You Know What It Is

•June 22, 2007 • 2 Comments

What is up with T.I. and Wyclef’s video “You Know What It Is” ?!?! Last time I checked Wyclef is Haitian not Jamaican. It’s bad enough that in every movie involving Haitians the characters are given dreadlocks and Jamaican accents and speak broken creole but Wyclef was born in Haiti and should know better than some ignorant movie director! This video allegedly took place in Haiti but even the actors playing Haitians had a Jamaican accent. I know reggae and associated accents are hot right now but damn! Shame on Wyclef, Shame! Definitely lost a lot of respect. Hopefully the general public will call him out on this. Looks like the racism and profiling surrounding Haitians has got to the best of them.

Advertisements

Politricks

•June 14, 2007 • 1 Comment

Is Hip Hop simply a scapegoat for a larger problem?

thug.gif

Since its creation Hip Hop, as well as other aspects of the Black Community such as Blaxploitation films have been scrutinized for what some consider “questionable content.” This content included vulgar, explicit sex and violence driven themes and even themes considered too political and therefore a “danger to society.” The largest attack has been on Rap music, and while warranted in some instances, the attack is often used to mask a larger issue.

It is thought that Rap music has a negative effect on society. The lewd content is allegedly influencing America’s youth to seek lives of crime, violence, and casual sex. Now while it is true that all forms of media and entertainment have an effect on the viewer, can music truly compel someone to alter their life’s course? Not at all. Such “questionable content” would have to be reinforced by other factors and without rebuttal by socializing agents such as education and family. As much as America would like to blame Rap for the youth’s problems, society needs to come to the realization that Rap alone just is not capable of such an influence. If Rap were somehow abolished from music the youth would not change. We live in a culture dripping of sex and violence. Everything from President Bush wanting to “smoke out” the troops in Iraq and having the “terminator” for a state governor to movies like James Bond 007 and sex soaked TV shows like “The Real World.” Rap is a small percentage of all entertainment and media being produced in America. Only in the U.S. can we have sexy Colgate toothpaste commercials and blame promiscuity on Rap music. Sex and Violence is in every aspect of popular culture, Rap is simply a scapegoat for a larger problem.

Rap blamed for several crimes however, Rock and Alternative Rock are not given the same treatment. Columbine and Virginia Tech Shootings both featured assailants who religiously listened to Rock music with “questionable content” but in neither situation has Rock been blamed for those viscous crimes. Note the discrepancy. The themes in Rap and Rock are equally blatant, curses and all but they are not equally discussed.

When Akon allegedly “dry raped” a young girl from Trinidad the media immediately began to criticize Rap although the only connection Akon has with Rap is being a loyal fan with a few music collaborations. Akon is a singer from Senegal whose music can be considered R&B by some standards but by no definition, Rap. Every news outlet, specifically The O’Riley Show named Akon a rapper with explicit content and urged sponsors to back out of any endorsements and deals with Akon. Rap was used as a scapegoat for Akon’s actions without any valid connections. Akon is no more connected with Rap than Maroon 5. Both have collaborated with Rap artists and are fans but are by no means rappers themselves. They both even have sexual content in their music but coincidently or not, artists like Akon are the only ones targeted. It is instances such as this one that lead many to believe that the attack is race related and that artists like Akon are labeled rappers and critics assume they have lewd content simply because they are Black. Why else would the connection be made? What differentiates Akon from Maroon 5 or Kid Rock? Note the discrepancy.

Ludacris is a popular rapper known for his animated style of rapping. Never has he claimed to be a gangster or drug dealer however he is prolific for sex themed music. When Ludacris was considered for the Pepsi endorsement Bill O’Riley had a fit. He claimed Ludacris had explicit content and cursed much too much to be in the endorsement and pressured Pepsi to drop Ludacris. While his reasoning is warranted he is not consistent. If Ludacris is too explicist for Pepsi, why replace him with the Osborne Family? The Osbornes, Ozzy specifically, are extremely explicit and Ozzy has music that can be considered more vulgar than that of Ludacris yet O’Riley approved of the endorsement. Note the discrepancy. The only difference one cal pull from Ludacris and The Osbornes is that Ludacris is Black and a member of the Hip Hop community. Is there really any reason for why Ozzy did not receive equal treatment?

