Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the whale's vagina

spent the weekend in san diego, my first time there!
the city is so pretty, i definitely want to do some more exploring.

we went to go see skrillex at the cricket ampitheater
and OH. MY. GOD.
he's just AMAZING. i can't wait to see him again.

good times with great people! <3

Friday, May 25, 2012

i'm not an artist

"are you an artist?"

every time someone approaches me with "are you an artist?," i'm not quite sure how to answer them. most of the time, my "no, not nearly" doesn't really satisfy, particularly after they've coaxed out my hobbies during conversation. once i tell them that i'm pretty much horrible in anything artistic and just take pictures, immediately i'm hit with a "oh, photography! that's an art too, you know." at this point i just smile, give them a friendly shrug.

i guess, by definition, i am an artist. certainly, my different hobbies and interests confirm that. however, the word "artist" has a different meaning to me.

i believe art is more than just making pretty things that appeal to the eye. it's more than just the use of color, it's more than composition, and it's definitely more than the cool things you take pictures of. you're not an artist because you paint breathtaking landscapes, or take beautiful photography. i believe art goes beyond superficial appreciation. beyond the "oh, that's pretty" or "what beautiful composition". beyond the attractive models of portraits, the use of color, it goes beyond being pleasing to the eye.

art is a reflection of society, a challenge to accepted conventions. the norm. and sometimes, it's an insult to our ignorance. it pushes boundaries, makes people uncomfortable, question, dig deeper. it makes people aware. art is the greatest, most effective weapon, but it's been reduced to nothing but a fleeting pleasure.

for me, personally, you're not an artist if you don't stand for anything. that's probably the most offensive thing i can say during a time when everyone is exercising their creativity, when everyone is exploring their imaginative sides. but, that's just the problem.

nowadays, everyone's a photographer. everyone's a painter. everyone's an artist. what it means to be an artist has been lost in the sea of people who participate in the arts. art in every form has almost been commercialized, even to the point where graffiti can be categorized as pop art. what do all these artists stand for? what have they contributed to change anything? challenge anything? i feel like everyone just follow guidelines for mass appeal, when the whole point of art (in my opinion) is to go against the grain.

"are you an artist?"

let me clarify right now that no, i am not an artist, not nearly. i am nowhere near skilled enough to execute my intentions successfully, nor have i really even showcased anything of that caliber. i merely just capture moments onto photographs, share what i see, because i enjoy doing it. i merely write fiction and portray my own life through words. my pen has not been mightier than the sword, and i've yet to contribute whatever talents i can to the ideals i stand for.

so no, i'm no artist.

not yet anyway.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

even on my off days

i'm here at work.
chillin' at lacma,
getting shit done
since i get lazy at home.

throwback thursday: lyraflip

Written on April 22, 2009

Okay, second blog-interview ever!
For my second artist blog-interview, I sat down with Lyraflip on Sahtyre's comfortable green futon for a little chat to display onto the whole world. Lyraflip is one of the members of the Swim Team, and a Project Blowdian who freestyles and rips the m-i-c. This interview was a bit more casual, because I honestly went in there with no idea on what I really wanted to talk about and ask.
Anyway, I'm a little bit late on this, but Lyraflip had an album called 'My World In A Whirlwind' a year back. I really like it; his word-choice, to me, is very interesting, and his cadence isn't hard on the ears. Very smooth.
Favorite track on the album? "Smooth Talk". Favorite line? "You may have jewelry and ices, but the mic check that I'm spittin' out truthfully is priceless."

