Magazine sits down with “KAWS”

From starting his career as a graffiti artist, to becoming an international fine arts phenom, Brian Donnely has certainly made a name for himself – perhaps you recognize him as KAWS.

On Thursday, April 11, KAWS unveiled his roaming 16-foot sculpture COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH) at 30th Street Station, where it will remain in place from now until May 14th.  After it’s unveiling, we were lucky enough to sit down with KAWS to discuss his inspiration, Companion, and what’s coming next. Read More at 215mag!




The Grilled Cheese Steak Party at UBiQ aka Shaq Attact with Reebok and CYL

It’s all going down on April 18th at UBiQ with the celebration of the re-release of Reebok®’s Shaq Attaq sneakers via the Grilled Cheese Steak Party sponsored by Reebok®, Famjuice®, Hot 107.9, UBIQ and SlingShox™.

The CYL Creative Group has planned an innovative experience for the re-release of the Shaq Attaq, by bringing Great Scott McKenzie’s renowned New York City Grilled Cheese Party (GCP) to Philadelphia. To add a little Philly flavor, it was only right to name to the Reebok® sponsored GCP event the Grilled Cheese ”Steak” Party, in honor of the hometown favorite.
As invited guests make their way through the two story UBIQ store, they will be the first to get an exclusive look at the Reebok® Shaq Attaq, while indulging in some irresistible bites by Lord of the Kitchen Cupboard and drinks provided by none other than Philadelphia’s own Famjuice®. With DJ YS, of the ‘Stay Wit It DJ’, as the soundtrack for the night, guests will also have the opportunity to show off their skills in the Famjuice® x Mitchell & Ness NBA 2k13 tournament, being held in the Mitchell & Ness pop up shop inside of UBIQ.  The winner of the tournament will receive a pair of the Reebok® Shaq Attaq sneakers.
Also, in tribute to the re-release of this iconic style, featured sponsor SlingShox™, has teamed up with Philadelphia artist and founder of The DNTN Brand, Don Scott to design a limited edition SlingShox™ band. SlingShox™ are interchangeable silicone watchband accessories that work with GShock watches. The company was built on three primary ideas: Quality, Value and Art. This interchange system was created as a way for consumers to change out their watch color in a cost effective way.
This will be the official Philadelphia release event for the Reebok® Shaq Attaq, which is set to re-release nationwide on April 19, 2013. This invite only event will be held a Philadelphia’s premier footwear boutique, UBIQ, at its Walnut Street location at 1509 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102from 7pm-11pm.
​Each guest will receive giveaways courtesy of SlingShox™, Reebok®, Mitchell & Ness, Famjuice®, Hot 107.9, The DNTN Brand and Cool Mentality. To learn more about the GCP Philadelphia event or to enter the NBA 2k13 please contact Ishmael Abrokwa at If you are entering the tournament, please include your full name, NBA2k13 ID, current NBA2k13 record, age and sneaker size.


About GCP and Reebok Shaq Attaq re-release
“The Grilled Cheese Party” was an idea born by one of NYC’s top tastemakers and Reebok Ambassador, Great Scott McKenzie. The objective of the GCP is to bring some of the industry’s top young professionals together to celebrate three common loves: food, music, and fly kicks. These “pop-up” foodie events create a platform for these young influencers to introduce consumers to a refreshing promotional experience. Because of the immense success of the GCP NYC event, The McKenzie Estate, A Good Story, Cool Mentality and CYL Creative Group decided to take the show on the road with the first stop being in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. However, CYL thought it would be only right to add Philly flavor to the GCP, by making it the Grilled Cheesesteak Party, in honor of the hometown favorite.
Last month at the Project Trade Show in Las Vegas, Reebok’s Creative Director Swizz Beatz announced that two iconic Shaquille O’Neal sneaker styles would be re-released in 2013. Initially released almost 20 years ago, the first off the assembly line is the Shaq Attaq. Reebok and Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaq Attaq” sneakers are set to hit stores on Friday, April 19, 2013. With the Orlando themed colorway, and other features of the original shoe, the 2013 Shaq Attaq re-release will be priced at $160.
About CYL Creative Group
CYL Creative Group is a Philadelphia based boutique Marketing Agency, specializing in Lifestyle Marketing, Branding and Special Events for the young, fresh and hip consumer.
For more information please contact CYL Creative Group at

