The Weather Outside is Frightful! F*** That, Here’s Some Chronic…

Chronic Album

This duo lives up to its name, premium quality hip hop from the 716, reporting straight from the funny factories in their heads.  The guys from The Chronic Collective bowl a strike in the most comical way on their latest soundcloud hit. Lady Luck sure can be a bitch, ain’t it the truth, but then again, a little attitude all good, it’ll make shit last (insert lame white girl quoting Drake jab here). And as always, dope horns. But maybe next time…less triangle, more cowbell? (insert…oh nevermind).

Prod. Sativa Brown

 

Holly Rankie, Proprietress of Gypsy Dreams

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A Caravan of Delightful Wares

My hometown of North Tonawanda has witnessed its share of improvements over the last few years, and people are starting to take notice. Webster St. has become a tiny nucleus of cultural exchange between art, food, and fashion, pulling in more thrifty, museum-hopping millennials like myself who once thought they had to journey to the city for a fix. The truth is that the quiet little canal town is actually a really hip place to start a new business. I recently decided to revisit one of these cool places to be, Hip Gypsy, a small bohemian-chic boutique. It’s been a while since I stopped in last, so I was curious to learn of any new changes.

The space looked a bit different, in a good way. Once a family affair (she shared the business with her sister), Hip Gypsy was now the solo ambition of Holly Rankie, whose blonde, beach-dried waves fell around her luminous face. She greeted me in a friendly pitch and was very receptive of my comments and questions. Holly carries herself with the air of a bohemian Betsey Johnson, a designer who turns out to be, among others, like Ralph Lauren and Johnny Wass, one of her favorite style icons. “She’s very sac-religious as far as the runway. Everyone’s so serious,” she said of runway fashion (What a treat it is to meet someone who shares a love as strong as mine for Betsey Johnson, let me tell you!). Holly opened up shop in North Tonawanda four years ago and has prospered ever since. “Nothing was ever really planned,” the boutique owner, who started out designing wedding gowns in her 20s, said of the undertaking.

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A great little piece of fashion paradise, the Hip Gypsy is. It’s like walking into a fit of madness Ms. Betsey Johnson herself left in her tracks: a shower of ruffles and rhinestones, badass rock n’ roll memorabilia, and embellished steampunk displays. Everything appeared more spaced out and accessible, but the gypsy feel was the same. All of the accessories in Hip Gypsy, from the hand-painted boots to the emblazoned biker jackets, have a little magic in them. They are truly one-of-a-kind pieces worthy of any free-spirited gypsy gal’s affection. “I don’t care how old (my customers) are, they like it, the ruffles and rhinestones,” she said. Bruce Verbeck glass and Ray Robinson leather jackets are a few of the designs she carries, and many of the imports are fair trade or aren’t imports at all, but rather fashion straight from the west coast. “I love that LA is becoming a bigger clothing manufacturer,” Holly said as we gushed over some dresses and vests she pulled out. Most clothing and accessories fall between $5 and $300 in price, depending on how delicate.

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For Holly, interior design comes second-nature. Vintage wall décor, including a framed photo of young Holly posing with her boys in a barn (so awesomely 80s chic), fun color schemes, airy drapery from the ceiling—everything–exuded a gypsy lifestyle. “I think of myself as a gypsy. I’ve lived many different lives,” the former nurse said of her store motif. And when you’ve lived many lives, you collect many things along the way. There is always something new to unravel and unlock in the boutique—a new treasure, a new look, a new visitor, and sometimes new friendships. Holly regularly meets many traveling and residential artists and musicians, who come to her shop bearing their sometimes irresistible wares. One recent visitor, she tells me, was a man we will refer to as “The LA Soul Father of Rock,” who presented a sculpted and tooled, leather-bound “portfolio” book that blew the socks off the boutique owner.

