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By Chris Castellanos
In a genre of music that celebrates the constant flexing of sex, cars, money, and drugs, one artist, Griff Lamar, decided to take a step back before diving into the alluring shimmer of the professional hip-hop scene. Back in 2012, thousands of people knew Lamar when his song “Super Swag” played on BET’s “106 & Park.” Finding himself in a spotlight, which he had been so eager to grasp, Lamar wasn’t satisfied. For Lamar, there were voices where there weren’t any before, questioning his actions: What does my music mean? What am I saying? Will I be proud of what I have done with my voice? Lamar took a hiatus promising himself that if he ever was going to come back to hip-hop, it was going to be with something to say from the heart.
Fast forward to the start of 2019, Griff Lamar was featured by KRQE for his remake of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, staged at the KiMO Theatre. ABQ-Live had a chance to sit down with Griff Lamar and discuss how he plans to move forward in his return.
Can you tell us about yourself?
Griff Lamar, Air Force Veteran, college graduate, father. That should have been first honestly (laughs). Jack of all trades, I film my videos, I edit my videos. I write music, I have a very particular way of doing things that help me to accomplish what I want. I have a lot of ambition and it’s always been there. I am a person who makes it happen, if I want it I get it, nothing is going to stop me.”
Can you tell us a little about your song “Super Swag”?
I was going to UNM during that time. To be honest, it was something to do. I had just gotten out of the military. Because of the military, I had the benefit of going to college. I was more focused on the music. With the success of “Super Swag”, I gained a lot of confidence — it was like I knew this is the route.
To be constantly working is something that seems embedded in our culture, especially for a creator. While on your break, did you feel a lot of pressure to get back to creating music, or were you content in your hiatus?
I have to tell you why I stepped away first: I was conflicted about the message I was giving. I was on that whole wave of doing what everyone else was doing. Being young in your 20’s living that life, going out, partying, drinking, smoking, all of the above. –it was conflicting for me because I may have been living that lifestyle, but it wasn’t something I was necessarily proud of. I had a daughter at the time and as she got older, I started to realize: What am I instilling in her? What am I going to tell her as far as what she should and shouldn’t do? She can look back on me and literally look me up on YouTube. That was a big part of it. I wanted to keep my morals whether or not I saw that quick success.
I had thousands of views on YouTube, but I deleted them because I wasn’t proud of them. I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, but I knew that I didn’t want to talk about that lifestyle anymore. I didn’t want “Super Swag” to be my whole image and that’s it. There is so much more depth to me not only as an artist, but as a person and I didn’t feel that I had the opportunity or platform to really show that. I wanted to please everyone or not please but I wanted the approval. All [of] that made me want to step back. I want to make sure that I look back at what I did and be proud of it, even if they [fans] don’t like it.
In your new songs. “Energy” and “Talk About It,” the idea of a complex past keeps coming up. Can you explain why that is?
Even during the “Super Swag” era, there were plenty of songs that were more emotional, that came from my heart that had to do with my personal experiences with relationships, but those didn’t get as much attention as “Super Swag.” I wrote “Talk About It” during the “Super Swag” era, and there were other songs that I planned to release. “Talk About It” was a song I never really got behind because it was also during a time when I was wondering if I wanted to keep doing this.
Hip-hop and rap started out almost therapeutically to tell the stories of those who seemingly had no voice. How do you explain the shift from real-life struggles to a more materialistic brag?
It’s always been a part of it, even back in the early ’90s and it was so easy to get swept up into it. It’s not like I was lying. I had girls, I had money, I had friends and that whole lifestyle– it was just an aspect of my life I never wanted growing up. I know I wanted to create, I wanted to be appreciated for my talents. That whole lifestyle was a product of my environment. All of us are kind of caught up in this space where we pretend like it is the best thing to live that way, but the reality is that we are using this to cope with our issues — that’s what I was doing. I’m not going to shun people for doing that, because I know, I lived it. I know how easy it is to get sucked into that. I just can’t glorify that kind of lifestyle anymore.
Are there any influences in the music or crazy music video ideas from your experience in the Air Force?
The Air Force introduced me to some really close friends. You meet people from all over and y’all bond up, you’re tight and then go our own ways. I’ve had some of my best friendship experiences in the Air Force because I lived everywhere growing up. This was the first time I got a chance to get familiar with the area. If you asked me where Central and Wyoming are, I could tell you — that was one of the best aspects of the military — a bunch of people in an unfamiliar area and we grew to know it as well as each other. As far as writing music, not right now. As I delve deeper to tell my story, I’m sure it’ll come up.
