INTERVIEW// Manu

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Photo provided by Manu

Let’s Build Garden City!‘s huge citywide workshop series How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with Grow-Op Chicago member & artist Manu! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

 

THE Q&A

What advice do you have for students starting out?

I would definitely say the first thing is Collaboration. With the free time & ability to move around that a student might have, link up with people or organizations who have already been doing work. Not necessarily to commit to sticking with them forever but just to kind of get into the industry, start developing friendships, you know?

How did you get started out?

My nutritional anthropology professor asked me to be a part of a research team, mostly made up of grad students. The study was measuring the impact that Dekalb County Community Gardens had on the level of food security or insecurity in Dekalb County. So I was like “Yeah, that sounds really really awesome.” Dekalb, IL has a pretty big Latinx population. I was asked as part of the research team to use the training I was getting in anthropological methods to interview people – it was mostly people of color .

What are some local resources you think students should know about?

AUA (Advocates for Urban Agriculture). I’m friends with a few of them there and enjoy
what they do. Their main focus is to get resources out to people who are interested in
urban agriculture.  They have a new resource guide you can get for free online through their website, you can also buy a hardcopy. I recently finished translating
it into Spanish. There’s a lot of accessible resources that even a student could learn from.

So definitely AUA, specifically their resource guide. Through AUA they also have this really really cool mapping website. CUAMP, the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project. You basically go on this website and type in your address and it’ll show you the different community gardens, urban farms, and places where people grow near you.

I do Grow-Op Chicago, with Matthew Gladly and others. Our goal is to connect people. That’s why I love CUAMP  because it makes that work so much easier.

I also was going to talk about Steve who runs OTIS farms in Back of the Yards.

Down the street from Breathing Room Space?

Yeah! Steve is just wonderful, he has a lot of knowledge. He’s currently staying at Breathing Room, so you could go there and find him.

Do you have any advice for students just looking for a fun service learning project to do?

If you’re not into touching dirt you don’t have to. *laughs* There’s so much that goes on outside of the actual garden that is essential for having any sort of profitable success or just success as far as impact.  There’s a lot you can do without having to actually be placing the seeds down.

What’s the secret to students treating each other right?

First of all developing an overall sense of self-awareness- how your presence is affecting a space that you’re interacting with and the people you’re interacting with. Not in a judgmental way but in a literal “how is my presence here affecting what’s going on.”

And at that point being aware of what’s already happening wherever you are. And then taking into consideration the other people you might be interacting with have feelings, goals, passions, and hopefully have other people’s best intentions in mind. Which isn’t always true but still when you meet someone, they are sentient. They have a whole history and paradigm they’re experiencing things from.

And then after that we can talk about communication. Different culture doesn’t necessarily have to be in another country. Even in Chicago there’s so many different cultures, there’s ethnic cultures to social cultures. People are different. We all have a similar condition but people are approaching it in so many ways. Being aware of that.

But I think it first has to come from inside. Because if you’re not understanding how you’re impacting where you’re at it’s going to be very difficult to understand why people are acting the way they are.

Earlier you mentioned “anthropological imagination,” do you want to talk about that more?

Yeah! Another friend of mine who I met first through them being my professor in college is Mark Schuller. He’s an anthropologist that’s been writing about this concept. Imagination often takes on a meaning of “child’s play;”  it’s very stigmatized, like “imagination isn’t real” or  like it’s just what little kids do or something. But really how I’m understanding “anthropological imagination” is it’s taking a very holistic multidisciplinary approach to how we can process, address, or ideally solve contemporary world issues.

I’ve been thinking a lot about using that concept and applying it to people not having equitable access to food, you know, where they’re living. I’ve been thinking a lot about that and like not even how to research something like that, even though that is really important, but how to engage as an advocate for urban agriculture within communities. Whether it’s my own community or a community I’m involved in through another growing initiative. It’s like using anthropological imagination to become aware of what’s been happening in this community,  what is happening now, and, like, where do people in this community wanna go?

