PayDay LA: The Hip-Hop Artist Series In Los Angeles You Need To Know About

PayDay LA: The Hip-Hop Artist Series In Los Angeles You Need To Know About

As a creative in Los Angeles, you’re only as strong as your community. As a young artist, it’s your responsibility to connect and build with others as hungry and motivated by you. Enter Pay Day LA, a monthly Hip-Hop series in Los Angeles, dedicated to doing just that: building community within hip-hop and providing a platform for upcoming artist to be seen and heard.

Meet Maricel Meneses, LA's Emerging Stylist Behind Your Favorite New Artists

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By Lainney Dizon

In Los Angeles, it’s more than having talent. It’s about understanding the importance of hard work and surrounding yourself with the right team. Who are you building with? How will you collectively work to bring your vision to life? With passion and strategy you can make great things happen. For Maricel Meneses, an emerging stylist behind your favorite new artists including rappers Jay IDK and SuperDuperKyle, she understands the importance of this and is just getting started. As a Los Angeles native with an extensive background in streetwear working for streetwear labels HLZBLZ and Dimepiece LA and mastering her craft with Top Dawg Entertainment, Maricel knows what that elevating your hustle is all about putting in the time and dedication. Currently working as the merchandise marketing for Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) and a styling assistant, we spoke with Maricel to talk about her journey so far, the importance of building with the right team and her favorite spots in Los Angeles to find inspiration:  

LowLeaf for Ke7h3r. Styled by Maricel Meneses.

LowLeaf for Ke7h3r. Styled by Maricel Meneses.

LA Pulse Mag: How did you get into your current career? What words of advice would you give to those interested in getting in the same hustle as yourself?

Maricel Meneses: I was always into fashion growing up. My mom refused to buy my sisters and I toys to play with because she thought they just made the house messy (I know, weird, I think?), but always took us shopping! I hated that, but now I'm thankful for it because I probably wouldn't have gotten into this industry otherwise. In regards to streetwear, my older sister played a lot (if not only) hip-hop around the house when I was a kid. That definitely played a factor in the type of fashion I got into as an adult. My first experience in this industry was interning for women's streetwear brand HLZBLZ. I was a sales intern there and learned how to find wholesale accounts and close sales.

The next summer I actually became the wholesale coordinator for another women's streetwear brand Dimepiece LA. I wasn't even looking for a job! This is while I was going to school full time pursuing social work, which I now have my B.A in. While I was in school, I just pursued fashion for fun. I worked little retail jobs and looked for internships. I actually started off as an intern at Dimepiece too and 2 months after interning, I notified them I had to resign because that semester I had to have a mandatory internship that was related to my major, which Dimepiece obviously was not. They then offered me the wholesale coordinator position, which was great because I was able to quit my retail job and I split my time in the campus library working on homework and closing sales or would go to the office on days I got out early from class.

Two years later in my senior year of college, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) was looking for assistance in their merchandise department. I was a huge TDE fan and applied right away. By this time, I already had a lot of experience and knowledge in fashion and streetwear, which impressed them. I then quit Dimepiece and after graduation only had TDE on my schedule, which I hated because I'm someone who has to be busy every second of every day. I was with TDE for maybe 7 or 8 months by this time and started learning more about the team behind an artist and became interested in styling. Without a good stylist, it is hard to completely elevate an entertainers career. So I started emailing different stylist and actually only got one response. It was from Debbie Gonzales, who I now assist and who taught me literally everything. I am so grateful for her! Side note: it was perfect that we began working together because she cares about social justice just as much as I do and does tons of volunteer work. Because of her, I am able to live out both of my passions. Anyway, I interned for a couple of months, left TDE after 2 years and then became her assistant. 

Kids of Immigrants lookbook / Styled by Maricel Meneses

Kids of Immigrants lookbook / Styled by Maricel Meneses

The advice I would give to those interested in getting in the same hustle would be to work hard, have patience, don't be entitled, build genuine relationships and intern, intern, intern! I would not have had big opportunities if it wasn't for interning. Even though I had paid positions, I still took on an internship even after I graduated college. This is definitely an industry where you will have to pay your dues, multiple times. You are going to have to make a lot of sacrifices. It really depends how bad you want it!

What was the most exciting project/projects you worked on?

I just did my first VMA's! That was major for me since growing up the VMA's was a big award show for our generation. I assisted Debbie with styling Super Duper Kyle and Noah Cyrus. Both of them looked so bomb! Earlier in the summer, I was part of the styling team for Big Sean's looks for YG's "Big Bank". Those are probably the biggest projects I've done for styling so far. Also, Noah's feature in Hypebae was a significant project for me too because I've been following them for forever. At TDE, I made some mock packages for Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. merchandise. They didn't go into production or anything, but it was cool to even be in a position for that. 

