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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Noriega owes me a 100 favors...Augor disses Rick Ross

I was sleeping when "The Smoking Gun" blog exposed Rick Ross "The Boss" as a fake drug lord rapper.

Instead of rapping about Pablo and Noriega Ross should've been rapping about being a Florida probation officer! Legendary MSK graffiti writer, AUGOR, has captured the irony of this illegitimate gangster with his "Hot Sauce Ross" t-shirt.

Upper Playground describes it best: "chicken-chompin' overgrown cop dousing everything in hot sauce and leaving a pile of bones and animal carcasses at his feet. Everyday you hustlin'? For real?"

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The amazing disappearing Banksy mural!

And for my next trick! Watch you see you don't!

Not only are masterpieces going missing in Paris it seems it's catching over here in Los Angeles too! Ok, a stencil isn't quite a Pablo Picasso, but you get my gist!

Sad loss A Banksy mural in my 'hood was covered up for a week as the building was for sale and when it was revealed it was missing. Vamoosh! I wonder if an entrepreneur bought the building, raped it of the Banksy and then put it back on the market. I like to dream up these wild ideas as I drive around town!

The creation of the mural was captured in Banksy's documentary film, "Exit Through The Gift Shop." See below and fast forward to 4 minutes, 40 seconds to see the infamous rat character being made into a stencil.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

What...SP1200 for $40 !?!

Ok! May be not a *real* SP1200 classic drum machine, but a dope trainspotter's USB drive...a head-nod to all the hip hop producers that got their sound from this box of tricks: Hank Shocklee, Prince Paul, Large Pro, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, RZA, J Dilla...

This 2 inch-wide, 4GB USB flash drive is a near exact replica of the legendary hip hop sampler. $40 ain't cheap (that's $10 per gigabyte) but to a diehard hip hop fan it's a price worth paying!

Great timing This gadget is just in time for the E-MU SP1200 book featuring some of the music producers that have made the SP1200 part of their sound! Go here for the Facebook fan page.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Massive Attack's first U.S. TV appearance...

Massive Attack came to Los Angeles this week to play two nights at the Wiltern and, more importantly, play live on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel to promote the new album "Heligoland." This was Massive's first U.S. TV appearance...that's a big deal considering Kimmel gets about about 1.7 million late night viewers (not that many, but they are that key 18-34 year old demographic.)

Luckily, I got some tix to see to see my favourite Bristolians play this historic set in my Hollywood backyard.  Here are three videos of the seen by TV viewers and fans in the parking lot-come-concert stage. Can you spot me? :)

May be Kimmel is a M.A. fan or secretly he's a bit subversive. After all, did he notice the first song was "United Snakes!" And Kimmel  must've noticed the bright ticker board flashing in the background: "ALCOHOL ENTACTOGEN XYLPIPERAZINE" and other horrid chemicals surrounding us. Thanks to Bud Light for bringing us this concert series. :) 

"United Snakes"

"Teardrop" with Teri Hatcher ;)

This fan video of  "Teardrop" was shot behind me as I was at the front.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The man behind Beat Steet...and the Jane Fonda connection!

Hip Hop: break dancing, rap music and graffiti is a book published in 1984 by Steven Hager, the first journalist to publish the words "hip hop" in his Village Voice cover story!

I lost out to another old skool hip hop fan on eBay, but that set me off on a journey! What else has Hager published? (See below.) How much is the "Hip Hop" book worth? (Depends. Mint and signed from Hager himself will set you back $300! But, 'v.good' condition can go for $100+ online.) And why is this so hot? It's a hot piece of hip hop history featuring all the 'Founding Fathers' of hip hop.

This article in Jay Quan's "The Foundation" website laid out the importance of Steven Hager's role in hip hop. Oh, an that Jane Fonda and Beat Street connection!? :)

"I wrote a script called: 'The Perfect Beat.' I took it to Jane Fonda's production company in New York. I was hoping to find some politically aware company that would let out a truthful picture of the origins of hip hop. They passed on it, but one of Fonda's executives tried to get me to sign a contract giving her rights over the property for like $500.

