Episode 34: FVDED in the Park brings festival living to the suburbs

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With music festivals becoming an integral auditory exercise for music lovers over the past decade, people are flocking to desert towns, sunny islands, and the core of their cities to experience a mashup of artists from different genres, and to meet other music lovers who don’t mind a little dirt on their shoes, in exchange for checking multiple artists off their bucket lists.

FVDED in the Park, a two-day festival put on by Blueprint Events and Live Nation, saw thousands of fans taking to Holland Park, the home of snoozier, family friendly festivals, to check out 34 emerging and well-known hip-hop and electro acts. Taking place during the first weekend of July outside of Vancouver, in the suburbs of Surrey, BC, this year saw a huge increase in numbers, with over from 20,000 festival goers to more than 40,000 this year.

This year marked some changes, namely the FVDED Lab a third stage showcasing local talent like rapper Tommy Genesis and Pomo, a Vancouver based producer who’s been a force on SoundCloud, with his remixes reaching millions of hits.

FVDED’s set list was curated with breakout artists garnering a lot of traction in 2015 and maintaining the momentum in 2016. Stand out sets included: Jazz Cartier, Kaytranada, Tommy Genesis and Metro Boomin. The festival welcomes an all ages crowd, with plenty of underage boobs and booty shown off over the the weekend. Many of the artists on the roster perform at nightclubs when in the city, so this was a chance for teenagers to experience artists like Zedd, who puts on a light show equally as impressive as the music. FVDED is a unique festival in that it’s bringing internationally renowned talent to the suburbs, and providing a reasonably priced experience to a growing city.

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Jack Ü headlined the first night of FVDED in the Park and had a beat and rhythm for everyone to find, no matter what their preference. Diplo and Skrillex weaved their way from dancehall, soca, bhangra, top 40, back to their own tracks. Their collaborative music mirrors their performance style and they often meshed their songs during their 90 minute set. Jack Ü understands the diversity of their audience and they switched up from periods of frenetic electro to let the crowd breathe during a sweet medley that included Cinema and last summer’s hit Lean On. Other hijinks included Skrillex coaxing the crowd to wake up a dead Diplo, and the duo premiering a new coordinated dance routine atop a giant platform on the FVDED stage.

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Metro Boomin took the stage on day 2 and treated his set like a victory lap celebrating the hits that he’s produced over the last three years. He teased the crowd with his intro from Kanye’s Father Stretch My Hands Part 1 but didn’t deliver on the drop until much later. His work on major mixtapes from Drake to Future (and Drake + Future’s WATTBA) last year drew the biggest cheers from the crowd. His Gucci Mane tribute was nostalgic, making you realize Hard To Kill was released 10 years ago. Metro’s stage presence is more that of an emcee than a DJ and he was one of the most hype acts on Day 2 of FVDED. The droves of people sprinting to the front as he started that infamous “Young Metro” tagline, and his command of the stage show that he’s definitely one of rap’s most promising young talents.

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00:00- 06:04 The Line by DVSN

06:05-09:40 Opera by Jazz Cartier

09:41-12:12 100 Roses by Jazz Cartier

12:12- 14:40 Uber Everywhere by MadeinTYO

14:41-19:12 Neva CHange by Schoolboy Q ft. SZA

19:13-24:37 Tookie Knows II ft. Traffic and TF

24:38 We’ve switched over to a once a month format while we work on Vellum Wellness. We’ll be extending our show past 11:00 p.m. so we can have a long, luxurious show!

24:54 We discuss our time at FVDED in the Park

31:21 We’re attending Osheaga festival from July 29th – 31st in Montreal. Follow us on snapchat @thescreengirls

32:00 Lana Del Rey and Future’s sets conflict at Osheaga. Let us know which act you’d see.

32:27 We play our interview with Noodles

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Canadian illustrator Pencil Fingerz is making his mark on hip hop

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(Pencil Fingerz)

The hip hop core community has changed significantly from what it was, during its sudden birth in the ‘70s.  As with all great cultural movements, hip hop evolved as it made it’s way from a niche – a few men beat boxing and emceeing in the streets of South Bronx – to finding a global audience through radio play giving a popular voice to black artists and changing the landscape of music in a way that still resonates today. As Kanye West declares he’s the biggest rockstar on the planet, rap has replaced pop music, brands are shelling big dollars for product placements in songs, and every pop starlet from Ariana Grande to Selena Gomez has sought out a rapper for a feature to edge up their sound.

