA might be the beginning of the end. This fear seemed best expressed by LA Art Show visitor Marta Avellaneda from Galeria del Paseo in Montevideo, Uruguay, "...They’re muralists, but muralists on canvas. To me,...the fact that...a street performer...becomes part of an art collection -- it loses its feeling.

I'm sure that the artists disagree. I heard that the exposure from VOX HUMANA got Mear One, Retna, El Mac and Kofie representation to go to Art Basel in Europe. One irony that wasn't lost on me was LA
Convention Center prohibits the use of aerosol paint. That meant Mear One painted with a brush and El Mac’s - the middle-aged woman - was painted in advance of Retna's live letter painting.

The Human Voice I discovered that VOX HUMANA is Latin for “the human voice” and came from David Bayles and Ted Orland's 2001 book, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. It's gained a cult-following as an artist's survival guide exploring the way art gets made, the reasons it doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way.

"To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you along, what matters is the process."

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Suge Knight auction raises $4,500

It still amazes me how much access I get to some crazy hip hop memorabilia moments!? Last week, eight big crates of furniture, clothing and gym equipment that were seized from Death Row Records’ founder Marion “Suge” Knight were auctioned off to pay off his debts.

This second auction comes four years after Suge Knight sought bankruptcy protection and didn't compared to last year's, but nor do the prices. Only a modest $4,500 was raised for storage costs of Conejo Valley Moving & Storage Co.

Sorry Suge, but now I’m going to sell your crap!,” announced auctioneer Dan Dotson as he kicked off the quick 30-minute sale. The photo of Suge Kinght and Tupac was sold for $100. It's now on eBay for $500 currently...nice move, fella!

Rewind...Auction #1 How much would you pay for the replica electric chair that is the logo for Death Row Records? "It's a piece of memorabilia of hip hop and Death Row," said Dale Fletcher, owner of Hostility Clothing, an extreme sports clothing brand who paid $2,500 for this hip hop icon in January 2009. "I'm definitely a fan of all the Death Row people, especially Tupac (Shakur)."

Bargain basement Fans and merchants alike headed to Fullerton, CA to get their hands on some of the booty on offer. Retailer Grover Winberly bought six pallets of albums to sell in his store and online. Some of it as low as $0.20 a piece. "Death Row stuff has always been in demand," he said. "The retail price on a CD is $12. We got a good deal." But he also did show some heart, "Death Row Records was always good to retailers," he said. "It's a sad day, especially when you see them selling off the guy's underwear and stuff."

Everything had a price tag The auction included hip hop memorabilia and promo materials, ranging from platinum records, autographed photos and miscellaneous merchandise like the box of "Tha Doggfather" flashlights. Even a Bible belonging to Suge Knight sold for an astonishing $325! Snoop Dogg's MTV Award for "Best Rap Video" sold for $1,500.

The Orange County Register reported: "The cultural gaps between the two auctioneers - both older men with gray hair and glasses - and the auction attendees were often obvious and created lots of laughs throughout the day. Mistakes were quickly corrected by the attendees, such as when the auctioneers said "gangster" rather than "gangsta" when referring to the Death Row compilation album "Too Gangsta For Radio," or when they pronounced Tupac as "Two-pack."

Stephen Grove, president of Kohn-Megibow Co. which ran the auction, joked with the friendly crowd: 'Half of you are packing anyway, right?'"

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Friday, February 26, 2010

How much would you pay for Tupac's crown ring?

I'm late to this! As I was doing a bit of spring cleaning for Chinese new year I finally read a 2008 WSJ article called "The Bling Thing" in the first issue of "WSJ.", a quarterly luxury lifestyle magazine edited by Tina Gaudoin (ex-editor of Tatler.)

"Since hip-hop’s birth in the South Bronx, thick gold chains have been synonymous with turntable scratching, shell-top Adidas, and the lavish dispensation of spray paint. But it’s only now that the jewelry’s influence, and sometimes its magnificence, is getting its due. Rapper Tupac Shakur’s crown ring, studded with more than 10 carats of cabochon rubies and pavé diamonds, is one of the most spectacular lots in Phillips de Pury New York’s October 1st auction of “bling” jewelry (which will also include pieces worn by Notorious B.I.G, Missy Elliot and Kanye West). The sale, in part a benefit for the Smithsonian’s fledgling hip-hop archive, is the first of its kind."

Worth its weight? If you melted down 10 carats of cabochon rubies and pavé diamonds (whatever those are) would it really be worth the estimated $10-20,000. May be not...whoever buys this piece of hip hop history will be making an investment knowing it was designed and worn by Tupac Shakur! That's priceless!

