Reminisce with Kubi, watch "I Miss L.A," a home movie by Maxwell Young

Washington, D.C.—In case you missed it, DMV-based photographer Kubi released a ten-minute home movie feeling nostalgic of his time in Los Angeles circa summer 2018.

We’re familiar with his film work as he came through Uptown Art House to capture the raw, underground vibe that was present the night of Khan, Wifigawd, and Trip Dixon performances last year. Peruse his Instagram to find his trademark Cowgirl photos—undoubtedly friends, models, creatives, and strangers, too—fitted in varying cowboy boots and hats. Plus, his lens has caught a who’s-who of District creatives, framing the scene in a distinct visual context.

Kubi’s videography is eye-catching, though, because he uses fonts and graphics that are reminiscent of a Windows 2005 digital era. In “I Miss L.A,” quick cuts of intimate moments with friends and beach buds inform this abstract diary while distortions and iridescent filters heighten the level of indulgence and enjoyment evident in his West coast adventure.

Perhaps the most compelling component of the video, in my opinion, is the music. “No Time” featuring Gunna by Playboi Carti is one of the more euphoric sounds on Die Lit. It accentuates the beginning of Kubi’s movie—a sense of arrival and renewal. He never leaves this wavelength, running through cuts of Astroworld, more Carti, and The Weekend who highlights one of Kubi’s heartfelt moments along the shoreline.

You have to wonder if a permanent Los Angeles transition is imminent for Kubi Cowboy. Is he a man of the Wild West? Watch the video above for a pleasurable moment in your day.

Modeling and Styling, Meech Loves Himself and His Clothes by Alex Young

A5B811C3-C9B9-4958-9ACA-3CA4D565841D (1).jpg

Meech Mackey

“What you see on the Internet isn’t what you see in real life.”

‘The culture’ hit the broadside of IKEA. Meech, a 19-year-old who called Ian Connor, Luka Sabbat, Virgil Abloh and Bloody Osiris his style idols, played a similar fashion role at the furniture store. He might as well been shopping for his dorm room as he plans to attend college next fall. But really he displayed his outfit against the varying decor in the showroom, a bright yellow IKEA shopping bag in hand to look the part. He called himself and the mentioned fashionistas different. “Being themselves actually,” Meech finished. “I love being myself.”

Likewise, the Moon Township, Pa. native, also loves clothes. Officially named Demetrius “Meech” Mackey, he wants to become a celebrity stylist, and in the meantime, he’s a signed model for Docherty Agency.  Finding a balance between high and low-fashion while supporting upstart designers is what helps his taste be “fashionable.” Meech began in seventh grade as a self-described sneakerhead though.

Photos of Meech by Alex Young

Photos of Meech by Alex Young

The pure blue IKEA facade caught cool looks with Meech in front of the camera lens and the building. He donned an Angelo Numa tie-dye puffer coat with exquisite sleeves. Numa studies at SCAD in Atlanta, Ga. Unlike his accessories, the top and trousers were subdued fresh with a black-white stripe shirt and black jeans with a red stripe down the outside leg. The Off-White™ Air Jordan 1  Chicago with neon green and orange laces covered his feet. Four chains on his neck. Gucci pouch across his chest. Louis Vuitton phone case.

If you’re worried about what people think, you’re not gonna achieve anything.
— Meech

Bringing up the Off-White™ x IKEA collaboration, Meech seemed to be aware of fashion’s current climates. He called the Bloody Osiris swag “outrageous” and applauded A$AP Rocky for delivering fashion to a new generation of rappers like Playboi Carti. “That’s a pretty mothafucka,” he said about Rocky.

Meech also knew what’s what in Pittsburgh citing designer Aris Tatalovich as a hopeful peer. “That’s why I was at the party [Year End Review with DJ Based Grvce]. I thought he was gonna be there,” Meech said. Remember Bloody Osiris in the lookbook for Tatalovich’s Stingray backpack. Meech also noted designer John Geiger and model Donovan Green as other people from the ‘Burgh who contribute to the broader fashion scene.

Additionally, Meech connects with local photographers like Devon Colebank to support his image. His goal is to work with well-known photographer Jordan Beckham. More exposure will come from his episode on the “I’ll Call You Right Back” podcast.