Recording Artist SuperDuperKyle at the MTV VMAs. Styled by Debbie Gonzales, Daniel Buezos and Maricel Meneses.

Recording Artist SuperDuperKyle at the MTV VMAs. Styled by Debbie Gonzales, Daniel Buezos and Maricel Meneses.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

Not to be scared, not to quit when something is hard and that being assertive is not being mean. Tons of experiences have taught me those same lessons over and over again. I am someone who always had to do everything perfect the first time doing it. Being scared of not being perfect has stopped me from doing so many things in the past and I absolutely regret it. It's a gift and a curse because it makes me perform as an overachiever because I make sure there's no room for any criticism, but it definitely is not always that serious.

My first day of college was a full day (literally it was like a 8 hour class because we only met once a week and it was 4 hours of learning and 4 hours of "lab") of a sewing class. I am someone who is not gifted with anything that requires physical coordination. In 8th grade, our teacher was really into knitting and required all of us to buy supplies to knit and I hated it because it would stress me out that I wasn't perfect or familiar with it. I used to get intimidated really easily. We did like 7 hours of learning that day and 1 hour of playing with the sewing machine and I was STRESSED. I literally dropped that class the same night. I am so mad at myself for that because now that I'm in styling that is such a valuable skill that I'm currently learning. And it was all because of fear! Definitely don't quit because you're scared or because it is hard. All experiences are useful! Overtime you'll learn, so these things won't be "hard" in like a week or a month honestly.

You will be taken advantage of in this industry if you aren't assertive. You will be walked all over and never paid. That's all I can really say. It's super straight forward. Oh also, set boundaries. I was just an "Ok, ok, ok" person for the longest time because I did not want to ruin opportunities. No. Lol.

Describe a normal day working on your craft.

Most people think styling is so glamorous and just putting an outfit together. There is so much more to it than that! You one, have to be really organized. Sometimes you'll have 8 showroom appointments and a few store pulls in one day and in order to stay on top of it, you have to have time management, plan your day geographically and keep in mind the wardrobe budget. It's a lot of driving, answering emails in between driving and visiting showrooms for incoming pieces and making sure you meet deadlines with brands/showrooms to ship on time for the event, keeping up to date with tracking. Honestly, it's a perfect work day for someone like me who has be stressed 24/7 lol just kidding.

On brainstorming days, it's much more chill. It's a lot of reading up on the Vogues, Hypebeasts, Highsnobiety sites to learn about upcoming collections or just browsing the web for hours looking for new cool brands. Styling is a 24/7 hour job, which I love! Also, styling is the most physically demanding job I've EVER had! I think that aspect surprises a lot of people. Sometimes you have to carry 5 full garment bags over your shoulders and walk 2 big blocks in Downtown Los Angeles because there's no parking. I'm 5'1" and do not work out at all, so I don't necessarily have muscles built for this but you gotta get it done!

Maricel getting ready behind the scenes. “Most people think styling is so glamorous and just putting an outfit together. There is so much more to it than that! You one, have to be really organized.” Photo courtesy of Maricel.

Maricel getting ready behind the scenes. “Most people think styling is so glamorous and just putting an outfit together. There is so much more to it than that! You one, have to be really organized.” Photo courtesy of Maricel.

Did you have any mentors growing up?

Mentors in fashion growing up, no not really. Mentors in my work ethic, yes. My mom has been a single mom since I was in the 4th grade and even before then, always worked multiple jobs. From when I was in grade school to my earlier college years she worked from 8am-11pm, took my sisters and I to school every morning and picked us up from school between jobs, would drop us off then go to a new shift. Maybe that's where I get my "I have to work 24/7" mentality from now that I think of it. She mentored me without even knowing, I guess. But my oldest sister, Michelle, definitely made sure I worked hard and went for what I wanted but in a smart way. 

I do have mentors now though that guide me through all the craziness of this industry. Obviously, Debbie who I previously mentioned. She's the greatest! But I do give credit to my boss at TDE, Matt Genius and an old coworker of mine at Dimepiece, Janelle Hethcoat. The three of them make sure I do what is best for my personal wellness and professional life too. Janelle is the definition of a real boss and is someone I aspire to be as I continue to grow. She's so fearless and just always know what to do! I can be really indecisive and she will snap me back into my senses. Matt talked me through a lot of my growing pains. Like I mentioned a couple times, this industry can be a tough one. Without Matt reminding me that everything happens for a reason and that I should always look out for myself, I would not have surpassed a lot of my fears.

What's your next hustle?