And really forgetting about these -ologies, you know?

Thank you!

 


 

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INTERVIEW// Laurie Ouding

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Photo provided by L. Ouding

Let’s Build Garden City!‘s huge citywide workshop series How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with Food Matters, LLC. founder & nurse Laurie Ouding! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

THE Q&A

Would you like to introduce yourself?

My name is Laurie Ouding. I’m a pediatric nurse at Rush, I’m also a legal consultant nurse for a law firm and I have a legal consulting business along with the urban agriculture stuff that I’m doing. I am also an Associate Board member at Advocates for Urban Agriculture.

What are you up to in 2020? Tell us about Food Matters, LLC!

The Food Matters space is a new construction project that’s pretty big. A shared community kitchen so we can teach people, and a 3,000 sq ft greenhouse so we can show people: This is how you grow food year-round. The indoor farmer’s market [will have] food available everyday all year. Fresh produce grown here but in collaboration with all the local farmers in the community and the Chicago area.

So there’s access. We’re addressing the access problem. There’s [also] going to be a rooftop garden with an event space.

FM, LLC
What advice do you have for students starting out?
My advice is for students to connect to people who are Doing It. People like LBGC!, Advocates for Urban Agriculture,  the University of Illinois Ext. Group. Spending time with people who are  farming so you can see what the work is actually like.

Also: learning the whole food cycle. What it takes when you grow something. The planting of it, the harvesting of it, and then what happens? Is the farmer selling it to a grocery store and what does that look like?

If they learn the whole thing they can find their niche.

What are some local resources you think students should know about?

AUA is probably my go-to. Bronzeville actually has Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm which is like a block and a half from me. And the guy that runs that, Johnny, is great. I’ve volunteered over there with AUA and so, like today, they have a spinach sale going on in their hoophouse. That’s a great resource.

Perry Farm, I think in Woodlawn, they have a great program that works with Sweetwater Foundation. They have a farm and farmer’s market onsite but they also have a Woodworking program and they do other classes out there. They’re
doing an amazing job of helping people in their own community.

Do you have any advice for students just looking for a fun service learning project to do?

You could really do it inexpensively if you wanted to. You could do aquaponics: get a small fish tank! There’s a lot of science involved and math involved and learning but I think it’s in a good way where they get excited about that.

It’s really rewarding when you take these seeds and you grow it into something that you’re now eating. You have ownership of that. And I think that kids nowadays, they don’t necessarily get that opportunity to have that power in their life. To have something that they have taken care of, they’re responsible for. And then at the end you have this great product that you can now feed somebody.

I think that can be really rewarding and pretty simple.

What’s the secret to students treating each other right?

As a pediatric nurse I have patients from babies to even 30 year olds sometimes. And I think you have to meet people where they are. I’m not gonna talk to a 15 year old the same way that I talk to a 2 year old *laughs* So meeting that person where they are and trying to find out what they’re looking for.

If people see that you care and see that as an example then you create a space where that’s the norm.

And setting ground rules at the beginning. If you have a group of kids and say “This is a space where we’re gonna talk about what you feel like we need to have in our community”…but the ground rules are, like, We Have To Listen To Each Other, We have to respect each other’s platform that they  want to be on. If you’re going to give criticism, make sure it’s constructive, etc..



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🌻

INTERVIEW// Eric Rodriguez

Eric Rodriguez

photo provided by E. Rodriguez

Let’s Build Garden City!‘s huge citywide workshop series How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with Urban Canopy co-founder & farmer Eric Rodriguez! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

THE Q&A

What are you up to in 2020?

I’m going to be homestead gardening in Florida until March. We’re really excited about planting fruit trees and getting avocados. I saw avocados that were like THIS big and shaped like a zucchini!

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It’d be great to get people to come see the horses, too.

IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) is gonna be opening up a kitchen [in Chicago] that’s an education space for the community to come in and learn how we cook the stuff that we’re growing at the gardens & offered at the markets. Even some of the stuff that’s offered at the corner stores that people might not even see or know was there.