While Rap does have an effect on society especially in regards to how Blacks are stereotyped and profiled, the music artists themselves cannot shoulder the entire blame. Rap’s greatest shift in content (1993-present) occurred when Hip Hop culture became a commercial commodity. Corporations used Hip Hop as a cash cow and used it in everything from clothing to cereal and successfully sold more products to consumers because of it. The corporate interest created an inbalance between the “baller” and the “backpacker,” the gangster and the activist. Ballers and thugs are more controversial and make more money in mainstream society so a handful of record labels monopolized distribution and produced uniform cookie cutter artist modeled after groups like NWA and Ice T. Similar to Black actors participating in minstrel shows, Black artist participated in the new industry tactic. For every artist who opposed the artist mold there was another who was so desperate for funds that they would play along. Rappers wanting to express any inference of individuality were ignored by record labels and the ignorant were embraced. Financially, the “conscious” artist was not a profitable endeavor so many artist foolishly and some for survival adapted to the twisted demand, ignoring Hip Hop’s true foundation of knowledge and originality. If you want an artist to stop their explicit lyrics then attack the CEOs of their record labels. Attack A&R. Attack Management and Artist Development. Attack those who are profiting the most from the lewd content and are majorly White and not concerned with the fate of the Black community and its images. For many artists a change in content would mean a loss of a record deal or breach in contract. For real change the corporations have to be attacked, they are the ones with all the creative and financial control, the rappers are mere pawns. So why has the media yet to set up a round table with heads of all these record labels and distributers? Why not go to the root of the problem? There is not right or wrong answer. There are many reasons but the main one would be financial loss and a threat to the economy. If rap changed, then all music would change. If music changed then so would radio, television, movies, advertisements, etc. Money would be lost and the lining of corporate exec’s fat pockets would begin to thin.

Rap is not the bane of America’s existence. Pop culture is. Society is it’s own enemy. The media is a reflection of society and society reflects the media. If a conscious change is to occur successfully the attackers should also become the attacked. Stop supporting sex and violence driven content if you feel it is inappropriate. Why focus coverage on the death of a porn star and insult a Rapper for disrespecting women. In America there lies a double standard with what some believe to have racial context. We need to stop scapegoating and examining the real issues. Let’s be real, a sound education and proper parenting can refute the strongest of entertainment and media forces but society doesn’t attack parenting or values, we attack the entertainers so we don’t have to deal with ourselves and our dwindling society.

FEMA’s Dirty Little Secret

•June 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I promised some students back in N.O. that I’d let everyone hear about what’s been going down in New Orleans so take 5 minutes out of your privileged lives and become aware.

For those who don’t know, Howard had sent 570 students (70 law students week 1 and 500 undergrad week 2) to New Orleans as part of an Alternative Spring Break program to rebuild and reestablish the New Orleans community making them the biggest group of students to ever volunteer in LA. There they were joined by a few other schools and well meaning individuals including myself and together they made a difference.

It’d be hard for anyone to argue with Kanye’s Bush allegations because after visiting all the wards, 9th and east in particularly, you could tell FEMA didn’t do SHIT! Two years after the hurricane and it looked like Katrina had just hit. Houses were laid barren and destroyed and every mile had big open fields where houses once stood. It was past depressing. It was disgusting. I don’t think anyone outside N.O. could understand or fathom how hard Katrina had hit the city and the extent that the government chose to ignore the devastation…Naw, scratch that, they didn’t ignore the White affluent areas, those areas were rebuilt. It was the areas where the poor and Black people lived that were consciously overlooked.

Destroyed House

Can you imagine losing everything? Living in a trailer literally half the size of a dorm room with your entire family?!? Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and many will not return. I mean how could they? Insurance companies have pulled every scam in the book to keep people from getting money to rebuild and the media got it twisted. Did anyone else find it disgustingly ironic that in identical pictures, each showing a Black or a White person swimming into abandoned stores searching for food and clothing, the captions differed greatly? Somehow Black people were “stealing and looting” and White people were “finding.” America has found everyway to trick its people into believing that some how the people of New Orleans, human beings mind you, deserved this. No one deserves this. No American should have to wait four days for help in their own country.

I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard about the police shooting down boys who “stole” boats and trucks in efforts to save people from flooded home or innocent people being shot down for trying to cross the bridge into predominantly White areas which ironically happened to be the least effected and driest.