Monday, May 21, 2012

3MG at lacma

the first of many monthly hip hop shows at lacma for through the mic.
i was so stoked to see them get together (first time in five years) to kick this series off!

and i leave you with this:

ray's at lacma

tried ray's for the first time last week before the 3MG show.
the food and ambience is great and the customer service is superb!

sourdough bread and butter with chives to start off.

cream of mushroom with chives, crispy potatoes and goat cheese.

i forgot what this pizza was called but it had mushrooms, sage and truffle cheese.

lamb tongue with lettuce, crispy potatoes and a dijon mustard based sauce.

ray's at lacma
5905 wilshire blvd
los angeles, ca 90036

while your there, swing by the boone gallery and say hi =)

Friday, May 18, 2012

good microbrew & grill part two

gotta love the sexual innuendos

this tuesday i had lunch with my older brother steven over at good microbrew & grill in silverlake before we went camera shopping for him (he copped the D7000, sooo jealous). it's always fun spending time with him and i'm sad that he moved so far away earlier this year (granada hills, where the fuck is that?! lol).

steven reading the backs of the coasters


he ordered the golden hefeweizen & i forgot what mine was but it was yummy

fried calamari to start off

i got the florentine benedict with potatoes o'brien, sooo delicious!

he got the bruschetta omlette with tomatoes, mmm..

it was a beautiful day and we both wanted to enjoy the sun while we ate. very good choice of place, on steven's part, plus i got to try more of their food than just their burgers! as usual, we were pretty loud compared to the rest of the customers... we just know how to have fun! i'm so happy that all my friends share my love for food and laughter =)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

throwback thursday: sahtyre

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I decided to repost all the old writing I've done over the years. Some of them, I've noticed, aren't quite finished and I just might rekindle the old flames in past stories and characters.

Anyway, this first throwback post is the first interview I've ever conducted. Hope you all enjoy!

"MCs try to battle me but I strip 'em naked like fucking Adam and Eve."
http://www.myspace.com/sahtyre http://www.twitter.com/Sahtyre

If you haven’t heard of Project Blowed, or even The Good Life, for that matter, then this is the time to educate yourselves. Many great hip-hop artists were a part of these two functions, honing their art every time they grabbed the mic.
Let’s start from the beginning.
The Good Life Café was a health food center in South Central and in December 1989, it offered a workshop-like atmosphere for aspiring MCs, poets and musicians; this was all promoted by the owner B. Hall and her son R. Kain Blaze. These workshops went on every Thursdays from 8-10pm, and artists were allowed to perform one song, either prewritten or by freestyle, to entertain the café audience. There was a strict rule to the performances, though: no profanity.
Among the artists who attended the open-mics, to name a few, were Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, The Pharcyde and Kurupt. The Good Life regulars Rebels of Rhythm and Unity Committee came together to form the group Jurassic 5.
In 1994, Aceyalone and Abstract Rude brought the open-mic aspect to the KAOS Network, which was an art workshop founded by Professor Ben Caldwell of Cal-Arts. It was located in Leimert Park (on 43rd and Leimert), and like The Good Life, open-mics occurred every Thursday, with no restrictions on profanity.
How is this all relevant, you ask?
Well, it’s relevant because for the big debut of my blog artist-interviews, I interviewed an MC who has been attending Project Blowed for most of his life. His name is Sahtyre, and he released his debut album just last month. And I just want to thank him for giving me a push into this interviewing idea; if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have actually gone through with it!
High Saht Album Review
Sahtyre, a 6'2", size-14 wearing twenty-two year old has been in the Los Angeles underground rap game for almost half of his life. At a young age, he came across Project Blowed, which has been running for fifteen years, and has since contributed to the genre of music. Sahtyre is one of the members of the group Swim Team, a group that is composed of eleven people that met through Project Blowed.
His debut album High Saht is a very well-balanced listen, with a heavy-yet-pleasing sound that’s complimented by clever lyrics. To name a few favorite tracks of mine, I loved the intro, the single ‘J O B’, and ‘Always Say Never’. The first twenty-six seconds of ‘High Saht Intro’ is reminiscent of a 70’s action movie soundtrack until the bass comes in, kicking your sub-woofer’s ass. Favorite line from the intro? “I have no problem being myself; MF DOOM DO!” (No disrespect to MF Doom; he’s great!) And don’t get me started on the ‘J O B’ song. I came across it when I was dead-broke and had no job with mounting bills; this song made me go “Yeah, seriously. Fuck a job.” Favorite line from ‘J O B’? “I’m too unorthodox to break my neck for your paychecks. I do my best to collect mines when I exit stage left.” GENIUS! Each song in High Saht has its own personality, and it just…hits.
I especially love the album artwork, which was done by Swim Team’s own DozTres.
Overall, High Saht is great. I totally recommend it!
The Interview
The sky is gray, and the clouds are threatening to cry as I hop on the bus, headed for Sahtyre’s abode. I admit, I wasn’t quite ready for the interview that was about to go down in approximately half an hour. The night before, I was desperately trying to come up with questions to ask, things to say, just like any good interviewer would do. It was hard, seeing how I’ve hung out with Sahtyre a few times before and have already asked the questions that were running through my mind through casual conversations. Nearing the apartment complex, I thought to myself, “Screw it. I just really need one question and go from there.”
Because, that’s all an interview is, really. A good conversation.
I couldn’t help feeling a little weird at the thought that he lived within my vicinity; musicians and artists always seem so out of reach and so unlikely to come across, let alone hang out with. Imagine my surprise when Lyraflip opened the door to Sahtyre’s apartment: two artists in one day? (:
After exchanging greetings and sitting on his extremely comfortable green futon, we decided to go eat pho, a devilishly appealing Vietnamese dish. Or bowl, rather. Although I couldn’t do a little photoshoot with Sahtyre, I got a lot of candids and, well, candids kick ass. I have to say, Sahtyre and Lyraflip are pretty dope cats to hang out with. It seemed Lyraflip was interviewing me while we were eating; it’s going to be my turn soon!