Hip hop and rap’s ability to connect people through little more than bass and lyrics has attracted lifelong fans (and brands) from different environments and all corners of the planet. Everyone’s trying to cash in on the culture, whether it’s Hillary Clinton dabbing to Fetty Wap on the Ellen show or fast food chains tweeting about rappers feuding online. Social media has made it possible for anybody from all over the world to participate in the culture but true fans of the genre are now able to connect and actually influence their favourite artists. 

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(Andre 3000 drawn by Pencil Fingerz)

One of these lifelong fans is Pencil Fingerz, a digital artist, illustrator and painter who resides in the rural Canadian town of Chilliwack. While his environment is more suited for country music than rap, his portfolio includes: a music video for CJ Fly, tour posters for Yelawolf and Mick Jenkins, and album covers and more for Rittz. One of Pencil Fingerz longest ongoing collaborations is with The Underachievers and was sparked after Issa Gold spotted Pencil’s portrait of Andre 3000, with roses sprouting from his mind. 

Pencil’s exposure to rap began by chance when he first found a stray Eminem CD on the ground. It was that serendipitous moment that ignited a respect for the culture. After Eminem, he fully immersed himself into early 00’s hip hop, and often reflects on this era, with portraits of artists, like Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Since then, he’s honed both his artistry as well as his appreciation for hip hop and has injected himself into the culture, by producing art for some of his favourite artists.

Since meeting Issa online, Pencil has collaborated with The Underachievers to produce covers for their Cellar Door, Evermore: The Art of Duality albums and their latest mixtape, It Happened in Flatbush. Under Issa’s instruction, he’s even drawn himself into the artwork for the latter, shown smiling and laughing, amongst the rest of Issa and AK’s inner circle. Not bad for a young kid working from a small town in Canada.

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(It Happened in Flatbush cover art by Pencil Fingerz)

He’s amassed quite a following on his Instagram, where he posts lifelike portraits of public figures like Chance the Rapper, Will Ferrell, Audrey Hepburn and Pickachu, replete with a blunt in his hand.  With talent, a Wacom tablet, a bit of Photoshop, and a rich portfolio of  illustrations of all the rap gods from the golden era and beyond, Pencil Fingerz has since become quickly sought after, for up and coming artists looking to incorporate his signature pencil drawings into their brand. 

We spoke with Pencil Fingerz, on our radio show and discussed his favourite works, his creative problem solving with Chance the Rapper’s management and his collaboration with Complex magazine.

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(Evermore: The Art of Duality cover art by Pencil Fingerz)

 

Zumbi ushers in a new era of Zion I

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(ZionI)

Oakland based rap group Zion I disbanded last year, with Amp Live leaving to pursue other ventures and Zumbi carrying on the namesake the two created in 1996. It’s been a bittersweet goodbye for fans of the group, who’ve listened to the duo lead the way on socially and politically conscious rap music since their debut Mind Over Matter in 2000. The years since then have seen Zumbi and Amp live record 0ver ten albums, including Heroes in The City of Dope and Heroes in The Healing of The Nation with The Grouch. Together, they’ve solidified their place in hip hop culture.

It’s comforting to note that Zion I is not really gone at all, but is seeing an evolution, one that has Baba Zumbi at the forefront of all creative decisions. It will be interesting to see how being the sole voice of Zion I challenges him. Although he’ll now be working alongside different producers in place of Amp, the lyricism in Zion I has always been Zumbi’s signature.

Zumbi’s release of The Sun, Moon and Stars in February this year, featured production by various producers and tackled themes like police brutality on songs like “Unity” and self image in the age of the internet on “Lost In Translation.”

He released The Rapture: Live from Oaklandia this summer. It’s a live album, backed by a band and was recorded in front of an audience, earlier this year. The album features classic and newer material, and is a reminder of the impressive catalog Zion I  created in their time together. We spoke with Zumbi on Episode 29 of Screen Girls on Air and he told us he’s been recording new material in Hawaii and at home for the past few months and is gearing up to release some more music.

 

Screen Girls On Air: Relic aka Rel McCoy

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The entire vibe of the Toronto hip hop scene has changed since OVO took over in ’09. Fast forward six years later, and the sing/rap style has become all too predictable. It’s important to note that there are still emcees like Ontario’s Relic that are foregoing the trendy path to success, and instead creating sound pieces of music, that remain true to vision.

