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, March 28, 2010

Broken Bells - Danger Mouse's new project

SXSW 2010 has come and gone...but you can still experience the vibes at The most interesting session for me was the concert from Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse, and James Mercer of The Shins. Click here for the full session or hear the album as part of NPR's Exclusive First Listen in the player.

Broken Bells video

NPR Exclusive First Listen

Fireside interview with Broken Bells

"The much-anticipated new project (or new band as Rolling Stone reported at the end of September) from super-producer Danger Mouse and The Shins frontman James Mercer has been kept pretty hush-hush for a while. But...the band announced that its upcoming self-titled album is set for release on March 9, 2010.
The album's 10 tracks feature Mercer and Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton) playing all the instruments, except for string arrangements handled by composer Daniele Luppi. The first single off the LP, called "The High Road," is set to premiere on Broken Bells' Web site...
...the band began hinting at its upcoming record release all over the Internet. It started with an email newsletter sent out containing a binary code message that when translated reads, "The high road is hard to find." Next to come was a number of ads on various websites that linked to different URLs, all anagrams of "Broken Bells" and all displaying the same image (the image file name? 03092010). Snippets of songs believed to be on the future album play on a loop on each site, with more popping up after each page refresh." NPR

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reebok get grimey?

How can fashion create something edgy and meaningful that reflects the state of society today? It's hard, and maybe an futile attempt at forcing two things that were never meant to be together, uh, together! But that doesn't someone's not going to try.

Under the banner of VCMP (Visual Countermeasures Project) Hanon Shop in Scotland is retailing the curated items: the Reebok VCMP Stomper, a storm jacket designed by Kenneth Mackenzie and 6876, a t-shirt from COTW and a DVD from director Nino Leitner. All these items are sitched together by author, Henry Porter who wrotes a "foreword" for the collection by describing the disturbing result of today's Britain "vis a vis an erosion of privacy rights and civil liberties...the proliferation of CCTV’s and other ways to monitor the public." 

"Every Step You Take" Trailer - CCTV in Britain Documentary from Nino Leitner on Vimeo.

You have to decide if they're trying too hard with VCMP. In the meantime, I want a pair of those Reebok sneakers!
The Reebok stomper was originally produced for director James Cameron's 1986 sci-fi blockbuster Aliens. Worn by the main character Ripley throughout the movie.
Not widely available and the purpose of the Stomper has always been a mystery it was the perfect silhouette for the VCMP project.
Featuring a full reflective Scotchlite upper, full velcro fasten design and general dark look.

• VCMP limited edition printed insoles
• Full reflective Scotchlite upper
• Full velcro fasten design
• Balck and grey colorway
• Limited edition 60 pairs worldwide.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lottery funded film about Vinyl and Collectors

To Have & To Hold - Taster Tape from Jony Lyle on Vimeo.

Kirstin in Amsterdam hit me up on this short film on vinyl and the people that make it an important part of their lives. "To Have and To Hold" sounds crazy boring, but at the hands of the director, Jony Lyle, a co-founder of London's Scratch Club which has been making its mark on the UK hip hop scene for some time you really feel the passion folks still have for this victim of progress and technology. Lyle's teaser film is funded by the UK's National Lottery which is one good reason to continue to gamble although your mother warned you against it! ;)

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Retna "Unsaturated" @ New Image Art, LA

Retna's latest show at New Image Art in West Hollywood was missing El Mac's unique photo realistic portraits (although the man himself was in attendance.)  "Desaturated" is Retna's solo show and brings together mainly large, poster-sized black and white prints of Latinas in various states of undress that are repetitively daubed on in Retna's characteristic lettering to create a provocative, yet vintage-looking set of artworks.

