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Chengdu 2016 Graffiti Battle Photos

A few photos from a graffiti battle here in Chengdu, called Toyato. Hosted by Gas, Chengdu’s (and Western China’s) most prominent graffiti artist.

The graffiti scene in China has changed a lot in the time that I’ve been here. Mandarin-language graffiti is more common now and features of traditional Chinese culture (pagodas, calligraphy brushes, pandas, kung fu) are frequently featured, instead of just the international symbols, like boomboxes and train cars.

Toyato Graffiti Event (8 of 8)

Toyato Graffiti Event (7 of 8)

Toyato Graffiti Event (6 of 8)

 

Toyato Graffiti Event (4 of 8)

Toyato Graffiti Event (3 of 8)

Toyato Graffiti Event (3 of 8)

 

Published on August 23, 2016

Rafik in Chengdu Photos

6x World champion turntablist (and all around champion personality) DJ Rafik came to Chengdu last weekend and performed at NASA. Unfortunately Kid Fresh (another champion turntablist and person) couldn’t join as was planned, but we still had a good time. Here are a few photos:

Rafik in Chengdu

Rafik in Chengdu

There are a couple more photos here, including some black & white:

Rafik in Chengdu Photos
Published on February 24, 2016

Ghostface Killah in Oakland

A few weeks ago I saw Ghostface in Oakland at The New Parish with Kensho. This was a different Ghostface from the one I had seen over 10 years ago at Sonar in Baltimore: this Ghostface was kinder, more softly spoken, and less braggadocios. In 2002 he was wearing three jackets, two hats, and about 15kg of gold jewelry. His temperament was that of someone who had just done a lot of cocaine: he seemed irate, irritable, and hyper-confident. In Oakland he was amicable and professional.

He brought another Wu-Tang member with him, Killah Priest, which was unexpected. The New Parish is a more intimate venue than Sonar, with around 200 people in attendance, so the show had a personable quality. It was a spectacular performance with little theatrics, just good, well performed music. It included all of the Ghostface songs that you would want to hear.

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

One thing that surprised me about the evening were the opening acts. Asking Kensho who was opening for Ghostface – an honor for any performer within hip hop – he said that most of the artists were “Pay to play” (which was later confirmed by someone else at the same show). What this means is that the opening acts didn’t get their slot solely because of their skill or local influence, but because they elected to purchase a lot of tickets to the show upfront, and then sell them themselves. Basically an affiliate marketing scheme. Doing this gives these “up-and-coming” artists rare and valuable clout while hedging the promoters investment in booking a high-profile performer.

What this means for the audience is that we are subjected to sub-par performers who did not earn their position. It was a night of hearing one DJ after another clumsily work their way through sets that it seemed like no one in attendance was interested in hearing. It struck me as a shameful way to lead up to a legendary artist like Ghostface of the Wu-Tang, and I cringed many times as rappers struggled with the rhythm of their own songs and DJs awkwardly scratched off-beat. For a city as proud of its heritage as Oakland is, it was an underwhelming lead up to a highly anticipated show.

In the end it all worked out because the main act did not disappoint. Ghostface Killed it.

Published on January 13, 2016

Photos from Halloween at Dojo

This halloween led up to the hype. Last halloween was great, but this one was better. My only regret is that I didn’t come up with a better costume: there two other people dressed as Chinese street cleaners also.

Dojo Halloween (7 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (17 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (37 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (46 of 58)

See more Halloween 2015 Photos
Published on November 6, 2015

May 2015 Snapshots in Chengdu

I am really enjoying the summertime over here. Here are a few snapshots from the last month. Highlights include:

  • DJ’ing at the wave pool within an amusement park last weekend
  • The Arena dance battle, hosted by my good friends who run Sinostage, which was amazing
  • The Arena dance battle block party which was in Chengdu’s Chunxi Road shopping district, that I played music at
  • UK music producer Troiboi, who performed at NASA in Chengdu
  • A painting by Yue Minjun, one of my favorite Chinese artists

Chengdu May-4

Chengdu May-10

Chengdu May-20

Happy Valley-1

Happy Valley-2

Chengdu May-23

Chengdu May-3

Published on June 3, 2015