It’s Only Logical

The beauty of the age of internet goes beyond being able to creep anyone you like (or hate). Artists, specifically rappers, are using the internet as a highly effective way to gain a following before they even get signed or release an actual album. What’s in a name? Well this kid is a paradox of a name fit for a king with a stage name fit for the streets. Sir Robert Bryson Hall II sounds like the furthest thing from a rapper. This 24 year old has taken the name Psychological but you probably just know his as Logic. Without an album out yet he has gained his fame from the internet and it’s a story definitely worth knowing.

First of all I should clarify that he is by no means royalty or knighted. The ‘Sir’ just came from his mother at birth determining that quirky creativity does in fact run in the family. He was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland which doesn’t sound vey gangster but he had a fairly tumultuous childhood. His African-American father and his caucasian mother both suffered with crack addiction and alcoholism throughout his childhood. The man who he shared a name with, his father, was not a part of his childhood but they are now in contact. His mother was abusive towards him using racial slurs. They are no longer in contact as he notes she had emotional and mental problems. Logic faced issues with his mixed race, his brother selling crack cocaine and his lack of interest in school. As a young teenage Logic was seeing crack cocaine manufactured and sold out of his apartment building. He was kicked out of his high school in the tenth grade as he began skipping resulting in him failing everything but english. He had the recipe to be a rapper already he just needed the creativity and the drive, he already had the struggle and English skills. By the age of 17 Logic had moved out and gotten two jobs, the grind begins.

So clearly his childhood would provoke one of two things: massive amounts of character and persistence or a bad attitude and distaste for life. We both know that I would never write about a distasteful rapper, don’t be ridiculous. In an article in The Baltimore Sun Logic opens up about his coming of age stating “It wasn’t the best childhood, but I did my best to make it good on my end. I didn’t let it pull me down. In my music I don’t glorify [my upbringing]“. This is one of the most refreshing things you could hear from a rapper even if he admitted to being a ‘huge pothead’ as a youngster. Too many times the genre is defined by the glorification of gang violence, drug selling, and abuse, but here is a guy who has seen it, and decided to not let it define him. Many times he has been criticized for his clean image but I say the hell with them, he has flow, lyrical ingenuity and a great sense of style.

Logic had been rapping seriously at the ripe ole age of 15 influenced after hearing the score of ‘Kill Bill’ produced by Wu Tang leader RZA. When Logic was 16 his mentor Soloman Taylor, who had came into his life at age 13, gave him beat CDs to write lyrics over. In 2009 by the name of Psychological he released an unofficial mixtape ‘Psychological: The Mixtape” (real creative). He opened a show for Pitbull, EPMD, Method Man, Redman and Ludacris and soon after dropped his name to Logic. His rap career really took off in December 2010 with the release of the mixtape “Young, Broke and Infamous”. If that title isn’t straight up honesty then I don’t know what is. This project included two videos for singles on the mixtape ‘Stain in the Game’ and ‘Backpack’.

Logic began to get noticed including by the likes of independent record label owner Chris Zanou. He was signed to Chris’s Visionary music group soon after. Logic released his second mixtape ‘Young Sinatra’ on September 16, 2011. The video for the single ‘All I Do’ was the first of his to hit over one million views. By March 2012 Billboard had named Logic the Next Big Sound. Th this mixtape by the name of ‘ Young Sinatra: Undeniable’ was released in April of 2012. If you haven’t caught on Logic was influenced heavily by Frank Sinatra and how he treated people. He says that Frank is the reason he carries himself ‘in an intellectual and kind manner’. In his songs he exposes the struggles he faces growing up with stark honesty. This kid is as versatile as he is likeable. He states about the mixtape “There’s stuff on there for the motherfuckers that don’t pay attention to lyrics and just want to have fun, but every kine in constructed with such depth that the real lyricists and nitpickers have something to listen to and analyze as well”. This statement is a great backup to why I believe it is more important to fall for an artist and not just their music. Artist are going to change sounds, they can never stay stagnant or you will grow old of them. They have to be able to show who they truly are and if you like them to the core, that’s what makes you a true fan. Now that was a little soft lets get back to the good stuff.

In the beginning of 2013 Logic was working on his fourth mixtape while finishing his European tour in March. On May 7 ‘Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever’ was released with the announcement of the Welcome to Forever Tour throughout the U.S Like our boy Kendrick Lamar, Logic was named to the ‘Top 10 Freshmen List’ for XXL. He solidified he was here to stay when he signed to Def Jam Recordings on April 15, 2013. In July it was announced he would be touring with the likes of Kid Cudi, Big Sean and Tyler the Creator which makes me extremely jealous of any of you who got to that one.

2014 is looking promising for this up and comer with announcement of a debut arriving sometime by the end of the year. He stated to XXL about the album that he won’t have any major collaborations even with his tour hook-ups because he wants to make it his own. He toured with the EDM group Krewella on their Verge Campus Tour this spring which I also hold a high amount of jealous for you if you got to see that one. Basically, keep your ears out for this debut album, its going to be a gooder.

Now for the style. Much like his paradox of names, his style tends to sway between two extremes. This might sound like he is confused but really he is nailing it. Logic can wear a button up hipster print shirt one day and chains, backwards hat gangster style the next. He walks the line between hood and hip and does it better than most ever could. Think leather and letterman’s paired with hoodies and graphics. A brilliant contradictory if you ask me.

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Logic is an admirable rapper with a twisted past to back up his quick paced flow. He’s a force raised by the internet. From crack cocaine to touring alongside some of the biggest names in the game, he’s been a class act. Take a listen, would I ever steer you wrong?

Making Iceland Cooler

Some famous Icelanders include Bjork Guomundsdottir, Einar Orn Benediktsso, Eirikur Hauksson and Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson. What do you mean you have never heard of them and can’t even say their names without extreme confusion? Well don’t worry you aren’t alone. As obscure as Iceland is, if you truly think about it, it is the perfect breeding ground for hipster. Nobody would expect you to be from Iceland until you are standing at main stage at Sasquatch telling all your faithful fans it’s true. Of Monster and Men did just that. Just when you think Iceland can’t get cooler, they made it so.

