Here’s a website I recently got up for the Arrival Agency New Year’s Party at the Hotel Vancouver.
Here’s a website I recently got up for the Arrival Agency New Year’s Party at the Hotel Vancouver.
Vancouver author Jennifer Croll recently released an outstanding style bible entitled Fashion That Changed The World. Published by Prestel, this thoughtful and exquisite book explores the history of fashion from a multitude of perspectives and is a must read for any lover of fashion. You can grab yourself a copy of her style bible from the Book Warehouse, Hager’s, Vancouver Special, Chapters, or online from Amazon here.
A site I got up recently for a Halloween party at the Hotel Vancouver.
If Banksy and Shepard Fairey are the Stones and Beatles of street art, then consider OSGEMEOS the Beach Boys, if Brian Wilson were a Brazilian B-boy with an equally gifted identical-twin brother.
In the past year, OSGEMEOS (Portuguese for “THETWINS”) has collaborated with Banksy during his wildly popular residency in New York, staged a triumphant homecoming show in São Paulo that drew huge crowds, and painted the 737 that was used to transport the Brazilian national squad during the World Cup.
(It’s possible their iconic, smile-inducing, yellow-skinned faces, which adorned the plane, prevented 200 million Brazilians from ripping Seleção to shreds after its loss to Germany.)
Before this banner year, OSGEMEOS showed at the now-shuttered tastemaker gallery Deitch Projects in New York (2005), decorated the monolithic façade of the Tate Modern in London (2008), and took up a large chunk of real estate in the biggest retrospective of graffiti ever at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (2011).
Now that they’ve conquered the art world while somehow maintaining their immense street cred, the next logical career move is to execute their biggest public mural ever—in Vancouver, a city whose most revered piece of public art is the $97,000 poodle on a pole at Main and East 18th.
Preparation for this massive undertaking, which was organized by the Vancouver Biennale, began with a scouting mission back in December. While here, the 40-year-old brothers, Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo, noticed a marked difference between Vancouver and their hometown of São Paulo, a topsy-turvy world where outdoor advertising is outlawed, heritage buildings are preserved, and tagging everything in sight is a popular daytime activity on Sundays.
“You don’t see many murals or graffiti in the city [of Vancouver]. They really control and really go against it. That’s sad. That’s really sad,” Otavio, the more talkative of the two, recalls in a home near urban-art epicentre Brentwood Mall, in Burnaby.
“We don’t think graffiti is vandalism. We think that the way the government governs the city, this can be vandalism. How they treat the people who pay tax every month, they steal and you don’t know what they do with the money. They don’t care. This can be vandalism,” he continues, and then adds: “If you don’t use the city, the city’s going to use you.”
His brother Gustavo is attentive and occasionally chimes in. However, he’s also focused on prepping a stencil that will be used on the mural, a 360-degree, 23-metre-high public art project that will spread over the six Ocean Concrete silos on Granville Island. When it’s unveiled on September 7 for the 2014–2016 Biennale, not only will the mural be a beacon for art enthusiasts around the world, it’s certain to become the most Instagrammed landmark in Vancouver. (Apologies, gum-covered head of Douglas Coupland. You had a good run.)
While the scope of the project is ambitious, the Pandolfo brothers have had ample time to prepare. Having drawn since they were four, the twins began brandishing spray cans at age nine, after spotting some guys tagging near their home. “When I saw the spray cans, I wanted to draw with them. So the next day our parents bought us spray cans, one for each of us, and we sprayed my parents’ whole house,” Otavio says with a grin. “In the ’80s, you had to find ways to play. We liked to destroy things and burn things.”
Unfortunate for their family home and, possibly, the one they’re staying at in Burnaby, but it’s a good thing they got comfortable with the tools of the trade at such an early age: they’re going to use 1,400 cans on the silos, a large number of which will be their signature yellow.
“Yellow is a very magic colour, a very strong colour. We believe it can make a lot of change in a good way,” an impassioned Gustavo pipes up. “We believe in our own world,” he elaborates, shamanically. “It is a place that we go after we pass away. All the drawings that we do, most of them come from this place.”
