Words by: Carmen Dual
Here at M.E., music makes our world go 'round. It inspires us, sets the vibe for our work space and creates the pathway for our mental visions to become physical interpretations. During the course of a typical day here at the Melody Ehsani headquarters, we explore different genres, new, old and everything in between. There is no doubt there is a connection between the music we play and what we create on a daily basis.
Often times, songs will spark memories of an era and from there we research other songs, artists, films and clothing. We will come across old videos, interviews and print ads. The inspiration is endless- big ups to Google!
The process can be done in reverse as well. Recently, we started carrying the iconic Reebok Freestyle HI's, the shoe that was definitive in an era that gave rise to women in hip-hop. There aren't many videos or photos taken during that time that the fly girls aren't seen rocking their 54.11's.
One of our favorites in music and fashion from that time is the dynamic, Grammy Award winning group, Salt-N-Pepa. In a time when men made the rules, these girls showed them how it was done. Candid, open and unapologetically feminine, they openly talked about sex and their thoughts on men.
The other day we came across a dope mix by the DJ of the group, Spinderella (maybe the most clever name in history), and we feel like you need to jam out to this one.
Pioneer DJ Spinderella started with SNP when she was 16 and hasn't slowed down since! The recently made mix features some classic tunes that we forgot about, as well as modern grooves that are currently in rotation. Born in Brooklyn, the New York native found her lane when guys dominated the scene and wasn't afraid to create her own space within the culture. Ms. Spin, We rock with you!
Below we added some cool excerpts from an Q&A interview done with Spin originally posted to pbs.org
Who were the musicians that you drew your inspiration from while you were DJ'ing, while you were making music, while you were on the road?
Spinderella: …My favorite DJs altogether would be Jam Master Jay because he’s like my blueprint…he was the one I would look at back then and just be really impressed by how he would back the group up and be the cornerstone of Run DMC. And Salt-N-Pepa was kind of fashioned after Run-DMC... We have Jazzy Jeff who is just one of the ultimate DJs and he goes way back. Every time I see him I’m just amazed by his work and his work ethic and how he continues to pioneer the whole DJ world—from his sets to the art, the technique…And then of my last favorite DJs, DJ Scratch—he’s probably one of the most gifted DJs on the planet. I got a few chances to work with him. He’s probably like your favorite DJ’s favorite DJ. And he’s worked with many of the great DJs by helping them put together routines, things like that…and there’s many more I’ve watched and I’m pretty much impressed with, but those would be the top three.
Can you see your influence in the careers of DJs who have followed you?
Spinderella: People tell me that I’ve influenced them, and you know, I would let someone else answer that to a degree. But I do see [my influence] from the standpoint of the woman or the female DJ. I would have to say back then - like 20 plus years ago - when Salt-N-Pepa was doing this in front of crowds, the technology wasn’t what it was so you would actually have to go to a Salt-N-Pepa show to see the magic. And a lot of females would see that—and males—but a lot of women would come up to me and tell me I’ve inspired them to start DJing—this was a global thing. Just the turn-tableism that I had put out back in those days, those who saw from the videos to the stage shows I hear that I was an inspiration, and you know I can agree with that but I’ll let someone else tell it.
I’m sure somebody out here is saying that.
Spinderella: I’ve heard it a few times and it makes me really proud, and I need a lot the women out there to know that, you know, I’m not the first woman DJ. There were plenty out there doing it but it was a rare thing for a woman to do…there were women that were pressing the tables as early as ’75 from what I read. You know I guess it would have been amazing to see, but if you didn’t witness it—most people who saw female DJs they said they saw me in the later half of the '80s.
Was there a particular moment or experience when you knew that you were part of a historic moment? Was there a moment when you realized that this was even bigger than the music you were helping to create or the shows you were performing in—that people were not only buying in, but absorbing and adding to the culture and helping it grow?