I thought the show was a departure from his earlier work, in that these paintings are monochrome and figurative. On opening night, I didn't study the artwork hard enough to see what the message was, but you know there is one. May be it is "I don't get out of bed for less than five-grand," the average price of a Retna painting at the show. ;)

"Retna traverses between the galleries and streets with ease. Retna is a member of the Art Work Rebels and Mad Society Kings Art Groups. In December 2007, he contributed to a large-scale mural project with El Mac and Reyes called "La Reina del Sur" at Miami's Primary Flight during Art Basel. His most recent projects include an exhibition titled "Vagos Y Reinas" at Robert Berman Gallery and a mural called "Seeing Signs" at the Margulies Warehouse for Primary Flight." New Image Art

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jerky Boys classic rap take-out prank call

I got a Jerky Boys tape back in the 90s. This is still one of the illest pranks calls ever! Who cares that the food isn't really authentic Thai food..!? ;)

"One order of Boo-Ya Tribe, L.L.Cool J., one order of Big Daddy Kane and hip hop ya don't stop and and a b-b-brocolli know Shakur...Tupacs of Shakur....with Flavor Flav...and Too $hort ribs, yea. And a hip hop be bop and a brocolli beef and a bang bang boogie and don't stop the boogie..."

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bobo Meets Rhettmatic in my 'hood

Bobo Meets Rhettmatic from Bobo Meets Rhettmatic on Vimeo.

Fat Beats is in my hood. This hip hop staple from New York hosted an in-store performance this month from the percussionist Bobo from Cypress Hill and DJ Rhettmatic from the World Famous Beat Junkies to celebrate the "Bobo Meets Rhettmatic" live performance tour and mixtape.

Imagine a dope fusion of your classic hip hop (Planet Rock, The Breaks, Rapper's Delight), breaks (Apache, Good Times, Dance to the Drummer's Beat), disco, soul and funk tunes (I've Got My Mind Made Up, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough...) You can download the mixtape here!
"...we combine classic funk joints, breaks and hip hop with Bo' playing over the top of it...he'll do solos and he'll let me do solos...whatever comes out, comes out. For the most part most of it is improvisation." DJ Rhettmatic
For more thoughts from Bobo on why and how he put together his "Meeting of the Minds" album in 2008 watch the interview below. 

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bristol old skool graff postcards

Last month Tangent Books in Bristol released a set of eight Bristol graffiti postcards by photographer and artist Frank Drake.
"The cards were originally produced in the 1980s in association with the city’s Arnolfini gallery and feature the first graffiti works to appear in Bristol by artists including 3D and the Z Boys."
These cards take me back in time...when Virgin Records was still in Broadmead and stocked European vinyl imports and where I found two copies of the original to Peter Piper when Roni and I were out beat-hunting. Grant was still working in Revolver Records/Rough Trade where I bought the "Wild Style" film soundtrack and John was working in Tony's on Park Street. Those were the days!

If you want a more contextual description, then I copped this from the Tangent Books' website ;)
"Set against the background of the St Paul’s riots and the fusion of the city’s funk, punk and reggae factions under the influence of Mark Stewart’s The Pop Group, hip-hop emerged as the counter culture champion. The four strands of hip-hop were breakdancing, DJ-ing, MC-ing and graffiti. Any self-respecting crew needed each element and Drake’s photographs capture the very first public expressions of hip-hop inspired street art."

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Massive...back on the Attack

"In Massive Attack’s world, “Heligoland” is as close to cheerful as it gets, and, once your ears adjust, you can hear a deliberate kind of celebration winding through the music. There are no fast numbers, though. Plenty of bands can do that." New Yorker

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Mid-City Arts: Painting "On a Sunday afternoon"

A slew of West Coast (LA, SD) and East Coast (Miami) graffiti writers are congregating at Mid-City Arts this weekend for "On A Sunday Afternoon."

Some of the artists were due to paint as early as Friday with a live mural installation by Retna and a closing reception on Sunday March 7 from 2pm-8pm.

Not sure how those plans will work out since as I write it's raining cats and dogs in LA.

