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.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tuff City Tattoos, Bronx (My hip hop summer pt.4)

After a couple of days break from pounding the concrete I ventured uptown to the Bronx on the B train to see the Tuff City Styles tattoo (and graffiti) store.

I first came to Fordham Road in the late 80s. I still have the Triple Fat Goose down jacket I bought here. As you walk from the subway to Tuff City Styles you'll experience the bustle and hustle of this area. On the corner is Footaction USA with its selection of sneakers. If you wander around the corner you'll find this 40 foot mural complete with a Kanye West-looking character ;)

When I got to Tuff City Styles the graffiti influences run high - from the huge mural outside, to the canvas gallery and MTA subway train cars that are the tattooing booths! It's an amazing sight. I think it's run by CES, Yes2 and MED who painted at the "All-City Blackbook Show" a couple of days earlier.

Eastcoast/Westcoast Whilst visiting I spotted a familiar face from the L.A. graffiti scene. "Frame" was visiting New York this weekend and was painting a wall in the Bronx with a Japanese graffiti artist.

Frame, Los Angeles

My library I got myself a little bit of hip hop history. A graffiti book dedicated to Quik, Seen and CES with a foreword by Zephyr (of Wild Style fame.) It's translated for the Japanese market by DJ Honda.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Seventh Letter in Frank 151; party @ SURU, Los Angeles

Risk, Pose, Retna, Saber, RIME and many, many other artists are world-class in their own right, but are also part of the "The Seventh Letter" collective. Tonight is a party at Joe Hahn's (Linkin Park) Suru store to celebrate the latest edition of Frank 151 magazine which features "The Seventh Letter" artists from cover to cover!

Since moving to LA, I've seen graffiti murals taking over billboards high above the street. Even the Murakami hoarding wasn't safe and was eventually shipped to Japan to add to Murakami's art collection! Each piece of work is usually tagged AWR MSK and "co-authored" "The Seventh Letter."

What is it? Simply put, "The Seventh Letter" is "a platform for crew members to showcase their work in the form of fine-art exhibitions, apparel, and other special projects."

What I didn't know was that "The Seventh Letter" includes artists of all genres including fine art, tattooing, graphic design, sculpture, photography and music. And that its members aren't just based in LA or the US, but even my old stomping ground, London, and as far as Tokyo, Seoul, and Bangkok!

No wonder a whole book was needed to cover "The Seventh Letter" crew. Download the 83-page PDF magazine here to learn more about the collective and see amazing photos of the art.

Frank 151 More about Mike and Stephen Malbon's Frank 151 media and expanding empire here. I first met them at the Scion Gallery "Installation" event back in 2005 when they brought in some heavyhitters of the New York old school graffiti scene: Revolt, Stay High 149...

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All City Blackbook event @ 5 Pointz (My hip hop summer pt.3)

The second All City Blackbook event was held below the subway train tracks behind the legendary 5 Pointz paint warehouse in Queens.

This block party wasn't just a celebration of graffiti art, but represented the other hip hop artforms...b-boying (a b-boy 1-on-1 battle with $200 and a huge trophy at stake was well attended!) DJing (with Lord Finesse of D.I.T.C. (Diggin' In the Crates) crew represented on the turntables spinning breaks.) But, no M.C.s, although Large Professor, OC and AG were all billed, I didn't see them perform. Still a dope ass hip hop event.

All City Blackbook crew. On2 (left)

Lord Finesse. D.I.T.C., All City Blackbook Show 

Winner: b-boy Crazy, Crazy Force Crew, Switzerland (left);
Runner-up: b-boy Lehsé, Amen Zulu Skillz, France (right)

  All City Blackbook crew with b-boy Crazy

"Ready to Rock" b-boys in the cypher, All City Blackbook Show

I didn't get to see any of the O.G. graff heads paint the main wall: TATS Cru, TC-5, Yes2, CES, but lots of graffiti VIPs passed through on this day - check out my photos.

BG183, Tats Cru

REM 311 tribute (left); Yes (right)

CES (left); Doves, TC-5 (right)

Big shout to old skool party flyer king, Buddy Esquire, and Joey who kicked it with me. And always cool to see James Top. You'll find some of Buddy Esq's flyers at the Hip Hop Cultural Center in Harlem. I got one signed copy as part of the Joe Conzo "Born in the Bronx" catalogue which was supposedly limited to 250 copies.

Joey and Buddy Esq. (right)

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cold Crush Brothers...32nd anniversary (My hip hop summer pt.2)

The Cold Crush Brothers' 32nd anniversary event held at the Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem* happened the other weekend. This was the second event of my "hip hop summer holiday!" (The first being the Crotona Park Tools of War True School jam.)