Tell us about IMAN’s Green ReEntry Program? It’s for people coming out of incarceration?

Yeah and then they go on a track to either carpentry, electrical work, or heating venting & air-conditioning. They pick a track and they’re able to have 8-12 months of immersed hands-on stuff. With soft-skill learning days- so they can learn how to cook and make their own breakfast, lunch, &, dinner for them and their families.

So hopefully that kitchen gets going by the summertime.

When did you start doing agricultural work?

My very first project was working at the Plant Chicago. In that warehouse space [aka Bubbly Dynamics] they were building aquaponics systems and I was on my way out of UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago). For my senior design class we went to the Plant to try to scope out projects and we found out they were doing this vertical wall that they wanted to grow, like lettuce & leafy greens out of.

And then I got connected to the Urban Canopy, one of the businesses that rented space out of the Plant. When I first started we were doing like 3 little farmer’s markets and had 10 compost club members.

What’s some advice you have for students starting out as a professional in the agriculture industry?

A lot of the training I got was through the Urban Canopy, little by little. I learned the value of writing things down. And trying to gather as much information as possible so that next year when we’re in the same situation we’re not like ‘What did we do last year? I think we had a good plan but what was it…?’

Because I got to spend 5 years there and see it grow, when I was leaving we had like a THOUSAND compost club members. We had like a hundred CSA members, we were doing like 15 farmer’s markets.

Do you have any other words of encouragement for someone looking for a service learning project to do?

This is a new time we have opportunity to grow, literally & metaphorically. Young people might see it as the biggest employer [in their neighborhood] is selling drugs…but there’s big employers in food, too. Who doesn’t eat food? People are pulling back on supporting bigger chains and supporting local projects.

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INTERVIEW// +

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+, via #supportstudentgardens

Let’s Build Garden City!‘s huge citywide workshop series How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with LBGC! founder & rapper +! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

THE Q&A

Who are you?

+, aka Plus Sign.

What’s some advice you have for students starting out as a professional in the agriculture industry?

Hustle with the intensity of a famous rapper…and also relax & play with the intensity of one!

What are some local resources you think students should know about?

Of course everything in our resource library…and our community partners like Grow Op Chicago in Logan Square and the Breathing Room Space in the Back of the Yards neighborhood can show you a lot about organic collaboration. Advocates for Urban Agriculture has a huge community of people around it, too (AUA listserv). And Milan Anderson mentioned the Chicago Environmental Network. They seem really helpful!

Do you have any words of encouragement for someone just looking for a fun service learning project to do?

It’s really really exciting and beautiful to give life! And it doesn’t cost a lot but you can learn about any topic you want through it: from black history, to science, to health, to math. It saves lives and makes the world around you more healthy and connected in every way.

What’s the secret to students treating each other right?

Patience & active listening. Freedom from fear.

Anything else you want to talk about?

I’m excited to hit the streets and party on behalf of student gardens this year! Follow @letsbuildgardencity on IG to know when we’re gonna be out!

Traveling Party!

 

Can we share your social media?

 

Yes, please! I’m @nearfutureplus on IG & Twitter.

 

 


 

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INTERVIEW// Milan Anderson!

Milan Anderson

Milan Anderson, via #supportstudentgardens


Let’s Build Garden City!‘s huge citywide workshop series
How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with Bridgeport-based educator & activist Milan Anderson! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

THE Q&A

Who are you?

Milan Anderson, [I] apprenticed at Living Roots farm in 2016, worked for Urban Canopy as market manager and farm hand, obtained a Master of Urban Farmer Training with University of Illinois Extension summer of 2018, hosted weekly garden workshops for kids at El Paseo Community Garden summer of 2019 and have been an avid forager in Chicago the past year, making medicines out of what most people consider weeds 🙂

What’s some advice you have for students starting out as a professional in the agriculture industry?