Then I went to Harry Belafonte. Harry wanted to make a nice movie that really didn't touch the dark side or show the violent and nasty aspects of life in the South Bronx. Harry bought my script, then threw it out the window and replaced it with a limp and bogus storyline signifying nothing, only kept a few of my character's names. They gave me 'story credit', but in reality, there's nothing in the story of Beat Street that resembles my story at all.
My film was closer to Boyz in the Hood than the dream world they came up with."
Hager carried on with his downtown Manhattan obsession when he published his next book, "Art After Midnight," in 1986 where he coined the phrase "Global East Village" during his "examination of the New York club scene and its influence on artists, primarily Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Still down with hip hop! Malcolm McLaren RIP

News of Malcolm McLaren's passing came over the internet. And now photos of his funeral have appeared on Facebook.

These are sad, but historic moments, but what made the funeral notable to old skool hip hop heads like me was McLaren's family choosing to adorn his coffin with graffiti as a tribute to the "Duck Rock" boom box featured on the album cover designed by graff legend, Dondi, and long-time McLaren collaborator, Nick Egan. (Psst. Let's not forget about the Keith Haring illustration.)

"I was kindly asked by Malcolm Mclaren's family to paint his coffin for his funeral. The boombox was an homage to the Duck Rock album cover painted by Dondi produced by Malcom Mclaren. Too fast to live and too young to die was a slogan used in the first boutique with Vivienne Westwood, at age 67 it pretty much says it all. What an honour. Rest in peace Malcolm." Tizer
I'd say this has lifted Tizer One from relative obscurity to a notch above that...I've just subscribed to his Flickr photostream ;)

Last words? "Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die" may have been resurrected, but I prefer the words in the floral tribute, "Cash from Chaos" which some would say was a better fit for McLaren!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

L.A.'s Beat Music catches heat in the U.K.

Low End Theory club, Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus...these are all names familiar to me, but I didn't know about the "beat music" label attached to it all.

What's it sound like? Beat music is an equal measure of chillout electronica, jazzy niceness, dub step and broken beat mixed into a blend of head-nodding vibes!

And BBC Radio 1's very own Mary Ann Hobbs has been pushing these tunes to the U.K. radio listeners, club goers and even Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who eventually collaborated on a track for one of the genre's leading artists, Flying Lotus, on his album Cosmogramma.

Sample this! Words can't do justice to this beat music sound so here's a taster of L.A.'s beat music scene selected by the "First Lady of Bass" (as electronic music magazine XLR8R called Mary Anne Hobbs) and streamed courtesty of N.P.R. For all five tunes compiled by Mary Ann Hobbs click here.

Extras If you want to hear more from Flying Lotus and his connection to Alice Coltrane (jazz musician, composer and wife of the legendary John Coltrane,) here's last week's radio interview with him that explains his influences and ongoing role in L.A.'s beat music scene.

And here's a video trailer from the, yet-to-be-seen, Low End Theory documentary.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Scrawl Collective @ Tate Modern "Soul Not For Sale"

This weekend only, the UK's Scrawl Collective has been invited to exhibit at the amazing Tate Modern space at Bankside on the south bank of the Thames in London.

Starting today, this two-day international festival of art, film, performance and music will happen in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall (where Olafur Eliasson and Rachel Whiteread, to a few of the artists I've heard of :) have also exhibited.)

Keeping Bristol on the map Here's a video of two of the founding members of the Collective.

The No Soul For Sale festival will feature three of the Collective artists: Will Barras, Phil Ashcroft and Cat Johnstone who will paint a modest sized 2.5m x 5m collaborative mural. Probably very slowly since they'll have at least 24 hours of painting time available! In fact, it would be cool if they painted continuously till the event ended!

Click here for my story when the Scrawl Collective came to L.A. in 2008.
The Tate Modern will be open till  midnight tonight and on Saturday so go check it out if you're near London and as usual, London's museums are free! Check out the Tate Modern below.