When she’s not making new friends, she juggles several creative and charitable projects, like the annual Hip Gypsy fashion show, held at the Riviera Theatre right across the street. Right now, she’s preparing for the Downtown Merchant Association’s Winter Walk. She tells me that being a single parent has taught her how to manage this crazy, glorious life. “That’s how I learned everything, through supporting my children,” she said. “You have to change it up. Stay open to all good things. My kids are like that,” the proprietress said.

Before I left the shop my eyes were suddenly drawn to a woman’s painted bust standing proud in the corner, a riveting piece of Americana. I later learned that it was painted to commemorate her two horses, now passed (add equestrian to the list of lives she’s lived). Oh, she also makes her own jewelry. Tell me something this woman doesn’t do! I ended up buying a really kitschy but cool bejeweled “clown” ring, Betsey Johnson-approved. She placed the ring in a tiny blue jewelry bag, decked out in sparkly gold flowers, before handing it to me. “Even the bags are cute,” I said. “You think of everything!” She smiled. Just another day in the life of a gypsy dreamer.

For more gypsy dreamin’ check out Holly’s website.

Bands I Love – Chester Copperpot

Borrowing their theatrical, psychedelic, and party rock twang from punk/funk greats like Primus and Bad Religion, Chester Copperpot brings to the stage an electrifying amalgamation of sound. On their most recent album release, Tr!punk Vol.1, the 3-piece outfit defines their style through high energy drumming and punchy harmonies. Syncopated rhythmic tricks color the project with tons of personality. With a perfect balance of fundamentals and funk, the trained musicians’ ranging experimental content and all-inclusive approach have earned them recognition from a diverse audience in the Buffalo independent music community. They are solid performers at Francesca’s major showcase, South Buffalo Live. Make sure you make it out to one of their events! Check out Chester Copperpot:

Sunday Funday Mix – Pepper.Roni, “All You Can Beat”

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Sunday’s the day we’re hungover and watching reruns of Love & Hip Hop (totally joking, that show is horrible), or listening to some mellow beats while doing some cleaning, playing with the cat, or trying to recover from the weekend. It’s a cool-down day for most, but I figure, why not keep the party going? “Sunday Funday Mix” is where I choose a mix or remake of anything I damn well please. This can include acoustic covers, beat tapes, awesomely sampled songs, or a prophetic project of any musicial creed. Keeping in trend with beat producers with an affinity for anything pizza, I chose Pepper.Roni’s “All You Can Beat” mixtape. He isn’t from Buffalo or anywhere near (he lives in Germany, according to his Soundcloud), but Pepper.Roni’s music is wildly imaginative. His first beat tape created in true trip hop style pulls sounds from all sources of inspiration; Vaudevilley, Southern-style grooves and a little bit of modern alternative, too. And he eases into each section like a skillfully-transitioned stage play. And if you like this, you’ll be happy to know he’s got “Seconds – The Rehash” come to a social media platform near you very soon.

Brb, going to go make a pizza and jam out in the kitchen.

Buffalo Producer Check – Q and A with Yung Zza

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Yung Zza’s high school yearbook photo.

All of you Buffalo beat sorcerers in producer land, listen up: There’s a guy cranking out slices (his version of tracks) on Soundcloud like an addict pops pills. He goes by the name DJ Pizza Pizza, or “Yung Zza” (The friendliest of prodding wouldn’t get me anywhere, dude will probably never give up his real name). Even with his identity withheld, Yung Zza has caused a mighty stir on social media with his hypno-trancin’ edm and hip hopified beat machine powers. He’s got the Twitterverse wondering, who the hell is this guy? I didn’t think I could find anything more indulging than scarfing down my favorite pie (cheese, mushrooms, and pepperoni if anyone’s interested in feeding me), but zoning out to Yung Zza’s music comes pretty darn close. Find out what I was able to learn about this mystical being of culinary excellency below, including his impeccable pizza critiquing ability.

 

Q: Can you offer me your real name? Also, how old are you?

A: My name is Yung Zza, 23 years old.

Q: Are you originally from Buffalo?

A: I am from Buffalo, grew up in the burbz… I live right in the city now though.