This dreamy otherworld Gustavo speaks of is an idea they developed symbiotically at an early age. In it, downtrodden, colourfully dressed vandals, gostosas, musicians, children, and other assorted neighbourhood characters are all presented with a playful dignity. It’s the sort of work Diego Rivera might have produced if he’d watched Wild Style on Repeat during an ayahuasca trip.
Today, their surreal visions are in such great demand that people come at OSGEMEOS’s noncommissioned street work with masonry saws and dreams of selling the slab of concrete at Sotheby’s. But the two are quick to point out they don’t believe their career is simply some Basquiat-esque rags-to-riches transition to becoming contemporary-art-world darlings.
“Our school is from the streets, but we see our work as more than painting a wall or painting inside a gallery. It’s more spiritual for us. We need to find space that we can create our universe, this universe that we believe. That’s why we started to work with galleries, because we get the empty space, white space, and could transform all this into the world we believe in sharing with the people,” Otavio says. “Spirituality for us is positive vibrations—bring positive things and give positive change. This is one of the important reasons to make art.”
With Emily Carr University of Art and Design poised to relocate in 2016, OSGEMEOS and the Vancouver Biennale are ensuring that art will always be an important part of Granville Island. While the two don’t have immediate plans to give our city walls any additional gifts, the Biennale is running a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to help offset the costs of the endeavour. (The budget is only about $28,000 more than the poodle’s.) One of the donation perks is a limited-edition lithograph of the finished mural, which is sure to sell out and be much easier to frame than a slab of concrete.
However, if, over the next few weeks, you see a pair of similar-looking fellas with a ladder around Main and 18th, and then hear the unmistakable rattle and hiss of spray cans, don’t call the cops. It likely means OSGEMEOS are giving that bloody mutt a much-needed make-over.
At this point in the summer, how is anyone who attends music festivals not flat broke or in the hospital? Surely no festivalgoers in our province have $300 left in their bank accounts for tickets—and enough serotonin left in their brains—to pull off another weekend of partying.
Legions of people who, apparently, have endless supplies of money, insatiable appetites for flower crowns, and Andre the Giant–esque tolerances for drugs and alcohol swarmed the opening day of the Squamish Valley Music Festival. (Noticeably absent were about 80 lightweights from last weekend’s Boonstock Music Festival in Penticton.)
But how long would they last? Walking along a serene, winding trail to the fest’s entrance, a shirtless fellow in a clown mask wiped out, already too inebriated to walk at 2 p.m. If this was how the day was to go, the medical staff hopefully had numerous stomach pumps and enough activated charcoal to power a locomotive onsite.
This year, the annual blowout features an expanded site to make room for more revellers and more brands looking to “activate” through the power of event marketing. To give you an idea of how big the new festival is, if you smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day (okay, a full pack) and your legs are still sore after playing soccer with a group of 12-year-olds five days ago, it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the Stawamus Stage on one side of the grounds to the main Tantalus Stage on the other. (Or 15 minutes if you don’t stop for a smoke.)
This means you have to make some tough decisions because you can’t possibly see all the acts. I’m sorry Foster the People, it’s not my fault you were far away and your set overlapped with the guy who released one of the greatest rap albums of all time, the guy who played this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, and the DJ whose luscious, flowing mane has its own Twitter parody account (@TommyTrashsHair).
“Are you ready to get groovy? I can smell something in the air,” asked Lykke Li, the first of the festival’s heavy hitters to take the Stawamus Stage, before performing “Sadness Is a Blessing”. Surprisingly, she turned out to be the day’s most vocal proponent of weed. Shortly into her outstanding set the effortlessly stylish Swede asked, “Can someone pass that joint on-stage, please?”
Someone obliged and handed her a massive one. She took a pull off it and placed it on a keyboard to save for later. Li Lykke Timotej Svensson Zachrisson! I’m not sure how things go down at music festivals in Sweden, but here in Squamish, that is called bogarting a joint and it is not a cool thing to do.