You might need to volunteer and intern first go get your feet wet and later use that experience to apply for paid positions. It might take a season or two of volunteering low key for a garden, but it could pay off in the long run. For instance, I was a volunteer gardener at El Paseo and when I found out they wanted a kids garden program, since I was already a contributing member, the garden directors were happy to fund the kids workshops I created. You never know where your involvement might lead so just put yourself out there! 

What are some local resources you think students should know about? Chicago Community Gardening Association (they offer tons of resources and plants) AUA listserv, Chicago Environmental Network.

Do you have any words of encouragement for someone just looking for a fun service learning project to do?

Try and be present, really in the moment and think through the different tasks you are doing (what could make it more effective, or make it easier on others) so you can make the most of the experience.

What’s the secret to students treating each other right?

Be kind to yourself, and apply that kindness to people around you. 

Anything else you want to talk about?

Learn about permaculture (aka permanent agriculture or growing food forests), it is awesome to use this to your benefit and the ecosystem’s benefit. A lot of organic farms already use some of these practices to sustainably grow, but could add more. With climate change, it is even more important to learn about these practices that stem from indigenous people’s ways of growing in harmony with nature. 

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Can we share your social media?

Yes! ecocentric_gurl is my insta.

 


 

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25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD with~ Ash Wednesday!

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I think I know Ash Wednesday through fellow rapper Lamon Manuel. It’s through Twitter, though, definitely~ we went back and forth #OnThere trading Drake lyrics, mostly from 2015’s What A Time To Be Alive. And I saw them do a sweet 16 on Instagram once! What a time to be alive, and they booked me and the amazing MFn Melo for the show tonight at Township.  Come see a set tonight from someone with naturally good taste in fun shit! The Ho Ho Ho Show w/ Plus Sign, MFn Melo, Squeak Pivot, Ash Wednesday, M.U.T.T., Hank McCoy, and DJ Stepchild. 2200 N. California, Chicago, IL;  doors 8 PM show 9 PM $10 @ door!

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color? easy, green! 
Who is your favorite athlete? although he’s technically retired I have a long standing love for Marshawn Lynch

What is your favorite poem and why? I’ll give it to HOWL by Allen Ginsberg. A sprawling work! It was my first foray into wildness as art/life/choice/being and it stays with me
What is the name of your fictional autobiography? ASH IS A FAST CAT 
How tall are you? 5’4
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember? My first EP was called “Part & Parcel” – released in 2013. I googled briefly and am happy to report it’s not online anymore haha 
What is the title of your most recent piece of work? “Show It Around”; an unreleased song 
Tell me about it?  It’s about knowing what you’ve got and showing it off. Confidence, self-possession, drive, no fucks to give 
How did this show Thursday come about? My buddy Hank McCoy got the 12/15 date at Township to celebrate his homecoming from Europe! Hank has helped me throw shows in the past, so I jumped at a chance to pull this bill together!
Where is home? near Central Park and Belmont
What is home? home is where i keep my bicycle 
Who is home? no one b/c I don’t trust anyone enough to keep my bicycle 
Whose home are you? I am the home to many microorganisms !
What is your favorite plant? tree(s) 
Who is your daddy and what does he do? Bradley; he’s a business man
Who are you? Ash Wednesday 
What do you do? project manager slash rapper 
Who would you like to collaborate with? I’d love to get Joseph Chilliams on Show It Around! I dug those recent features on Noname’s Telephone and Saba’s Bucket List – go listen if you haven’t! #pivot! 
Where are you going? ALL THE WAY UP
Where did you just come from? I just came from Chicago on an airplane; so magic 
Where are you right now? I’m at an office in NYC right now @ Madison Ave & 52nd street; swanky right?
Who is Vashti Bunyan? I don’t know! I had to google her. I learned she’s a delicate sounding songwriter/performer who in 1970 put out a record that didn’t sell well. She gave up music after this, but by 2000 people were feeling that record! She released 2 more studio albums (2005, 2014) and is now ~70 years old. Vashti reminds me this life is circuitous
TELL me some impressions of the other performers? 
MUTT – his rap name stands for “Music Used To Transcend” and it’s true; experimental, expressive! His “deep self” definitely comes thru in his music 
MELO – a sweetheart! can i say that? he’s doing it for the music, he loves his people; i see the drive! MFN Melo what it look like!?
HANK – raps like a beast, hairy like a beast, a mans man, and bookers love him!

