Hip-Hop

Real Talk with Jansport J & Fatlip

January 29, 2017

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When we filmed the Jansport J interview In the Court of the Covina King at Delicious Vinyl HQ in July, I was lucky enough to grab some time with Fatlip to chat with him and ‘Sport for Wax Poetics about music-making, clearing expectations during the creative process, and the early days of Pharcyde …

Enjoy!

Biggups again to the homie Mekael Dawson for filming the interview, Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! I also edited this video :)

In the Court of the Covina King

January 29, 2017

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Back in July I caught up with my friend Jansport J for Wax Poetics at the Delicious Vinyl headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. At the time of the interview ‘Sport was deep in the creative process, the “wilderness” as he coins it, of producing p h a r a o h : his raw, 27-tracks long, NYC-inspired, aural tour de force.

Peep the interview to see ‘Sport talk about his musical journey and influences, working with both major and independent labels and legends such as Snoop Dogg, and the timeless quality of the soul music he samples…

p h a r a o h was released January 27th via blackwhitegoldville music/Fat Beats Distribution.

Find it on iTunes here and Bandcamp/Cassette here

Biggups to Mekael Dawson for filming, the homie Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! This is also the first video edit I’ve done myself .. :)

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Sitting in the Park … with Dan the Automator

January 4, 2017

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Back in the summer when I was bopping around California I had the honour of meeting Dan Nakamura, a.k.a. Dan the Automator, in his hometown of San Francisco. Dan is one of those producers who is behind such a varied array of great music, I’ve often felt as though I am constantly discovering that he has played a part in hit records – it was only in conversation with Dan that I learned he produced two albums for Kasabian (dudes from my hometown!).

I interviewed Dan for Wax Poetics at the top of Dolores Park on a beautiful and rather windy day, and chopped it up about the music he loved growing up, the Bay Area scene, working with artists like Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, porno music, and much, much more … Enjoy!

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar and Paul Keller for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for painstakingly editing it to be so fresh and informative! :)

New York 2016

September 4, 2016

Back in June I was lucky enough to spend a week exploring and hustling in New York. I stayed with my wonderful friend Heather in her beautiful apartment in the West Village and had a rather magical time. How can you not fall in love with NYC?

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I flew to New York from Los Angeles with a connection at Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina. It’s funny to think of all the places we go through but never really go to. It makes me think of those times in life, periods of transition where the focus is on the future rather than the present. Just passing through.

That said, I do love killing time in airports. It’s like a carte blanche to pause, reflect and window-gaze. Plus I’ve made some of my best friends through chance airport encounters (Lauren and Jesse I’m looking at you ;) ).

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 ~Runway reverie~

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~Red Eye View~

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~Greeted on arrival with champagne and a long-overdue catch-up~

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~The street I stayed on, the prettiest part of town~

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~West Village Selfies~

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~The Highline~

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An absolute highlight of my trip was getting to chill with Prince Paul and chop it up for Wax Poetics! We filmed a little interview on somebody’s stoop in Greenwich Village, and in keeping with tradition grabbed pizza afterwards on Bleecker Street :)

~Outtakes~

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 ~Wax Po Interview~

~Cymande playing Summer Stage in Central Park!~

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~I’ll never forget hearing “Willy’s Headache” live <3~

~Washington Square Park~

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One day I made it out to Brooklyn to visit the homie Andre Torres at the Genius HQ in Gowanus, and while over in BK hit up The Wythe Hotel to enjoy that famous view across to Manhattan…

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~No-no-no-Notorious!~

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~First time at The Lincoln Center seeing Swan Lake~

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~Soaking up some sun by the SoHo House pool on my last day~

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~Flying JFK 2 LAX a la Gang Starr~

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Talk Stoop with Prince Paul

July 30, 2016

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Last month I got to catch up with my favourite hip-hop producer, the one and only Prince Paul in Manhattan’s West Village. If you had told seventeen-year-old me this, I probably would have died.

There’s a certain risk that comes with meeting one’s heroes, we’re all just human after all, but Paul is one of those dudes who’s even cooler than you imagine. Super hilarious (that’s hardly a surprise) and super modest, despite having produced some of the greatest hip-hop joints there are.