Despite the Pittsburgh praise, Meech acknowledged that culture moves slowly here like "Mo Bamba." That song’s "been a hit. I was into that six months before it was a hit,” he said.

The power of the Internet is a “controlling” influence Meech said. “What you see on the Internet isn’t what you see in real life. People don’t get that yet.”

When Travis Scott came to Downtown, Pittsburgh for his “Wish You Were Here” tour, Meech got a standing room only ticket because “I love raging, enjoying the time,” he said. “I’ve been with him since day 1, not like these hypebeast people saying ‘Sicko Mode’ is the best song on the album. ‘Houstonfornication’ fire. ‘NC-17’ fire,” Meech said. That’s his young energy, linking with other artists through Instagram DMs for photoshoots, prowling to various events starting mosh-pits dripped down with a Gucci pouch or Supreme this Supreme that, but he’s got enough taste to wear a tie too.

Still excited about the home furnishings in IKEA (first timer), Meech shared the advice, “If you’re worried about what people think, you’re not gonna achieve anything.”

Thanks for a Great Year - Keep It Pushing Into 2019 by Alex Young

The plan was a two-level party at Boom Concepts in the Friendship section of Pittsburgh. InTheRough curated the space to celebrate creative communities of Pittsburgh. DJ Based Grvce handled the crowd upstairs as people steadily flowed in the building all night. First, people headed for the free drinks trying to get “gnarly off the jungle juice,” as Woolane would say. Next, they stopped at the Commendations voting platform to cast physical votes for the individuals who worked with diligence and consistency throughout 2018.

There was a blank ITR poster on the wall that said, “Write Here.” The clean canvas piqued people’s interest. The poster was covered by night’s end with social media tags, penis drawings and positive messages. It’s not a party unless someone draws a dick with a sharpie.

Thank you everyone who came to the Year End Review Party with DJ Based Grvce.

Thank you everyone who came to the Year End Review Party with DJ Based Grvce.

Downstairs in the basement, what was supposed to be a print shop for local streetwear brands turned into a smoke session with underground artists and creatives. Rappers JvGGY Hendrix, Keith.Wav, Sobah and Julio of Wave Beast Productions were found in the plumes of smoke having photoshoots. Keith.Wav controlled the aux chord to keep the basement crowd engaged. When he wasn’t playing songs, singer-songwriter Josephine rang her unreleased music for the scene to critique.

Many people celebrated themselves and others last night at the Year End Review Party. You know who you are. High school friends pulled up on a reunion attitude. That was touching.

Photo by Matt’s Music Mine - Check out his photos from the party  here .

Photo by Matt’s Music Mine - Check out his photos from the party here.

Emcees Taylor Bush and ITR’s Maxwell Young set the stage for rapper Woolane’s performance. “What’s your goal for 2019? Where you wanna go? Who you wanna be,” prompted Young. The Year End party gave Woolane a fresh audience to introduce his music, too. While tending bar, I bopped around to “STUK” and “Purple Hearts” pouring a girl whiskey and water on the rocks. Keith.Wav asked if he could have an impromptu set after Woolane. His assertion was appreciated, especially because of his highly anticipated song on the way called “DAMN!” that would’ve transitioned nicely from Woolane’s pop star. The night ended in bliss as DJ Based Grvce played a house song by Toro y Moi. When the last note played, Based Grvce thanked everyone and headed for the basement. The smoke box rightfully became an art party after her set. Quaishawn Whitlock fulfilled Melanin prints for people sitting around the print tables rolling blunts. Matt’s Music Mine grabbed a Stillers™ shirt and printed some ITR logos down the chest. He said nothing made him feel more about the culture than making T-shirts in a basement.

Overall, the goal has always been to celebrate positive communities and achievements that impact peers. Thank you to everyone who showed up last night. Thank you for playing a significant role in the culture here in The ‘Burgh.

Polaroids taken by Maxwell Young.

Commendations Nominees Who Received Votes At The Year End Review Party

Commendations Nominees Who Received Votes At The Year End Review Party

UPDATE: See Where You Finished In The 2018 Commendations

This concludes the Commendations for Pittsburgh 2018. This list includes the tally from both online votes and physical votes cast at the Year End Review Party. Physical votes counted five times more than an online vote.