Of Monster and Men is made up 5 very Icelandically named musicians: Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir (lead singer/guitarist/nanny), Ragner Porhalisson (singer/guistarit), Brynjar Leifsson (guitarist), Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson (drummer) and Pall Kristjansson (bassist). Take an Advil after attempting those names and stay with me here. Out of the 320,137 outrageously named people who live in Iceland, these 5 found each other when Hilmarsdottir decided to expand upon her solo project ‘Songbirds’. Of Monsters and Men entered Musiktilraunir in 2010, directly translated as music experiments. Although this annual music competition sounds illegal in English, it resulted in the expanding fame of the band when they won. The name for the band was made up by Ragner or Raggi who mentioned it to the rest of the band members and it just stuck. After their win at Musiktilraunir they were invited to perform at Iceland Airwaves festival that same year. It was there that Of Monster and Men were recorded playing ‘Little Talks’ in a living room session by Seattle-based radio station KEXP. If the term ‘living room session’ doesn’t pull that those acoustic heart strings at yours I’m at a loss with you. This look inside the band gave them significant U.S. exposure which is an unfortunate necessity if you ever want to take advantage of the age of consumerism (aka Get Rich and Famous).

After an extremely successful 2010 as far as growth, they signed with Record Records in February of 2011. The next month they went to Studio Syrland in Reykavik to record their debut album. As of August 2011, Radio 104.5 started blasting ‘Little Talks’ through the car stereos and offices of Philadelphia. Of Monster and Men began to gain a following for their uniquely crafted indie-rock sound outside their home country gaining global recognition. This group of daydreamers released their debut album ‘My Head Is an Animal’ only in Iceland in September 2011 with both it and the single ‘Little Talks’ hitting number one and also being the only time in my entire life that I wanted to live in Iceland. As word got out to the fellow hipsters of America and their popularity began to grow the band was signed to Universal for the worldwide release of ‘My Head Is an Animal’. To build up their debut album the band released the ‘Into the Woods’ EP on December 20 containing four songs from the full length album which before then was only available in the mystical country of Iceland. They are so much more than a one hit band so make sure to listen to it all, trust me!

On April 3, 2012 after their praised performances at the SXSW festival, ‘My Head Is an Animal’ was released. Sending their fame to a level much higher than the sounds waves of Iceland, Of Monsters and Men began booking festivals and tours. They played at Osheaga and Lollapalooza but first decided to steal my heart at Sasquatch. There was something about the sunset over the Gorge paired with the complimentary vocals surrounded by uplifting lyrics that made for an intoxicating experience. They continued to steal the hearts throughout Europe on their tour. Since their little battle of the bands event back before their discovery they have played at massive shows including Bonnaroo and at Glastonbury on the same stage as The XX, Two Door Cinema Club, Azealia Banks and The Lumineers (might have shed a tear there). The album continued to entrance people around the world charting at number 1 in Australia and Ireland, number 3 in the UK, number 4 in Canada, Germany and New Zealand with a respectable number in the U.S.

The band looks like and award collection of people who happened to be thrown together at random. Technically speaking this could be the truth about the origin of this band making it a beautiful mix of talent recognized by the world. To think that this fancy-named group hail from one of the most obscure places in the world and ended up playing out the sound system of your local Starbucks is truly an inspiration. Give it up to Of Monster and Men, and if you are so much as in 8 hours of seeing them live, DO IT.

 

15 tell tale signs you are in fact a Hipster

I know it might not be possible to even try and sum up all you lovely unique hipsters out there but I thought for a couple laughs I would give it a try. Here’s a list I composed and if you so much as answer yes to one of these, I’m sure we are going to get along just fine. Whether you hail from Portland, Oregon (the epicentre of hipsterness) or Vancouver, BC we all have certain tendencies that are extremely similar. Let’s get real, don’t deny it, you are a fabulous hipster. Embrace it.

1) All or 90% of your devices are made by Apple.

2) Your order at Starbucks is longer than your shorts.

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3) Your alcohol of choice is one of the following: Pabst, micro brewery beer, Bombay Sapphire gin or anything with a clever label.

4) Your cat is your biggest music fan.

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5) Your car is older than you are, and that gives it character.

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6) You always refer to live music listenings as ‘shows’ because only rookies go to ‘concerts’. 

7) You own at least one pair of over-priced sunglasses. Bonus points if they are Ray Bans.

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8) You prefer not to wear socks in your shoes because you have lovely ankles.

9) Your music taste cannot be limited to a genre but is always more obscure than your friends (and better but I didn’t say anything).

10) You insist on wearing your brightly patterned shirt buttoned all the way up.

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11) You judge people HEAVILY if they listen to the Top 40. Like could you be any less original?

12) Your four major food groups are kale, quinoa, coconut water, and yam fries.

13) You are extremely protective over your hair. Don’t even think about touching this masterpiece on my head.

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14) You have a degree in Communications, Theatre, Liberal Arts or Political Science which you reference to justify witty banter. 

15) You heard of them BEFORE they got big. Duh.

Passenger

The beauty of being a hipster is that you can swing from hood rappers to sultry vocals paired with an acoustic guitar without batting an eye. Just to keep you on your toes I am going to do just that. Michael David Rosenberg is an English folk/rock singer-songwriter with talent bigger than his title. He started as a lead singer for the band Passenger but recently has kept the name for his solo career. If you are looking for some casual music to wake up to or you just want to smile, Passenger is your guy. You Are Welcome.

Rosenberg was born and raised in Brighton, England into an American/English/Jewish family. His father who was originally from New Jersey had Michael listening to Simon and Garfunkel at an early age (parenthood at its finest). He poetically states “When you’re a kid and you listen to music, it just feels magical. You don’t understand how it’s made, who’s making it or what’s going on. It just hits you”. He learned classical guitar very early on and was writing songs by age 14/15. The only thing I was worried about in the 10th grade was trying to get out of science class and playing soccer. At the age of 16 while the rest of use were trying to remember to wear deodorant  Rosenberg had his first performance. His official music career began it’s long strenuous journey when he announced to his parent’s at the age of 17 that he was dropping out of university to become a musician. Rosenberg said it stressed out his mother until she realized he was putting his heart and soul into it by committing countless hours to busking on the streets and songwriting.

