Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Faces of Imperial Eloquence [Part 1]: A$AP Cocky

Prior to this assignment, I'll admit that I knew little to nothing about Harlem born rapper and fashionista, A$AP Rocky (born Rakim Mayers). In fact, what I knew only amounted to a vague awareness of his Billboard hit "Fuckin' Problems" (featuring Drake, 2Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar); and so long as we're being honest, my knowledge of contemporary rap is admittedly (and deliberately) limited, on the whole.
But I do know a thing or two about fashion, or at least about what looks good, and what that entails. I also know that -- whether they're willing to admit it or not -- rappers care a great deal about how they look, because rap culture is deeply and historically influenced by image and perception. Every successful artist from Run DMC to Lil' Wayne right up to Rocky himself has had an associated aesthetic (e.g. Hammer's golden pants, Tupac's bandana, Nelly's stupid fucking al.)
Don't think that's just a cheap shot I'm taking at materialism in rap, because image and perception are just as important in other genres of music; and besides, this goes deeper than simple references to clothing and cars in lyrics. I'm merely pointing out that the link between fashion and music has been present in American culture for decades now, and that (at least as it manifests in rap culture) this connection is very important, and further, very telling.
Now, after having researched and learned a bit about Rocky, I have rather a lot to say on the subject. Rap culture has undergone phases of evolution in terms of style, but it's always been centered around a fundamental image of appearing and/or being gangster -- "Thug Life", if you will. This translates into various aspects of the music (e.g. lyrics, videos, publicized feuds), and is just about everywhere you look in the culture, as well.
For a long time, it seemed as though one's credibility as a rapper was directly correlated to the level of debauched and/or illegal activity he or she was party to. Bullet wounds became medals of honor, criminal records CV's, and the act of cuckolding a rival something worthy of positive notoriety -- which is really fucking weird, honestly...but we all sort of went along with it, because rap had become such a powerful cultural force in modern American society.
And, as rap progressed, the intended message turned to one of wealth and success. The concept of having "made it" became hugely popular within this cultural microcosm -- you know, rags-to-Rolls and all that. Young rappers began to covet an image of themselves as having transcended the ghetto, rather than the previous one of succumbing to it (despite frequent reminders in most every song that parts of the ghetto remained present and readily accessible, if needed).
The overarching theme here should present itself all too plainly as modern day rappers' insatiable need for affirmation from the society they live and act in spite of. These men and women seem to be torn hopelessly between a desperate want to establish their image as social pariahs contrasting middle class America, and a financial need to sell that image (along with records in the millions) to those very same suburban households that comprise it.
Here's where Rocky comes in. If you watch "SVDDXNLY", the online mini-series documenting his meteoric rise over the last four years, a few things become gradually yet distinctly apparent about the undisputed leader of the A$AP mob (stands for Always Strive and Prosper, by the way). What's most striking and likable about Rocky that you can see from his interviews is the way the guy walks the line between confidence and arrogance.
There's a level of brashness that's not only expected, but required from rappers of any era -- and Rocky's got his fair share -- yet there's a self-awareness, a genuine humility that's easy to discern when hearing him speak. Rocky's not shy in the matter of discussing his success, but nor is he tasteless or overly smug in doing so. That grotesque, often repulsive boastfulness which many rappers assume after achieving fame is nowhere to be found in his persona (or at least, not the public one, but that's another issue altogether).
You get the sense, watching these interviews, that the guy's got nothing to prove -- which is pretty much unheard of among rappers of the 21st century. At the age of 26, Rakim Mayers has succeeded in doing what only a few of his peers in the industry (e.g. Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell...and that's it) really have, which is making it...without having to make sure we know it. And that modesty, that ability to just live well rather than demanding to be seen as living well, it's seldom seen in the young and famous.
Keep in mind, also, that what you wear can say a lot about you (and is in fact meant to, most of the time). Clothing is a statement -- like it or not -- so when you see Rocky walk on stage in attire that succeeds in being at once urban and magisterial (and you hear him verbally acknowledge it in one of the videos), it's safe to say he's going for something explicit, something quite apart from the more basic grandiosity/insecurity of his contemporaries.
Swagger has become a grievously misused word in modern America; it's become more of a marketing tool than anything else. What it really denotes is an overconfidence that is somehow attractive -- and I mean that in the literal sense, that it attracts -- and you can see that, hear it, when people talk about Rocky. He's not just a pop star; he's a leader. Qualities like this, along with a seamless sense of style, are what grant him and the chosen few other artists genuine transcendence, true independence -- Imperial Eloquence.
"Not gonna let all these millions get to our heads; I’m still the same ghetto, crazy....pretty mothafucka"
- Rakim Mayers
Here's a link to the first of five parts in the "SVDDXNLY" mini-series:

