2012 presents: The Dark Avengers

I bet Satan has an iPod. And I bet he's not evil-evil with Toby Kieth and Soulja Boy remixes, but cool-evil with a bunch of metal and David Bowie and stuff. And assuming we're dealing with this particular variety of Satan, his hip-hop section is probably pretty bare, with the exception of maybe GraveDiggaz and X-Raided (and A Tribe Called Quest, cause really, who doesn't love Tribe). Well Satan, you are in luck, cause 2012 just released a free album that you're probably gonna dig.

From Parts Unknown front-man (and stable-mate) Mr. Volcano spent most of 2010 collecting beats and verses for this compilation, reaching out to all of his contacts in the local rap scene.
The first plan was to release this as a 2-record vinyl set with a gigantic, 2 foot long blunt wrap, but free download just seemed more practical. WE'VE PASSED THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU! FPU is front and center, with many of the beer-soaked tracks coming straight from the various blackout sessions Dark Sage and DJ Joey Lisp have hosted over the last few years. And while we've always tended to inject a lot of dark humor into our lyrics, Volcano has generally selected some of the more violent and supernaturally-infused tracks for this project (where else do you go when you named your click after the apocalypse?).
What's more, a lot of of our guests get in on the act, with local deities like Mic Jordan, Mahtie Bush, Cash Dreed and Lefty Rose letting out their demons throughout the compilation.

Adding to the superstitious nature of things, Mr. V required that the comp feature only 13-tracks, so a lot of the tracks play out as midnight double-features. My particular favorite is the eight track, Wormwood / Sex & Violence, which sees Cash Dreed steal the show with what would have undoubtedly been the lead single and follows up with a Jason Equis and I taking the listener on a guided tour of your video store's horror movie section.

The album moves at a dizzying pace, stabbing you in the neck with the next track before you have a chance to settle in to the last. Strange, original, and completely listenable all the way through.


What if Batman was a Mexican Baby?

Hey-Zeus, what adorable little bastards! Lil' Batman and Tiny Robin here are part of the latest collaboration between myself and my prolific girlfriend, Ms. Anna Morales. This Halloween-inspired piece was a birthday gift for my "cuñado," Javier, who's birthday actually falls on 10/31, and features his sons Dom and Armand from their toddler years.
I was glad to capture these little hellions in the SpongeBob-and-sippycups stage of life, as they are quickly approaching the firecrackers-and-switchblades phase, and it'll do Javier good to remember these simpler, more innocent times.

We took turns on it, with Anna applying the cosmic, purple background, and me laying down a crap-load of stencil layers for the boys. Anna put the finishing touches to it, adding in some of her specialty ink-work and that snazzy elastic band that really sells the depth.

That actually raises an interesting point that some have brought up. Why would a Robin costume include a pirate's eye patch? Well, obviously his interpretation incorporates elements of the alternate-reality storyline from Detective Comics Annual #7 where Batman and Robin are, in fact, pirates.

See? These guys are hardcore! Happy belated Born Date, Javier.

16" x 20" Spraypaint / Ink / Elastic on canvas


Whiskery Winston

I'm pretty sure Garbage Pail Kids triggered my downfall. Up until I laid eyes on the first "Greaser Greg" card, I was a relatively normal and easy going human being (albeit 7 years old). But the GPK's and their numbered checklists and variant versions and multiple series kicked off an internal obsessiveness that lead to harder stuff (i.e. comic books, horror movies, pro wrestling). Maybe it was in me all along, but I could no longer simply enjoy something for what it was, as now everything that was even sort of interesting required massive amounts of research and comparison. This is an affliction doctors currently refer to as "Hardcore Nerdism."

"Hey Rip, what do you think of this new song?"

"Well, I've only listened to it and haven't had a chance to Google the artist, so how the hell would I even know?"

God damn you, Garbage Pail Kids.

I'm pretty sure I first notice Skinner do something like this, painting a monster onto an old family portrait. The idea of adding a bizarre element to something relatively normal seemed so cool, and as I was looking over the empty space of the original version of the portrait, my brain instantly superimposed the Garbage Pail Kids logo Homeboy was thiiiis close to being named "Beardy Bartholemew" but Whiskery Winston had two less letters, so laziness prevailed (DaVinci was notorious for this sort of thing).


The Sexington 16

The dust has settled and Batsauce and his ridiculous Lady Named Summer was the easy winner. Turns out the track is from a free, downloadable EP he created with all tracks created from samples of a single song. DON'T BE A FOOL! Add his shit to your Music folder right now. In a few moments, when you are listening to his EP and wondering how you can thank me, a 6-pack of Newcastle will do just fine.

Discovering new music can be a son of a bitch. And as a hip-hop nerd, I spend more time logged into X-Box Live than I do in the streets, making discovering new music both a motherfucker, and a son of a bitch. But being a nerd does have it's benefits, sad as they may be.

Busting out my mechanical pencil and graph paper, I've drafted a tournament bracket of new hip-hop releases, featuring newer artists (with a few reliable favorites thrown in for good measure). I picked out 16 different tracks based on their name and album covers and will be slowly listening to each one over the next week or two. I'll pick up the latest album of the 4 bracket winners and formally recommend the champion to anyone willing to listen to my inane hip-hop observations.

Bracket 1

Apollo Brown - Streets Won't Let Me Chill: 8
Funky Drummer sample is used crazy effectively. I initally docked him for trying to rhyme 'alley' with 'temporarily', but warmed up to his lyrics after a few listens. Rooting for him.

Super Chron Flight Bros. - Reggie Miller: 7.5
A fun little beat with the loose emcees rapid-firing a lot of old-school imagery. Their style was a little relaxed, but they had the charisma to balance things out.

