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Via Cinema Paraiso (learn more) en Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Click on the photo for a message from Raka Dun of Los Rakas on his birthday! ‘El Negrito Dun Dun‘ EP has been pushed back in light of Dun adding more songs, but stay tuned!
Raka Dun & Raka Rich on CNN En Español this past summer!
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I’ve been spending the last few months in San Juan, PR. After going to an exhibit last night called “Las Caritas Lindas” at C787Studios (gallery owner Alexis Bousquet has conspired with Calle 13, Tego Calderon y muchos mas – more on him below) on Calle Cerra in Santurce – which was pretty much a mini-artwalk between there and Galeria 15 – I felt I had enough material to do a lil reportaje.
Understanding that this is just from one outsider soul, feel free to school me on other galleries and artists in the comments – Always keeping an eye out for #InspirationArchives. *EDIT* Also recently found this piece in the NY Times from 2010 about the burgeoning Art District in Santurce – in the Travel section.
Via The Fractal: “Proveniente del artista francés JR, INSIDE OUT es un proyecto global de retratos a gran escala y Santurce es Ley lo presento como una pieza de arte compuesta de imágenes de gestores del arte en conjunto con nativos de la comunidad de Santurce.” The piece highlights the local artists from Santurce and San Juan – I love that. It feels like the epicenter of something happening.
Last week, I went to the Museo Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC) and caught Sofia Maldonado‘s first solo exhibition: Fever: Nostalgias tropicales y ansiedades urbanas en Sofía Maldonado (Translation: Fever: Tropical Nostalgia and Urban Anxieties). As someone meditating on being an urban mutant, you know I love that title.
I first saw Sofia’s work on this trip at the old Cafe Seda (now called Baldechu) where she has a mural up and then on the way to La Respuesta for Monday nights with Velcro as part of Los Muros Hablan – an international street art festival going on this Fall. The only woman to get a wall at the festival, the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote a lil piece about it: “It addresses domestic violence in Puerto Rico, showing a bashed-but-not-beaten beauty and those fists, which — once properly shaded — were lettered with “basta ya/enough already.” The work’s not soft, despite the bright colors she used to paint it“:
Then, I remembered Sofia’s work in New York City back in 2010. It was quite controversial. I revisited this piece from Remezcla: “Boricua Hipster Romanticizes NY Latinas; (Unsurprisingly) Gets in Trouble” that I think I remember agreeing with quickly off the cuff, but in the context of learning more about her work and lifestyle now (basically she’s a transnational tropi-hip-hop-skate-punk mutant) – when I strip it something simple: I love the colors and the celebration of femininity I see in her work. I don’t look at her works and think “Ugh!” I see it and I think “Beautiful!” I can see someone not liking the aesthetic, but feel free to make a comment and tell me otherwise. Reminds me a lot of why I love Toofly out of NYC!
As a piece in The Root surmised: “But what about a streetwise Latina artist who uses vivid color to make people stop and take a good look at her people, for better or for worse? By giving viewers pause, Sofia Maldonado making them ask themselves questions they’d rather not answer. Is a Boricua popping gum any less worthy of visibility than a sister wearing pearls?” Also here from Terry Ward: “One wouldn’t want morals-police to impose quotas —perhaps that for every three lap-dance-worthy buxom babes painted there must be one stout office worker plotting a spreadsheet on her laptop. It’s so complicated.” Ain’t it?
Peep this piece “Fela Kuti’s Queens” from the MAC exhibition and some other snap shots I took:
Before I left to San Juan, I was lucky enough to meet an amazing artist also from Santurce (now based in Brooklyn, NY), Angel Otero. I love the idea of leaving the works up to the limitations of the material instead of forcing it. He’s sort of the hot shit coming out of the island.
“Otero’s painting process is anything but conventional—he spends as much time working with dried paint as wet. Otero begins by applying layers of oil paints on a piece of glass in reverse order. Once the paint is half-dry he scrapes it off the glass and applies the richly textured oil-skin surface to a canvas. The resulting compositions reveal surprising bursts of color and produce unexpected wrinkles in Otero’s imagery. “I can control about fifty percent of the end result,” Otero says. “But those limitations and the uncertainty are what spark the dialogue that I aim for” …Having honed his technique with confidence, he is able to keep experimenting.”