Some of us did debris removal, others built homes. I got to work at a charter school and at St. Augustine High School. There I met some of the smartest; most mature, hilarious and just cool ass kids around. I can’t say in words how uplifting it was too see so many intelligent young Black men, all destined for college. Everyone wished they could have stayed longer. It was almost too much fun.

So for every student who went to Mexico for Spring Break or professional who sat idly in their office, just know that over 600 well meaning individuals went down to Nawlins and sacrificed their vacations and work wages for the benefit of those who needed it the most. Trust and believe much more needs to be done so whenever you can break away go down to New Orleans, I’ll see you there because I will go back without a doubt!

Electrick Heat

•March 16, 2007 • 2 Comments


K-Os
March 2007

K-OS has always been an indefinable artist since his 2003 release of Exit to his more recent work, Atlantis: Hymns For Disco. His sound floats between Rap and R&B and tiptoes around the outskirts of Acoustic and Alternative Rock. Only a trained ear can rock with K-OS and seamlessly flow through his albums front to back amidst the many styles and not miss a note. This Canadian native is slowly gaining crossover appeal with his flow that dances along the edges of eccentricity and artistic greatness with his ethereal references and criticism of mainstream rap and society and it will only be a matter of time until his work enters Billboard’s heavy rotation.

Me: So what have you been working on?

K-Os: Nothing man we’re just on the tour bus. We just left Jacksonville and we’re on our way to Ft. Lauderdale so we’ve actually been on tour for the last month or so.

Me:
K-OS is an interesting name, any particular meaning?

K-Os: Oh K-OS yes, stands for knowledge of self and that’s just something I came to over time. I always had the name K-OS and I was just in the elevator one day and it came to me that K dash O-S could mean knowledge of self and that was like maybe ’98 so that’s been the meaning of my name for a minute.

Me: Any reference to Black Star?

K-Os: No, you know what I found out that name after I called myself that years later and I was like its so weird you know that K-OS definition…what was the name of that song?

Me:
Knowledge Of Self Determination (K-OS Determination).

K-Os: Again when I would do things like that it would just make me think that I picked the right name.

Me: Your music seems to breach many genres, how would you describe your sound?

K-Os: I would describe my sound as like renaissance and that’s a word that’s not used too much in Black music but classic. I just like classic music whether it’s like Bob Marley, whether it’s KRS-One whether it’s Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone whether its Otis Redding I like classic music and I try to take those elements of the classic music in my different songs. So renaissance; things that are classic at different time periods around the world.

Me: So who would you say are your different idols and musical inspirations?

K-Os: Everyone from A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Outkast right back to like Otis Redding and Michael Jackson and even people like… bands, like Rock bands like Nirvana, The Strokes, a lot of indie rock bands too.

Me: How does Canadian Rap differ from that of American?

K-Os: Canada is just a lot younger, it’s a younger nation. Hip Hop and American Black music has had like 400 years of history, Canada you know we’re pretty much, I’m pretty much the first generation born in Canada. Most people’s parents in Canada were born in the West Indies or like in Russia or in America. People in America are like four generations so you guys have had more time or experiences to talk about. Canada’s still young, we’re like the little brother, we’re still developing.

Me:
Has your West Indian background affected your music style?

K-Os: That affected my style because my uncle used to make something called steel pan and he used to make instruments from scratch. I used to sit around and watch him take a big drum and a hammer and a chisel and make an instrument, pound it into submission. From an early age I realized that forget all the theory and going to music class you can just make your own instrument. I think Trinidad taught me that music is something inside of us and we don’t always have to go study. You can study and become better at it for sure but I think that first its something you have to recognize that its something that grows in you and that’s what the West Indies showed me that you should just love music. You start jamming in the middle of the day and party in the middle of the day, two in the afternoon and out comes the rum and everyone starts playing instruments.

Me: What inspired you to use more live instrumentation in your music?

K-Os: When I saw The Roots in Toronto in a place called the Opera House in 1995. That concert changed my life and I knew when I left I called my homeboy, he went to music school, I said ‘yo I need a band’ and the next day from that day on in 1995 I’ve been trying to find that sound and I finally found it probably my first record which three or four years later in 99, 2000 with a bunch of guys from Vancouver which is the west coast of Canada, but it was really The Roots that changed my life that way.