PLUS – i love the vibes. i’m ready to see some queer shit pop

squeak: squeak has got it! so polite, great swag, great look, and he knows droogs by anderson paak is a hit even tho it sounds unfinished

stepchild: jack of all trades in the iridium jersey. dj, live beats, host, swear i heard him freestyle for like 10 min straight; energy crazy

Why are you still performing? I (still) perform because I like to show it’s possible to do unconventional behaviors
What does a free world look like to you? a free world is a world free from pre-fab box-like expectations 

25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE SAVE THE WORLD~ with Carl Nadig!

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Carl Nadig is a conductor of positivity in Dekalb, IL. He awesomely invited me to
perform at November’s Majakka Monthly Music Marathon, a benefit he helps
organize for the Dekalb Area Women’s Center. Carl lives life as a dedicated journalist, generous thinker, and he plays music in the duo The Pleasant Street Players and Human Drag.

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color?
I don’t have one yet.

Who is your favorite athlete?
My younger sister, Stevie. She’s a wrestler. Wrestling as a female includes more challenges that I can only imagine.

What is your favorite poem and why?

“The Rime of The Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of my favorites. The longer you read it, the more you become the protagonist in the story’s main plot.

What is the name of your fictional autobiography?

How tall are you?
5′ 10″, according to some medical experts.

What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember?
I remember painting a dinosaur in first grade. I don’t remember if it even had a title, because I was probably enjoying myself too much to name it.

What is the title of your most recent piece of work?
My new band just finished a song called “Make Me.”

Tell me about it?
You’ll have to hear it.

How did this monthly series come about?
The director of DeKalb’s Area Women Center, Anna Marie Coveny, asked Daerielle if she would play a few shows. Then we tossed the idea on hosting shows at Majakka Hall once a month for other bands and let all the proceeds go to the Women Center.

Where is home?
Right now? Pleasant Street in DeKalb.

What is home?
My mother’s voice.

Who is home?
Many people that are silently fading away.

Whose home are you?
That thought petrifies me.

What is your favorite plant?
I enjoyed walking to a specific willow tree back on my father’s farm, resting in the bottom of a valley, planted next to a creek.

Who is your daddy and what does he do?
My father is Rob Nadig. Farmer. It’s a profession that’s been in his bloodline for at least five generations.

Who are you?

What do you do?

Who would you like to collaborate with?
My mother’s father. He was a musician and lived in New Boston, Missouri, so I’m told. I never knew him.

Where are you going?
Down, according to some religion experts.

Where did you just come from?
Up, according to some religion experts.

Where are you right now?
In the middle.

Who is Vashti Bunyan?
I don’t know. Tell me about them. I’m curious.

TELL me some impressions of the other performers?
Grateful to be playing inside a new music venue in DeKalb, so I try to return that gratitude as much as I can.

You have to hear them.


Why are you still going?
I don’t understand.

What does a free world look like to you?
Probably more trouble than it’s worth, frankly.

the homies blog presents // 25 QUESTIONS BEFORE WE CHANGE THE WORLD with~ Kevin and Hell!

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I’ve performed with Kevin and Hell numerous times, and they were very memorable times. Once, his mullet was shaved onstage. Another, it was his birthday! Both times he laid down a funky, quirky, lo-fi jazz that is warm, enigmatic and sweetly brilliant. One of his stickers is in my bedroom and another is on my co-friend Jerrod’s water bottle. I am honored he asked me to perform for a series of shows he’s been putting together this fall.

