Pho Life

As an  emcee still residing in the bubble of academia, I’ve always been a fan of artists who come from that background yet still embody the essence of hip-hop. Ever since their self titled debut, Seattle duo Blue Scholars has always embodied what higher learning hip-hop is all about. Consciously driven, but never at the sacrifice for style, the crew has carved out a lane for themselves as backpackers with a rich aesthetic.

Three studio albums and a handful of EPs later, the group is beginning to explore artistic avenues outside of their original claim to fame. Emcee, Prometheus Brown recently released a collaborative project with fellow filipino, Bambu, to much acclaim.

The production half, Sabzi has kept busy as well, working with emcee RA Scion to create under the Common Market moniker.  He has also spent time as a DJ in LA and NYC. Now he’s back again, this time in the promotion of his Pho Life Project, which will be released under his TOWNFOLK imprint.

The project features a variety of art pieces all in ode to Pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup, which is sure to salivate the taste buds. In promotion for the event, Sabzi has released a video as part of a Kickstarter campaign, where he not only handles production but drops some bars as well! This is a must see for any casual fan of Seattle hip-hop (sans Macklemore), cool buttons and Pho. And, in case you unaware, it doesn’t rhyme with ‘yo.’


Bukowski Back

By now it should be a foregone conclusion that anything related to the late, great, Charles Bukowski is probably going to get some love on here. This next contribution comes from a group of fellow literary heads slouching toward nirvana. The good folks at VidWest Media teamed up with the Art of Alexander Landerman and DJ Imaginary Friend for a unique visual experience all in tribute to the Buk.

The subtle scratches of the DJ layered over Bukowski’s beautifully nihilistic verse is powerful yet understated. The cameras fast motion scenes displaying the re-creation Charles’  image with charcoal chalk and paper make for a stunning conglomeration. This is what artistic collaboration is meant to be: focused, captivating, shared, moving.

Unlike the last Bukowski related post I think Charles might actually endorse this use of his likeness, because it is art for the sake of art (with just an inkling of self promotion), but mostly because it is all about him, and what writer doesn’t enjoy a healthy (or unhealthy) portion of narcissism, especially one as gluttonous as Chuck?

Metamorphosis Of Marketing

To celebrate the launch of its ‘Great Writers’ series Good Books International (an online, non-profit book distributor) recently released an animated short featuring the likeness of Hunter S. Thompson (this month’s featured writer) raving about his need for a paperback copy of Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

The combination of the Antfood provided soundtrack and the swirling psychedelic visuals do a remarkable job of capturing and channeling the essence of Dr. Gonzo into a slick and stunning work of art. In fact if it weren’t for the subtle ‘Good Books’ references littered throughout the video one might just assume this to be a trailer for a feature length animated film.

The level of quality and innovation should come as no surprise considering the group responsible for the video.  ‘Good Books’ is a New Zealand based organization that donates 100% of the retail profit from every sale to support communities in need through Oxfam projects. Although the company uses a platform similar to TOMS shoes ‘Good Books’ model is rooted in true social conscious rather than using it as a marketing tool to attract the ‘indie’ or ‘alternative’ demographic.

With the whole KONY 2012 phenomena polluting the internet it can be difficult to tell the motives and goals behind some of these new age charities, however with a staff of one-hundred percent volunteers and no operating cost this organization triumphs where others have failed.

Having already established partnerships with The Paperback Shop UK and String Theory advertising ‘Good Books’ is redefining what it means to be an non-profit organization in the digital age and with continued commitment to a true cause and a slick advertising campaign there’s no telling what the future may hold for this young start-up.

Method Man Shows His Versatitilty In New Ad Campaign

Often times when musicians and corporate entities collaborate to create a commercial or marketing campaign fans are initially concerned and weary of the end results. Will the artist be given enough creative license? Does the collaboration make sense? Does the end result reflect both the artist and the brand being marketed?

The new commercial/music video that Sour Patch Kids and Wu-Tang Clan Member, Method Man have created hits on all cylinders.

First and foremost the song itself is actually pretty good and has been made available for download. Method Man shows no sign of corporate influence at all as he delivers the song in his typically animated, tongue-and-cheek style all while staying on subject addressing the sour/sweet aspect of the candy.

The video also does a good job of relating past Sour Patch advertisements  to the song by once again displaying the the candy men involved in some good-natured mischief.

The video is successful because it builds off the strengths of both collaborators. Method Man built a career with a focus and dedication to staying true to his Staten Island roots while Sour Patch Kids has built strong brand recognition with the slogan “First their sour then their sweet.” The video combines the best of both, to create an innovative and effective advertising experience.

Levi’s: Selling Revolution Since 2011

There is an overt, beautiful irony permeating from Levi’s new ad campaign entitled “Go Forth”. The commercial is a series of powerful video clips depicting beautiful young people immersed in different aspects of a counter-culture lifestyle. The actors appear to be taking charge of their lives and freeing themselves from the bonds of mainstream society. They are concert-goers, musicians, free spirits, empowered individuals looking to take down the establishment all while wearing the latest pair of Levi jeans.

To help add to the revolutionary and liberating tone of the ad Levi’s invokes the words of Charles Bukowski’s poem “Go Forth.” For those of who may have skipped one too many English classes Bukowski was a poet known for his love of booze, women and gambling as well as his disgust with authority and Capitalism. If he was still living I wonder if Bukowski would have allowed his art to be marginalized and used to forward the motives of a large corporation.

Regardless of motivation, I felt that Levi is successful in branding itself as an alternative company looking to resonate with a younger audience who may feel alienated from typical American society. Levi’s does a great job appealing to market that theoretically should want nothing to do with material wealth or care about outward appearances. In this juxtaposition, Levi’s is able to make the customer feel liberated and independent while actually being yet another  easily influenced consumer following the trends of the masses.

To help add to it’s credibility as the jean for the “radical” college student the company has established a Go Forth website dedicated to promoting different humanitarian initiatives. The website is successful in building credibility and depicts Levi’s as sympathetic and progressive brand looking to change the world for the better.

Overall the Levi’s does a marvelous job tapping into the historically fickle 18-25 market in a way that allows young people to feel empowered but still comfortable enough that they won’t disrupt the whole purpose of the campaign which is to sell that young revolutionary a pair of $70.00 jeans.