The first step up the endless ladder of fame happened when Rosenberg met Andrew Phillips backstage at a show. Rosenberg had scored a one-song slot and Phillips was playing with his current band ‘Slovo’ (don’t worry I don’t expect you to know that one). Phillips is a Bafta award winning film and TV soundtrack composer. The pair started chatting about football and music and bonded almost immediately. This makes me happier than a furry boot merchant at EDC. Ah the power of football. A few months later Phillips and Rosenberg were writing music together which escalated to countless hours in Phillip’s studio. The pair were making eclectic sounding songs influenced heavily by Phillip’s established background in cinema. With the back bone of Phillips and Rosenberg, the band Passenger was created consisting at various times 4-5 other members. These are just empty names to you so lets continue on down the road to the Passenger we know of today.

The band’s debut and only album ‘Wicked Man’s Rest’ was released in 2007. I also don’t expect you to know about this one as it had really no impact on a large enough scale to mention. Rosenberg believe that Phillips and himself had compromised their true vision to satisfy the other people in the band. He described the constant struggle of folksy hipster stating the sound “…wasn’t cool enough for the cool kids and it wasn’t poppy enough for the pop kids”. The band not surprisingly broke up in 2009 around the same time Rosenberg experienced a painful breakup with his girlfriend. The struggle of no money and loneliness shaped this singer into the brilliant voice he is today.

He decided to take to the streets of Europe, back to his roots of busking with a suitcase of CDs and two t-shirts. He posted videos on Facebook and started playing in tiny pubs around the U.K, like so tiny there was around 6 people there. The kind of refreshing passion Rosenberg maintained for music even at a time where it seemed to have abandoned him is just another reason to admire him. He was travelling alone completely off the grid of any radio stations or labels many times being told that his busking was illegal. Instead of growing resentful Rosenberg made the decision that he wasn’t playing music to get noticed or make money, he was playing to connect with people and make songs he was personally proud of and loved. With a mindset as positive as this good things were bound to happen, and they did.

Things began to turn around when Rosenberg took his act to Australia in October of 2009. He eventually grew his fan base as a supporting acts for indie artist in the land down unda. That same year he recorded his debut solo album ‘Wide Eyes Blind Love’ having gained recognition from playing at the ‘One Movement’ festival in Perth. His fame was based almost entirely in Australia which is where he produced his next album ‘Flight of the Crow’ released in 2010.

Passenger’s big moment came when Rosenberg landed a local gig which contained highly successful song guru Ed Sheeran on the list of performers. Rosenberg seems to be a smooth talker backstage as these two got chatting and really liked what the other was doing (music wise). Passenger began opening for Sheeran throughout Europe Australia, and the U.S for most of 2012.

These two can clearly make some brilliant music together and the music industry began to take notice at a level that we can all relate to without being Australian. Rosenberg has a knack for singing about dark subjects with a lightening tone paired with a uniquely brilliant voice. His disarming honesty has no doubt bloomed from his many years of struggle, so keep the faith my pavement pounding songsters. He finally found the perfect balance of catchy chorus’s and chords to capture the heart in his most successful album yet. “All the Little Lights” was released on August 28, 2012. The album contains 12 original tracks with Passenger’s quirky brilliance shining through. ‘I Hate’ was recorded live at The Borderline in London and mocks the likes of ‘racist blokes telling tasteless joke’ and also calls out festival toilets and the idiot we all hate who talk through live shows. ‘Let Her Go’ was the most popular singe dominating radio waves around the world was released prior in July. The smash single laden with depressing tones told with a creative genius sold 1 million copies that October and 2.5 million overall (as of December 2013).

On March 26, 2014, Passenger announced he will released his fifth album ‘Whispers’ on June 9, 2014. He has yet to make it in any top tens on any charts because apparently that’s what makes people famous or something (ridiculous concept) but Passenger has talent unlike anything we have seen in a long time. His lyrical genius will jet grow better if he keep developing his sound. I hope you are just as excited for what this artist can do as I am.

This story is what you fellow hipsters should strive for in an artist. Michael Rosenberg’s creative edge that finally helped him make it big was developed through years of struggle. The man we now know simply as Passenger could have remained a stranger if it wasn’t for his admirable persistence in busking and his undying love of music. If the thought of that doesn’t make you smile for the hope of humanity then I just don’t know what to tell you.

The artist formerly known as K-Dot

Now I don’t really expect you to know the hip-hop crew known as Black Hippy. The cause of this might be because they seem to have chosen the worst name ever and never rep but I’d be more surprised if you haven’t heard of their most popular member who has been stirring up the rap scene since 2010. Hailing from the origin of the likes of Dr. Dre, The Game and Eazy- E, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth reps his roots like only hood-ass rappers from Compton can. You might hate him because he called out every rapper in the game in his ‘Control’ verse but I’d be damned if I didn’t respect someone who is ballsy enough to come out of the depths of Compton to the most talked about performance at the Grammys. I’ll never be able to sum up Kendrick Lamar into words, but I thought you should know a little bit about his story before you decided whether his talk is bigger than his talent or not.

Kendrick Lamar’s first noted influence happened back in 1995. Living in Compton, California, eight year old Kendrick witness Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre film the video to a tune you might have heard of called ‘California Love’. Kendrick was a straight-A student in high school and was keen enough to make his first mixtape at 16. ‘Youngest Head Nigga in Charge’ was the first we heard of K-Dot (Kendricks pseudonym reminding me heavily of the 90s). The kid got some local recognition with some feature verses on The Games songs but Kendrick wasn’t anyone yet. K-Dot released another mixtape named ‘Training Day’ in 2005 as his slow climb to the top continued. He made an impact on the Charles Hamilton show who is basically a failed rapper named to XXL’s Freshman in ’09 then released too many mix tapes, stepped on some toes and fell of the face of the earth. This video is basically a mess of tin sounding music in the background of a club while teenage Kendrick raps over drunk shouts wearing plaid and a down vest looking much to hipster in a crowd of gangsters. Hamilton might not be worth a damn but his fame opened a door for K-Dot which lead to him stumbling into the hands of Lil Wayne. Weezy co-signed Kendrick resulting in the third mixtape for K-Dot. ‘C4′ was released in December of 2009 and is basically Kendrick Lamar’s version of The Carter III. Soon after Kendrick dropped K-Dot (goodbye 90s) and decided to stick with the name his momma gave him (because mom knows best). Also in 2009, Kendrick joined forces with Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q to form the previously judged So-Cal group Black Hippy. Do you have to be black to be in the group while simultaneously not wearing shoes, dropping a lot of acid and wearing wrappable clothing? Get it together kids you might rap super hood but your name is lame.