Woolrich John Rich & Bros. opens a Shop-in-shop @ Smith + Butler

Heritage brand Woolrich John Rich & Bros. just opened their first shop-in-shop at Brooklyn’s Smith + Butler.  This is pretty exciting since the release of the 2013 Spring collection for Woolrich showed a lot of pretty dope items.  Smith + Butler,   located at 225 Smith St. in Carroll Gardens, will launch with the Woolrich John Rich & Bros.  spring/summer 2013 men’s collection, which includes tailored pieces and sportswear inspired by the origins of the modern outdoors, classic American style and innovations in aesthetic fabric design.  The store itself is a dope environment featuring   vintage home furnishings and antiques, specially built and sourced for the shop-in-shop. See photos of the store below and make sure you visit:

Smith & Butler
 Address: 225 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone:(718) 855-4295

#CorysCookout @TheThreePeat This Saturday!

#CorysCookout! Yes, yes, yes. It’s that time of year. If you don’t know or haven’t followed Cory Townes on the TWITTER, the past two years, then you’ve missed out on a very intimate event to celebrate the most important day of the year: the day Cory Allen Townes came into existence on this planet. What started as a simple tweet in 2011 about a small potluck has since turned into what many refer to as “The Beginning of Spring in Philly.” We’ve had the event the past two years, and of course, with all things must come progression. Hence, the birth of “The ThreePeat”. This year, Cory is doing things a tad differently. Yes, we still have the same potluck theme (Ladies, bring your rarest available delicacies and fellas, bring your best libations and good spirits), but this year he has decided to hold the event in a more spacious venue to be named at a later date. I’ve also reached out to my good friends at Vitamin Water to lend me a hydrating hand. And in partnering up with the homies from and my right hand (and newly announced host of “Def Comedy Jam”) Clint Coleypulling double duty as “Head Chef” and host, we’re looking to make this a grand old affair

This is all happening on Saturday, April 13th, from 12-6pm, so do NOT come fashionably late.

I only have 3 Rules for “The ThreePeat”:

1. Come out and have a fun, safe, and most importantly great time.
2. You bring a great dish, my “Point Gawd” ability will flourish and I’ll find you someone to have enlightening conversation with. (*Note* I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for any and all relationships created at Cory’s Cookout that may end in a negative light. I do have this in legal speech, as well.)
3. When it comes to libations, Hennessy is preferred, Tequila is welcomed, and any and especially all cheap Vodka will bar you from the festivities. DO NOT BRING PINNACLE VODKA, BREH.

Other than that, I look forward to seeing you all this Saturday, bring your best dishes and I’ll bring you a great time.

Rap Music, Censorship and a Real Life Conspiracy

By Sebastien Elkouby

Ever since I began publicly speaking out against the mainstream music industry, its corrupt practices and deliberate dumbing down of rap music, I’ve been told by many, including industry insiders, that my claims are unfounded, unverifiable and the stuff of paranoid conspiracy theorists. But what is a conspiracy? Does it always have to be hatched in secret by groups of shadowy men who promote their twisted agenda through seemingly harmless avenues? Or is it sometimes so overt that it simply becomes “business as usual” while an unsuspecting public eats it up without a second thought?

The word “conspiracy” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary means:

a: to join in a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or an act which becomes unlawful as a result of the secret agreement.

b: to act in harmony toward a common end.

In other words, a conspiracy is nothing more than a group of individuals, conspiring, or discreetly working together towards a wrongful aim . This practice is common and historically documented in all areas of politics and business, music industry included. Usually, the end goal is money and power. But what would the music industry have to gain from deliberately dumbing down rap? And aren’t many popular rappers already dumbing themselves down without the industry’s help?

While concrete answers elude me, the following examples point to a conspiracy, or a concerted effort if you prefer, by industry execs to continue promoting rap music with dangerous messages, even when it may be against the law.

According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, the broadcast of obscene, indecent and profane material may be unlawful. Broadcasters, including radio stations and TV networks, may actually be violating their public interest obligation by playing music which promotes explicit sex acts, drug use, rape, and other criminal behavior

Here’s a section from FCC guidelines regarding obscene, indecent and profane broadcasts.

Obscene Broadcasts Are Prohibited at All Times

Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and cannot be broadcast at any time. The Supreme Court has established that, to be obscene, material must meet a three-pronged test:

  • An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
  • The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
  • The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Indecent Broadcast Restrictions

The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Indecent programming contains patently offensive sexual or excretory material that does not rise to the level of obscenity.

The courts have held that indecent material is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned entirely. It may, however, be restricted in order to avoid its broadcast during times of the day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience.