Me: What distinguishes Atlantis: Hymns for Disco from Joyful Rebellion and Exit?

K-Os: It’s more personal. It’s more confessional and its more fun you know what I mean. I think Joyful Rebellion was… I was still in the protest mode I didn’t understand where Hip Hop was going and I didn’t have the strength to go outside of Hip Hop and find myself. Its experimental but at the same time a more personal record more so than any other record that I’ve ever done I can say for sure.

Me: What are your favorite tracks off the album and why?

K-Os: Right now my favorite track is probably “CatDiesel”. I like that track because it makes me want to dance and it reminds me of the old school jams back in the day. That beat in particular that break beat that’s been used on other Hip Hop jams its just the certain way that people dance to it; every time I listen to it in my head phones I picture these kids back in the day doing these funky dances to it. My favorite record changes. I stopped listening to my record a couple months or so like I tried listened to it since December and then when it came out in America last week, I started to listen to it all last week. So I’m rediscovering my record like ‘oh this is what people are hearing now? Wow this is cool’ so right now its “CatDiesel.”

Me: Can you tell me more about your production work?

K-Os: No it’s a secret. I don’t say anything about it. I can’t divulge that to you.

Me: [laughs] Are you serious?

K-Os: No I don’t know man I just like music. I just listen to a whole bunch of music and I go in the studio and I take the best things from the things that I like. I’m very much of a music fan. That word producer freaks me out. I’m just a guy that listens to music at 3 in the morning for four hours until the sun comes up and then when I go to the studio I know how I want it to sound. The key to me is having a really good engineer, somebody who really gets it down the way you want like Greg O’Shea. He’s not even a Hip Hop head, he’s an Australian guy…from Australia. I guess Australian people are from Australia but he’s an Australian guy and uh I found him…and I was doing a project one day and this guy can get anything I told him ‘I want it to sound like this.’ He can make it happen so he’s kind of the master mind behind everything I do. But its more knowing what I want to head and loving all types of music.

Me: You’ve gotten a lot of success in Canada, so you think you’ll achieve crossover appeal with ease?

K-Os: Nothing like what I’m tryna do comes easy but will I do it fun, for sure. It’s not going to be easy. Even right now when I look at my schedule and I look at all these press phoners I’m like man…I really would rather be drinking a beer, sitting in front of the tour bus, but you gotta do these phoners. You got to talk to people, you gotta promote yourself and that’s me being completely honest and at the same time during the last few minutes of talking to you I’m learning about myself just by answering these questions so if you look at it like that, you’re learning about yourself but your also spreading your ideas to people, it can be fun. I’m just trying to have the most fun. That’s why I got into music and my dad doesn’t like it because I want to have fun all my life but I don’t care anyway.

Me: Why do you think there’s a lot of materialism and violence in rap today because you discuss it a lot in your music?

K-Os: Because the people who make the music, that maybe moves people the most, is because the feelings that they have and the reason the music moves me is because they’re going through hardcore shit. It’s the same thing with Frank Sinatra or whatever you know Nina Simone. People don’t talk about her life and how hardcore it was because she’s a singer right. Or somebody like Michael Jackson. He must have had a really fucked up childhood to make the music he made. I think people focus on Hip Hop because it’s more of like a gangster movie. It’s an easier movie to make, it’s kind of like Scarface or something. For the most part most artists from visual artists that used to chop their ears off. Artists have always gone through a lot of things and sometimes that’s when their music is the best. I don’t think it’s just Hip Hop.

Me: What can we expect from you in the future?

K-Os: A very fly wife and a lot of kids. I don’t know. How bout that I’ll just end it like that. A very beautiful wife and a lot of children.

Publised: MVRemix

She Ain’t Pregnant But She Bout To Have Some Twins

•March 7, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I wonder if he spent $1 mil on this one too..and I wouldn’t doubt that he tried to get this in the BET countdown. Looks like money did Kanye the same it did Hip Hop..get a lil bit of shine and out goes the “conscious” emcee for the ignorant.

Capital P

•February 27, 2007 • Leave a Comment

For nearly 15 years, since Mobb Deep’s debut in ’93, Juvenile Hell, to their latest release in 2006, Blood Money, Prodigy, arguably the more lyrically gifted half of the duo has been making musc. The Queens native plans to release solo work to showcase his lyrical ability to masses of fans with his upcoming mixtape and album. Prodigy collaborates with Koch Records producer, Alchemist, on his mixtape, Return of the Mac, in lieu of his upcoming LP, H.N.I.C. II, set for release in March.