2010 came around and Kendrick Lamar is still fraternizing with rappers I avoid like the plague. Kendrick toured with Tech N9ne and Jay Rock on The Independent Grind tour that year. Now this might not seem like the ideal reach for popularity but try to remember my lovely hipsters that even bad attention is good publicity. The artist formally known as K-Dot released his fourth album ‘Overly Dedicated’ on September 14 for digital junkies under Top Dawg Entertainment and on the 23 to all you normal folk (I hope you got that Diddy/P.Diddy reference).  This record sneaked onto Billboard debuting at number 72. Keep this in mind as we approach the chart topping debut of Kendrick Lamar’s ego. Now although this album as a whole didn’t shatter any charts or any hearts it did continue to score Lamar credit for his creativity. ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, a single off the fourth mixtape paired with an equally creative and illuminating video caught the attention of Dr. Dre.

Ah yes we appear to have come full circle from baby Kendrick witnessing ‘California Love’ to working with the man who inspired him. He began working with Dre and Snoop Dogg on the much awaited ‘Detox’ album that had been in the works since 2001. In late December of 2010 Kendrick graced the cover of ‘Complex’ magazine and was named to ‘XXL’s Freshmen’ in January of 2011. In an interview Kendrick was noted by saying he wasn’t nervous to meet fellow freshmen Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Yelawolf and big K.R.I.T. but excited to ‘feel their vibes’. Stay with me folks because the Kendrick Lamar train is just gaining speed. In April of 2011, Lamar announced the upcoming release of his debut studio album ‘Section.80′ and followed the next day with the release of the albums first single ‘HiiiPower’. This single marked the first of many collaborations with ‘Cole World’s’ J. Cole (but don’t think for a second think this makes him safe). The album was released on July 2, 2011 featuring GLC, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Wu Tang leader RZA with production still being handled under TDE. ‘Section.80′ scored an ironic 8.0/10 by Pitchfork and named it 45 on the list of Top 50 albums of 2011, a large improvement from 72 on Billboard. This album showed the rap world what Kendrick Lamar had to offer. The lyrics of this album were dripping in references to the 80s including Ronald Reagan and the rise of the crack epidemic. This kid has come a long way from praising gang violence to addressing the fact that ‘justice and morals are rarely cut and dry’.

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In August of 2011, while onstage at a West Los Angeles show, Kendrick Lamar was crowned ‘New King of the West Coast’ by the only Kings who could do so: Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and the Game. Kendrick’s rise continued as he was graced with the opportunity of surrounding himself and his music with talent. Basically, once you’re crowned King by Kings, you can do whatever the hell you want. He was given a solo track on Drake’s breakthrough album ‘Take Care’ by the name of ‘Buried Alive’ which if you haven’t heard of, is attached to the end of ‘Marvins Room’. If you still haven’t heard of it you probably didn’t purchase the album so stop being lazy, get a job, and respect these artists you pirate. Drake had reached out to Kendrick after being the first person to hear ‘Section.80′ when the two met in Toronto. Thank the rap gods that Kendrick wasn’t induced into the cracked-out high of Young Money but decided to stick to his hipster/hood roots.

February of 2012 revealed a song called ‘Cartoon & Cereal’ by our boy Kendrick which although was named to ‘Complex’s Best 50 songs of 2012′ failed to make the biggest album Lamar has made to date. This month Kendrick was casually travelling with Drake’s Club Paradise Tour opening for the beloved ASAP Rocky and the not so beloved 2 Chainz. Those on top of gangsta news could feel a build up to something big when Top Dawg Entertainment signed a joint venture with big wigs Interscope (Macklemore’s homie Jimmy Iovine) and Aftermath Entertainment (Dre, duh). Don’t think for a second Lamar’s end of being an independent artist would make him less tenacious. On the contrary, Kendrick Lamar now had the attention and funds to say exactly what he wanted everyone to hear. The first single ‘The Recipe’ was release on April 2, 2012 in the lead up to the equivalent to ‘Take Care’ of Kendrick’s career.

July 31, 2012 the lead single ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ was released consuming the brain waves of partiers everywhere. Look I could list all the singles and wow you with the fact that Lady Gaga was supposed to collaborate on ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ but I’d rather get down to the nitty gritty. The highly acclaimed ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ was released on October 22, 2012 selling 242,122 copies in the first week alone. The album has atmospheric beats layers with background vocals, a smidgen of piano, a heavy dose of bass with an icing of bitter sweet contemporary hip-hop (oh how creative). The album has been compared to Outkast’s ‘Aquemini’ album back in 1998. It also sports heavy references to Compton’s harsh realities and plagued streets contrasted with Lamar’s homesickness for the California city in which he grew up.

‘Good kid, m.A.A.d’ city was basically nominated for every Grammy award relating to rap with Macklemore upsetting all of them leaving Kendrick’s calloused hands empty. This lead to Macklemore’s awkward text message to Kendrick Instagrammed for the world to see which leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth but such matters are too petty to expand upon. The album debuted at number 2 on Billboard and was certified platinum by March 30, 2014 having sold a total of 1,226,000 copies. If you haven’t heard the album covered by a creepy looking rapist van then I’ll forgive you for now but probably would de-friend you on Facebook if I had the choice.

No good rapper comes without their controversies. In August 2013 Kendrick Lamar spat a verse on Big Sean’s track ‘Control’ that would rock the rap world. If you aren’t a confrontational person then you might not understand why Kendrick decided to call out everyone who is anyone but stay with me. In this verse the previously knighted ‘New King of the West Coast’ declares he has love for his fellow rappers but is trying to murder them (via rhymes don’t worry). He called out a total of 11 artists including  J.Cole, Big K.R.I.T, Wale, Pusha T, Meek Mill, ASAP Rocky, Drake, Tyler the Creator, Mac Miller and Big Sean (what on his own track? Yes). Kendrick even had the audacity to call Nas, Eminem and Andre 3000 old and to not get involved: ‘new ni**as, just new ni**as, don’t get involved’.