Watch the other four, if ya dig.
 to be continued

by V Andre Mikhail
follow Andre @drescribbles
Check his Blog at

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The X-GAMES Leave Austin With A Story To tell

Photo Courtesy of 
The most extreme of sporting events, The X-Games, came to Austin for the tournaments at the grand Circuit of The Americas and left with a story that only the 512 city could inspire. The event for us began as a working weekend on June 5th, the Thursday when the famous Downtown Austin Capital became a playground for Tony Hawk and friends. As they took over in Extreme fashion with a massive half-pipe crowds gathered in downtown 12th and Congress area to join in the fun.
Photo Courtesy of Tony Hawks Instagram
The next morning it was evident that the event at the Circuit of The Americas would be a huge success, as crowds poured in regardless of the high humidity and almost triple digit temperatures. A record of 160,000 attendees graced the COTA for the weekend, making it the highest attended event besides the Formula-1 races the venue was built for. The games and entertainment where not lacking; everything from Bull Riding, Laser Tag, Arcades, and Vendor set ups were available to enjoy as part of the action in addition to the extreme competitions. The Major League Gaming association also had a Halo and Call of Duty tournament in place that attendees could check out. The first major event we caught highlighted the great Videography the X-Games camera crew were displaying, great shots of the Big Air Contests were shown on the Jumbotrons across the park and in countless TV screens in America, all displaying our city in full family fun force. Watching the Monster Street Skate qualifiers was amazing and we later saw the record setting Nyjah Huston Win his 3rd Gold Medal at Sundays Finals. We called it an early evening since we would be back the next day at 9 AM. Non-the-less seeing the Texas flag up top the huge ramp of the Big Air being surrounded by the massive crowd of tan bodies enjoying the Austin Night was truly breathtaking. 
Photo by Shelley Neuman via
The Pretty Lights Show was said to be a pretty sweet sight but we made it a point to check out Austin's Own Magna Carda who's live jazz/neo-soul sounds encompass the chill Austin vibe yet their aggressively clean lyrics show the passion these young artist from our city posses. The following day began bright and early, the likes of Jackass' Wee-Man and Legend Tony Hawk were perusing the stadium signing autographs. The games and qualifier events kept us busy until Bad Religion hit the stage with a high energy show but the real attention grabbers to us were the few risk takers who brought their best outfits primarily the evening of Kanye's Show. Hats were a mandatory but the inspirations of graffiti artists in their oriental inspired attire and headgear gave us a glimpse into some awesome upcoming trends we would like to tap into. The perfect spot to catch the diversely dressed crowd was the "watering hole" pond that covers the entrance of the COTA stadium.
Prior to running into the Kanye West Show we met a young man on his grind. Working his booth which displayed his limited edition Paper Toy Clothing tees he enthusiastically explained what he does and why. The graphic tees made by this up and coming artist and entrepreneur, who couldn't be over 10 years old, are a part of a vision to make a difference with his art and apparel. We're keeping a close eye on the great things to come from Santana Draper! 
The evening shows began with a great performance by Mac Miller who's hilarious disposition and on point lyricism kept the crowd hyped and the stoners laughing. He played new jams as well as the Kids Mixtape classics just to top it off with the fame intro Donald Trump.
Then came the big show after a brief intermission Yeezus himself set the stage a flame with a full production initiated by a red solid screen. The rapper's silhouette emerged under the 60 foot red screen and as the crimson colored lowered rumbling sound atop rabid dogs growls and barks emerged from the speakers. The vicious audio attack went on for about 20 seconds and the stage exploded with "New Slaves" Followed by "Blood on The Sleeves". The classics included "All Falls Down", "Good Life" and new G.O.O.D Music included "I Dont Like" and "Run Away". The crowd irrupted in a Happy Birthday to Mr.West as he celebrated his 37th Birthday on Stage which ensued with an additional song from the artist past the 1:00 A.M city curfew time. The social media waves caught a great glimpse of the cake baked by Austin's own vegan Sugar Mama's bakery .
Picture via Virgil Ablohs Instagram
Picture Via Sugar Mama's Bakery