Spinderella: It’s hard to really say when but I did see the change. I saw it literally change I would say somewhere in the 90’s—you know that’s a whole decade [laughs]. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint. It happens in stages because people really appreciate you and your artform as time passes and generations change. Each generation that comes up that has gotten a chance to witness it [Hip-Hop] or be privy to it will basically be influenced by it and that word would get back to me. I’m the humble type, that’s how I grew up. That’s my foundation. I would hear it and it would not sink in when they would say things like, “You’re a legend.” It took a long time for that to register…but it’s your walk, it’s what you do. And my walk is making sure the foundation is set and the culture is elevated. It’s really hard to pinpoint a specific time but I can see how every generation began to appreciate what I did more.
How do you see Hip-Hop, with technological help, evolving after these 40 years?
Spinderella: The sky’s the limit as long as the legendary artists who helped bring it to this level and laid the bricks maintain a standard and would have those who are under, coming up, look at that standard and raise the bar. So it can go even farther than that. Our job is to make sure that we respect it, we keep it respectable, keep the integrity and to teach what we knew and what we learned about it. Because let’s be honest, if Hip-Hop wasn’t here, what would everyone be doing? Sports, drugs, you know the nursing industry, I mean entertainment, acting, law—what would everyone be doing? And this is a great voice for the youth. That was the purpose of it. So it’s an interesting thing to see that it has come 40 years because back then the number one question journalists would ask would be, “So what are you going to be doing when this whole fad is over?” And it was like “Uhh, I don’t know.” That was the answer then and I guess we didn’t even see that part, didn’t see it being over, and so it went to 40 years and thank God people are eating and making a glorious living off of it. So I can’t say where [it will go] but I know that the bar has been raised and it can keep going.
I would certainly hope so, because a lot of us are going to be out of work if it doesn’t.
Spinderella: You can pick up a trade! It would be smart to pick up a trade or do something on the side just in case [laughs]. But, you know, back then when we were getting asked that question there was nothing else that we saw that we wanted to do.
If you're going to be out and about in the LA area tonight make sure to drop into the Voila! Gallery at 518 N La Brea Ave. They will be hosting a celebration of extraordinary women highlighting female artists / creatives from all over the world. Hope to see you there.
Profit Over Honor
By Carmen Dual
It seems like everything is for sale these days- including the ancestral land of our Native family, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The reservation is home to several sacred sites that are in jeopardy of being destroyed by the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline- a newsworthy topic we’re sure you’ve heard of. If you haven’t, listen up: the proposed 1,172 mile pipeline will enable domestically produced oil to reach refining markets and reduce the use of rail and truck transportation. The United States is the third largest producer of oil in the world while also being the number one consumer. For sure an unsettling ratio, the pipeline serves to offset dependency of foreign imports at the price of destroying tribal burial grounds. A story all too familiar- the uprooting of cultural memory and infiltration of natural resources; the pipeline has potential to contaminate the only water supply available to the reservation.
Adding to the controversy, Federal officials and Dakota Access developers have said they previously reached out to Standing Rock in an attempt to allow them to evaluate the development but the tribe declined to do so- which gave the go ahead to begin construction. Standing Rock says no efforts were made to include the tribe in the plans. These issues were detailed in a lawsuit the tribe filed in July claiming they were never consulted. Currently, the tribe is seeking an injunction- a judicial order restraining continuous threatening action. For the record, the law only gives the tribes the right to have dialog regarding actions made for or against their cultural heritage- not the power to veto.
The North Dakota protest site at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has grown to become one of the largest gatherings of Native Americans in more than 100 years. Multiple tribes from across the nation have joined together in objection to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. If you would like to participate in the oppostition to cultural land intrusion and to protect the water supply to the Native Americans, you can visit https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-construction-dakota-access-pipeline-which-endangers-water-supply-native-american-reservations
As of now, developers are hoping to have the Dakota Access up and running by January 1st, yet construction has halted amid protests and final permits are still pending. Our thoughts are with our Native people as they fight for their history, future and present all in the same moment.
A couple of weeks ago Melody Ehsani along with close friends, family and colleagues of Allen Iverson were invited to celebrate his Hall of Fame induction as well as the 20th anniversary of the Question Mid.