We chatted about his upcoming projects – new groups Brookzill! and SuperBlack, as well as a new solo album – recording with De La and Gravediggaz back in the day, exchanging snail mail with Daddy-O, making movies, and life lessons learned along the way …

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for editing it to look so fresh! :)

De La Soul Stakes Is High 20th Anniversary Mixtape

July 15, 2016

Earlier this month, De La Soul’s fourth studio album Stakes Is High celebrated it’s twentieth birthday. To mark the occasion – you guessed it – my buddy Chris Read pulled together a sweet mixtape of original sample material, remixes, and album tracks. This one took me on a real trip down memory lane! Read my write up and peep the mix below …

Originally posted on Wax Poetics here.

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When I first heard Stakes Is High, I was in…Brighton, on the U.K.’s South Coast. My father lived there at the time, and as a teenager building up her record collection, I would make the most out of my trips to visit him by also visiting the city’s various record spots such as The Wax Factor and Rarekind. It was at Resident Records in the North Laines that I picked up De La Soul’s Stakes Is High and upon my first listen, before I scoured the liner notes, I knew that something was different.

Where were the playful skits? Where were the endless gags? I found myself staring out the window feeling pensive rather than chuckling and dancing around my room.

And as it turned out, the record, released July 2, 1996, marked a pivotal moment for the Long Island trio. Parting ways with their long-time collaborator Prince Paul, the genius behind 3 Feet High & Rising’s seminal use of sampling, the album was the first to be produced mostly by the group themselves and has a rather more mature feel. Trugoy recently described the experience of producing the record themselves as an “empowering […] learning process,” as previously they had relied upon the guidance of external producers. One notable exception to this is of course the Jay Dee produced title track “Stakes Is High,” but for Maseo, Posdnuos, and Trugoy to take greater control and reflect the mood-shift of a rap group three albums deep was the perfect move after 1993’s Buhloone Mindstate.

De La Soul had spoken out before about social issues (“Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa”) and the state of rap music (“Who Do U Worship”), but this time they were shouting about it with, as the title suggests, a more serious tone and higher sense of urgency, which can be heard on tracks like “The Bizzness.” Despite having less commercial success at the time, the powerful, jazz-fuelled album was met with positive reviews and is now regarded as a classic of it’s era.

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Stakes Is High, our friend Chris Read has crafted a mixtape of album tracks, remixes, and original sample material.

Listen up and enjoy!

Artwork by Leon Nockolds

Track list:

1. De La Soul – ‘Intro’
2. Milt Jackson & The Ray Brown Big Band – ‘Enchanted Lady’ (sampled in ‘Dinninit’)
3. De La Soul – ‘Dinninit’
4. Jan Hammer Group – ‘Peaceful Sundown’ (sampled in ‘Dog Eat Dog’)
5. De La Soul – ‘Dog Eat Dog’
6. Aretha Franklin – It Only Happens (When I Look At You) (sampled in ‘Long Island Degrees’)
7. De La Soul – ‘Long Island Degrees’
8. Craig Mack – ‘Get Down’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘The Bizness’)
9. De La Soul feat Common – ‘The Bizness’
10. Commodores – ‘High on Sunshine’ (sampled in ‘Sunshine’)
11. De La Soul – ‘Sunshine’
12. Bayete – ‘Free Angela’ (sampled in ‘Sunshine’)
13. Ahmad Jamal – ‘Swahililand’ (sampled in ‘Stakes is High’)
14. De La Soul – ‘Stakes is High’ 
15. De La Soul – ‘Stakes Is High (Jay Dee Remix)’
16. James Brown – ‘Mind Power’ (sampled in ‘Stakes is High’)
17. De La Soul feat Mos Def & Truth Enola – ‘Stakes is High (Remix)’
18. Walter Wanderley – ‘Summer Samba’ (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
19. Jimmy Spicer – ‘Adventures of Super Rhyme’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
20. Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick – La Di Da Di [Extract] (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
21. De La Soul – ‘Supa Emcees’
22. Wilson Pickett – Get Me Back On Time, Engine #9 [Extract] (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
23. De La Soul feat Mos Def – ‘Big Brother Beat’
24. Kurtis Blow – ‘These Are the Breaks’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘The Brakes’)
25. De La Soul – ‘The Brakes’
26. James Brown – Funky Drummer [Loop] (sampled in ‘Betta Listen’)27. De La Soul – ‘Betta Listen’
28. Jeff Beck – ‘Come Dancing’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Down Syndrome’)
29. James Brown – ‘Talkin Loud & Sayin Nothing’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Down Syndrome’)
30. De La Soul – ‘Down Syndrome’
31. De La Soul feat Truth Enola – ‘Pony Ride’
32. Lou Donaldson – ‘Who’s Making Love’ (sampled in ‘Wonce Again Long Island’)
33. De La Soul – ‘Wonce Again Long Island’
34. Malcolm McLaren – ‘Hobo Scratch’ (sampled in ‘Baby Baby Baby Baby Ooh Baby’)
35. De La Soul feat Jazzyfatnastees – ‘Baby Baby Baby Baby Ooh Baby’
36. Chico Hamilton – ‘A Rose for Booker’ (sampled in ‘4 More’)
37. Jungle Brothers – ‘Jimmy Bonus Beat’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘4 More’)
38. De La Soul feat Zhane – ‘4 More’