Q: I kind of heard about you all of a sudden it seems, on the internet. You’ve got a lot of people hopping on this pizza craze. Was that always your schtick, the pizza thing? Is there a story behind that or anything?

A: No real story, I just love pizza…I mean who doesn’t. I used to produce and DJ under a different name and just wanted to start a fresh slate under a different name. I already had a handful of tracks ready to release and I was scrambling to think of a name, and the pizza pizza thing just emerged (I think my roommates and I were eating a fresh pie at the time).

Q: How long have you been producing?

A: I have been a musician since I was a kid, learning to play piano, accordion, and organ. Throughout high school I was taking two lessons a week learning to play jazz and funk, and began producing relaxing electronic music, similar to what I make now… but on a simpler level. I began producing “harder” EDM tracks through the moombahton era, and then branched out creating bass tracks with bubbling/tropical/kuduro influences. Now that I don’t DJ as often anymore, I am back to making music that I both enjoy making and listening to. The type of music you can play at the beginning or end of the night and really enjoy the musical complexity and flow rather than blipps, bloops, and whomps (which I still love but you know what I mean).

Q: Do you work solo?

A: The Pizza Pizza project is a solo project. I have collaborated with artists in the past under my other name, but I’d rather stick to producing each slice on my own to reflect the mood I am in at the time.

Q: Do you have a day job aside from beat making?

A: I have a field service engineering job, traveling to a different city every week. I am only really in Buffalo on the weekends. With numerous hours spent in the airport with delays or layovers and hotel boredom after work, I have plenty of time to sit down and crank out tracks to take my mind off things. The Pizza Pizza project is just a hobby to me.

Q: Your sound is very unique. How would you describe it?
A: I don’t even know… I have such a broad musical background and have experimented with so many genres that I usually just classify everything as “Bass.” On my last two albums, most songs are chill, glitchy hip hop based instrumentals, but I have included songs that incorporate juke, moombahton, trap, twerk, and jazz. Its all over the place.

Q: Who or what inspires your sound?

A: Mr. Carmack. His music blows my mind. I hope to one day be on his level of production.

Q: Love the album. Is that your first album release?

A: It is. I have produced multiple original tracks in the past, but never really had a chance to put them out in an album. I don’t even know if I’d classify the “Pie XX” series as an album release, it’s just a way to group the songs together as I make them to be more available for free download… I am currently working on Slice 24 (at the time of interview, he’s now on Slice 38!) and grouping them together in “Pies,” just makes it easier to organize everything. I’m not marketing it hard, not trying to make a profit, not trying to be famous, and I don’t really take the project that seriously…I just feel I make decent music as a hobby and want other people to enjoy it!

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Q: Why have you decided to conceal your true identity?

A: Like I said above, its about the music. Everyone hates me anyways so I might as well conceal it (just kidding).

Q: Top three favorite kinds of pizza.

A: First of all, Buffalo has the best pizza in the world (I can rightfully say this because I have tried “pizza” in every city I travel to for work)

New York pizza is like cheese and sauce on a cracker, and chicago crust almost has a graham cracker pie crust consistency.

There is nothing like the nice fluffy dough achieved in Buffalo pizzerias.
1. cheese + pep
2. Buffalo chicken
3. stinger slices

Q: Where is the best pizza spot in Buffalo?

A: 1. My personal favorite is Gandy’s pizza (Union and Cleveland dr.). The owner is awesome, the pizza is amazing, and the prices are right. There’s like an inch of cheese on the pie!!!
2. Leonardi’s (NOM)
3. 24 hour pizza (when I’m drunk – 99 cents a slice come on)

For more music, check out his Soundcloud page.

 

Spoken Like a G: The Supreme General, A Clear and Present Hustler

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David Da’von Adams, “The Supreme General” to Buffalo hip hop fans, has been performing since 2007, but the MC’s nerves still clench up every time he’s about to go on stage. Performing in front of an audience is a feeling he describes as frightfully euphoric, like having sex for the first time. You can pray you don’t fumble, stumble and fall, but when the moment arrives, it’s do or die.

