THE ICONIC, CULTURAL STREET GAME OF SKULLY/SKELLY TOPZ

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Prior to the advanced technology we have today, the kids of New York City played heavily in the streets. Whether it was freeze tag, manhunt, running around in the Johnny pump, double dutch or hopscotch, city kids always found creative ways to play. The game of skully is one of the most iconic street games New York City has seen. Since the 1950s, kids of New York City have been melting crayon, clay or wax into bottle caps to create their playing pieces. With chalk, players would draw out the skully board on the sidewalk or asphalt:


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Below are the rules of skully:

Make a skully board with chalk on a patch of available and relatively smooth street or sidewalk. The board consists of 13 numbered boxes, 1 through 12 on the periphery of the board, and a box labeled 13 in the center surrounded by a “dead man’s zone” or “skull.”
Start at a line outside the skully box and aim for the “1” box, flicking your bottlecap with your finger. If you get it in (without it touching any line), you keep your turn and shoot for the next box. You can also advance a box by hitting the cap of an opposing player. If you’re close to another player’s piece, you can try to blast the piece halfway down the block with your own. In some neighborhoods, you can replace your cap with a special heavy one (like from a juice or peanut butter jar) for this purpose, though you couldn’t do this if someone calls “no blasting allowed.”

After going from 1 to 13, you have to return, going from 13 to 1. After completing the full journey, you shoot back into 13 and then navigate the “skull,” shooting your piece in the forbidden “dead areas” of the skull while declaring your new powers (“I am a killer diller”).

From this point on, you hunt the other players. Only you (or other killers) can safely go within the skull. If you hit another player (3 times consecutively), they’re out of the game. If they hit you, they become a killer too (or, if you decide beforehand, they’re out of the game). The last person left wins.

Thought not as popular, skully still remains a cultural staple in New York City. Check out some images of skully and a very hood tutorial of the game below:

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“A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY!” EP – CHALICE

 

IMG_4987Out of every few artists, there’s always one artist that is well-rounded in style, flow, delivery, song creation, and lyrical content. Chalice is one of those who can shift and manipulate multiple sub-genres to match his energy. With “A Surprise Birthday Party!” EP, Chalice takes on the current mainstream sound and jazzes it up with his natural Scorpio flair.

Stream it below:

VERNDOLLA$ – AUGUST (EP)

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Verndolla$ is a 20-year old rapper representing Queens. His debut EP “August” is a 12-track experience with production from AEBeats, Lezter, Cxdy, Regreting and a host of others. Amongst the standout tracks on the EP are “Run With It,” “Really Like Me” featuring Kota the Friend, “Catch Up” featuring Kalonji Law$. and “Outta Pocket” featuring Purp. Stream “August” below:

 

 

REMEMBER WHEN TWO TECH CAPITALISTS THOUGHT A VENDING MACHINE WOULD MAKE BODEGAS OBSOLETE?

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Remember when those two dudes, Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan, who used to work at Google thought they were going to make bodegas and mom-and-pop shops obsolete with a glorified ass vending machine called “BODEGA?” They even had the nerve to use a cat as the company’s logo to represent the heart of all bodegas, the bodega cat. We all know bodegas to be the most convenient place in the hood for us to buy food, drinks, snacks, household items and anything we may need. Bodegas have been a New York City staple since the influx of immigrants from Latin America to the United States.  For people in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, bodegas hold the same significance with bodega translating to grocery store in Spanish. There are also the Arab-owned delis that are prevalent here in NYC. This “Bodega” startup  was met with huge backlash and many took offense to these two tech capitalists trying to rid us of these cultural staples that we adore while adopting the name simultaneously.

In an interview with Fast Company in 2017, McDonald had this to say:

I asked McDonald point-blank about whether he’s worried that the name Bodega might come off as culturally insensitive. Not really. “I’m not particularly concerned about it,” he says. “We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotations, and 97% said ‘no’. It’s a simple name and I think it works.

Exactly who did you survey because it damn sure wasn’t Papi who owns these stores. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t appreciate being put out of business by some mamaguevos that used to work for Google who think putting 100 things in a vending machine is equivalent to the work they put in 7 days a week.  After all that backlash, McDonald and Rajan got the message clearly and relaunched their little vending machine startup as “Stockwell” and it has none of the Latin American hood flair that our bodegas have. How McDonald and Rajan even mustered the courage to do this foolishness is beyond me. 

There’s no way you can replace that feeling of just walking out your crib for a quick run. Whether you want a beef patty, chopped cheese or a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll with an Ari, and some papers to go with it, Papi or Ahky (no pork bacon) got you. Depending how long you lived in a neighborhood or whether you grew up there, you’ve built relationships with the people who work in the bodega. There’s an unmatched level of respect. Let’s not ever get that confused again. 

