If Rast RFC ain’t better than B.I.G., he’s the closest one.
He casually backs up his legitimacy as a veteran of streetlife on “Bad Dope,” word to his Beretta. And while that might sound cliché in rap, Rast is above average. What I’ve read about Rast in the past few days—with his song “Mark David Chapman” on repeat—I am a believer in his will to be one of the greatest of all time. I never used to put anyone above Biggie, not even Jay Z. But Rast is so damn close that I am afraid to think he might be Biggie’s truest counterpart. It also helps that Rast’s “King Tut” and “Super Nintendo” use instrumentals from two of Biggie’s most prolific performances: “Long Kiss Goodnight” and “Flavor in Your Ear (Remix).” Across West 3rd Street, Rast’s new mixtape
even has an uncanny likeness to Biggie’s unpolished demo tapes with DJ 50 Grand and Mister Cee. I actually still play B.I.G.’s demos more than Life After Death. So when I heard “MDC” for the first time last week, starting with the opening sample from EPMD’s “Rampage”* (another fav song), I knew I was going to like what came next. Rast’s delivery felt like flying down the FDR Drive in a car chase. Quentin Tarantino couldn’t direct a better movie than the wild, uncontrollable, and fast times of Rast in the ’90s. I spent about two hours yesterday listening to this man’s catalog on Soundcloud; by far it was the best use of my time engulfing myself in one rapper’s fun yet sad stories that spoke true to everything I grew up hearing on the streets of New York when I was in high school.
[*Ed. Note: Rast RFC raps over Pete Rock’s remix of “Rampage.”]
As far back as I remember, passing through West 4th St. and 6th Ave with my homie just to cop from the local dealers was relatively easy. We never got robbed or jumped regardless of what brands we wore when we were on RFC’s (Running From Cops) turf in the West Village. We were regulars of the neighborhood because we were loyal to our weed smoking habit. We were the prep school custies, similar to the ones mentioned in the “Prep School Gangsters” (1996) cover story in New York Magazine. So much in New York has changed since 1996. I’m much older now, but I remember so many times the mood shifting from low-key drinking and smoking with a few friends after school (when parents were away) to paranoia because there were way too many kids from various crews (like BAF-Blunts and Forties) who invited themselves over. Fights broke out, things got stolen, and shit just got way out of hand. This time when New York City was rampant with mischiefs was scary, but I knew it as the norm, and it made me wise at an early age. I feel like I’m coming full circle listening to Rast’s tales from the darkside. In my mind, Biggie was the architype of what real Brooklyn hustlers were like, and everything he rapped about—before Puffy came into the mix—you could walk the streets and somehow be reminded of B.I.G.’s inspiration. Like B.I.G., Rast rhymes effortlessly because he doesn’t have to fabricate anyone else’s reality. He’ll admit some things are exaggerated, but truth be told, underneath Mike Bloomberg’s façade there are guys like Rast RFC, Droog, and Timeless Truth who have me spinning in a time warp.
Peace to Eskay at Nah Right who gave some proper perspective to Rast, and Lord SHR who also documented Rast’s story in Mass Appeal.
Every review I read about Ratking’s So It Goes album praising it for planting a new flag for New York rap makes me want to hock a negative comment on the site that is just one word—TOURIST. I imagine it was written by someone that was not born in NY, or hasn’t at least spent ten years entrenched in the city to feel the effects of its conflicted evolution. It takes a New Yorker to know a True Yorker. And I have to honestly say Wiki and Hak, the vocal members of Ratking, are the best narrators of a New Yorker’s joy and pain. Sporting Life, the group’s producer and DJ, from Virginia, now rooted in Bushwick, is a city insider too because of his creation of a frenetic sound that appears as big as the buildings it’s meant to bounce from, preferably at high volume. When you have two stimulated personalities in Wiki and Hak, absorbing their surroundings to tear through the days of their lives in a matter of 6 minutes and 53 seconds on “Snow Beach,” it’s easy to tell a native from a transplant. That’s not to say that Ratking discriminates against those who migrate to New York. Many of their fans are quite likely were born outside of a 212, 917, 718, 646 or 347 area code. I’m not mad at New York’s newcomers either. The problem is how New York City has allowed corporations to turn specifically Manhattan and Brooklyn into a mall. Gone are the characters who inhabit Gray’s Papaya or Max Fish in exchange for condos and Chipotle. The beneficiaries unfortunately though are those newcomers who see luxury rather than institution. If New York was ever in search of a new tagline it surely has one now for being “safe” and sterile.
New York City hosted a flurry of events last night, that rained as hard on its guests as the snow from the sky. A concert at SOBs sponsored by Hot 97, Mint and Serf’s Armory Week after party at The Westway, DJ Getlive’s gig at 19 Kenmare St. Parties kept the streets warm. So I embraced walking to every stop regardless of the winter blast. Allow me to take you through most of my night in photos.
Mass Appeal magazine and Ka are products of Brooklyn, New York. The lifestyle and art magazine—originally based in Red Hook—relaunched in 2012 recapturing the nostalgia of its golden era in the mid-’90s, while Brownsville’s Ka was arguably one of the only rappers to maintain fanfare at his mature age in 2012. Ka was once a member of the group Natural Elements and one-half of Nightbreed. Few rappers have a chance at a comeback, much less magazines that fold.
