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5 rappers trailblazing for good in the era of accountability

Accountability is now topic at the forefront of modern social issues, especially for rappers looking to break into the industry. From the notorious “Cancel Culture” phenomenon to the Black Lives Matter movement, holding wrongdoers accountable has become a major focal point in our society.

This being said, there are, of course, numerous celebrities who use their voice to call attention to said issues. For this list, we will be focusing on rappers who have used their popularity to call attention to the importance of social accountability in recent years.

1. Noname holds accountability to a new standard

When it comes to rappers, Noname is leading the charge in the era of accountability. She uses her Twitter account to highlight injustices and inequalities.

Throughout her career, she has been quite passionate about showcasing police brutality, and she has been heavily retweeting videos of police abusing their power. She uses her platform to support pro-blackness and discourages support for the oppressive white normative society.

She has also been using her Twitter to call attention to the crisis in Cuba. Cuban citizens have been openly protesting and criticizing the Cuban government for social and political grievances spanning decades.

Calling attention to these issues that don’t directly impact you is a perfect example of using your voice to promote accountability on a massive scale.

2. Lil Baby is the voice of the next generation

Along with general music superstardom, Lil Baby has become a prominent voice in social justice advocation. He was an active protestor during the George Floyd protests last year. Most importantly, he dropped one of the most conscious tracks of the year in “The Bigger Picture.

In this song, Baby calls out society and the criminal justice system for their failure to hold problematic people and policies accountable. The Music video for the song has over 140 million views on Youtube, and won the BET award for “Impact Track of the Year”.

Baby has also been to the Whitehouse to discuss these issues among others with Vice President Harris. It is nice to see that although Lil baby has been experiencing monstrous commercial success, he still has his priorities in respectable places.

3. Meek Mill is one hell of an advocate for prison reform

Ever since Meek Mill’s vindictive prison sentencing in late 2017, he has made it a part of his mission to help reform the criminal justice system.

He has appeared on the news, he has had conversations with lawmakers, and he has made it quite clear he takes this calling seriously. He has also looked out for prisoners by donating masks, which is something our federal government should have been providing.

He serves as the co-chair of the REFORM Alliance. They are an organization that works to change the nature of parole and probation for convicted individuals. Meek’s commitment to establishing accountability in the criminal justice system is admirable considering his demanding career.

4. Megan Thee Stallion is empowering females to speak out

Megan has used her platform and experiences to promote accountability in the music genre. She used getting shot by Tory Lanez as a way to speak on abuse in relationships and wife-beater acceptance in hip hop.

She used public outrage towards “WAP” as a way to shame those who oppose female empowerment. She used the situation with her old record label as a way to warn other artists of the greed and poor treatment artists face, at the hands of higher-ups in the music industry.

Overall, she is a walking teachable moment. Her ability to transform misfortune and backlash into lessons is second to none. She deserves praise for not letting these situations weigh her down and instead of using them to hold people accountable for their actions and beliefs.

5. YG is holding politicians accountable

You may recall YG and Nipsey Hustles 2016 hit “FDT“, which, by nature, called out Donald Trump and encouraged unity against him as a political candidate.

Now let’s get something clear, it is not the aim of this article to be political. However, whether you love, or hate Donald Trump from his time as president, you would have to be crazy to not agree that there are numerous things that he has done that need to be answered for.

Aside from his political discourse, YG has been another proponent for the BLM movement, as well as advocating against police brutality. In 2020, amidst the George Floyd riots, he released the song “FTP“, which is a call to action to stand up to continued mistreatment at the hands of law enforcement.

The title of the song, in tandem with YG’s Compton roots, showcased that the black community in southern California has been continuing to deal with these issues since back in the NWA era of hip hop.

Rappers and the Era of Accountability

Rappers have a well-deserved reputation for promoting a culture that is generally anti-accountability. Luckily, there are people in the industry that are changing our perception of what a “rapper” can be.

These individuals demonstrate that artists are people with passions that go beyond clubbing and flexing. As society changes, so do our entertainers. Who knows, maybe someday hip hop may shift to a more inclusive culture with accountability in high regard.

Until then, we should celebrate these trailblazers for putting themselves out there and promoting something so relevant to our current social climate.

Ashley Martelle and her artsy glo-up is one to imitate

Countless modern artists have gotten their start using their Instagram to garner a following. However, few have reached such a high level of exposure as our interviewee, Ashley Martelle.

Ashley Martelle is well-known on the internet for her signature evolving blonde hairstyles and her movie-star good looks. But it’s time she gets credit for her provocative paintings and her pop culture character mashups.

