The Black Couch Studio & Gallery

“Every piece of art displays a story”. But what is Mark Naren’s story? Well, Mark is the owner of The Black Couch Studio and Gallery.  The Black Couch is a place where creativity has no limits.  Offering everything from open mic nights, to group art and music lessons, the community can actively be involved in the arts. He has over 70 pieces of his own IMG_20151118_160635on the walls of the studio and has done thousands of others which have been featured in numerous art shows and sold for both residential and commercial use. His style of art has darkness and mystery. People who buy his art don’t solemnly come back to just visit Mark (even though that should be enough reason on its own since he is an excellent conversator). They come back for more of his art because each one of his pieces tell a story people want to hear more of.  Mark does a great job along with Suzanne , his wife, at keeping art and creativity alive.

Suzanne is Mark’s gatekeeper the core of everything The Black Couch is created on. He even wears a key around his neck to symbolize her importance. He is the key-holder and she is the gatekeeper. She organizes every meeting, and records every single person who has entered the studio. She is the brain of this operation.  Mark met his IMG_20151118_160551soulmate and business partner at the beginning of his art career .  Mark was creating centerpieces for Suzann’s son’s Bar  Mitzvah. When he saw her he knew he was “f**ked”  as said by Mark, “If i was to create my dream woman on a computer it would be Suzann.”

 

Mark and Suzanne have used their talents to create something bigger than art. They created after school programs to help kids with their creative freedom. They believe if you start kids off early, releasing their creative expressions, you will build their confidence and it creates a certainty that they will be able to figure out who they are wor who they want to be.  They have a need to let parents know what it means to be creative. It is an ongoing goal to get money put back in IMG_20151118_160700school art programs, because without art, kids will won’t be able to express themselves individually anymore. They recognize where power is and they want to fuel the littles ones early. Mark and Suzanne don’t stop there though. In just helping out, they have a philanthropy. They always give a percentage back to different community organizations and charities. Along as well with believing in feminism,  another point that Mark made was how he wants this to be “women strong”. This past year, around 85% of the artists Mark has worked with have been women. It has inspired his creative movement is just powering the creative. “People need to know more about how creative Chicago is. They don’t know about our musicians as much as they do in other places”

IMG_20151118_160941Mark finds encouragement and inspiration through music. The Black Couch welcomed Ever Evolved and now work side by side. One upcoming event is Misfit In Me. The objective of this project is “to bring light to  the  hyper-creative, that have an incredible strong belief in their own belief system”. An event we can’t miss with live production, performances and art. Misfit in me is something that Mark has been dreaming about having, and is ecstatic to see it come to life. It exemplifies all of his motives and shows everything he has been working towards for so many years. Another project he has collabed on with EverEvolved is Art Cases and smart laces. Partnering  up with Mike Booth (One of Ever Evolved’s MCs), their mission is to create art on phone cases and shoes. Everyone loves to stand out so , it’s going to be done with uniqueness of two products people use and wear everyday. They paint or mark up shoes and cases, each handmade with individual design, one will never look the same as another. Rhymster, another Ever Evolved artist,  just started MC Boot camp. It is an all-around interactive course for all ages interested in expanding their skills on the mic.  Its goal is to teach people to release their creative minds and unwind. It is to  help develop skills in poetry, spoken word, and MC-ing.  It also let’s you enjoy other’s art, and bounce ideas off one another, getting a really good creative flow going.

If you’re looking for unique art pieces, Mark is definitely the guy to see. If you want to meet him and see some of his art displays at a show, come out to Bang! Salon (1425 W ashland ave, Chicago IL) this friday at 7pm!

Feel free to stop by The Black Couch Gallery & Studio:                       Where: 4200 W Diversey                                                                                               Call: 847-321-5681

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-Lizzethe & Naihal

Miss Chiff & Fury – In Control (Official Music Video)

Miss Chiff has a powerful message for women and the music industry in this one. This Hip Hop MC is straight from Chicago so you know she is not afraid to say what is on her mind. Aided by fellow female MC Fury, the two artists take on misogyny and objectification of women in the music industry. Some female artists appear to take part of the whole scheme for money and fame at the cost of their image and the youth, these artists take the problem head on. This has been a problem in Hip Hop especially for years and battled by powerful women like Lauren Hill, and fury mentioned Lisa Left Eye Lopez from TLC in the music video. Grab the free download on the artists soundcloud.