Nas, who was playing right after our pot queen, received the second most shout-outs from Li. She kept going on about how excited she was to see the half-man, half-amazing-MC and even dedicated her set to him before “Youth Knows No Pain”. However, unless Elon Musk installed a hyperloop for the talent to travel between stages, it is unlikely she caught the legendary rapper.
“If you’ve heard of my first album, Illmatic, from 20 years ago, put your hands in the air,” said Nasty Nas early in his set. If you didn’t oblige, that was okay, as he was about to perform it in its entirety. With upward of 14 women sitting on men’s shoulders, Nas reached the third track of the album, the chorus of which is likely a motto for many a festivalgoer: “Life’s a bitch and then you die/That’s why we get high/’Cuz you never know when you’re gonna go.”
The 40-year-old rapper burned through Illmatic in 30 minutes, ending with “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”. He then dug into his vast catalogue, and after “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” he earnestly told us, “You know I love you.” Shucks, we were a little unsure, Nas, so it was nice to hear you actually say it.
Sure, you could hang around and hear another 20 minutes of classic rap, but there was a DJ with a fantastic head of hair playing at the dance music stage. There wasn’t anyone there when he started, but Tommy Trash’s locks looked great. As it got darker, though, the lure of bass drops and samples of Lil Jon screaming “Turn down for what” proved irresistible and people gradually fist-pumped their way there, even though Bruno Mars was about to take the main stage.
If some schlub read Bruno Mars lyrics off a sheet of paper, they’d come across as cornball pickup lines. However, his undeniable charisma, talent, and likability means every lady he drops one of those lines on would drop her panties. Rocking a fedora and the best smile you’ve ever seen, he opened with “Moonshine”, “Natalie”, then “Treasure”. Thankfully, his outstanding backup band, the Hooligans, abided by the age-old rule of one fedora per crew.
While performing “Our First Time”, Mars segued into versions of “Pony” by Ginuwine and the “Ignition” remix by R. Kelly, and it proved to be the grind-the-person-next-to-you moment of the festival. He followed that up with “Marry You”, which was the lift-the-nearest-female-onto-your-shoulders moment of the day. After a piano interlude, the global pop superstar returned with a new fedora to end with “Grenade” and “Just the Way You Are”, the every-woman-in-Squamish-was-feeling-beautiful-while-singing-along moment.
Then it was seemingly all over and gradually people began to file out of the festival. Rookie mistake! Mars hadn’t played “Locked Out of Heaven” yet. And if you weren’t already sold on how talented this guy is, he elected to play a lengthy drum solo intro to his biggest hit.
Watching Mars sing, dance, and charm the shit out of everyone, it was not hard to see why people are proclaiming him the next Michael Jackson. Thankfully, there were no King of Pop (and Pepsi!) comparisons to be made when he was showered with sparks during the show’s final number, “Gorilla”, as his hair did not catch fire.
Fittingly, the best song Mars will ever appear on, “Bubble Butt” by Major Lazer, played over the speakers as we booked it to the Blueprint Arena to catch Boys Noize.
“Are you ready to get turnt up?” a shirtless bro near me asked his friend. Everyone was, and the dance stage was now officially the kind of raging fucking party you don’t ever want your parents to know you were at.
The festival’s EDM headliner, Boys Noize, was in his LED plinth-booth and dropping an aggressive set that included his track “Excuse Me”, his remix of Danny Brown’s “Smokin & Drinkin”, and House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. Guess which one of those songs received the most ecstatic response from all the shirtless musclemen?
At one point during his set a woman asked to borrow my lighter. I later spotted her and a group of friends, who had all joined arms and were doing a Rockettes–style leg-kick dance routine. What in God’s name were they smoking? And why didn’t they offer to share? Lykke Li, I blame you for this!
Walking back to your car along the winding trail, you could hear campers hooting and hollering. It was 2 a.m., but the partying would continue well into morning. Sure, they were having fun now, but this was only Day 1. Let’s see who doesn’t have an overdraft and is still standing come Sunday evening.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014
This past weekend, people travelled from far and wide to wear funny outfits and neon face paint at a massive gathering that put parties at Sodom and Gomorrah to shame.