Despite Nas’ allegations of hip-hop’s death, Prodigy feels not only that hip-hop is alive, hip-hop is “Kickin you in the ass” and only the foolish would neglect to recognize him as one of the “biggest artists in the game.”

“To me, whoever made up hip-hop is dead is a motherfuckin fool, period. Because
you’re just a fool for making that statement.”

Me: Please explain your mixtape Return of The Mac.

Prodigy: Return of The Mac is something that me and Alchemist put together, special collaboration. You talking about the Return of the M-A-C. We ain’t talking about pimpin’ you know what I mean. All the beats are crazy. It came out so good so we like fuck it, we treat this shit like an album. It’s like a pre-album for H.N.I.C. II. Really we made it as a mixtape, H.N.I.C. II, but it’s almost like a pre-album.

Me: What are your relationships like with your label and Alchemist?

Prodigy: Basically, you know what I mean, the label Infamous Records was just – you know that’s the label right there that’s what it is. Our relationship with Alchemist goes back to Murda Muzik album. We just been working together ever since, Mobb Deep and Alchemist.

Me: What’s your situation with G-Unit, why didn’t you drop the mixtape under them?

Prodigy: I mean basically, you know dealing with 50, he let us do our own thing, get our bread with our solo career. He was like basically, ‘I’m not trying to hold y’all back, do what y’all wanna do, get ya shit.’ We told him what we had planned and he was like, ‘Man get ya bread!’ Basically that’s what it is. Mobb Deep is still on G-Unit and we able to get our money elsewhere, too, at the same time.

“Basically that’s what it is. Mobb Deep is still on G-Unit and we able to get
our money elsewhere, too, at the same time.”

Me: What is your favorite track off the mixtape and why?

Prodigy: One of my favorite joints is the first one, “Stuck to You,” saying, because it’s just ill. Nah mean, it’s a crazy, crazy song. Another one of my favorites is “Seventh Heaven. There’s a lot of joints on there.

Me: Your video for “Mac 10 Handle” was received a lot of acclaim, why make a video for a mixtape single?

Prodigy: I mean just cause I’m just being myself. Do what I wanna do, that’s how you can tell. I just do whatever I wanna do. I’m like, ‘Aight, I’m a shoot a video for this tomorrow. Let’s do it!’ Put it out on YouTube so everybody can see it. You ain’t gotta wait for some program director, somebody like, ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’ to put it on they channel. It’s going out anyway on the Internet. That’s what we focusing on, right. Just focusing on the ground work, nah mean, dealing with our fans at the ground level.

Me: There is speculation as to who is in the reflection in the mirror in the “Mac 10 Handle” video, is that supposed to be Nas?

Prodigy: Nah. That’s foolishness. If you look at it you can see that, that’s not Nas.

“You ain’t gotta wait for some program director, somebody like, ‘I like it’ or
‘I don’t like it’ to put it on they channel. It’s going out anyway on the
Internet.”

Me: Who is that supposed to represent then?

Prodigy: Just a extra in the video. Just like everybody else that was in this video that you saw. Extras playing the film. I shot all these people on the TV then next thing you know there’s the devil in my room. When I look in the mirror, somebody that I just killed if you watch the video.

Me: Do you feel artists going independent through mixtapes will spark a takeover of the rap game form its commercialized state?

Prodigy: Nah, I just feel like when you do what you want to do, just be yourself. People [are] going to feel you. It’s just having your shit out there, they going to feel you and your shit on take off whether you’re independent or major, however it is. It’s all about the music first, it don’t matter what route you go, if you ain’t got the music you ain’t got nothing!

Me: A lot of rappers have voiced their opinions on Nas’ statement that hip-hop is dead. Do you feel offended by that statement?

Prodigy: Nah, I don’t feel offended by that statement, but I think it’s a dumbass statement though, cause how can you say hip-hop is dead when you got a lot people that’s brand new to them, you got people that’s poppin’ off at this shit you know. Whoever says hip-hop is dead is making themselves sound like you got some kind of qualities that you don’t like about yourself. To me, whoever made up hip-hop is dead is a motherfuckin fool, period. Because you’re just a fool for making that statement. That’s a foolish statement. You need to just shut up, man.