Over the past few years, she has surpassed a million Instagram followers and shows no sign of slowing down, as she continues to improve her art and refine her style.

We were fortunate to catch up with Ashley Martelle to discuss her inspirations, artistry, and the future of modern art.

Kulturehub: How far back does your interest in art go? Is it something you have been aspiring to do since you were young, or something that you came into later on?

Ashley Martelle: I would have to say a little bit of both. I always enjoyed playing around with different mediums when I was younger, in grade school.

I used to win art coloring contests and still to this day have those coloring sheets and ribbons. It was more of a hobby and just something I enjoyed doing with my spare time. I didn’t look at it seriously and stopped once I got older and graduated high school.

“It wasn’t until recently where I found myself in a dark place and brought out the paintbrushes again…”

– Ashley Martelle, Artist and Influencer

KH: If you can, briefly describe your artistic style for people who may not be familiar.

AM: Honestly, I can’t describe my art style because I feel that I’m still trying to find what works best for me. I can say that most of my work has been on the provocative side. I don’t like playing it safe when it comes to art. I like to be as bold as I can be.

KH: Are there any artists you particularly admire or have had a profound influence on you?

AM: I’m a fan of artists such as Sean Joyce, Craola, Eric Stanton, and many more!

KH: I saw from your Instagram that you really love the ocean, water, and snorkeling. Do you find that you draw inspiration for your work from nature and natural environments?

AM: I’ve been tapping more into who I am and the things that I enjoy in life, so I do have ideas written down that revolve around nature and natural environments that I can’t wait to dive into.

KH: What artistic styles or subjects do you find interesting? Do you feel that your work is a reflection of art you like?

AM: I would have to say surrealism and lowbrow. I would see works of art in these categories and think “how could I ever be this talented?”

Recently, I’ve let go of that scared mentality I used to have.

– Ashley Martelle, Artist and Influencer

I think I’ll start tapping more into these categories and create my own fresh work that’s never been done or seen before.

KH: I see you have done many different pieces around pop culture icons such as The Looney Tunes. Is there a reason that these icons factor into your work as much as they do?

AM: Okay so let’s get into this! People used to always send me messages on social media saying how much I look like Lola Bunny. After seeing how Alec Monopoly took off with the Monopoly Man, I thought “Hey, let me try this with Lola.”

At the time it felt like a great idea, so I did a “Lola Collection” when I first started painting again. The only problem was that it was limiting what I could create! From there, I started painting other Looney Tunes characters. I took iconic hip-hop photographs and I made them my own using the characters. 

KH- Recently, a theme we have been touching on heavily at Kulturehub is the popularity of NFT’s and digital artwork. How do you feel about the explosion of popularity of NFT’s?Have you considered getting in the NFT game?

AM: I’ve considered it for sure but never executed. Is it still popping? I hear mixed things about it, so who knows?

KH: Take us back to when you first started on Instagram. Did you ever imagine that you’d become this much of a sensation?

AM: Oh lord, I don’t find myself to be such a sensation haha. But no, I would’ve never thought this is where I’d be. 

KH: What is the most rewarding part of the success and attention you have gained so far in your career?

AM: I’m very hard on myself and fight many demons behind closed doors. Sometimes I feel so alone likes nobody’s watching, but then I’ll get messages or people walking up telling me how I’ve inspired them in some way, and that’s an amazing feeling! Everyone likes feeling important. 

KH: Lastly, do you have any advice or guidance for people who are inspired by you and your work?

Don’t be too hard on yourself, and be consistent. That’s key to anything in life!”

– Ashley Martelle, Artist and Influencer

That’s All Folks!

Ashley Martelle has the talent and drive to rise to the top of the world she has created for herself. The unique intersection of artist and influencer that she falls into is rarely seen on the platform, and could perhaps become a new norm for other creators.

If you are interested in Ashley’s work and artistry or are simply a fan of her vibe we strongly encourage you to support her. Check out her Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date with her moves and her work.

Keeping up with Omar Jones: The genius directing powerful music videos

Omar Jones has the potential to be one of the biggest music video directors in the rap game and his recent work with Isaiah Rashad’s latest album, The House is Burning proves it.

Have you ever watched a new music video from your favorite artist and been underwhelmed? Did it leave you inexplicably disappointed? Could you not quite put your finger on why you didn’t like it? Well, you are certainly not alone.

Music videos have the power to stand with their songs as iconic and memorable and serve as the ultimate power-up to accompany and musical artistry a rapper wants to visualize.


