Category Archives: Lifestyle

AfroPunk 2015

***Disclaimer: I didn’t take these photos and own no rights to them. These are a collection of photos that have been placed on social media. Sharing is caring. 

If you think at the end of every AfroPunk season that it can never be topped, the next year’s festival comes along and blows your mind all over again.  This year didn’t disappoint. With a lineup that boasted Grace Jones (yes, Grace Jones!), Lenny Kravitz, Lauryn Hill, Kelis, Danny Brown, Lion Babe and so many other talented performers, festival goers barely had a chance to catch their breath.

This year the festival had it’s inaugural Fancy Dress Ball with Grace Jones as the headliner with proceeds from the ball going towards charity organizations.  Ms. Jones was so fierce that she performed the following night and the crowd in the seat of her bosom all over again with cheeky commentary in between songs, slight costume changes for each set and so much energy that we can’t believe she is 67!

Equally as impressive was the fashion.  You will never see street style expressed as passionately and honestly than at AfroPunk.  Wearing every color in the rainbow and many donning tribal face paint, it was clear that this year being Black and proud was the theme.  #BlackTransLivesMatter had a strong presence with signs placed throughout the grounds and impromptu marches through the crowds chanting to be treated equally. The all inclusive festival had very diverse crowds that came together to see the sights, dance their hearts out and get high off of great performances.  With security tighter than TSA, the crowd lt loose on the park grounds.  Food and merchandise vendors were bountiful.  Black commerce and activism definitely had a voice.

If you haven’t made it to at least one of the 11 AfroPunks that Brooklyn has hosted, I don’t really understand what you are waiting for.  See you next year?!


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An Electric Night with Haitus Kaiyote

It seems as if I had many amazing experiences the entire show.

By Aubrey Modium

I was first introduced to Haitus Kaiyote from my friend, DJ Anthony Valadez of KCRW in Los Angeles.  My first HK show was in Venice, California at the Del Monte Speakeasy.  This was ironically HK’s first time performing in Cali and this cozy spot was filled with anticipation for what audio and visual goodness awaited us.

Two years later, I saw them in Las Vegas at an arcade bar named Insert Coins.   It’s often difficult to duplicate post production studio recordings in a live performance but HK did it with ease; that was amazingly refreshing.  Their 2-hour performance included songs from both albums, “Tawk Tomahawk” and “Choose Your Weapon”.  The crowd knew every song and their singing along created an intimate setting that felt like a gathering of old friends.   When the band came back for their encore, they performed “Atari”, which front woman, Nai Palm, noted how the song is hard to perform live because of the various arrangements in their production.  The highlight of the performance for me was when I discovered my new favorite song, “Breathing Underwater”.  It seems as if I had many amazing experiences the entire show.

Afterwards, I was lucky enough to chop it up with band members Simon, the keyboardist and Paul the bassist.  It was nice to see the humility of this group through Simon gushing over having sold out shows. It was refreshing.

HK has not only established themselves as the standard for electro futuristic soul but they place themselves outside the box of what is considered, “conventional”.


  ~ One of Chi city’s finest, Aubrey Modium is the mastermind behind the “Mind of Modium” and the “Arte Box”.  He loves you and you love him.


14 Things DJing Changes About You Forever

I was having a discussion with fellow djs about why it’s hard for me to get excited when I’m out hearing another dj spin.  I tend to critique the set or comment on the establishment’s sound system.  After reading this article posted on Digital DJ Tips, I’m glad I’m not the only one.  I related to a few points on this list and couldn’t resist laughing at myself. (read more) .

Why are DJ residencies short lived and disappearing?

Here in New York if you have a DJ residency and you’re lucky, it may last on average 6 months.  However, in most cases depending on the frequency of your residencies, business will only give you about 2 chances.  Why is that? Why is the pressure so high for DJs to pack a place when all they really should be concentrating on is pleasing the crowd that is in front of them?  read more

Letters from Malika,

This is how it went down, I let my tape rock until my tape popped, {(c) Biggie Smalls} as me and my best friend Natalie did our latest choreographed move down the hallway. The Low End Theory had just come out and we were bobbing our heads in matching outfits (thats what we did back then), spitting lyrics to “Skypager”.  Those were the days when you really felt hip hop.  It engulfed your whole being but in a pure, untampered with, fresh way.

I get to revisit those feelings these days.  Lately I’ve been inundated with lyrics in such a good way.  Being the beat junkie that I am, production is just as important as the execution and content. Albums that really have been getting me through lately are Run the Jewels, B4.Da.A$$, If You’re Reading This…, To Pimp a Butterfly and Forest Hills Drive. I don’t have a problem with a little bit of that Southern inspired music, I’m from the South.  But when it’s overabundant it can become as stifling as standing next to someone reaking of a buss down in their pocket.

I’ve heard critics fault Joey BadA$$ for leaning too much on 90’s hip hop, but I don’t care.  If you are going to be influenced then at least it’s from good music. El-P’s production on Run the Jewels (1&2) is top notch, as always.  His chemistry with Killer Mike aka Mike Bigga works. Kendrick Lamar went to a very dark place with his latest release.  It feels as if a bandage has been ripped off a wound and this is the first bombastic exhale.