Me: So what do you think of music today and hip-hop culture if it’s not dead?

Prodigy: It’s alive and kickin’ you in the ass. I’m alive, hip-hop is alive and kickin you in the ass.

Me: How do you feel about the newer artists and the southern domination of the radio?

Prodigy: They kickin you in the ass! Basically, they kickin’ niggas in the ass, because they poppin’ off right now. So, hip-hop is alive and kickin’, baby.

Me: Do you feel your mixtape and other New York artists are going to bring the focus back to New York?

Prodigy: Nah, you can’t bring nothing back that ain’t went no where. The biggest artist in the rap game is from Queens, NY. It ain’t go no where.

Me: Well, when you look at the Billboard charts the majority happen to be from south.

Prodigy: They makin hot shit.

Me: Do you feel that’s going to change, because some people feel that New York isn’t putting out anything hot anymore, therefore the south is taking over?

Prodigy: How can you say that when the biggest artist in music, in rap music is from Queens, NY. That’s just another foolish statement like hip-hop is dead. That’s foolish statement number two, whoever made that one up is an asshole.

“…that was something that Interscope did. They didn’t like something I said so
they decided to tell me to change it or the album wasn’t going to come out. I’m
like wow OK. Fuck my freedom of speech, like that don’t exist.”

Me: You have been in the game for a long time, how do you feel the music industry has changed in terms of content and skill, as well as artist and label relations?

Prodigy: I don’t know nothing `bout none of that. I just know how to make good music. Relations, we ain’t in for none of that. Our music makes good business for us, makes good money.

Me: In a press release you were quoted as saying you were being censored by major labels. Do you feel you were being censored the entire time or was it more something that became a current issue?

Prodigy: Nah, that was something that Interscope did. They didn’t like something I said so they decided to tell me to change it or the album wasn’t going to come out. I’m like wow OK. Fuck my freedom of speech, like that don’t exist. But I changed it and the album coming out now. I’d rather just say what I want to say. I got a lot to say, because you can’t hide what I got to say, because it’s real.

Me: What other kinds of things have you been working on do you have any other outside business ventures or hobbies?

Prodigy: I like writing movies – I love [movies]. There’s going to be a lot of that type of shit coming out the camp. Production for other people, Alchemist is doing production for mad people. Havoc does production for crazy people. Writing, songwriting. You going see a lot of shit. There’s a lot of different things happening. A lot of things you can’t talk about no more, because people take ideas just blatantly. We don’t talk about a lot of shit no more.

Me: You spoke on your chemistry with Alchemist, if you could collaborate with any other producer or artist who would that be?

Prodigy: Who would it be, probably be like Alicia Keys, Mary J. Like a lot of that soul, R&B.

Me: If you could put any two artists or producers in the studio together who would they be?

Prodigy: I would have to say Alchemist and Hav. That’d be crazy to have them do a whole fuckin’ shit together.

Me: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Prodigy: Go hard or go home.

Published: Format Magazine

5th & Fashion

•February 27, 2007 • Leave a Comment

During hip-hop’s infant years, Cazals and doorknockers were key accessories, and shell toes finished off the signature look. Parish Nation embraces the style and flare of the `80s and early `90s, revising New York and early hip-hop fashion. They’re new, different and surely will spark life through originality into fashion industry where everyone and their mothers own a T-shirt line. With years of experience at Enyce, Chaka Wilson and his partners take their knowledge and thirst for a culture they love and apply it to an industry they’ve mastered.

“With Parish we wanted the direction to come from us instead of go back to the
way things were when we first started Enyce, which was just a small group of us
enjoying what we’re doing which was designing.”

Me: Parish Nation is an interesting name, any particular meaning?

Parish: Well it literally means community. A group of individuals coming off of Enyce that represented NYC, which was kind of the little old translation for Enyce, and starting off from scratch with this new brand with just a small group of us sort of collectively conceptualizing everything from the direction of the brand, to design, to marketing, to most of what we do its done as a collective. Parish was sort of a representation of where we are right now as a company.

Me: How did the concept for Parish Nation come about?

