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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