These guys Flatbush Zombies are dope. They kinda remind me of The Pharcyde meets The Gravediggaz but rapping about taking acid and yelling ‘Brains!’ a lot. It’s pretty great. I’m happy to hear the diversity of new talent popping up in NYC and especially in Brooklyn. You can download their recent mixtape DRUGS here or watch the video for their breakout single ‘Thug Waffle’ below. I like the production on it a lot and something I like about them as a crew in general is that they have a producer in their group (Erick Arc Elliot) who makes most of the beats so it’s got a nice unified sound. Nowadays everyone is so mercenary about beats things can get a little all over the place so this is a refreshing old school ‘2 MCs and a DJ’ sorta vibe. I’m generally excited about hiphop again lately, which is weird after many many years of feeling kinda comatose about it all.
Right now a lot of people are throwing the word ‘trap’ around to describe the hiphop coming out of Atlanta and the south. The dark bass heavy music pioneered by producers like Lex Luger, Southside and Sunny Digital has been dominant in the hiphop world for a while but has been catching on among the people who are fleeing Dubstep’s sinking ship of un-coolness. In the midst of this it’s worth thinking about where the term came from: drug dealing. I just watched “Snow On The Bluff” last night on Netflix streaming and it does for drug dealing and robbing dealers what Blair Witch did for hunting for witches in the woods. Gritty, low fi handheld camera work follows around anti-hero Curtis Snow as he robs dealers, goes in and out of jail and tries to take care of his toddler son. It’s a crazy look at daily life in the streets of Atlanta and at times is really hard to watch. There are a lot of moments where you are left thinking that what you are watching is real or thinly veiled reality. These people are not actors and the star is a self proclaimed stick up kid and drug dealer. That’s his real son in the movie. Unlike some of these gangster movies where they spend 80 minutes glamorizing that life and then 10 minutes moralizing at the end when the hero gets killed this is pretty much raw from start to finish. There’s not a lot of happy shit in this movie and for that it seems like a more realistic portrayal of this life than we usually see. If you’re interested in a look at the dark side of the trap mythology that everyone is selling you should check this out.
The main track is an original tune by Drexciya and it’s titled “Unknown Journey I”. I’m not doing very much to it. It was recently released on the compilation album Journey of the Deep Sea Dweller I which is out now on Clone. The voice is Malian singer Aminata Diabate. She is singing a classic West African Mandinka song “Autorail”. The voice is very beautiful. I apply some effects – a lot of delay and reverb – and I felt guilty so I let it play, nearly completely w/out any fx, for about a minute at the end. It’s from a Sublime Frequencies release titled Bush Taxi Mali: Field Recordings From Mali. Our friends at Weird Magic and Okayafrica have it up on their sites too.
Death/Traitors is the work of Alex Heir and it is fucking sick. I went to his spot on Delphi last week to get inside the mind of the genius behind my favorite New York brand.
T: You grew up in Jersey going to Punk shows and talk about how you see band shirts as this kind of holy grail of authenticity for design- how did band shirts inform your work with D T.
A: My initial interest in wanting to learn screen print and make shirts was born from my love of record and t-shirt art, and I think my idea of what makes a good shirt design is still largely based off that. A good band shirt is not just a random t-shirt with an image on it, it shows your musical taste and interest in a larger subculture, almost like wearing gang colors.
T: Whether it’s Japanese/Kanji characters that say Fuck Pigs, or your iconic Endless War Posters- you seem to hit an angle that’s 50/50 gothic vibes and anti-authoritarian anarchy. Is there any particular message that defines the brand?
A: I guess, as you said, “anti-authoritarian” sums it up pretty well. I’m not trying to spread a political message or anything, but I feel pretty angry about the state of the country and the world right now, and that works it’s way into my designs. I use the Anarchy symbol in the same way I use 666, I’m not a card carrying Anarchist or Satanist, but their symbols are a way to show what I am not.
T: While the 80 dollar t-shirt kids are gonna be happy to cop your gear at Mishka- you don’t go to trade shows or play the street-wear game- who’s your ideal audience for this stuff?
A: An army of leather clad rockers wandering the wasteland in search of food and water.
T: Do you have any fashion inspiration in terms of brands? What music or other design is most inspiring?
A: Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren had a store in London in the 70s called a variety of things..Let It Rock/Sex/Seditionaries. They designed a lot of the clothes the first wave UK punks wore and it was the biggest influence to me when I first thought about designing clothing. Alexander McQueen, who’s work I also really admire, definitely took a lot from them.
Nowadays I get a lot of inspiration from old occult and religious art, Japanese woodcuts, horror movies posters. I saw a show of old CRASS zines and flyers from their personal collection a few months ago…that was really inspiring and contributed a lot to the way the most recent designs have looked.
T: Can you talk about your process a little bit- your screen are everywhere around the house and most of your gear is there well- can you talk about hand printing all of your own work.
A: Once I finish a design and am ready to release it, I will shoot the screen and print a few samples to shoot on a model for the website. I keep a stock of screens of all my current available designs, and for the most part custom print every order as I get it.
T: Since images can move so easily between mediums- from stickers, to shirts, to bags, to textiles to whatever- how do you think about not overwhelming your customers.
