AFROPUNK 2014: Battle of the Bands | By: Megan Felix

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Where can one find graffiti, abstract, live music and refreshments all in one setting engulfed by a group of urban, fashion-forward attendees? Only one place: the FREECANDY venue in Brooklyn, NY.

On June 24 at 8 PM, I had the opportunity of visiting the first of many “AFROPUNK: Battle of the bands” shows, part of a weekly series. Walking through the long vinyl curtains that separated the line from a rave, garage-like venue was the start to my excitement of what was next to endure. With a purchased ticket in hand, I made my way up the line, through the crowd and into the home of some of the greatest underground bands to ever walk the face of the USA.

The moment I stepped in, the dimmed, blue lights lifted me off my feet leading me all over the beautiful scene. There was art all over the walls, ceiling and floors including splattered paint in every corner, painted canvases, broken sinks and TV sets embellished with groovy graffiti. Art dripped from every inch of the space and each piece had a story to tell.

The lineup for the night? Tribe NYC, Lonely Horse, Kings of the Tribe and Indigo.

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The show opened up with an array of rap and style as Tribe NYC, a funky fresh hip-hop crew, (wearing 1990s urban apparel from head to toe) took the stage. I noticed that they were the same guys who graced the Rebook site with their #MEETTHETRIBE campaign. One word to describe the performance? Chaotic (but in a good way)! Whether they were throwing monopoly money and business cards in the crowd, jumping into the audience for a dance battle, or setting their oversized, pure-white boom box in front of the stage with a pile of sharpies for signatures and tagging, while rapping their hardest 90s flow lyrics, they never lost my attention.

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Next up was Lonely Horse. The band consisted of a guitar-playing singer and a passionate drum player. The genre of rock, and soul created a mellow yet hyped ambience on the stage, probably one of the greatest oxymoron’s of the evening. Sharing three songs with the audience was more than enough to shift the energy of the crowd. Soon we were down a lane of love stories and passion.

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As the show traveled into the summery night it was evident that most of the crowd had come out to see Kings of the Tribe: a group of guys all young and very different to one another but all who shared a similar talent, making good music. These hip fellas were more than comfortable on the stage and interacted well with everyone. Midway into their performance, promotional beach balls crowd-surfed and silly string shot carelessly at every attendee in front of the stage. It was a fairly fun and interesting way to continue the show.

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The last performer of the night was an eclectic yet interesting singer/songwriter named Indigo. She started off her performance with a dancehall-African dance number, giving the crowd every reason why she was a triple threat with her rap, song and dance style. As she sang, her two male back-up dancers rocked out to her awesome beat. What a great end to an amazing show.

 

 

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Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace | By: Zainab Floyd

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Kehinde Wiley has been widely known to grasp the prestigious art world, but most of all he has influenced many young, fanatic art lovers, and our culture. Nonetheless, he has continued to pave the way not only by originating new and highly impactful art pieces, but also encouraging other aspiring young artists to do the same—and further.

Kehinde Wiley is a native born in the Los Angeles area of California as a visual artist who now is based in New York. His work has been compared to Thomas Gainsborough who uses bright strides of blue, and red, and in some cases, yellow that showcases his muses power, wealth, intellect, and strength. Such gifted talent and highly thoughtful meanings are underlying in which the silent sadness lurks from the background. Wiley is also compared to renowned artists such as Joshua Reynolds, Titian, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres those are just to name a few of many influential artists in comparison to Kehinde Wiley.

His newest, and most riskiest art show, An Economy Of Grace, are portraits of women who are beautifully painted on canvases of flamboyant colors, with such grace, strength, and enough sophistication to also offer simplicity at its finest.

