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 EX-GOOGLE EMPLOYEES THOUGHT A VENDING MACHINE WOULD PUT BODEGAS OUT OF BUSINESS?

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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

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

 

FUCK THE STARBUCKS IN BED-STUY & HERE’S WHY:

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Last June, I had the displeasure of writing about a possible Starbucks opening on 774 Broadway, where the long-standing Fat Albert’s Warehouse stood for years. Fat Albert’s Warehouse is like a Brooklyn landmark standing on the border of Bed Stuy and Bushwick. I spoke my piece about why I wasn’t fucking with it and why its a “nail in the coffin” for both neighborhoods. Not too long after, the Bushwick Daily published an article about Fat Albert’s staying open and not closing for Starbucks. Many people sent me the link to this article thinking it was a win. Apparently these people never read the article because it stated that a Starbucks IN FACT would still be opening with Fat Albert’s also staying in business. For months, I’d pass the Fat Albert’s Warehouse with my mother as we walked from Woodhull Hospital to Sumner Projects. The original entrance facing the hospital was closed with their new entrance barely noticeable, pretty much a hole in the wall. Last month the Starbucks officially opened for business, leaving people in awe as it seemed to pop up overnight. It stands and operates out of the original entrance of Fat Albert’s Warehouse, with Fat Albert’s in the cut and a newly-opened sneaker store “Kicks USA” to the left of it. It has the set-up of a mini mall.

The “local-elected representatives” are still pushing this Starbucks as an amazing “opportunity” for low-income communities, giving job training to the oppressed nationalities, thus giving them the skills to work at other places and “investing” in the people of Bed Stuy and Bushwick. Another one of these Starbucks has opened in the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens prior to this location. Bed Stuy has been one of the neighborhoods that are viciously attacked by rapid gentrification. Every other block has new housing developments, many of them right across from Sumner, Tompkins and Marcy Projects. Despite developers, the sell-out politicians and their supporters believing that all these changes to the neighborhood are for the better, I still am asking “better for who?” Bed Stuy is STILL a low-income neighborhood. All the yuppies from the Midwest, the newly graduated college students, those who left Manhattan for the “hip, urban and cultured” borough of Brooklyn, and the wealth they brought with them HAVE YET TO BENEFIT the long-time residents of the Stuy and other gentrified hoods in Brooklyn or NYC as a whole. Bushwick Daily wrote another article last month about the Starbucks opening which included the thoughts of an owner of the “Bushwick Grind” cafe who said “maybe we get the opportunity to hire baristas that have gone through some of their training.” When asked about the gentrification affecting the Stuy and Bushwick, this person said “I know people have opinions about this area rapidly gentrifying. And we hear people’s opinions. But again, there’s always two views of how this can go.” Hmmm…. So you know there are concerns and what gentrification is doing to these neighborhoods but you’d rather play both sides? Well, I was quoted by AM New York in an article about this same exact issue surrounding these neighborhoods and this new Starbucks location. I found some really good info from a study used in this artcle actually. So for those who want to play the fence and act as if its just a coffee shop trying to disconnect it from a wider political issue, here’s the findings from these studies. I want you to look me in my eyes and tell me how beneficial this little Starbucks and gentrification as a whole has been for my people.

 

According to the  “Focus On Gentification” study by furmancenter.org:

 

  • While rents only increased modestly in the 1990s, they rose everywhere in the 2000s, most rapidly in the low-income neighborhoods surrounding central Manhattan.

  • Most neighborhoods in New York City regained the population they lost during the 1970s and 1980s, while the population in the average gentrifying neighborhood in 2010 was still 16 percent below its 1970 level.
  • One third of the housing units added in New York City from 2000 to 2010 were added in the city’s 15 gentrifying neighborhoods despite their accounting for only 26 percent of the city’s population.
  • Gentrifying neighborhoods experienced the fastest growth citywide in the number of college graduates, young adults, childless families, non-family households, and white residents between 1990 and 2010-2014. They saw increases in average household income while most other neighborhoods did not.
  • Rent burden has increased for households citywide since 2000, but particularly for low- and moderate-income households in gentrifying and non-gentrifying neighborhoods. • The share of recently available rental units affordable to low-income households declined sharply in gentrifying neighborhoods between 2000 and 2010-2014.
  • There was considerable variation among the SBAs classified as gentrifying neighborhoods; for example, among the SBAs classified as gentrifying, the change in average household income between 2000 and 2010-2014 ranged from a decrease of 16 percent to an increase of 41 percent.

 

 

Hmmm… okay. When a comrade told me I was quoted in the AM New York, I went to go search for the article. I was called a disgruntled blogger. I don’t feel any way about it but some raised it as possibly worded in a negative connotation. I won’t jump to conclusions as I do appreciate being highlighted in the article. One thing I do agree with is that I am disgruntled. I am very angry about what is happening to my neighborhood, my borough, my people and my city. What I intend to do with my blog is speak for those who are being displaced, those who are seeing the places they knew all their lives look entirely different, those who are treated as outsiders by their “new neighbors” who oftentimes call the cops on them, those who feel like they owe their votes and loyalty to politicians who lie and sell them out and so forth. I keep it real while yall deadass lie to my people about the true intent of what the fuck is going on. This is why I have this blog. This is why I do what I do.