Consistent with a federal indecency statute and federal court decisions interpreting the statute, the Commission adopted a rule that broadcasts — both on television and radio — that fit within the indecency definition and that are aired between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. are prohibited and subject to indecency enforcement action.

If the FCC finds a broadcaster in violation of the aforementioned rules, the broadcaster may have to pay a fine or revoke the station’s license. Imagine how many broadcaster would be out of business if this had been truly enforced.

You can find this at

Broadcasters seem to have been openly violating these rules for years. In the 70’s and 80’s, Heavy Metal music was attacked for its content and negative influence on youth. While the concern was valid, technology didn’t allow for music and videos to be widely promoted like they are today. Further, Heavy Metal fans were not up against the same widely accepted stereotypes that today’s rap fans are burdened by.

The film and video game industries have also been heavily scrutinized for violent and obscene content. Yet, films and games are recognized as being purely fictional. In contrast, rap music generally prides itself on being “real” which ultimately sends a very different message to impressionable fans.

If radio stations and TV networks risk paying a hefty fine or even jeopardizing their broadcasting license by promoting indecent material, why do all broadcasters appear to be in agreement when it comes to disregarding FCC rules? Is this a conspiracy? And let’s be honest. While the radio-edited version of a song does indeed censor explicit language, it doesn’t change the nature of a song whose overall message glorifies criminal behavior, violence and in Rick Ross’ case, rape. After all, the word “molly” is never edited since it isn’t explicit language but clearly constitutes inappropriate content when spoken by artists who celebrate the drug.

Strangely, the music industry seems to enforce censorship when it’s in their interest.

  • In the 1994 song “Juicy”, Biggie says, “Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade”. Of course, he was referring to the first 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center which took place 8 years before the 9/11 disaster. After 9/11, and 4 years after Biggie’s death, the words “World Trade” were edited from all versions out of respect for those who lost their lives in the tragedy.
  • Although not rap, but in the 1996 song “They Don’t Care About Us”, Micheal Jackson sings about the pain that racism and discrimination causes and uses various racial epithet to illustrate the point. Along many ethnic slurs listed in the song, one of them is considered anti-semitic and offensive to the Jewish community. Michael apologized and explained that the song was against discrimination but was eventually forced to re-record the song without the offensive terms.
  • In the 1997 song “It’s All About the Benjamins”, Jadakiss says, “You should do what we do, stack chips like Hebrews”. The word “Hebrews” was deemed insensitive and edited from all versions. Later, in 2004, Jadakiss was again the subject of censorship when his song “Why” accused President Bush of being responsible for 9/11. The word “Bush” was eventually edited out of the song.
  • In the 2003 song “Rooster” by Outkast, Big Boi says, “Like a candle in the wind, she was my friend, like Princess Di before she died”. This line was edited out even on the explicit version of the album.
  • In the 2004 song “All Falls Down”, Kanye West says, “Drug dealers buy Jordans, crack heads buy crack and the white man gets paid off of all that.” The label censored the words “white man” from the song and video because it was deemed offensive.

There are too many other similar examples to list here.

I clearly understand why these lines are considered offensive and the reasons for censoring them. However, why don’t rap music fans deserve the same consideration when it comes to the constant promotion of sex, violence, drugs and crime? Isn’t that equally offensive and more damaging to young listeners than the content censored in the previous examples or is the wellbeing of teenage rap fans not important?

I’ve been told time and time again that the music industry is a business whose only responsibility is to make money, not raise our children or solve social problems. While I understand that a corporation’s bottom line is profit and that parents are in charge of raising their own kids, if the music industry isn’t expected to uphold certain morals and values, why does the FCC have rules regarding obscene and indecent content? Why do CD’s still have parental warning stickers? Why does the film industry rate movies based on content and age appropriateness? And who are these rules meant to protect?

Now, I’m not suggesting that an artist’s freedom of speech be banned. Some of my favorite artists who create meaningful albeit controversial content would be affected as a result. As a writer, my own freedom of expression would be impacted. And that’s the last thing I want. What I am pointing out is that the music industry as a whole seems to have a double standard when it comes to young rap fans. Such overt disregard for FCC rules and blatant bias in censorship gives me the uneasy feeling that a conspiracy, or an unspoken agreement amongst industry execs “to act in harmony toward a common end” is indeed taking place. Why? And could any of this really just come down to good old fashioned racism and utter lack of concern for how Black youth are depicted? Sounds like I just opened up another can of worms!