Highlighted by an unprecedentedly awesome lineup, the Pemberton Music Festival is the most ambitious concert event to ever take place in this province.
But let’s talk about something more important: me. Impressively, I’ve somehow managed to avoid multi-day music fests my entire life. Well, it’s actually not that impressive. I simply think camping sucks, travelling more than 15 minutes to see a band is a colossal waste of time, and using a bathroom without a bidet is strictly for plebs.
Regardless, I summoned every ounce of courage I could muster and cruised the Sea-to-Sky on Sunday to Pemberton, a usually sleepy village, which has the tagline “Adventure begins here”.
Things couldn’t have started much worse for the festival. On Friday, an exceptionally dark cloud was cast over the proceedings. To people who weren’t there, the Pemberton Music Festival will likely always be known as the show where a kid from Regina died under suspicious circumstances. But inside the festival’s sprawling grounds, the party raged on and revellers seemed unfazed by Friday’s tragic incident. In fact, you were far more likely to hear people bitch about Kendrick Lamar’s set starting a little bit late that evening.
Fittingly for a Sunday, the Hallelujah Train, a gospel-choir project from Louisiana, was one of the first acts to take the stage. Joining them was the ridiculously accomplished Canadian music icon Daniel Lanois. Unfortunately, their songs of Jesus and redemption probably didn’t reach the people who need to have the fear of God put in them the most. Many hadn’t emerged from their tents yet, presumably because they were all sleeping off Girl Talk–induced hangovers from the previous evening.
Up next was a CanCon power hour where you had to choose between pop-rockers Sloan and hardcore punks Fucked Up. Indifferent to both, I chose the act with an F-bomb in its name and wasn’t disappointed. The band’s charismatic, hirsute, and shirtless frontman Damian Abraham hopped off-stage and ran around in the smallish crowd dispensing hugs while screaming the lyrics to “Queen of Hearts”. Later in his set he gave a shout-out to B.C. weed and one guy wearing a pylon on his head and another who was waving a Jägermeister flag both nodded their heads approvingly.
Over at the Bass Camp Tent it was time for a little uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss music to get going courtesy of Baauer. If you’re not familiar, he’s the guy who produced “Harlem Shake”, which spawned a sickeningly popular YouTube meme last year. (Chances are your most annoying coworker proposed that your office make one of these videos at some point.)
Almost immediately he turned a rather sleepy day into a raging party. Jaws gurned and pupils dilated while many a flower-crown-wearing girl was hoisted onto the shoulders of shirtless bros for the bombastic set. After watching measly crowds show up for internationally lauded acts like Fucked Up, while upstart DJs draw huge numbers, it’s pretty clear EDM reigns supreme at festivals of this ilk and live music is on the way out. And somewhere nearby, deadmau5 is cackling, while having sex with a woman far more attractive than you’ll ever bag, on a giant pile of money.
Frontrunner for the weirdest inclusion on the Pemberton lineup would be Randy Newman. If you’re over 45, you know Newman for his satirical piano-pop songs like “Short People”, “I Love L.A.”, and “Political Science”, which he played for an audience of about 100. If you’re under 45, he’s the guy who does all those Pixar movie songs like “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, which he performed as well. Fan or not, I think we can all agree it’s not what shirtless kids on E are throwing on at parties. Newman managed to put on a spirited show despite St. Vincent’s loud, squawking voice from a nearby stage pretty much drowning him out. My faith in humanity was temporarily restored while sprinting back to the Bass Camp Tent to catch the Justice DJ set. A festival bro pointed at me and we locked eyes. Were we going to fight? No, he mouthed the words “Randy Fucking Newman” to me. He knew what was up!
French duo Justice is at least somewhat responsible for EDM as we know it today. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to wear a slutty Fun Fur unicorn outfit while tripping balls, you were undoubtedly amused by the multiple sing-alongs to their remix of Simian’s “Never Be Alone” and giant strobe-light cross visuals. (Maybe the Hallelujah Train should invest in one of those?) Justice wound things down by playing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell as the tent cleared and everyone made their way to the Pemberton Stage.