Pete Rock & CL Smooth All Souled Out 25th Anniversary Mixtape

July 2, 2016

The homie Chris Read has crafted yet another super dope mixtape, this time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s debut EP All Souled Out.

Originally posted on Wax Poetics here.

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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s now classic debut All Souled Out, released June 25th, 1991, our buddy Chris Read has crafted yet another stellar mix for Wax Poetics and WhoSampled. Featuring tracks from the EP, alternate versions, interview snippets, and original sample material from the likes of Eddie Kendricks and Eddie Bo, the mix pays true homage to the record that introduced the hip-hop duo and set the stage for later seminal LPs Mecca and the Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient.

Take a listen and enjoy!

Artwork by Leon Nockolds

Track list:

1. O’Donel Levy – ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’)
2. Chris Read – Theme #3 (Scratchapella)
3. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’
4. Heavy D & The Boyz – ‘Gyrlz, They Love Me’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’)
5. Mountain – ‘Long Red’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)’)
6. ESG – ‘UFO’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)’)
7. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)
8. Eddie Kendricks – ‘Girl You Need a Change of Mind’ (Sampled in ‘Good Life’)
9. Mountain – ‘Long Red’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Good Life’)
10. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Good Life’
11. O’Donel Levy – ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Good Life’)
12. James Brown – ‘Funky Drummer’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
13. Fred Wesley and the J.B’s – ‘You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I’ll Be Straight (7″ Version) [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
14. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Go With The Flow’
15. S.O.U.L – ‘Burning Spear’ (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
16. Beside – ‘Change The Beat (Female Version)’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
17. Eddie Bo – ‘From This Day On’ (Sampled in ‘The Creator’)
18. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator’
19. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator (Slide to the Side Mix)
20. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator (Surfboard Mix)’
21. Lou Donaldson – ‘Turtle Walk’ (Sampled in ‘All Souled Out’)
22. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘All Souled Out’

LA Daze

May 29, 2016

Palm trees in the wind and pizza by the slice. Catching up with old friends under cloudy skies. Writing by blue swimming pools and pink sunsets behind the hills of Hollywood. Oh Los Angeles, since getting to you earlier this month, time has been flying by too fast.  I’m feeling very lucky to be spending time with some of my favourite people out here, because conversing and laughing with like-minded souls is the best.

~Stunning views from The Getty~

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Music-wise, I’ve been listening to my very talented friends Nanna B and Jansport J, as well as a little Neil Young :)

I’ve loved helping out at some Delicious Vinyl events while in town, including the WAX record fair at Capitol Records and Boom Yard LA at Delicious Pizza.