Sebastien Elkouby is a Hip Hop Culture historian and award-winning educator. He is part of a national collective set up to hold the music industry accountable for promoting negative content. Check out his educational program, Global Awareness Through Hip Hop Culture and his blog, Contact him or on Twitter @SebIsHipHop.

Introducing Ari Lennox and her video “La La La La”

Breakthrough artist Ari Lennox releases the video her single “La La La La.”  The video is a great watch for a great track from the emerging artist from Washington DC.  Widely received online as “a breath of fresh air that takes you there and beyond” according to, Ari Lennox’s “La, La, La, La,” a powerful yet angelic soulful ballad, the singer-songwriter offers a snippet of what’s to come from her forthcoming new project. In this compelling video, Ari translates this lyrical embodiment into a visual story filled with suspense, shock, and natural beauty as her significant other captures the essence of Ari Lennox, but simply cannot let go, leading to a surprising end.

 “When I wrote “La La La La” I imagined I was in a session with D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill, and I traced back to my relationships that were caused me turmoil,” says Ari Lennox. ““La La La La” is a reflection of that, and I wanted to make sure my story was delivered through video as it was through song.” – Ari Lennox

Since her online debut, Ari Lennox has led to becoming one of the most sought after gems in music, propelling a delivery of songs both original and covered with a unique twist of vibrant lyrics, infectious melodies, and commanding presence.  With a following over 3,000 loyal fans on YouTube alone with no major-label backing, Ari’s presence has expanded over to the world of web series, with her Young Jeezy cover of “I Do” featured on series’ “The Couple.” Whether it’s the soulfully-charged, vigorous remake of James Brown’s “King Heroin” with “Tie Me Down,” to her funky, witty, energy-pumped N.E.R.D instrumental inspired “Cocoa Puffs,” versatile and fearless, Ari captures her audience at the first listen.  Watch the Video below:

About Ari Lennox
Since her online debut, Ari Lennox, the 21-year-old singer/songwriter from Washington, D.C., has captured the ears and the hearts of millions. This creative and dynamic beauty with a musical fusion of sophistication and realism is best described by as the “epitome of soul, a breath of fresh air with a captivating voice.”

Ari’s first cover on YouTube of Xscape’s “Who Can I Run To,” has led her to becoming one of the hidden but most sought-after gems online in music, propelling a delivery of songs both original and covered with a unique twist infused with vibrant lyrics, infectious melodies, and a commanding presence. Whether it’s the soulfully-charged, vigorous remake of James Brown’s “King Heroin” with “Tie Me Down,” or her funky, witty, and energy-pumped N.E.R.D’ instrumental inspired “Cocoa Puffs,” eclectic, versatile, and fearless, Ari captures her audience at the first listen.

Marching to the beat of her own drum while realizing the power of her influence, Ari’s angelic yet powerful vocals mixed with her charismatic charm has garnered widespread online appeal, drawing a loyal fan base in anticipation of her next musical endeavors to come. Gearing up for her follow-up to “Five Finger Discount” Ari plans to release Ariography, an EP of songs showcasing her daring vocal ability and range as an artist while offering insight into the girl who controls her own destiny. Whether her music strikes you with a chord of familiarity with the sounds of today’s contemporary artists and timeless classics, be prepared for the unique listening experience that is Ari Lennox, a trailblazer that’s making her mark, her way.


Big Sean releases the “Switch Up” featuring Common and discusses Kid Cudi leaving G.O.O.D. Music

Big Sean and Common follow the news of  Kid Cudi leaving G.O.O.D. Music with the release of a new track titled “Switch Up.” The track will be featured on Big Sean’s delayed sophomore album.  Big Sean also paid a visit to the Power 106 studio and spoke on the recent departure of KiD CuDi from the G.O.O.D. Music label. Big Sean shared that he is still very close friends with Cudi and that he has nothing but support for CuDi’s new venture.

Jay-Z Signs Deal With Universal Music

Jay-Z just signed and Roc Nation label have inked a global partnership with Universal Music. The deal awards Universal Music the rights to Jay-z’s upcoming projects and also his artists under the Roc Nation outfit. The statement concerning the partnership is below:

“This agreement presents a unique opportunity for Roc Nation’s artists—being able to continue to operate as an independent label with the strength, power and reach of the best major,” said Jay-Z in a statement. “I look forward to a long and prosperous collaboration with UMG.”