Anyway, when we got back to the apartment, Sahtyre and Lyraflip had a little freestyle session, which is always interesting to have happen right in front of you!
After making himself a cup of tea for the interview, he sat down on the chair next to me, getting into the zone (haha).
Alright, before we start off with the “official” questions, let me start off by tell you that I love your name.
Thank you.
Sahtyre… It’s a very clever choice of alias. What’s the story behind it?
I actually have a cool story behind mine. A lot of people pick their own names, but for me I kind of just got it. It was in the 11th grade, and I was in English class, the only class I ever went to. I never paid attention though, but I was just always in class. (laughs) I was talking to a girl, and a word came up. I guess the teacher was putting up the vocab or something, and she said “Hey, that’s you!” The word was ‘satirical’, and you know, it means ‘ironic’, ‘sarcastic’, and I thought, “Hey, that is me!” (smiles) I had a couple of wack rap names before. I’m not going to tell you though (laughs). But yeah, I was like “that word is fucking sick and it rhymes with lyrical!” And I never heard of the word before then. So, it was Sahtyrickal, but I cut it short to Sahtyre. You know how when you’re young, you spell shit weird…I kept the spelling.
Yeah, that’s pretty cool.
I've heard of another Satire, and he’s an LA dancehall cat.
Yeah, but apparently on YouTube, no one can have my name since I’m the “better known”. (laughs)
(Laughs) That’s pretty cool. Now I’ll be asking you some basic questions, just so the readers can get a better sense of who you are. Where are you from?
All over Southern Cali. I was born in Bellflower, but lived everywhere in LA county.
When did you come to Koreatown?
Well, like...June 07. I was homeless and just quit college. Well, I actually quit college a long time before, but I quit living there then. (laughs) I was just tired of hiding mischief.
Do you have any siblings?
(nods) I have an older sister, and a younger brother. My sister's 25. Brother's 17.
Oh, really?
Yeah. We're each four years apart. My brother thinks I'm the shit but he'll never say it (smiles).
When was your first memorable hip-hop encounter?
(thinks deeply) Damn. That's a hard one. What do you mean? Ever?
Well more specifically, what encounter made you want to be in hip hop?
Around time I was listening to Ruckus Records, Eminem. I was in the basketball team at the time, and we were on the bus. There was a guy who was sick. I don't know if he was sick to me or just sick, but he was always rapping and battling. That day, he was freestyling and clowning on everyone on the bus... I was always a clown, and he was talking hella shit in rap form to me, and I just clowned him with two jokes that happened to rhyme. It probably was wack but everyone went crazy. (laughs) And I always liked poetry, writing. I was always into writing.
Who were your favorite rappers growing up?
Growing up? (sips tea) If I take it way back, E-40, Tupac, Jay-z...that was before rapping. I used to listen to Cash Money. To Lyraflip: Cash Money was the shit back then. (laughs) When I started smoking weed, he's not a rapper but, Bob Marley... When I started rapping, I started paying attention to Freestyle Fellowship and East Coast cats like Em and Wu-Tang, Jedi Mind Tricks, DJ Quik, Xzibit...
That's a lot.
(sips tea) That was my shit. OH, Big Pun dude. That fool changed my life. (pause) Big L.
When & how did you come across Project Blowed?
