Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Imperial News: Art and the Hustle, Government and Basel Miami, Kanye's New Creation And More.

Our love for art and the culture and self education are among the subjects that keep us inspired. The following is headlines from the world though our peripherals: This past weekend at Art Basel Miami,The Dean Collection presented "No Commission", a free festival space set up by non other than Swizz Beatz. This was a full festival with no commission being charged for artist to display and sell  their work. Swizzy aka Mr.Showtime, who hand picked the artist, feels artists usually walk away on the losing end after the galleries profit and the collector owns a masterpiece so this was a way to give back to them for their gifts to the world, check out the full discussion with Elliot Willson. No Commissions became one of Miami's Hottest event, with performances from Pusha-T, Fabolous, DJ Esco and Metro Boomin and a closing set with Dj Khaled and Ruff Ryder alpha dog DMX! This marked a great weekend for art and a fire beginning to an eventful December. For all those who had the opportunity to attend Miami's Art Basel, we promptly admit our jealousy..
Other weekend news ranged from countries dictatorships ending to badass book releases of art tales. Those following social media or any headline got the news of KimYes new addition, Saint West, but we also celebrated the birth of uncle Hova on Friday December 4th who is now 46. Grammy nominees were announced, "Drawing Blood" an interesting new book with ingenious tone and insider tales was released by artist and writer Molly Crabapple. Artist and creative Naturel and Mountain Dew did an amazing interview on their upcoming colab, we highly recommend reading this visual experience on a desktop. Last but definitely not least the possible change to Venezuelas socialist unrest may end with a win by the oppositions in the country's first election since its corrupt leader died. We've composed a list of our favorite quotables rocking the Imperial world and more details on the events below.
Naturel x Mountain Dew-ART OF A CAN
"while Lawrence Atoigue AKA Naturel was at Rocawear he witnessed transition from Dame Dash to Jay-Z... Dame was more exuberant while Jay was more quiet and concise. Speaks when he needs to, puts everyone on his level...lead more gracefully than Dame.. i learned a lot from those brothers"
"[NATUREL] He works until 2 a.m. most nights to set an example for his daughter: hard work pays off. It makes his morning coffee that much better."
" ...at night thats when i find my solace, thats when everything blanks out, no ones around me, and i can focus on the things I've gathered throughout the day"..hes excited to design a can for DEW...
"It's very important we live in a product era. So, for [artists] to take advantage of companies that have money that want to do creative things, is important. If you're likeminded, or have similar demographics, being collaborative can bring a lot of good things to the table instead of just having two worlds separate"
"Leichtenstein and Tom wesselmann are like the architects of the building that my work is in... from process to how they approach their work ... like how they developed their process and live in it. They took popular objects and kind of used it as a language to communicate with folks..."
"MENTORS..dudes i looked up to and got a chance to work with were at Ecko Unltd, which is were I aspired to work for sometime: Kimou Meyer "Grotesk", Ewok, Romeo Taghal, Justin Kay, Steve Green.."
*Meyer is partner at Doubleday & Cartwright, Taghai is HUF art director, Kay is head of design at Mekanism, and Green is lead graphic designer at Nike SB
 Swizz Beatz and The Dean Collection Present No Commission 
sandra chevrier

"No Commissions is the first art fair built by artist for the artist for the people... no body had to pay a dollar to be here.... THE ARTIST GOT TO KEEP 100% OF THE SALES BECAUSE THEY DESERVE IT..." -Swizz On Stage from Miami's Art Basel
Swizz Beatz No commissionDMX no Commission Art Basel Miami
Drawing Blood By Molly Crabapple

The media had become stupid with money. Web 2.0 brought with it the intoxicating delusion that we could all be wealthy microcelebrities. Thoughtful work was for idiots. There were gilded prizes to be seized.Gawker turned a bland dating columnist into the era's Becky Sharp, making her famous by eviscerating her online for her naked ploys for attention, then scooping up all the clicks for themselves. Video editors donned white suits and were flown to Vegas on private jets, working-class craftsmen transformed into brands, traveling to a branded city on a branded plane.
Molly Crabapple
Outside New York, books like Rich Dad Poor Dad spread the lie that, for the middle classes, money could come from nowhere. They didn't reveal that this trick only works for the rich. Buy a house on credit, flip it, buy another—so the pundits counseled. Don't think. Don't wait. Everyone was getting rich.  In New York, we were the credit we would draw against. We were no longer writers or artists. We were start-ups. Branding may have been for cattle, but we were all brands. We would get book deals movie deals angel funds venture capital cash cash cash and never think that someday we'd have to earn it back."
Excepts via VICE
Picture of Saint WestPicture of Saint West
Picture of Saint WestExclusive Picture of Saint West
LMAO @diane_7a
 Venezuela Vote 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OUTLAWS: A movie within a movie inspired by Mexico, Motorcycles, and Leather