I've covered a lot of departments in fashion: buying, wholesale, merchandise marketing, e-commerce and obviously of course now styling. As of now, styling is where I really want to grow. I do want to continue my own personal client list and make history somehow in streetwear. I'm still figuring that out and growing. I can't even think of the future because I'm so focused on succeeding here. Designing would be cool.

Any favorite underrated spots in Los Angeles for shooting or finding fashion inspiration?

I do know overrated spots: those painted pink walls with wings. Half kidding.. To be honest, I really think for fashion photos the simpler the better for backgrounds. You want the outfit to be the main focus, not really where you are. Find some cool, clean and simple walls and let your outfit define the photo! As far as fashion inspiration, I go back in time a lot. I look at old magazines, watch old music videos and just google a lot. Inspiration can come from anywhere though if you really are present in the moment.

Check out more of Maricel Meneses’ work on her website: MaricelMeneses.com

Fiverr Presents: Music Masterclass with Wyclef Jean

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By Lainney Dizon

“You’re not doing it because it’s easy, you’re supposed to do it because it’s hard and it will be worth it.” Haitian rapper, musician and actor Wyclef Jean said these words and I felt it. Being great isn’t convenient. Making your dreams come true is supposed to be a struggle, because that’s how you’ll grow.

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend Fiverr Presents: Do With Wyclef Jean with my hip-hop sister Vashti. Here’s some of my key takeaways during the Q&A:

When you’re creating music, don’t think about the language first put the vibration first.

Vibration is global. People react to vibration first. I noticed this firsthand when I got stuck with French Hip-Hop during my trip to Paris. I had no idea what they were saying but my shoulders were bouncing, and THAT’s when you know it’s a jam. Your shoulders will never deny the rhythm. Wyclef mentioned how when he creates music, he listens first to the vibration of a track. “When you’re creating music, don’t think about the language first, put the vibration first. Vibration is global, people react to vibration first.”

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Behind every big, new artist’s DNA is an OG.

“When there’s a big new artist, there is an OG behind it that will make it last 20-30 years. Look at Bruno Mars, look at Drake. If you look at their DNA, there is an OG there that supported them early in their career. For The Fugees, we had Kalis Baon who produced for  Earth, Wind, and Fire. If you want longevity find out who the OGs are and learn from them.

Find out how to get in the right room.

Wyclef shared a story about learning the importance of finding how to get in the right room. One time, him and his brother heard that Rakim would be in their town for a video shoot. Wyclef found out where the location brought band equipment to the front of the house. The security stopped him and asked, “What are you doing here?” Wyclef responded, “What do you mean what I’m doing here? I’m the band for Rakim.” The security told him to set up by the pool in the backyard. If you go watch Don’t Sweat the Technique - Rakim you can find Wyclef and his brother in the back with their instruments.

Create your own community. 

There’s power in social media and your talent. Once you build your following to 100K you create your own community. Wyclef admits, “You shouldn’t do it because it’s easy, do it because it’s hard. Once your consistent, it’ll explode and you can have a career.” And if people criticize you along the way, spit it back with your art.

Fun fact: Did you know there's now Fiverr Pro? This is Fiverr's community of top quality, hand-picked professionals, trusted by the world's biggest brands. You can get your logo made by the same guy who created the Apple logo. Epic, right? Check out Fiverr Pro here.

 

 

NYLON Magazine's Young Hollywood Celebrates Game-Changing Generation Z-ers

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If there’s anything I love about Hollywood, it’s about being surrounded by inspiring creatives in the industry. If you want to be the best, you need to surround yourself with the best and Hollywood is definitely home to the future game-changers in entertainment. I had the honor to attend NYLON’s Young Hollywood event celebrating game-changing Gen Z’ers in the world making an impact through Music, Acting, Media, Beauty & Fashion and Activism. Hosted by one of my favorite fashion magazines, NYLON, and TAO Group, this year’s event celebrated 25 members of Generation Z who are changing the world and took place at Avenue Los Angeles.

The evening started with a special performance by Vancouver underground artist Tommy Genesis and AMRIT was bringing hip-hop music all night. The event was in collaboration with Pinkie Swear, a makeup collective for dreamers, magic makers, and misfits. Throughout the night they were setting up station and showing guests fun stuff in their collection including the launch of Party Powder.

Cover stars in attendance included Billie Eilish, Jazz Jennings, Marsai Martin and Paris Berelc. Some of my favorites including Hayley Kiyoko, and Dear White People’s Logan Browning were there as well! Check out the behind the scenes fun below:

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All Photos by Rich Fury/Getty Images for NYLON

America's Musical Journey Uses Culture & Creativity To Explain USA's Greatest Love

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All photos courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films, Copyright VisitTheUSA.com 

All photos courtesy of MacGillivray Freeman Films, Copyright VisitTheUSA.com 

By Elise Gray

Music is the all-inclusive human dialect that both unites us and evokes universal emotion. In America's Musical Journey we see the musical melting pot that is America as we travel coast to coast to uncover its origins. The thrillingly experimental film opens up the minds and hearts of music lovers everywhere as the Grammy-nominated musician, lyricist, and son of Panamanian immigrants, Aloe Blacc, dives into American culture headfirst. 

