A$AP Rocky Soundtracks Luke Monaghan’s Portrait of a Lowriding Former Drug Lord
“I was intrigued by a man who had spent all of his drug money on his art: lowriding,” says British director Luke Monaghan of the towering Fredrick James Staves, the reformed 1980s Los Angeles drug kingpin and customized car aficionado, also known as Baby Gangster. “He's had some of the most legendary cars and also ran cocaine import and export in Compton. Interesting bloke.” Opening with a swaggering score from the filmmaker’s close collaborator A$AP Rocky, Monaghan’s monochromatic film gets up close and personal with the original member of the Compton Crips in his own neighborhood. “We hung out at his garage and watched movies a lot,” says Monaghan. “I didn't want the fact that I liked him as a person to jade the view of the film. I wanted it to be impartial and let you make up your mind on a guy who has done a lot of bad things in his life... and some positive.”
TALES FROM THE SET
I have an ongoing project with A$AP Rocky, and we rode a little wave that day in a dark room in LA, coming out of it with music for my short. [London producer] Tev'n provided the other two pieces of music. We worked on the music from scratch, which was a new experience for me coming from music videos.
The ‘meet up’
We were following around G (Fredrick Staves) looking for a venue for their 'meet up' where they all show off their cars and make bets on which can hop the highest and drive fastest. The police busted a few of the locations, it was a cat-and-mouse thing.
We shot all over Compton and Inglewood. The pizza place at the end of the film is a legendary little establishment on East Rosecrans, and the car meeting and a lot of the scenes with G are all at his garage where they repair and customize cars.
Deaf Dancers Move to the Silence with Artist Sofia Mattioli
“I was on a train listening to music, getting deep into it, and this girl started staring at me,” says London-based artist and poet Sofia Mattioli of the genesis of her video for Jamie xx’s “Sleep Sound.” “After a while I took my headphones off and she came up to me, started signing and then wrote me a note to say that she was deaf but could almost feel the music by my movement.” With the germ of an idea from this chance encounter, Mattioli was asked to create a video for the member of The xx and Grammy-winning producer of Alicia Keys, Gil Scott-Heron and Drake. During the course of one day, she danced with 13 members of the Manchester Deaf Centre with ages ranging from five to 27 years old, who responded to the movement of the artist and the vibrations in the air given off by the song. “The relationship between silence and music is a big part of what I am trying to express with my work,” says Mattioli. “The first kid in the video, Archie, was bliss—all of them were amazing. I hope this is a project I can develop further.”
"Girl / Sleep Sound" is out May 5 on Young Turks.
A Bespoke Edit of Emily Kai Bock's Cutting-Edge Documentary on NYC’s Rap Underground
Mykki Blanco, Angel Haze and C.J. Fly hold forth in this exclusive edit of filmmaker Emily Kai Bock’s new documentary on New York’s underground rap scene, Spit Gold Under An Empire. “So many people there are really pushing the form,” she says of the city's hip-hop avant-garde. “It’s the most interesting and authentic thing going on.” Filmed largely in Brooklyn, the movement’s epicenter provided its own backbeat. “When you’re there, you can hear people in the apartments above and below you, people yelling on the street and car radios going by—it’s like a backing track, and if you’re raised there, it’s in your blood,” says Bock, a rising Montreal-based director with a fine art background who hit the ground running on the music scene with her stunning video for Grimes’ “Oblivion,” which became an overnight sensation. Produced by Somesuch & Co. and set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week alongside efforts from independent directors Abteen Bagheri, Bob Harlow and Tyrone Lebon, the short is part of a series exploring the musical lives of American cities including the New Orleans bounce craze, shoegaze in Portland and Detroit’s warehouse scene.
Click here to view Spit Gold Under an Empire in full, alongside other works in the New American Noise documentary project, from January 19.