I named this post, “Letters from Malika” as a homage to true hip-hop culture that encompasses 4 elements (some say 5) as taught in the Universal Lessons.  In Zulu Nation, “Malika” is a the formal greeting for sistahs that are members but not in a position of power.  “Queen” is the title given to the female chapter leaders.  I mention all this because the way the tide is surging and ready to crest is how Zulu head, hip hop purist and lover of quality music would want the music to be.

Cheers to those that go against the grain and produce music that speaks to their being. That’s real magic -the intersection between inspiration and flawless execution. This generation needs this.  Alternatives are good.  Free thinking inspires future leaders, innovators and taste makers.

Expect more of this column.  Be entertained, inspired and compelled to comment and get engaged in the conversation.


~Sakir is the creator of OHM and on occasion massages vinyl while seamlessly blending melodies.

“Free Bobby”

The abandonment of a rapper with big dreams and little real support.”

By Randy Lee

I admit that I was late to the Bobby Shmurda bandwagon. (I’m not about that life).  My first introduction was via the “Shmoney Dance”, which I affectionately describe as a drunken version of “The Wop”.  I was just discovering Vine (late) and the Shmoney Dance was trending.  My first impression was that this was some kid shit … cool.

A couple of months passed and I began to hear “Hot Nigga” everywhere.  It was blasting out of cars, out of apartment windows and escaping out of off overpriced headphones on the subway.  Basslines were blaring out of the sneaker/hat/cellphone/perfume/jewelry stores strewn all over Flatbush, Fulton and Nostrand Avenues.   Everywhere! That shit was hot! But as the Jay-Z and Beyoncé plugs faded, we were left with a handful of songs from Bobby’s only release, Shmurda He Wrote, that were unabashedly psychotic.

Should you take someone who claims to have sold crack in 5th grade seriously? I struggle with the “rap is just entertainment” argument. Are listeners expected to not question it’s authenticity and understand that it is just a show, a ploy, an act?  I believe Raekwon on the song “C.R.E.A.M” when he talks about “pulling out gats for fun,” yet I am doubtful when I hear similar bravado from a teenager.

I struggle with admitting that I like some aspects of the single. There is a comedic element in the way Bobby spits out the different ways and reasons to shoot a “nigga.”  And although I hate the content of the song, the context in which I first heard it was unusually non-threatening.  It was outdoors in the early evening, when I walked past a group of kids. They were all adorned  in the same series of Jordans and working the hell out the Shmoney Dance as the Jungle Beatz track banged out of speakers taped to the window of a hat and bootleg DVD spot. Sometimes Brooklyn is still Brooklyn,  so thank you, Bobby.

Regardless of how I feel about Bobby’s music, I am sad that he is currently unable to continue his rap career.  He awaits a trial date for a string of charges ranging from reckless endangerment to conspiracy to commit murder in the second degree. I find his lyrics reprehensible.  Again, I am not about that life—yet I can’t help but feel sad that the kid who released a song named “Wipe The Case Away,” about using a lawyer to, well … you get the point, is sitting in jail with no financial means to get out.

The irony is almost comical, but the seriousness of his charges makes it hard to laugh. John Legend’s Oscar comment regarding the number of black males under correctional control is a disheartening reality feeding Bobby’s music, writing, lifestyle and his fans.

Is this a social justice issue? Is he the product of an overwhelmed working-class community, where the proximity to violence, drug and domestic abuse molded him into an unapologetic goon? This is the child of a country obsessed with violence and shooting things who was adored like a modern-day Billy the Kid, straight out of badlands of East Flatbush.

Whether or not he is guilty, his label has distanced itself. Although no official statement has been released, anyone with some industry knowledge could tell you it was about money. You cannot insure an artist for a tour that attracts that much goonery. Especially in the snatch-your-chain-and-post-it-on-Instagram age. No tour, no live appearances means no way to recoup production and promotion costs; studio time, travel, video budgets, the things that an artist expects a record label to provide them in exchange for a percent of albums sales and merchandise. No return on that investment equals no deal. Those edgy lyrics, the same ones that got him signed, are now the reason he is being abandoned.

But what if Bobby made it all up as he claimed in a recent interview? I am a big fan of the creative and quite familiar with battling, where the use of extremely violent statements is commonplace and a means of unsettling an opponent. Yet the context, the idea that these two rappers are trying to win the praise of an audience, hedges against the often-horrible things exchanged during a competition. It is theater. To hear those same things, without that context is unnerving at times, but only if you believe.

Should we only judge Bobby on his performance of rap and not the veracity of his statements? Am I the only motherfucker who still believes what street rappers are saying is true? The problem is that kids think that Bobby is real. He is a real gangster and he is real popular. Call of Duty and Bobby are different in degree, but both occupy the same killing-as-entertainment space. And the kids are addicted to it. I don’t know if I’m cool with that. But I am currently playing Lil Wayne’s version of Bobby’s song, and Wayne raps that street shit as well, so maybe I’m just a hypocrite. Or is there something really unsettling about a 20 year-old rapper whose shtick is murdering people.


~Randy Lee is the Chief Panda at Brooklyn Props. He occasionally writes, loves Prince Paul and is still learning Serato.