Take for example The Weeknd’s exploding car video for “The Hills“, or the timeless Michael Jackson “Thriller” video.

They can also be weird, pointless, or simply not fit with the theme and vibe of the song. Getting a music video right is no simple task, there is a ton of room for error. In recent years, the rap genre has been at the forefront of uninteresting, uninspired music videos.

Rappers who are in their box do nothing but aggressively lip-sync, flaunt money in their hand, drive cars in the background. It’s boring. At the same time, I get it.

If you don’t have the resources to make a great video and that kind of video is the only thing you can make, do it for exposure. It just adds very little to the song.

Omar Jones is racking up millions of views

omar jones directing
Photo Courtesy:  @deehardaway1

However, there are many videographers, in the hip-hop community, that have come out with unique, memorable videos to match the songs that the videos are paired with.

One of these videographers is Omar Jones, who is currently the mastermind behind two of the videos for the new Isaiah Rashad album “The House Is Burning”.

Jones directed the brilliant video for the song “Lay Wit Ya” back in May when Rashad released the song as a teaser for his album The House is Bruning. Then their video for the banger “From The Garden” was released right after to an overwhelmingly positive fan reception.

Jones’ work is so remarkable because of his ability to match the vibe, and pace of the song. Take for example the “From The Garden” music video. The video starts black and white with a slow pace focusing on Rashad, but the pace gradually speeds up as the song intensifies.

The camera drifts into an overhead view showcasing various street activities. As this is happening color drifts into the frame. Then, when Lil Uzi begins his feature, the video transforms into a trippy black and white scape.

The scape features a constant, well-paced zoom into evolving shapes that have Uzi, Rashad, and differing scenes inside of them. The remainder of the song alternates once more between these two styles and remains interesting, well-paced, and hypnotic throughout.

Omar also directed the video for Young Thug and Gunna’s smash hit “Ski” back in April. The video was also true to the theme of the song, which is more of a braggadocious, melodic, colorful track.

The video features more typical rap video aspects like lavish mansions, expensive cars, beautiful women, and a whole lot of drip. But in many ways, it is differentiated from typical videos.

The muted blue tints and heat signatures, as well as the snowy background, keep true to the song’s title “Ski”, while also creating a memorable aesthetic.

The moving blank white slate featuring Gunna and Young Thug rapping is also an interesting, well-executed change of scenery that breaks up potential monotony. Overall, it is a unique, well-balanced video for a song whose potential for a forgettable video was relatively high.

Keep up with the Jones

Omar Jones has the potential to be one of the biggest video directors in the rap game.

He has shown proficiency in creating different ideas that match different kinds of hip hop, which is not something that can be said for every director.

If you like these videos and are interested in Omar Jones and his director work, we got you. Follow him on Instagram, and Twitter, and check out his website to keep up to date with his projects.

Make sure you catch whatever he puts out next. We promise you won’t regret it.


5 photographers who are making big ETH from NFTs

At Kulturehub, we have touched on the ever-expanding market of photographers and NFTs many times.

But, we are more than willing to give a summary to those who are unfamiliar with their unique place in the art world. NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens) are any digital assets that people pay real money to own. In the art world specifically, they are pretty much any piece of art that can be purchased and owned digitally.

NFT’s are an interesting and somewhat controversial technological and artistic topic. Some people believe that NFT’s are the art of the future. Some people scoff at the idea of owning something that is subjective “not real.”

However, as our society continues becoming more reliant on technology, the existence of NFT’s and NFT artists has slowly become increasingly legitimized.

It’s also important to remember that nothing legitimizes art more than money and popularity. NFT’s are becoming more and more popular every day, and people are investing more and more money into digital artwork.

Lately, people have been paying outrageous amounts of money for photographs. Photographs that are deemed iconic are particularly popular. Let’s take a look at 5 photographers who are already heavy in the NFT circuit.

“Love Is War” by Aimos Vasquez – NFT sale price $125,000 (40 ETH)

Via Instagram

You may be familiar with Aimos Vasquez from this extremely iconic photo that he took of XXXTentacion. The photo is currently the only photo left on X’s Instagram, the second most liked photo, and the most commented photo in Instagram history.

The photo was placed in a collection of his concert photos entitled: “Now Crediting: Aimos”, and was auctioned as an NFT. It was put to auction on the online asset marketplace Blockparty and the collection sold for an undisclosed amount of money.

Aimos is still snapping dope pics of your favorite artist. If you want to support him and his amazing photography, check out his Instagram and the portfolio on his website.

