Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Music should and will always come first -DJ Chicken George

Image courtesy of Elle Magazine

A Nefferttiti-esque woman, Egyptian head dress replaced by a sculpted afro, in a Chanel tweed dress, stands in front of a late afternoon sun-kissed, fire escape adorned, brick wall. Then, she reclines along a cement ledge in a Fendi cashmere dress and sable vest with the Brooklyn bridge in the background. The sun sets on the city, and these images begin the editorial, "New York State of Mind" in Elle's September issue. This fashion spread ties in the sweetest elements of raw, urbanity with jazz and funk. I often find parallels between music and fashion and this editorial bears a striking resemblance to Jazztronica, DJ Chicken George's (CG) unique culmination of hip hop, jazz, soul and funk.

Jazztronica has been the soundtrack to my life these days (it is difficult to get tired of, perhaps due to the diverse genres of music that CG knows so well). So when I took a moment to relax and thumb through the 2010 September issue of Elle Magazine, and I came across "New York State of Mind," styled by Samira Nasr and photographed by Laurie Bartley, I felt a rush of excitement. The imagery created by Nasr and Bartley seemed so familiar... that feeling of deja vu.

I immediately began to cross reference each look to specific mixes created by CG, i.e. page 511, the Calvin Klein suit and Carine Gilson Lingerie Collection corset reminds me of the track "Give Me the Night (chill night mix)" by Randy Crawford on Radio Jazztronica #1 and on page 513, the model in a Chloe silk blouse and crepe pants perfectly illustrate Abstract Truth's "We Had a Thing (Jay's naked remix)", also on Radio Jazztronica #1.

I can go on about the similarities between CG's Jazztronica and this fashion editorial, instead, I urge to you click on one of these links and feel the vibes yourself. The mixes are housed on Properly Chilled- down tempo music and culture and can be accessed through DJ Chicken George's audio mixes on his website as well www.djchickengeorge.com Radio Jazztronica. Sit back, relax and let the funk fill your soul.

All previous images courtesy of Elle Magazine

This post was supposed to be published in September, near the release of writer/ photographer Damon Daood's afro infused coffee table book entitled Afrodesiac. Still, it's never too late to expose a book that allows readers to delve into their chocolate covered fantasies... http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1740255. Damon was sweet enough to share some delicious insight on his creative endeavors.

What initially triggered your desire to shoot images of women in afros?

The initial seed was planted several years ago with a photographer friend–we armed our alternative egos with cameras for the day and began shooting for the hell of it. Well, I guess I was doing more shooting of her yummy sweet thangs (I do after all have quite the sweet-tooth.) She busted out an afro wig along the way and it was all chocolate from there. Shortly after our encounter, I began crafting a screenplay of a martial world where fu, fros, funk and ninjas were the norm. AFRODISIAC is somewhat an extension of that world–a distant cousin but the book idea wasn't conceived until much later in the spring of '09.

From what I had the opportunity to witness, this appeared to be an intense project. As you initially immersed yourself in it, did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?

I really didn't quite grasp the magnitude until this past year. There was an extended period of time where I couldn't look at a woman without picturing her nappy (I'm sure that sounds naughty but it's the truth). If rolling around with 20 flavors of fro in yo’ trunk is full immersion, then yes I’m very guilty and throw the chocolate wrapper at me. I wanted an experience everyone could enjoy on some delicious level–from the ninja in the lens, the viewer thumbing the pages or even the spectator on the street witnessing the fro down – It's definitely the largest scale project I've singularly taken on.

You gave a handful of women, myself included, the opportunity to lead a super sexy alter ego while we were in front of your camera. How did it feel to be on the other side of the lens, capturing the images?

Although I was the one wielding the camera, there was a part of me that enjoyed being the proverbial "superbly" on the wall. It was a delicious spot to be and highly addictive. Women love to feel beautiful (and desired) and eye love dipping them in my chocolate soul sauce. I warned every woman who came onto the project that the experience would be unlike anything they’ve experienced and by the end of the shoot how difficult it would be returning to their 'regular' self. I witnessed this transformation dozens of times. The alternative egos served as an extension to their identities and the 'fros became the mojo to drive each. I'm a man who loves to play like a boy in a constructive way and it's always fun to invite others into my chocolate covered neurosis.

Your final product is gorgeous; something to be proud of. But I know that you have more up your sleeve. Is there anything that you are willing to share at this point?

Thank you. I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed it! I'd like to continue with future AFRODISIAC volumes touching on certain themes and expand on what I've started here but that's down the road. I have other avenues involving music & film but wherever I choose to go or do I won't stray too far from my nappy heady roots and the chocolate will certainly be melting on the tongues of the natives.

Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

I was so flattered when Damon suggested that, due to my undeniable passion for hip hop culture, I "fro" down and really release that part of me. The shoot was exhausting, hot and dirty (we were literally sprawled across asphalt on one of Austin's hottest summer days) but it was so gratifying to participate in this project. I also need to make note that the book was edited by the one and only, Amy, who is also responsible for the editorial aspects of Suburbane Style.
Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

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