 

 

RAP LOOKS THAT WE LOVED GROWING UP

Hip Hop fashion has always been influential. We’ve seen the durag co-opted by high fashion brands such as Chanel and sold as “urban head rags.” From Lil Kim’s colorful wig and fur combinations, to Cam’Ron’s all pink everything and Fabolous’ throwback jerseys, let’s explore some looks that stood out from late 90s to mid 2000s.

 

 

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Fabolous in the “Trade It All” video with the bandana over fitted and Lakers jersey.

 

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In the same video, Fabolous wore the infamous towel bandana.
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Ghostface Killah donning a green fur frock with a championship belt in the “Cherchez LaGhost” video
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Fire camo jacket and bucket hat combo in Cam’Ron’s “Get Em Girls” video
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Nas in a leather and Cartier frames in a “Belly” scene
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Method Man in a mustard yellow Avirex leather and fuzzy kangol in “Belly”
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Pink bandana jacket with the matching timbs customized in paisley bandana print & the Diplomats logo in the “I Really Mean It” video
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Cam’Ron’s infamous pink fur coat/headband combo
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Nas & then Puff Daddy donning furs in the “Hate Me Now” video
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Nas’ infamous Avirex in “Belly”
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EVERY SINGLE LOOK IN LIL KIM’S “CRUSH ON YOU” VIDEO
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Foxy Brown in a stunning fur with a sheer dress/ bra combo
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Foxy again in a yellow body con with an orange shearling/hat combo

 

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Jay-Z and Mya in the North Carolina Tarheels Jordan jerseys in the “Best Of Me” video
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Only Killa could make the USA flag look redeemable in his Jeff Hamilton Diplomats custom. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BURNT BRIDGES & AGGRAVATION – CORDELL WATTS

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Cordell Watts is a young lyricist out of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. With an inviting and charismatic delivery, he makes another mark on the underground world with his fifth project “Burnt Bridges & Aggravation.” “Burnt Bridges & Aggravation” features production from Watts himself, Juno Adonis, Tone Jonez of Jee Juh music and others. “Pedigree Joint,” “It Rained Today,” and “Blood On My Leaves” are amongst the most outstanding tracks on the project.

Listen below:

 

 

 

IG: @cwattsnyc

Twitter: @cwatts86

Facebook: Cordell Watts

HOW BED-STUY BECAME BLACK: MIGRATION, REDLINING & BLOCKBUSTING

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For decades, Bedford-Stuyvesant, famously known as Bed-Stuy, has served as a historical and cultural center for African Americans in Brooklyn. Prior to the Great African American Migration after the failed Reconstruction era, the vile and grotesque Dutch settlers arrived in the southern tip of Long Island which was originally inhabited by the Lenape in the 1600s. The Lenape and other indigenous groups would lose a hold of their home through dishonorable land deals, smallpox, war and other factors. Bed-Stuy itself was settled and purchased by Dutch settlers from the Canarsee in 1670. Throughout the rest of the Brooklyn township, the Dutch settlers would establish villages with other European settlers from Germany, Scandinavia, England and France bringing enslaved Africans along with them. By 18th century, enslaved Africans would become a third of Kings County’s population with slavery becoming illegal in New York State in 1827.

Named after the Dutch village of Bedford and the last governor of the New Netherlands, Peter Stuyvesant in 1667, Bed-Stuy was once considered two separate neighborhoods: Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights. With the Williamsburg Bridge being completed in 1907, Italians and Jews moved in large numbers to Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights from the Lower East Side. Starting in 1915, more than six million African Americans migrated out of the rural Southern part of the United States to the urban cities in the Northern and the Midwestern United States to escape the lack of economic opportunities, as well as Jim Crow segregation and lynchings. They decided to take advantage of the demand for industrial workers that emerged from World War 1. Harlem became populated with African Americans and diasporic black people which blossomed into a political, social and cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. This movement developed Harlem into a black cultural mecca during the 1920s. During the 1930s, the Eighth Avenue line covered by the A train was extended into Brooklyn from Manhattan. With Harlem being very populated, many of Harlem’s black residents moved to what would finally merge into Bed-Stuy due to the train line extension. Bed-Stuy’s new black residents sought better living conditions, less crowded neighborhoods and more job opportunities, especially at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War 2. Occurring during the 1930s alongside the Harlem Renaissance was the Great Depression. Out of this came a very racist systematic practice known as “redlining.”

REDLINING: The systematic practice of denying or limiting financial services to certain neighborhoods based on racial or ethnic composition without regard to the residents’ qualifications or creditworthiness.

