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California Dreamin’: From Chicago to LA

February 8th of this year I packed up my car and moved from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

The idea of leaving Chicago had been something I played with for years but uncertainty kept me home, going through the motions. Then in December of last year I was told the bar I had been working at was closing. Soon-to-be-unemployed, single and too close to 30 for comfort I decided “fuck it” and started packing for LA. According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago is leading the U.S. in population loss for the second year in a row. The publication cites high taxes, state budget issues, crime and the unemployment rate as major reasons for why people move out of state. I left Chicago because I saw a bigger market for my social media management agency AN Social, I’ve never been one to stay put for long and I thought a little sunshine would do me some good. Everyone has different reasons for making that leap and in this piece I talked to three other Chicagoan’s about their transitions to Los Angeles.

Jordan Eversley – Marketing and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator / Hip Hop Caucus (@younghustle8)

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Jordan “Hustle” Eversley grew up off 87th and Jeffery on Chicago’s Eastside. His marketing and public relations background came into play while working with King Louie, Jeremih, G Herbo and Dreezy to name a few people. His work ethic and ability to seize opportunity earned him the nickname “Hustle” which is still very much a part of his character.  Eversley moved to LA in July of 2015 for better opportunities and to get away from Chicago’s persistent violence. “The violence is just real. And for me to be safe and working is everything”.  The hardest part of his transition to LA was leaving his family behind. “Not having family, that’s super big,” says Eversley. “You don’t really realize how important family is until you don’t have it”. Getting set up in LA wasn’t easy but he’s definitely made the most of the past two years. Not only is he a vital part of the Hip Hop Caucus team but he is also the National Director of A&R for A3C, one of the largest music conferences/festivals in the country. He says he misses Chicago but moving to LA has given him peace of mind. “Things lined up the right way and I took the opportunity,” he says. “Having peace of mind is so much more important than people think”.

Christina Gray – Chef / What’s On the Menu (@whatsonthemenu_) 

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Tenacity is extremely important when trying to make a name for yourself in a place like LA and Christina Gray has plenty of it. Gray moved around Chicago growing up; from the west side to the 100s to the south suburbs. She started contemplating the move to LA in November of 2014 after a terrible breakup but finally took the leap January of 2015 after her mother announced she was moving. “I didn’t know what my next step was. I didn’t know if LA was the place I needed to be in”, says Gray “My mother moving to Arizona felt like a clear sign it was time for me to leave”.  She saw greater opportunity in LA to expand her brand as a chef and to raise her son in a safer environment. “Chicago is really a harsh city and I didn’t want my son to have to grow up in that. California is a place where u can be free to be whomever u are, almost like a judgment free zone. So that played a big part”.  One of her best friends, comedian Lil Rel (Get Out and The Carmichael Show) was moving to LA at the same time so that gave her somewhere to stay during the transition. Gray is focused on what she came here to do which shows in the growth of her catering company What’s On The Menu. Amazingly creative and delicious dishes combined with Gray’s effortlessly cool personality makes What’s On The Menu a success but she still remains humble and focused on getting to where she wants to be. “Of course people think “oh u made it” when u move to LA but they really don’t understand it’s more of a struggle living here. It’s unfamiliar land. I definitely haven’t “made it” YET. I’m honestly trying to figure it out every day”.

Jonathan McCoy (Pavy) – Artist (@pavyworld)

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Rapper and Chicago Washington Heights native Jonathan McCoy (stage name Pavy) is honest when it comes to why he moved to LA. “I lied and told myself it was for my career but it really wasn’t. I was honestly just running away from a lot of the responsibility I had back at home and I thought somehow being 3,000 miles away would fix all of my problems”.  Three years later he’s adjusted to the west coast and is focused on his social calendar, getting fits off and most importantly, his music. McCoy describes his sound as “upscale rap music” and wants to create songs for people to enjoy every day. Luxury and good vibes are themes that are apparent in McCoy’s rhymes, inspiring people to live their best lives. “There’s no way my music would have improved sonically & topic wise had I not moved,” says McCoy “I’m around so many different cultures now & having experiences I would have never had back at home so obviously it effects my music. I honestly feel like I’m making the best music I’ve ever made right now”. Initially hating LA, McCoy now admits his time here has made him a more well rounded person. He’s nonchalant about missing Chicago but does admit he made the transition too soon. “I felt I made the wrong decision (moving to LA) for the longest time, I actually still feel like I made the wrong decision but more so with the timing of rather than the actual choice”.  He was forced to grow and stand on his own in moving to LA which is something I identify with. Some people leave their comfort zones and crumble but some rise to the challenge and McCoy has definitely risen.

 

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Skinny man, fat dreams: A spotlight on Chicago creative Desmoney

Sometimes you meet people who are electric. Who are rare and doing things that are not only cool, but important. South side native Desmond Tutu Owusu (Des for short) is building and if you’re smart, you’re paying attention. Des has been lending his fresh perspectives to photography for two years now with a portfolio including Nike, Complex and recently, a children’s book called Too Fly Not To Fly.  