Like all artists, one of their main focuses is to connect their deep reflections of the world and its surroundings, with the media and audiences all around. Yet, they are constantly perceived as rebels, game changers going against the grid, and an inability to be more substantial than an individual who paints art for a living in comparison to the more “practical” career fields. Nonetheless, he had taken this idea, and ran with it as far as he could, and beyond. He took his influences of Classical European paintings, with unique characters and themes such as noblemen, royalty, and aristocrats; and applied his knowledge to the modern day images he has seen while growing up in the South Central Los Angeles streets. There are also portraits of his in which were based on photographs taken of young men founded in the streets of Harlem. He had always seen, and had a keen eye for this tough, raw, and overall beauty of the hood, and I believe that is why he softens his male muses, and recreates this reoccurring theme and talk of Masculinity.

His latest show, An Economy of Grace, was groundbreaking. Such a major stepping stone has never been done in his highly impactful, artistic career. This is so because it was focused solely on black women from all around the world—what it means to be a black woman, and an overall perspective of such. It all began in the streets of Harlem, with a photographer, and questions to base some inspiration. This project gave him the opportunity to team up with the creative director of Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci. Kehinde had stated that “The reason why I am painting women now is in order to come to terms with depictions of gender and the way it is featured art historically a means to broaden the conversation.” Indeed he has as his showcase featured the opposite of what he had painted men as. The men were intact with their sensitive side, while remaining powerful, and grasping strength. The women in his showcase were POWERFUL. In which has never been done, in such a way without mentioning their beauty, or fragility. It couldn’t have been avoided their Power, and Strength.

Kehinde Wiley has been discussed by many who have been impacted greatly by his work, and other c

Emmanuel Afolabi: Lens Full of Jazzy Gold

Emmanuel Afolabi: Lens Full of Jazzy Gold | By: Zainab Floyd

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Emmanuel Afolabi is a young Brooklyn based photographer documenting a unique storyline that is effortless like fluid. It all began with a quick snap of a mobile device capturing the street life in Tribeca New York City. After some time he perfected his craft and switched to digital photography. He is currently showcasing his work on his website Nomadicphoto. Each photo can be described as silent poetry. His love of the urban street life always has him coming back, capturing background scenes such as bodegas, people, or even broken down buildings that most people would not have noticed as art. He captures the beauty in life that we seem to pass by without ever thinking twice.

Emmanuel Afolabi’s aesthetic could be compared to Gordon Parks, because of the soul that is hidden behind his work.  He hasn’t forgotten his culture either. Born in Lagos, Nigeria he was surrounded by culture and folk stories. He could remember fond memories when children would gather around their elders sharing stories of their youth. His close ties with Music such as Jazz is always portrayed in his work as with tints of Nigerian folk, as a child he’d played the Jazz guitar. He condensed his love for the unique genre into visual art.

I had first discovered his work while surfing the web a couple of months ago. I came across his website, each photograph had dragged me along a story. Stories that I have related with, while walking down the streets of New York, or films that I have watched. As a viewer of his work it keeps us young, and in love just for these experiences and I think that it is why it keeps us coming back to experience this beauty that we only wish we could grasp for a lifetime.

It began as a dream and stretched out into reality. He stands behind the lens allowing the viewers to fill in gaps of the unsaid.

For more of his work check out his web

http://nomadicphoto.net,

or other websites featuring his work

http://kristirepublic.com,

http://www.yagazieemezi.com/2014/02/21/meet-your-photographer-emmanuel-afolabi/

http://www.creativitydecoded.com/2014/02/emmanuel-afolabi.html

Caught A Moment With GRWYF$ | By: Michele Robotham-Smith

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New music comes at us from all angles. Before social media it was easy to share our favorite music but before the tweeting and the Facebooks there was ‘word of mouth’. Here’s a little whisper to your ears on the Chicago/STL group, Get Rich With Your Friends (GRWYF$).

Jordan Hopkins, who goes by J-Hop, of Get Rich With Your Friends was gracious enough to give the 411 on the group. The junior from the University of Missouri-Columbia found a few minutes to spare for BLACK Magazine.

BLACK: If you had to describe GRWYF$ in one word, what would that word be?
J-Hop:
I would describe GRWYF$ in one word as organic, because everyone on the $kwadd has a different role and is talented in many different ways and we all have unique and different sounds, but when we come together and make music you can see how well we mesh together and are able to complement each other in ways that I think is lacking in music today.