The item was given to the auction by Yaasmyn Fula, a family friend of Shakur’s. The less than modest ring has the inscription “Pac & Dada 1996,” inscribed on it referring to his girlfriend, Quincy Jones’s daughter Kidada. Fula says, the ring “was self-coronation—Tupac acknowledg­ing he had survived a tumultuous year.” Who knew Tupac would only have the chance to wear it a few months before his murder in Las Vegas. Read more at here in The Guardian newspaper.

Bling Ting If you want to see more rappers' bling, then may be grab yourself a copy of Hot 97's Minya Oh's book simply entitled, "Bling Bling, Hip-Hop's Crown Jewels." Critics say it's a coffee table book good for its pics, but it doesn't discuss the ugly side of diamond or gold trading, so don't expect much commentary than this quote from Reverend Run of Run-DMC: "God wants you to have everything you want to have," when asked about his love of bling. Now can we stop using the B-word?!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Subversive street art is rising!

In LA there have been stories about fake street parking signs put up by commercial parking companies to drive customers to their parking lots (only in LA!) and other such stories. Then I happened upon this *insane* video which has to be one of the best public service guerrilla moves and shows the passion Los Angeleans have for their city!

Art in the City When I saw the Trustocorp work getting attention online from installations at Miami Art Basel I took a look into who else was doing similar work. LA's Total Crisis Panic button is kinda cool, but Trustcorp takes the guerrilla move idea further. These street art projects are taking issues and giving them a lighthearted twist to make us think more about our surroundings, local government policies and societal behavior.

Where next? Hmmm...Going foreign language would be cool! But it seems that there's already a street sign movement out there in Europe with tons of worldwide respected and established artists (Kozyndan, Dalek, London Police....) doing it Benny Hill style (aka few words, just pics to overcome language barriers.)

LA's valet parking land grab

View more news videos at:

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dead Prez! Finally gettin' some (UK) national radio play!

What does it take to ressurect a kick-ass underground hip hop tune? A remix by one of the UK's finest producers, Adam F.* and love from BBC's Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe.

* Remember Adam F.'s "Kaos" project with all those beats and rhymes from De La Soul, Pharoahe Monch and my fave, Redman? Dope!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Delicious Vinyl old skool D.J.s are now in session!

When I think of Los Angeles's DJ heritage it has to be about Jurassic 5's Cut Chemist as featured in "This Is The Life" documentary about the underground scene in the 90s (hosted by The Good Life health food store!?) But, let's not forget Arabian Prince, an original and Stones Throw artist.

So, imagine what kind of old skool hip hop session is going to commence when Delicious Vinyl (yes...Tone-Loc, Young M.C., The Pharcyde, Masta Ace & The Inc, Fatlip....) sponsors this monthly Allstar (DJ) workshop?! The two top billers will be joined by LA's legendary K-Day Radio's D.J. M Walk and Tony G.

My photo gallery

"This is the Life"

Thanks to Hip Hop DX for sharing the news.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reas exhibition: "Make The Burden Lighter"

The new Reas exhibition closes this weekend. Reas's (aka Todd James) first solo show, entitled "Make My Burden Lighter," uses his childlike cartoons to comment and criticize world affairs and American foreign policy.

Expect to see semi-clad women, weapons, missiles, blood splatters and lots of red, white and blue colors! Just from the titles you get the gist: "We Rape The Night," "Secret Base," "Payload," "Blue Jet with Missiles," "Crazy Tanker," "Somali Cargo" and the largest piece called "Don't Stop Get It Get It."

Here's a bit of Reas's bio from art gallery Gering and Lopez: "Self-taught, James first made a name for himself as Reas in the 1980s underground graffiti culture of New York. He went on to design the logos for The Source as well as Mobb Deep, Redman, and the Beastie Boys. In 2000, he collaborated with Steve Powers and Barry McGee on the Street Market project that was shown at Deitch Projects, New York; Parco Gallery, Japan; and the Venice Biennale."

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Monday, February 15, 2010

"Whole Train"...Germany still on the hip hop map

It looks a little cliched, but the indy film "Whole Train" has a FREE screening in New York's Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building tomorrow. I doubt many folks have seen this 2006 film that toured the film festival circuit, but got limited love in the U.S. (probably because it's subtitled. Who knows...) All I know is I'd never heard of it until Christie Pabon mentioned it in her newsletter, even though KRS-1 features on the soundtrack and bigs it up: "I saw this flick and it blew my mind!...You really gotta get a copy of it."

Screenings around town If you're in NYC then go hear the director Florian Gaag and graffiti writer PURE TFP in conversation. If you're, not then the latest news is that Whole Train will tour:
* Brookline, MA (Feb 21st)
* Boston, MA (Feb 22nd)
* San Francisco (Feb 24th) and finally
* Los Angeles @ Goethe-Institut (7pm March 1st.) with a Q&A with director Florian Gaag.

