My introduction to indie rapper Fleetwood DeVille was random; however, his delivered truth in this interview steers far from any accidental occasion. His music captivated me through tracks like Cold Chillin’ and 9-to-5 but it is his story that has confirmed my stance as a true fan. With his hard-hitting verses, vast cerebration, and charisma, I can honestly say that for anyone who invests their ear into Mr. DeVille, they will gain a deeply connected return on their investment. Now, if you can't fathom that statement, then I highly suggest you take a listen to his music or better yet, take the opportunity to learn who Fleetwood DeVille is below.
Bria: Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
Fleetwood DeVille: I was born in Muskogee, OK at the Regional Medical Center three days before 1989 began. I lived there ten years, pinballed between a few other places for the next ten and landed here in Washington, DC in 2009.
B: When the two words Fleetwood and Deville are mentioned, the first thought that comes to mind are both of the classic Cadillac vehicle models, so what inspired you to take on the name Fleetwood Deville?
FD: When I started out rhyming in ‘04, my name was Franchi$e. Don’t judge my dollar sign; I was 15. Actually, it happened arbitrarily. Freestyling in Algebra II class and at the lunch table, coming up with cool punch lines and winning a couple battles had cats calling me “The Franchise” at school. And I wasn’t even really disciplined or particular about writing raps at that time. The name went from school to my neighborhood and from there it stuck. I never really was a fan of the name, though. Steve Francis hadn’t disappeared from the NBA yet and there was a dude I’d known since 7th grade who rhymed and also went by Franchise. Then, to pour more salt on the situation, Dem Franchize Boyz dropped “White Tee” in I believe 2005. I knew I had to get as far away from the name as possible. The name change came near the end of 2006. I’m a big alliteration guy and all my favorite rappers got first and last name aliases. So, first, it was Fleetwood Fran; then I thought about connecting the Cadillac theme and put DeVille on the end. When I came up with that, I knew it was fly enough to drop Franchise altogher…ha. I put ElDorado in the middle and made DeVille an acronym: Defeating Evil, Verbally Inciting Love, Liberation and Enlightenment. And there it is, as Elgin Lumpkin say.
B: Explain your first connection to hip-hop and your coming of age story through the culture.
FD: 1998 and 99 were my true introduction to holding a stake in the culture. I was nine years old until the end of the year. Aquemini and Hard Knock Life, Vol. 2 dropped on the same September Tuesday [September 29, 1998]. DMX had put out his first LP and I was riding through Austin, TX with my mama to all three of them. Jay-Z was instantly my favorite. His intelligence and confidence were things I could feel immediately, and a song with such ominous subject matter as “A Week Ago” was easy for me to understand even at nine years old. Aquemini was an album I loved from the first moment I heard it and my love for it has only grown as life has placed me in spaces to appreciate it on a visceral level. Black on Both Sides [by Mos Def] dropped in ’99…and I have yet to hear a better album.
When I was 12, I knew that I wanted to be involved with hip hop as either a producer or a DJ. Watching Rap City and seeing how the DJ got love while just sitting back in the cut killing shit intrigued me so much. I was all in The Source peeping Numark turntables with the Robin Harris eyes. I’d had a keyboard and a drum set already, so I was into making noise and I asked my mama for a beat machine for my 15th birthday. She came through, but I didn’t have any of the accompanying equipment needed to actually make beats or any idea that there was accompanying equipment needed. So that deflated pretty quickly.
I started rhyming my junior year of high school and my initial drive was a competitive one. I went to school and saw so many cats not only freestyling, but also being on the bus, in class and in the cafeteria playing the stuff they’d recorded at home, and a lot of it wasn’t good. I thought to myself, “I KNOW I’m capable of being at least sharper than these cats if I focus on writing”; at that point, I pledged to write at least a 16 each day. I banged out on that mission for about six or seven months before I missed a day. I had a ton of stuff written and nowhere to record; I went to Walgreens one night after Bible study with my mama, copped a tape recorder and a 10 pack of Maxell cassettes. From there it was on. I completed my first mixtape, in the most literal sense, the next year, 2005. I started passing it out at school once one of my homies figured out a way to get the audio onto CD. I got a response I never really expected but I believed that I had something worth pursuing. I told myself, “I’ll come back to making beats, but the focus is rap for now.” I’ve still yet to make my return to beats…ha.
