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, June 12, 2011

The Live Mixtape comes to the Echoplex (J.Period & Black Thought)

Archive story #2.

Back this summer I went to check out the J.Period Live Mixtape show live after downloading it from J.Period's blog. It's been getting love online - - find the link at the end of this post -  but truth be told, although it's billed as a "one-of-a-kind, live, hip hop experience" the live show is essentially a DJ rocking two turntables and an M.C. rocking a microphone. Yep, true old skool rap talent.

Imagine, M.C. Black Thought, from Philly's The Roots, on the mic backed by beats and dubplates from the only designer stubble hip hop DJ, J.Period! This show premiered at Toronto's Manifesto Festival last year - check out the video below - and has toured Miami, San Francisco, Oakland and Portland before reaching Los Angeles.

What I love about the Live Mixtape is that it separates the real MCs from the studio MCs,” says J.Period. “As a performer, Black Thought is unmatched in his breath control, and his voice live on stage is just as compelling as it is on wax. That was the motivation behind this EP, and the fact that it plays as well as a mixtape as it does as a live show is a testament to Thought’s incredible abilities as a live MC. There’s no one else in his league in that regard.” J.Period

J Period & Black Thought Present "The Live Mixtape" illadelph edition @ the 2010 MANIFESTO Festival (OFFICIAL) from on Vimeo.

Cop this! You can download the Live Mixtape (Illadelph Edition)” EP mixtape here which is a live recording of the J.Period and Black Thought performance at Toronto’s premiere hip hop festival, The Manifesto, Sept. 26, 2010. Expect to rock to J.Period remixes, hip hop hits and a karaoke session where Black Thought impersonates his favorite MCs

To learn more about The Manifesto Festival, Toronto’s largest annual hip hop festival, click here.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

And the winner is...Red Bull EmSee Los Angeles 2011 freestyle battle

Over in Echo Park this week Red Bull's 2nd annual EmSee National Tour fired its first round. This freestyle M.C. battle started in L.A. with eight contestants who battled their way to find the winner who will take one step closer to the finals in Atlanta later this year.

The host for the night was Trill O.G. Bun B, UGK (Underground Kingz) whose solo album "Trill O.G."got a 5-Mic "Classic" rating in The Source Magazine (which matches some of my all-time faves: Low End Theory, TCQ; Criminal Minded, BDP; It Takes a Million..., Public Enemy!)

The eight M.C.s in the firing line were Dizaster (LA), A-Dog, Dirtbag Dan (San Jose), The Saurus, Cadalack Ron (LA), Rheteric Ramirez (LA), Scatterbrain (LA) and Madness. They were judged  by veterans in the rap game: Kurupt (Tha Dogg Pound), Chali 2na (Jurassic 5/Ozomatli) and the the unbelievably hot MC Supernatural!

Battle stations! To hear all seven battles go here...And check out my timelapse video of the final battle below. Spoiler alert!

And the winner is...Dirtbag Dan! Stand up! Last year he came second in San Francisco. “You know what? I feel like I did really good last year, so to take the win tonight, it really feels like justice. That’s all I can say.”

"Dirtbag Dan is a San Jose native that grew up battle rapping in the 90’s when no one he knew had studios and thus he didn’t have any opportunities to record. Competing in battles or attending open mic nights was the only way he could get in front of an actual audience. These experiences solidified the competitive element into his style, and he credits this as the man driving force in his music today. He participates in battles all over the world, possibly earning him the title of competing in more countries than any other battle rapper on the planet. This summer, Dirtbag Dan plans to compete in four battles in four different countries and produce a recording from each.

He is also dropping his Dirtbag Dan Self-Help tape next month. Looking ahead to the Red Bull EmSee finals in Atlanta he shares, 'I’m excited to go to the finals. I know I’m gonna know some of the MCs that are in the battle, and respect to the MCs, but I’m gonna roast ‘em.'

Supernatural Freestyle @ Red Bull Emsee Battle LA - 6/9/2011 from on Vimeo.

So what is Red Bull Emsee? It's billed as "an invitation-only battle series designed to find the best freestyle rappers in the country and give them a national platform to show their skills and earn acclaim."

Win what? The LA Champ will "advance to the finals in Atlanta this fall where he’ll vie for the national championship and an opportunity to record with a headlining producer of his choice. West Coast MCs will have one more chance to represent on the mic when the Red Bull Emsee tour hits Seattle on July 28."

Find out more about the next cities on this national tour here at Red Bull.

Here's a great interview with Eminem who talks about his own freestyle battle preparation.

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Hear for yourself...Red Bull EmSee Los Angeles 2011 M.C. freestyle battles

Red Bull EmSee Los Angeles 2011: 8 MCs, 3 judges...only 1 winner 7 battles later.

Read about the ferocious lyrical competition in my other post here.