“Until We Disappear” x “White Roses for My Soul To Keep” by Randall Slavin – Combined sale price $22,000 (6.8 ETH)

“Until We Disappear” (courtesy of Randall Slavin)

On May 18, 2017, rock legend Chris Cornell tragically died by suicide at the age of 53. It was recently discovered that, only months before he passed, he had done a photoshoot with photographer Randall Slavin. Slavin, with the approval of Cornell’s widow, decided to mint and sell the unreleased photoshoot as NFT’s.

Two NFT’s went up for auction, one entitled “White Roses for My Soul To Keep“, and the other entitled “Until We Disappear.

Each of them is essentially slideshows of the different portraits that Slavin captured of Cornell in his final photoshoot. They were purchased using Cryptograph.

A percentage of the proceeds from the sale went to Phoenix House California, which is a trio of non-profit drug and alcohol rehab centers. Cornell was on drugs at the time of his death and struggled with addiction through much of his life, so it seemed to be the most fitting place to allocate money.

You can see the previews of these two NFT’s here. If you want to support Randall Slavin and his beautiful work, be sure to check out his website, and his Instagram.

NFT artworks by Matty Furious – Total estimated value $61,008.42 (19.217 ETH)

Terminal Stop Edition 1 of 1 by Matty Furious

Absurd cityscapes, vintage video games, and eerily familiar early 2000’s computer aesthetics. What do these things all have in common? They are all attributes of the insanely difficult-to-describe NFT’s created by photographer Matty Furious.

While NFT’s have the tendency to be sort of interesting and atypical, there is no artwork I have seen quite like Matty’s.

His work is so interesting because it is typically composed of things that seem so familiar, but you know you have never seen before. These familiar elements come together to create new ideas and fantastically chaotic worlds.

Matty’s work is currently available to view and purchase on SuperRare. You can also follow him on Twitter where he posts updates on new NFT’s he’s dropping. You can also subscribe to his Youtube channel where he makes wild videos with similar aesthetics to his NFT’s.

NFT artworks by photographer Elise Swopes – Total estimated value $339,772.88 (107.027 ETH)

We have already interviewed the brilliant Elise Swopes regarding her work and the NFT’s market. However, in case you weren’t familiar, Elise is an artist, a name-brand collaborator, an NFT creator, and a pretty remarkable human.

Her NFT’s are beautiful, they typically involve the distortion of stunning city pictures that she takes herself. She manipulates stunning, but ordinary environments into artwork that changes reality.

Recently her NFT’s have seen a great amount of popularity. In fact, some of her pieces have sold for over 40,000 dollars worth of cryptocurrency!

She is quickly climbing to the top of the NFT world, and you should be there to enjoy the climb. Go looking through her website, her SuperRare page, and her Instagram to keep up to date with all of her artistic developments.

Anna McNaught total NFT assets have an estimated worth of $105,000 (33.2 ETH)

Anna Mcnaught is an extremely talented photographer, photoshop artist, and NFT bag collector. She has dropped several impressive NFT’s along with her portfolio of far-out digital art.

Her Instagram is packed with beautiful, colorful, unique pieces that stand out even in the field of digital art. She has some NFT’s dropping on August 15th, so we highly recommend you hop over to her Instagram if you are interested.

Also, check out her website for a more comprehensive overview of her portfolio and everything she has to offer. You can shop for her work directly on her website.

A portion of the proceeds from your purchase will go to the environmental organization The Sierra Club. She’s one of the next big things in the NFT world, so check her out today.

Photographers need to get with NFTs

Photographers are having a tremendous amount of success selling their art as NFTs, so it looks like NFTs are not going anywhere anytime soon. Whether or not they are the future of art is yet to be seen, but it is worth it to take some time to get lost in this new and exciting art medium.

If you are new to this, start with these awesome photographers and see how you like their NFTS and work. You may just find that you appreciate digital art more than you ever thought possible.

Why you need to say “no” to fast fashion clothing

Fast fashion is a global epidemic that has plagued mainstream clothing for years. The term “fast fashion” refers to clothing retailers quickly replicating popular clothing, and inexpensively mass producing replicas of popular styles. Brands capitalize on fashion trends and pump out cheap clothing to match expanding consumer demand. Retailers put newly fashionable clothes on shelves for consumers, and quickly remove items that fall out of favor, keeping products in an endless rotation.

This process has proven to be immensely profitable in most circumstances. Some of the greatest perpetrators of fast fashion are mall staple brands like Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Forever21, and Victoria’s Secret. However, these issues aren’t exclusive to this type of store.