B: How do you define great lyricism and how do you feel your music is a correlation of that definition?
My experiences as a child in a very difficult and potentially violent environment, has had a strong impact on all parts of my life. My father was a violent and cruel man, whose presence in the family home caused physical and emotional pain for us all. My mum was the focus of his violent behaviour and she really suffered at his hands. We were left homeless after fleeing the family home. We lived in so many places after that, including a caravan in a farmer’s field and also a gutted farm house that was home to chickens – the chickens still came in to visit after that! My oldest sister witnessed a lot more than me and sadly I believe it really brought the worst out in her in later years. Being a child in that type of situation is a nightmare. All the things that should be there to support you and help you develop as an adult are undermined by the fear and unpredictability of the situation. My mother did her best to protect us, but she was lonely and vulnerable herself. Despite all that happened in the early days, my Mum’s love has shone through for me and I have held onto that as an adult, despite losing her tragically early when I was only nineteen. Without this love, I can’t imagine how I could have carried on and achieved anything as an adult. I’m always intrigued yet horrified when I read in the paper about murderers or people that have sex slaves in their basements. Neighbours are quoted as saying things like “ooh he was such a quiet and polite man… who would have thought”. Sociopaths can be the most worrying, as we like to think we can summarise and judge people quickly and accurately – but we can’t always. Who knows what some people are up to behind closed doors… My work really started taking off when I realized that it was ok to express some of the darker emotions in my art. For a long time I kept a lid on all these feelings. My piece called ‘Exorcism’ is the first piece in which I found my creative voice and it’s still one of the most powerful images I have ever painted.
- Dale Grimshaw (As told to Patrick Palmer of Ragazine)
There’s not much information that I can provide about Jeremy Hagood, other than him being a rapper/producer out of my home state of South Carolina, but honestly, I really don’t need much more than that. While his rap persona acquired my attention, his production maintained my interest. The way he chopped and experimented with his beats had me replaying his instrumentals all week long...Yes, I’m serious. Check out three instrumental samples from Jeremy Hagood who’s also known as Buck C below…I think you’ll quickly catch onto his vibe.
Hailing from the crevices of Dallas, Texas, Lord Byron represents an adverse sound that sunders him from the rest of his southern hip-hop peers. With a lyrical intellect that runs parallel to an oleaginous flow, he is destined to gain mainstream’s attention through his talent, wit, and integrity. When you listen to his music, you won’t hear rhymes inclusive to lean or slabs but that’s the enticing element about his art - he speaks his truth because he acknowledges that his story is an art in itself. Why fly through the realms of conformity when you can be your own Lord, right? Get to know the young, Dallas lyricist known as Lord Byron below.
Bria: How would you explain who Lord Byron is?
Lord Byron: I'm a surrealist.
B: What did your adolescent years consist of while growing up in Dallas?
LB: I grew up like every other child in poverty-stricken environments. I wasn't poor but I had poor friends. I had good times and I had times where my adolescence was exposed to reality at an early age opposed to most of suburbia, whose children grow up shielded due to better circumstances. But that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
B: Your most recent release, Dark Arts Vol. 2, was the follow up to the first volume, which released in December 2012. How would you describe what the title means in regards to your music?
LB: Dark Arts are arts that are defined as disturbing or horrific in nature. I never told anyone this but Dark Arts Vol. 2 was inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories like The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall Of The House of Usher. That's why those songs have an opaque aura to them and those lyrics narrate so vividly with deep metaphors and similes like a story. It may sound cheesy but it's the truth .
B: Describe the track that you feel most connected to on Dark Arts Vol. 2 and why?