Outkast was about to start and even all the furry freaks weren’t about to miss that.
Outkast is touring festivals on a wave of nostalgia and really not much else—André 3000 and Big Boi have no plans to record new material. Perhaps aware that their current run of gigs might be seen as a bit of a cash grab, 3K was wearing a price tag that read “sold” for the whole show. At the same time, when they opened with “B.O.B.”, it quickly showed that they’re the perfect headliner for a blowout like this: everyone knows the chorus to every one of their many hits.
When Outkast performed “ATLiens”, and commanded people to throw their hands in the air, the faithful did so like they just didn’t care and then said “oh-ye-yer”. For “Ms. Jackson” the crowd genuinely felt bad about making your daughter cry and apologized a trillion times. During “Hey Ya” people shook it like a Polaroid picture, even though you totally shouldn’t shake Polaroid photographs. And then, just to demonstrate their complete control over the audience, during the final song “The Whole World”, they ordered women to lift up their tops and many did. (It had been a long weekend at this point and everyone was in a highly suggestible state.)
Closing the festival down was R&B singer Frank Ocean. He came out on-stage alone and sporting a black hoodie with “Play Dirty” written on it. Cueing up tracks on a record player, he quickly showed he didn’t need anything else because he’s got that incredible fucking voice.
“You sound good. It’s like the Pemberton choir,” he commented after it was clear we all knew every single word to “Thinking About You”, “Novacane”, and “Super Rich Kids”. When he finished with “Pyramids” and “Wise Man”, it was no surprise that as you exited the festival couples were on the ground in various states of undress. On a day when you got to see Daniel Lanois, Randy Newman, Justice, and Outkast, Ocean left you thinking he might be the most talented of the lot. And unlike Outkast, he didn’t even need to ask people to remove their clothes.
Because of the incident on Friday, many will lump the Pemberton Music Festival alongside other infamous local gigs like Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon peeing on-stage in 1993, Oasis ending its concert after a few songs in 1996, the Guns N’ Roses no-show that sparked a riot in 2002, and, of course, the Pemberton Festival clusterfuck in 2008. However, the majority who attended this well-executed spectacle will be coming back for more. Myself included.
I might even stay an extra day next year if they can sort out a bidet for me.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014
This summer, for the first time in, well, ever, we’ve got an Australian coming to the Whistlah area who won’t annoy the fuck out of you. When Luke Steele, frontman of Empire of the Sun, takes the stage at the Pemberton Music Festival there will be no talk of the pow conditions on Blackcomb or how off his face he got at Garf’s last night. Instead, be prepared for an over-the-top live show that combines the band’s electronic glam-pop with costumes that make the cast of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert look norm-core and production values that would make Baz Luhrmann proud.
“It’s like taking people on this return to some unknown vortex of the senses,” says the 34-year-old solar deity of his multiplatinum outfit’s live show, interviewed by phone. “You want to take the music beyond the world and not live in this world and into the realms and the heavens. Once you open that door, there’s this flood of never-ending stories, and signs and wonders, and journeys beyond nether lands, and blessings and curses.”
If thought loops like that give any indication about the show, we’d all better pray there isn’t any brown acid floating around Pemberton this weekend. Granted, Empire of the Sun’s life-affirming, dance-floor-friendly sound, which has made it a favourite on the festival circuit, will probably cure a bad trip better than some trust-fund hippie shaman trying to talk you down in the chill-out tent.
“I like playing festivals that have a mix of music: bands, singer-songwriters, and DJs. We’ve done some around the world that are strictly techno,” the road warrior confesses. “It’s hard.
“[EDM] has come to America like a giant storm,” he continues. “It’s funny sometimes ’cause the crowd is so different. There are a lot of guys with their shirts off and sporting that oiled-up tan and a six-pack. It’s made it about kind of a fashion parade.”
Steele knows a thing or two about fashion. While it’s not mathematically possible, he claims to be “120 percent involved” in Empire of the Sun’s lavish accoutrements and is quick to dispense advice for those working on an outfit to wear to the show: “I always say fashion designers should hang out at the zoo.”