2 Hungry Bros - Harm Music: 7
The beat had a 90's/experimental sort of feel that I wasn't sure I liked at first, but later found sort of genius. The enthusiactic Hungry Bros. got a few gems in, but I coudn't see bumping this.

Short Fuze and Nasa - Berzerker Fury: 7.5
Dope and dusty little posse cut. Beat is DOOM-ish in a good way, and most of the rappers (especially second batter Nasa) bring it. A little rough around the edges, but I'd definitely check them out.

Bracket 2

Ecid - Heart Shaped Boombox: 6.5
Accurately descriped as "brutally honest", dude bares his soul by way of a Slug-meets-Thirstin-Howl-III-type of flow. I dug the moody guitar samples, but could't relate to his perspective. Probably not the best track to sample, but that's the way I'm playing.

Verbal Kent - Last Laugh: 7
You couldn't find a bigger Masta Ace fan than Rip and it's great to hear One Be Lo here. I would have bumped this hella harder 10 years ago, but nowadays, it loses points for sounding like every underground track made in the last decade. And Verbal Kent loses points for sounding like Evidence-lite.

Mystik Journeymen - The Doorman Song: 8
Why the shit don't I have more Mystik Journeymen??? Joined by The Grouch, each verse is like a letter to their respective ex-girlfriends, beautifully riding the line between honest and frustrated. If I taught Rap 101, I'd distribute this track with the note: This is how you write raps! I even dug the hook. And I CAN'T STAND hooks.

Rakaa - CTD: 7.5
Rakaa was always my favorite Dialated emcee and I'm a sucker for fun vintage samples. No new grounds is being broken here, but this a little fresher than I expected, and mad bumpable.

Bracket 3

Gotham Green and Quicki Mart - Game Change: 7.5
Dropping a million weed references in your verse is one way to get on my good side, but not only am I feeling Gotham Green's sharp flow, but Quickie Mart's breezy, throwback production is a breath of fresh air.

De La Soul - Return of DST: 8
If I was an outside observer, I'd call foul on this ridiculously dope De La ringer being included. A synthy tribute to DST, you couldn't really ask for a fresher entry.

The Dark Monk - Real Terror: 7
A little torn on this. Dark Monk seems to come from that dark, larger-than-life school of rap that birthed Wu-Tang and DOOM, and while I'm definitely feeling it, his timing seems to waver here and there.

Spectac and Amiri - Mass Effect: 7.5
While the beat is kinda mellow and the flow is a little low-fi (although homeboy does sorta sound like cross between Black Emporor and Q-Tip), the real hilight is the verbal dexterity and rich lyrics. He kept it up for the whole track too, name checking a plethora of pop culture new and old that was really impressive. I'd play this for any emcee passengers who climb into the whip.

Bracket 4

Count Bass D and DJ Pocket - Set It Off: 8
Mainly knowing Count Bass D for his solo albums from a few years back, I was confused when he never showed up on this pass-the-mic track, but the three emcee's do verbal gymnastics over the sick-as-all-hell beat featuring a slick Ghostface sample and some really nice drums. The second emcee (DT?) is especially memorable, wringing out every last possibility of his rhyme schemes.

Batsauce - A Lady Named Summer: 9.5
After the first play, I had to listen to it again. And then again. And it was at that point that I was confident that this was the freshest shit I'd heard in forever. German producer Batsauce reminds me of the production I'd always loved and has been sorely missing. Like vintage Muggs or Automator in his prime, while still encapsulating that golden-age NY in the 90's feel. Paired with emcee Dillon, the two really compliement each other's styles on this one-part Ms. Fat Booty, one-part My Favorite Ladies type of track. Really tempted to call the tournament over now without listenting to the remaining entries.

JK1 the Supernova - Marketable: 6.5
Maybe I'm just subconsciously butt-hurt cause my own job is vaguely marketing related, but I wasn't exactly feeling this. The production sounds like the Beatnuts remixed the Secret of Monkey Island soundtrack, which isn't so much a bad thing, but the level of swagger in their voice and rhymes didn't quite match up with their skills, which always bugs me.

Fortilive - The Fuck You Song: 7.5
Between the perfect use of a Biggie Smalls vocal sample and the beat that sounds like it was crafted by a 94-era RZA, this was pretty hardcore. 2010 needs more emcee's with this sort of perspective. Grimy rappers with grimy flows.

All of the music listed was courtesy of Dirt E. Dutch's IndieFeed podcast. Dude is the Prime Minister of DNM (Dope New Music), as far as I'm concerned.


Estevan Rogers

It stunk like mildew, old newsprint and failure. It was the greatest store I'd ever gone into at that point, and it's fair to say that it blew my mind as it changed my life.
I was looking for Ninja Turtles merchandise, because that's what 3rd grade boys did on Saturday afternoons, but the proprietor of B&C Comics condescendingly informed me that he did not currently carry any. Slightly defeated, I began to wander around place, marveling at the vintage Star Wars memorobilia and boxes and boxes of comics from the 70's. I had gone through a Spider-Man phase as a toddler and had watched the Super-Friends religiously, but had never really perused an actual comic book before. In all my 8-year old wisdom, I had no idea that there were entire stores devoted to these little Batman magazines. With two dollars in change jangling around in my pocket, I was just about to leave when I noticed a few boxes with "25 cents" crudely scribbled on the side. Debating on whether or not to blow my funds on 20 Jolly Ranchers, I decided to give the box a look.
There was a series that seem to feature punk rock girls and and hi-tech monsters called the Uncanny X-Men. A little pointy-masked, wolf-man with long finger nails looked especially interesting. Another exciting looking series called West Coast Avengers had a tiger-woman in a bikini teaming up with silver robot and purple bow and arrow guy. I started to get a feeling that I had been wasting my life up to this point. A voice in my head was screaming, "Get as many as you can! Go home and look for change in the couches so you can come back!" And I've been digging for change ever since.

