There’s a scene at the very beginning of A. Scott Berg’s biography of Max Perkins, the envelope-pushing book editor who discovered, cultivated, and tempered the careers of American literary greats like Hemingway. Perkins is speaking to a room full of students, and says, “Don’t ever get to feeling important about yourself, because an editor at most releases energy. He creates nothing.”
Okay, Max Perkins is a legend. I’m just the Editor-In-Chief of a blog. But I really take his words to heart with The Hundreds, especially with the relationships we foster with our writers and photographers (who often don’t have portfolios before working with us).
The Hundreds Blog is ad-free and doesn’t make any money, so I like to think of it as a blog-blog. I was very much a Livejournal-er and Blogspot-reader throughout the aughts, and still frequent Mediafire link-rich music blogs with that rare vinyl upload (you know, the ones run by Soulseek fanatics). And even though these blogs’ Mediafire links are all dead now, the cool thing about all of them is they were honest, existed and produced without agenda, and were largely written by one person tossing their thoughts/words out into the ether. That’s the honest no frills spirit I want to aim for with The Hundreds Blog.
That being said, here’s my favorite articles of the year published on our little site. There are too many to count, so I tried to whittle my selections down into categories.
We killed it with the interviews this year. Bobby Hundreds wrote a crucial reading piece on his mentor Alyasha Owerka-Moore, one of the pioneering godfathers of modern streetwear. I considered Bobby’s interview with the bull-headed Giannulli Mossimo its sister piece. Leland Ware had a great sit-down with the legend Mega of Black Scale (SDJ KILLED IT WITH THE PORTRAITS). Rainey Cruz interviewed NYC’s she-misfit Princess Nokia with beautiful film photos by @oneshotbuddy—felt great having two NYC natives doing writing + photos on this one (I think we broke our personal record this year of how many interviews we did with women, also, which made me fucking ecstatic). We did a video on OG graffiti artist 2Shae as he graced the walls of our warehouse (it was Sos Adame, our new videographer’s first editing assignment, and he did such a great job). Yasi Salek interviewed Matt Saincome, the EIC behind The Onion of the punk world, The Hard Times; Maxwell Williams interviewed the eclectic founder of JOYA Studios (if you don’t know jack about fragrance, it’s a magical interview); and Kat Thompson spoke to Ellen Bennett of Hedley & Bennett—3 figures who carve out their own lane navigating the world around us.
Meet Your Maker: The Alyasha Owerka-Moore Story by Bobby Hundreds
“It’s tough, being a creative. You’re immersed in the creativity and the so-called truth and beauty, but as I’ve gotten older I think I’m probably better at trend forecasting than I am as a designer. The thing I’m not good at is capitalizing on that. I can always see where the holes are in the marketplace and where to make money. I’ve helped an innumerable amount of people make money filling those holes, those voids, but just not myself. And usually it’s because I get so excited about working on the project and making it come to fruition as opposed to lining my own pockets…”
“I think some brands lost [themselves] by getting too used to the money… They forgot about the integrity of why we became brands.”
“Most people of color that I know are metahumans.”
Interview with 2Shae
The Man. The Myth. Mossimo. by Bobby Hundreds
Interview w/ Frederick Bouchardy :: Founder of Fragrance Design Studio JOYA by Maxwell Williams
How 3 Friends Took 10 Years to Debut 3 Minutes of Animation on Comedy Central by The Hundreds Staff
I loved Anthony Pappalardo’s interview with Chaka Malik and Wes Eisold—two hardcore frontmen with intimate solo electronic projects. We do this thing at The Hundreds where we tend to interview artists right before they break. We did that this year with Kamaiyah, Nessly, Ta’East, Joey Purp, and more. (Side note: I thought it was crazy we were the only blog to pick up Letter Racer’s Throw the Xans in the Can PSA too.) I loved the narrative feel of Mike Steyels’s Tapia profile (super excited to have him be a new part of the The Hundreds editorial family this year); it felt so Jersey, and I love Gianny Matias’s photos that pair with the piece. Young Thug scholar Justin Davis (also, The Hundreds’ new Assistant Editor!) wrote a primer in 2 parts of 30 essential Jeffery songs you gotta listen to to get accustomed to the rapper’s artistry, along with a really on point profile of how Traptastic is pushing the culture in Virginia’s club scene.
Tom Winslade’s Track-By-Track with Kojey Radical, to me, signified the type of unearthing of context and meaning we like to have on our site. Tom also shared an inspiring interview with Saint Paul rapper Allan Kingdom this year, paired with gorgeous portraiture by Annabel Lake. I was incredibly proud of Senay Kenfe’s work on his Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire interview (the NYC emcee has a deep distrust of the media after a particular publication did him dirty and was selective about the two interviews he did during his short LA stint—which ended up being The Hundreds and NPR’s Microphone Check).