~Me selling merch at Boom Yard LA @ Delicious Pizza~

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 ~Capitol Records~

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~Limited Edition Ol’ Dirty Bastard Vinyl~

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A couple of weeks ago I enrolled at Studio4 LA, James Franco’s film and acting school here, so have been taking some classes over in North Hollywood. I also attended a really awesome ‘Intuitive Actor’ workshop at SoHo with Todd Savvas at SoHo House, and have been dabbling in a real mix of yoga classes out here. After meeting the gorgeous Millana Snow in West Hollywood, I attended a poolside yoga class with Serene Social at the Standard Hotel on Sunset. A friend also introduced me to Black Market Yoga in Hollywood (where you can flow to Tom Waits!), and most recently I’ve been hitting up the Y7 Studio on Melrose for their hip-hop scored vinyasa classes.

~Chillin’ by the pool post-yoga~

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~Santa Monica Sunset~

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De La Soul De La Soul Is Dead 25th Anniversary Mixtape

May 14, 2016

Today is the 25th anniversary of De La Soul’s sophomore album De La Soul Is Dead. I bought De La Soul Is Dead on CD at the formative age of seventeen, and remember listening to it all the goddamn time. It is such a special record, full of hilarious skits and truly dope samples. I’m super excited to be involved in this anniversary mixtape (crafted by the one and only Chris Read) for Wax Poetics and WhoSampled. Check out my write up (originally posted here ) and listen to the tape below!

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The artwork says it all. A broken flower pot, soil spilling out like blood and three daisies wilting away. Following the success of their groundbreaking debut 3 Feet High & Rising in 1989, with all it’s talk about the D.A.I.S.Y. Age, De La Soul had been labelled the hippies of hip-hop. And, with their follow album De La Soul Is Dead, released May 14, 1991, the group sought to set the record straight.

Produced by Prince Paul, the concept for the skits that run throughout is entirely unique. Through a fictional debate between schoolyard bullies over ‘The De La Soul Read-Along Storybook’ tape, De La Soul playfully parody and challenge the criticisms and attitudes that surrounded them at the time. E.g. “What happened to the pimps? What happened to the guns? What happened to the curse words? That’s what rap music is all about, right?”

De La Soul Is Dead is seen as edgier than 3 Feet High, touching in on themes such as role-models in gangster rap with “Who Do You Worship,” and sexual abuse in “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa.” While undeniably smart and providing commentary on serious issues, the record is also fun and humorous as anything. The album features brilliantly flipped samples from the likes of Funkadelic, the J.B’s,  and Stevie Wonder, and the singles “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” and “A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays”” remain bonafide party classics today.

Now, in 2016 we are seeing the 25th anniversary of the album’s release. To celebrate the truly dope record, our homie Chris Read has put together a sweet mixtape of original sample material, remixes, and album versions.

Listen up and enjoy!

Tracklist:

1. Jimmy Spicer – ‘Money (Dollar Bill Y’all)’ (sampled in ‘Bitties in the BK Lounge’)
2. Chris Read – ‘Theme #3’ (Scratchapella)
3. De La Soul – ‘Intro’
4. Funkadelic – ‘I’ll Stay’ (sampled in ‘Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa’)
5. De La Soul – ‘Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa’
6. Funkadelic – ‘Mommy What’s a Funkadelic’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa’)
7. Stevie Wonder – ‘Hey Love’ (sampled in ‘Talkin’ Bout Hey Love’)
8. Freda Payne – ‘The Easiest Way To Fall’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Talkin’ Bout Hey Love’) 9. De La Soul – ‘Talkin Bout Hey Love’
10. White Lightnin’ – ‘That’s No Lie’ (sampled in ‘Fanatic of the B-Word’)
11. De La Soul – ‘Fanatic of the B-Word’
12. Lee Dorsey – ‘Get Out My Life, Woman’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Fanatic of the B-Word’)
13. Chuck Jackson – ‘And That’s Saying A Lot’ (sampled in ‘Afro Connections at a Hi-5’)
14. De La Soul – ‘Afro Connections at a Hi-5’
15. De La Soul – ‘Pease Porridge’
16. Edna Wright – ‘Oops Here I Go Again’ (sampled in ‘Pass The Plugs’)
17. The J.B’s – ‘Pass the Peas’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Pass The Plugs’)
18. De La Soul – ‘Pass The Plugs’
19. Eric B & Rakim – ‘Eric B Is President’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Pass The Plugs’)
20. Tom Waits – ‘Diamonds on My Windshield’ (sampled in ‘Oodles of O’s’)
21. Biz Markie – ‘Nobody Beats The Biz’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Oodles of O’s’)
22. De La Soul – ‘Oodles on O’s’
23. Lafayette Afro Rock Band – ‘Hihache’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Oodles of O’s)
24. De La Soul – ‘Rap De Rap Show’
25. Lou Johnson – ‘The Beat’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’)
26. The Whatnauts – ‘Help Is On The Way’ (sampled in ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’)
27. The Honey Drippers – ‘Impeach The President’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’)
28. De La Soul – ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’
29. Taana Gardner – ‘No Frills’ (sampled in ‘Bitties In The BK Lounge’)
30. De La Soul – ‘Bitties In The BK Lounge’
31. Lou Donaldson – ‘It’s Your Thing’ (sampled in ‘Bitties In The BK Lounge’)
32. Bob James – ‘Sign of the Times’ (sampled in ‘Keepin’ The Faith’)
33. Aerosmith – ‘Walk This Way’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Keepin’ The Faith’)
34. De La Soul – ‘Keepin’ The Faith’
35. The Mohawks – ‘The Champ’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Keepin’ The Faith’)
36. Instant Funk – ‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
37. Mighty Ryeders – ‘Evil Vibrations’ (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
38. De La Soul – ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’
39. Young Holt Unlimited – ‘Light My Fire’ (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
40. Tower of Power – ‘Ebony Jam’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
41. De La Soul – ‘What Yo Life Can Truly Be’