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Psalm One Loves You

Photo/Art credit to Psalm One/Hologram Kizzle
Photo/Art credit to Psalm One/Hologram Kizzie

If you are unfamiliar with this rapper chick here is a little introduction. Grew up in the south side of Chicago, made education a priority and graduated at UIC with a chemistry degree. Then she decided she was gonna blow your minds with inspiring hip hop music and soulful lyrics. Since then she has worked hard releasing music and has shared the stage with the likes of 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Rakim, Atmostphere, A-Trak, Gym Class Heroes and also fellow Chicagoans Flosstradamus and Probcause who is the probably the reason I myself jam to this rapper chicks music.

You may know her as Psalm One. Others may know her as Hologram Kizzie; and others, the first lady of Rhymesayers Ent. One thing for sure is that she is super dedicated to the music; she has kept her self busy. From creating Rhymeschool a youth program to creating her hip hop group RapperChicks to collabing with artists like her Zro Fox project with Probcause, this cat is more than inspiring if there is a word for it, gotta admire her character and work ethic. One top of that she has just released her 3rd studio Album P.O.L.Y. and is in the middle of her DIY tour.

P.O.L.Y. is a 10 track masterpiece with smooth instrumentals and quality production and lyricism. It is also her most collaborative effort as well, there are a lot of artists on this album; Drew Mantia, The Omy’s, My Gold Mask, Kyle Miller, Wes. P and the Rapperchicks who were there with here from the start of the album she told Complex. The whole album seems to be an outlet of emotion and creation of this point in her life, experimenting with relationships from monogamy to polyamory. You can hear the passion and soul in the music and lyrics, it hits heavy and but leaves a smooth vibe, and excellent production on the beats. This artist is one of a kind if you have not noticed already! Do not be snoozin on Kizzie! Follow her and make sure to listen to P.O.L.Y.!

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Rising Artist: L.x.

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Young MC from Chi-town is putting in some hard work. With that and a good attitude L.x is on his way to every artists dream. Also known as Alexander Hoffman, this MC has been making major moves to get his music and name known; Collaborating with artists, performing locally, networking. Recently L.x has released a 12 track mixtape and I got to steal some time from him to talk about it and what he has planned.

What can you tell us about your new mixtape?
L.x:  My Lyfe mixtape is a variation of genres but aslo keeping my life portrayed in melodic fashion.  Everything from mixing to the artwork cover was all crafted 100% from my hands & ideas with instrumentals from around the world including Poland & Moscow With features from friends to hooks accompanied by artists from Uk & America.

Any specific instruments or style you are using?
L.x: 
A lot of old school classic piano & some new school synthesizers. Keeping the boom bap.

Right off the bat L.x knocks it out. You know, tells us whats its all about, all you gotta do is listen.  You can see he is getting very creative and going all out with this project and when you listen to it you can hear it. But wait, here this; Me n L.x keep sharing words and he fills me in on another project in the works that he says he cannot wait to bring to Chicago called VibeMusic.

What significance does this project hold to you?
L.x: Almost Everything holds significant meaning but vibemusic is definitely my food for constant thought cause the tracks made were in the moment and very heart felt. I also started it with a best friend who used to be in my band and since we where young we made music that held such vibe and when me and him get together it’s definitely a clash of cultures but so well mixed I would love to say the vibe music vol 1 collection changed and grew both of us in to better people& artists.

Are you and your friend continuing on with the VibeMusic collection?
L.x: Yes and soon the next vibe music vol. 2 will have more artists but the first one is me and him. We have shirts comming out too.

What does Vibe Music represent?
L.x: Chill hop anything thing that can that has soul, in the rap hip-hop category.

So L.x is trying to highlight some of the fresh, more creative talent of Hip Hop. As we continue chatting he reveals more details about his project with his friend. L.x really likes planning for the future it seems he is already looking forward to releasing vibe music and going on to vol. 2 to connect with more artists. He also plans to host monthly cyphers and filming videos to connect artist and really bring vibe music to a global medium.