It's funny because to this day, even me and Kail remembers how we met each other. I remember he thought I was dope when I rapped, 'cause I was hella young! But he told me to come out to the Blowed to be even better. We would be at the Blowed until 4am just posted and rapping.
(Lyraflip: Those were good times!)
(smiles) Yeah, they were.
How old were you?
I was just turning 13.
Damn, that's a long time.
I've been there half my life. That's crazy. (turns to Lyraflip) I've been rapping for almost a decade, and that's weird; I don't even feel like it's been that long. My purpose in life is to write words, who the fuck does that? Music does some dope shit.
And what about the Swim Team, how did the crew come about, to your memory?
They call it the Big Bang Theory. There's a lot of energies in between space and time. Molecules were getting warmer as the days went by. And then suddenly, electron wildly jumped out of place, colliding with an oncoming proton, which ignited the nucleus...causing a massive explosion of talent and energy, resulting in the entity you may have heard referred to as 'Swim Team'.
That's dope!
(smiles) Thanks.
Did you write that down?
(puzzled) I thought you did!
(Smiles) No, was it prewritten?
Oh, haha I thought I had to repeat that. (laughs)
Now, I understand that your album High Saht is your debut as a solo artist—how did you come across the album concept?
HA, this one's easy. Uh, I was smoking weed. I was getting high. (smiles)
That's it?
(thoughtful) Yeah. I was high. That's really how I can put it. I was high.
So like, were you high from beginning to end?
Of my life? 'Cause I was about to say, kind of (laughs). I was definitely high throughout the writing, recording, mixing, conceptualizing, and 4-5 years before that.
(Laughs) So, you're album is quite heavy. What are your thoughts on that?
Heavy as in deep? What kind of heavy?
Um. It was all of them put together; it depended on the song.
Isn't life? (laughs). I just fucking react to stimulus, so, it's easy. It reflects.
Does High Saht have any, like, biographical aspects?
(thinks) Yeah. It definitely exemplifies my character.
And what's your character?
A lot of different things. I think I definitely show that on the album.
Yeah, it's a well-balanced mix of comedy and pretty deep shit. And it's kind of dark too.
So, what are your thoughts on music today?
Uh. (thinks deeply) Everybody's worried about what everybody else is doing. That's not gonna get nobody nowhere.
And you don't worry, not in the least bit?
(shrugs) The universe does what it does, it's fine. I don't worry about shit, it's fine.
As long as you're holding down your own, huh?
That's all you can do, really.
And what about Asher Roth? (laughs)
(thinks) I have to work this very carefully. (thoughtful, chuckles) he is what he is. (laughs)
And are you currently working on anything new?
I'm working on slaughtering motherfuckers battling. (laughs) Nah, I'm about to work on a new mixtape. I was going to drop it this year, but I think I'm going to wait.
Do you have an idea of when it's going to drop?
I want to say by the end of summer.
Is that a promise? (laughs)
Uh, sure. But remember, I didn't say the end of WHICH summer (laughs).
*All information regarding The Good Life and Project Blowed is credited to wikipedia.org and projectblowed.com. No plagiarism was intended.
Hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did. Now, here are a few extras (:
lyraflip doing the stanky leg.
lyraflip writing.
at the pho restaraunt!
ice cream cake?
which, lyraflip loved (:
and here's the cake i bought since i was seriously craving it.