OUTLAWS Mini Film for Belstaff Leather starring David Beckham
Written & Directed by Geremy Jasper
David Beckham
Katherine Waterson
Harvey Keitel
Executive Produced by
Liv Tyler, Tom Berendsen, Adam Joseph, Mazdack Rassi, Damian Mould
Original music by
Jason Binnick & Geremy Jasper


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Crime and The Artist Grind (A True Story) Part 2 Turning Dramatic Into Illmatic

Vegas was the perfect playground for young rising stars like myself in the game. It wasn't at all hard to get into the modern day mobster mobster role with city's history and all. The anchor that kept me from going absolutely haywire on a full-fledge power trip was art. I drew since I was 3 years old and it turned into my source of income in the penitentiary as a young adult. By the time I was 18 I already thought of myself as an untouchable, real life Tony Montana/Einstein; I thought I was too smart and too tough to see a downfall in the game and had my ignorant eyes set on one day building an empire as underworld kingpin. Thankfully some of that intelligence did actually hold up and I managed to graduate with a scholarship under the Millenium Act; which was awarded to graduates with a 3.5 gpa or better in the form of $10,000 towards tuition for any in-state school (funds that came from "Vice Tax" instilled onGambling, alcohol, tabbacco, and adult entertainment sales) . Influenced by the tunes of Rap, which I became a true curator to, I thought if i ever left the drug game I would go into the music industry since it resonated with me on a truly personal level.  The rhythm from my country's Salsa, cumbias, and other latin sound centered me, the sounds of swing and Jazz music kept my depression away and all gangster rap and rock/metal was like a history lesson that made me feel connected to something, like I wasn't alone. Plus I was living the lifestyle of a rockstar/trapstar so the lyrics and rage felt like a very appropriate soundtrack to ride this coke wave to.
In the meantime I knew a plausible "front" had to be created were if was to build a true fortune in the dope game. I took my interests for design and my enammoration with luxury esthetics and declared an architecture major at UNLV, but by the end of my second semester in college I was done. I was making too much money and was growing more distracted, paranoid, and ignorant; not to mention, my mental angst and deep rooted insecurities which had been masked, began to surface with full force. I had been wearing two faces, one as a scared, insecure, young man who lacked any self esteem but wore a very well fitting persona as a cocky, no fucks giving, young drug dealer measuring my value on superficious things and artificial people. My nerves were shot, my conscious was heavy and my desire to cover these feelings with more perceived power and money was malicious, surviving the roller coaster ride where I was risking my life non-stop had began to take its toll. This is when karma took the reigns and I fell in love with an older girl and was sent into the most toxic relationship with an addict posing as an angel in my world. 
The world around me began to close in and suffocate me. Long nights of various run-ins, shoot outs, and running from the police offset by the opposite extreme of ecstasy induced partying with women, man sized coke mirrors with piles a-la-Scarface, and wasting thousands of dollars on spilled Dom Perignon rose, cigars, and hotel suites was making my condition deteriorate even faster. The wear and tear from my lifestyle made me want to find a home of sorts, and after losing my scholarship and as the depression set in, I found consolation in this woman's arms. She was a recovering heroine addict hailing from a well-to-do Mormon Italian family. As this woman and I started developing a monogamous relationship a cloud of hopelessness engulfed me. I knew my talents were being overshadowed by the current situation. I felt lost and numb and developed a shopping addiction as it seemed like the purest thing I could get into at the time. My patience for music had died after I gave up playing instruments and architecture school felt like a bunch of red tape meant to keep me from progressing so those options were out the window.
