Archive for July, 2015

The Picasso of Harlem: Jay West

Friday, July 31st, 2015
Harlem's Visionary, Jay West

Harlem’s Visionary, Jay West

I had the grand opportunity of being able to get to know a very special pop expressionist artist out of Harlem, NY who’s currently dominating the art world. This Harlem visionary goes by the name of Jay West and is masterpiecin’ creative works  that just cant seem to be duplicated. His work  could possibly be described as a marriage between the Renaissance and graphics of  1930’s cartoons but there’s so much more that  could be spoken upon his unorthodox element. From doing the artwork behind the videos for A$AP Rocky’s “Purple Swag” and “Wassup” to having collaborating with Bape. It’s more than safe to say  that he’s one of the biggest if not already this generation’s most important visual artist of our time. Although we know what Jay’s capable  of putting down in front of the canvas, I decided to chop it up  and get to know the man behind it. From discussing his upbringing in Harlem with A$AP Ferg to his influences and his own brand Almighty 7, I got to cover it all. Check out my interview with the highly poppin innovative artist below:

-So I know your based out of NY, but what part would you say you claim ? 

Jay: I hail from the northern regions of Manhattan better known as Harlem   


-Dope! How did your interest in the arts come about and who would you say is your favorite artist

Jay: The arts chose me,  I didn’t choose it! I’ve painting and drawing since I was about 4 literally, sonic, Marvel comics, sonic etc…and I never turned my back on it. It was the one thing that made me happiest, it never turned its back on me so I gave it my life, and its given me more life in return – my favorite artist(s) are Francis Bacon, and Willem De Kooning.

What was it like growing up in Harlem with ASAP Ferg? 

Jay: A$AP Ferg and I grew up together, that’s my brother. 


So I know you used to sell belts and do a little bit of designing coming up but what was your very first hustle? 

Jay:My very first hustle was actually (drum roll) ART!!!! I would set up shop In the lobby of my old building back in maybe 97’, selling my sketches for $5…mind you at that age, my mindset was “out of allllll the tenants in this damn complex, more than half gon want to just grab an original “little kid” sketch just cuz…I went and bought my own super Nintendo with extra controllers, and 5 games the next few days….that LIT MY FLAME  


Being that you were interested in the arts, what did you decide to do after high school?

Jay: After High school, I was extremely stuck, and a bit depressed, and it actually got worse after I discontinued college. I felt as if I betrayed my families cliché plan of what you’re supposed to do proceeding high school. 

Seems like you had a really humbling beginning. What did you end up doing with the money  from your very first piece of sold  artwork ?

Jay:The very first thing I think I spent money on my very first Gallery sold painting was catching up on bills, and helping my mom with a bill or 2…couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror had I just stuffed it in my pocket and my mom needed help with a bill. After that it was more canvases and maybe a few nice dinners lol (story of my life) 


What are the things that influence your artwork the most?  

Jay: Renaissance art, De Kooning and all of the abstract expressionist painters really influence my work, I look at Abstract expressionist work and feel an INSTANT, and intense connection to most of it. I can sit and spend 7 hours on one eyeball of a painting to make it photo-real, but I feel too much, when I’m in a certain mood I resort back to what I’ve analyzed about expressionism and it’s spontaneity.  

Being that your Harlem roots have inspired your work, what do you think sets Harlem apart from every other city?  

Jay:Harlem is very special because it isn’t a borough, at ALL, but gets respect, clut, and represented like it’s totally apart from Manhattan…It was the African American axis, The Renaissance that brought an influx of new wave art, music, theater, performing art etc the place where Malcolm X started his wave, preached on the corners of Lenox avenue, Joe Louis paraded through these streets after defeating opposing foes for the stature of Black people in America, Mohamed Ali would join  Malcolm on his Harlem marches, (not to be glorified) but in pop culture Harlem’s relentless reputation for Hustle, and the figures that have added to it…it’s an extremely special place in New York, and the world for that matter… 

Has there been anyone that has given you advice yet regarding your grind ? What was the advice?  

Jay: My collector Ernie(who purchased my first sold painting) would invite me over to his extremely dope, art filled brownstone and we would just sip wine, or I would sip Henny and discuss all the periods of art, and what made the players in it significant!! So those conversations expanded my mind, it put me in his mental driver seat of the times he would rip and run the city, and ride the bus from PA to NY with Keith Haring.  

What can you tell me about your brand Almighty 7 ?  

Jay: Almighty 7 is a brand that represents positivity, uplift, and righteousness! 

What do you think has been the best & worst part of fulfilling your dreams thus far? 

Jay: The best part of this journey is that I get to see how powerful my mind is, the fact I can create things that don’t currently take up any real estate in the world at the moment, its only an idea in My head, and then I can go make, or create…that’s the biggest high! The toughest part is that it’s not a scheduled 9-5, it’s not a guaranteed wave of excitement, or income, or stability, but it’s all leading up to extremely stable situations  

-Can you see you and Ferg ever collaborating on anything anytime soon? 

Jay: Ferg and I have always been a collaborative force to reckon with, when the time is right, and we need to join forces we’ll do so with no hesitation.