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“I was messing around with the iPhone and I was getting better, getting good and Trash (Trashhand) was telling me “Yo, you should make this a serious hobby”. I came by his crib and he let me borrow his (Canon) Mark III for 3-4 weeks and after he saw the shots he told me to really think about getting a camera. I bought my first camera July 2014, a Canon Rebel T5i”.

Des’ photography centers around human interaction and urban settings. He gravitates towards anything concerning life and works at becoming better at his craft constantly. In the two years I’ve seen Des grow as a photographer what he’s gained the most is a confidence in himself.

“I trust my ideas more” he says, “I’m not afraid to make mistakes right now. I’m comfortable with myself and my ideas”.

Through his lens you see an honest and somewhat softer side of Chicago. This can be seen in his work for Too Fly Not To Fly, an alphabet book created by him and writer/teacher Briana McLean. The book is meant to spark discussions for children and help them critically examine issues affecting their lives. Since the release in early June the book has done extremely well, selling out within a few days.

“The reaction we got from a lot of people was that the book was a breath of fresh air,” says Des “the kids felt like stars. We wanted to give them something to be a part of and feel proud of”.
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Des explores the city with his camera and a purpose; unifying a city that is constantly being torn apart.

“We got so much culture here but it’s so fucking segregated. The segregation within the city affects how Chicagoans treat each other. With my photography I want to show people that we’re the same”.

This idea of unification and love shows up not only in his photography, but in his clothing campaigns, including the “Chicago Girls Do It Better” tee that drops today online and in store. Des has worked with his friends Vic, Joe and Terrell in clothing design for quite some time now, each one with their own projects that are unified by the store Fat Tiger Workshop. Since an image of the shirt was posted on social media earlier this week the demand for it has an been insurmountable.

“Chicago women don’t get no love and I feel like we got some dope ass ladies here. This is something to encourage our women. I love them and want them to be the best”.

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The “Chicago Girls Do It Better” tee will be available online or at Fat Tiger Workshop (1043 W. Grand) today at 12pm central. Follow Des on Twitter @_desmoney for more info.

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Dj spotlight of the month: Dj Boi Jeanius

This month I bring you Boi Jeanius. His passion for djing and his keen sense of all things music make him a standout not only in Chicago, but all over the U.S. 

  
Boi Jeanius was given his name when he was 15 by an early mentor. Boi Jeanius would go clean his mentors studio and in exchange he would show him some of the basics of djing. 
“I went home and asked my mom what she thought. She said “genius? It sounds too cocky. You have to be the best if that’s what you’re going to call yourself.” So I decided right then and there what I wanted to do”.

And that’s what he’s done. Boi Jeanius is recognized as one of the most talented dj’s in Chicago. His skill brought him to the finals of the RedBull 3style Dj competition the past two years in a row. 

“I try to incorporate the art form as much as I can. Creating on the fly is what I live off of.” 

In addition to being an amazing Dj Boi Jeanius is also an instructor at Scratch Academy on the north side of Chicago and in his spare time he builds custom dj desks with his father (@liboriodesk). His influences include A-track, Jazzy Jeff, Craze and Chicago’s own Timbuck2. When asked about Timbuck2 he says, “it’s kinda crazy how much influence one man has on an entire scene. I don’t always know how to show my gratitude and appreciation but I try to reflect his teachings in my accomplishments.” 

  
Follow him on social media @boijeanius 

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Feature: Dj spotlight of the month: Dj BMan

One of the most eccentric people I’ve ever met also happens to be one of the most underrated dj’s in Chicago. Dj BMan is good, no scratch that, he’s freakin amazing which is why I picked him for the Dj of the month.

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When asked about what made him want to become a Dj he refers to his uncle.
“When I was a kid, he had all Dj equipment in his room and I would go over there and be fascinated at how he could make two songs sound like one”.
His uncle taught him well; BMan is one of the best at blending songs. His sets are cohesive, there aren’t any awkward song changed or confusing mashups. BMan is a playful person which comes out when he works. He’s awesome at interacting with the crowd and keeps the party moving. One of the great things about him is his music knowledge. From gospel to pop to Brazilian, BMan listens to it all. His knowledge comes from experience, he’s been djing for a long time and so I was curious as to how he feels music has changed over the years.
“It’s a never ending circle” says BMan, “you still have your main genres, the only deference is now music production is available to almost anyone with a simple download. What once involved studio equipment can all be done on a laptop. Each genre evolves with the generation. Same messages just different ways of delivering them”.