But I recall it like it was yesterday, the first time I stepped into a streetwear boutique, NEW STANDARD BOUTIQUE was where I discovered my passion- this experience and the connection I felt to the apparel spurred something inside me I couldn't describe but the shopping became a therapy where the medication came in the form of Bathing Ape Bapesta sneakers, designer belts, scarfs, watches and shades at an easy $10,000 a month shopping budget. My connection to name brands and the style of the apparel filled a void in my soul at the time. I had narrowed down where that feeling came from when I was stripped away of all the superficial ignorance of realizing that I didn’t own these things, they owned me. Having my small fortune, guns, safety, pride and freedom taken away. After a botched robbery attempt on myself I was prosecuted for shooting the assailant in San Antonio that could have taken my life. Time in TDCJ, reconnecting with James and seeing the Mexican Mafia and Tango war that exploded in San Antonio County Jail and bled slowly into the Pen forced me to really look deep within and as I would sit and draw polo horses on my orange or white jumpsuits and recreating LV designs on my shower sandals I began to appreciate the time, energy, and thought that went into creating these iconic pieces. It must be said that this was on no-homo shit either as I earned and gained my stripes and respect outside and behind the great walls. I realized that what I was attracted to when I paid for a store’s rent in one purchase was the art that these pieces can add if made from a sincere place, the same kid that was too poor to own toys and made his own and was happy in that trailer park found that true calling in the study of art and fashion study. 
So when I was released to a half way house in Austin, Tx I searched my way around town for opportunities and found the Imperial strive after many mistakes, trial and errors and flunky folks. #StayImperial #Beimperial are part of the IE make-up that inspire many, including me, everyday. Imperial Eloquence is the journey one partakes in as a creator of one’s future and builder of beauty regardless of what medium your art form is. It doesn't have to be a paintbrush, it could be your hustle. IE represents fashion and the building of a conscious revolution through the incorporation of seamless luxury and creative streetwear. Personally, IE also has a deeper spiritual meaning "I";the me-the self as I connect to the Imperical Universe (the stars, sky, creatures, and energy). "E" is Everything, the universe and the connection they give back to my world as the IE.
Seeing people take in something as personal as clothes and watching people like Emory Jones of Rocnation have an impact on the culture Inspires me. Emory, who’s branding, marketing efforts AND story, a bit similar to mine, has transitioned fully FROM THE GAME TO THE FAME. Trapstar London a British streetwear label, is pushing the boundaries and setting a new standard in luxury streetwear under the motto that Mikey Trapstar mentioned in an interview, "we are trapped stars... coming from the environments we came from we are able to build greatness once we discover it within us." THAT fuels me.
So no matter how you do what you do and the journey that gets you there remember that you too have an Imperial path and if we can somehow inspire you through our apparel-ill feel like I am the biggest boss I could ever imagine. We have a long way to go as a small start up, and I hope to be able to add the value that I have come to understand and appreciate from the second set of skin that we place on our bodies everyday. Thank you for letting me vent #StayImperial

