News & Politics

NY Mirror

by


Sonic Boom: Anti-Pop Consortium’s Priest, M Sayyid, and Beans

Photo Credit: Chris Davison

The Gotham Celebrity DJ series at Joe’s Pub the other night
was packed with urban music-industry types and their hangers-on. Beautiful
model-DJ Beverly Bond revealed she’s working on a new album due for a
late-summer release. She’s not singing on it—just producing all the tracks,
with other guests handling the vocals. Look for her party, WQMB, at the
soon-to-open club Candy, in collaboration with former Tribe Called Quest
frontman Q-Tip and “DJ to the Stars” Mark Ronson. “We’re playing
hip-hop and soul. Like, real good hip-hop”‘ said Bond. “You know what I mean?”
I think so, Bev.

At a party featuring random
celebs taking to the decks regardless of their proficiency with tables and a
mixer, you’d expect some clumsily paced, attitude-driven fake-DJ set, but it
was actually a fun, leisurely night for music lovers. And although Gotham magazine
was hosting, honestly, it seemed like The Fader‘s fete since all their
editors were spinning. (Let me disclose: They are sometimes my bosses,
but don’t let that make you think I’m biased.) That magazine, around just over
two years, has become the culture title du jour thanks to strong photography
and clashing profiles of artists like The White Stripes, Cee-Lo,
and Ghostface Killa.

Fader editor Erik Ducker dutifully laid
highbrow gems like the J. Geils Band’s “Angel in a Centerfold” and Steely Dan’s
“Peg” on the plates. Later on, editorial assistant Mariel Cruz looked
woozy when she spied my reporter pad. (Mental note: Ditch the pen and paper.
Nothing frightens media people more than an abrupt turning of the tables.) “I
don’t like this being-on-the-other-side stuff!” complained Cruz. Cocky,
self-assured, and English, creative director Eddie Brannan delivered a
pretty tight set, especially when he played the Junkyard Band’s “Word,” that
go-go jam you remember from junior high. Brannan, by the way, has been
responsible for driving the sweeping changes in editorial content and
photography direction.

At Joe’s Pub—again—Tuesday night, I waited in line with
other media types to get into the special invite-only gathering celebrating the
release of Anti-Pop Consortium‘s latest, Arrhythmia. High
Priest
, Beans, and M. Sayyid rocked the stage, a special
thank-you to the sea of music writers that crowded the space. There were roving
alt-music scribe Eric Demby, Flyer‘s Saidah Blount and Daniel
Shumate
, and the Voice‘s own hip-hop authority Jon Caramanica,
among others. Love music critics (in doses), but where were the stars?

Photographer extraordinaire Ryan McGinley, who
actually just shot APC for an upcoming spread in the art/culture magazine Index,
was in attendance. I had to ask him about a quote—on how pornography was what
inspired him most—that he had given Paper magazine in their 50 Most
Beautiful People issue. “My mother actually saw that in a supermarket in the
town where I’m from in New Jersey,” explained McGinley. “She said, ‘I can’t
believe that I raised you to say something like that!’ But I don’t think it was
a bad statement. I think that pornography can be beautiful.” I can’t be mad at
that.

McGinley, who’s coming out with a self-titled second book of
photos, recently shot Russian writer/porn star Slava Mogutin climbing
stairs and jumping poles on an East Village rooftop—totally nekkid—for Index
magazine. “We’ve been friends for a long time, and it wasn’t a big deal for me
to take pictures of him,” said McGinley. No word as to whether APC ditched the clothes for their shoot.

Triple 5 Soul founder Camella Ehlke did her own
spinning at the premiere party for the latest Vs. T5S project Wednesday night,
throwing on tracks like Osunlade’s “Tree of Life” and Sylvia Striplin for,
yeah, you guessed it, another industry crowd, but this time art directors and
graf artists.