The last evening we watched the final competitions and did our final round of swag grabbing watching it all end perfectly with the Flaming Lips trippy performance. As they were minutes from hitting the stage all the fans were invited to the front stage and the stadium seating filled with weekend warriors ready to enjoy the show and enjoy it we did. The act of the 80s group infused with psychedelic sounds and tribute to The Beetle's sound made everyone in the stadium feel the love. With appearance from Wayne Coynes cohorts; mushroom, aliens, and sun flower friends the stage took on a life of its own. The finale was a great symbolism to a great weekend that came alive with the great Austin Crowd and left its adoring personal touch on the visitors and artist that came for the X-Games weekend event. And as for us locals we are reminded again of the great times and hospitality that our city blends with excitement, appreciation of art, and Texas Culture unlike anywhere else. 


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Loes Van Delft, a self taught "non-artist" as she says quotes to hate the word on her twitter " I hate the word artist, it's like calling someone air and the people that use that are ghosts themselves" .  The lively creator's Trademarked Pijipje Character, a blend between a caricature like painting with the presence of very clean sketching lines, adds an esthetic personality to her work that is very unique. The 23 year old has the talent and put in the work to be recently featured at 3 Punts Galleria in Barcelona, alongside none other than legends and international graffiti artists like Banksy, Blek Le Rat,and Mr.Brainwash. The hustle and creative spirit that her work inspires is something to be said for the power of conviction in creating and passion. In a recent interview Loes stated that art is probably the only thing she was ever good at, we say the focus and the effort that went into perfecting her craft is a testament of how gracefully and early one can accomplish if you let your inner creative lead. The Netherland native has entered the scene as a recognized artist and is on her way to becoming the artistic icon she was meant to be. Link up Loes via Twitter @loesvandelft. or Subscribe to her Youtube and Facebook We'll be keeping an eye on the upcoming projects from this Imperial Soul.
Stay Imperial,



Friday, April 4, 2014

OUR new Favorite Vintage Blog

F as In Frank has been emerging with one of Dopest blogs, by the Vintage inspired store out of Canada, highlights Mooke X Crooks Colab. Among many posts a new take on Versace post, The NCAA Madness drama, and the new Ninja Turtles movie-  PEEP It!PEEP It!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SXSW 2014 Done Imperially