LB: That's hard. Umm...it would probably be L'Chaim though. Shoutout to my nigga Brrd because if it wasn't for his excellence...that track wouldn't have been possible, but the record defines my morals to the tee. Everything I represent and stand for is in that song. I was staying with Brrd and ★★★★★ in Denver working on this project and Brrd sent me the beat with a Blitz sound bite in the beginning that spontaneously broke into a lush sample. So, I started listening to it for a few minutes and then it came to me that it sounded like rise and redemption and I should spill everything out [on the record].
B: Texas possesses a strong piece of hip-hop history through Houston and I think that causes Dallas hip-hop to fall into the shadows a little bit. What’s your opinion of the current hip-hop scene in Dallas and how do you see yourself playing a role in its future?
LB: Well Dallas itself is a beautiful city with vast amounts of talent and unique individuals that vary and stray from the stereotypical "hee haww!" Texan. As far as the music scene in Dallas, it definitely falls into Houston's shadows even though we bred artists like Erykah Badu, D.O.C, and Usher. Recently, as a city, I think we have to stray from the norm and not conform to it...be different and build our own stylized sound. It's getting better. It just takes time and my role is to basically launch that vessel and put Dallas on the map as a market hot spot so all of the niggas here can have a fair chance at pursuing their dreams and getting their mothers out of the hood or even just to flourish.
B: What and/or who has influenced you the most in pursuing your rap career?
LB: My mother working at McDonald's for eighteen years to provide for my sister and myself, Jay-Z, and me knowing my importance to the people who need me. Also, just being a student of the culture. I love this shit like it’s my child. I breathe and eat this shit and I can't see myself doing anything else. I'm dumb nice so I know it'll happen when the stars align and God is ready for me to have it, but it's already been foretold so look out for me ‘cause I'm coming.
B: An evident facet of your artistry is your level of intellect through your word play and vocabulary, but unfortunately, the music game now promotes the “dumb down” versus smart lyricism. What is your plan to maneuver through that infamous stereotype and make people acknowledge your art?
LB: I don't have to do anything but stay true to myself. Real recognizes real and I’m going to remain an intelligent black man and not conform to the regular [stereotype]. People thought Basquiat's art was childish and mediocre until Andy Warhol gave him a platform and then he became a world figure. I'm trying to make [real] art and have timeless pieces next to my name. As I said, it's about the representation of the culture…once you become a famous rapper you're raising everyone’s kids, regardless of ethnicity, and rappers don't realize that. So I'll breakthrough by staying true and remaining smart on the music and business side.
B: What’s your creative process like before you record a track? Is there any part that is easier or harder for you?
LB: Nothing's hard...laziness produces difficulty. It may take me two minutes to write a verse or two weeks to write two bars but I guarantee you that you'll never hear mediocre product from me.
B: I’ve noticed that you don’t have features from other artists on your music, each record appears to be just you and the producer. Is that decision intentional? If so, please explain why.
LB: Yea the whole Very Nice Very Nice [LB's indie label] sound is stylized off exclusivity. I have to really respect you as an artist and visionary to want to collaborate. I did collaborate on DA2 with one of the new generation's prodigies DGH.
B: As an independent artist what are the most important lessons that you have learned so far? Are there any mistakes/bad decisions you have made? Or are there any great decisions you made that worked for you?
LB: Um, I haven't really made any mistakes and I don't know how any of this is happening really. I only put out one album with no buzz whatsoever, I used one media outlet with ninety-two Twitter followers, in a city where the type of music I make isn't popular. Then, all of a sudden, things started to happen - all by remaining true to what I believe in. So with that said, my best advice to anyone is to be serious and diligent in your aspirations.
B: What message do you aim to put forth in your music?
LB: How beauteous black is.
B: If Lord Byron could only represent one thing, it would be....
LB: Black excellence.
Check out more from Lord Byron here.