Universal will provide distribution although “more of a partnership and not a traditional distribution deal,” but not a joint venture according to a spokesperson. This means that Roc Nation artists the flexibility to receive marketing support from whichever one of its sub-labels fits best.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Mannie Fresh Celebrates 44th Birthday w/ Adidas & Trap Paradise in Miami

During one of the craziest weeks in Miami each year – Winter Music Conference + Ultra – Adidas teamed up w/ the soon to be legendary Trap Paradise party presented by March and 2DopeBitches. Hosted by Vashtie and 40 Oz Van and DJ lineup Miami Marci, Heroes x Villains, Loudpvck and headliner Mannie Fresh, Trap Paradise brought out the who’s who of Miami culture. Check out the video below, as Miami turns up w DJ Mannie Fresh and celebrates the super producers 44th birthday.



Yasiin Bey – The Light Is Not Afraid of The Dark (Produced by Kanye West) [CDQ]

Following last week’s release of “Black Jesus” comes a new track from Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def.  This track is actually not used but a live version of  his previously unreleased song “The Light Is Not Afraid of The Dark” stemming from his Tru3 Magic sessions.  The track was originally performed at the Shrine in Chicago and now we have the CDQ courtesy of  Okayplayer. The track features production from Kanye West.  I can’t wait for Mos’  collaborative album with Mannie Fresh OMFGOD. 

KAWS is Coming to Philly! April 11- May 14

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), in collaboration with Amtrak, is thrilled to announce that KAWS’ popular 16-feet-tall COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH) sculpture will make its Philadelphia debut on April 11 at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

On view April 11 through May 14, the sculpture is a preview for PAFA’s new Sculpture Plinth Exhibition Program, which will open at PAFA in October 2013 with a sculpture commissioned from KAWS. The Sculpture Plinth Exhibition Program will present a rotating series of site-specific, attention-catching sculptures in an unexpected location—the façade above the front door of PAFA’s Historic Landmark Building on North Broad Street in Philadelphia.


In addition, PAFA will install several large scale sculptures by KAWS in the galleries of the Historic Landmark Building, October through December, 2013, thereby providing an intriguing link between PAFA’s collection of 19th century American art and KAWS’ contemporary pieces.


“I am thrilled that KAWS is creating new work for the façade of our Frank Furness-designed building, restoring art to the plinth that was designed to hold sculpture.  His installation at 30th Street will call attention to that project, and start the dialogue between past and present as COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH) is placed opposite Walker Hancock’s iconic sculpture, Pennsylvania World War II Memorial. We are grateful to Amtrak for facilitating this installation,” said Harry Philbrick, PAFA’s Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum.


First seen in Hong Kong, KAWS’ COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH) has been displayed in New York City; at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX.


KAWS introduced the now-famous COMPANION in 1999, as a seven and three-quarter inch editioned toy featuring KAWS’ signature inflated skull and crossbones, with a skinny-legged Mickey Mouse body.  KAWS chose Mickey Mouse after a search for the most recognizable and international character in the cartoon world to “take down.” Since then, COMPANION has grown in scale and now features the iconic figure sitting down and covering its face with white-gloved hands.


The Brooklyn-based artist KAWS was born in New Jersey in 1974, and is best-known for work that subverts popular culture through its re-imagining of iconic cartoon characters, such as Mickey Mouse, the Simpsons, and the Smurfs. In the early 1990s, KAWS began his career as a graffiti artist, and as such, his work blurs the line between “low” and “high” art, between public and private art. His paintings, drawings, and sculpture have been widely exhibited at museums and art galleries around the world.  He is internationally known as a graphic artist and a creator of highly sought-after, editioned toys, apparel, and other products.

KAWS studied at the School of Visual Arts (1993-1996), where he focused on creating public artworks by subverting imagery on billboards and advertisements in bus shelters and phone booths. This led to collaborations with commercial photographers and designers, resulting in original artworks that have been extensively published. KAWS comfortably straddles the commercial and fine art worlds with his work, which ranges from graphic, product, and industrial design to painting, drawings, sculpture, wall murals, and silkscreen prints. Working in the historical continuum of Pop Art, KAWS’ recent paintings present abstracted cartoon imagery, making reference to both popular culture and the history of modern painting.

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is America’s first school of fine arts and museum.  A recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Arts presented by the President of the United States, PAFA is a recognized leader in fine arts education. Nearly every major American artist has taught, studied, or exhibited at the Academy. The institution’s world-class collection of American art continues to grow and provides what only a few other art institutions in the world offer: the rare combination of an outstanding museum and an extraordinary faculty known for its commitment to students and for the stature and quality of its artistic work.