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Crime and The Artist Grind (A True Story) Part 1 Without A Reasonable Doubt

A thunderstorm rolled through Austin this past weekend and brought along with it some time for contemplating and set the perfect scene as we headed back from the 1st annual summer solstice art festival here on Austins East side. It placed me in a great position to reminisce a bit deeper and get inspired by my past more than I have done in a while. As we settled home after getting soaked at the event a music playlist came on with a BOYZ N DA HOOD track "No talking'" -this project was the self titled first album of Bad Boys South, Diddys first super rap group (Jody Breeze, Big Ghee, Big Duke, & THE SNOWMAN: Young Jeezy) an album that was constantly spinning in the white Cadillac I drove around Vegas and would take in and out of town often times with no less than a 40 cal pistol and a quarter kilo of coke just about 8 years ago. As the music kept playing I settled to read an article as I dried off and was quickly thrown into a stupor as I begin to have flashbacks of my days as a young hustler in Vegas, circa 96-2008. I promptly added the tracks to my spotify Playlist and as the rain pattered on my window, images and visuals from my past flooded into a blend of the soundtrack that was paying homage to my past. G-Units "Poppin Thangs" came on as my eyes got heavy and I thought back to the rainy night this song was bumping in my murdered out chevy as I participated in my first drive by. Thankfully, in this particular episode nobody was hurt but we thought it shook up the thieves who we had tried robbing a partners place since tracking the busters became impossible after that ride, they either skipped town or got done in by someone else they tried to fuck over. Either way that was my life then, let me tell you how it got that way. 
First, I want to be clear that I dont glorify or agree with my past behavior and choices, which I made as a lost and ignorant young boy. Im just telling it how it was and it took many hard lessons and some time in prison to get me to think straight and understand how lucky I am to have made it out and learn the fact that karma does exist. For me, coming to the U.S without knowing the language, having my father leave us, and learning through the struggles as a seven year old Colombian boy in a mostly white trailer park on the South East side of Vegas was not only a culture shock but factors that lead me to the path I took. It was nearly impossible for me to dodge the trappings of crime as I grew older and noticed the opportunity, lust, luxury, and temptations the city had to offer. A household with a single mother and turmoil filled familial condition, financial hardship, depression, and anger so much anger. I had to do something to keep from imploding and I made what I thought to be the best choice within my abilities.
In all honesty I was a never soul-less person and all my actions were handled with a code of honor and moral conduct that may not have been up to the "Church's Standards" but I did most things meaning well and primarily extended from a survival instinct. Years later I learned that these patterns imposed a kind of sociopathic mindset that I had to break through to become the self aware, valuable, and loving being which I try to be today and everyday. If I may say so myself I have come a very long way and have been blessed with the opportunity to keep growing after realizing that I had a choice during a two year prison sentence.
Complex just did an article that inspired me to write this blog. These articles spoke on the Mafia References in hip-hop and was accompanied by an 1800 Tequila sponsored slideshow that explained the correlation between organized crime and Rap. I myself, having been greatly influenced by the Italian American culture in Las Vegas, felt like an expert reading up on this article and it stirred something in me to tell the story of how a fairly normal little boy became the man I am today. I mean I owned Sinatras full CD collection by the time I was 16 and completed my Sinatra Tattoed portrait shortly after I was released from TDCJ; Tony Soprano, Pablo Escobar, Fabolous, and Young Jeezy were the father figures who I idealized so maybe I wasn't all that normal to start off but I was relatively a normal kid. One of my OGs and my best friend, James-who played a large role in my life, has a full back and stomach mural dedicated to John Gotti and me being a connoisseur of the italian female type I brought myself as close to the culture as I could growing up in Vegas. I truly admired the close knit bond of my girlfriends' paisano families and I became dedicated to rub elbows with these legendary and someone mythical gangsters one day. The Jewish culture also made an impression on me, I learned a lot from a prominent Jewish family who had roots in the city since the Italians and the Jewish syndicates established Sin City, after a friend's family gave me shelter and took me when I was kicked out of my house by my poor mother. I saw the loyalty within their community and admired the levels of success they escalated to when they started with nothing, it made me feel like some hope for my future. 
Now, James-the guy with the Gotti mural tatted on him was not only a father figure to me but my introduction into hip-hop, the first art form that brought me closer to my passion in streetwear. The year I came to the States Jay-Z had just dropped his debut album: Reasonable Doubt which would forever change my life. It was a hot Vegas summer in 1996 and I was in awe with this young tattooed white boy who would drive in from Texas to see my aunts husband, a pilot who made frequent trips to South America and owned a series of small shabby businesses and vintage cars yet kept us in a trailer home. The trailer was surprisingly luxurious inside in comparison to any regular home and stood out in our trailer park, but still the conditions of our living situation were questionable. James was what we call a HOG in the game, he was a big boy, driving Maseratis and Ferraris at the age of 16 and interacting with people such as my uncle who kept a contact list of some real legends in the streets. I recall James' genuine kindness towards me, even though he was without a doubt a very intimidating figure behind his all gold smile, blonde hair and green eyes he had pureness to his soul. One day as I looked on admirably and James waited outside our house, he called me over to his car. I made sure my mom had not returned from her mobile car wash job which was set up for her to work until she had documents to get a "real job". I knew she wouldnt allow me to talk to James as she was very adamant about not letting me around anyone who her brother in law fucked with and more so since she associated tattoos with bad people. I got in the passenger side of James' new convertible and he gave me daps, I felt so cool just listening to rap in this young OGs car as the sound from the speakers soothed our whole neighborhood this hot Vegas day.

