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Lei Takanashi

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Although it may sound new, for more than a decade, Skepta and the Boy Better Know have been making “grime,” a genre of rap that comes exclusively from London. Skepta’s younger brother, JME’s song “96 Bars of Revenge,” was released 10 years ago and has three million views on Youtube. Skepta’s first album, ironically titled, “Greatest Hits,” came out in 2007 and is still one of the best British rap albums to ever be released. Skepta and British rappers hav been making great hip-hop and have already found success in their homeland. Yet, it wasn’t until 2014-2015 when grime exploded in the United States. The first grime track I ever heard was the 2014 U.S. remix of “That’s Not Me,” with New York City underground rapper Wiki, replacing JME’s verse. That remix opened a door to a facet of hip-hop I had never seen before. It was harder, faster, and…

I really do miss the old Kanye. No, this isn’t about whether or not I think College Dropout is better than Yeezus or if Kanye’s rapping has fallen off. This is about Kanye’s work ethic. The man that used to make three beats a day for three summers has made the decision to release an unfinished piece of work and update it live, thanks to the medium of streaming music. As an artist, one has every right to make changes to their piece of art. Of course, this usually does not happen after the work has been released to the public for purchase or critique. No doubt, Mr. West has done something unprecedented as an artist once again. He is producing an album right in front of us, and we can choose to watch this performance by subscribing to streaming services like Tidal and get to hear the album being…

David Lee Wolper spends too much time in his basement. The LED lights shining through glass cases illuminate the dark underbelly of his house. The only other light is from his workshop, where there are old circuit boards, switches and wires. It is quiet, until Wopler returns from his shift at UPS. He pulls back the plunger and brings the old machines to life. He is surrounded by his private collection of pinball machines. This is Wolper’s sanctuary. Wolper is just one member of The Long Island Arcade Club, where arcade enthusiasts go every month to play classic pinball and video games and talk about the hobby of arcade refurbishment. For almost five years, Brendan Bailey, the founder of the club, has invited arcade game enthusiasts to his office once a month to share their hobby of refurbishing arcade games. “They are pretty much just old computers,” Bailey said. “A…

On a Saturday morning in Brooklyn, 11 teenage boys sit around in a circle harmonizing sounds. They use  their mouths, hands, pencils and even a piece of hard Starburst candy against classroom desks. “Now that was better than last time,” Program Instructor Samuel Lee, says. This isn’t a traditional Saturday school session. The students aren’t sitting in neatly aligned rows or studying for the SAT. Instead, the teacher gives each student an hour to make a minute-long instrumental for a TV show of his or her choice, using only AudioTool, an online studio program. They’re enrolled in a non-profit organization called Building Beats. Building Beats is a program that teaches life and entrepreneurial skills to underserved youth through the art of DJing and digital music production. Every Saturday, the nonprofit organization Building Beats holds a workshop in collaboration with the homeless youth outreach program Safe In My Brothers Arms (S.I.M.B.A).…

Bryan Burgazzoli has an undeniable charm. He is an entertainer who can deliver clever punchlines to a room filled with people, a romantic who can turn garbage picking into a date night with his wife, and an artist that can turn trash into pieces fit for the Museum of Modern Art. Burgazzoli is just one reason why bidders come to Finders Keepers, a thrift store in Lake Grove, NY. Every month, customers come to Finders Keepers to bid on a variety of items. All kinds of antique curiosities (or something similar) have been up for grabs,  from a box of vintage action figures to a Soviet-era military jacket and even an old traffic light. “There is a seat for every behind. If you think there is somebody out there that won’t buy it, you’re wrong,” owner Bryan Burgazzoli said. Finders Keepers is part of the resale industry in America, a…

The video for the A Tribe Called Quest song “Oh My God” opens up with a scene that happens every day in New York City:Q-Tip and Phife Dawg step into their local bodega, which is covered with small graffiti marker tags. Tip goes up to the counter and strikes up some small talk with the friendly owner while buying some candy. Phife is in the background looking at maxi pads. Q-Tip asks what he’s doing that for. “If my girl is seeing red, I’ll save her a trip,” he responds. Phife Dawg’s passing wasn’t simply a loss for hip-hop but a loss for all New Yorkers. Out of all the members of Tribe, Phife exhibited the largest New Yorker personality. Phife’s raps were brash and brutally honest in contrast to Q-Tip’s softer and more philosophical verses. This dynamic is what made Tribe one of the best hip-hop groups of all…

On Easter Sunday weekend, the genre-busting music group, LCD Soundsystem, announced that it would sell tickets by lottery for two shows at Webster Hall. I almost broke my keyboard from how fast my fingers filled out the lottery form. LCD Soundsystem plastered music journalism when the group announced their reunion tour last December. For fans of the band, the news was as earth shattering as their announcement to call it quits in 2011. Yes, they only took a five year break, but LCD Soundsystem is more than just a solid indie music act. First of all, their music is a mix of all the great pop music of the 20th century. Songs like “Movement” mix electro music with hardcore, Bad Brains era punk rock. Others, like “Never as Tired as Waking Up,” are tributes to the sad rock songs pioneered by Lou Reed. One could compare LCD Soundsystem to hundreds…

Five men draw brightly colored letters on the walls around the railroad tracks near East Fordham Road in the Bronx, surrounded by crates of spray paint. They move gracefully with the vibrant mist , creating sharp, crisp lines. Quiet as Buddhist monks, they fill in their letters with colors like “dragon green” and “pussy pink”, creating depth within the wall. Only the noise of mixing balls and hissing aerosol escape the scene. Just a couple feet away from the tracks, two graffiti artists, Skeme and Chain 3 paint their names on a subway car. They aren’t afraid of being caught. They shouldn’t be; they aren’t breaking any laws. This all occurs in “the yard,” an alley owned by Tuff City Styles,  a tattoo store located on 650 East Fordham Road in the Bronx. The owners, who are graffiti artists themselves, recreated the alley to resemble a train yard with a…

With  their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey, the Flatbush Zombies give their loyal fans exactly what they want – even if the group’s signature sound does not come off as fresh as it used to be. The Flatbush Zombies have gained a cult following since dropping their first mixtape D.R.U.G.S back in 2012. They became part of the Beast Coast Movement, a collective of talented rappers from New York City that shook the hip-hop community. Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era, the Underachievers and the Flatbush Zombies brought life back to the New York rap scene with their incredible mixtapes. But that was four years ago, and a lot of the great Beast Coast acts have moved on to newer sounds. Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew were largely labeled as a 90s boom-bap revival group when they started out, but recent releases from members Nyck Caution and Kirk…