Authenticity is another running theme in your music Can you talk about why that is important to you?
I experienced this rare thing where everyone was my friend and no one was at the same time. I didn’t have anyone checking on me or asking how I was doing I had people asking if I wanted to go party or if I knew where the party was. No one cared about asking about me. They wanted to tell me about their cousin who raps, their brothers, sisters, uncles, their mom. They wanted to tell me about all these people who hated me and then I would see these people in person and they would make a beeline for me, shake my hand, pat me on the back and tell me I’m doing a great job. I didn’t know how to feel about it. I think everyone wanted to be cool with me because they didn’t know how far I was going to go. They would say how they really felt with friends, but in public show open support to me and it was confusing. I honestly had more respect to the people [who] stood by what they said about not liking me or my music.
The way I was raised, you communicate your differences. Communication was the way you bridge the gap between personalities and differences. It comes up in the music because it’s a reality. I’m not going to pretend I don’t have my issues, because I do, just like everyone else, but I am self-aware. I don’t get in my own way and if I do, I have people around me who are going to help me.
What are your plans for the future?
I definitely wanted to shoot a music video for “Energy,” [so] I’m putting things together for that. I have a couple of other songs that have already been released that I am not actively pushing for I also plan to do videos for. I am starting a clothing line, and I designed my own logo. I am really trying to dig my hands into every aspect of this. I’m going to hit the ground running, go places. If you like good music, good art, I’m your guy. More than anything good work that I’m proud of.
Griff Lamar’s new music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and YouTube.
By August Edwards
If you’re like me, you have no idea what to wear for Summerween 2019, and you love being the center of attention. I’ve compiled a list to help you achieve all of your Summerween dreams for Saturday, August 10th at the Salt Yard.
Courtesy of www.marthastewart.com
1) Area 51-themed: Something (Twitter) tells me that this Area 51 raid is a hot summer topic. Come as an alien, a citizen with a heart of gold, or even the Air Force. We can’t stop all of you from storming this cool, trendy costume concept.
Courtesy of www.makeupbyrenren.com
2) Any animal, really: Let’s face it; we all might just end up here anyway. Have a pair of nondescript-animal-ears-on-a-headband laying around? Do you have paint or some opaque-ish substance to create a snout, whiskers, or smear under your eyes (in a raccoon-like fashion)? A fur-colored shirt? You’re good, my friend!
Courtesy of gmispace.com , scholastic.com, halloweencostumes.com
3) A Teacher: Sexy! Knowledge! Scorn! Teachers have made some of the biggest impacts in our lives; let’s pay a hearty homage to them by putting on our best, homiest tie or ill-fitting slacks. Remember that sweater Mrs. Howard always wore? Feel free to spice it up and make our beloved teachers the best versions of themselves. You can even put one of those old apples on your counter to good use as a prop!
Courtesy of loudwire.com
4) A Rockstar (Who’s Music You’ve Never Heard): We all know that one song—we don’t need to know their whole story, for cryin’ out loud. Slap on a wig, dabble with some spicy guy-liner, and carry around that ukulele that you store in your closet (folks will get the gist). If someone asks you about discographies, or whatever, you can always distract them by buying them a drink.
5) Your Favorite Brand Mascot: Did someone say “I’m sponsored”? Everyone will recognize you in that bald cap, white eyebrows to match the t-shirt, and an inexplicable, singular, gold hoop earring—that’s right, it’s Mr. Clean! Be the Geico Gecko of the ball while supporting the corporation close to home.
By August Edwards
Taio Taylor will be making a name for herself and Albuquerque at the BMX World Championships, held in Belgium this month. At 10-years-old Taylor has a golden, athletic spirit.
Taylor said what inspired her to start this sport was seeing Caroline Buchanan race at 7 years old.
“The next day I had my bike ready and my helmet and I wanted my dad to take me to Alameda Park so we could practice. Then we went to the actual BMX track and that’s when we really got started,” she said.
Taylor is on the Duke City Development (DCD) team where she enjoys competing with friends and family. She stressed that racing with her family is an important part of her experience with BMX, and the competition is the most fun part of the sport.
Of her experience as a BMX rider, Taylor said qualifying for World Championships has been the one to stand out the most.
“It was super windy during that time, so me and this girl had to keep competing with our elbows. And we both made it to Worlds Championship, so I’ll probably see her there,” Taylor said.
Taylor expressed that though it feels amazing to have made it, she is a little scared of the potential of falling at the track she’ll have to face in Belgium.
“When they hit the ground it’s not nice, it’s rough, but for some reason, they just don’t give up. She has the scars to prove it,” Robel Taylor, Taylor’s father, said, vouching for her toughness.
