"If you ain’t from Texas this ain’t the place to be because we’re burning this motherfucker down!” shouted Doughbeezy, the otherwise relentlessly friendly Houston rapper, at a recent show. He looked out over the crowd before him with the steady, combative gaze of a practiced performer. He was playing a larger, South-centric showcase called “Welcome to tha South” at South by Southwest, a time when the music industry as a whole fills Austin with the desperate sprawl of corporate sponsorship and mindless networking. Despite the presence of outsiders, there was a surplus of UT burnt ochre and hands throwing up the state’s longhorn symbol. And a lot of people seemed to know his songs. Like, maybe more than for Que or Ty Dolla $ign, artists on the bill with national radio hits. Most of the people there might have been from Texas—a mixed blessing given the setting.
'B-stylers' Are Japanese Teens Who Want to Be Black
Dutch photographer Desiré van den Berg has spent the past seven months traveling around Asia. She lives in Hong Kong at the moment but when she was in Tokyo, back in December 2013, she met Hina, a 23-year-old who works at a trendy Tokyo boutique called Baby Shoop. Hina’s shop has the tagline “Black for life.” She describes its products as “a tribute to Black culture; the music, the fashion, and style of dance.”
Hina’s appearance is also loyal to what the Japanese call “B-style”—a contraction of the words “Black” and “Lifestyle” that refers to a subculture of young Japanese people who love American hip-hop culture so much that they do everything in their power to look as African American as possible.
I called up Desiré to find out more about her time photographing Hina and her gang.
VICE: How did you meet Hina? Desiré van den Berg: She appeared in a documentary about B-style a couple of years back, which I happened to watch. This is what got me interested in the culture. It took a lot of effort, but I eventually got in touch with her on Facebook, through other B-stylers. I said I wanted to take photos of her, and she actually thought that was pretty cool. It was all a bit of a hassle though, because Hina and the other B-stylers didn’t speak a single word of English. We needed a translator both to make an appointment and at the actual first meeting, too.
How does that work in terms of translating rap lyrics? Hina speaks some English but not fluently. She does like to use some English slang when she speaks Japanese with her B-style friends, like finishing a sentence with “man” or using bad words like “motherfucker” jokingly.
The Only Person Young Thug Follows on Instagram Tried to Fly Me to Dubai in Exchange for Sex
I have a compulsion, or a penchant rather, to seek out and passively absorb images any time I find myself idle. In high school, I satisfied this urge through Tumblr—I would tumbl deep into k-holes of Mary Kate Olsen pro-anorexia blogs and Laguna Beach montages. But now I am (ostensibly) an adult, so I use Instagram to quench my thirst for meaningless images. Celebrity Instagrams are the apex of the form, a place where you can lose yourself in the 2,000 comments on a selfie of Young Thug in the passenger seat of a car.
It was precisely that moment of Instagram hypnosis that an unnamed Noisey editor discovered a strange anomaly: Young Thug aka @thuggerthugger1 follows a single person on Instagram. Just as Kanye only follows his one true love, Kim Kardashian, on Twitter, Young Thug has an interest in only one account, one account over the millions that exist, one account to fill his entire feed every time he desires the soothing soma of social media.
I reached out to Mr. Al Buqaish via Facebook about a month ago. He responded almost immediately to my inquiry, but his messages were suspiciously laced with grinning, blushing, and winking emoticons. I should have realized after the first winky-face emoticon that this was not going to be a normal interviewer-interviewee relationship. Instead of agreeing to a Skype or email interview as I had suggested, Humaid took the conversation to an entirely different place:
Remembering Scott Asheton, Iggy Pop’s Brother in Noise
Scott Asheton was the greatest thug-rocker who ever lived. As the drummer for Iggy and the Stooges, Scott, who passed away just over a week ago, at age 64, was a third of the best punk band that ever existed (his brother Ron, who passed away in 2009, was its guitarist). As Iggy said of Scotty, “The record company must have thought, ‘These guys are maniacs: The singer attacks the audience. They’re all loaded. They don’t communicate nicely with us. The drummer won’t even talk to us; he won’t talk to the manager.’ [Scott would] grunt, say, ‘Uh-huh,’ like a juvenile-delinquent kid: ‘Don’t talk to me… grrr… grrr…’”
Scotty was the ultimate hoodlum, who stood outside Discount Records, in Ann Arbor, spitting on cars. When Gillian McCain and I conducted the interviews for Please Kill Me, we knew we had to include Scotty, since he was such an iconic figure in the history of punk. His brother Ron usually did the talking for the Stooges’ side of the story, and after we exhausted Ron, we set our sights on Scotty. This is one of the few times he ever sat down for such an extended interview. We were honored that he did.
The sticky-sweet smell of Pink Sugar perfume permeates the air. A Latina girl with bottle-blonde streaked hair crouches on all fours, looking over her shoulder, and pouting her frosted fuschia lips. She…
OK, I really don’t, but this past week in Austin during SXSW, I really, really thought I did. It has nothing to do with them as artists, or their work, or their ability to draw crowds, or what brand sponsored them to play what other brand’s show. I’m not concerned with any that. What I do hate is when an artist of their profile swoops into a town bursting at the seams with industry sorts and music die-hards, and takes the attention off of the pulsing heartbeat of SXSW, young bands.
As far back as I can remember, the process for SXSW was that a young band would play the festival as many times as they could, try to kill it at an early set, and as people began to talk about who they’ve seen and enjoyed, the buzz would build during the week. But in recent years, SXSW has grown by leaps and bounds, with labels, artists, and brands swooping in for a sort of arms race as to who can create the most attractive bill, which naturally lends itself to bigger and bigger artists. It’s not the fault of any of these larger artists, it’s a natural progression that unfortunately leads to natural selection, and neglects the crux of why many journalists go to SXSW (besides the, uh, networking, I mean beer).
So my goal at SXSW this year, and every year, was to JUST see the young, buzzy and the hopeful, surpassing invites to many of the giant names that swooped into Austin. Of the over 50 bands that I saw (some several times), the following resonated the most and of those, many took place in odd spaces like the Beerland patio or South Lamar Pedestrian Bridge.