Axis (Los Angeles)
BooksIIII (Miami)
Dabs & Myla (Australia)
Jim Darling (Los Angeles)
Kofie (Los Angeles)
Kopye (Los Angeles)
Mear (Los Angeles)
Retna (Los Angeles)
Risk (Los Angeles)
Skem (Miami)
Slow (Miami)
Surge (San Diego)
Thelus (Los Angeles)
Typoe (Miami)

Mid-City Arts
5111 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles Ca. 90019
(310) 694-3460

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TC-5 New York's old skool graff legends rock LA

If you are down with New York graffiti then you'll know some the TC-5 (The Cool Five) crew members...Claw Money, Doze Green, Kaws, Lady Pink and Mr. Wiggles.

But, there are unsung heroes who slipped by me, so I spent time at Crewest Gallery's pre-show opening for "Revolutions" to speak with "Shirt King" Phade, Keo and Aevon, who schooled me on TC-5.

The show runs til March 28th with the opening reception and “Piecebook: Reloaded” book launch (featuring many of the Tc-5 members) on Saturday, March 6th, 2010, 6pm to 9pm.

On Saturday, March 20th, 2010, 6pm to 9pm there's a fashion show featuring garms painted by TC-5 as well as live painting on t-shirts and live music by The Milky Way and a special set by DJ Computer Jay.

The last chance to see the show will be at the closing reception on Saturday, March 27th, 2010, 6pm to 9pm will feature live painting and surprise guest D.J.s.

The Crazy 5 Blade was in the original TC5 (The Crazy 5) from the 70s. Later management was handed to SEEN (TC-5's SEEN is not SEEN from United Artists...who was first is a matter for those in the know!) @149th St. has a brief history. Aevon said that Phade was passed the presidency, but it eventually accepted by SEEN. You may have seen his work under the name TWICE or his other "nom de plumes."

I'm not sure when The Crazy 5 converted into The Cool 5, but I do know the Crewest Gallery show has works from some of the pioneers of the New York Graffiti scene. I got myself one of three Doze Green original drawing in wax crayon on paper. Other work are on mixed media: wood, paper, metal and canvas and all pop with the same energy of classic old skool graffiti.

Garms If collecting art ain't your thing, then Crewest has a dope TC-5 limited edition t-shirt for you. As long as you're a size L and above then this shirt has your name on it!

Going back...This video copped from TC-5's website was directed and produced by Henry Chalfont of Style Wars fame. Hear the breaks and check the style (Spank's glasses are pure sci-fi!)  This documentary really captures the energy and excitement of the time.

Brim's words explain why hip hop lost some of its passion in New York, but luckily that energy lived on in Europe and Japan:
"Like, a couple of years back it...the whole hip hop culture stuff wasn't organized like it's organized you walk down the see kids breakdancing, like they see it in the movies, you have graffiti in the movies, you got breakdancing in the movies, you got posters in the train about breakdancing, you got albums of rappers...this whole hip hop subculture of the ghettos is about to get big."

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Manifest Equality" Lady Justice graffiti time-lapse for Oscar season

El Mac, Retna & Kofie: JUSTICE Mural for Manifest Equality- Time lapse: from Augustine Kofie on Vimeo.

"...we painted day and night using imported spray paint and 3 scissor lifts to create the 20 x 100 foot semi-grayscale mural located in the parking lot of the former Pic-n-save/Big Lots." Kofie

Hollywood and Vine The huge mural was commissioned by Yosi Sergant as part of "" to raise awareness of civil rights issues of Proposition 8. The timing of the show will ride the Academy Awards media-fest as the "Oscars" roll into town this Sunday and will hopefully attract a few industry-types and celebs to help challenge the Prop.

"Los Angeles is one of the epicenters of creativity in the world," Sergant says, "And with the Academy Awards approaching, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the heightened energy and attention and start a conversation of substance."

Manifest Equality is a temporary art show running through the weekend exhibiting "hundreds of well-known and emerging names, including street artists Robbie Conal, Swoon and Shepard Fairey, and illustrative painters Barry McGee, Gary Baseman and Elizabeth McGrath ." Even L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa got involved as he helped choose five artworks from over 1,000 entries to the Manifest Equality art contest.