“BMX is a contact sport, so they allow you to bump arms, elbows—all of those things. For example, once that gate goes down, the aggressive racers try to take that inside lane and also try not to let someone take their lane. So what happens is that people meet up going as fast as they can around these obstacles, and their elbows hit and then boom you have a big turn so then you have to negotiate that, and whoever gets that turn best is probably going to get the lead right there,” he said.
Taylor explained her practice routine with DCD begins with getting warmed up and then proceeding to do straights.
“Once we’re done with all of them, that’s when we’ll move on to the gates and that’s when we do races to the first turn, and usually, we’ll do pump laps with no pedals, where you’re pumping the bike,” she said.
Watching his daughter on the track is inspiring to Robel Taylor.
“The sport of BMX is teetering on athletic ability and courage. She mentioned being scared—everybody is scared, it’s a scary sport. Especially after you’ve taken a spill and you know that it sucks and it hurts, then it gets in your head. So, what I had to teach her is to have a short memory. Do you lose a race? Short memory—it’s all good, it’s over, let’s go have an awesome lunch. Or, you fell, I know it hurts right now, let’s just try to let that go and get through it,” he said.
Despite her nervousness, Taylor is excited to enter the World Championship.
“When you see the first red light that’s when you go because that’s when the gate folds down…It is scary because sometimes the gate doesn’t work exactly how they want it to. There was one time where it went dink! And I hit it too fast and I went over my handlebars. I felt like I was in slow motion,” Taylor said.
Taylor has the mindset of a disciplined athlete. She is a cheerleader and practices back handsprings wherever she can. She has purple roller skates that might be a permanent fixture when she’s not on her bike.
“What would you tell little girls if they were interested in this sport?” Taylor is asked by her father.
“That if you just keep doing it, it’s not as scary as you think it would be,” she responded instantly.
When her father asks her advice for little girls that are frightened of the sport Taylor is quick to supply an answer.
“I would help her get set up, like putting her bike on her gate, and maybe if she’s comfortable enough put both feet on her pedals for balancing, and I’ll tell her when the gate’s about to drop when she can go,” she said confidently.
These answers Taio gives with no hesitation, for it is not only the competition of the sport that she loves but the comradery that comes from it.
Photos Courtesy of stores.inksoft.com/taio/shop/home
The Second Annual Brain Freeze Ice Cream Festival
By Ludella Awad
It was not just children who screamed for ice cream at the Second Annual Brain Freeze Ice Cream Festival, but thousands of New Mexicans. The festival took place on June 8-9 at Balloon Fiesta Park, attracting large crowds consisting of families and ice cream lovers throughout the state.
The event provided multiple tents, housing a variety of Blue Bell ice cream flavors ready to be tasted by hungry attendees — pecan, cookies ‘n’ cream and sherbet, just to name a few. Additionally, the event provided root beer floats, snow cones and an array of fun activities including music, bouncy houses and face painting.
Co-producer of the event, Dean Strober, along with his wife Lena Strober, created the festival to fundraise for the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Network. Together, the couple partnered with a famous ice cream brand, Blue Bell Creameries, increasing awareness for the nonprofit while generating funds for the good cause.
For their part, Blue Bell Creameries not only provided the ice cream but staff, trucks, and refrigeration as well.
Albuquerque Branch Manager for Blue Bell Creameries Jay Cooke said his company was happy to provide ice cream for a great cause through fundraising for the Rio Grande Down Syndrome Network.
“We like to be involved in the community,” he said. “We love partnering up to these kinds of activities.”
Despite temperatures reaching 90 degrees Saturday before hitting the high 80s on Sunday, the heat did not stop people from enjoying their cold treats.
First-time attendee Selita Lucas said she and her children enjoyed the ice cream and snow cones even in the Albuquerque heat.
Another attendant Vodra Dorn, said she enjoyed the festival despite being a large fan of homemade vanilla ice cream.
“I Love Blue Bell ice cream,” she admitted with a smile.
With the event drawing a rough estimate of 9,000 attendees Strober said he plans on hosting the event every year, eventually expanding the festival to other major cities. Which is good news for ice cream lovers who can count on the festival returning and bringing icy treats and smiles to Duke City citizens next year.
Photo Courtesy of Brain Freeze Ice Cream Festival
By Christopher Castellanos
This Memorial Day weekend marked the 19th annual return of the Albuquerque Wine Festival. Along with a generous sun and cool winds, summer brought wine artisans from all over New Mexico and of course their one-of-a-kind award-winning wines.