Whether he’s performing for his devoted Empyreans, oily dance-music meatheads, or people who fall in between, it’s clear Steele won’t be pigeonholed easily. Look no further than Empire of the Sun recently recording with Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham; letting dance-music heavy hitters David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Zedd give tracks off 2013 sophomore album Ice on the Dune the fist-pump-remix treatment; and scoring the upcoming Farrelly brothers flick Dumb and Dumber To.
“It’s getting pretty wild now,” he says. “We can’t stop. It’s an addiction. Once you have a little taste on your lips of what imagination has to offer, you’re gone.”
He’s right. There’s only one thing on the planet that tastes better than imagination: Vegemite on toast.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in july 2014
The video my friend Justin Gradin directed with his friend Ben Jacques for White Lung is outstanding.
I am really thrilled to be involved with the 2014 Khatsahlano Street Party. Here is the website I got up for Vancouver’s biggest art and music festival.
I recently launched a website for Vancouver’s newest and best live music venue. Check it out…
You’re not getting laid if you go to a live-music gig in Vancouver on a Wednesday. Christ, scan whatever grimy venue you’re at and the people will barely look like they’re having fun. It’s not like that everywhere in the city, though. Brave a trip to L.E.D. Bar in the Granville Entertainment District and you’ll be greeted by a weekly happening that unites scenesters and bridge-and-tunnelers alike for three reasons: getting messed up, listening to rap music, and fucking each other’s brains out. Welcome to REUPTRIPPYSHIT.
For nearly two years, DJs Genie (aka Erik Devro) and Rico Uno (aka Rico Cunanan) have been lovingly playing awesomely ignorant party music at the intimate club—bucking the stigma that Granville Street is a godforsaken shithole populated exclusively by the worst people in the city.
“People are tired of going to dirt bars. Granville Street is going to be the new dirt bar,” proclaims Devro as he talks with the Straight while enjoying a beer flight at the Brassneck Brewery. “People hide behind their costumes. No, we’re all chongos who want to wild out. People really do let go. Mornings after RUTS people either thank us or apologize.”
Since elementary school, the duo has wanted to make you reek of cheap tequila every Thursday morning. Self-professed record nerds, both were raised on CiTR hip-hop programs like Krispy Biscuit and The Show. Years later, the two met and became friends while working at Beat Street Records, and now they hold down weekend residencies at cool-kid nights at Fortune Sound Club and the Biltmore Cabaret. RUTS, where party monsters don their most ratchet outfits to hear testosterone-heavy club rap, started as something of a novelty night, but has since grown far past that.
“It seemed when we were starting it was a fad, but I loved the music and I wanted to present it in a nonironic kinda way and actually get people to have a genuine time with music,” Cunanan explains. “It quickly became a destination and people know to take Thursday off. By looking at a girl now, you can tell if she needs the Thursday off.”
Planning ahead is a wise idea, as calling in sick won’t help you when photos of you screaming “Versace, Versace” with a member of the B.C. Lions surface on Facebook. The party pics, which are some of the best in the city, frequently capture crazy clubgoers committing indecent acts that inspire either fomo or a sense of dread that there is no hope for the future of humanity.
“The photos capture this insane mix of people who are actually having fun,” says Devro. “People from out of town tell me the only thing they see about Vancouver on Facebook is RUTS.”
Photos of you committing the online equivalent of a walk of shame aren’t the only thing about REUPTRIPPYSHIT that has an international rep. Earlier this year, the duo did a mix for Diplo that made it onto the global tastemaker’s popular BBC Radio show Diplo and Friends. “I was looking at the guests the month before us and Tiësto did a two-part show and I was like, ‘We’re doing this?’ ” Cunanan recalls.
While Tiësto won’t be popping by RUTS anytime soon, a fair share of notables have turned up to get turnt up. There’s Ryan Kesler, who was spotted doing the Cat Daddy; M. Night Shyamalan, who was (hopefully) drinking his sorrows away because he can’t find work; and Pamela Anderson, who flashed her tits to someone.