A tribute to may sacred love of comics. It makes me think about identity and what it means to grow up as a Mexican kid exposed to a scary amount of pop culture. It also makes me think about a non-existent issue of the classic title "What If?", as in, What if the super soldier serum experiment had been tested on luchadores instead of scrawny teens?

The Red Skull: With the Cosmic Cube, I shall enslave the entire world under my regime!

Santo America: Pinche cabron! (flying headbutt)

World War 2: America and Mexico win!

12" x 18" Spray paint,acetate and razors on collage-covered canvas.


The Chicken Incident

Summer is here, which of course means barbecues. And what goes better with some barbecue chicken than a frosty glass of Sucker Punch

Yolo, California has a way of bringing the dark side of a man out. This became clear to me as a drunk Anthony Carion looked at me with a dead chicken in one hand, and a broken beer bottle in the other. "Come on, man. " Four other guys were surrounding us, including a young Chon Martinez. They had all recently declined Anthony's offer, which made me feel for the guy. Still, it was kind of hard to feel bad for somebody with a recently skinned chicken in their hand.

About an hour earlier, the six of us had all cracked the cap of our forty ounces, and were aimlessly walking around the small Northern California town of Yolo. None of us had jobs, and none of us cared much about the fact. Admittedly, I was a little uneasy around these guys. I knew Chon, who we just called 'Chris' back then, as he had been a regular among the parade of shady characters that frequented my former apartment one town over in Woodland. He had brought most of these guys with him during visits, but general drunkenness and frequent blunt sessions made it difficult to remember anything meaningful about them. I knew Anthony a little better than the rest, as he had hooked up weed for me a few times, and was a pretty easy going cat. The rest of them were a lower breed of felons and crank addicts whom I had occasionally caught wearing t-shirts or baseball caps that had gone missing from my old bedroom. However, it was a Tuesday afternoon and I was sipping on 40 ounces of Magnum, making me less discriminative of who I kept as company. We were just strolling around the small town, reminiscing about previous intoxications (". . . this one time, I was sooo fucked up. . . ") and talking about the current state of west coast hip hop. The sun was shining through the trees, a slight breeze was blowing by us, and everything was right with the world.
One by one, we all began to finish our beers, and started to make our way to Yolo's small convenience store. It turned out that nobody had any money, so after some quick, but unsuccessful bargaining with the store's proprietor, Yogi, we moved on. A creek ran directly across the street from said store, and we headed towards it as we plotted our next move for scoring more malt liquor. There was a big, cement drainage pipe that stuck a bit out of the ground near the creek, and made for a nice makeshift bench. An amateur tagger had recently covered it with crude lettering, and after a brief session of critiquing his work, we sat down and continued our buzzed discussion on how to raise some quick funds. As it turned out, Yolo was full of scavengers, so searching for cans was out of the question. Most of us had borrowed a couple bucks from our respective mothers to get the last forty, so asking for more probably wouldn't work. Somebody suggested a beer run, but Yogi knew all of us well enough to identify us to the local sheriff, and the nearest store was miles away. Disappointment was setting in until Chris interrupted our silent lamenting...
"Anthony... bust open that bottle of change you have in your room. I seen hella nickels!"
All eyes turned to Anthony, who had been staring blankly in the air. Chris, with thoughts of a second forty ounce dancing in his head, spoke up.
"Shhhh... I hear a chicken. "
Yolo was relatively rural, so it wasn't uncommon for a family to have chickens, goats or the occasional llama in their yard. Still, we all began staring stupidly into the air, listening for Anthony's chicken. One of the surlier members of our group was less willing.
"There's chicken's all over Yolo, fool. "
"Yeah, but not around here. One got out. "
Even though he appeared to be your run-of-the-mill hooligan, Anthony was really a country boy in baggy shorts. Having lived in the country area surrounding Yolo, he would often drop interesting facts about animals and nature. Without saying a word, he started walking back towards the area of Yogi's store. We all followed him, with no idea of what he would do next. Sure enough, a lone white chicken had escaped from its’ yard, and was making a run for it down 3rd street. Anthony walked up about 10 feet away from it before stopping. The rest of us slowly joined him, trying to figure out what he had in mind. After a silent pause, he turned around with a snaggle-toothed smile.
"Let's eat it. "
And he was serious, too. Those who knew him well probably knew it, but the rest of us didn't believe that he'd actually kill, cook and eat the motherfucker. We decided to go along with him, just to see how far he'd take it, mostly because it would give us something to do for the next half hour. What came next was ugly.
We moved back to the nearby creek and watched Anthony try to kill the runaway chicken. I don't doubt that he spent many afternoons of his youth doing the same thing, but that didn't make him any more of a graceful chicken slaughterer. Half of us laughed while the other half cringed as he took turns hitting the it with a rock and stepping on its’ head with his dusty Nikes. This went on for a solid five minutes as he unsuccessfully tried to thrash the life out of it. We had almost gotten bored by the entire process when he finally managed to snuff it out. Taking a close look at its’ mangled body as he held it in front of his face, he confirmed his success.
"It's dead. " I was beginning to fear that he might have been serious about eating it.
"What about the feathers?"
"I'll pluck him. " He was real casual in saying this, which confirmed my fear. How many chickens had this guy plucked in his day? He took a seat on the drainage vent and started yanking at the feathers, leaving a small pile of white in between his shoes. This went on for a while, as the rest of us half watched and told stories about people who had recently been jumped. Eventually, Anthony was satisfied with his work and held out the featherless chicken for us to see. It looked a lot less shocking at this point, its’ dark pink body looking like something you might see hanging in the window of a Chinese deli. Not being intimately familiar with the biology of a chicken, Anthony had to explain the next step to us.
"There's like this outer skin all over it, and we gotta cut it off before we cook it. " I liked how he kept saying 'we,' when it was clear that he would be the one that performing any duties involving skinning a dead bird.
"Anybody got a knife?" Surprisingly, none of us did. Most of us had made a habit of keeping a box cutter handy. We said it was just in case any trouble popped off, and some of us believed it. The truth was that they just came in handy for neatly splitting blunts. However, we all came up empty that afternoon. Instructed to look for something sharp, we all began surveying the creek side area. I had started to get tired with the whole idea, but there was something primal about a bunch of dudes looking for something sharp enough to cut through skin with, and I guess I just got caught up in the experience. Before long, I came across a broken, beer bottle bottom that had probably been discarded months ago.
"Will this work?" I walked up to Anthony as a few others joined us to see what I had found.
"Let me see. . . " He held the broken shard of glass in his hand and analyzed its sharper edges. Silently, he returned to his seat and stared hacking away at the chicken flesh with the crude instrument. Any doubt that he was bluffing was now wiped clear from everyone's mind, and some began to admit that they had no plans in partaking in the eventual eating of the bird. Others, including myself, just kept watching him slice and peel away at the meat, fascinated by his savagery. The outer membrane was pulled away revealing a more familiar version of a raw chicken underneath. Once this was removed, he began sawing away at the neck and feet. Considering that he was operating with a broken beer bottle, his work was surprisingly clean.
"We're gonna need a fire, so go get some sticks and shit to start it with. . ." A few people wandered off into some nearby brush to collect kindling. Chon, remembering that a convenience store was only a few yards away, resumed his effort to get some beer. Although none of us had enough to purchase a $1. 25 forty ounce, we might be able to share one if we pooled our pocket change. His chicken preparations nearly complete, Anthony liked the idea.
"Yeah, some beer and some chickens sounds fuckin' good right now. "
"Fuck that shit. I'll drink some beer, but I ain't fuckin' with that chicken. You gotta be crazy to eat that dirty shit. "
"Then don't eat it. I'm going to, though. " And it was, in fact, dirty. Television and mothers had warned us of the dangers of raw chicken and the nastiness that came with it. Plus, this one had been carved up with a dusty shard of a beer bottle. Eating this bird was potentially dangerous, which was the only reason I even considered eating it. As I weighed the threat of dead chicken bacteria in my head, Anthony thrust the raw bird in my direction.
"What about you?" I stared at if for a second. It certainly didn't look appetizing, but I figured this was too strange of an opportunity to pass up. Besides, I would have no problem with, ahem... 'chickening' out at the last second.
"Come on. "
"*Buuurp*. . . yeah, what the hell. " Chon had collected enough for a single forty, and a few guys accompanied him to Yogi's to ensure themselves a sip. Anthony, who was now holding the skinned chicken like a freshly caught fish, was inspecting a tree branch he planned to use to roast the bird over the fire with.
"I wish we had some barbeque sauce. "