BLACK: How did GRWYF$ get started?
J-Hop:
GRWYF$ got started with Dj Chi, Femdot, OG Coop, Young 99, and Bk Bambino. They had all been making music together then they dropped their 1st tape called GRWYF$. Then they made that the group name, after this tape they put Keturah, and myself, and Johari on $kwadd and we were on the FAMLAY and Twenty EP tapes.

BLACK: How many artists are in the group? ​
J-Hop:
There are 9 members along with some frequent collaborators but the core members are Dj Chi, OG Coop, and Mike Wavvs as producers. Bk Bambino, Young 99, Femdot, Keturah, and myself (J-Hop) as the rappers and Johari is a dope vocalist.  ​​

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BLACK: Is ‘GRWYF$’ a group that provides one collective sound or does each member have their own strength?
J-Hop:
We, as a group, do have a collective sound that you can hear incorporated on the group projects like the Twenty EP, but we all do have unique sounds that you can hear on our individual songs, and we all have particular strengths that are allowing us to make huge strides within this industry.

BLACK: What is your strength?
J-Hop:
My strength is consistently producing a great product, lyricism, storytelling, and allowing the listener to get a better understanding of who “J-Hop” is by the end of the song. I’m pretty well-rounded as an artist, and a lot of that has to do with a lot of the talented people I’ve surrounded myself with, whether it’s my friends who give me advice, that I’m always open to hearing, or the other members on GRWYF$, pushing me to make better music and to always stay on my toes. 
BLACK: Do you have any projects out? Including GRWYF$ or solo? ​
J-Hop:
As a group, Femdot released his project, Femdelacreme, last summer that was very well received and currently, Young 99 is getting his album, The Black Man LP, finished. That’s going to be one of the best projects of the year, definitely. I’ve finished a couple of joints for my tape “LiMBO”. (They are) set to drop sometime in 2015. Dj Chi dropped the Twenty EP in February that was critically acclaimed and even appeared in the Source Magazine. ​ ​
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BLACK: Any information that you’d like the general public to know?
J-Hop:
I think I can speak for the entire group when I say that we aren’t like a lot of these artists out here that are just making music to just make music. We plan on being up there with the big names and the greats and consistently creating great and organic product. Starting this summer a lot of people are going to see how serious we are about this music. Its #GetRich14.

BLACK: There are many other music groups, what sets GRWWYF$ apart?
J-Hop:
There are a lot of things on a small scale: we don’t have a front man and everyone in the group in somebody’s favorite rapper. On another note, none of us sound the same, everyone’s sound is unique. Unlike most groups that have a central sound to them, we all have different content to our music. And lastly we mesh sounds from many different genres, we think outside the box, sonically.  ​

​BLACK Magazine would like to thank J-Hop, for his time, we are looking forward to the work the group is getting ready to release. If you’d like to hear some of the songs that have already been released, readers can check DJ Chi’s Soundcloud.    ​

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Sean “Diddy” Combs: To be honored or not to be honored? | By: Britanny Douglas

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Puff Daddy. Puffy. Diddy. P.Diddy. Dr. Sean Combs? This man is well known for his different monikers from starting his career in the rap game back in the 1990s but I am at a lost on when he added Dr. Sean “Diddy” Combs to the list. Well over a month ago the known business mogul, Sean Combs, was bestowed an honorary Doctorate from Howard University. The question that wasn’t really answered was why and how he obtained the upmost and highest level of a degree. From the research I gathered Dr. Combs did indeed attend the university as a business major but dropped out after two years to go on a different path. Now no doubt about it, that path definitely took him to great heights. If students now were to look back at his track record and see what he’s accomplished, universities might start losing money on the decrease of students coming back for the fall semester. Hey, if he can do it without an education why not plenty of other students?