Every two months, Ehlke invites a communication/design/art
collective to “challenge” her and take on the Lafayette retail front as an
exhibition space. The Fader (they’ve got their hands in
everything, don’t they?) took over the storefront for the last designer
challenge. This time it was Williamsburg-based design group Grafik Havok.
Members Derek Oerner, Sadek Bazaraa, David Merten, and Indira
Cruz
all hail from Atlanta, where they’ve applied their graf-inspired
artwork to campaigns for Coke, AT&T, Novell, and Adidas. They’re on to
chicer contracts, now handling the upcoming T5S fall ad campaign, but they
still got love for the ATL. (“Dirty South all the way!” proclaimed Bazaraa.)
They just completed their first art-direction gig for Elemental, a Big-A
title reporting on hip-hop art and music.

“Hopefully this is the last retail environment that we show
at,” said Oerner. The collective has just made inroads into that hallowed
transition point for all design firms looking to fuck shit up in the art world:
a demo book. The demurely pink, limited-edition, Archie Double Digest-sized
Elizabeth Kent Story takes its name from a Southern woman who studied
witchcraft in Australia (OK . . . .) and profiles the group’s visual vocabulary
of tag work and tittie-baring images of Snow White. I had to have a copy.

You can see more of their stuff when it hangs at the 55DSL
store at Union Square this summer.

I heard Wednesday night’s biggest party was at APT—where
hip-hop/soul DJ Rich Medina teamed up with broken-beat producer Phil
Asher
in the basement rec room—but I needed to witness the return of Black
Lily, the open session that spotlights “the ladies of the Roots” and Philly’s
alt-black music explosion. S.O.B.’s was filled with urbanistas and the men who
date them. Wyclef sib Melky Jean looked hot, although her monotone
performance didn’t exactly hit for the crowd. I’m guessing that everyone was
waiting for former Brand New Heavies songstress N’Dea Davenport to make
the scene. She arrived onstage at midnight in a look by stylist Carmen
Webber
: Adidas boxing boots and a sarongóhot! She tried to get everyone to
chant along, but, dude, honestly, it was mostly an industry crowd (yeah, I
know, another one) and people just stood watching until she got into
“Brothersister” and some other BNH classics. The big surprise was when
rock/r&b enigma Me’Shell Ndegéocello joined Davenport for the rest
of her set.

I caught up with Mercedes Martinez, one-half of the
Jazzyfatnastees and co-founder of the Black Lily phenomenon. The party’s recent
certified superstar, Jaguar Wright, is a testament to its power as a
goldmine of new female black talent, especially artists from the City of
Brotherly Love. What exactly is up with the explosion of influential music? “It
has to do with Philly being a small town and a big town at the same time all at
once,” said Martinez .

Look for the Black Lily girls to continue expanding their
reach. There are still weekly parties in Philly, where acts like Fertile
Ground
, Tamar Kali, and Jaguar Wright make regular appearances.
Coming up is a Web site, a European edition of the party (London, baby!), and,
eventually, a foundation to support the fruition of left-of-center black music
artists.

Hip-hop Svengali-on-the-move Wyclef Jean, who came to support sister
Melky, was spotted in the crowd. Besides his own album, Masquerade, due
this summer, he’s producing a new disc for the pop trio City High, who
popped up everywhere on the Viacom networks last year hawking their record,
from spots on 105th & Park to promos for the Real
World Chicago
. “I want to push it up a notch with them on the next album,”
said Jean.

At a Vibe shoot in the airy Noho penthouse loft of
Sun Digital Studios, photographer Robert Maxwell and his assistants were
testing the light on a chaise lounge as a team of fashion eds waited to receive
Kimora Lee Simmons, designer of the Baby Phat clothing line (and a newly
expectant mother). Baby Phat’s marketing director, Michelle Perez,
ushered me into a room dressed with YSL caftans and Dior utility belts laid out
for her Phatness to meet brand-new Vibe fashion director Michael Nash,
who was bright, friendly, and totally handsome (truly a fashion person?). Nash
had just gotten back from a vacation in Brazil when he got called to fill the
shoes of former director Angela Arambulo. What happened to Arambulo? Not
a word from anyone (though judging from a spread in last month’s issue,
featuring a couple involved in a fight by a banged-up fridge, it was probably a
good move). The publishing world, sigh, can be such a cruel and unforgiving
place . . .



Related article:

Tricia Romano’s Fly Life column

Most Popular