Soon, a respectable fire was burning, and a sad mixture of saliva and malt liquor was swirling around the bottom of the otherwise empty forty ounce. The bird occasionally let out a crackle as it roasted over the flame. It began to look more like 'food,' but was more shriveled and leathery than your standard barbecued chicken. Most of us smoked cigarettes and didn't say much, save for the occasional criticism.
"That shit looks burned, bro. "
"Shut the fuck up. "
I was holding on to the tip of the chickens' crusty little wing as Anthony pulled the rest of the chicken in the other direction. The bird was tough and it was making me regret agreeing to eat a piece of it. Anthony, having taken a bite directly out of the cooked breast, had a look on his face that indicated it hadn't tasted exactly as he had expected it to, but I could tell he was satisfied by the impromptu meal. After a bit of chicken yanking, I stood there staring at the charred wing, wondering if this would boost my street cred in any measurable way. Having been the only other person to partake in the meal, Anthony was already working on his second piece.
"Ahh, fuck it. " I bit a piece off and swirled it around in my mouth. People often described stuff that doesn't taste like anything as, "tasting like chicken." Well, this didn't taste like anything, and it didn't taste like chicken. The closest thing I could think of would be burnt denim with the texture of old chewing gum that you'd find stuck to the bottom of a desk. I gnawed on the wing for bit, and felt like a man.
"Man, y'all gonna get salmonella or something. "
"Shut the fuck up. "
I ate a few more bites and called it a day. Chon tried throwing the uneaten remainder of the chicken into the creek, but came up slightly short, chucking it into a pile of nearby muddy water. Anthony and I gave each other a fist pound, proverbial chicken brothers. As we continued our trek through town, I kept worrying that my stomach would start to ache at any moment. It never did, though, which made feel me feel like quite the savage. Ever since the chicken incident at the creek, I've eaten donuts off the floor, stale chips and a taco that I found on a bus stop bench. Each time, somebody has scolded me about the unsanitary conditions of my snack, and each time I give the same answer. . .
"Maaan, this is nothing. This one time I was at the creek in Yolo, right? And Yolo, California has a way of bringing the dark side of a man out. . . "


Dirty One

I turned 31 today and am celebrating here by looking back to a simpler time. A time filled with comic books, Street Fighter, Mexican candy and...wait that's the same shit I'm still doing! Oh, God. Save me, Spider-Man!