So there was some hoopla or discussion about him getting the doctorate simply because he didn’t finish his education. As stated before, he did attend the university for two years but didn’t complete the four-year tenure to even get a degree. To obtain a doctorate one would have to gain their degree and then gain their masters. So the question remains—does he deserve it?

There will definitely be two opinionated answers to that question. Simply because there are some that feel he shouldn’t get it due to him not completing his academic career. In my opinion, a doctorate shouldn’t be handed because you are well endowed. This highly respected level, and type of certification should be handed because your academic history, and the work, research, and communication with faculty, staff, and other like-minded collogues with a doctorate degree has done.

Now there are others who feel that he has earned his own money and made a name for himself by starting his own company and even giving back to his community; that sets him as someone to be honored with such gratification. He has done things with little education compared to people who have gotten a degree and hasn’t made use of it. One thing we know for sure is Dr. Sean Combs has many accomplishments that no one can take from him before and after this newest achievement. He has done quite well for himself and definitely showed that ambition and perseverance goes a long way and that’s one thing we should take from Dr. Combs.

The speech, which was recently given at the commencement ceremonies for Howard University in Washington, D.C., was shockingly very relatable. Dr. Combs spoke about his struggles as a youth and about his time as a Howard Bison. He also spoke directly to the graduates, repeatedly asking them “Do you know the power you have?!” This evoked both pride and happiness from the graduates. Throughout the thirty-seven minute long speech, Dr. Combs often addressed his faith and how said faith brought him through some tougher times in his life.

He spoke in depth about the pain-staking work and the grand accomplishment he felt after finishing The New York City Marathon. He was intelligent in doing so, often telling jokes, but remaining poised and proper. He explained to the students how rigorous and grueling the training had been. He was set do in eight weeks, what many had been training to accomplish in six months. He remembered how many thought he wouldn’t succeed. He spoke of his pride after finishing the marathon Dr. Combs then told the students, “I cannot wait to live in the world you create.” A very loving, yet poignant quote from such an elaborate figure such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, allowing the students to not only see him as an entertainer, but as a Bison. Now the comparison to unicorns, is another topic entirely.

EracCreates: Edward Crawford Expressions | By: Tamara Dotson

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In October 2013, Edward Crawford decided to take his fitness goals to another level, and become a certified trainer at the National Association of Sports Medicine. Additionally, he received his Schwinn Certification focused in Spinning Instruction, in May 2014, and has been a Herbalife Independent Distributor since April 2014. While pursuing his certification, he participated in classes dedicated to teaching bike fitness, cycling science, and the overall group exercise techniques for the ultimate personal trainer, and trainee experience. He is excited to instruct spinning classes, and personal training with BeatBike—an indoor cycling powerhouse in the San Fernando Valley, located in the Los Angeles area of southern California, this summer. Being able to help others in all aspects of the health and wellness lifestyle became increasingly important to him. Witnessing his trainee’s change their minds in order to live, and ultimately lead towards a better self is one of his greatest joys. What also makes this personal trainer unique, and brings him joy, is being a father, and enthusiast in creating art. Here’s his story:

BLACK: Where did you go to school for personal training, and what is your degree(s)?
Edward Crawford: I took a course with the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM). One of the most trusted organizations for health and fitness. I also have a BFA from the University of Massachusetts (Graphic Design) & an MBA from the University of Phoenix (Marketing). I’ve just recently completed my Schwinn certification (spinning instruction).
BLACK: What do you think is the biggest problem that today’s personal trainers face, and why?
EC: Value in the marketplace. Depending on the area, personal training rates vary but in the same range. However, some personal trainers, in efforts to increase their client base, drive prices down and devalue the service.
BLACK: What are some of your creations or art about?
EC: My artwork is inspired by music, the female form and the sounds of the ocean. I paint in the abstract because it allows me to have a free form of expression. My work can start with one intention and take on its own personality by the time it’s finished. My children have also inspired my work. I have been able to take their youthful innocence and through their eyes, paint freely.
BLACK: How does it feel being a father, creator and personal trainer? 
EC: It feels natural to be a creator. I am naturally drawn to art. Being a father is a blessing and an everyday learning experience. There is no blueprint to child rearing, so I pray that every day I am helping to prepare my children for a bright future. Being a trainer is surreal. I’ve only started my healthy/active lifestyle one and a half years ago and I’m already helping others reach their goals. I never imagined this life for myself.