Before you get all weepy and start crying yourself to sleep saying nonsense like ‘How dare Mr. Lamar say those things about such brilliant rappers’ I’m going to need you to take a few deep breaths into a paper bag and realize the reality of the situation. This is the biggest move a rapper could make and has seemingly died out of the culture. Rap evolved from the streets through battles and just because you get to sit in a comfy chair in the studio of Aftermath doesn’t mean you should stop battling. Kendrick Lamar ruffled some feathers declaring himself as ‘The King of New York’ and you ask why? To stir that creative pot and maybe because the kid wasn’t satisfied with being King of the West (greedy or ambitious?). The truth of the matter is you can either be offended by being named on the list, offended by not being named to the list, or rap about it. Don’t lose sleep over this move, it was thought out and clever.

Finally, Kendrick had a little run in with Imagine Dragons at the Grammy’s which might have even been talked about more than the Beyonce and Jay-z ‘Drunk in Love’ set. No way? Yes way. Rock and Rap are pairing up in a coming trend which I will inform you lovely hipster about as soon as Kendrick stops consuming my life.

Take a listen to this paradox of hood and hipster hailing from Compton and self proclaimed King of both the West and East. We are watching you Kendrick Lamar, don’t mess it up.

 

 

 

The Declaration of Disclosure

If you told me I would be listening to a 20 and a 23 year old pair of DJs from England who don’t just mix top forty tunes into a calamity of nauseating hideousness I would call you absurd, ludicrous and a straight up genius. Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence are the masterminds behind mixing ground breaking voices with beats equally as impressive. If you haven’t heard of them yet, buckle up, because Disclosure is taking over and you better just get used to it.

The Lawrence brothers’ rise to fame is the purest you’ll hear of in the ruthless industry of music. When there are hectic stories like Macklemore and Childish and Lana Del Rey’s out there it is good to know that it all boils down to love of the music and the talent behind it. Growing up in Surrey, England, these two brothers admit to not being the closest when they were younger but always had a love for electronic music and enjoyed it at clubs since they were 17. I don’t know what they are feeding them over in England but they seem to produce the most innovative and original artists so keep it up (my personal guess is the chips and beer). Not only do they have their British roots they have the family connection and if you won’t pay to go see brothers mix some seriously good music you are probably cheap and buy no-name peanut butter and I just pity you.

These two started making music for a basically the reason that they just wanted to. In a interview with Pitchfork from 2013 Guy states how they were always surrounded by music and listened to dub step but never thought of making it until brother Howard started getting involved. That’s it folks. If you were an attractive and highly talented Brit with an equally attractive and talented brother you too could be touring some of the greatest festivals of our time and working with some of the most well respected voices in the industry. So close, yet so far. These two have a backing of a musical family. Both their parents made a career out of music from playing on cruise ships to radio jingles. Their Uncle is even in a band along with their grandparents having played in orchestra’s. Basically the entire Lawrence family is a paradox for the evolution of music from orchestra, to garage bands, to the current age of spinning. Put that metaphor in your pipe and smoke it.

The duo released their first single in August of 2010 by the name of ‘Offline Dexterity’ but the regular bloke wouldn’t have heard them until they got their first national radio nod with the single ‘Tenderly’ in January of 2012. As interest began to build for these new kids with remarkably clean production and layers of mind-capturing synth the pair released their first EP named ‘The Face’ which has become their trademark ever since. A drawn on Disclosure face on a powerhouse singer makes me happier than a hipster in a well stocked Value Village. Still haven’t heard of them? Don’t throw away those over-sized glasses just yet. The Lawrence boys were making crisp and aesthetically pleasing tunes but the only recognition they were managing to get were from electronic music junkies in Belgium and the Netherlands which wouldn’t surprise you at all if you have ever partied with the Dutch. Disclosure made a name for themselves off a song that I HOPE you have been smiling to since 2012 and if not well then you are welcome. ‘Latch’ was released in October peaking at number 11 in the UK Single Chart but Sam Smith’s vocals in it are number one in my heart.

The British brothers continued to impress us with their moody euphoria and creativity as they landed two consecutive top 10 singles in 2013. Aluna George used her quirky clean sound in ‘White Noise’ making it to number 2 and soon after Eliza Doolittle’s pop-princess sounding vocals paired with the wholesome production of Disclosure brought us the single ‘You & Me’ peaking at number 10. These three singles were collected on and EP cheekily names ‘The Singles’.  After casually blowing the minds of everyone in the dance tent at Coachella in 2013 they released their first full album off the ultra-British label PMR in June called ‘Settle’. Disclosure’s album was met with praise and charted in countries from Europe to Australia debuting at number 1 in the UK.

Disclosure were on tour for most of 2013 hitting around 40 cities worldwide along with pit stops at Sasquatch, Coachella (as previously noted), Lollapalooza, SXSW and Glastonbury. These brothers aren’t even both legal in the United States yet but are blowing the roof of the stigma of electronic music. Many times if I were to think of a DJ its seem’s like an empty pit of emotionless sounds that numb your mind with repetition. At live shows these guys are actually still making music, hitting on electric drum sets, playing guitars and basses and keyboards and even adding vocals. Some real talent behind the turn tables? About bloody time. Disclosure is bringing in voices and lyrics and ambience that gives their music soul and substance. These two brother managed to like each other enough to find out they are damn talented together and just happen to have the know how and the chops to go for and thank goodness.

Disclosure won’t disappoint you with their simplistic feel but unique sound. Keep an eye out for these two brothers. They have big plans for collaborations and its only a matter of time until you’re just as addicted as I am. Hey it’s better than your addiction to over-priced leather luggage. Who needs that anyways?

Something to Cure that Summertime Sadness

Amongst some of the most anticipated albums of 2014, this pouty-mouthed songstress is one of the most vague and celebrated by airy hipsters. Elizabeth Woolridge Grant is another product of Youtube like our boy Justin Beiber but unlike him is sticking to wooing us with her massive mouth and equally massive vocals rather than practicing her hand at drugs and Lamborghini’s (that we know of that is).  If you haven’t been floating along to Lana del Rey, probably wearing something crocheted and floral, then time to step up your music game, but don’t worry, you came to the right place.