7 Battles, only 1 left standing!

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

#Retna herds art fans into London's Old Dairy

Today is a great day for art. First it's Fab 5 Freddy's show tonight in New York, but 5 hours ahead of East Coast time is Retna's London show.

As part of Retna's "Hallelujah World Tour," he (and his backers) have moved his ultra-successful show from New York to London's The Old Dairy in Russell Square.

This huge 9,500 sq. ft. venue is set in the Bloomsbury neighborhood which is better known for the British Museum and London University's School of Oriental and African Studies than graffiti art from the streets of Los Angeles.

This exhibition is Retna's first solo show in the UK and possibly Europe opens tonight, Weds 8th June and runs through 27 June 2011. The video below shows you a bit of what you can expect..!

The Old Dairy, 7 Wakefield St, London, WC1N 1PB
9 June – 27 June 2011
Preview: Wednesday 8 June 2011, 6-9pm

To read about Retna's earlier shows in LA take a look in my archives or click here. Retna's blog has had a revamp of late too...

"Since making his debut in the mid-1990s, RETNA has participated in over 30 international exhibitions with countless works in the public realm. Yielding an unmistakable aesthetic that integrates appropriated contemporary photography, graffiti, traditional painting and a unique glyphic style, he has emerged as one of the most prolific street artists in the contemporary art world.
An integral fixture in the Los Angeles art scene since an early age, the transcendent nature of RETNA’s work has allowed him to seamlessly transverse from the unregulated urban landscape to institution galleries across the globe. Merging couture with street culture, the spiritual with the sensual, and fluidity with grit, his paintings provide an exceptional lense through which we view contemporary culture.

Recent projects have included participation in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles "Art In The Streets" exhibition curated by Jeffrey Deitch; Museum of Pasadena, California, “Street Cred: Graffiti Art from Concrete to Canvas”; Solo exhibition with Valmorbida in New York City;  a solo exhibition, “Silver Lining”, during Art Basel Miami Beach as part of Primary Flight, the World’s Largest Street Level Mural Installation (2010); a solo exhibition, “Desaturated”, at New Image Art Gallery in Los Angeles (2010); a mural for the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse in Miami, FL (2009); and “Vox Humana”, a survey of legendary street artists by L.A. Art Machine at the Los Angeles Art Show (2010)."

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Fab-ulous new show Fab 5 Freddy @ Gallery 151, New York #ArtInTheStreets

Tonight, legendary hip hop veteran Fab 5 Freddy invites art fans and critics alike to Gallery 151. Entitled "NEW YORK: NEW WORK," his first solo show for probably several decades is aptly anchored in New York's NoHo district.

For the background to this new show, here's the inside scoop. When I interviewed Fab for UNLeashed Magazine to celebrate MoCA's Art in the Streets we talked about his inspiration to start painting again, "It's organic how it's developing for me...I wasn't really making art for a while. I was conceptualizing different ideas at different times, but not necessarily executing. A few years ago a few events transpired that made me think, 'Wow, I'm ready to start doing this again!'"

One of these cryptic events was the discovery of Fab's work in, what became known as, the 151 Wooster Mural at a loft condo development in Manhattan in 2008. There was a major buzz about this discovery and I went to check this mural wall out in February 2008 as the developer, Michael Namer, was completing the project. The actual mural had been preserved by museum professionals and all I saw was the life-sized reproduction on a wall where a kitchen once stood.

Fab 5 Freddy's tag in the 151 Wooster Mural

Me visiting the 151 Wooster Mural in New York, 2008

Recycle and rebirth Gallery 151 was formed as a pop-up exhibition space from this mural project and has been relocated to NoHo where Fab 5 Freddy will show his latest work, ironically inspired by events that happened in the late 80s which were unearthed in the 21st-Century!

151 Wooster Mural @ Gallery 151 in 2008

Check out this revealing documentary about the discovery of the mural, including a short sound bite from Diego Cortez.

"Gallery 151 is honored to present the solo exhibit of Fred Brathwaite, hip-hop pioneer and legendary graffiti artist known as Fab 5 Freddy. In the early 80's, Mr. Brathwaite was notorious for his 1980 homage to Andy Warhol, an entire subway car covered in Campbell’s soup cans. He was a creative force helping to lead the cultural revolution in which graffiti based artists transitioned into galleries and the art world. On June 8th, Gallery 151 presents NEW YORK:NEW WORK, the New York debut of Brathwaite’s series of stunningly vivid mixed-media works on canvas - some figurative iconography and others an abstract exploration of his graffiti experience. Brathwaite’s is currently a featured artist in MOCA’s “Art in The Streets”, the first major museum exhibition in America on the history of graffiti and street art." Gallery 151

Opens June 8th 6:30-9:30PM Opening Reception. Runs until July 1st, 2011.

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