Having Big Fun

April 26, 2016

Propelled by the energies of joy, it is no secret that time takes flight when you are having fun. I love spending time here in California, and, it feels like the past week has somewhat flown by …

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A lot of dope music has come through my inbox just recently, so I’ve had a mix of Black Milk, Saba, The Lytics, Brassfoot, and Funkineven on rotation. Take a listen!

1) Saba “World in my Hands (ft. Amino & LEGIT)”

2) Black Milk & Nat Turner “Never”

3) Brassfoot “Dreamstate Intercal”

4) Funkineven “SSS (90s cut)”

5) The Lytics “Ring My Alarm”

As always, I’ve been spending a solid amount of time in cafes writing. Right now I would recommend The Blue Fig on Valencia for classic, chill coffee-house vibes, and Stanza Coffee on 16th for a trendy vibe and yummy coffee. Both have nice outdoor seating, as does my go-to veggie spot Herbivore on Valencia which also deserves a shout out!

~Coffee love in The Mission~

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I caught up with a friend for dinner last Tuesday and saw a sneak preview of the book So Much to Be Done, which is a collection of the writings of Barbara Brenner. Barbara was an incredible activist I had the honour of working with in the summers of 2009 and 2010 when I interned for the non-profit organisation Breast Cancer Action. Undoubtedly she was one of the most intelligent, straight-talking, and warm-hearted individuals I have ever known. After having breast cancer herself (twice), she was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 and passed away in 2013. I think it is fantastic that her writing is being published in a collection like this, and I look forward to reading it properly. You can learn more about Barbara here and check out the book here .

On Wednesday I hopped over to the East Bay to visit Berkeley University. The campus is so stunning and whenever I’ve been the vibe has always felt so good. The last time I was out there was 2011, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis. I visited the Bancroft archives to find some of Sarah Webster Fabio’s work (a really inspiring poet and activist I recommend getting hip to), and remember imagining how rad it must be to study there. Here are some pictures …

~Berkeley Campus~

IMG_6272~Beautiful Berkeley trees~

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~Me posing on campus~

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~Gold shoes in the grass~

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~More magical Berkeley trees~

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And for the first time ever I ventured down to San Jose in the South Bay for a little party with some buddies. I was super excited for the little adventure, mostly because of my love of the Dionne Warwick song “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” (written by my hero Burt Bacharach). I remember dancing around to that song as a kid, probably never imagining that one day I too would have some friends down in San Jose.

 ~San Jose Station~

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~A backyard worthy of DJ Khaled~

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We headed back up to the city the next day to hang out at The Battery, and ended up at an incredible studio spot in SoMA. I really wish I had taken pictures, because the set up was pretty spectacular. Next time hey ;)

For now all I have is this accidental post-brunch-bliss selfie …

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