Lazer Tagger

(Click to enlarge)

Laser Tag pistols were so heavy that you could pistol whip your friends with it and it would do more damage than an actual laser. Not only did they feature an authentic heft, but also a sleek design that was far more elegant than any other toy pistol that had come before it. As a child, I felt like the designers respected my intelligence enough to make a laser gun that really looked like something out of Star Wars, as opposed to the bright orange pieces of shit I'd normally beg for at flea markets. I'd bet money that my dad was responsible for one of these bastards showing up under the tree one fateful X-mas. Never having a lot of toys as a child, he was always a sucker for authentic looking war toys.
Not quite as sophisticated as the Lazer Tag arenas that started popping up in the 90's, the original Laser Tag used this bright red sensor that looked like a futuristic stud finder, and "games" consisted of trying to shoot your opponents sensor three times. However, it took all of 2 minutes to figure out that you could easily cover the sensor with one hand while firing away with the other. Still, the guns themselves were completely awesome and were coveted for afternoons sessions of "playing guns". I even remember using one of these black bastards when I entered my Young Guns phase (I was the only hip cowboy sporting a shiny, death ray).

A few weeks back, I had some bad experiences painting the Minions on store bought canvas, leading me to use wood instead. I had a few more canvases lying around, and not wanting to be a 3 time loser, I decided to try using matte medium to collage a few images to one. I used scans from the toy section of an old Sears catalogue. A sharp eye will spot The Ghostbusters, M.U.S.C.L.E, and those old rubber LJN wrestlers; all toys that 7 year old Rip pined over.
The pistol is an example of the direction I'm trying to go in. Even more stencil layers, using subtler colors, to make fore a more photo-realistic image. The shininess of the black allowed me to sorta dip my toe into this technique, and I'm pretty encouraged by the results.


Strength In Numbers

"Fuck...Ivan Drago was in Rocky IV."


"Did I say Rocky III?"

"....fuck it. Sounds harder."

"Yeah, that makes sense."

Before there was From Parts Unknown, there was the Strike Force. Named after an 80's wrestling tag team, The Strike Force was an excuse for Dark Sage and me to drink beer on weekdays, so long as we also wrote and recorded fresh raps on an old Radio Shack mic. There were no expectation of the finished product, which freed us to come up with some of the weirdest and most original work we've ever done. We started distributing tracks on MySpace and it was obvious that each track had been a shitload of fun to do, leading to guests popping up on songs. Our little project started to earn us a decent reputation among our peers, but we never lost sight of what was important: drinking mad beers.
Renato Espinoza would be the first person to tell you he's not an emcee. A renegade Mexican rocker in a platoon of rap nerds, what he lacked in rap prowess, he made up for in drinking ability. So when he popped in to a Strike Force session with a bottle of Seagrams 7 and a full pack of smokes, putting him on the mic seemed like the obvious move.
From the trip-hop sampling era of Dark Sage beats, Strength in Numbers starts off with a breezy Sneaker Pimps loop and a trademark Dark Sage free association rap (takin' more pics than Eddie Brock / runnin' from cops / teach you more shit than your pops). I keep it moving with 16 bars filled with references to Street Fighter II, Gob Bluth, and the aforementioned Ivan Drago flub, sounding thoroughly tranquilized (business as usual). Renato cleans up on the third verse, sounding a little stilted in his delivery, but keeps it together enough to deliver a soulful finale, complete with Seagrams-soaked crooning.

Download Strength in Numbers
(Right-click and choose "Save Link As")


Rip Pilgrim

With the exception of The Expendables and maybe Robert Rodriguez' Predators, this is the movie I'm most looking forward to this summer.

Make one and send me a link!

Frequent fliers

Chris Rockwell is a man that makes things happen. Never content to just let the good times come to him, he moves and shakes until venues are reserved, rappers and djs are booked, and flyers are distributed. He texted me yesterday with the lowdown on the show he's planning for this Friday in Woodland, and after a little spell checking (hehehe), I whipped this little bastard up. Tribe of Levi are some of the freshest emcees in the area and they always have a great set, and the Stag can be damn fun, especially when Rockwell is steering the ship. Don't sleep.


Rollie Fingers

If facial hair was legos, I'd have a big bucket of blocks right now. The longer my beard grows, the more attached I feel to it, but I'm not trying to go out like ZZ Top, so I know it's only a matter of time before I take some clippers to it. But lately, during my morning sessions of staring at myself in the mirror, I've been wondering what destiny holds for beard. With no where to turn for answers, I asked the one person who is always reliable when I have questions: Google. I started looking at prize winning beards and various mustache styles, weighing my options. That's when I ran across the king of mustaches.

Could I pull off a waxy handlebar? I tried to picture myself rocking one, but could never get a clear image (like trying to watch a scrambled cable channel). But there is no denying the magnificence of Rollie's stache, so I busted the paint and razors out and got to work. He was done on a lid of one of those big wooden record player cabinets, and is about 2' x 1.5'.

In my research, I found that most dudes that wear a handlebar mustache look like gigantic dipshits. For some reason, Rollie Fingers is the only guy able to pull one off, and I gotta salute the son of a bitch for that.

Here's a bonus animation feature some of the layers getting layed down. I meant for it to be more detailed, but kept forgetting to take pictures of progress. ...Anybody know how to get spraypaint out of beard hair?


What Lovely Minions

Every year, the homie X has me do a flyer for his daughter's birthday. A classy move in my book, as most kid's invitations rock a generic Strawberry Shortcake or Cookie Monster, whereas X's little girl get's the major event treatment with her own custom flyer.

He has since added a son to his brood, and the little guy was nice enough to be born a couple weeks from his older sister so they could combine birthday forces into a joint party (...not that kind of joint party, though).
This year, with a little stencil momentum going, I proposed a painting we could photograph for the flyer and X was on board.
I had two false starts on canvases, as problems with spray paint caused minor issues. I impulsively started a third time on a piece of scrap wood and the results were instantly better. I especially like how the smoothness of the paint plays against the graininess of the wood.

With the flyer deadline hanging over me, I spent a lot of time making small tweaks to each sibling until they look was right. I liked the stylization the shadow layer gives, especially the Gene Simmons sort of effect on his son.