A: I design the graphics specifically for each piece…An image might look great on a shirt, but not necessarily work as a patch or sticker. I re use a lot of the same imagery…skulls, kanji, swords, etc…but will do a different composition depending on what I’m going to print on. Less is more very often…I prefer to only release a handful of shirts and a few other items every season The artwork is very personal to me, so I would rather have a smaller amount of consistent, quality work then a ton of mediocre items.
T: you started doing these amazing varsity jackets- can you talk about your more indepth approach on that process.
A: I was lucky enough to link up with a tailor here in NYC that helping me through the process of of getting these jackets made. I initially was getting them from China, but once I stumbled upon this opportunity to have the jackets made here I leaped on it. I get to choose all the materials myself, from the wool and sleeve fabric to the lining and snaps, and the overall quality is much higher. Of course the costs to produce the jackets is much more than if I had them made in China, but I think people will appreciate the quality and the fact that they are made in the USA.
T: Beyond the clothing line, can you talk about the label a little bit and your other screen printing work and how you manage the balance.
A: Besides Death/Traitors, I do commercial screen printing for other people under the name Funbot Press. The nice thing about working for yourself is you get to set your own hours and make your own schedule, but it also means you never really stop working. Unless I’m at a show or hanging out with friends outside my apartment, I’m always working on SOME thing, be it printing, designing for D/T, or making other artwork or music. Every day is different, but it usually is a combination of everything. I love what I do, at least most aspects of it, and I enjoy being constantly busy.
T: Anything else you want to include?
A: I will be showing some new pieces in a group art show entitled Input/Output opening Sat, Jan. 28 at Booklyn, 37 Greenpoint Avenue 4th Floor. booklyn.org And I will be showing more work at the Mishka Store, 350 Broadway, BK, on Friday, April 6.
The Embassy is the name of my weekly WFMU radio show. We broadcast at 91.1 FM in New York and 90.1 in the Hudson Valley, and of course we on the internets. You can stream last night’s show and check here for the playlist.
I was quiet for most of 2011 when it comes to releasing original music. To be honest, I was a bit hard on myself. I’m finally getting out of that muck, and feeling ready now. I’m planning to put out several releases this year, on Dutty Artz as well as branching out to other labels.
Please find details for my first release of 2012 below. Titled Dubious Prey, it comes out on limited vinyl January 30th, then a digital release with additional remixes shortly follows. London label Sticks N Stones is releasing it… SNS a small new label owned and operated by my friend Aramac, and distributed by ST Holdings. Artwork, tracklisting, YouTube and SoundCloud previews – all below.
artist: Lamin Fofana
title: Dubious Prey
label: Sticks N Stones Recordings (Distributed by S.T. Holdings, UK)
date: 30th January for vinyl / 27th February for digital
A – Brokedown City
A2 – Dubious Prey
B – Brokedown City (Aramac Remix)
1. Dubious Prey
2. Brokedown City
3. Brokedown City (Aramac Remix)
4. Brokedown City (Svpreme Fiend Mix)
5. Brokedown City (Mayster & Contakt Rebuild)
6. Brokedown City (La Ola Criminal Remix)
Yesterday, XLR8R premiered the first cut from Dubious Prey, “Brokedown City”
NYC-via-Sierra Leone DJ/producer and Dutty Artz affiliate Lamin Fofana is set to release a new EP, Dubious Prey, the follow-up to his 2010 debut EP, What Elijah Said. The new EP features two originals, including this one, “Brokedown City,” a dark but still active piece of techno with a steady four-on-the-floor. The song’s notably tropical percussion is buffeted by potent synth lines, which bleed in and out of the song, and a barely audible vocal sample that occasionally slips into the mix…
Head over there for the DOWNLOAD.
On Sunday December 11, the Mudd Up Book Clubb returns to Manhattan, to discuss Lauren Beukes’ 2010 novel Zoo City. If you wanted to throw genre signifiers at it, you could say that it’s new African urban fantasy sci-fi noir with a strong musical component. There is even an accompanying soundtrack , released on African Dope records:
As I wrote in my August post on Zoo City, “It’s weird noir, set in contemporary Johannesburg, featuring an ex-junkie protagonist named Zinzi December and her magic sloth. The unconventional pair is caught in a web of intrigue involving murder, 419 email scams, and a missing kwaito/afropop teen star. In short, it sounds like a book specifically engineered for my peer group.” Check out the full post for more thoughts on Zoo City, or join us on December 11th in New York City for realtime talk.
Join us for an intimate night of sound & celebration on Saturday, December 3rd @ Vaudeville Park in Brooklyn (L to Graham). Mint tea, dates, and homemade deliciousness will be served.
We are celebrating the release of Nettle’s new album on Sub Rosa, El Resplandor: The Shining in Dubai. (get it at: iTunesAmazonBoomkateMusic actual record stores, etc)
“Dubai may be a cipher masquerading as a city, but it’s not a complete blank slate unencumbered by theoretical and contextual baggage, and El Resplandor depicts it as you might expect: ancient and dignified ‘Middle Eastern’ airs buffeted by howls of the ghosts in modernity’s machine. This is not to say that the album is merely conventional, however, for El Resplandor contains some of /Rupture’s most vivid and striking music… provocative and as chilling as anything in the real Shining” – Peter Shapiro, The Wire Nov 2011
Sat. December 3rd: Nettle (live), Lamin Fofana (dj). Vaudeville Park, 26 Bushwick Ave. Bklyn. doors at 8:30pm $8. Come early warm bodies shining ghosts.