Sunday, November 30, 2008

The State of Sampling

I recently read this article on regarding the dwindling use of samples in current hip-hop that saddened me deeply.

As a hip-hop fan from an early age, samples were what drew me to the music initially. I grew up in a household that consistently played the best in Soul, R&B, and Jazz-- Miles, Stevie, Otis, Ella, and even Percy Sledge. Hearing a classic in a new genre of music was always exciting and made me want more. The more samples I heard reworked into street jams--a memorable stand-out for me is Jigga's "Ain't No Nigga", which interlopes The Four Tops' "Ain't No Woman"--the more I began to understand that hip-hop was a music dedicated to exploring its roots.

Then, as I got older and my attentions became more focused, I learned that hip hop artists frequently sampled each other-- Rakim shows up in Nas, Nas shows up in Jay Z, and all three show up in Girl Talk. Not only was this a genre that paid homage to where it came from, but one that challenged its contemporaries to grow musically and lyrically through healthy competition.

But, at least according to the article, with the rising costs of clearning samples and falling album sales, the era of sampling is long gone. T-Pain's Vocoder is taking over, and while I'm all for progress, somehow "Chopped and Screwed" doesn't excite me in the same way as hearing a song that took me back musically and moved me forward lyrically, all at the same time.

(Thanks to Adeli's Music Blog for Image)

Muslims no more...

As reported by BrooklynVegan, the San Diego post-punk group formerly known as "The Muslims" has now changed their name to "Soft Pack". I have to wonder, in this Obama age of progress, did liberal PC pressure get to them?

No matter, they still rock and are working on new material.

I had the chance to see them live this past summer, a great night which involved plenty of dancing, free Colt 45s, and secret flasks. Although they looked like a bunch of frat boys on stage, I really enjoyed their seamless blend of dreamy punk riffs with modern garage band-esque irony (if The Strokes and The Velvet Underground had an inbred bastard child, it might one day pick up a guitar and try to sound like The Muslims/Soft Pack). They had a lot of energy on stage and that natural charisma you can't deny. What I most love about them is that while a lot of indie groups are going in a more experimental or folksy direction these days, The Muslims/Soft Pack remind you that old-time-rock-and-roll is still relevant and, most of all, fun. While they still have some stuff to work out--name change included-- I'm excited to see what they'll come out with and am commanding you all to keep them on your radars!

Check out their new Soft Pack material here and listen to their jamming as The Muslims here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Infamous is Here...

Flightclub has once again brought us the ultra-exclusive kicks we've been craving. The first to reportedly get their hands on the Wu-Tang joints earlier this season, they've now upped the ante by dropping the $1500.00 exclusive Deftones Nike Dunks. With supposedly only 40 pairs made for members of the Deftones and their crew, the only "public" pair in circulation until now has been the set owned by DJ AM.

If you put off rent and utilities for a month or two, you too can now own these size 11 limited editions, with a simple green and black colorway and matching green gum sole. If I didn't have a conscience, I might've had to cop...

Sorry B!

(Thanks to FlightClub NY for the exclusive image)

Fabulous Fringe

These are now available at Nasty Gal Vintage's online shop.

The fringe looks great on the pink pair, overall it's unexpected and funky-sexy. I can think of a million ways to rock these.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cupcakes and What Not...

For the past few months, the lovely ladies over at Missbehave Mag have been feeding my obsession with Suri Cruise in their "Suri's Lonely Life" column.

They've outdone themselves now-- I am impressed and newly obsessed. Cupcakes and Suri make my world go round.

Immortal Technique at SOB's

Hot 97 is presenting its monthly "Who's Next in Line" showcase on December 16th, and although he's been around for a hot minute, don't miss Immortal Technique. A great lyricist who will impress even those who aren't typically rap fans, the showcase will also feature Akir, SF, and The Circle.

This should be a fun, interesting evening and SOBs is a good venue. Check it out if you can.

(Thanks to for the image).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Protect Thy Shins...

I was checking out The Cobra Snake earlier this weekend and spotted a strange new trend that makes me feel in all kinds of ways: the fashion shinguard.

Seen most frequently protecting the knobby knees of soccer obsessed teen boys across the country, this curious new trend has claimed the style and put a high-fashion spin on it. Designers such as Balenciaga, Marithe Francois Girbaud, and Jean Paul Gaultier use snakeskin, woven leathers, and stripes to craft the protective gear in various sillhouettes. While some verions are traditional in shape and size, others are smaller in size or more creative in shape. The look can be seen as an evolution of the knee-high gladiator sandals that a few fashonistas were rockin this summer (check up on Mary Kate Olsen in Chanel), just less constraining. With the option of slipping the shinguard on to match a variety of shoes-- in fact, one of the posts I saw on The Cobra Snake featured a girl who matched her pair of basic white keds to some shinguards--these seem like a more cost-effective version of the soaring sandals.