It has been a week now since the craziness began of SXSW music Festival here in Austin, TX. As a transplant in Austin for 3 years I can say that the festival has gotten bigger and badder every year. This comes from a well versed party folk raised in lovely Las Vegas, SXSW is a animal of its own and  that no major festival, event or tour can compete with. Imagine your favorite artists in music popping up at free shows after a day of networking (if you're looking to interact on a business level) with a belly full of free food and drinks provided by various major and start up companies looking to build or strengthen its relationship with customers or the various freeloathers es-cowering the city. Ours began on a somber note, at least for a fashion company, because we had been so focused on the last semester of school and getting new inventory in we didnt have any plans for SX (south by south west aka South By). The Imperial Fam ended up hitting the Blind Pig on 6th Street just at the beginning of interactive week which started on March 7th. An amazing band played, who did covers of rap songs in a rock/maroon 5 style- tunes from Lil Waynes "Lollipop" to R.Kellys "Pumb and Grind" were jammed out by a band of 6 members including a badass girl drummer, wish we would have gotten the name of the band as their original songs were truly amazing. The rest of the week followed at lightening speed but our highlight was seeing one of our friends electric cab company work with some amazing companies including Crooks and Castles who had a car wrapped and was Chauffeuring around the likes of Kendrick Lamar and the TDE crew, 50 Cent, H-Towns Slim Thugg among a few. After months of lagging content and school and work holding us up we were inspired by seeing the entrepreneurial success of JD, after having poured his blood, sweat and tears over a year ago into establishing the first electric car taxi service in Austin the fruits of his labor were finally showing and the great service he was providing for movers and shakers in the music industry did not go unnoticed. The realization of our friends company got our creative juices flowing again and with performances from 2Chainz (who busted up STUBBS mic at the Def Jam 30 Anniversary Party), Dom Kennedy, Schoolboy Q and the TDE crew (we saw preform 3 days in a row) , Skrillex, Killa Camron, A$ap Ferg(Complex House Party), Trae Tha Truth, Que, A$AP Mob, Future, and Mike Will Made it (at the coveted Illmore After Party Hosted by Diamond Supply Co), a great surprise appearance by the Legend Dj Mannie Fresh and the Hot new Rico Love. The incredible energy from this year's SXSW got us on action mode and grateful to be a part of this awesome city. The great shows, the go-getter spirit, the hustling and bustling show the amazing result of hard work that an active community has to offer. Please if you are ever able to come to Austin for SX or any other time, do so and get ready to experience the Live music capital, "Keep Austin weirdom", and greatness it has to offer. Most importantly, get your  creative juices flowing and draw inspiration from everything around you, whether a music festival or a brilliant book, there's fire awaiting ignition within us all. Be the best and enjoy the spirit of creativity and that which surrounds you!

Stay Imperial,
Imperial LU

Friday, January 17, 2014

Visualize your Dream

Here at Imperial Eloquence we maintain the proverbial one eye open on a motivation and success principles that we can put to use. We are inspired by the fashion we see as art, unique, and unapologetic but what goes beyond this is the stories of where they came from and we hope that on your imperial journey- can draw inspiration and knowledge en route to finding your calling.

Take the story of Trapstar London a military/biker culture inspired label that came up as most streetwear labels do- printing Graphic tees and now include a line of bespoke customer pieces worn by Hip-hop royalty and enthusiasts of revolutionary fashion everywhere. The brands beginnings and success was formed from a passion to create and in doing so Mikey Trapstar, co-founder and designer, was able to make stars out of those behind the brands success. "we felt we were Trapped but still shining in our current environment"  says the visionary on an interview for Jay-Z's Life + Times art curating site.

Numerous are the labels and businesses that have began with humble beginnings, they are often the perfect example of how visualizing an idea and taking action on it brought a dream into fruition. The innovating and creating was not an overnight process, the work and failures were in direct proportion to what success was achieved. We recently spoke with Ross Heffner of Veritas Apparel, a new label from New Orleans making waves with their crispy design concepts and blended aesthetics of streetwear and high fashion. "We lost money trusting unqualified manufacturers and refused to sell merchandise that was not up to par with what our customer deserved" Explained Ross a week prior to Veritas making its debut at Preview Tradeshow in Atlanta, GA. The attitude it takes to build something that is done well is the same one that entrepreneurs thrive on- seeing their vision regardless of the stumbling blocks in their way, visionaries keep their focus on the goal and recognize the obstacles in the way as  benchmarks, a sort of confirmations that they are moving forward. "Where I came from people laughed at your dreams, a lot of people are caught up on a lack-poverty stricken mentality, we couldn't let that kill the dream that was Veritas Apparel, we are going through with the vision through the end..."  Ross knows the path to success is not an easy one, as long as there is growth there will be challenges and there is a visionary in all of us that can take this on. It's a blessing in it of its own to find your passion but what separates a success from a dreamer is the perfect quote by TE Lawrence:"All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes to make them possible"

Dream on and do, visualize and act. This is what will clear your Imperial path and lead you to the success and joy that should be life!

Peep Veritas Fresh Pieces here.