Anna Dorn, one of our new writers this year, interviewed my favorite DJ/producer Asma Maroof of Nguzunguzu—it’s one of those articles everyone should read, especially since people sleep on Fade to Mind like a motherfucker. Anna also profiled UNIIQU3, the Jersey Club kween, which produced some of the most memorable standalone quotes of the year from any interview on our site. Torii MacAdams wrote a hugely entertaining interview with the Ren & Stimpy of rap, Fat Nick & Pouya (we were very proud of the title btw). Photographer Graham Walzer shot some beautiful portraits of musicians for us this year, too many to count. Also, if you haven’t been keeping up with our Top 5 series, they’re hilarious. Start with the Dae Dae episode.
The Progression of Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire by Senay Kenfe
“The whole time I was signed, I felt that. They nail you to a wall and tell you, ‘This is all you can be. You can’t develop, you can’t mature, you can’t do shit.'”
Slime Shit :: The Essential Young Thug Primer by Justin Davis
Becoming Joey Purp by Tara Mahadevan
Track-By-Track :: Kojey Radical Breaks Down “23Winters” by Tom Winslade
“There’s always gonna be that space, but what I look forward to is how human it’s all getting.”
Slime Shit :: The Essential Young Thug Primer by Justin Davis (“[Young Thug is] a microcosm of how people co-opt things now… No one ever feels safe to cosign anything they don’t understand.”)
Chaka Malik & Wes Eisold :: Two Hardcore Frontmen on Going Electronic by Anthony Pappalardo
Meet Kamaiyah, Oakland’s Newest Rap Queen by Anna Dorn
SPITSET Tokyo Recap :: TRAPPED UNDER ICE, ALEXANDER SPIT & NUMB by Alexander Spit
WEST COAST MAKONNEN, BEST THING GOING by Alina Nguyen
An Interview with the Ren & Stimpy of Rap, Pouya & Fat Nick by Torii MacAdams
No, These Are the Best JEFFERY Songs of 2016 by Justin Davis
Branding & Business
Ben Hundreds’ favorite piece on our site hands down this year was probably Alec Banks’s piece on the Politics of Selling Out. Senay Kenfe interviewed Pusharod, who went from a self-described “professional homie” of New West icons like YG and DJ Mustard, to a high-ranking A&R at Interscope who is now responsible for making sure the music that defines our side of the coast gets its shine. Alec Banks also wrote a piece about what we can learn from Patagonia about branding for the long haul, and Bobby Hundreds wrote a fucking on-point piece called “OFF-BRAND” about the death of and future of the ‘brand.’ The Hundreds produced a commercial this year written and directed by Bobby Hundreds called “WILDFIRE” with basically no explanation attached and I thought it in and of itself (with its statement on virality and the passing on of ideas from person to person) was a great think-piece on re-branding.
“I’m not going to let you be the hardest nigga in the studio. I’m going to ask you about your feelings, I’m going to ask you about personal relationships, family issues, and everything. You tell me, I’m going to tell you, ‘Go rap about it.’”
OFF-BRAND by Bobby Hundreds
This year, NYC writer Leland Ware wrote an illuminating interview with Patrick O’Dell (top 10 interview we published this year), and Anthony Pappalardo blessed us with his profile of Dave Bergthold of Blockhead Skateboards. We did a video of Bobby interviewing Jim Gray of Acme Skateboards—it’s a great watch even if you don’t give a fuck about skateboarding because Jim didn’t give a fuck about anything BUT skateboarding and his drive is inspiring. Erik Abriss, one of our newest writers this year, wrote a solid piece remembering the impact of Dogtown and Z-Boys, and consulted some current riders to see how their legacy shifted the world around them. Also: Leland Ware interviewed Hamilton Harris about his role in KIDS and his upcoming documentary about the film.
Video :: Bobby Hundreds Interviews Jim Gray of Acme Skateboards by Bobby Hundreds
[On not having music on Epicly Later’d] “Yeah, it annoys me when it’s like, ‘And then we drained the pool,’ and then Led Zeppelin starts playing. I’d always get annoyed by that. I don’t know, I just wanted to stick to the story.”
Garage Brand :: The Blockhead Skateboards Story by Anthony Pappalardo
“I wanted to work in skateboarding because that’s all I cared about.”
Art & Photography
Sometimes there’s that marriage between photography and writing that just sings. We had that this year several times, but one of our best instances this year was Maxwell Williams’s interview with the artist Cleon Peterson, paired with photographer Nathanael Turner’s photos (Cleon was a great interviewee, and went places a lot of artists refuse to, for like PC and client reasons). Rainey Cruz produced 2 very emotional interviews with Scott Patt (who we had a collaboration with) and Tristan Eaton. Writer/Photographer Andres Tardio’s profile of Mariella Angela was a fan favorite, as was Zio’s interview with Alex Jenkins. Christina Catherine Martinez is such a talented writer. I loved the conversation she had with Aaron Jupin, alongside Graham Walzer’s studio visit photography. This year we welcomed Atlantan writer Yoh Phillips to the fam, and his first article on our site was a profile of Cam Kirk, which outlined how the young photographer’s work is changing the game in his city.