Are there any supporters that stand out to you ?  

Jay: I’m in love with cars, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I Segway my Glow into F1, or some kind of car enthusiast stuff…boats too, but cars are cheaper, I got friends with boats so they’ll just set sail whenever I call for that time. 

-Do you have any other passions outside of painting ? 

Jay: I’m in love with cars, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I Segway my Glow into F1, or some kind of car enthusiast stuff…boats too, but cars are cheaper, I got friends with boats so they’ll just set sail whenever I call for that time.

Where do you see yourself a decade from now?  

Jay:10 years from now I see myself in books, and I’m alive to read my excerpts, and chapters about my contribution to art to my kids….chillin, in my zen, same me in essence just years down the line; time is an invisible, but VERY instantaneous force…therefore I only put a block on myself by acknowledging a numerical age lol  

Seems like you’ve accomplished a lot especially for being so young. Do you have any current goals for yourself?  

Jay: My current goal is to surpass the status quote, uplift my generation, challenge them to challenge themselves; when I was younger kids used to tease me because I had a vast vocabulary, and I understood the words, and the context in which I was speaking…I want the youth, and my generation to embrace their higher selves. Just have faith in yourself and keep pushing .

Thank you Jay for your time and this interview , definitely a pleasure !

Here’s a recap of Jay’s solo exhibition from earlier this month:


Dreamville’s FrankHaveMercy

Sunday, July 12th, 2015


Recently, I had the pleasure  of getting to know  a very dope photographer who travels back and forth to LA but whom not that long ago was just mapping out his own dream in da “ville” .  While growing up in the 910, FrankHaveMercy had his share of witnessing troubled souls to seeing  just about every type of  social class known. Typically for Fayetteville, most people decide whether they’re gonna go full out with the college thing  to be successful or join the Army to get by and never really an in between. Fortunately he didn’t just want to get by, but rather wanted to make a name for himself far beyond the borders of Carolina.  What Frank had originally planned to do with his camera and his fashion ideas with his friend Brandon Nixon coincidentally turned him into the arms of Karmaloop. Always been driven by visuals, Frank just so happened to reach the right person at the right time, but along with the success came many realizations and life lessons.  Frank tells me that although he’s lost friendships, he has gained new experiences and perspectives, and…… even a Cali crush on $@^%# [bleep]. Luckily Frank has gotten to turn many negatives into positives by sh*tting on folks simply by staying on his own grind.  Seeing that his skill was good enough to reach such a large platform, secured him in knowing that his photography was capable of reaching anyone.  Along with this, Frank also tells me :the biggest misconception about being a photographer to me is that you want to take pictures of half naked women all the time. I hate that. It doesn’t inspire me at all!”. Instead, going the extra mile and stepping out of the box along with the work of the NY based photographer Ayla El-Moussa is what influences him.  Whether it’s sitting on a balcony or standing on the edge of a roof, he makes sure that his photos will look anything but BASIC.  Although he’s currently sparking up friction with his photos , he dreams of shooting Kid Cudi one day and continues to keep humble no matter what. One of the reasons behind his mentality is his mother as well as because he isn’t content with where he’s at, saying: “becoming a professional photographer is still a goal of mine but I wouldn’t say it’s my dream. I have a long way to go still”. Although he knows that he still has ways to go, Frank doesn’t regret any of the steps he has taken to get to where he’s at. He lastly gives the advice to simply embrace and learn from every bad decision made and to stay true to yourself no matter what may be  going  on around you. FrankHaveMercy everyone, a true artist on the rise.



It Was All A Dream: Complex’s “Jinx”

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
Complex News' News Anchor and Editorial Producer "Jinx"

Complex News’ Anchor and Editorial Producer “Jinx”

Often, watching the news can be everything but interesting when we just want to know what’s happening on twitter, the latest beefs, and discover new music. Thankfully Complex’s Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins seems to have managed to make every type of news (whether political or pop culture related) seem relevant and worthy of bringing our attention to.  I recently got the chance to chop it up with  this very busy guy but nonetheless worthy of getting ahold of.  Whether he was busy outside the states, working on his DJ skills, working on a story, or wrapping up an interview with Vince Staples or Spike Lee, he somehow made the time to get back to me. The influential Complex news anchor and editorial producer “Jinx ” lets me in on how one experience at Morehouse  managed to change his life, his choice between happiness and  bankrolls, the very real struggle of being in between gigs,  and his priceless memory with Jersey’s GOAT Just Blaze.

So being from Jersey, what were you planning on doing at Morehouse ?
Jinx:I went to school in pursuit of an engineering degree, but swapped to Marketing in our Business department. It was the only curriculum to get me close to advertising, and other creative fields. A professor at Morehouse, exposed me to the world of branding and advertising. I can say for sure that it changed my life.

Dang, shout outs to him then. What was your initial plan for after Morehouse ?

Jinx:My initial plan after Morehouse was to land a gig at Translation, an ad agency in New York. I got an internship there as a result of a series of very dope events, but ultimately got shook about not having a confirmed job and ended up bouncing for a full-time gig elsewhere. The job I took sucked, and I regretted it for a while. But looking back I can see that it all kind of worked out. Still, fuck that other job though.
Sheesh, the struggle seemed like it was real. What got you into Complex?