Check out Dj BMan on these social media platforms!
Twitter @deejaybman
Facebook djbmaN
YouTube djbman81

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Feature: “Art is for the people” A look at Brave New Art World

One thing I’ve always liked about Chicago is its art scene. There’s no shortage of talent here and the support provided by the community is genuine. One organization doing its part to make people conscious about art is Brave New Art World.

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Brave New Art World was founded in May of this year as an arts unification movement. The group consists of 12 core members including photographer Lloyd Thomas Johnson, better known as Flow. Flow has been with Brave New Art World since June. He does events management where his responsibilities include choosing musical acts and vendors.
“The arts and the art world is far more important than people give it credit for” explains Flow, “it helps mind, body and soul and to not take advantage of it, or even worse, to not have access to it, is tragic”.
One of Brave New Art World’s purposes that really speaks to me is to engage and cultivate the public interests and access to art. This organization opens your eyes to galleries and exhibits you may have never known about. Art is inspirational and in a copy/paste world we live its refreshing to experience something different.
“Through Brave New Art World we have the ability to put art into the hands of people who may not be able to afford it or often times feel uncomfortable with where most of it is sold” says Flow, “We’ve done a lot to take the pretentiousness out of art shows and art in general”.
In addition to cultivating an interest in art Brave New Art World also provides a supportive community for all artist. Talking to Flow he stressed the importance of people supporting each other for the arts community to grow.
Brave New Art World does an art crawl each month in the River North area. The art crawl is free and features live music, food and beverage survey, critical talks and much more. I definitely recommend checking it out!

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“There is no limit to the value of art” says Flow, “no matter how abstract, confusing or weird it all has a place as long as it inspires even one person”.

Learn more about Brave New Art World by visiting their website
bravenewartworld.com

Also follow Flows twitter and sites
@FollowFlow
followflow.net
mymorningafter.net

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Feature: Dj spotlight of the month: Dj Protege

Working in the nightclub industry you meet a lot of interesting people but none quite like Charles Protege. Diverse dj, loving father and comedian; Protege is the perfect person to kick off my dj of the month series.

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I first encountered Protege during his residency at The Shrine last year. What made me pay attention to him was how his sets were diverse but kept the crowd moving.
“As the dj it’s my job to make you dance but also coach you” says Protege. He makes a conscious effort to educate people on different musical genres. He also boasts being “one of the first black dj’s to play pop for an urban club”.

Born and raised in Chicago, Protege was inspired by house music. To this day he still remembers the moment when he wanted to start spinning.
“I was at a BBQ one day and Dj Boolumaster was on the radio. People didn’t stop dancing for an hour. Right then I decided to wanted to make people dance”.
Some Chicago artist Protege listens to now include Chance the Rapper, Rockie Fresh and Mic Terror. His all time favorite is Chicago legend Common.

A major part of Protege’s life is raising his daughter. Protege is a very involved father and when asked if he had any advice for other young fathers he cites karma as a factor in how he lives.
“Karma is generational”, says Protege, “I’ve stopped doing things that could come back to haunt my daughter. Treat the women you’re around as you’d want your daughter treated”.

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You can catch Dj Protege at Network Cyber Bar (810 N. Clark) on Sundays from 3pm-9pm and Tuesdays from 10pm-2am. Network is a beautiful lounge-style bar with great food and good drink specials. He’ll also be at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas for Labor Day Weekend.
@CharlesProtege

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Feature: Sean Mac x Casket Collection

I had never heard of “cult fashion lux street wear” until I became familiar with Sean Mac and his Casket Collection. The Casket Collection is a brand focused on nothing but the aesthetics; that being the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty. I spoke to Sean briefly about his vision for the Casket Collection and what inspired him to take the leap from music to fashion.

Growing up Sean Mac was an inquisitive only child. He was creative and wanted to know about everything; especially fashion.
“At 13 I would take my pants to be tailored” says Sean. Fit and the way clothes feel have always been important to him. The 90’s were a great era for fashion and played an important role in molding Sean’s sense of style. Now, in his early 30’s he feels this is the right time to try his hand at designing.

“I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to be fresh” says Sean,”the line is clean and simple, it’s for all walks of life.”

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The Casket Summer 13 Collection features street wear staples as well as some pieces inspired by athletics. His grandfather coached sports when he was a kid and Sean thinks “athletics are inspiring when mixed with fashion.” The Summer 13 Collection showcases Sean’s favorite color, black.

“I’m a go-getter and a street nigga” Sean explains, “I wanted to keep the line positive and clean. Black is a powerful/beautiful color. It’s timeless.”

“Black Fog” The Casket Summer 13 Collection runway show is tomorrow from 7pm-10pm. The event is sponsored by Hennessy and you must RSVP to attend.

“People are still trying to understand/see through Casket which is why I called it Black Fog” says Sean. With an appropriate title and a dope collection I’m excited to see the runway show tomorrow evening. I will be walking around snapping photos, say hi!

@Casket33AD
@TheKidSeanMac

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