We can't tell you how excited we are to be collaborating with the Hall of Famer on our upcoming release of the Question Mid which is slated to hit the streets December 4th, 2016.
Stay locked into the official M.E. Blog for details as they unfold. In the mean time check out a short recap of the amazing night honoring the Iconic A.I.
It's been a couple of days since Solange's latest body of work "A seat at the table" hit the streets and we haven't been able to turn it off since. Considered one of the best albums to drop this year, Solange bears all as she is joined by her mother Tina Lawson, father Mathew Knowles and even the No Limit general himself Master P in candid conversations about race, racism and the healing process.
The album is a true masterpiece featuring background vocals from the legendary Tweet and cameos by Lil Wayne, Sampha, BJ The Chicago Kid, Q-tip, and many more. Along with the album Solange released a 112 page digital booklet that can be viewed HERE.
From the album to the visual presentation Solange just get's it! A truly beautiful project of love, truth and conviction. Below we posted 2 visuals from A seat at the table. This will be one that we'll be talking about for a while. Feel free to drop a few lines and let us know if you're feeling it as much as we are.
Go Solo WE SEE YOU.
So this Friday we'll be dropping a fun capsule collection that Melody designed for Reebok Classics. Consider the capsule a dedication to your inner tennis girl. Melody explained it as being inspired by the type of Olympic Games we engage in everyday just by virtue of being a girl."
We love how versatile the collection is, every piece can be paired with any of your favorite basics you've got tucked in your closet. The capsule will be available Online + In-store this Friday 9/30 peep the full collection below.
Photo: Shelby Duncan
Our weekend moods vary, but one thing is certain. We love to dress up and we love to go dancing! Were currently jamming out and reminiscing about a time when fresh fades, fly girl and jeep wranglers ruled the world.
Just like a scene out of the 90's block hit New Jack City pile on your favorite gold chains and throw a gold ring on each finger, press play and let the music do the rest. Here we go...
Allen Iverson is important to ME, not only because he has one of the best crossover's the NBA has ever seen, but because he was a true cultural icon and pioneer in the NBA. He is important to US because he opened doors for so many people to come after him. Its without any question that this came at a price. He went up against a lot of inertia simply to be himself in a world that tried to put him in a box. Thats why we celebrate him not only as a player, but as a person for his courage, unwavering commitment to being authentic and for his true love and passion for the game.
Its an honor for M.E. to collaborate with the Icon to create our version of his original Question shoe.
This last weekend in New York, we celebrated the new Hall of Famer and presented our Question design for the 20th anniversary of the shoe. It was also coupled with a photo presentation of Iverson and his career as shot by longtime friend Gary Land.
Here are some images from the event, we look forward to launching on December 4th. We will be releasing images of the shoe closer to the drop date.
Iverson photo shot by Gary Land
Melody with the man of the hour
Swizz Beats, Fabolous, Melody, Iverson & Allen Iverson Jr.
The Stack featuring His Hall of Fame ring
My Bruce Lee inspired look
VOGUE Italia recently covered Melody Ehsani for their #TBT (throwback thursday) style feature. Take a walk down memory lane with M.E. as she shares personal photos and dishes on some of her favorite style moments, past and present.
Click HERE to check out the full feature.
“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it's dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
Today marks the anniversary of Pac's passing at the age of 25, and 20 years later his legacy remains iconic and timeless. Everyday we are thankful for the work and energy he has left us with. He seems to almost be more powerful as time goes by. Being the perfect mix of street conscious, humble leader & bold yet vulnerable, Shakur reminds us of who we are, where we've come & where we need to go.
“We wouldn't ask why a rose that grew from the concrete for having damaged petals, in turn, we would all celebrate its tenacity, we would all love its will to reach the sun, well, we are the roses, this is the concrete and these are my damaged petals, don't ask me why, thank God, and ask me how.”
Both quotes are excerpts from The Rose That Grew From Concrete, a beautiful piece of work written by Tupac that poetically speaks on poignant issues still relevant today.
We could go on and on, but instead, lets take a moment for our fallen solider whose light continues to shine from the beyond.
We love you always, Pac.