Jinx:As a reader, I became familiar with Complex in college. I was flying home for the first time from Atlanta, and I saw it in the airport. I’m pretty sure I purchased one every time I was in the airport from that point on. I was always interested in the content, and it really struck a cord with me. I was into a lot of shit that my friends weren’t into at that time. In order to talk about different music I had to hang with different kids. Or if I wanted to discuss the new Nikes in depth I had to hang with another homie. Complex captured all those things in one zine.
That was high-key fate for you then. What were you up to before landing at Complex ?

Jinx: Before I got on at Complex I was over at Mass Appeal as the Video and Programs manager. It was something I had just landed before I left, but mainly I was writing for the site, doing video interviews with whoever would fall through, producing and trafficking content. Honestly, a lot of us did a little bit of everything. Crazy, but fun.

-When you got to Complex, who was your first interview with ?

Jinx: I think the first person I interviewed was Just Blaze. I’m from New Jersey so he’s like HOF, one of the GOATs for us. He was really cool, and I think he understood that I was new so he let me take longer to get my questions together and gave me dope answers. Low key, I don’t think the interview was ever published. I wish I could remember the advice he gave me, but I remember writing it down in the notebook I had on me. I save them all, so I’m sure I’ve got something ill scribbled somewhere.

-Wow, looking at now, seems like you get to do a little bit of everything. What do you think has been the best and worst part ?

Jinx: That’s a tough question. BEST: Getting a taste of what it’s like to create. WORST: When you make cool stuff, you want to make a lot more of it. It can be an anxious and unsettling feeling. I mean worse, more specific moments have occurred, but that’s just how it goes.

How busy would you say you are during like a normal week?

 Jinx: Pretty busy. I should also state that I’m a huge fan of sleep. But work is like a constant flow. News doesn’t stop. And the production element of our work takes up time as well. I’m not tethered to a desk so time passes pretty quickly. I’m not out often unless there’s something I can’t miss, but when I’m home I’m still on the internet sifting around. It’s kind of weird to think about, there’s always something happening in the culture, so you’re always devoting some amount of attention to it.

-So from politics to pop culture, it’s obvious that you’ve met a range off great people. What has been the best advice you’ve gotten thus far ?

Jinx: I’ve met a lot of people that have given me great advice. My parents, family, teachers, professors, colleagues, homies. Some I share as good word, some I keep to myself as a competitive advantage. One that I always repeat to other people is “Stay the course.” Sometimes.. often your situation is gonna be bullshit in some form or another. You have to pick when to stay the course, thug it out. You usually come out a better person than you would have been if you succumbed to the pressure or quit. Stay the course. In order to get chose you have to be present.

-Have you covered anything that still stands out to you today  ?

Jinx: I can say traveling to Ferguson was probably the most important and personally informing story I covered. The experience it self was like nothing I’d ever experienced. But as a black man, as a human, it awoke an awareness in me. An awareness that’s existed as long as I can remember, but hadn’t been at the forefront of my mind in the way it is now. Just the awareness of the black population in society. It’s seriously too heavy to try to break down, without devoting an entire convo to it. But yeah, that coverage was a moment where I felt like I was doing something that really mattered to people beyond the usual folks I’m talking to and for. 
-With dealing with such an unpredictable schedule, how do you balance business with your personal life?
Jinx: Ehhh.. My job’s a little weird cause it’s a outward facing position. So even when I’m not on the clock there’s the potential that I could be in an “on the clock” moment

-Who has been your biggest supporters thus far?
Jinx: My biggest supporter has been my family and myself. My family hasn’t always understood what my interests were or how they filtered into a paycheck, but after a while they got the idea that I was really more about being happy and enjoying the time I spent working, producing work that I valued. They’ve always had my back and are actually the reason I have a lot of the interests and skills that I have today. I say myself, cause you have to be your best advocate, even if you’re being brutally honest. You shouldn’t beat yourself up, the world will do that for you. But you should be the one pushing yourself and at times patting your own self on the back. I feel like Katt Williams said something similar, but way cooler. 

-Would you say that you are living your dream now ?

Jinx: My dreams are always evolving, and of course I want to do a lot of things. I’ve got further to go.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some tips, what would they be?

Jinx: Save money. Complain less. Roll the dice.

-Yeah.. I’m officially stealing that. Have you had an “oh sh**” moment as a news anchor yet ?

Jinx: Getting tear gassed in Ferguson and being in the middle of a mix of protesters and rioters who were disobeying the curfew. A couple of them were strapped, and in the middle of it, a dude recognizes me from my interviews with rap artists. 

So you have clearly witnessed the glamorous and the not so glamorous side  of things being in the position that you’re in. What would you like to be known for 10 years from now?

Jinx: Well in 10 years I’ll still be in the mix. So I hope whomever I cross paths with, I leave them with with a sense that I care about the culture and contributing to it in a positive way.

Well thanks so much Jinx  for your time ! You’ve definitely inspired me and have been influential to this generation. Please continue to keep our attention making culture pop !

Jinx, ladies and gentlemen.