Relic aka Rel Mccoy is refreshing because he’s so heavily involved in all aspects of the creation of his work from writing to production. He’s a DJ, engineer and producer who’s previously work includes most of the production on Shad’s “The Old Prince” as well as doing engineering for rap group Ghetto Concept.

He’s been working on his own music, and recently dropped The 13th Floor, which tackles the everyday woes of Relic as he navigates through life, the chaos and mayhem that follows (or that he perhaps chases). It’s not at all the glamorous portrait of Toronto that’s oft portrayed; there’s no bitches and bottles to be found in his rhymes. It’s real, but entirely relatable, feeling stripped down and without any accoutrements. It’s a man, his bars and a beat – hip hop at it’s core.

Whether or not this raw and conscious flow can crossover in this climate stands to be seen. It’s dependant on Canadian hip hop audiences and their willingness to (once again) support music with positive imagery. If so, Relic will no doubt stand with Canadian emcees like Shad and Choclair as one of the country’s hip hop wordsmiths.

We interviewed Relic on Episode 28 of Screen Girls on Air and asked him to share with us his thoughts on the Canadian music industry and more.

 

Tyler the Creator delivers post Odd Future

Odd Future fans have had a few months now, to process what they probably already knew deep down –  OFWGKTA is no more. The collective, which rose to prominence on Myspace and Tumblr in the late ’00s hasn’t been together in the same physical and musical sense since a few of the members, like Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt and the group’s leader Tyler the Creator blew up far bigger than anyone could have predicted.

Odd Future’s success in music signalled a change in the listenership of hip hop. They had an immediately offbeat vibe, kind of like those kids in high school who huffed paint in the washrooms and would get kicks out of pulling the fire alarm. Now those kids are running the music industry, branching out into their own lanes and making Grammy appearances. Odd Future made it cool to be weird.

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No one was more forthcoming with their eccentricity than Tyler the Creator, who at 24, is commanding large audiences (and fees no doubt) as he embarks as a truly solo artist, for perhaps the first time since the gang started recording in South Central, LA. He just released Cherry Bomb, a thirteen track album with features from Pharrell Williams, and Kanye West  – and none from Odd Future. The album is a follow up to 2013’s Wolf in which he narrated his life at the time through some characters at camp. Wolf is also where he may have figuratively killed off  his Odd Future members.

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Cherry Bomb is Tyler’s first go without his friends or any fictional characters to tell his story. The result at first feels chaotic, with jazz influences and thematic references that are so unlike anything he’s ever put out. Commercial success hasn’t changed Tyler’s creative style. His music contains substance but it’s interplayed with offensive lyrics and jokey rhymes (fuck your loud pack/ and fuck your Snapchat) on songs like Smuckers.

Watching him perform tracks from the album, it’s clear that he’s enjoying his solo moment. Backed by Taco on the turntables, Tyler launched into a 45 minute set at FVDED in the Park, taking the audience from Cherrybomb back to his Bastard beginnings. If you listen to Tyler without seeing him perform, you’re missing a big part of his persona. He’s dynamic on stage, and demanding of his audience. There’s no moment of rest from the first note to the the last song; he’s constantly running across the stage, an effervescent smile never leaving his face. He’s a prankster till the end, berating people in the audience, pretending to ejaculate on a woman’s face and constantly asking people to throw up their sunglasses for him to wear (and then making sure they were returned). He’s entertaining himself, if no one else, and that is an essential part of being an entertainer.

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The crowning moment was when Yonkers, arguably his most “famous” song to date came on toward the end of his set. There’s always that one song you have to live with as a performer – the one song that appeals to all crowds beyond your fanbase, the one song that follows you around from show to show, the one song you’re probably sick of performing. When Yonker’s came on, Tyler led the crowd through a proper shit show, the entire open field swaying from side to side as Tyler jumped vigorously up and down on stage. It was refreshing to see someone who raps about being an asshole be completely and genuinely grateful for his time on stage.

Tyler’s got a busy few months planned, his entrepreneurial efforts with Golf Media a subscription for everything Tyler, and an accompanying magazine. He’s touring this fall, in a stadium tour alongside A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown and Vince Staples. Wherever he decides to take the direction for his next album, he’ll be just fine without his friends.

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