People gathered to Balloon Fiesta Park, as the sun leaned back into a clear sky and whistled a tune of the soft wind that cooled off excited guests. After passing into the festival, guests were greeted by the savory smell of food trucks parked and cooking on the side of the event. Chicken, with the fire’s hot black char, and sweet smokey barbecue, danced in the air along to the music of the live bands. Wine tents quickly filled up with eager, thirsty bodies. Artisans welcomed as many people as they could, passing samples of red wine from guest to guest and quickly trading bottles of rosé for white with their fellow crafters. The high pyramid of wine boxes each stacked behind them soon came down in a rush of satisfied buyers.
As the first glass of crisp white wine turned into a fifth or sixth glass of bubbly rosé guests took a breath in one of the multiple patio areas. Where shade met smooth grass, people sat at tables to take in the event. It would have only taken a quick glance to see the cheer of everyone sharing in the joy of wine tasting, from knowledgeable regulars to people washed in the refined flavors of wine for the first time.
Approximately two dozen wineries appeared in Balloon Fiesta Park for a three-day celebration of New Mexico’s rich wine culture. Vineyards ranging as far north as Farmington, to way down south in Las Cruces, converged in Albuquerque to share and demonstrate their craft of winemaking for everyone to enjoy. The festival gifted guests with a Viva Vino! wine glass to be used to sample the many wines offered. In addition to free samples, winemakers offered special discounts on bottles and cases of their craft wines. Soft reds and tannic whites arrived at the festival in cases by the hundreds. This year, the festival estimates over 4,224 gallons of wine were passed from bottle to glass.
While the patrons of the wine fest might argue that anyone would be hard pressed to find a happier group than their colorful, sundressed selves, the event means a lot more to the winemakers. New Mexico Wine & Grape Growers Association came together to celebrate our deep history of wine in New Mexico with the people of Albuquerque. The organization was founded in 1991, but the wine arrived much sooner. The first seeds were planted in the Rio Grande Valley in 1629 by Catholic monks who had to smuggle vines out of Spain. Ever since viticulture has been one of the oldest and deepest roots in the culture of New Mexico.
Ranging in multiple locations, wine made in New Mexico stems from not only those who have an art for the beverage but those who enjoy the broad environments. The refreshing white wines are harvested in the soil, neighboring the Navajo Dam. The sweet red wines are raised in an area tucked away by the San Juan River. Despite their differences, they all prosper under the same southwest sky. The flavors brought to the festival are exclusive to New Mexico. Due to a variety of microclimate locations, the winemakers in New Mexico are allowed to grow and store the wine using techniques that are only practiced in those particular environments.
So if you missed the wine train in May don’t worry the NM Wine Festival is preparing to come to Balloon Fiesta Park Labor Day weekend from August 31 to September 2.
By Amanda Gerard
UNM Catering is your one-stop shop for all of your special event needs. Our culinary team is creative and passionate about delivering a menu that fits your unique tastes and budget, leaving your guests with a delicious, memorable experience. Choose from carefully curated menus ranging from impressive displays to show-stopping plated dinners. UNM Catering is also happy to team up with you for a personalized consultation to create a one-of-a-kind menu, enhancing your vision of the special occasion.
Take advantage of the many venue options on campus, or have UNM Catering visit you offsite at your home, office or event space. UNM has many rentable spaces including private meeting rooms or beautiful ballrooms in the Student Union Building. Venture across campus to reserve more intimate spaces such as the University Club, or experience the beautiful city views from the pavilion at UNM Championship Golf Course. Onsite or offsite, we are pleased to bring the flavors to you.
No event is too big or small. We offer comprehensive options for intimate meetings and gathering to large scale banquets and everything in between. Try our fresh take on boxed lunch options for your next meeting, or stay on trend with an artisanal toast bar for a conversation starter at breakfast. Our goal with every event is to deliver a catering experience that goes beyond the traditional expectation. No matter the event size, our main ingredient is care for all of our valued clients.
Creative culinary is our specialty and we’ve got you covered from antipasto to ziti. Our chefs have incredible range and flexibility. Dietary restrictions, cultural cuisine or themed meals are welcome to help you design the perfect meal to compliment the occasion. We pride ourselves on offering an incredible value to our clients. Count on professional, polished presentations and bundled items that maximize your budget.
We have a service that you can count on. Our experienced staff is attentive and proactive about making sure you and your guests can relax and enjoy the event. You choose the service style and our team will gladly assist in delivering a guest experience that makes the host the toast of the event. Our clients can rest easy knowing that UNM Catering will go above and beyond to deliver a ‘wow’ experience. Confidently add bar service with our experienced servers and bartenders.