Happy Birthday Lydia and Lil' Xavier!


Tres Mascaras

Hey Kids!

Do you love lucha? Think ya know all there is to know about From Parts Unknown??? Test your knowledge with this nifty Tres Mascaras lucha quiz! Match up your favorite emcees masks' with their wrestling counterparts and win neat prizes!

Tres Mascaras featuring Deos-One
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Ronnie was a Race Car Driver

Ronnie's dad always enjoyed a good shrimp cocktail. He hadn't been around much, on a account of the two stints he served in prison, but when he was around, he'd take Ronnie to the Mexican part of town and they'd both have a beer (even though Ronnie was only 16) and a shrimp cocktail. It had been years since Ronnie'd seen his Dad, but he still went out to Little Mexico for a shrimp cocktail and a beer whenever he had a chance. While he contemplated this, two bullets whizzed past his ear, nearly grazing him.

As he sped down the home stretch of the I-5, he thought about his future and how he might like to open a shrimp cocktail restaraunt of his own once he made it to Mexico. He'd never made one, but he figured he'd had enough of them to figure it out. He figured he'd have plenty of time to get the recipe right, and although duffel bag full of money on the passenger seat wasn't that full, it'd be more than enough to live like a fat cat down in Mexico for years. There were now only two cop cars chasing him. There'd been four earlier, but some strategic driving had resulted in two of the pigs smashing into each other. He'd played it pretty smart up to this point, and if his timing was as good as he'd calculated, there shouldn't be much of a fuss at the border itself.

Another few shots were fired, removing the back windsheild altogether. They'd been shotgun blasts this time, but Ronnie never took his eyes off the road. He just concentrated on those sunny L.A. afternoons, and how his Dad would show him how to flirt with the spanish speaking waitresses after a second beer and an octapus tostada.

"This is your last chance, Ronnie. You pull that car over this instant or God help me we will shoot your call straight to hell!"

He was pretty sure there were diced cucumbers in there. Definitely tomato. There had to be onion, but he couldn't recall if it was white or red. He laughed to himself about how he must've eaten 1,000 god damned shrimp cocktails but never really paid attention to what was in it. He pondered Googling a recipe, but wasn't sure if Mexico had the internet yet. The border appeared on the horizon.
An explosion of gunfire erupted from the two police cars. Each cop, including both drivers, fired towards the escaping vehicle, destroying the car's rear. Multiple bullets tore right through the car's body, only narrowly missing Ronnie as he grinned towards the awaiting Mexican border with visions of spicy seafood and icy beer.

The cops in the lead cop car had emptied out several guns apeice and their firearm's sour smoke began to sting the driver's eyes. Pannicked, he took a hand off of the wheel to cover them when the car began to swerve. Trying to regain control, he overcompensated in the other direction, smashing into their partners beside them. Both cars flipped several times before exploding into the side of the freeway. White, Ronnie thought. He was almost positive that they had been white onions.

As the border neared, it was clear that no one had been warned of the high speed chase that had led up to this. Several of the gates were completely bare, allowing Ronnie to speed towards them with abandonment. 100 yards from the line, the car began to slow. At 60 yards, the car started to swerve a bit to the left. With only 10 yards to go, the car slowly careened into a lane divider as Ronnie's lifeless body smashed into the steering wheel, a single bullet having passed through back of the driver's seat and passing through his body into the dash. He hadn't seen a white light or pearly gates before he died. He instead saw his 16 year old self eating shrimp with his old man.


He's the DJ

I've started to do stencils as birthday gifts when I have the chance, largely due to the artsy/spraycan influence of my lovely girlfriend, Anna, who has been whipping up art as a gift for years now. Sure, it saves a few dollars, but the hours put into completing the birthday piece seems like a more thoughtful effort, and it's a good excuse to come up with an image that I might not normally think to put to canvas.

It was Joey Lisp's birthday last weekend, and I decided I wanted to do a stencil record, due to the fact that Lisp is the area's most prolific turntablist. I casually asked him via text who his favorite DJ was a few weeks back and as I waited for his response, I suspected he was going to name DJ Premiere. Curious if anyone else had done a DJ Premiere stencil, I typed it into Google and found this friggin' masterpiece, which was so good, I almost sold my spray can collection and called it quits. But he instead named DJ Jazzy Jeff, who most will probably remember as being the Fresh Prince's better half. Anybody who takes turntablism somewhat seriously will instead recognize him as basically being the Zeus of record spinning. I once saw him take the stage after the likes of Q-Bert and Grand Wizard Theodore, who had both tore the house down. He casually built up the tension in the venue, casually playing record after record. He started playing some heavy west coast stuff, working the crowd into a frenzy, and then just drops Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirt out of nowhere. If you would have told me beforehand that DJ Jazzy Jeff would have made the laid back, bay area hip hop crowd mosh with everything they had, I'd have called you a god damned liar, but there I was, still trying to pay for a rum and coke at the bar, unable to collect my change because I was fucking jumping up and down like a orangatang on meth, half trying to rock out and half trying not to spill my delicious drink. That's why I know when Joey Lisp says Jazzy Jeff is the best DJ, he's right.

I call this a stencil, but it's more like 20 little stencils laid on top of each other, the gold layer being my favorite. Happy Born Date, Lisp.


Flier Showcase

Are fliers art? Advertisements? Is there a common ground? I don't know, but as long as my associates are willing to trade illicit contraband in exchange for some photoshop magic, you can call me the god-damned Human Flier Factory. Between 2005-2010, I must have pumped out about 75 of these little fuckers. I had my good days and my bad, but here are 5 of my favorites...

When Worlds Collide - For a night of 80's hits and classic hip-hop. This is sort of a tribute to this Rolling Stone album cover. I'm especially proud of the photoshoppery on display, with my homies John Eukland and Renato Espinoza acting as hand look-alikes for this imaginary meeting.