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(Map of redlined Brooklyn)

This racist housing policy was created by the Federal Housing Administration in 1934. The FHA collaborated with banks and insurance companies to create the new government agency: the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. This is the apparatus that redlining was executed through. Redlining benefitted white home ownerships by making loans guaranteed. Black people and those who lived around them were denied loans outright. Bed-Stuy was assessed by an appraiser for the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. Neighborhoods such as Bed-Stuy, East New York, Williamsburg and Crown Heights were all redlined which was categorized as “hazardous.” In the appraiser’s summary he described what put the redline around Bed-Stuy:

Colored infiltration a definitely adverse influence on neighborhood desirability.

The redlining resulted in white flight of the neighborhood. The war economy allowed Italians and Jews to move out in large numbers to Queens and Long Island. Bed-Stuy’s black population was 155,000 by 1950 making up 55 percent of the neighborhood’s racial composition. By then another racist housing practice had begun: “blockbusting.”

BLOCKBUSTING: the practice of persuading owners to sell property cheaply because of the fear of people of another race or class moving into the neighborhood, and thus profiting by reselling at a higher price.

With black people becoming the majority in Bed-Stuy, real estate agents took advantage by putting fear in the neighborhood’s white residents. These residents sold their homes for cheap prices with the real estate agents making good profits off of the fear of black people. 

Bed-Stuy would continue to be home of New York’s second largest African American neighborhood after Harlem.  

 

 

THE INFLUENCE OF AN UNDERGROUND LEGEND – MAX B

 

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Growing up during the Dipset era in New York City was an exciting time that you had to be there for. We got tons of gems, “Diplomatic Immunity” 1 and 2, Juelz Santana’s albums and mixtapes, Cam’ron’s “Come Home With Me,” “Purple Haze,” “Killa Season,” with the accompanying movie, as well Hell Rell, JR Writer, Byrdgang, and all of Dipset affiliates. The first time I heard “Babygirl” by Jim Jones, I was enamored by the male voice on the hook that belonged to someone named Max B. It was a hit all throughout the city garnering much radio play.  As a huge Dipset fan, I definitely owned the “Harlem: Diary of a Summer” album. “G’s Up” ended up being a standout track on the album due to Max B featuring on the hook. with him going on to feature on the hook for Cam’ron’s infamous diss to Jay Z, “You Gotta Love It.” Every appearance Max made prior to dropping his debut mixtape “Million Dollar Baby,” were just precursors of the illustrious music he would eventually bless us with.

From 2006 to 2009, Max B dominated the mixtape circuit with tapes such as the “Million Dollar Baby” series, the entire “Public Domain” series, “Domain Diego,” “Wavie Crockett”, “Coke Wave” 1 and 2. In the midst of it all, he began feuding with Jim Jones over shady business dealings which he exposed in multiple songs and documented in the “Cocaine City” street DVDs alongside French Montana. The feud spawned songs such as “Lip Sing,” outing Jim Jones for using him as a ghostwriter, “She Touched It In Miami,” and “Tattoos On Her Ass,” detailing his alleged affair with Jones’ fiancee. Despite being blackballed from radio play due to this feud, Max B was able to reach a large audience in New York City and throughout the entire North East from his departure with Byrdgang and moving on to Gain Greene working heavily with Dame Grease, Al Pac, French and several others.

With street classics such as “Blow Me A Dub,” “Why You Do That,” “Gotta Have It,” “Try Me” and several others, he had a stronghold underground with an entirely original sound, the wave. The production paired with him singing gritty lyrics for hooks were something that was never executed in this manner. The hair, dark shades, chains and Nike boots all attributed to his “wavy” persona, even referring to himself as the Silver Surfer or Wavie Crockett. Let’s not forget his signature phrase, “OWWWWW.” His influence led to people naming themselves after his Biggaveli pseudonym, which is an ode and mixture of Jay-Z’s Jigga, Notorious BIG’s Biggie Smalls and 2Pac’s Makaveli. His influence extends to rappers such as Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y, a long-time supporters of Max. 

Max B fans all over are excited and awaiting his departure back to the streets. We miss the music and the man behind it all. Free Max and visit supportmaxb.com

 

JOAQUIN GARCIA & YVNG EV – STATE TO STATE (MUSIC VIDEO)

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Hailing out of the borough of Brooklyn, Joaquin Garcia and Yvng Ev are two young, vibrant lyricists. Through a shared love of Hip Hop, the pair found common ground for a friendship and the formation of a rap duo known as “Legacy.” While at a performance art summer camp, Joaquin Garcia made extremely strong connections with two artists from California, MCHI and $suaveee. This would eventually lead to Legacy becoming a bicoastal rap group resulting in frequent collaborations, meshing East and West Coast energy.

 

In the “State to State” music video, Joaquin Garcia and Yvng Ev show you the love is real out in California for two young vibrant lyricists straight out of Brooklyn.

Watch the video directed by Linda Tverdokhlebov below:

INSTAGRAM:

@lindatver @jg_nic333 @yvngev