This concludes the Commendations for Pittsburgh 2018. This list includes the tally from both online votes and physical votes cast at the Year End Review Party. Physical votes counted five times more than an online vote.

Why You Should Attend The Year End Review Party with DJ Based Grvce by Alex Young

As part of the Commendations for Pittsburgh polls, which is a directory to recognize the creative communities in the city that consistently progressed with notable work, is the Year End Review Party.

On Saturday, December 22, 2018, the hype DJ and citywide myth Based Grvce plays an unreal hip-hop set. Grvce’s music selection is something you only could’ve heard in your dreams. For the Year End Review Party, DJ Based Grvce delivers the trap, the bops, the energy vibes and more hip-hop consumed by the youth. To explain how on-point her taste in music is, I’d like to say that Grvce first put me on to “Drip or Drown” by Atlanta phenom Gunna. She knows songs that hit and get the crowd excited, shaking, moshing, loving life. The tunes will sound right with free drinks all night if you buy a ticket, and the fact you can smoke in the basement of Boom Concepts, where the party will be, is added incentive. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate community with likeminded individuals so we can start 2019 positively. Merrymake for the holidays.

For a sample of what you could hear, below is a playlist of songs from the “Favorite Song,” “Best Hip-Hop Album,” “Favorite Producer,” and “Best Music Video” Commendation categories.

Every year the Commendations polls drop, there will be people in the community left off the list who deserve to be on it and celebrated. The list needs to remain curatorial, although while also being thorough in picking the work of a lot of people to celebrate. Here is some work not featured on the Commendations for Pittsburgh list for 2018:

Best Hip-Hop Album Snubbed

“The 2W0” by Pk Delay

“big game james” by JvGGY Hendrix

Favorite Song Snubbed

“BADTIME! [LMA]” by TVBLACK!

“GAS” by Big 24

Year End Review Party with DJ Based Grvce

5139 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

(Tickets below)

Opening—Brother Where Art Thou—a Portrait Exhibition by Vanessa Dos Santos by Maxwell Young

Arriving in Chocolate City over a year ago, multi-disciplinary artist Vanessa Dos Santos asked herself, “Where are the people from this area? Where are all the black people?”

Photograph by  Vanessa Dos Santos  | Flyer by Maxwell Young

Photograph by Vanessa Dos Santos | Flyer by Maxwell Young

The Mozambican-born, D.C. transplant has answered her own question through her photography exhibition, Brother, Where Art Thou? Opening at The Village Cafe this Tuesday, Santos’ portraits focus on a number of black male artists within the District’s creative ecosystem whose work she has come to know and admire. From performance artist Maps Glover to producers Jamal Gray and Tony Cruise, her subjects represent an experimental aspect of black art that is overlooked by those who consume it with mainstream palettes.

“I think oftentimes with black arts, there is an expectancy of the kind of work we put out that can pigeonhole us,” she said. “I feel like a lot of the men I’ve photographed want to push that.”

Santos herself notes a similar compartmentalization of her own narrative. Originally in school for writing, submitting works to publications like Gal-Dem and Napizium, as well as pursuing acting with the National Youth Theater, the 26-year old acknowledges that she is still learning the tricks of the photography trade.

“I think it’s sometimes hard to admit or tell people I do photography because there is such a large influx of photographers. So, if I’m going to tell people I am one I feel like I need to know everything,” she explained.

Regardless of the technicalities involved with her craft, Santos has an eye for composition. She’s recently been toying with edits reminiscent of the double exposure process. In the photo below on the far left, which is actually two separate shots, she captures herself and friend Sami Cola dressed in nothing but wigs, crouched in an unknown grove. The contrast of Santos’ black body overlaid on Cola’s white body is immediately evident, yet their technicolored wigs and their bare exposure to nature allude to this sense of freedom that trumps any symbolism of race.

We asked her about her first upcoming solo exhibition below.

InTheRough: What camera do you shoot with?

Vanessa Dos Santos: I mix between my two cameras: Canon AE-1 and Mamiya 645. For this series I used my Mamiya, which is a medium format camera.


