Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again. At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing it and this is what happened.
Writing Sample #3 - Kilo Kish K+ Review
Since releasing her EP Homeschool last summer, Kilo Kish has blown up. Not quite to the extent of fellow femme rapper Azealia Banks, but she’s gotten buzz-worthy attention, even had her own feature story in the New York Times. The 22-year old dropped K+ last Friday amidst a decent amount of blog hype. The tape is stripped down, only a half hour long, and a bit of that time is eaten up by collaborators such as Flatbush Zombies, A$AP Ferg, Childish Gambino, and Earl Sweatshirt, but it never feels incomplete, wraps up quite nicely, and allows Kish to try out a few different styles over 10 tracks. Although comparisons to other female rappers/RnB singers seem hackneyed and reductive, I am instantly reminded of fellow up-and-comer Kitty Pryde. Both Pryde and Kish spend a lot of time meditating on love through a female perspective, decidedly unique in the male-dominated hip-hop culture.
The most interesting and experimental part of this tape is how it’s mixed — see the intro track (‘K+’), last 10 seconds of ‘Goldmine’, in fact almost every song has these ‘skits’ (for lack of a better term) cut into the songs. As you can hear in the above video, Kilo wanted to focus more on the artistic process involved in creating a tape, hours of time and creative collaboration that can’t really be reduced to a three minute track. So, her method was to mix these studio sessions into the songs, and thus you get the absurd freestyle at the end of ‘Trappin’, conversations with her producer about the tape’s release party. All these features do just what she wants, paint a world for the listener, give more perspective into the inner workings of the tape. It takes the appreciation for Kilo’s craft to another level, you can hear the amount of time she’s taken putting together these tracks, collaborating, and her thought process behind these decisions. This feature of mixing culminates on ‘Scones’. Here, it isn’t studio sessions and smalltalk being mixed in, it’s a lover’s quarrel, a melancholy backdrop for a song about fading love that makes it even more relatable. I’ve had those conversations, and Kilo’s crooning cuts to the core of what makes them so painful and complicated. That being said, her full vocal talents come to the forefront on tracks like ‘Goldmine’ or ‘Turquoise’. Kilo is an artist with a lot of talent, a clear vision, willing to experiment and push forward. In fact, she’s one of many talented youngsters on the come up in New York. What more can we ask for?
WRITING SAMPLE #2 - HOSTEL GUIDE IN CUSP MAGAZINE
Writing Sample #1 - Kool A.D. 19 & 63
The most recent outing from ex-Das Racist member Kool A.D. comes to us in the form of two mixtapes released Thursday. 19 and 63 follow last summer’s 51, paying homage to bus lines of Kool A.D.’s native bay area. Expanding upon 51, Kool AD is diving fully into cloud/associative rap, drawing much inspiration from Lil B. He’s stepped up his ad-lib game (Bieber!), and the weird pop culture references come quicker and more densely than ever. Everything and everyone, from Dostoyevsky to Dolph Lundren, gets a mention as the listener is dragged into Vazquez’s zany world of inspirations and touchstones. If you’re expecting Kool to act as a guide through this obscure network, you’re barking up the wrong tree – he seems content to namedrop without offering any explanation, in part parodying more serious acts like Rick Ross’s constant references to high-profile drug dealers, but also seemingly making the argument that this music isn’t to be meticulously analyzed. If you’re asking “Why’s he saying that?” you’re missing the point.
More than a showcase for Kool’s individual rhyming talents, the tape features a whopping 30 rappers and 20 producers over the course of 38 tracks, serving as a way for Kool to promote some less-known bay artists. If you’re looking to get into alt-rap , you need only take a look over the list – Steel Tipped Dove, Young L, Bill Ding, Spank Rock, Pictureplane, Keyboard Kid, Mike Finito, Amaze 88, Chippy Nonstop, Lakutis, Busdriver, Open Mike Eagle, and Meyhem Lauren, just to name a few. Vazquez himself comes off as laconic, laid-back bordering on lazy, but each track oozes quirky exuberance and fun, quickly scheduled collaborations between friends that create small pieces that are greater than the sum of their parts. Particular standouts include “Wow (Bay Shit)”, feat. Trackademicks, “Jenny Holzer” feat. Chippy Nonstop, “Cheeba Cheeba” feat. Spank Rock, “All Skreets” feat. Dada Powell, and “Mike Finito Posse Jawn” featuring a bunch of dudes. Satisfied in its imperfection, 19 and 63 are not attempting to be polished. Consider them more documents representing a specific moment in the late evolution of free-associate cloud rap, a moment where different producers and rappers from all over the nation can come together and jam. “Calm down dude, it’s just music,” Vazquez drones on the last track of 19. Just relax and enjoy it.