Hell Razah - A night that will forever live in infamy. This was my first double-sided, glossy joint, and this side's Grindhouse-poster stylings came out particularly nice.

Saturday Night's Main Event - Anybody that knows me knows I have an unhealty obsession with lucha libre. As soon as I got some flier momentum going, I wanted to do a flyer in the style of those busy lucha posters posted all over downtown Tijuana. I was saving it for a big event, and when Mr. Volcano booked a million acts for this night in December, I knew it was time. Through a connection with the Daily Democrat, this actually ran a quarter page, in color that Friday, and even though it was eventually broken up by cops, a spectacular time was had by most.

DEVESTATOR - This flier is awesome for two reasons: It's a Russian propaganda-style poster for a rap show at the Stag, and it was the first show Butterscotch ever rocked with the crew.

Devil's Night Out - I like the retro look of this one, featuring Kriminal and a buxom sex-cat in a full body suit and go-go boots.


Stolen Scripts

Hip hop nerds like myself may recall an incident in 2004 where Ghostface released a cryptic track entitled Get My Dough (this showed up on early versions of the Pretty Toney album, but has been omitted from later editions). A pretty classic Ghostface track with a sick sample and fun hook with Ghostface chastising some unknown offenders for not paying him money he was due.
A few months later, De La Soul released their Grind Date album, which was generally great and featured a collaboration with the Wallabee Kingpin himself, Ghostface Killa. What was strange was this collabo track, He Comes, used the same beat as Get My Dough, with Ghost spitting a similar hook and lyrics, but with his references to owed money being replaced with references to De La Soul.
And while nothing was official said on the matter, the obvious conclusion was Ghost had written the verse for the De La track, must not have recieved payment quickly enough, and flipped the beat as a vague diss track in response. My money is on all this being more of a misunderstanding than anything, and is surely water under the bridge by now.
On a slightly unrelated note, Ghostface did a completely separate song called Stolen Scripts on his More Fish album. It was a bizarre narrative about him meeting Ray Charles and writing the screenplay to Ray, only to have it stolen in a shady Hollywood meeting. Completely crazy and completely genius.
Mr. Volcano, who is essentially the Ghostface Killah of Sacramento, was involved in a very similar incident with a fairly talented hip hop outfit from Arizona. Due to the awesome power of Google, I'm not going to mention their name, but I'm fairly certain that 110% of you wouldn't recognize them if I did. This beat was epic and anyone who heard it knew it right away. Things fell apart though and once the dust settled, Volcano was owed money and only had their beat to show for it. Mostly diss free verses were recorded and somewhere along the way, it was dubbed Stolen Scripts as a tribute to Ghostface and the sometimes underhanded nature of rap collaborations.
This is one of those tracks by emcees, for emcees, with the focus purely on agressive lines and hardcore delivery. A From Parts Unknown classic, to be sure (enjoy some bonus tracks from the new Dark Avengers compilation tacked on the end) .

Stolen Scripts
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Sucker Punch: Hennessy for Energy

Grab your cups! A refill from the Sucker Punch. Hope you fuckers like Hennessey!

Hennessy for Energy

It had been a long night already. Drunk chicks, buying cheeba, and infiltrating radio stations. It was creeping up on two in the morning, and my outlook was still pretty positive. It had reached the point in the night when you still want to socialize, but everybody else is asleep. Aimlessly driving down dark streets, I kept changing CD’s, searching for the perfect song to play at 1:46am . One of my closest friends, Chris Martinez, was the driver. He was about two months late on payments for his used, white Chevy Blazer, and it stung him. He mostly just spent his days escaping reality through light beers, and potent strains of marijuana. I think that’s why I liked hanging out with him so much. I met him through his older brother, who I had spent a good part of my post-high school youth getting high with. As a matter of fact, the three of us had spent many a weekend rolling blunts and watching videos. With some other friends, we had even formed a clan, calling ourselves, The Decepticons. Of all of the Decepticons, I had recently been hanging out with Chris the most. We seldom discussed matters more serious than the cost of beer, but I’ve always felt that there was a nice, unspoken level of respect that we shared.

We had been hanging out since about 7:30 that night, and had been all over the place. Most establishments were closed, but we still itched for a last bit of mischief. Neither of us had said much since we got back in town from Davis , but I knew that we would both be disappointed if we decided to call it a night.

“So…what should we do?” I asked with a hint of hopelessness in my voice. What was there to do? It’s not as if Chris, who had been dubbed Chon (chone) by his older brother, knew of some secret place we could go to. I could see him ponder my question for a bit, with a glazed over look in his eyes.

“Should we steal a bottle?” he asked with a smile. Liquor runs weren’t that uncommon in our circle. And a night of drinking had removed any initial fear of repercussions. I knew that I wouldn’t be stealing a bottle from a store, and even more, I knew that I wouldn’t be expected to. I held my own in our social circle, but I wasn’t bold, or stupid enough to steal a bottle. Chris, on the other hand was a juggernaut of mayhem.