This film is a celebration of, as Blacc explains, "a nation of immigrants," and how various cultures bring forth new ideas and art forms in the form of tones and rhythm. The film's official launch date, happens today, on February 16, 2018, at the National Museum of American History. America's Musical Journey plans to take off to IMAX and movie screen theaters where the Brand USA and MacGillivray Freeman Films teams (alongside the supporting companies of Air Canada and Expedia) can watch all of their hard work come to fruition.

The diversified film that is America's Musical Journey will have your soul lifting out of your seat as you follow Blacc along for a 40-minute adventure with none other than the notable Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, narrating the entire journey. This film begins by portraying the inner-workings of jazz craftsman Louis Armstrong. The birth of Jazz holds an explanation with insight into Armstrong's epic melody "What a Wonderful World"‚ a song which still arouses and celebrates the hunger for something new in world travelers and jazz lovers alike.

You realize the weight America's unique culture has on musical styling when you analyze the roots that built the land of the free. In fact, as you walk hand-in-hand with Blacc, you will find that the land of the free wasn't always open. The tunes brought here by subjugated Africans were translated into the beginnings of gospel, jazz, blues and have even influenced specific instruments used for country music today.

You will join Blacc on an insightful and transformative journey as he trails through Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, Graceland, the Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, and even Louis Armstrong's home and exhibition hall. Follow Blacc as he analyzes and explains the considerable movement of African-Americans from the South toward the North and the flood of art and music that flowed with their society.

You will watch this movie when you're ready to jump forward towards the substantial melodic commitments that make up modern America including, jazz, blues, nation, hip-bounce and everything in between‚ and all of which was conceived and sustained here, in the United States of America. This is America's Musical Journey, are you ready for what follows?

Artist To Watch: Singer-Songwriter Carl Gershon

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By Lainney Dizon 
All Photos Courtesy of Big Machine Agency 

When people do what they are truly passionate about, you can tell it in their work. From rocking the stage as a solo artist to creating songs for films and touring with T-Pain across North America, Carl Gershon showcases that creating music is what he’s meant to do. As a multi-talented artist, Carl is a skilled musician, honest songwriter and electo-pop inspired producer and approaches his music with dedication and enthusiasm. LA Pulse Mag spoke with Carl Gershon after his recent Los Angeles performance debut opening for T-Pain’s Acoustic Tour to talk about what it takes to create music you love, working as a solo artist and his advice for upcoming other artists dedicated to their craft:

LA PULSE MAG: How would you describe your style/vibe? How do you stay inspired in creating music?

CARL GERSHON: Definitely a mix of 80’s funk and rock influence. I like to combine instrumentals and modern production. I stay inspired with new instrumentals and vintage synthesizers. I prefer to use hardware to software as far as instruments. Writing, arranging and researching also is a labor of love, it’s definitely a process.

LAPM: You recently rocked the stage in LA, opening the stage for T-Pain’s acoustic tour. Do you have any gems  in LA you have to visit when you’re out here?

CG: I would say my favorite spot is the Sunset strip. The history of the strip is the source of  music I love like Van Halen and Motley Crue. Their music is how I first was inspired to get started on playing the guitar, there’s a magic to that area. The first time I went to Los Angeles I walked up to the strip and knowing what came from that area seemed mystical. When I played at the strip for the first time, I put more of my heart on that stage.. I threw in a lil more shredding and really made it that moment extra special. I had to do it for the culture of that place.

LAPM: What was your most challenging obstacle and how did you overcome it?

CG: The decision to go off myself. As a solo artist,  I’m doing all the instruments and singing. I was always the guitar player in the band and I wasn’t finding the right chemistry and it never really felt truly satisfied. I realized the way to do it was do it myself. I taught myself how to sing. The focus is on me the whole time. I don’t hangout, I don’t drink. It requires a lot more focus and you have to censor yourself and walk away for a moment. It can be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding.

LAPM: What tips do you have for upcoming artists who are inspired by your music and hustle?

CG: Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice for your art. Look at yourself. Ask yourself, “What portion of my life am I willing to give up to get this?”  Early on, you have a check on how much you need it and want it. If you don’t need it, don’t do it. The business of it is too difficult to just do it any less than 110%. You need to make your dedication and music the ultimate priority.

Check out Carl Gershon's latest track, "Like Paradise" below:

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