Initially, I thought this look was CRAZY! If I wanted to rock shinguards, I'd sign up for the soccer league and buy a pair at sportsmart, not spend ten times the price on them! Plus, they make you look weird!

But then I saw everyone's favorite Princess, Rhi-Rhi, in a Balenciaga pair on an appearance at 106 and Park.

They kind of looked really spiffy to me now! Could I just have been swayed by my Rhi-Rhi style crush? I had to do more research...

A more extensive search came up with Posso the Spat's "The Preacher", featured on Trend de la Creme, made me even more excited.

I love the height, and the way that it can accentuate everything from black kicks, to cute flats, to funky heels. The black kind of makes it a weird basic, but the snakeskin allows it to stand out (at least more than shinguards regularly do anyways). I went from being disturbed by this trend to liking it! It's a fun accessory that will most def take an outfit from boring to avante garde with very little effort, and no pain! No killer heels (unless you're loca enough to rock those on your own) or blister forming pumps involved-- you choose the shoes and the result is a chic outfit. I could see myself strapping these on with some shorts and a beat up vintage tee and not looking all that crazy...

But I generally look crazy on the regular and don't mind it, so I could be wrong... any thoughts?

(Thanks to Stylelist and Trend de La Creme for images!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Need It: Rose La Biche

While browsing on Etsy, I came across a designer who just seemed to get it. And by "it", I mean that gentle balance between streetwear and high fashion, casual and chic, and urban and feminine. That is rare, but the San Francisco based line Rose La Biche, is doing it, and doing it well.

Lucy, designer and owner of the line, says that her vision developed out of a lack of "chic, refreshing and really unique tshirts to cheer up one's formal wardrobe or to take a simple pair of jeans to a classier level". Consisting of simple cotton t-shirts, fleece sweatshirts, and hoodies, the line features sculptural nature-inspired flourishes along the collars that lend a sophisticated vibe to the pieces. If you want to cop (and you need to!), visit her website.

Peep some of the stand-outs below:

"LIANE" top-- Slip a black blazer over this for a surprisingly sexy look. Pair with a simple, bold bangle and you're in the building!

"VOLTIGE" zip-up-- Makes your favorite
skinnies and dunks look so much more interesting!

"FROU FROU" top-- Can't even describe how sexy this would be on a summer night with a delicate heel!

Photo Credit: roselabiche

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

80s Magic...

Remember Lisa Lisa? This was so the jam! Full Force was a crazy good backing band, and Lisa was a soft-voiced, sexy around-the-way type of girl. Basically, she was like the poor man's Apollonia. Once again, the style is on point-- that wide belt and the ribbon headband sittin' snug on her forehead are classic! We need more people like Lisa Lisa around today-- she didn't have the best voice, but together with Full Force she was able to give a kick ass performance that was fun for the ladies and the fellas. You go girl!

Stylin on 'em: The French New Wave

I am carrying on a life-long love affair. It's with French New Wave cinema.
Part of the reason that I've been a fan of the Nouvelle Vague for so long is because, as a cinematic form, it was one of the first to view film as more than a story telling method, but rather as an art.

But forget jump cuts and sound edits for now-- what it's really all about is style.

Directors aimed to capture the every-day life of the average Parisian of the time period, an exciting time for fashion. The 60s was the emergence of the new, laid back style that would become what's known today as the "gamine" look-- a casual, yet chic combination of basics and classics that manage to look effortlessly chic at all times. You can see the casual gamine look in full swing on popular actresses of the time like Anna Karina and Bridgette Bardot,but the most famous gamine of all wasn't actually French, but an American playing an American in a French film, Jean Seberg, in Godard's masterpiece "Breathless".

Short, skinny black jeans and a plain, fitted T with no bra. Flats to match, and a cute but laid back pixie cut. This is a basic of the gamine look, still so popular today. With the pixie cut making a strong comeback today, you can totally picture Seberg's character Patricia walking down Bedford Ave. today and looking nothing less than a hipster extraordinaire. The look is basic, comfortable, and something about it just screams sexy, in an unconventional way at least.

Casual basics, like Anna Karina's darkened crew neck sweater and plaid knee length skirt, can seem boring at first. But take a look at the hat perched on her head as she dances with the boys, and you realize that the confidence to wear a boyish haircut or a not-so-common-hat, no heels, and just a laid back Tshirt, is what makes a gamine hot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Theophilus London is falling down...

I love to jam, who doesn't?