THE INTERVIEW

What’s your favorite color?   Clear
Who is your favorite athlete? The one that is just trying to enjoy themself
What is your favorite poem and why? The one I haven’t heard yet, because it’ll be something I haven’t thought already.
What is the name of your fictional autobiography? Stairway to Kevin
How tall are you? 6 feet and 2 inches
What is the title of the earliest work of yours you can remember? I can remember how it sounds but not the title.
What is the title of your most recent piece of work? Moons of Mars
Tell me about it? It is a song where I float around in space and listen to the stars. A music video is almost ready.
How did the show September 29 come about? I wanted to bring some of my favorite local acts to Fat City in a quieter setting
Where is home? Wherever I’m comfortable
What is home? A state of mind
Who is home? You are home
Whose home are you? I am my own
What is your favorite plant? The truffula tree
Who is your daddy and what does he do? My dad is Mark and lives in Montana
Who are you? I am Kevin and/or Hell
What do you do? I transcribe music from the vast realm of possibility
Who would you like to collaborate with? The Myth Science Arkestra
Where are you going? I can’t say for sure
Where did you just come from? Not 100% sure about that either
Where are you right now? Next to some flowers on a painted bench
Who is Vashti Bunyan? I don’t know, yet
TELL me some impressions of the other performers? A lot of very different people working to bring people together.
Why are you still performing? I’ve temporarily retired to research the fruiting bodies of fungi.
What does a free world look like to you? One where people don’t need to impose their own agendas on others.

OLD ESSAY// Noname Gypsy, Real Human Being

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This piece originally appeared in Side By Side Magazine, October 2014.

Noname Gypsy sits across from me in a Hyde Park Native Foods. “I wonder why everybody’s world when it comes to rap is the same. My world, I feel like, is different from Saba’s world, and Saba’s world is different from Chance’s world, but when we’re talking about people who are on the radio all of their worlds are damn near the same.” She throws out the names of current hot boys Migos and Travis $cott, but for Noname, born Fatimah Warner, it’s not a dismissal, pedantic or otherwise (Travi$ Scott’s Days Before Rodeo is her favorite shit out right now).  Instead, it’s a thoughtful, well-meaning observation about potential friends.  If hoes can bring everyone in the rap game from Nicki Minaj to Kid Cudi to Too $hort together, Noname Gypsy inevitably ends up in the corner with the Cherrypie Blues. “I don’t pull hella niggas so I can’t rap about that. I don’t pull…,” she laughs,“hella bitches so I can’t rap about that.”  It’s not that Warner is female that makes her stand out, it’s that the desires and observations that Noname Gypsy blends into her sweet, poetic molasses are so innocent that they seem truly obscene (“offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency)” in the obscenity-obsessed world of modern rap. “I’ve been rapping a lot about having a husband and kids recently. I really want to be married with kids, I don’t know if that’s a rap thing to want,” she jokes.

One thing Noname has in common with a few of her most special peers is a missing album. Not delayed,missing. As in the fans think it should be here now and their almighty creator hasn’t delivered (See: Jay Electronica, Chance the Rapper). Noname says at least three people ask her about her highly anticipated Telefone project a day. On Mick Jenkins’s recent jam “Comfortable” Noname actually raps ‘Telefone never coming out.’ When I ask her if she would consider the project “Zero percent complete,” she laughs and says “Yeah.”

She’s been writing with Saba- the two send each other a new piece a day to keep the creative juices flowing. Well, Saba’s been sending her verses. True to form, Noname has been writing but second-guesses everything too much to show it off. If you start to type “Noname Gypsy” into a Youtube search, her song “Paradise” will be the first entry. Except Noname took the music video for “Paradise” down; it’s her biggest solo song and she hates it. “It’s not like I haven’t been making music and don’t have raps, they’re just not at the level I would like them to be. I’m not at the place where I feel comfortable releasing music.”