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Drips...So commoditized

There was a time when drips on prints, on t-shirts and on canvas were so...edgy, dangerous and may be even brave. But now, it seems so played out.

The latest print series from a talented artist pushed me over the edge and I had to call it out. No more drips pleaaaase. These images are dope when seen alone...but together makes it hard to deny that drips have been commoditized!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hip hop rules kids' TV...Biz Markie and Yo Gabba Gabba

Nickelodeon's "Yo Gabba Gabba!" has been ruling the cable channels under my nose. Who knew kids' TV could be so cool?!

Gotta recognize! The picture shows the main characters of the show, but it's the guest stars and contributors that make this a stand-out show. Do you recognize the human in the picture? Yep, that's the Diabolical Biz Markie...the Human Orchestra! Biz has a regular slot on Yo Gabba Gabba! and even goes on tour with the show to do live human beatbox. Talk about keeping hip hop alive! Even The Roots, Money Mark and Erykah Badu have been invited on to the show.

And now, courtesy of Cinefamily, us adults have a rare chance to meet the show's creators tonight in Los Angeles for a special celebration and discussion on how and why "Yo Gabba Gabba!" came to life! Get tixs here.

Who said America was a cultural desert?!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Ice Cube's ESPN "30 for 30" Raiders documentary

The rap legend Ice Cube's first documentary, entitled "Straight Outta L.A." is for the sports channel, ESPN. Its 30 for 30 documentary series features 30 films from "some of today’s finest storytellers" sharing their personal sports memories from 1979 to 2009.

When you think of Ice Cube you think of N.W.A., Compton and the infamous "F@#k the police" tune! But, don't forget the Los Angeles rap uniform from that period - the black and white logo of a face, eye patch and swords: (Oakland) Raiders!
"Their image and that persona in a lot of ways changed the trajectory of hip hop...not saying that the reason we did hardcore music was because of the no means...the music was going to come, but the imagery wouldn't have...galvanized as much without the black...wearing the Raider colors, showing we were the Raiders of hip hop!" Ice Cube

"Straight Outta L.A." premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and debuts tomorrow night on ESPN, but if you miss it it's on nine times this summer. Check out the schedule here.

Join the dots The L.A. Weekly interviewed Ice Cube this month, here's a lil' snippet:
"From Compton teenager busing to Taft High in Woodland Hills by day and gangbanging by night, to his days with N.W.A, Cube's Raiders cap was a constant, and when Straight Outta Compton went platinum and tours through the hood were broadcast to the suburbs via MTV, a kind of thematic synchronicity between the gangsta lifestyle and the Raiders brand was broadcast with them, to audiences far outside L.A.
In Cube's subjective memoir, the romance between the team and the increasingly pop stars could only last so long. He's defensive but straightforward in dealing with the perception that the ensuing "gangsterfication" of the Raiders scene — increased violence at games, the banning of Raiders gear in L.A. public schools for its supposed criminal connotations — may have hastened the team's departure."

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Jean-Michel Basquiat remembered - "The Radiant Child"

Last month, Nowness, aka eLuxury, (led by Jefferson Hack for LVHM) presented Tamra Davis' documentary film "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Where did this film come from? Well, it seems that Davis was a good friend of Basquiat’s in the 80s and filmed him over a period of several years before he passed in 1988. It's said that Davis kept her footage a secret until the art dealer (and now Los Angeles MOCA director) Jeffrey Deitch encouraged her to complete her film.

The result is a mix of old footage and new interviews, graphics by Shepard Fairey's Studio Number One and original music by Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond of Beastie Boys fame.

It's not often you get Fab 5 Freddy Brathwaite, Kenny Scharf and Jeffrey Deitch sat in one room. But the MoMA "The Radiant Child" screening brought Basquiat's friends together to discuss Basquiat's rise and fall, his heroin addiction and subsequent death by overdose in a poignant end to this screening event. I wonder if anyone sat at the table thought they'd be discussing how this played out over 20 years later in the same city?