James was very progressive in more than one way, such as being a Texan bumping East coast music like Jay-Z. A dumb as it may sound, it showed he had made it out of his neighborhood-the Bloody Knickle, Houston's 5th Ward, where loyalty to their States musical sound as as deep rooted as their gangs. He was seeing parts of the world most folks from his area and would only dream about, but that didn't last forever. The track was playing and I imitated his head bobbing to the music when the song 'Dead Presidents pt 2' came on. I don't remember exactly how I asked him but it was something along the lines of 'What's mean?' - as in "what do the words mean" in my seven year old broken English. James spoke some but not much Spanish but somehow the complicated yet eerily congruent lyrics of the song were explained to me with a crystal clear understanding- the verse that popped was; "Cant stop PA from drinkin mai tais w Tay Tay out in NevadA, haha papa-(world like) i dabbled in crazy weight, without rap i was crazy-potna I'm still spending money from 88".  We were currently in NevaDA, Papa was a term often use to describe "papi" or the main drug connection, a word I was confused to hear James say often, and the year of my birth is 1988. In that moment I became a student of hip-hop and the years that followed I understood a bit more about my place in this socio economic system and how that albums theme became almost a narrated story of my life as I adapted with the survival skills that I need it as a young man that ended up having to grow up too soon, yet still had the angels of Art watching over me.
Even though James was way ahead of his time his attachment to the hood mindset and the dependance on crime was what ended up slaving him for life.  His passion for music, however; was the best language barrier for us to connect through. His vision for the future was colossal but tainted by the game and even after he caught his life sentence in mid 2000 his influence and guidance stayed with me. As a person who's kept himself growing within the Texas Prison system and being one has come to term with his deamons, my boy is still  one of the strongest and kindest people I know and seeing him increase his self awareness and emotional, spiritual, and educational growth has inspired me to stay focused on my goal as a creative. I constantly reach out to him for counsel and hope the day comes when his music can be heard this side of the walls. We have began a 15 part patch series based on the Street Wisdom he passes on as 2015th marks the 15th year of his sentence, the first set is available here.

After my experience with the Reasonable Doubt album I worked on finding as many tracks to study from the only two rappers I knew about: Tupac and Biggie. I had to do it without my mother catching wind of the lyrical content which proved to be easy, being as how she didn't understand much more English than I did at the time. At the time we left Colombia I remember the badass music was still heavy metal so I had a few cassette tapes I could hide my rap music in as well as a wide range of musical genres that influenced me throughout my life.  
When my mother remarried we moved to a better part of town and my creative outlet in music blended over with my anger and misguidance as I was trying to figure out who I was. The beatings from my frustrated mom kept me from "thugging" full force in front of her for a while but I found fighting as the perfect pacifier for my rage and as an over protective big brother I capitalized on every opportunity for a scuffle. I was a very small kid fighting boys twice my size since my first day of 3rd grade and thats a trend I've been all too familiar with to this day, being the underdog and battling for what I feel is mine be it respect or recognition.  The ropes of the street became a curriculum for me, I would study books about gangs and gang leaders, research stories of crime and their enterprising techniques and downfalls. I simultaneously watched the million dollar houses across the street from our school not far from my step dads home. I wondered why God was punishing us, were we underserving of a happy home and the luxuries that others had? The realization my young mind conjured up was that I had to take the reigns of my future and nothing was going to keep me in the situation we were in forever. The feeling of never being enough clouded my judgement as I received and distributed my first quarter ounce of weed and an ounce of high grade cocaine, the powder being courtesy of a family friend who saw my potential as a hustler. I had a small conscious and after that $1,200 bag of coke was gone I stuck to weed for a little since seeing some unspeakable things crack heads would do for a high, was still beyond my scope of comfort. I didn't go back to moving serious coke until after cutting my teeth on out of town trips and securing the market of the opulent by dealing with mostly rich kids and business types who wanted powdered form of raw for personal use, no more crack cooking dealers and sketchy corner and bathroom transactions-at least for the time being. Eventually, however; my adrenaline threshold and greed would surpass just dealing with the soft stuff and I quickly came back to wholesaling any substance I could find a client base for...

..to be continued
Stay tuned for part 2 Next Thursday
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Monday, May 18, 2015

How Yeezy Taught US

Zak Tebbal has provided this eras toddlers a much needed life lesson by way of Kanye for Toddlers. The illustrator created a children's book as a necessity. "The only audience Kanye isn't reaching right now is toddlers, and they are missing out." - Says Zak who's taken on the project as part of his senior design thesis as School of Visual arts.  it shows the influence that the Louis Vuitton Don has on all aspects of our society from politics to fashion to now children book and college thesis.
peep, peep some pieces inspired by Kanyes look by clicking the image below:

Check out Zak's book at http://zaktebbal.com/Bound-2Gether
Stay Imperial,