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For Noname, having that level of discretion is essential. “Taking shit down when I want to and being able to control my image is kinda what keeps me sane.” It brings her back to her oft-spoken appreciation of Jay Electronica, a role model for her patience and desire to remain down-to-earth and experimental. “Dizzy,” the piece Noname dropped this week is a hot bomb. Her style is fresh as ever and only becoming sharper, the song recalls the new FlyLo/Kendrick joint if they decided to just chill out. Noname Gypsy spins around the track describing sunsets, blurring timelines and never allowing her grin to become inaudible. As always she imbues intimate vulnerability with a grand serenity throughout, spitting ‘Lotion on my skin got me feeling super smooth, like I could save a life…’. The juxtapositions in the song are telling of the contradictory impulses Noname experiences – she wants to be a legend. On her own time; without videos, interviews, or television. Just music. “And I think there’s a way I can do it,” she says. A smile isn’t far off.

Telefone never coming out. Follow Noname Gypsy on Twitter

the homies blog//INTERVIEW: sam and lam make magic

sam and lam

*~“There is no good or evil, only power.”
      – Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (1997)~*

My interviews usually only last 20 minutes. It’s the perfect length! We are recording in filmmaker Samantha Wakefield’s apartment; rapper Lamon Manuel has work in a half hour. At the 21 minute mark, however, an awkward silence intrudes at the prospect of our talk ending. The three of us have covered the ins-and-outs of Lamon and Samantha’s working relationship, and it’s certainly been a very fun time, but something is amiss. I finally ask if there’s something else either of them wants to say.

SW: No, I’m just so appreciative to be able to find someone to work with on this level.
I don’t know if that’s why we’ve worked so well together, [because] you needed someone like that in your life but I feel like I probably did.

LM:  I definitely did. Working with Sam is the first time I’ve given real creative control over something I do to another person… That’s never happened for me. And I’ve worked with people in different forms, whether through a rap group, or, you know, trying to work on videos with other people, but like really giving it over to someone and following through like “Alright, cool, I trust you…” I don’t have that relationship with anybody else. I’m super thankful for having that with Sam.

“Skies,” featuring fellow Tomorrow Kings member SKECH185, is the first in an ongoing series of companion pieces to Lamon’s upcoming debut solo album Music To Feel Like Shit To. Manuel worked on production of the video prior to meeting Wakefield, but didn’t feel happy with its direction. “It was too much guided by an ownership relationship. One of the original treatments for the ‘Skies’ video was for SKECH and I to be present and for there to be women fighting each other representing us in some ways. Or we would just be watching…  I just felt like that was real fucking weird.”

Samantha became involved after Lamon saw her at one of his shows and later asked if she would like to play the central character in a string of music videos he was planning. Yes, she said, but she’d be willing to direct as well. “I feel like from the time we started working on that video, till the time it came out our friendship grew a ton,” Wakefield recalls. “It paved the way.”

The work that has come since is uniformly dark and challenging, with Sam and Lam’s connection the light at the end of the tunnel. The pair’s initial collaboration, and my favorite to-date, is a video in Wakefield’s The Window Series. It’s just Samantha watching Lamon (through her lens) and Lamon speaking as honestly as he can about things that hurt him. The simple presentation allows for its principle’s presence to overpower the listener like a quiet fart.

Our interview takes place October 25, 2015, only days after the 1 year anniversary of Wakefield choking Lamon for the first time during one of his shows. “Each time I try to choke a little harder. Before I would use one hand, and lately I try to make sure I use two,” Sam explains. “I’m just trying to do my part, for you,” she says, looking over at Lamon. “But it’s always intense. It always feels intense.”

Control, and loss of it, is a heavy theme in Manuel’s work. It’s safe to assume that the protagonist of “Skies” goes where she goes to in an attempt to re-assert it and that the leads in “Shit…” (played by Lamon and Samantha) have lost it. At the same time, the real Samantha and Lamon continue to push forward, surrendering to each other as artists and homies. “It feels like we’re not afraid to venture somewhere if we come up with an idea.”