It’s true, fucking around and gaining the confidence to explore a medium is the key to it all. I can draw parallels from what he does to the work I do and that’s inspiring; to the work that NEEDS to continue happening, really.
Onto an artist I encountered at La Respuesta one music-drunk evening of course with DJ Velcro and DJ Adam curating sounds: Fernando Mora. He was live-painting this shit and then passed me some vibes at 4 AM. Who is winning? What a sweet guy and amazing to see some of his other works are equally incredible and colorfully up my aesthetic-alley.
Fernando More live piece – Photo taken by Nati on October 1, 2012
Osvaldo Vazquez Martinez is an artist I met in Spanish Harlem in the last decade. Between NYC and San Juan, he creates amazing works, recently showing with his sister Gabriela at The Art Room in Hato Rey this month for a show called “ESTO ES UN PESCAO” – #SOFISH.
Back to Alexis Bousquet, gallery owner of C787Studios, who I found this really great interview via Undo Digital:
““Alexis Bousquet” es el director de arte corporative bullshit blah, blah. “Smoke” es el Graffitero cuando decide graffitiar y tiene la lata en la mano y pinta o hace que pinta (rara vez visto). Y “Clandestino” es el concepto dentro de todas a las anteriores.” Some more works here:
On working with Calle 13:
“René y Eduardo son mis hermanos. Los mejores jefes que uno pueda tener. Humildes y con los pies en la tierra todo el tiempo. Nuestra amistad mas allá del trabajo surgió con el mismo trabajo y como persibíamos la puertorriqueñidad. La temática en mis piezas son tan nacionalistas como las líricas de Calle 13. Por eso empatamos tan bien. Ellos me dan toda la libertad del mundo cuando se trata de sus trabajos. Esa es su filosofía con las disqueras y con todo el Mundo. Una filosofía de no interrumpir el proceso creativo en lo absoluto, sin censuras. Calle 13 fue mi primer cliente grande y la razón por la cuál se asocia tanto a ellos mi trabajo.”
If I’m not mistaken, I came across his graf project, Smoke, on a walk to La Placita de Santurce last week. Love the grim but bold characters:
Phew. Fuerte and beautiful, right? I love this island! Thought I would include some scenes and shots I’ve taken too. I don’t know all the artists, but again, feel free to send me a note and school me!!!
Up now at: http://www.la15pr.org
Puerto Rico covered on Fatcap.
So much!!! So much!!!!
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So between agonizing over how email limits productivity, meditating on getting older & The Internet Era and adjusting to living in San Juan, Puerto Rico since the end of September till December (thank the goddesses for SummerStage off-season perks!), it’s become apparent that an update from me is essential – mostly for my own sanity and to let you muthas know all the exciting stuff going on!
No idea is original, but the loveforce severely lacking in the world right now needs a fresh breath of bold new ideas. Which brings me to some of the things that have inspired me lately. I’ve been listening to a healthy stew of Bobby Valentin and far too much Kendrick Lamar and Cody ChesnuTT, ya bish!
Larry Mizell Jr – in my future dreamtown of Seattle – wrote this great column talking on a lot of the ideas I’ve been thinking about too: “See, there are artists—my favorite ones right now—seemingly fighting for their souls and sanity via their art because, as you know, shit is hectic.”
As the established music industry (and world) continues to crash and burn, struggling to find answers, it is exciting to see when true partnership works: “The fact that the industry is so embracing of Kendrick’s rather highly developed artistry is encouraging.”
In this Billboard article about the Kendrick/Interscope deal, I encouraged everyone I work with to repeat after thee: “As long as you control your touring, publishing and your merch, you’re good.” Oh how oh how will it unfold? Nobody knows, but shit’s certainly exciting!!!
LOS RAKAS is currently in Nebraska on the #DarkNStormy tour with Collie Buddz and New Kingston.