Contact us today to plan your next event! Visit our website to view our menus or place your order. Our sales staff may be reached at 505.277.2506 or stop by our office in the Student Union Building at UNM.
Photos courtesy of UNM Catering
Sabaku Con returned to Albuquerque May 10-12 bringing with it another great opportunity for all of Duke City’s cosplayers to dress to impress. Enjoy multiple galleries of images from this year’s event.[Read more…]
Aveda Institute New Mexico held its annual Catwalk for Water Saturday, April 27 introducing Albuquerque to a fashionable under the sea experience while raising money for a great cause.
By Nichole Harwood
With doors opening at 6 p.m. patrons of the fashion community flooded into the National Hispanic Cultural Center ready to watch models decorated in makeup and clothing designs created by Aveda Institute New Mexico’s students’ catwalk down the runway to promote clean water awareness.
The performance was made possible through a partnership between Aveda Institute New Mexico and Charity: Water, a non-profit organization that provides clean drinking water to people in developing nations. Additionally, business partners in the community donated gift certificates and prizes to a raffle held throughout the show with proceeds from the raffle being donated. These business partners included Amore Pizzeria, Garcia’s Kitchen, Two Cranes Bistro and Brew, Remedy Coffee, and Showtime Barbershop.
Aveda Institute New Mexico Cosmetology Instructor Dillon Spranley said the charity message resonated strongly with her, as she believes it’s an eye-opening experience for many individuals to realize just how fortunate they are to have access to clean water.
“For me, I think it’s a great cause to raise money for this and not just for something locally within our country,” Spranley said. “I think it’s part of Aveda’s mission to help the world and so I think this is incorporating that.”
The show began around 7 p.m., and the crowd made their way excitedly to their seats before being introduced to the Youtube video “Water Changes Everything” which was quickly followed by a speech going over the importance of clean water.
After introducing the premise of the show, the lights were darkened in the auditorium as the first group of models took to the stage. From there audience members were immersed in a creative performance filled with diversity ranging from drag performances from Nadia Deleon, Kuwani and Liviana to the live artist Ilashone who created a masterpiece before attendees eyes.
Throughout the show, the audience was educated on not just the importance of clean water but the work of Charity: Water who provide solutions to countries that don’t have access to clean water by creating drilled wells, spring protections and BioSand filters that help generate clean water to communities around the world.
Catwalk for Water ended with a finale catwalk featuring models adorned in mermaid attire with false gills and underwater themed makeup.
Before the finale Mark “Pardo” Gonzales thanked the staff and students of Aveda Institute New Mexico, as well as the attendees for their dedication to the charity cause.
“Seeing this kind of work from these students, these young fashion artists inspires me,” said Gonzales.
Video by ABQ-Live intern Raevin Richardson
Photos by ABQ-Live photographer Gabriel Aro
The 9th annual Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest swept through Albuquerque March 16 and 17 delivering an array of flavorful coffees, fruity wines, and delectable desserts to the Duke City.
By Nichole Harwood
With doors opening at 10 a.m. an eager crowd of chocolate and coffee enthusiasts flooded Expo New Mexico Saturday and Sunday.
With over 120 vendors vying for the attention of event participants, there were plenty of treats to go around in the form of tasty samples and fun activities.
One such vendor, Teri’s Sweet Garden, handed out samples of specially made candy to patient attendees.
Owner of the small business, Teri Leahigh said her candy shop has participated in the event for seven years and she noticed a large increase in foot traffic this year as compared to previous ones.
“We love it,” she said. “It keeps getting bigger and better and just more fun.”
Aside from delicious samples, the crowd was treated with live music from bands such as Alpha Blue and Dos Gatos. Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to watch demonstrations in chocolate and coffee making as well as watch an exciting chocolate baking challenge. Lastly, a Cow Milking Demonstration was available courtsey of the Southwest Dairy Farmers throughout the event both days.
Many vendors took the extra step to ensure their business stood out not only providing samples of their products, but combining the treats with activities such as campfires set outside to roast marshmallows for smores or free neck rubs to enjoy aromatherapy products.
There was a feeling of joy and excitement in the air as families stood hopeful in long lines prepared to enjoy the newest pastry, coffee, beer, or wine available. Many vendors eager to give the patient crowd a taste of their products ventured out beyond their booths with trays of chocolate and other delicious samples.
A first time attendant of the festival and a new resident of Albuquerque Dani White said she was pleased with the knowledgeable vendors and their staff at the event.
“This is new for me and I’m having a great time,” White said with a smile.