VIP Endorsements
CHARLIE AHEARN (director of Wild Style)
I saw Wholetrain at S.O.B.’s in New York. It was a great experience watching it. There was a tremendous amount of character development, interesting dialogue and a lot of story in it. It took real vision to make that world come alive like that. Wholetrain is an impressive piece of work. It’s the only Graffiti-Movie that can follow in the footsteps of Wild Style.

HENRY CHALFANT (author and photographer of Subway Art; co-producer of the documentary Style Wars)
Wholetrain shows the human dimensions of Graffiti-Writing. The social conflicts of the protagonists are fascinating and allow you to take a look at the writers’ real lives. Real characters, real problems. Wholetrain is a very good film that not only reflects writing culture but also leaves room to authentically portray the writers´ social reality.

KET (legendary graffiti-writer from New York)
I loved the movie. I thought that Wholetrain represented the scene the best – ever. It really captured what writers go through and their struggles; they were humanized, they weren’t caricatures. I appreciate that. I remember that it made me feel that I was there with those guys, living with those guys. It took me back to a time when I was living the way those kids were living. I thought it was very authentic in that sense.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

恭喜發財 Gōng xǐ fā cái - Year of the Tiger

Happy new year of the Tiger. Continued prosperity for 2010!

Thanks to Tristan Eaton @ Thunderdog for the dope Chinese zodiac character.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mode 2 for Valentine's Day

Legendary ex-Chrome Angelz graffiti artist, Mode 2, is working with Steve Lazarides, aka Banksy's manager and they've put out a t-shirt just in time for Valentine's Day. I wasn't expecting hearts and kisses, but at least a bit of pink! ;)

If you want to read more about Mode 2 and the Paris hip hop scene check out the Format Magazine interview.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kool Keith plays LA

I read that Kool Keith will play this weekend in L.A...Dope! Except instead of a small venue for the fans he's part of a musi-ganza venue with multiple stages and 1,500 capacity. Just reading that makes me cringe so I think I'll be skipping that. Here's a video instead of my pics from the gig :(

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tats Cru' - 30 year retrospective!!!

If you missed the Tats Cru' opening reception at DNA (Dance New Amsterdam) on Friday, February 5 in New York then you can still catch the show till March. It's free, 9am-10pm so go see it!

Don't get it twisted Graffiti is such a part of New York's fabric that the "Three Decades of Tats Cru" exhibition was funded, in part, by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation!

"In the mid ’80s three teenagers [Brim, Bio and Nicer] began their artistic careers by creating subway graffiti. What began as an adolescent hobby and recognition tactic has evolved into a powerful, expressively iconic style that has brought TATS CRU to the forefront of the advertising mural industry. For over two decades TATS CRU has spearheaded the battle to change people’s perception of graffiti as an art through their respected work. In addition to the recognition they receive throughout the world as leaders in mural advertising and art, proof of TATS CRU’s success and the acceptance of graffiti as an art form can be found in their murals that adorn the walls of hospitals, museums, schools, businesses, and New York City institutions."

The DNA dance arts center has been around since 1984 and relocated from NoHo into 25,000 square feet of facilities in the Lower Manhattan district of New Amsterdam after 9/11. And as part of Black History Month, DNA hosted some of the pioneers of hip hop's breaking and graffiti worlds.

Skoolin' The retrospective was accompanied by a "Late Nite@DNA: Roots of Hip Hop" performance on February 5th. hosted and curated by Robin Dunn, coach, choreographer, and dance teacher. And for everyone who wanted to participate there was a pre-show panel discussion on the topic of “Roots of Hip Hop and the Pop Culture Massacre” with Crazy Legs, Popmaster Fabel, Buddha Stretch, Jonathan Lee, and Violet Galagarza.

DNA also put on two "Roots of Hip Hop Workshops" on February 5th and 6th covering popping, breaking and hip hop history led by Jazzy J, Popmaster Fabel, Crazy Legs and Buddha Stretch.

Jazzy J was the creator of “L.A. City Rockers” and danced with the “Original Lockers” and the original “Electric Boogaloos” and helped Janet Jackson look good on her videos and stage shows!

Stretch is part of the Elite Force choreography outfit and way back in 1989 was the first hip hop dancer to teach in a mainstream dance studio. He also worked on music videos for Michael Jackson, Will Smith and Mariah Carey (she can dance?)

Crazy Legs started b-boying when he was 8 years old and joined the Rock Steady Crew at age 12!

Jorge “Pop Master Fabel” Pabon is a historian of and activist within hip hop culture and is an adjunct professor at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. Back in the day he featured in the film "Beat Street."

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