I’ve always loved Marc Ecko because he doesn’t shy away from honesty. Whether he’s analyzing his own faults or someone else’s, he always provides a genuine perspective, instead of the “ass-kissing” perspective that’s so infamous these days. Recently, he did an interview with Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club where he promoted his new book, Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out, and he provided great insight on his career and the fashion industry as a whole. He even touched on Kanye West’s recent cries of frustration and it was truly refreshing to hear a different interpretation of Ye’s expressiveness. Please check out the full interview below.
Source: The Breakfast Club
Gap has a long history of incorporating creative culture into their brand via ad campaigns and artist endorsements, and most recently, they decided to highlight their bridge to the art world through their new campaign, Art of Blue: Founders Don and Doris Fisher have supported modern art since starting Gap in 1969. Their passion for creativity is a reason why Gap is here today. In 2013, the proposition is simple: empower some of the most gifted emerging artists around the globe to create murals on the streets of six cities, from Los Angeles to Rome, and make this new generation’s platform a little bigger. One of the amazing artists featured in the campaign is one of my inspirations, the talented visual artist known as Tony Concep. Tony completed a mural at Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles to show his support for the #BacktoBlue movement and the mural piece is beyond dope.
Source: Art of Blue/Vice
Image Credit: Phill Taylor
There’s a cultural stigma in existence through a lot of childhoods across the world, especially in America, where the word father births a void, instead of love. As one of those kids, I easily connected to Patriarch, a short-film by filmmaker/photographer Reggie Yates, which touches on a son’s mission to be the father that he never witnessed. According to Reggie, this is his first short-film but there isn’t anything amateur about the cinematography or the message that bleeds through the lens. Check out the film below.
There’s a reason why Jermaine Cole stands to be one of the few mainstream artists that I admire in this new generation of hip-hop and it’s because he doesn’t allow his new found stature to distance him from the people. His music runs parallel to the everyday struggles of everyday people and I appreciate him for doing that. His latest visual for his single, Crooked Smile, further validates my opinion of him as he decided to provide an artistic message by highlighting the heinous murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. If you’re not aware of who she is, then please research it because if I reveal it, it will spoil your experience in watching this amazing work of art.
This article was not written by me but Andre Walker shared an amazingly beautiful perspective on the current issues in the fashion industry with writer, Katharine Zarrella; therefore, I felt compelled to share it with all of you. I have never re-blogged another writer's article on the site before, so for this to be the first time, you have to know that it's quite significant.
Walker — a 45-year-old Brooklyn-based designer turned self-proclaimed fashion artist, whose claims to fame include an outré clothing line he launched in New York’s downtown clubs when he was a teenager, consulting for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Kim Jones, and publishing a tactile fashion and arts zine called has a pretty firm grasp on the definition. And he is concerned that contemporary culture’s ‘Give me more now’ mentality, as well as its lust for synthetic materials and overproduction, has thrust the fashion industry into an ethically questionable downward spiral.
Walker sits down with Katharine Zarrella to voice his views on the state of the industry and why, in spite of it all, fashion is still “”
AW: No, not at all. I believe that the infrastructures of fashion have eroded over the years, and I think the systems need to change. We need to revisit how clothing is manufactured, how fabrics are made and what kinds of materials are used. In my opinion, a lot of the top luxury brands are not really making luxury goods. I can’t look at plastic shoes that cost $3,000 and call that luxury.
AW: No, it’s consumption. Consumption is the new servitude. It affects every demographic, from the rich to the poor. Everyone is forced or obliged to purchase something. The extremely wealthy don’t have to think as much about what they buy as the poor or the middle class, so it’s up to the extremely wealthy to lead by example. They need to become more conservative in their behaviour.
AW: It would be really interesting to see how top-tier fashion companies would react to all of their consumers wanting something biodegradable, for example. I don’t see the future in clothes made from plastic and latex and nylon and acetate — not with everything that we know about the world. We need to go beyond this surface that everyone is so quick to call luxury. These fabrics are outdated. We need to challenge what we’re actually bringing forth into the world, rather than just paying homage to these dumb Hello Kitty dolls and having shrines of junk that are supposedly so cool.