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His paintings, mostly watercolor based, are viewed mainly for their high creativity, and their abstract enough to create your own interpretation of the painting. Nonetheless, you’re able to feel his emotions of humility, virtue, and desire for strength through the sensual blending of colors into different shapes, and patterns. Some of which are viewed as floral, yet empowering to the mind, soul, and body. Overall, Edward Crawford’s love for health and wellness as a personal trainer, his desire and pursuit for impacting everyone that he encounters, and humility in doing so while being a father is jam-packed within his soulful love for art, and creativity.

You can follow and view his paintings, love for creativity and health via Instagram: @erac915.

The Pursuit of Art: Tattoos as Expressive Creations | By: Sade Lewis

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Art comes in many different forms: dance, singing, drawing, and even poetry. It is the way that people take the time to express themselves. The understanding of art does not just happen overnight, it takes time to develop, and must come from the heart. The greatest creators have made their mark in their respected fields by sharing the beauty of their capability. With this, we are able to see the transformations of many different forms of art. As a society, we have gained the ability to have change, and make change. Art is not only changing, but it is also expanding in many different senses. Take tattoos for instance.

According to Statistic Brain, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo, and that number continues to grow on a daily basis. I actually find it quite intriguing when people have tattoos. It is their way of conveying a message or a story. They want people to be able to see their story, and know their story, without actually having it told to them. Painters use canvases to display their art, while tattoo artists use the bodies of people as their surface. Tattooing takes a great deal of strategy, and can be tough to master. Just like any artist in their respected genre.

It takes steadiness, focus and discipline, to get it just right and it seems as if tattoo artist, Deonta “Tay” Head does just that. This young artist realized his artistic talent at the age of three. He took his skill of drawing to an entirely different level, by making them permanent images on the bodies of various clients. He has been having great success throughout his artistic journey, by having his work featured in various magazines, on the east and west coast. He has been tattooing for the past twelve years, and says it’s his passion. We had the amazing opportunity to interview him, and gain more insight.

BLACK: What made you want to pursue a career as a tattoo artist?

Tay Head: The reason I chose the career of a tattoo artist is because I had the passion to do it. Then it just went to another level.

B: What do you find is the most challenging aspect of being in this career field?

TH: The only challenge that I can see is trying to outdo myself. Meaning, creating an even bigger and better piece of art and making sure the customer is satisfied, because I can get really creative at times.

B: Tattooing is a work of art, which means you are considered as an artist. When you first started out, how were you able to expand your craft to get where you are right now?

TH: The most important fact is that I had my family in my corner from day one. My family was my strength to go to that next level because they believed in me. Then my name started to ring bells all over the Washington DMV area.

B: Okay Tay, so I come to you, and I tell you I would like a tattoo of some sort. Take us through the process, step by step, of getting a tattoo done.

TH: Essentially, you create the design out on paper. Then you put on rubber gloves, trace the design out, or you can freestyle the design of concept. Next, you prepare your tattoo machines, setting your voltage levels. Once that’s completed you’re ready to do the procedure of the tattoo.

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B: If someone wants to become a tattoo artist, what would you say are the top three skills they must retain?

TH: The three skills they must retain are: know your craft from back to front, be dedicated to be successful, and most importantly have certifications in order to do tattoos, as well as cover yourself.

To see many more creations by this amazing artist, check out his Instagram: @only1artist, as well as his websites, Urbanink and Externalexpressions. His ideas and creations are endless, just like art. Don’t ever be afraid to express yourself, because expression is just another way to be heard. As American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “To create one’s world takes courage.”

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All Photos taken by: Intrigue Visuals