Young Paris

Photographed and Styled Young Paris for  Highsnobiety.

Read below for more info on Jay-Z’s protege:

Published 10/25/ 2016

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“You can imagine how theatrical our house was, there were colorful costumes everywhere,” says Milandou Badila via FaceTime. He’s relaxing at a friend’s apartment ahead of a Redbull Music Academy performance in Montreal. Badila, who goes by the stage name Young Paris, enjoyed a childhood that spanned three continents and was shaped by constant exposure to the arts. His father, who passed away in 2011, was a dancer, choreographer and musician as well as the co-founder of the National Ballet of Congo, the country’s first internationally recognized dance troupe. The ballet’s formation came at a critical point in Congo’s history and helped create a sense of unity in the country during the tumultuous time of independence in the 1960s. Paris’s mother was equally immersed in the creative scene; she worked as a playwright and professional dancer. The latter career choice led her to become acquainted with Paris’s father. “She was invited to dance at my father’s studio [in Paris]. Long story short, they fell in love and had seven kids. He had three before he met her so I have 10 siblings in total,” Paris shares.

When the rapper was around seven the family moved from Paris to upstate New York. Still, the change in environment did little to uproot Badila’s familial ties to Congo, where his mother and father would take him to visit between return trips to Paris. This cross-cultural range of experiences soon influenced Badila’s taste in music. As an artist, his interest in divergent genres creates a unique soundscape that blends tropes of traditional hip-hop and trap with EDM, afrobeat and afrohouse.

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“I was involved with a lot of different music styles, ” Badila explains. “I grew up with a lot of traditional African music from Salif Keita to Papa Wemba, so most of my young life was African music. Then, growing up in America, I became interested in hip-hop, I wanted to rap like other kids. As I got older I started going to festivals and I’d hear EDM and trap so I just started mixing all of those different sounds. Now seeing what’s happening with afrobeat it’s created another lane for me because my music already has a lot of those elements.”

In this last year alone global megastars like Drake have turned an eye to the African continent, tapping artists such as Wizkid for chart-topping features. As a result, a new permutation of African-influenced American hip-hop is emerging. It creates a prime opportunity for someone like Paris, whose first-generation experiences position him in the crosshairs of two cultures. He has essentially emerged as a human bridge between traditional hip-hop and the music of the African continent. Following in the footsteps of his mother and father, Paris has created a platform that uses popular culture and performance as a tool for injecting African histories into Western conversations. In 2016, he released the African Vogue EP, which spawned its own hashtag on Twitter specifically dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of the black diaspora.

 

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Click here to read full interview on by Stephanie Smith Strickland on Highsnobiety 

 

Flog Gnaw x Highsnobiety

Photographed Camp Flog Gnaw Festival for  Highsnobiety.

Read below for more info on the best of the fest:

Published 11/18/ 2016

Last week, over 40,000 packed into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Tyler, The Creator’s two-day music festival and carnival, Camp Flog Gnaw. The robust line-up included expected names such as Odd Future affiliate, The Internet, whose funk-inflected set took flight on the wings of Syd the Kid’s diaphanous vocals. Between sets guests grabbed brews and cocktails from beer gardens, and sobered up on food from Randy’s Donuts, Action Bronson’s “Fuck! That’s Delicious” food truck and more. Braver attendees also split their time between the over a dozen carnival rides capable of unsettling even the strongest of stomachs.

Other highlights included an impromptu EarlWolf reunion from Tyler and Earl Sweatshirt and a timely performance of “FDT” (Fuck Donald Trump) led by surprise guest YG. Lil Wayne and DJ/producer Kaytranada closed out the first night while the second night saw experimental hip-hop group Death Grips, and ScHoolboy Q end the festival on a high note on the Camp and Flog stages respectively. It’s nearly impossible to pick favorites in a situation where offerings run the gamut from Ms. Badu to Death Grips, but nevertheless, here are a few of the sets that seemed to really electrify the audience.

Tyler, The Creator

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When you’re performing at your own festival you kind of have to kill it, especially when an automated audio reel of your voice is the first thing that greets guests upon entrance. Outfitted in Golf Wang FW16, Tyler, in his typical self-depreciating manner, proceeded to entertain the shit out of the crowd while reaching back to his early repertoire and also performing more current offerings.

Though the rapper claimed to have no desire to get political, he undeniably hyper-aware of the current climate, inviting guests to put their phones away and truly connect with a rare, carefree moment. Tyler also ended the set by expressing excitement at the number of black youth he saw in the audience before inviting YG to perform “Fuck Donald Trump.” It seemed to be just what people wanted to hear as thousands screamed the hook with the kind of abandon only alcohol, free Ferris Wheel rides and churros can produce.

Rae Sremmurd

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The perpetually lit sibling duo that is Rae Sremmurd did not disappoint. The two commandeered the stage with the help of the Sremm Life Crew, whipping the crowd into an energetic frenzy with songs like “Black Beatles,” the single that spawned the #MannequinChallenge that has swept through social media faster than the bubonic plague wiped out 60% of Europe’s population. And in these times, the irony of lines like, “up like Trump,” were not lost on the audience, but in the spirit of the turn up, the party didn’t stop.