I just blogged about our adventures in Mexico and Atlanta (I HUNG OUT AT OUTKAST’S STUDIO Y’ALL #Bucketlist).
Raka Pitufo is the official Raka photog; Follow his work and go behind the Rakascenes!
Raka Rich & Raka Dun hit Chicago’s Lincoln Hall this Friday and weave across the midwest till mid-November. Before the end of the year, Los Rakas play with Ozomatli in San Francisco and debut together in Colombia. Check this video of Raka Rich’s first trip. I’m so excited to join the guys and reunite with the dudes from Freaky Friday! #RakasInColombia
Raka Dun’s “El Negrito Dun Dun” mixtape also drops in December; I heard some tracks in Atlanta and all I can say is, WOW! For a taste, grab the first single, “No Tan Listo“!! Estos manes ni aguantan!!!!
Finally, Raka Dun spoke to Telehit on this special about the Latin Alternative Music Conference (my past employer). LAMC has been an important stepping stone for the group, who won their “Discovery Artist” price in 2010.
They haven’t looked back since, which became apparent to me while updating Los Rakas’ bio recently which you can download here. Going to include some of it which lays out what is next for them:
“Los Rakas forthcoming release “Raka Party” will be out sometime in 2013, showcasing the group putting their “Raka” twist on the EDM world. The first single is an anthem for the women of Latin America entitled “Miss Latina.” The project includes production from Los Rakas longtime collaborator, Freddy Stylez aka Raka Stylo. Raka Rich & Raka Dun also worked on a dance-centric single with Diplo and Dutch producer The Flexican called “Desorden” which is set to see release on Mad Decent. The group is also working on their third mixtape, “Panabay Twist 3: De La Noche A La Mañana” as well as solo mixtapes.”
Los Rakas with Oro 11 y Erick Rincon (of 3BallMTY <#FUTUREROOTS alums>) in LA #DarkNStormy
ZUZUKA PODEROSA‘s been in the kitchen working on “Carioca Bass EP” which hopes to see release by end of the year on Little Owl Recordings. It includes 2 original tracks and 6 remixes from #worldwild producers like Jubilee & Burt Fox, Nego Mozambique and Sonora – who you should remember from the Sonora Remezcla: Zuzuka Poderosa project.
Zuzuka just got back from rocking “Beast Research” in Boston on Halloween and Aboriginal Music Week with A Tribe Called Red – #FUTUREROOTS series alums who just were confirmed for 2013’s ‘GlobalFEST‘ – congrats guys!
Dip muthafucka: All photos from the show are here!
Zuzuka’s off to Europe in December, rocking in Berlin as part of the Worldtronics Festival and the Dave Nada-curated Moombahton Massive. Line-up is sick: The Very Best (UK), Schlachthofbronx (D), Zuzuka Poderosa & Jen Lasher (USA) and DJs Boyfriend (LIT) & Disgraceland (UK), Nadastrom & Sabo (USA)! It was cool to see Dave & Matt rock with Nadastrom at Lollapalooza this past August and see this baby come to fruition! More European dates are being worked on as we speak – crossing fingers for some really cool shows to pop off! #WheresMyCape
Meanwhile, I’m still banging Zuzuka’s mixtape by Kush Arora something serious. Lovely memories, as it was released this past year on my birthday. What a year! My favorite track is the Spoek Mathambo & Gnucci Banana tracks – can you say collaborations coming soon, anyone? #InterracialMusicBabies
“Rooted in bass-heavy baile funk, the tape bangs through global ghetto sounds, from bhangra to soca crunk. Plus, there are bunda-shaking appearances from Los Rakas, Spoek Mathambo, Sany Pitbull and many more. Carioca Bass is definitely what Poderosa calls an “interracial music baby.” What does that mean? That it’s time to learn Portuspanglish.” – RCRD LBL
OUTERNATIONAL, having rocked 3 coast-to-coast and independently-booked tours in 2012 alone – have been taking some time to recalibrate. After releasing the Tom Morello-produced “Future Rock” EP and launching a brand new website, the group will release first video off the project – the song “Empty Lives” – which premiered with American Songwriter Magazine.