Stay tuned for my next interview with Lyraflip!

monkey see, monkey do?

I come from a violent family. I'm no stranger to fierce aggression.

When I say violent, I don't mean it in just the physical sense. Growing up, I was always surrounded by the worst kind of violence there is, the kind where both your parents were filled with nothing but disgust for each other. The kind where the house was always filled with yelling and intense arguments over money and family and the little things they couldn't stand about the other. Growing up, I was caught in the middle of a constant struggle for dominance between my mom and father.

And yes, I'm no stranger to physical violence, either. My father was very short-tempered and abusive, his methods of discipline nothing short of torture. I've been beat with a baseball bat, a golf club, had many things thrown at me, and most times I've been beaten by my father's bare hands. He knew all the places he could hit that would hurt the most, and those areas never bruised (both my parents are black belts in Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do). There were also the name calling, the insults, the "you're just a failure, lower than dirt" type remarks that were spat at me from a very young age which continued until the day my father kicked me out three years ago.

Ultimately, this experience along with many others made me who I am today, made me strong. But it also made me meek, insecure, unsure of myself and very reluctant to grasp my dreams because, you know, I'm "only going to fail anyway." For a while, I tried to make up for it by adopting an overly obnoxious, no-bullshit, I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude...and it worked for a bit. However, deep down, there was no denying it. Wherever I went, there I was.

Not a day goes by without me worrying if I'm going to turn out like my father. Sometimes, people make the same mistakes their parents made because it's all they know, all they grew up with. I can only hope that I'm stronger than I think to rise above the muck. I feel so broken down, so old and tired. I hope that I can cope with all of this because I'm still trying to find my way out of this shitty cocoon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

on conducting interviews

Since I started my now nonexistent music blog The Urban Decadence three years ago in April, I had the chance to interview different musicians that made up the Los Angeles underground community. That first interview I had done with Sahtyre helped me to find a way to mesh together my passion for music and writing, and I've been at it since that first post on April 11th. Going back and re-reading all those interviews, I wasn't very good at keeping things along the lines of formality, and of course, there are things I would have done a different way if I could. Like, I wish I never stopped with The Urban Decadence, and I wish I didn't lose my focus.

A year and a half long hiatus, a deleted Twitter account and a failed revival later, I was back at it again with Light Meets Night, Swagg News and Hip Hop Canada.

I'm transcribing an interview Sina (my partner for Hip Hop Canada) and I conducted as I write this post, and while listening to the voice of the interviewee through my earphones, it dawned on me that I will never get tired of this. Each interview is an intimate conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee, a chance to tell a story of one's beginnings/dreams/aspirations/journey/success (interviewee) and a chance to listen to the story firsthand from the source and pass knowledge to the eager masses (interviewer).

Hearing stories from these people and having them share their journey and opinions with me is an experience that I find inspiring. How they've kept trying, despite failure or disappointing outcomes. How they've kept pushing to better themselves. How they didn't give up on being heard, recognized, appreciated. Most of all, I find it even more invigorating when it shows that these people have stayed true to themselves, their integrity intact while striving to be the best at what they do.

This has always been a hobby of mine and I know that in the long run this may just prove to be that (a hobby), but I'm very proud to partake and contribute in the art of storytelling in its informative, journalistic form.

Friday, May 11, 2012

norah jones x danger mouse

wait, what?! i'm so glad i have spotify right now.

people under the stairs

"i let the music take over my soul, body and mind"

woke up with this song in my head
makes me miss my pothead days haha
i know it's been a while, things have been crazy
i'll be getting back into the groove pretty soon