This is the attitude daredevils of chance like Supreme are made of. It’s the all or nothing war cry that carries them closer to their dreams. It’s the glue that holds them together in times of weakness and defeat, and it is the rallying spirit chanting them on in a leap of faith. “I learned a lot too in the military about persevering and pride and…not just doing the bare minimum type of stuff. That was very useful in my life,” he said. When you’ve lived through the sort of life experiences Supreme has – joining the air force after high school, surviving a love lost, and losing a best friend – you learn to quickly reprioritize. “Since then and now I have grown a lot…(Life experiences) force you to either learn to prioritize your focus, adapt and prosper, or remain stagnant and endure a mediocre existence or worse. The latter was never an option for me so I never relent when it comes to my career focus,” he said.

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29 years young and flashing a beaming smile, deep brown eyes with glints of a storied past, and an ingratiating look only a mother could love, The self-titled “Hustle Game Boss” has learned that time equals opportunity, and when it comes to his passion, he squanders neither. Supreme has built an enterprise from a rap career with roots growing between the concrete of one of the harshest neighborhoods in the city, Box Avenue in East Buffalo. He worked to turn his life around by studying and mastering the science behind a demanding industry. He boasts an impressive catalogue of work — an EP and two thoughtfully constructed mixtapes, a sleekly-designed app tailored to the personality of any die-hard Supreme General fan, and his own Pandora station (he is the only artist in Buffalo known so far to have music listed on the service).

His lucid lyrics, rapped over cakey, statement-making bass-filled beats, speak of his burning ambition, understated bookish side, and refined character. They growl like a man hungry in the hunt. Supreme’s realist perspective shows listeners what it’s like to navigate the world as a young black man breaking through stereotypes and pushing past an “impoverished mindset.” “I want to show the world that you can be a strong black man who is authentic, stands on his word, is intelligent and revels in being so, and doesn’t focus solely on flossing and shining without the pain from the game context that goes with it,” he said of his music. “You know, records that actually mean something. Those are all big parts of the game I feel are currently missing and need to be reintroduced.” Supreme does this by tackling real issues that examine the human condition. The greatest example can be found on one of his more poetic compositions, “Crash,” a heavy track packed with vivid imagery. The listener is caught in a torrent of mental and emotional chaos, oscillating between panic and mania. “Though I have never suffered from drug addiction, quite a few people in my life have so I have a deep understanding about the way it can leave you and why people feel driven to it,” he said. “It’s a heavy song I felt like the game needed.”

In addition to a well-tuned ear, he has a clever (and often boisterous) mouth. He knows how to masterfully and strategically steer his way around a lexicon. The unabashed MC keeps an extensive vocabulary and values language learning processes. He credits his beloved sixth grade teacher, one of many teachers who helped guide him through life, with ingraining that love in him. Through his art he hopes to ingrain the value of an education in other young people. “See what most people fail to realize about rap music is the effect it has on youth who, for whatever reason, live day to day without the proper guidance. Those kids cling on to every word their favorite rapper speaks and their influence is disproportionately heavy on them. I make music for that kid,” he said.

As for the “game” and the science behind it, nothing ceases to amaze the Hustle Game Boss. He’s aware of what strengths he brings to the table. The MC also understands the business side, the grimy side, and the rewarding side of the music industry. As long as you’re staying knowledgeable and true to who you are, the rest will always fall into place. “The game is not hard, you just got to play by the rules. Honor and respect will get you further than anything else in life,” he said.

For the latest in Supreme General news, check out www.hustlegameboss.com.

Written by Jessica Brant

Top photo: Nick John Morgan Anderson

The Black Light District

Now Trending: EDM Sensory and Visual Culture, in Buffalo and Beyond

A line formed outside the entrance of Rapids Theatre in downtown Niagara Falls on a crisp night in early September. While the crowd appeared tame, everyone’s inner spirit animals were bursting through neon chests. Others adorned their necks with glow stick necklaces and bravely painted their faces with skull candy makeup, adapting the theme for the evening, “Dia de los Muertos.” Leaking through the doors of the theatre were the sounds of hypnotic trance and electronic dance music, and outside to taunt everyone was a hunchback zombie who craggily crooned us with his grotesque noises and charmingly ghoulish good looks. The all-inclusive, art, music, and live performance fashion extravaganza Glamour and Glow had arrived for its second year in Western New York.