Chance The Rapper

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Not only did Lil Chano from 79th spend most of his set running full throttle from one side of the stage to the other, he also made it a point to dive from his perch directly into the arms of the waiting crowd. Outside of that, Chance also brought a few friends to the stage – namely D.R.A.M. to help out with “Broccoli” and ” Francis and the Lights to for “Summer Friends”. The rapper came into 2016 still on the cusp, but co-signs from heavyweights like Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kanye West, alongside the positive reception to projects like Coloring Book, have certainly secured him as a voice to be reckoned with in 2017.

Kaytranada

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The turnout for Kaytranada’s set seemed to be comprised primarily of ultra-dedicated fans; that was likely because his time slot overlapped with Lil Wayne. That didn’t stop the Haitian-Canadian DJ from instructing those who came through to, “move mufuckas.” And let’s be honest, if you can’t dance to a Kaytranada set you might not have a soul. Highlights included old favorites like Kay’s version of Janet Jackson’s “If” and Azealia Banks’ Pharrell-featured “ATM Jam,” as well as selects from 99.9% like “Glowed Up,” which features another stellar performer, Anderson. Paak.

Erykah Badu

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Erykah Badu delivered her set in the way only Erykah Badu could. She channeled the feelings of disappointment and fear so many of the young audience expressed into a rather eloquent speech about the drawbacks of media and politics in general. She also looked fly AF with a feather-detailed nose ring and a necklace that was nothing short of epic. Her actually performance was a heartfelt retrospective on years worth of creativity in the music industry. It’s certainly refreshing to see a legendary artist still be so enthusiastic about interfacing with her audience.

Anderson .Paak

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“That shit gave me goosebumps” – this is how a friend described Anderson .Paak’s set. Considering this particular friend can be a bit of a snob (no shade) that’s high praise. The California-born r&b crooner opened his Sunday night performance with “Come Down” before calling in the calvary (not that he needed one) in the form of Mac Miller and Domo Genesis, who was also part of Camp Flog Gnaw’s lineup.

.Paak’s music has an emotive quality that bleeds through even when you’re just taking a casual Soundcloud listen, that quality is infinitely more powerful and moving live. Like Tyler and Earl, .Paak seemed to relish the sheer amount of brown faces he saw in the crowd, taking time out of his set to comment on how satisfying it was to know so many POC turned out to support the festival.

Photographer: Bukunmi Grace

Writer: Stephanie Smith- Strickland

Highsnobiety Interview

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Had the pleasure of being interviewed by Highsnobiety about my personal style, what first piqued my interest in fashion, career achievements and more.

What was the thing that first got you interested in fashion?

I was a total nerd in elementary school and would spend my summers in the library. It was there I discovered Alexander McQueen in a “decades of fashion” type of book. I became so obsessed with McQueen’s genius creations and concepts that I would bawl my eyes out watching his runway show. He was my first introduction to the art of fashion.

What was your first big gig?

The first gig that I was proud of was shooting an editorial with one of my favorite models in Bo-Kaap for Elle South Africa a few years ago. It was a very rogue shoot so there was adrenaline from start to finish. I just discovered the designer two nights previously at a movie theatre and I was short an assistant when a taxi driver volunteered to help with the bounce and transportation.

Everything just fell excellently into place. Another plus was when a social media company I worked for in the past used some of the photos for billboards in L.A. It was very cool driving through the hood looking up at my work.grace-bukunmi-highsnobiety-wavy-women-08-light

Tell us about your day to day.

t all differs depending on what country I’m in or the gigs I’ve secured. My ideal day occurs once in a blue moon but it happened recently. I woke up at 5AM, wrote an article, had a styling session, photographed an editor, then went to model cool clothes for a feature. I could do that everyday! However I’m typically on location all-day or attending meetings and working wherever I choose.

If you weren’t doing what you are now, where would you work?

I would most likely start a creative agency with a few friends. It would be heavily centered on strategic content and establishing authentic partnerships. If I were to work for a company, I would love to work at Impossible Project in Berlin; they seem like a really neat company, completely dedicated to their craft. Plus, I love their cameras and films.

Describe your current style.

Grace Kelly-meets-Grace Jones, but ultimately, highly versatile.grace-bukunmi-highsnobiety-wavy-women-05-light

Who or what are you currently inspired by?

I’ve always been inspired by my parents and generally anyone who’s had a story of struggle and found success. Lately, I’ve been heavily inspired by my peers. There are some really great stories that are being shared by people such as David Yi at Very Good Light and Chaédria LaBouvier at Elle. I’m also constantly inspired by my boyfriend’s work ethic, passion and sincere curiosity about everything.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life so far?

Getting passed my doubts and disbelief and learning to have faith in the process. I haven’t won a Nobel prize or discovered a cure for cancer, so for now, this is a good thing.

What is your most treasured item of clothing? (also why?)

My 2-piece Jackie Onassis suit that I got for a dollar during my first week in LA.grace-bukunmi-highsnobiety-wavy-women-02

Where do you want to be in the next five years?

I would love to have made major transitions in my work as a photographer and stylist, learning the ropes of art direction. It would also be lovely to create several photo or fiction books centered around migration, diversity, travel and subcultures.

Dream collaboration? (with whom and what would you create?)

I would create images that allow you to teleport into memories captured in the images. My best bet for a partner on that would be Elon Musk or Sony.grace-bukunmi-highsnobiety-wavy-women-06