Lana was born into a wealthy family but that didn’t stop her from finding her own struggles with an alcohol dependency at the ripe ole age of 15. She was sent to a boarding school in Connecticut for three years to get her shit together. I think everyone should think of attending this school as she came out of it at 18 and moved to the Bronx to study metaphysics at Fordham University (well that escalated quickly). She said this subject interested her as it “bridged the gap between God and Science”. We would soon discover this influence in her music with songs like ‘Born to Die’. Her Uncle had taught her how to play guitar as a young girl and she used this to play in small clubs in Brooklyn. This should be the fuel to you fellow hipsters to getting out there and supporting some random obscure band. Imagine having seen Lana del Rey when she performed under the name Sparkle Jump Rope Queen or Lizzy Grant and the Phenomena (I kid you not). At this time she independently recorded ‘Sirens’ her first album under the name May Jailer which she would later buy the rights back to and release in May 2012.

I don’t like to say ‘big break’ because it makes me sound like Randy Jackson trying to make American Idol sound legitimate, but with that being said, Lana Del Rey’s big break came in 2006 while she was still a senior at Fordham, at a Williamsburg Live Songwriting Competition. She caught the eye of 5 Point Records rep Van Wilson who introduced her to David Kahne who has been producing records for the likes of Paul McCartney, The Strokes and Stevie Nicks. At the age of 20 she signed what was rumoured a $10,000 contract but turned out to be more around $50,000 and moved into a trailer park in New Jersey (a beautiful paradox). She released her first EP ‘Kill Kill’ under the name Lizzy Grant in 2008. Lana or Lizzy or Sparkle Jump Rope, whatever you want to call her, categorized this album as ‘hawaiian glam metal’. That probably makes the top ten for best sentences ever written. At first Lizzy was getting positive recognition on iTunes scoring the title ‘Emerging Artist of the Year’ but things began to change as she worked towards the creation of her first real album.  Lizzy was becoming Lana and with management change involved it became a tumultuous time in this young artists career as she struggled to find the image she was destined to become. But as you know by now, struggle often makes for the most well rounded, humble, and uniquely magnificent artists.

The name Lana Del Rey came from the mind of Lizzy herself. She thought it up after spending a lot of time speaking Spanish with her friends. She wanted the name she finally chose and settled on to fit the image she wanted to portray. It’s luxurious and sultry, just like her vocals and her lips, well played Elizabeth, well played. A song snuck up on YouTube in October 2011 called ‘Video Games’ under Stranger Records as Lana Del Rey’s first official single. That same month she brought her talents to a joint deal signing with Interscope and Polydor. Now I know what you are thinking “Lana Del Rey is kind of a record company whore”. Before you so quickly jump to conclusions this switching from record deal to record deal kinda adds some recognition to Lana. She hasn’t let anyone mold her into anything but what she had designs on becoming. ‘Born to Die’, her second album, but first one under her new record deal,was released on January 31, 2012. Critics tended to have mixed reviews as they usually do (everyone wants to be a hipster) but nonetheless her album made number 1 in 11 countries. This is when Lana Del Rey’s popularity really picked up. ‘Born to Die’ was the fifth best selling album in 2012 selling 3.4 million copies. This album is what we know Lana Del Rey for containing songs like ‘Summertime Sadness’ which we can all relate to right now while mother nature is being a cruel bitch and ‘Blue Jeans’ along with title track ‘Born to Die’.

In the November of that same year Lana released the ‘Paradise’ EP and then the Paradise version of ‘Born to Die’ which included singles such as ‘Ride’, even though it was seen as pro-prostitution, (how presumptuous) and the more popular ‘Young and Beautiful’ which I know you’ve all blasted through the speakers of your secondhand car belting out to the audience of your steering wheel. Nothing to be ashamed of because hey we have all wanted to say to someone ‘all that face makes me wanna party’. Lana takes another turn for the fabulously obscure when she released a short film called ‘Tropico’ on December 5, 2013. This film has many biblical references and signs of the usual redemption and sin Lana Del Rey is so perfect at. The same day ‘Tropico’ was released we all praised the hipster gods as Lana announced the highly anticipated upcoming album named ‘Ultraviolence’ to be released this very summer. She describes it as being ‘a little more stripped down but still cinematic and dark’. This is good news to all you Lana fans as the last thing we want this bombshell singing about is pop anthems of fluffy content (oh I’m looking at you Taylor Swift). The anticipation is killing me!

The style this girl has is incomparable to many. She has a fifties (for lack of a better word) swagger to her with long nails, blinged up wrists, perfectly wavy hair with a style somewhere between hippy/glamour/boudoir. Have I lost you yet? Lana Del Rey could probably wear a paper bag and make it work but she decides to invest in numbers like short-shorts, fabulous head pieces and quaint dresses to contrast her dark vocals.

I hope ya’ll appreciated this one as it took me much too long to write. This lil chickie is a hard one to trace due to the multitude of record labels and names she has written and sang under. Lana Del Rey is some kind of mystery making me love her just that much more. Now if only I could rock winged eyeliner like she does then everything would be perfect.

When Ocean went Orange

Just when you thought you couldn’t be anymore excited for the dark, freezing, school-ridden marathon of winter to turn into the sunny, hot, festival season of summer I’m going to give you one more reason. The man who took Odd Future to church is releasing another much awaited album in the Summer of 2014. Christopher Francis Ocean is one of the most brilliant and courageous minds in the music industry but you might know him as Frank Ocean. Words alone can’t contain the amount of admiration and respect I hold for Mr. Ocean, but I’d like to share with you a smiggen of his story so you can get on my level.

Frank Ocean grew up in New Orleans which most definitely has something to do with how he is revolutionizing rap/R&B. His vocals are dripping in vocal jazz perfection with a tenor sound that could even make Tyler the Creator shed a tear. The beauty of Frank is that he was creating massive pieces of work before we even knew his name. By an act of fate his recording studio was destroyed in 2005 from the devastating Hurricane Katrina influencing Frank to move to LA where he intended to stay for around 6 weeks but extended this plan after he was offered a songwriting deal. Anonymously, Frank Ocean wrote songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend, Beyonce, and Brandy (whatever not a big deal…) and worked with the like of Nas and Pharrell Williams. Impressed yet? In 2009, Ocean joined the alternative rap collective known as Odd Future (also known as OFWGKTA) bringing more of a hoody-rap aspect to his delicate sounding vocals. His friendship with Tyler the Creator, Odd Future’s founder and head rapper, influenced a depth of Ocean that we hadn’t seen yet but there isn’t nothing I like more than a vocalist who fraternizes with crazy-ass rappers. Later in 2009, Frank Ocean signed with Def Jam Recordings which slept on his first mixtape forcing him to release it for free. His loyalty to Odd Future was as strong as his honesty as Frank was quoted saying “…fuck Def Jam and any company that goes the length of signing a kid with dreams and talent with no intention of following through. Fuck em. Now back to my day. I want some oatmeal and toast. Brunch swag.” Hey who doesn’t like brunch, am I right? Sorry Def Jam looks like you should have given Frank Ocean a little more time rather than fretting over the brutal demise of Justin Bieber and Rihanna’s carelessness. Def Jam later got their shit together giving Frank’s mixtape a commercial release, thank goodness for honesty and brunch.