Sergant is best remembered for his work in creating the grassroots "Manifest Hope" art shows and involvement in the "Hope" poster images done by Shepard Fairey.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

"Very Remorseful" - the infamous Revok t-shirt

Sometimes you see a t-shirt slogan that could last more than a few washes before it gets played out!

The latest garm' sold by Digital Gravel is one such shirt because it's inspired by a dedicated artist who was convicted in Melbourne, Australia after a AUS $20,000 graffiti bombing spree. Revok, from the infamous Seventh Letter, got cold busted after tweeting his whereabouts as he was leaving Australia, but escaped with a 9 month jail sentence, suspended for two years. Let's not mention his travel visa...Revoked! ;)

Catcha on the flip side The reverse of the t-shirt has the words "Very Remorseful." A classic t-shirt inspired by a soon-to-be legendary urban story! As someone's grandma has said: "Use those smartphones wisely and don't tweet in real-time unless you wanna be on TV and have a t-shirt dedicated to you!"


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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Whole Train" film screening, LA premiere

The story has been told before...Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story...But, with Whole Ttrain there's a difference. This rivalry is between two graffiti crews - KSB (Keep Steel Burning) - and ATL (Above The Law) and their battle for supremacy in their town of Munich, Germany.

Munich, USA It might seem ironic to see such an American (aka New York) tale of graffiti wars cloned by Germans and accompanied by English subtitles in Los Angeles. But, remember when breaking and hip hop fell off in the States in the '80 and '90s it lived on in Europe and beyond. Germany is still the home of the world's largest breakdance championship better known as "Battle of the Year" (so well documented in the 2007 film, "Planet B-Boy.") And Zeb Roc Ski (aka Akim Walta,) the hip hop historian and recording artist, wrote the indispensable photo book "Hip Hop Files" which is illustrated by Martha Cooper!

The Whole Train LA premiere played to a full house at the Goethe-Institut, a cultural center for anything German. It was like a little underground scene with old skool heads like Asia One (B-Boy Summit, No Easy Props) and Yem in da house. As was director, Florian Gaag who shared some of the details on how he made the film so realistic.

Some writers in the audience asked how come the bombing scenes were so realistic. The answer was that some scenes were actual covert trips to the train yards! Other scenes were shot in Poland where Florian was introduced to a friendly train company willing to allow him to shoot in their yards. A crazy story only Florian can do justice to.

Go get the DVD of Whole Train - all the actors are intense. Instead of casting graffiti writers who could act (they couldn't, ;) ) Florian ended up choosing actors who could paint to play the four stars of the film – David, Tino, Elyas and Achim. Look closely and you'll spot the work of international graffiti artists NEON, WON, CEMNOZ, PURE and CIEL who were responsible for the artwork in the film.

This summer Florian Gaag released the soundtrack CD produced by himself (aka AERO ONE.) This guy is one all-round b-boy! The CD features hip hop names like KRS-One! O.C., Planet Asia, Afu-Ra, Grand Agent, Tame One, Akrobatik, REEF the Lost Cauze, Roger Rekless and El Da Sensei.


Urban World Vibe Film Festival New York - Best Narrative Feature Film

Kiev International Film Festival Molodist - Best Feature Film & Audience Award

Cologne Conference - Best Feature Film

Starter Film Award - City of Munich

Sarajevo International Film Festival - Best Youth Film

Exground International Film Festival - Best Youth Film

Boston International Film Festival - Best Narrative Feature Film

HipHop Odyssey International Film Festival New York - Best Narrative Feature Film

Berlin International Film Festival - Special Mention "Dialogue En Perspective"

3 Grimme Awards: (Screenplay / Direction: Florian Gaag), Camera (Christian Rein), Editing: Kai Schröter)

Prenominations for the German Fim Awards in six categories: Best Film, Best Editing, Best Set Design, Best Score, Best Sound Design, Best Costume.

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Nas at the BMI's "How I Wrote That Song"

A bit slim on real revelations. Nas says "you get to go behind the scenes, get behind his mind and see what's going on and what makes him tick..." But the video doesn't deliver. Still interesting.

Nas On How I Wrote That Song from The Drop NYC on Vimeo.

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