"In his short career, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a phenomenon. He became notorious for his graffiti art under the moniker Samo in the late 1970s on the Lower East Side scene, sold his first painting to Deborah Harry for $200, and became best friends with Andy Warhol. Appreciated by both the art cognoscenti and the public, Basquiat was launched into international stardom. However, soon his cult status began to override the art that had made him famous in the first place.
Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while minimalist, conceptual art was the fad; as a successful black artist, he was constantly confronted by racism and misconceptions. Much can be gleaned from insider interviews and archival footage, but it is Basquiat’s own words and work that powerfully convey the mystique and allure of both the artist and the man." Sundance Film Festival 2010.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

David Choe exhibition in Beverly Hills 90210

I finally saw this David Choe solo exhibition in Beverly Hills last weekend that I blogged about a few days ago.

Check out the inflatable wounded whale in the middle of the "gallery," aka Anthropologie. I wonder if Choe is a Greenpeace and WWF supporter and is against the recent lifting of the 25-year whale hunting ban? Not sure, but that would be one of the few clearly political statements in this body of work.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Crewest gallery featured on Karmaloop TV

CREWEST GALLERY from KarmaloopTV on Vimeo.

Man One is interviewed by Karmaloop TV, the street clothing retailers. Hear about the Crewest Gallery's foundations and the work that gets exhibited in this great downtown Los Angeles space.

I've come here to see TC-5, Doze Green and others and discovered new artists like Dabs and Myla which Crewest brought over from Australia.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

New York went to the UK - "Downtown Calling" premiere

What can you say about a film about New York set in the '70-80s narrated by Debbie Harry and produced by Michael Holman?! It's gonna be funkier than a mosquito's tweeter!

Last weekend, "Downtown Calling" opened in the UK as the main event of the three-day East End Film Festival at Village Underground in east London's Shoreditch neighborhood. The supporting documentary film by Paul Tschinkel was "Graffiti/Post Graffiti," which captures the turning point in the downtown New York art scene when street graffiti broke into "the hallowed grounds of major art galleries and institutions" in the early 80s.

That moment can't be underestimated as it paved the way for all the graffiti gallery shows of our time. From the 1985 Arnolfini (Bristol, UK) show curated by Nick Walker and featuring 3D, Goldie and Chrome Angelz, to the the huge 2009 group retrospective, Whole in the Wall, at Helen Beck (New York, NY) and everything in between.

"In the late 1970s, the “greatest city in the world” was teetering on the edge of total chaos. A failed economy, crime and en masse housing corruption gave way to a city in crisis. Yet out of the economic and social strife that held the “Big Apple” hostage, a family of homegrown cultures that would forever change the world began to emerge. Downtown Calling not only documents, in detail, the evolution of New York City’s fertile music and art subculture during this period, but how its collective output continues to play a prominent, driving role in the international fashion, art and music industries today."
Must-see "Downtown Calling" fills many of the gaps in my knowledge about the New York downtown scene that I associated with hip hop when I was growing up in Bristol. My first visit to New York was in 1988 for the New Music Seminar and by that time much of the raw scene and excitement had disappeared, but not for my fresh eyes and ears. And of course today, New York is unrecognizable even though the L.E.S. has remained a destination for b-boys.

First b-boy businessman? Michael Holman was a major player in early downtown hip hop days and was part of the authentic hip hop movement that influenced generations like me! He's described as "being one of the truly first journalists and impresarios of hip-hop culture" for his nights at Club Negril (do you remember seeing those in UK's Blues & Soul magazine?) that brought the uptown and downtown scenes together.

Back in the day Holman managed the New York City Breakers, an "A-Team" collective of b-boys, directed "Catch a Beat," the first b-boy film in 1981 and was involved in "Beat Street." Although most folks will know Holman for producing and hosting "Graffiti Rock," the first ever Emmy Award nominated hip-hop television show back in 1984! That's history!

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