Cold Crush 32nd Anniversary show

JDL, Easy AD and Grandmaster Caz, left to right (DJ Tony Tone out of shot)

This media of this event was tightly controlled to protect the Cold Crush's copyrights. As Caz says, "We do this for a living!" So I respected that and didn't film the main show. But I did take some pictures and put together a stop-motion video of DJ Jazzy Jay below.

For a taste of the Cold Crush stage show during its 80s heyday check out this TV clip from BBC's "Beat This: Hip Hop History."

Nuff respect The Cold Crush were influential to rap stars like Doug e Fresh, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane and others. Tonight, DMC (aka Daryl McDaniels of Run DMC) strolled in wearing white on white adidas shelltoes without an entourage. When he heard Bambaataa was in the house DMC told a story of listening to tapes of the parties when he was a kid in Queens and freaking out over the echo chamber sounds effects - "Deeeeee Jaaaaaay Afrikaa...kaaa Bambaataa...aataa..." Look at him now. Rap grand pupa!

As they warmed up the crowd the Cold Crush told stories about their history and how they concocted their routines. Little did I know the U.K.'s David Essex had a role to play in this!

DMC of Run DMC

Big Daddy Kane still looked dapper in his Cazals as he shouted out Cold Crush and rocked three of his biggest joints (Set It Off, RAW, Smooth Operator) much to the crowd's approval. D-Nice from BDP (Boogie Down Productions) stood in the wings as Kane talked about going to a cocktail party that afternoon with D-Nice...even the Big Daddy thought that was partying too hard...cocktails at 5pm!

Big Daddy Kane settles in

I went to snap pics of Bambaataa, Universal Zulu Nation founder and leader. As I got a dope pose of Bam' in his sci-fi shades, Ice T rolled in. I let my shutter go wild getting photos of Ice T and Afrika Bambaata conversing. Weessssside!

Ice T (left) and Afrika Bambaataa (center,) Universal Zulu Nation

Other hip hop founding fathers in the house were DJs Jazzy Jay, Grand Wizzard Theodore (inventor of scratching) and I even saw one of the Fearless Four in full on branded t-shirt. From the 80s DJ Red Alert (98.7 Kiss FM) was in the house and from the 90s was DJ Scratch (EPMD.)

DJ Red Alert and DJ Jazzy Jay

DJ Scratch and DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore

This was a not-to-be missed event, although it has to be said, sometimes the documenting of this historic event kept the paying fans from getting the best view. For me, there hasn't been a place where so many hip hop heroes have congregated since the New Music Seminar events in the late 80s.

Big shout to Dr. Shaka Zulu of the Zulu Nation, Mrs. Grandmaster Caz, of the Hip Hop and "Mr. Afroman" who showed me love.
* Not to be confused with the National Museum of Hip Hop!

Back story The Cold Crush story is a classic tale of recognized, but unrewarded, heroes of hip hop. In the early days Cold Crush were courted by record labels, but fought hard to avoid shady record label people (Tribe Called Quest's rule #4080.) Big shout out to Sylvia Robinson of Sugar Hill Records.

Other more respectable deals from Def Jam and others came knocking, but the commercials weren't quite right. In the meantime, ever-evolving rap was changing. Sampling was beginning to be frowned upon by the Cold Crush's record label which seems to be the death nail in Cold Crush's ambitions to benefit from the rap phenomenon they helped create.

Hip hop history If you don't know the Cold Crush you should check out some of their tunes. They were pioneers of showmanship, some of which was captured in the classic film, Wild Style, and the BBC documentary video above.

My favorite tune in my collection is "Fresh, Wild, Fly and Bold" on Profile Records. The beats, the horns and cabasa percussion!

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Crotona Park...DJ Cash Money live! (My hip hop summer pt 1)

I arrived on the LAX red-eye to be greeted by light New York rainstorms on the day a legendary DJ would spin. Would the Tools of War park jam be canceled? No fear...the day dried out and the jam started (an hour late,) but what a event! Compared to St. Mary's Park in the Bronx, this Crotona Park jam had more love from the old skool hip hop crowd.

Cash Money was the reason I was excited to be in New York. Ironically, he's from Philadelphia. Like many, I started following DJ Cash Money after hearing his "Scratchin' to the Funk" record in 1987. I was blown away. I didn't know the DJ, but I knew the record (Trouble Funk's Go-Go music classic "Pump Me Up".)

What was this DJ doing? Did it involve effects or multiple tracks? In '87, the year before I went to my first New Music Seminar, Cash Money won the New Music Seminar Supermen DJ Battle. A year later he added the DMC World DJ Championship to his titles. How good was - and still is - Cash Money? DMC banned him from competing for the DMC World DJ Championships again to give others a chance of winning?! A decade later in 1998, DJ Cash Money was the first inductee into the Technics' DJ Hall of Fame.