“She is perfect and she is what REUPTRIPPYSHIT is. She’s glamorous, but here she is truly what ratchet is. When you see someone who’s beautiful but they’re doing something raunchy, that contrast is ratchet,” explains Devro, local Ebonics expert.
The night frequently boasts interesting scheduled guests as well. The ATL Twins—grill-sporting clones with a much-publicized penchant for rap music and tag-teaming women—hosted a night shortly after they appeared in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. And on Wednesday (April 16), as part of Seasons Festival 2014, RUTS will feature a special mystery guest. (Earlier in the evening, Rico Uno and Genie are opening for Trinidad James, so figure it out.)
A weekday club night with good music that’s open late, where an eclectic crowd can be seen having a good time, sounds suspiciously like something that only happens in other cities. So go on, book next Thursday off work and embrace your inner chongo—the worst-case scenario is you’re issuing a few morning-after apology texts and copping a one-time dose of antibiotics. However, if getting blackout drunk and committing unspeakable acts on a school night isn’t your thing, at least you’ll be able to look at those photos on Facebook of other people having fun.
Trinidad James definitely wasn’t high on ecstasy while talking with the Straight from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. The 26-year-old rapper who uttered the oh-so-repeatable line “Popped a molly, I’m sweating, woo” in his smash hit “All Gold Everything” answers questions in a pleasant, concise manner. It’s a far cry from someone ripped to the tits on amphetamines, who’d likely blather on for hours about everything from how they lost their virginity to the PIN on their bank card. It would be nice to know James’s PIN, though. On the strength of “All Gold Everything” and its accompanying viral video—where he peacocks through the streets of the ATL sporting Versace slippers, hella gold jewellery, and an adorable pit-bull puppy—he was swiftly signed to a seven-figure deal with Def Jam.
“Just in general things move fast, but it’s a process. I can’t even exactly remember when each thing happened because I wasn’t focused on just success,” the man born Nicolas Williams recalls. “I’m still, and was figuring it out even more then, working on skills as an artist.”
He appears to have it all pretty dialled in, considering he’d only been rapping for nine months when “All Gold Everything” dropped. Since then, he’s launched his own imprint, Gold Gang Records, and guested on tracks by the likes of ASAP Ferg, August Alsina, and Gucci Mane, and he’s currently completing “10 songs of greatness” for his major-label debut.
“I don’t beg for anything, and I definitely didn’t beg for fame. Definitely. I just know that my music is something I felt people needed to hear,” he asserts. “I didn’t put a gun to anybody’s head and make them listen to music and buy it.”
James won’t put a gun to your head, but he might do something far more sinister: critique your shoes. Before becoming a famous rapper he managed a streetwear boutique, and late last year he launched a video blog where he passionately shares stylish footwear from his collection. It’s a stark contrast to his music videos, where he’s hurling racial epithets while surrounded by thugs and strippers.
“I was just thinking of different ways to allow my fans to be able to relate to me and understand me some more. And, just in general, I never really knew of an artist who actually knew about shoes the way I did and could talk about it,” he says.
The gem of his collection is the wet dream of anyone who grew up in the ’80s: the 2011 Nike Mag. “They’re a retro remake of the tennis shoe Michael J. Fox wore in Back to the Future with the hoverboard,” the sneakerhead giddily explains.
These fabled, limited-edition shoes were auctioned off to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research, and some hit prices upwards of 10 grand—not exactly the kind of thing someone slogging it out in retail can afford. Rappers signed to major labels, however, can.
“It’s crazy—one day you’re looking at a shoe [and thinking] ‘maybe one day I can afford it,’ ” the rap game’s Imelda Marcos recalls. “Then I got the shoes and I’d worked hard to get them and it was really dope.”
James has been tipped off about the best sneaker stores in Vancouver and will be here shortly. So if you’re a size 11 and needing a new pair, you’d best act quickly. Might as well rock those kicks at the show, too. That’ll get him sweating more than a big bag of molly ever would.
this article was originally published by the georgia straight in april 2014