Our Through the Viewfinder edition on Travis Jensen was amazing—not only is he an OG street photographer through and through, I love when he paints a picture with words. We handed him the mic for this piece and his stories reveal so much about human nature. Tom Winslade also did a great interview with Christina Paik, the photographer. Bobby Hundreds just published a series of portraits of our L.A. chef friends in our The Hundreds X Hedley & Bennett collaborative apron—the whole piece was a dream come true because I helped set up a few of the shots, like Demetrios “Jim” Pantazis of Dino’s Chicken and Niki Nakayama of n/naka, and my friend Louis Tikaram who spearheads my favorite restaurant in LA, E.P. & L.P. Andres Tardio also interviewed Baltimore’s son Devin Allen, who went from documenting his city amidst protests on Instagram to landing a TIME magazine cover. Brock Brake, our art correspondent in the Bay Area and curator/owner of Athen B. Gallery shared a few interviews this year, but our team particularly enjoyed his conversations with artists Heather Day and Kate Klingbeil. I’m a big fan of Brock’s pieces because he also shoots photography, which results in intimate studio portraits of these artists in their element. Johnny F. Kim, our Canadian writer straight outta Montreal interviewed the fucking awesome illustrator Lisa Czech, who says her comics are about “anger management”—I love her poster art because they’re actually comics, there’s even one about gentrification in Mexico City that doubles as a tour poster for a Mexican punk band.
Positions of Power, Acts of Violence :: An Interview with Cleon Peterson by Maxwell Williams
“One of the main inspirations that I have is anger.”
Through the Viewfinder: Travis Jensen Shares the Stories Behind His 10 Favorite Shots by Leland Ware
“The officer pulled up, rolled the window down and said, ‘What the hell is going on here?! It looks like a goddamn spaceship landed on the block.’”
Piece By Piece :: Connecting with Scott Patt by Rainey Cruz
“I can never have a job be just a job. I’m way too passionate, I’m way too empathetic, I get way too involved—”
“I’ve sat on panels with scholars, and I’m just a kid from the hood with a camera.”
“I have to make the work to process my life.”
Dream Logic :: An Interview with Artist Aaron Elvis Jupin by Christina Catherine Martinez
The Life and Times of Tristan Eaton by Rainey Cruz
After this year’s mid-point, we tried to produce more essays and opinion pieces. We’re not really an album review type music blog (cuz fuck putting a number on stuff), so when we do reviews, we like to go in. I really, really love Senay Kenfe’s review of Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face, one of my top albums of the year—he compares it to DuBois’s idea of double consciousness. Our girl Charlie Kane went in on how much it really costs to “feel like Pablo” and wrote a piece about dad hats, which she deems the “crown of normcore.” Newcomer on our site Patrick Bierut wrote a piece on how YMBape is the Donald Trump of Streetwear, and that it’s no one’s fault but ours for creating him. Respect to our editor Justin Davis and illustrator Eddie Viramontes on the team at The Hundreds for all their work on producing this piece. London correspondent/creative director Tom Winslade hit me up one morning in the wake of the Brexit crisis and asked if he could write what ended up being his beautifully raw essay “What a Time to Be a Brit.”
2016 in Streetwear was somewhat defined by resellers and hype culture, and Peter Yeh took on Grailed with his piece “Grailed has FAILED.” with a takeaway that hype itself stunts the progression of culture. Bobby wrote a mini-essay about his personal history with Epitaph Records to introduce our collaboration with the esteemed label, and it’s great—so is his deeply personal letter to his mentor Alyasha Owerka-Moore, which kickstarted our collaboration that was years in the making. I’m gonna go ahead and add my coverage of Waka Flocka’s weed party in here because I think it outlines the style of ‘coverage’ we like to have on The Hundreds, it was fun to write, and discusses big marijuana and the impact of the culture industry.
ALSO, I love essays/op-eds/think-pieces on our site because Eddie Viramontes our in-house illustrator gets to draw up some fire feature images when we publish one. So hats off to him for making our site beautiful.
The Ballad of YMBape :: How Streetwear Created Their Own Donald Trump by Patrick Bierut
“Internet culture is constantly reinforcing our desire for instant gratification…There’s no time to process or digest, and that encourages the worst in us: defensive, knee-jerk responses. It discourages discourse. We pick sides, sometimes needlessly, and don’t leave a lot of room for compromise. And this is how hate starts to thrive.”
Grailed Has FAILED. by Peter Yeh
“Anyway you cut it, hype kills culture.”
#DadHat :: The Crown of Normcore by Charlie Kane
What a Time to Be a Brit. by Tom Winslade
“It hurts that our future was largely decided by generations that won’t have to deal with the fallout of this decision as greatly as we will.”
The Two Sides of Q :: A Review of ScHoolboy Q’s “Blank Face LP” by Senay Kenfe (“This that fuck the blogs.”)
How Much Does It Cost to Feel Like Pablo? by Charlie Kane
Hope, Revolution, and Dedication :: My Life with Epitaph Records by Bobby Hundreds
Waka Flocka Flame’s Weed Party & the Future of Cannabis in LA by Alina Nguyen
The Hundreds by Alyasha (an open letter to my mentor) by Bobby Hundreds