Taking over the world does not come over night as most successful people surely know and cannot stress enough. Its all about the effort in between and taking golden opportunities at the right time. Speaking of opportunities L.x has had an invite to perform live in front of an audience at a hip hop music award show you are more familiar with; BET. When you work hard have a good attitude and take opportunities when doors open will get you far and L.x got his foot in the door! Listen out for the name and check out his mixtape My Lyfe.

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5heriff X CEO Beatz

5heriff CEO

Chicago hip hop producers 5HERiFF and CEO Beatz came out of the wood work to make a track D I S N E Y together. The two individually have quite the impressive collection of music. 5HERiFF starting to play with sounds and music at a relatively young age and has become very skilled at intricate beat work and harmonizing over time. CEO also a long time producer gets more in depth with every track he makes. Both great credits to the hip hop and trap music genres making real vibin tunes like this one here.

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Light Em Up – She Can Get It [Free Download]

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Chicago is filled with a bunch of talented artists individually. Here we got two in one. Zebo and Phnm have recently linked up their musical talents to create Light Em Up. The two producer/dj’s have roots in trap house and hip hop styles and light up clubs that they have residential spots in around Chi town. Quite the busy duo of musicians. Their debut single She Can Get It brings a mix of deep house style with a little hip hop and trap flavor. A real catchy track that will keep you on your groovin feet and it is a free download so you cannot get enough of it.

Not only have the duo released a track but they also combined their creative minds and knowledge of the dance floor to released a new app. The project puts emphasis on the DJs role to conduct the crowd and take them on a musical journey as opposed to just playing music. The Light Em Up app allows the crowd to interact with the DJ and participate in the musical direction of the set by clicking a color on their phone corresponding with a genre of anyones choosing. Which ever color, or genre, dominates the scene gets to be played next. Download the app here and go see Zebo and Phnm perform and “Light Em Up”!

RhymSter x Mike Booth – HopSkipNaJump [Free Download]

With more and more time out in the scene RhymSter keeps harvesting more talent and networking with some prime underground hip hop MCs. Back on the sound waves since his last release Raw, RhymSter this time comes out with a collab release with the very talented Hip Hop Mc Mike Booth, straight outta Chicago. Going back to back on the vocals, Booth and RhymS create some excellent vibes with their smooth flow over a beat produced by our german friend Henrik3000. Both MCs with some high energy rhymes are an excellent pair and they are just getting started. You can catch them spreadin the good word the the conscious MC around Chicago open mics at Lilly’s, Sub T and more, even hosting a few events themselves. Very busy individuals destined for greatness, do not miss out!

Grab the HopSkipNaJump free download here:

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Meet Marco Ché

marcoche

If you are looking for some real, dope hip-hop music then look no further than Chicago’s underground artists. Jumping around open mics in the city, Marco Ché showcases his talent and most recent body of work with dynamic stage presence. His latest mixtape, Black Soap Theory alone has enough material, with catchy hooks, verses and some fun samples over quality beats to rival your highest paid mainstream “rapper” today. He can probably pull a better show than most as well, equipped with just a mic in hand.

From boom bap to jazzy hip hop vibes, Marco can spit over any beat flawlessly. Black Soap Theory itself goes back n forth with energies high and low, hijacking your mind and taking you on an epic musical journey. Manipulating your moods and elevating you to a hip hop state of mind. Marco knows how to take control of a beat, you can tell when you hear him on the mic. In which case you can see for yourself when he performs for open mics at Lily’s and Sub T in Chicago. There you can see Marco collab and network with other artists, scheming future work. Right now Marco is already working on his next project Black Soap Theory 2 and a collab piece with Rhymster to add to his list of collabs. But while we wait, make sure to follow Marco Che on his soundcloud and bump this mixtape loud and throw some support his way on his bandcamp profile.

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MUSIC FESTIVAL FASHION FIX

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Some Music Festival’s like to have a certain theme to match the genre of music that will be played or it can be a regular festival with multiple music genres. Whether going to Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Made in America or the Riot Fest, take a chance on different fashion styles. Think outside the box other than a regular t-shirt and jeans, sandals and gym shoes, mix it up a bit. This current 2015 year, the new fad seems to be a bohemian look or the 90’S trend. Take a look below for a few stylish ensembles that can help inspire an idea for an fashionable 2015 Music Festival look.

Men

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Gentlemen, the task of shopping is always more incomplex then women. Of course no one wants to look like a dork, a douche bag or just plain ole undignified. No matter what look dope to the highest degree. Possibly you may bump into a famous music artist or the woman of your dreams.