Parish: I think when my partners all decided to leave Enyce we wanted to do something that represented our vision, as opposed to a corporate structure, you know a corporate dictate to what we do, what design, the type of stores we sell – overall with Enyce, it was a huge corporate oversight, which gave us direction. With Parish we wanted the direction to come from us instead of go back to the way things were when we first started Enyce, which was just a small group of us enjoying what we’re doing which was designing.

Me: What distinguishes Parish Nation from and Enyce?

Parish: I think the design. What we came up with is just a really modern art driven early hip-hop influenced collection. So I think that’s present throughout the collection. That was one of the things that was important for us to establish ourselves in a different direction. When you see the collection you’ll immediately notice the bold colors and a lot of the cool references; everything from Warhol to Gene Herring to Grandmaster Flash. You have all of those cool references in there and most of the collection is actually hand drawn! That’s one of the things you will see even though there’s similarities with us and not only Enyce, but other companies in terms of all-over prints and things of that nature which happens to be the current trend, but I think we sort of took that trend. And what with the different direction with most of it being hand drawn, I think one of the key components to our design team is that we have artists as opposed to designers. They approach each part of the collection as a canvas so you notice that each part of the collection is sort of one of a kind.

“When you see the collection you’ll immediately notice the bold colors and a lot
of the cool references; everything from Warhol to Gene Herring to Grandmaster
Flash.”

Me: Has the success of Enyce paved the way for Parish?

Parish: Absolutely, I mean Enyce established us in this business. What we did with Enyce gives us much creditability with this line even though it’s a great collection there’s a business end to any company. I think that’s one of things that gave us a leg up over any other up-start company that’s just coming into the game with no experience. I think the 10 years with Enyce is a pretty good track record so therefore buyers, manufacturers and venders – we sort of have the respect of a lot of people which in turn open a lot of doors for us.

Me: How has your experience been at the MAGIC Trade Show?

Parish: It’s been pretty good. We debuted the line a few months back. A lot of the buyers hadn’t even seen it or heard about it so the cool thing for us is that we have a tremendous buzz going into MAGIC. It’s not, again, like we’re a start up company that people are for the first time on the floor. The fact that we already have goods on the floor that are selling extremely well are giving the buyers a lot of confidence. The fact that they’re actually seeing some of the product out there on the street and on different individuals they really get to experience what we were explaining earlier on. The last MAGIC we were here right after leaving Enyce so we were really just observers, but we were trying to give a lot of the buyers an indication of what it was that we were coming up with. They support us which is a really good thing, because you know if we do well they do well in their stores so overall it’s been a very good experience and a positive experience this is the way MAGIC was for us in the beginning. It’s really cool to get back to that.

Me: How does it feel to go from founding established brands to creating a brand new line?

Parish: It’s great. There was a struggle but it was the only course of action. You know Enyce was great. We still love the brand. That’s kind of like our baby. We still have a lot of great friends over there, but it was time for us to sort of branch out and try something new. I think the market place needed something new, so it was cool that it would be us to do it as individuals recognized in the fashion community as innovative and well respected within the design community, and in turn get support from the other brands. I think that’s one of the things that’s made it less scary for us. We’ve got nothing but positive feedback from the fashion community so that’s given us some confidence.

Me: Lately, the fashion industry has been taking on an `80s trend. Why did you chose to use the `80s and early-`90s era as a theme for the line?

Parish: That’s the era that influenced us, especially those of us who are a little bit older. We definitely came of age, if you will, in the `80s as young teenagers so we definitely experienced the trends that are out there. When we started the collection we naturally wanted to use New York as a backdrop. We’ve always wanted a cool tie in into New York, it was important to show a lot of influences, pay homage to that.

Me: What are Parish Nation’s signature items or looks?

Parish: For spring, I would definitely say our Warhol influenced pieces. You have a cool reference point. You know pop art. I think that’s a strong part of our collection. And then we also have like the early hip-hop influential pieces which show the four elements of hip-hop. We have a piece that sort of shows respect to the DJ; we have one that represents the graffiti; we have one that represents breaking; [and] we have one that represents the emcee.

Me: What can we expect in the future from Parish Nation?

Parish: Just great artwork. Even if the reference may change, because we won’t be stuck in the `80s forever, but I think the artwork will remain consistent. The artwork is primary and whatever theme or reference sort of compliments artwork so that’s one of the things that remain consistent, that and quality clothing.

Published: Format Magazine