2011 was a big year for 23 year old Frank Ocean with the release of his first mixtape and his first live performance. The mixtape ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ was with no surprise praised by the music industry as Ocean began to build his reputation as a front-runner rather than a background prop in Odd Future. The mixtape was released for free on his Tumblr (after the ordeal with Def Jam) making Ocean an attractively humble hipster which is ideal in unpreteniosity. Frank experienced his first live performance in 2011 at a little festival you might have heard of known as Coachella which averages an attendance of 80,000 every year. It seems to me that Mr. Ocean’s music career is sort of backwards. Usually artists build up to working with Nas and Pharrell and look forward to the day they play at Coachella but Frank decided to screw the norm and start with some monumental moments before he even released his first album. He released single ‘Novacane’ in May 2011 just before the story gets more backwards. Just to smack on the ole resume Frank Ocean announced he would work with Kanye West and Jay-z on their collaboration ‘Watch the Throne’ which if you haven’t heard of then you seriously need to get out from under that blanket of ignorance before I drag you out. Frank co-wrote and featured in ‘No Church in the Wild’ along with ‘Made in America’ which are both tune worth your time, trust me.

His first single ‘Thinkin bout You’ was officially released on April 10, 2012 after getting leaked the month before (typical). Although completely written and later performed to perfection by Ocean this song was intended for artist Bridget Kelly’s EP released in July, 2011 (who?). In describing his first official single Frank states “It succinctly defines me as an artist for where I am right now and that was the aim”. The heart and soul in this rapper/singer/songwriter makes the sky bluer and the orange juice oranger. On July 10, 2012 Frank Ocean’s tumultuous road to his first album ended with the release of ‘channel ORANGE’ with Def Jam Records online with the album release set for July 17. If I were to try and describe this album to you I’d say it is a raw, unconventional mix of R&B, rap and perfected vocals with the cool weirdness and honesty influenced by Tyler the Creator. Think catchy bass, brass and guitar overlapped with straight-up lyrics with references to sexual struggle, heavy drug use and unrequited love . If I didn’t confuse you I must have intrigued you which is basically what I’m going for here. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 selling 131,000 copies in its first week. After Ocean performed a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘Forrest Gump’ at the MTV Video Music awards ‘channel ORANGE’ sold 14,000 more copies that week, ah the sad reminder MTV still has a say in things. The album got 9.5/10 on Pitchfork and 4/5 stars for Rolling Stone. I could snowball you with more accolades but I think you get the point. This album is impressive and worth every creative struggle Ocean had to overcome for his innovative and crazily talented mind to finally be noticed. 

Just as the story should end in me demanding you to buy this album thing’s get more interesting. If you are a true fan of music you would have taken notice to songs such as ‘Bad Religion’ and noticed their references to a romance for a man. On July 4, just days before the release of ‘channel ORANGE’, Frank Ocean released a statement on the same Tumblr site he released his first mixtape on. In this statement, Frank Ocean demonstrated immaculate courage with artfully crafted words in admitting he is in fact gay. The statement is mostly sad as it refers to the love he had for a man that he saw as hopeless and unrequited. This admirable statement caught the eye of many celebrities showing their support for Ocean (is there still hope for the human race?). The most paradox fact of all was that Frank was still affiliated with Odd Future who had been using derogatory terms for gay people since…forever. Tyler the Creator kept with his weird and loose cannon-like ways with one of the best quotes I have heard in reference to a friend coming out. Tyler stated in light of Frank Ocean’s statement “I was one of the first people he told. I kinda knew because he likes Pop Tarts without frosting on them, so I knew something was weird [laughs] but that’s my ni—”. Only Tyler the Creator would think to hold sexual orientation parallel to Pop Tart preferences. Genius.

Anyways, now comes the time where I tell you to listen to Frank Ocean. I mean if his road to redemption hasn’t impressed you then I just don’t know what will. Everything about Ocean is backwards and it’s stirring up the music industry in just the way we need him to. We need to be moved, we need to hear amazing music, and we need to be reminded that even the lucky ones making music have gone through years of terrifying self doubt. Take a long, hard listen to ‘channel ORANGE’ before I find you and shove the CD into your car player.

The Naked and Famous

The Naked and Famous probably have one of the best band names in the industry. It’s intriguing and genius just like this one of a kind group. I started listening to this band around the time my music taste was somewhere in between hardcore gangster rap and dreamy vocals (ah highschool) and they stuck with me as my music taste further fermented like a good wine. If you’re still stuck wandering aimlessly through the forest of vastly variable music tastes, I hope The Naked and Famous will help steer you in the right direction as they did me.

This artfully named band hails from Auckland, New Zealand. Well they aren’t naked and weren’t famous when they formed in 2008 so where did this name come from? Upon the release of a pair of EP’s, Thom Powers, Alisa Xayalith and their fellow student at Auckland’s MAINZ music school and sound engineer Aaron Short, coined this catchy name from a line in English singer Tricky’s song very creatively named ‘Tricky Kid’. Without the line “everybody wants to be naked and famous” directed toward the uncertainty of celebrity this innovative sounding band could have ended up calling themselves ‘The Naked and Confused’ or ‘The Famously Naked’, which both would have been fine by me with the music they are producing. After the release of the EP’s ‘The Machine’ and ‘No Light’ there was a short period while Powers and Xayalith were with a drummer and bassist who later left the group, replaced full time by Jesse Wood and David Beadle respectively in 2009. Since then this group has created two albums which have been blasting out of my iPod dock at full volume since 2009.