Recently, I had the chance to jam pretty hard at the Crash Mansion show featuring up and coming Brooklyn native Theophilus London. Opening up for the spoken word collective "iLL Literacy", Theophilus stole the show with his insanely hyped performance style. In fact, I came home from the show and looked him up right away, instead of listening to the free mixtape that I got from the main act.

Drawing from every genre possible, Theophilus London's music is most heavily influenced by soul, and new wave. His sound ranges from the punk-inspired chords in "Ultra Violet" to the 90s dance party throwback "Blindfolded". Even though his influences are varied and distinct, an undercurrent of that nu-rave, electronica sound that's poppin up all over Baltimore and Brooklyn as of late is present on all the tracks, tying together the random jumps from a Michael Jackson "Jam" remix to the techno-borrowing "Sand Castles BlackxBlue". Theo's rhymes are funny and manage to present age-as-old, boring themes like love and sex in a new light. Case in point is my favorite track, the trip-hop-electronica-r&b-inspired-ass-kickin' "Cold Pillow". The chill-out, soulful jam is the story of his musings on a breakup, the chorus repeating over and over that it's "gonna be a cold, cold pillow tonight". Ironic, sarcastic lines like these are thrown into high gear by his live performance.

Looking much like an alter ego of that other famous Theo-- of the Huxtibile clan--his tight black jeans and dopey sweaters do little to emphasize the beast lying within. He talks directly to the crowd, walking us through (with some pretty real to life, fucked up language) his love life. Eliciting laughs, "awws", and coos from the ladies, Theo's one-on-one with the crowd made him so endearing that a fan (albeit, a drunk fan), felt at ease enough to jump up onstage and grab a guitar, jamming along. It's moments like these-- when a drunk girl booty dances and subsequently falls over on stage-- that show an artist's worth. And Theophilus London, who booty popped right back with the intoxicated blonde and gave her a warm hug, is worth a whole lot.

Check out his myspace to listen to the songs mentioned in this review, as well as for a link to download his mixtape:

Princess Rhi-Rhi

I rather likes this. Tasteful and unexpected.

What do you think? Original, or just weird?

Ehsani on the Rise

Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Erykah Badu and… MC Lyte? Besides being influential tastemakers in music, urban culture, and most obviously fashion, what do these artists have in common? Take a closer look at the earrings, knuckledusters, and stilettos they’re rockin’ and the answer is loud and clear, Melody Ehsani. A relatively new designer on the scene, her blinged-out baubles have become the new celebrity favorites in the urban fashion market. Ehsani’s playful pieces emphasize the best of modern women, appealing to a female’s “roar” just as well as her “rawr”. Designed for “women who wear fashion for themselves because of the way it makes them feel”, Ehsani focuses on creating fun choices for the woman who’s all about reppin’ herself in style.

Stand outs like Ehsani’s African-theme “The Mama Earring” and the comic book inspired “The Pow Ring”are part of a new trend in the women’s jewelry popping up in the streetwear community.

Designs of yore, like LL’s infamous bamboo earring, are making a strong comeback. And while many basic old skool designs are still flooding the market, more and more emerging jewelry designers are taking advantage of the trend and building off the basics. A perfect example is seen with lines such as Disney Couture and Obey, both featuring bamboo hoops that are updated with newer, sleeker metals or intricate detailing. Similarly, nameplate necklaces are being updated from plain gold to modern, fluorescent plastics or mirrored metals that spell out phrases that speak to the independence spirit the streetwear scene inspires—check Steven Shein’s “The Missbehave Reflective Plexi Nameplate” for an idea of what I’m talking about.

Another move that designers are making is the use of traditional, chunky gold metals in their designs. Funny, smart designs playing on street culture are being crafted into thick rope gold chains and solid gold finger pieces. One of the companies doing it big is Office Tramp Jewelry, an up-and-coming design team whose chains are thick enough to make Slick Rick jealous. But Office Tramp never forgets to give their products funky, feminine twists, incorporating nods to the working woman’s grind in their jewelry. A top seller is the “9-5 Pendulum Clocks Necklace”, featuring clock charm pendulums attached to heavy linked gold chains.

To go back to Ehsani, I think that the reason her designs appeal to such a wide cross section (hey, even men like the design, just ask poet/actor/rapper/amazing human being Saul Williams!) of the streetwear market is because she recognizes the trend and capitalizes on it. She understands that the contemporary streetwear market isn’t just about logos and bright colors anymore. It’s evolved into a market that thrives on creativity, revels in design, and laughs its ass off at it’s own jokes. It’s an industry that gives props to the past, but can’t wait to move forward. So, move forward and go out and cop yourself a pair of those Melody Ehsani “The Pow Bamboo Earrings in Pink”!

(image courtesy of