Finally, in light of Veteran’s Day today, wanted to highlight their song, SIR NO SIR.
I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I would say the band would probably include playing the song for Iraqi Veterans handing back their medals of honor at this year’s NO NATO summit as a 2012 highlight.
“As the sun rises, the world becomes clearer and more defined. We watch the sun become redder and redder, finally turning into white light, bright sunshine. One would prefer to hold on to the dawn and sunrise, to keep the sun from rising completely, to hold on to the glowing promise. We would prefer to do this, but we cannot.” – The Myth of Freedom
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Latest from Rakalandia:
Congrats to Pancho Mazariegos from Sacramento for winning the #RakaHalloween Pumpkin Carving contest. He wins 2 VIP tickets to Los Rakas’ show at Slims in San Francisco on 1/12/13 as well as an Autographed CD and Raka T-shirt! Big up to all the Rakas who entered the contest!
Raka Dia De Los Muertos
Raka Karlish in Mexico City made this Raka Calavera for Día De Muertos. Learn about the celebration here.
Los Rakas in Los Angeles Times
Los Rakas was profiled in LA Times’ Pop & Hiss column in advance of this past Friday’s show at The Troubadour on Collie Buddz’s “Dark N’ Stormy Tour”.
“It feels like everyday America’s getting more Spanglish.”
-Raka Dun in LA Times
Raka Dun talked to the LA Weekly in advance of the LA show this Friday:
“I saw that you were working on a new album called Raka Party. How far along are you with that?
We’re still working on new music but we’ll probably put out another mixtape before we put that album out. We’re working on a lot of songs with Bay Area artists and we have a song with Diplo coming out in January. And on November 18, I’m releasing my solo EP, El Negrito Dun Dun.”
Ozomatli w/ Los Rakas at The Fillmore in SF
Los Rakas will join Ozomatli on Friday, December 7th at The Fillmore in San Francisco!
Photos of Rakas In Mexico
Raka Rich performed in Mexico City last month as part of the Festival Corona Capital alongside The Black Keys, Major Lazer and many more where they played for 5,000+ people on the Club Bizco Stage (curated by 8106.TV). He interviewed with Mexican radio stations like Ibero 90.9 FM and Reactor as well as MTV Latin America. Los Rakas’ official photographer, Raka Pitufo, captured the exciting weekend.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
|Nov 1||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Belly Up Tavern||Solana Beach, CA||Tickets|
|Nov 2||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Troubadour||Los Angeles, CA||Tickets|
|Nov 3||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Martini Ranch||Scottsdale, AZ||Tickets|
|Nov 4||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||The Green Room||Flagstaff, AZ||Tickets|
|Nov 7||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Sunshine Theatre||Albuquerque, NM||Tickets|
|Nov 8||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Black Sheep||Colorado Springs, CO||Tickets|
|Nov 9||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Fox Theatre||Boulder, CO||Tickets|
|Nov 10||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Bluebird Theatre||Denver, CO||Tickets|
|Nov 11||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||The Waiting Room||Omaha, NE||Tickets|
|Nov 13||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Wooly’s||Des Moines, IA||Tickets|
|Nov 14||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||7th Street Entry||Minneapolis, MN||Tickets|
|Nov 15||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||Lincoln Hall||Chicago, IL||Tickets|
|Nov 16||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||High Noon Saloon||Madison, WI||Tickets|
|Nov 17||The Dark N’ Stormy Tour w/ Collie Buddz & New Kingston||The Pyramid Scheme||Grand Rapids, MI||Tickets|
|Dec 7||Los Rakas w/ Ozomatli||The Fillmore||San Francisco, CA||Tickets|
|Dec 14||Los Rakas||Theatron de Pelicula||Bogota, Columbia||Tickets TBA|
|Jan 12||Los Rakas w/ A-1||Slim’s||San Francisco, CA||Tickets|
View All Upcoming Tour Dates on www.LosRakas.com