On the wheels of steel Cash Money tore up the set, frequently upsetting the power generator with the intense cutting and scratching. Cash Money pulled out the classic rap jams of the 80s and 90s and a handful of breaks and "transformed" them. Literally. The excitement was too much for the soundsystem which peaked out twice.

Multimedia Check out the audio interviews with Cash Money, Christie Z. Pabon and fans (courtesy of WNYC radio) and the great video of Cash Money from that evening! Priceless and rare!

Here's the playlist The crowd rocked to Cash Money's selection. Part 1: Grover Washington Jnr., The Jackson Five, Joeski Love, Audio Two, EPMD, Fearless Four, Schooly D, T La Rock, Doug E Fresh, Whistle, The Fatboys, Treacherous Three. Part 2: LL Cool J. Part 3: Herman Kelly, Trouble Funk, Soul Sonic Force and Al Naafiysh.

Going waaaaay back! I saw Cash Money once in the UK. He was live in east London in the late 80s. And up on stage filming with his video8 was DJ Milo from the Wild Bunch crew from Bristol, UK. So, it didn't seem that odd to see Milo this week in the Bronx at this Cash Money jam. But, wait... this is 20 years later and we're in New York. It was a crazy moment! And I have the picture to prove it! 

DJ Cash Money and DJ Milo (Grand Wizard Rasheen, far left)

New York...the home of hip hop These park jams have been organized and promoted by Christie at Tools of War for eight years now. The parties are co-hosted by her husband Fabel of the Rock Steady Crew and Cold Crush M.C., Grandmaster Caz. With the Cold Crush Brothers' anniversary party the next day the crowd got a treat with a bit of a history lesson and performance from Easy AD, JDL and Caz.

Easy AD, JDL and Grandmaster Caz

Peace to Christie, Fabel and everyone at Tools of War.

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My hip hop summer, 2010 in New York City

I went to New York to celebrate hip hop the old skool way...In the parks and graffiti walls across the boroughs. I went All-City: Bronx, Manhattan and Queens.

Here's my first attempt at a Google Map. It lists all my major hip hop destinations. I've customized the map icons and added some multimedia to the map so check it out by clicking on the (My hip hop summer New York, 2010) link at the bottom of the map. The full stories can be linked to below.

View My Hip Hop Summer, New York 2010 in a larger map

Turn the page The next five blogs will each cover my adventures, starting with the Tools of War "True School" park jam with DJ Cash Money from Philly on July 29th and ending with the "Digger's Delight" session with legendary DJ Muro from Japan on August 3rd.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Diplo/Mad Decent goes to Brazil

Diplo is best known to me for his Spank Rock, Amanda Blank and Santigold work, and of course his Major Lazer project with UK bloke and Sinden compadre, Switch.

But, I never knew of Diplo's love affair with Brazilian baile funk. Back in 2004, he released Favela on Blast: Rio Baile Funk 2004 and Favela Strikes Back, and in 2006 he launched his record label, Mad Decent, signing Brazilian baile funk group, Bonde do Role.

Below are some teasers of Diplo's film on the baile funk scene. To a novice like me it looks like the Brazilian version of the Jamaican dancehall scene!

Favela on Blast intro (USA version with Diplo's voice) from Leandro HBL on Vimeo.

Favela On Blast - Official Trailer from Mad Decent on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Welcome to Newport (Wales)

This has taken the #1 spot! It's the dopest spoof video I've seen. Love it! Big up for Wales! (Thanks to Moz for the heads up.)

"Bugger off Alcia Shirley Bassey is our queen...

When you're in Newport
Chips, cheese, curry makes you feel brand new
Washed down with a Special Brew...

Tom Jones, Steve Jones, Zita-Jones, parking cones
If you come and visit using the designated parking zones!

Newport, twinned with Guangxi Province in China
There's no province finer...

One hand in the air for a taxi
Fifty quid if you're sick on the back seat...

Everybody say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysilio gogogoch...

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Eastcoast, Westcoast: Biz Markie and Cut Chemist

Biz Markie tells DJ Cut Chemist what disco records to play in this cool video from Joseph Armario. It was filmed for the Cinespia Hollywood Cemetary screening of the disco classic "Saturday Night Fever."

Other DJs who have spun at Cinespia include Dublab DJs, Gaslamp Killer, DJ Nobody and Peanut Butter Wolf.

Cinespia Presents: Cut Chemist at the Cemetery from cinespia on Vimeo.

Best quotes of the mini movie:

"Biz: What about GQ..?
Cut: Well, that might be a little late, man..
Biz: No it ain't! GQ Disco Nights?
Cut: Yea, Isn't that '80?!
Biz: Nooooo...Disco was dead by '79
Cut: Disco was dead by '78..."

Rock freak! GQ Disco Nights is an all time favourite of mine. It's got is all...basslines, guitar, keys, strings, vocals...guaranteed to put you in a good mood!

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