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Nightlife visionary David Soko, worked with a team of over 60 models, aerialists, makeup artists, dancers, and local charitable organizations to turn the space at Rapids Theatre into a portal through which the world is experienced through fantasy. Through senses, not censorship. “One of the key factors to this event is that we have the option of bringing on a cookie cutter type of performance where I just travel with the same people, but what we want to do is promote local culture, local business, and local talent. It makes the show different every place we do it,” he says. David has travelled from coast to coast over the past few years, baring his visually stimulating canvas to the world. The Glamour and Glow production has hit cities like Miami, where it was a focal point of Florida Fashion Week last year, Columbus, Ohio, where guitar culture and alternative rock influences reigned supreme and sunny San Diego, where the show originated. Every participating entity in the show, from the designers to the DJ, is local. “When we’re working with (local) people, there’s much more of a respect factor in the community,” David says.

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EDM has, for the most part, grounded itself in self-made culture and community, and the genre’s commercialization over the last five years has helped mold it into its own brand of shared visual experience. From headlining music festivals like Coachella and Ultra to more transformative and spiritual connectors like Burning Man, EDM’s progressive evolution seems to be moving in an endless, reeling motion with no signs of stopping. A hybrid of all things expressive, EDM is a genre dependent on the creation and its creator. “VJs,” visual artists who work in projection, sculpture, and other visual forms, once thought to be the hidden and silent masters of their craft, are reaffirming their presences as virtuosos of sensory manipulation and testing the waters in as many ways as possible. “VJs see the world as a place to play, creating art on and off the screens. Most VJ acts do work with music, and this creates the framework on what we create a visual tapestry on,” said touring visual artist Jon Bonk, whose extensive body of work includes productions for Shpongle, Steve Aoki, and the Identity Festival. Jon is also the head and heart of the Together Boston VJ Competition, now in its second year. The competition celebrates the visual and technical, behind the scenes culture that the artists are engrossed by. “The event puts us in the forefront and allows the crowd to see not only every VJs different styles, but also helps push the medium forward by giving the VJs a promotional platform.”

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Visual artist Jon Bonk.

Different creative processes foster new styles, and in Jon’s opinion, the working process for many VJs has evolved from a setting up shop and drop approach to a more cerebral and instinctual process of artistic reimagining. “Venues, although they are starting to become more video friendly, usually need some serious hacking skills to install projection systems in the short timing we have. There is a saying for VJs, “First in, last out.” This is because we are always there much earlier setting up our own gear, and then at the end, breaking it down again. After all that, then I can start focusing on the actual visuals,” he reveals. “Most of the time we have no idea what the musical act will play, and only can go on what genre they are. House? Electro? Breaks? Then I know what to expect and run with. At that point it becomes a lesson in zen. I move with the music, predicting where it will go and setting up the video to intersect it as thoughtfully as I can.” The medium and its cultural propellers have come a long way. VJs are constantly pushing the limits of technology into far-reaching domains. There is always something bigger and better waiting on the horizon, according to Jon. “I just got back from traveling (and VJing) through Europe, and saw some amazing sights. It started with just VJs hauling projectors and screens, but now has evolved into giant projection mapped structures that are even interactive with the crowd. I think the newest trends will start to see interactive atmospheres for the crowd to play in, visuals that surround the audience, and truly starting to come off the screens.”