“What the fuck?” I responded, generally indifferent to the idea. It was something to do. My mind was moving pretty slowly, so any goal oriented activity would be easy to follow. And with that, I could hear him hit his blinker signal, turning towards the local Food-4-Less grocery store. They were the only grocery store in town that stayed open all night. It seemed like only seconds later that we were in front of the stores main entrance. My brain had still not grasped what we were about to do, as Chris informed me that I would need to drive in the case that he may be followed. I suppose that I almost didn’t believe that he was going to do it. Typically, something like this would be mapped out a bit more thoroughly. We would get pumped up, and make like we were criminals about to commit a heist. In my drunken state, I’m sure that I was making an attempt to call his bluff. Without saying anything, I got out of the passenger seat, and strutted to the driver’s side. By the time I could get there, he was already making his way into the store. I got behind the wheel, and began to wonder what would happen next. There was actually a few misfits in the parking lot, and paranoia got the best of me. I figured I should play it cool. Act like I was looking for a parking spot. I figured I would have at least a minute or two before Chris returned, so I began a lap around the lot. The Blazer was pretty big compared to my car, and it felt like driving a bus. I had driven it a few times before, and liked how it handled. I was caught up in the driving experience as I was rounding the furthest corner from the store. The otherwise serene parking lot was suddenly interrupted by a husky Chon sprinting out of the store. Not two feet behind him was a Hispanic bag boy. I began to speed up towards him, and even from far away, I could see Chris was disappointed that I had driven away from where he was expecting me.

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The bag boy was right behind. If he extended his arms forward, he surely could have grabbed him. As the both of them neared the Blazer, I wondered what would happen when they finally arrived. Chris would need at least a second or two to open the car door. The bag boy was athletic, but he was a pile of twigs compared to Chon. And Chris was the kind of guy that would knock a guy out cold if it came down to it.

“Drive Robert, Drive! Fucking Go!” Chris shouted. I was getting pretty antsy, slowly slipping the gear into Drive, waiting for the exact second that speed off. In a flash, he was in the Blazer, and instantly, I heard the passenger door slam shut. He continued to bark instructions at me as I was getting my head straight.

“Go man, fuck-ing DRIVE.” He pleaded, with a slight hint of victory in his voice. As I darted diagonally through the parking lot, concentrating on road ahead, I could sense Chris peering behind us. I glanced over at him, seeing our prize proudly held in his grubby hands. A beautiful bottle of Hennessy. Despite it’s reputation in rap videos, I used to hate it’s taste. It wasn’t until recently that began to thoroughly enjoy the dreamy type of buzz it gave.

“Oh fuck.” Chris proclaimed.

“He’s right behind us in his car.” Apparently, the driver had stopped following Chris at the last second. Seeing that he had a getaway driver waiting for him, the bag boy had decided hop into his own car and follow us. It was a good thing, too, as in retrospect, his hand would have probably been crushed in the car door. At the time, I’m sure it would have been the funniest thing in the world. As I reached the exit of the parking lot, a traffic light’s red light bulb instinctually caused me to slow down. I took a second to scan the rear view, and noticed a small car in pursuit.

“GO Robert. Just fucking GO!” screamed Chris, getting a bit nervous.

“Hurry. He’s trying to get the license plate number.” Up to that point, I had pretty much been driving on instinct. With the revelation that he was trying get the plate number, a sense of duty came over me. It was my driving skill, up against his. If I could ditch him, there was a cool bottle of Hennessy in it for us. If not, there was humiliation, and possibly even a car accident waiting. I pressed against the gas pedal with all of my weight. Earlier in the night, Chris and I had been playing a game of How-many-red-lights-can-we-run-in-a-row, so I had no problem breezing through them. The small car continued to pursue us, often time getting dangerously close to us. As I hit the first turn in our path, Chris started to worry about my driving ability.

“Don’t fucking flip. Dude. Don’t flip.” As ridiculous as it sounds, hours of playing Grand Theft Auto on the Playstation 2 had taught me the correct speed to hit a sudden turn. Before I could even begin concentrating on the turn, we had made it and were picking up speed as we raced down Gibson Road . The bag boy made the turn a bit more cautiously, giving us a bit of a lead. Chris gave out a maniacal laugh, easing the tension. The streets were empty, making it easy to pick up his headlights in the rear view. He followed us onto the freeway, which just disgusted me. Here was some highschool student, who garnered enough respect at his job to warrant the 2am on Sunday shift, playing cowboy over a bottle of liquor. By this time, I was feeling God-like as I watched the speedometer inch past 110 miles. His car was no match for the power of the Blazer, and before long, I could see the faint light of his turn signal as he pulled off on the next exit.

It was about two o’ clock, and traces of adrenaline were still coursing through my veins. We gave another nod to series of Grand Theft Auto games as we decided to switch cars. Surely the bag boy would report a white Chevy Blazer, making us safe in my gold Camry that I parked in front of Chris’ house some 5 hours earlier. We ended up waking up an old friend that we had visited earlier that night, and recalled the recent events with some details exaggerated for effect.

Even with all of the trouble we went through to get it, I didn’t feel much like drinking any Hennessy. And, as subconsciously documented in the unwritten code of the Decepticons, Chris ignored my decline and poured me a glass. I took a quick sip, and then another. It tasted like victory.


Not My Ritchie

If you have speakers, please do me a personal favor and hit play on this video right before you begin reading the rest.

I cry at the end of La Bamba. If I catch it in time and start thinking about dirtbikes and ice cream sundaes, I might get by with slightly glassy eyes, but usually, by the time Ritchie's mom throws her laundry down and pleads to Bob and God "Not my Ritchie," I start to lose it (real talk: I was just thinking about the exact moment of the movie gets me and stared to actually choke up a little in front of the computer). It's the one sappy thing in the world that gets me emotional, and I love the hell out of that movie.

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With the exception of Danny Trejo and a hand full of luchadores, there isn't a better example of a bad ass Mexican than Bob Morales. That kilo smuggling, snake eating, cartoon artist is like a Mexican Han Solo. Paying a stencil tribute to him was the obvious move, and since I didn't have any leather jackets lying around, the back of a guitar seemed like the proper canvas.

This is a good example of the fly screen filter being applied to the shadows and lighter highlights, as it really helps give depth to the simple image. I used the Montana color Sand for the skin, which has since prompted me to dub the color the official shade of Mexican peoples. And while this is one of slicker looking stencils, it's important to note that: It's not my first... or my last.