ITR: DC by way of Mozambique...is there anywhere else that you lived that was formative in your creative evolution?


VDS: Every place I lived in has formed my creativity in some way. I feel like my creativity is a huge part of how I understand myself so it’s natural for it to be shaped by the different places I go, if that makes sense. I have lived in New York, Maputo, Berlin, Paris, London and now DC. I think London was the most formative city for me. It’s where I learnt to fail and start again and where I started picking up different things. I was studying writing in school, but acting with the National Youth Theatre, writing for online publications, starting to photograph friends, and work various production jobs.


ITR: Other than their ethnicity, what are the common threads between your subjects?

VDS: Everyone I have photographed does something creative. I have kind of been a wallflower and watched on the side lines some of things people have been doing and admired the tenacity of everyone’s work. Especially because a lot of the artists create sort of experimental work and I think oftentimes with black artists there is an expectancy of the kind of work we put out that can pigeonhole us. I feel like a lot of the men I’ve photographed want to push that. I also think being an artist is to be vulnerable all the time, and I think we don’t think that way about black men very much—as being vulnerable or open.

ITR: Why did you feel compelled to show these series of portraits?

VDS: I wanted to show this work because when I moved to DC I didn’t really know much about the arts community and I also mostly met people from other cities who migrated here. I was asking myself where are the people who are from this area, where are all the black people? This is chocolate city? I guess it was more of not knowing where to look, but I think that also says something that it took me a year to find out about the creative community and the POC who are a part of it.

A portrait of Tony Cruise & an untitled photograph by Vanessa Dos Santos.

A portrait of Tony Cruise & an untitled photograph by Vanessa Dos Santos.

ITR: As you look through the lens what are your next proceeding thoughts? 

VDS: First I try to make sure my settings are right—technical stuff. When I am photographing someone, I hope to capture an essence of the person. I think about about how I can make them feel comfortable. So, I’m usually thinking what pose can I do to get them to feel a bit more relaxed and not so tense. Then hopefully we can start to feel at ease with each other and we can “play” around a bit.

ITR: Are there any photographers who’s work you follow consistently? 

VDS: There are so many photographers that I look to for inspiration: Ronan McKenzie, Rosie Matheson, Travis Matthews, Charlotte Rea, Daniel Arnold, Nakeya Brown to name a few (all you can find on Instagram). I really appreciate photographers that are telling a story through their work. I think a lot of photography we find online is strongly linked to consumerism—and you can find amazing images but it’s about selling something. So I appreciate photographers who tell stories and capture magical moments just because. But I also like cinematographer’s that have a photographer’s eye. I like photos that are cinematic, like they feel like a scene of a film—like there is life before and after the moment you captured.

ITR: You yourself are a self-taught photographer. What aspect(s) of photography are you still learning?

VDS: I’m still learning a lot. Technically, I still make mistakes. I want to learn how to scan my own photos and get back into using a dark room for B&W photography. But I also think I’m learning to trust my own eye, to believe in myself as an artist. I think it’s sometimes hard to admit or tell people I do photography because there is such a large influx of photographers. So, if I’m going to tell people I am one I feel like I need to know everything. I’m trying not to be so hard on myself and enjoy the process of learning and changing.

ITR: What advice would you give to other self-starters?

VDS: The advice I would give to self-starters is to start by asking how to use the camera you have or searching online (Youtube is great). Know your camera and then start shooting as much as you can—first with close friends and family. Then you can shoot people you don’t necessarily know--because if you want to do it professionally, you will have shoot models, couples, weddings, events with people you have never met and it becomes easier for you to figure out how to direct others or to capture moments. I would also say ask other photographers questions, go to photo exhibitions, immerse yourself in the world--but I think that goes with most things you want to pursue.

ITR: Where else can we find your work?

VDS: I’m going to be working on a website for my photography and writing, but for now you can find me on Instagram: @mozwrites. I post everything there but 2019 I want to start actually sending work to publications and taking it more seriously.

Brother, Where Art Thou? by Vanessa Dos Santos is on view at The Village Cafe starting Tuesday evening.

The Village Cafe

1272 5th St, NE

7-10pm

**Photographs taken by Vanessa Dos Santos. The edited image pictured in the carousel was also assisted by Sami Cola.