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Sometimes the most stunning visuals at an EDM festival or buried in the audience. Once I stepped through the doors of Rapids Theatre, I was illuminated by the crowd. Black light masks, black light body paint, glowing drinks, glowing hula hoops—no outside light and only darkness to experiment with–left everyone on the same playing field. This communal space welcomed bold self-expression, and individual identity relied on the feeling of shared identity. As the actual runway walks commenced, a shared spirit beamed from every corner. Alien couples took the stage together. A bevy of contemporary female dancers performed a sci-fi-inspired rendition of Katy Perry’s “ET,” and models, even on their solo walks, were feeding off the energy of the crowd’s reaction. These dramatic silhouettes—some created with the use of recycled materials, plastic, duct tape, and tribal body art—created visuals I can only assume evoke similar imagery like that of larger scale transhumanist-driven events like Burning Man and Tomorrowland. “We wanted to create an atmosphere, a feeling and stimulation of which you can exist your reality, leaving behind ordinary, day-to-day life and experience something different,” David said of the show’s Niagara Falls production.

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Neon Nancy EDM couture.

It is millennials who have grown up immersed in the music festival atmosphere that are finding new ways to reimagine the genre’s older music and fashion trends, which really aren’t that “old” at all. The popular spirit bear hood – that fluffy carnivorous creature resting atop a festival goer’s head, designed for cold nights and comfort, became a springboard for “glow fur,” and other furry creations. LED Light-up bras with built-in speaker systems, made popular by the online festival fashion line Neon Nancy, are becoming a fashion staple for mavens of rave culture. Someone searching the internet won’t find many fashion lines dedicated to creating concert wear, Lyndsey Merryman, Creative Director for Neon Nancy, who started the brand in 2011 and now sells all over the globe. “I knew it was a genre (of fashion) that no one was really touching at the moment, so I knew there was the space to be successful. It was kind of surprising at first with how fast it took off, but now I’m just excited to see where we can take it,” Lyndsey said. The designer attended her first music festival in 2005, Coachella, in high school, and from there, she attended Bonnaroo and became addicted to traveling to shows. When designing, Lyndsey draws from techno, mod, and eighties inspirations and uses EDM fashion and rave culture’s flexible fashion policy to open new doors. “(The brand) is starting to get into the festivals that are more transformative now,” she said. While festivals are what initially inspired Lyndsey to break out of a typical, avante garde runway mold of design, she says that many of Neon Nancy’s pieces, such as the neon shirts and fur vests, are street ready, and can just as easily be worn from day to day.

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Similarly, Evolution Division, a high end Cybergoth clothing company, is also seeing that the growing hybridity of rave subculture is creating an audience crossover. “I think it’s cool that electronic music is one of the only (genres) where the fans make their own fashion trends. At these music festivals almost every DJ is just some guy in a black or white t-shirt and jeans. I never see DJs that look like the fans do,” Steven said. “As far as Cybergoth trends making their way into the festival scene, it’s happening quickly too. We get a lot of festival goers looking for new outfits that find us on Instagram or something, have no idea what Cybergoth is but love what they see and get into it big time or adapt parts of it.” It could be said that without cultural proponents, no brand, underground or above, could really flourish. Without leading innovators helping to constantly reinvent the subculture or genre, it becomes stale. EDM, a lifestyle and a brand, seemed to make the transition from under to above ground seamlessly, all the while holding on to its original core message and sound. “When other scenes blow up and go more mainstream their product gets drastically watered down. However, I don’t feel that the core of the electronic music scene has sold out and went for radio play over just making music they want to make,” Steve said.

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Over 800 people packed Rapids Theatre that night for one of Western New York’s more explosive displays of community art, and most, if not all, stayed until the final moment. As the audience was sprayed with glitter, and as my chest thumped with each beat of electronic music, I couldn’t help but look around and admire the gleaming faces of those entranced by the multi-sensory spectacle before them. The crowd, all ages, all races, closed in on the runway, applauding the models as they took their final runway walk. The music faded into a pool of black light. A community came and conquered once more, and whispers of how to top this year’s glowing extravagance were already fluttering about. The countdown to next year’s performance had commenced.

To learn more about the Glamour and Glow fashion show, visit glamouringlow.com.

Written by Jessica Brant

Photos provided by David Soko, Jon Bonk, Lindsey Merryman, and the writer’s own