(Lumberjack shirts, Jeans, Shirts, Denim, Sweat pants, Shorts, Vest)

Women

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Ladies we want to be comfortable, free to just be cute and somewhat half-naked (laughs) it’s all good because it hot outside and we want to look even hotter.

(Dresses, Cardigans, Rompers, Jeans, Jumpsuits, Shorts, Leggings, Skirts,Tees, Tanks)

Group Theme

MUSIC FESTIVAL FASHION

Nothing like friends to the End, Bro’s before….Ladies sticking together through the weather. During music festivals, groups of friends like to come up with the idea of dressing the same way. The theme could be The Nerdy crew, Best Friends Forever, The “Bro” group, The flower power look, and more!

Accessories

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Make sure the look has it’s finishing touches with Jewelry, Sporty Watches, Hats and Headbands. Also carry extra mints,toiletries, deodorant, fragrance, selfie stick, in a cool Backpack that coordinates with the outfit.

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Comfortable shoes

When the music hits, the audience jumps up and down, walking through grass and dirt in inevitable and someone may step on your feet. Wear the most comfortable shoes to keep from hurting your toes or gaining imperfections toward the feet area. Dr. Scholls may be necessary to insert inside the shoe area for comfort. Remember there will be alot of standing and walking around for hours throughout the event.

(Women Boots, Dr. Martens, Converse, Men Sandals, Sneakers,  Women Sandals, Slip on Vans, Gladiator sandals)

Still not sure of what to wear? Try Pinterest for more ideas. Find your favorite local stores in the mall or  shop online to select clothing items that are unique and affordable for the special Festival look! Good luck 😉✌

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6 WAYS TO SURVIVE MUSIC FESTIVALS

SURVIVE MUSIC FEST

In the words of one of the greatest musicians of all time “Music is my Religion” – Jimi Hendrix.

All over the world people come together to celebrate music in harmony. The tickets may cost an arm and a leg (pricey) but the experience is significant. Along with Fun, Food, Music, Selfies and fashion, Music Festival’s can also have a downside if a game plan is not in effect beforehand. Take a look at these 6 unforgettable tips that can help sustain an fantastic experience!

6. Stay Hydrated

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The Food and drinks are not cheap, bring cash and make sure to have plenty of bottles of water packed. Also bringing a personal insulated water bottle is not a bad idea either, that way refilling your own personal bottle will not be a problem.

5. Porter potties? or Bush?

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After drinking all of that water and eating food, it has to come out sometime during the festival. Where should I go?? Let’s face it the world is filled with people who don’t care vs. germ-a-phobes. The nearest stores also claim they have a no public washroom policy. What to do? Be prepared to use the porter potty or find yourself a bush as my friend Bria Douglas says. A personal roll of toilet paper may be needed as well.

4. Prepare for the weather

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When it rain it pours, the weather man said it would be a nice hot summer day but as always…. he predicted wrong once again. Especially here in Chicago, never underestimate the weather change at the last minute. Be prepared to bring an umbrealla, poncho, light jacket and wear closed toe shoes.

3. Crowd Etiquette

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So the guy that’s standing in front of you just had to lift his heavy girlfriend on his shoulders so she can see David Guetta better for her SnapChat. Excuse me? Can you not right now? If this happens politely tap your comrade and ask if they can please get down or plan B: Try to move to another tight spot or plan C: Kick his ass (your choice)

2. Plan and pack

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Always have a portable phone charger, sun screen, hat and sunglasses and whatever else necessities that is needed while out in the music battlefield.

1. Be safe and Have FUN

4-14-12(Daily Breeze Photo by Douglas Morino Staff Reporter) Fans dance underneath a parachute at Coachella on Friday.

Become open minded it’s a music festival, not an execution. Chill with the homies, best friend or girlfriend/boyfriend. Try to even make new associates. Festivals are sometimes presented with a theme and commonly held outdoors with other attractions such as food and merchandise vending, performance art and social activities. So relax and Enjoy it! For more information on ALL the 2015 festivals click Here  and for all my Chicago peoples click this link Here for all Chicago Festivals.

Even I will be turning up at Lollapalooza on August 1st, Hope to see you all there 😜

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