Before you get all touchy about the absence of hype about this band I’m going to need you to calm down. The beauty of hipsterality is that they don’t need hype or massive record labels to be downright superior to overrated and overly played pop music. With that being said if you are a kiwi then just disregard that ‘no hype’ thing I said as The Naked and Famous have been cleaning up New Zealand Music Awards since 2010. Don’t be complaining over there New Zealanders, you could be Canada and known for the horrid rock band ‘ Nickleback’ (gag). The Naked and Famous might not be outwardly praised by your friends boyfriends cousin but they have been infiltrating your brain waves when you haven’t even realized it. These Kiwis have been featured in TV shows and movies that include: Pitch Perfect, Dallas Buyers Club, Greys Anatomy, Gossip Girl, Covert Affairs, and The Art of Flight. If that doesn’t make you believe their music is perfect for basically any scenario then you can go back to listening to your 30,000 Taylor Swift break up songs about how she’s not the problem because there is not way I’m winning you over.

The Naked and Famous have taken a page from Macklemore’s book and released their first album ‘Passive me, Aggressive you’ on September 6, 2009 under their own record label. The June following up to the drop of their album they released ‘Young Blood’ which debuted on the New Zealand charts at number 1. Their sound quickly began to get praise with another single ‘Punching in a Dream’ became popular by keen hipsters scouring the internet. However, our friends (or enemies) over at Pitchfork have yet to catch up with little to no recognition of any of their brilliance. Interesting… does this mean I’m MORE hip or just MORE weird? I’ll take either one. They released their second album ‘In Rolling Waves’ on September 16, 2013 which was foretold by another superb single released that July called ‘Hearts like Ours’.

The classification of their uniquely sounding and artfully crafted sound has been a struggle to many. Instead of giving you Wikipedia’s answer of saying they are post- punk revival, indie-pop rock, synthpop, indietronica, noise pop, and nu gaze I’m just going to get you to listen to them yourself. What is a genre anyway? You might like alternative-indie-tecnotronica-pop-synth-rock with an oprah chorus but that doesn’t mean a damn thing to me until I actually hear it (this might sound pretentiously hipster but I assure you it is the opposite). What this confusion is telling us is that The Naked and Famous cannot be limited to a genre. What they have created is something bigger and something even Pitchfork can’t quite pin down. If you don’t want to be ahead of Pitchfork I don’t know where your motivation is at but it’s wrong.

Please take a listen to The Naked and Famous, make up your own genre, smile, dance and have a lovely day :)

The Skater Shoe Epidemic

Although my posts do seem to stray slightly in favour of music I hold it very important to make sure what you are wearing reflects your most excellent taste in music. One of the most frustrating things I continuously witness is grown men not having a clue what shoes to wear. Everyone can see your feet and it makes me nauseous seeing floppy deformed skater shoes when it is so damn simple for you guys. Women have infinite possibilities of shoes (high heels, flats, boots, high boots, ankles boots, sneakers, runners, peep toe…..you get it). Men however have a more simple selection which ya’ll use as an excuse to choose the worst kicks ever, but I’m here to call you out. Dear fashionable men, its not that hard to not look like a slob and it might even help sky rocket you guys out of men hell known as ‘the friend zone’ (get over it).

With every range of your pants, or shorts, or pants, or shorts, men only need 3 pairs of shoes to impress themselves and impress women with good taste. Men need: 1 pair of swanky-ass dress shoes, 1 pair of wearable Converse/Vans casual shoes, and 1 pair of thicker soled boots (a necessity for Canadian hipster-gents). Now to clarify, I’m not limiting you to having a range of different colors and styles of these 3 shoes, but try not to stray into the Circa bulky-tongued abomination which looks like a pillowy gremlin is consuming your hairy ankle.

We will begin with your swanky-ass dress shoes. In case anyone is inclined to invite you to their Pharmacy Gala, fashion show or any other affair which requires you to look your best, you need the appropriate footwear to lead you to success. You can choose a pointy toe with a shiny finish or a more square toe with a shiny or matte finish. Distressed look does tend to be hipster but I don’t want it so distressed that it looks like you dragged them behind your Delorean for the past two decades.

Now your casual wear, which is where the most catastrophic mistakes tend to occur. The skater shoe epidemic, somewhere aligned with ‘Douchy sunglass disease’, is a serious problem un-city slickers tend to face on the daily known as the ‘skater shoe epidemic’. University students are classic examples of people who think that they are ‘too busy’ or they are ‘too involved in their finance club’ to not wear half destroyed, stained and sloppy shoes. You may have a very busy life, most of us do, but it is straight up your fault for not having honest friends to tell you your shoes make you look like you are a scrub that lived in the dumpster of a West 49 since you graduated highschool. Continuing on, to find a good casual shoe turn to reputable brands such as Converse or Vans. I’m not going to order you to stay away from lime green shoes, but neutral tones tend not to make you look like a deranged clown. Casual wear should be casual but also well kept. It’s simple guys, so keep it simple!

Finally, if you are a Canadian hipster you know the importance of having a shoe that can withstand the elements. Please don’t for a millisecond thin of resorting to Uggs for men. I know the Norwegians are doing it but they are also 10x more wealthier and better looking than you, its just how the world works my friend. Your first thought must always be style but never give up function for style, that makes you a pretentious hipster and I hope you know that isn’t the answer. Make sure the material is waterproof and the shoe has a higher top for those inevitable dumps of snow which turns into distasteful slush. Gentlemen, your boots should keep those toes warm while being an asset to your wardrobe, please.

See guys, that wasn’t that painful was it? I get that it might not have been as entertaining as pushing hookers around in Grand Theft Auto but its a necessity. From a tasteful fellow hipster I beg you to spread awareness of the ‘skater shoe epidemic’. You might not think people care about the shoes you wear but that is where you are wrong. If I see some guy strutting down the corridor with bright orange Element skater shoes I’m going to immediately assume he is wearing an Osiris sweatshirt and listens to Marianas Trench in his Pontiac Sunfire he attached a spoiler to. This thought might make me judgmental but it’s also a pretty damn good guess. Your shoes say something about you, and the sooner you accept this the sooner footwear takes a turn for the fashionable.

 

 

P.S. My obvious hate of skater shoes does not mean I have any less of a crush on Ryan Sheckler. I went there…