Ann Hamilton’s Event of a Thread was New York City’s other most important spectacle to kick off 2013. The month-long exhibit that opened on December 6th brought together visitors like its midtown counterpart—the Times Square Ball. Except the Park Avenue Armory was much more interactive, and didn’t confine bodies behind police barricades. Hamilton erected a matrix of ropes with swings attached to them. As people swayed back and forth, it would move a ginormous white blanket that billowed in synchronization. To watch it took your mind and body to another place. You were able to wander for that moment gazing into its hypnotic motion. It was the closest thing to staring at a cloud indoors. Elsewhere in the space, a woman read philosophical messages sitting in front of a table of homing pigeons (not NYC’s rats with wings) that were released every day at the end of the exhibit. A man at the opposite side of the Armory faced the Tiffany Clock writing journal entries with pen and paper. The climax came when the lights dimmed, the reading and writing paused, and a singer serenaded the Armory. That very song was recorded onto a vinyl record. It was unlike anything that you’d probably ever see in its purest form: writing by hand, reading from printed materials, and a voice cut into an analog medium. I savored this moment with my lady and my son.
Visual artist Ann Hamilton combines the ephemeral presence of time with the material tactility for which she is best known to create a new large-scale installation for the Wade Thompson Drill Hall. Commissioned by the Armory, the event of a thread references the building’s architecture, as well as the individual encounters and congregational gatherings that have animated its rich social history. A multisensory affair, the work draws together readings, sound, and live events within a field of swings that together invite visitors to connect to the action of each other and the work itself, illuminating the experience of the singular and collective body, the relationship between the animal and the human.
Click the link below for photos from Ann Hamilton’s Event of a Thread.
Flyer via OAKNYC
Last Tuesday, a string of luck led me into the Models x Waffles party at Le Baron in Chinatown. Venus X who posted the flyer on Instagram a few hours before the event stated that the list was closed. Taking a chance at getting in led me to an opportune meeting of the self-proclaimed Princess of New York. After being denied entry because I wasn’t on the guestlist, I used my iPhone’s map to give me directions to 19 Kenmare St. As I looked up, Jazmine Venus Soto walked past me. I introduced myself, after already being more familiar with her by way of Instagram, Tumblr, and another article I wrote. She kindly invited me to enter Le Baron with her friends. That gesture solidified her royalty in my book.
Given that it was a Fashion Week party, I expected models, but not food. Waitresses offered everyone little chicken tenders wedged in between two slices of waffles. The waffles were room temperature, but soft at least. The mini treats were special because it brought back the memory of Bobbito Garcia’s Monday night Waffles & Falafels party in the basement of APT, a shuttered nightclub of the Meatpacking District. As the party carried on, so did the entertainment, provided by Venus X who deejayed for Spyda and Magic whose pole dancing acrobatics had the crowd perplexed. Using the little support of the pole in the middle of the dancefloor, the ladies balanced themselves on each other horizontally. Upon achieving that feat, they proceeded to rock vertically like a see saw. This was impressive. But another act that defied the laws of physics was watching money being thrown into the air, to eventually get stuck in a vent overhead. There are NSFW pictures of this scene, Venus X, plus a shot of Posso a DJ duo that played in the basement of Le Baron that night when you click the link below.
If you knew Blind Benny the way I know Blind Benny, you outta know that everything they do gets better with time. The release of “No Honor,” from BB’s forthcoming EP is their watershed moment. Their future is now, and it just shifted into emo-hyperdrive.
On Monday January 30th, DJ Greg Poole, my homie Danny Miller and I are spinning at VON. This gig will be fun, promise! It’s kind of a big deal because I’m sharing the flyer’s marquee with an O-Gee of deejaying. Basically, if I didn’t bump the Suite903 mixtape he did with DJ Qool Marv, I wouldn’t have repped the Suite903 brand in 2010. Monday, it’s on!
I just want to say Mr. MFN eXquire would still be my favorite rapper right now, even if he was from Albuquerque. But because he reps Brooklyn (HARD), I am biased as a mu’fucka. It all goes back to this summer when my homie Dart Parker booked a show for the KnuX, where eXquire was the opening act. I didn’t know what to expect. About two weeks earlier, Dart told me about eXquire being on the bill, so I just went ahead and did my research on him.
Many artists display their work in Chelsea, causing 24th Street to be flooded with people. Yesterday was one of those special summer nights at Benrimon Contemporary art gallery that bridged past and present with paintings by Nachume Miller and my good friend Danny Miller. The opening reception welcomed friends, family and new fans of the Miller legacy. You too can see their subconscious vision of color and abstract imagery come to life through July 16th.
Excerpt from the Benrimon press release:
“Benrimon Contemporary is pleased to present Nachume Miller vs. Danny Miller, a father and son exhibition exploring the patriarchal influence and subsequent modernization of Nachume Miller’s legacy through his son, Danny.”
Check out Danny’s brand identity work by his company The Bear Cave and his other paintings and photography on his personal Tumblr, Steak N Shrimp (as seen on Complex.com). I’m a little partial to one little critter, also on his Tumblr—this guy.