They can even be traced to retailers such as Target and Walmart. Online fast fashion retailers such as Shein and ASOS have also been exploding in popularity over the last few years. To give you an idea of just how “fast” this fashion truly is, it’s been reported that Shein and ASOS release THOUSANDS of new “styles” per week.

There are two main factors. Price, and convenience. For one thing, the clothing that fast fashion brands sell costs moderately to significantly less than higher-quality alternatives.

Also, fast fashion brands are super convenient since most American’s have access to typical shopping malls. These two elements perfectly intersect with one another. It makes sense that these brands are so popular. Consider that the average American consumer is price-conscious, obsessed with convenience, and generally unwilling to put much of that time into shopping for clothes.

Sure, there are some aspects of this phenomenon that you could consider beneficial. For instance, this trend generally allows people with very tight budgets to find clothes they like.

Kids and teenagers may not necessarily beg their parents to buy them the newest, “coolest,” overpriced crappy brand that “everyone else” is wearing. Consumers have more access to a wider variety of clothes, for a more reasonable price than ever.

However, you will find that these “benefits” are FAR outweighed by the numerous issues associated with fast fashion. Supporting fast fashion brands fuel fires. Fires that have many woes in terms of human rights issues, and negative environmental impact. Here are a couple of the many reasons why you should say “no” to fast fashion.

Fast fashion clothing is horrible for the planet

Have you ever purchased something from a fast fashion retailer, then gone back for the same product only to find that it’s nowhere to be found? If you have, you aren’t alone.

Since a major part of the fast fashion phenomenon is constant clothing turnover, clothes leave the shelves very quickly, and sometimes well before the products are sold out. This quick turnaround time yields a specific question. What do they do with all those clothes that don’t sell?

The answer is not something you want to hear. Most of the time, they simply throw them away and flood landfills with unsold clothes. Some retailers are even known or rumored to burn unused clothes. According to the EPA, over 9 million tons of clothes and footwear were sent to landfills in 2018.

Although fast fashion is not the only contributor to this issue, it is a major part of this increased wastefulness. It’s not only because the introduction of new products and removal of old ones is fast and constant.

It is also because the quality of a fast fashion product is typically very poor, and must be discarded much quicker than more quality clothing. Retailers are okay with selling super cheap clothes because it costs them very little to make cheap clothes, and they know that you are going to need more down the road.

If that isn’t enough, just remember that it’s highly unlikely to find fast fashion retailers that have organic, sustainable, or responsibly sourced clothes. Most fast fashion retailers make clothes made from cheap, earth-unfriendly fabrics and materials.

Despite most clothing production being wasteful by nature, it is safe to say that fast fashion is the worst due to non-sustainable clothes, and the high volume of wasted clothing. This fashion trend is ripping through the environment by mass-producing cheap clothing, and there is no silver lining in how the industry treats its workers either.

Brands are often awful to workers

For years, it has been well documented that the garment and clothing industry has subjected its manufacturers to unfair, unsafe working conditions.

This is mostly because about 90 percent of the world’s clothing comes from low to low-middle-income countries, where labor is extremely cheap, and working standards are loose and unenforced.

Fast fashion, unsurprisingly, is one of the greatest culprits of this phenomenon. Companies are able to sell their clothes for so much less than competitors because they get them from manufacturers for next to no money. The pitfalls of the newest fashion trend, engendered by cheap clothing know no bounds.

It’s impossible to overstate the constant human rights violations associated with the Chinese garment industry. However, these human rights issues span far across the world and aren’t solely a Chinese issue. The vast majority of total major brands have next to no transparency regarding whether or not their suppliers are paid living wages.

So why do American consumers purchase clothes from companies with these labor practices? Americans have known about labor issues in developing countries for decades, so why do we continue to show exploitative companies support? It is because, again, we are far more concerned with price and convenience than we are with quality and fairness.

Some companies have even had major issues with their US based employees as well. The US Department of Labor found that a Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer that made clothing for fast fashion mogul Forever 21 was operating under “sweatshop-like conditions.”

They reportedly broke several labor laws, including, but not limited to, withholding wages and paying workers flat rates for 50+ hour work weeks. Not only that, but Forever 21 is also part of a class-action lawsuit by store associates who claimed that they were consistently forced to work off the clock, and not compensated for the extra hours worked.

Forever 21 is far from the only fast fashion retailer with accusations like this. Countless others have faced similar accusations. Fast fashion harbor’s an attitude of carelessness. Obsession with their bottom lines no matter who gets hurt or neglected along the way.

Buy less, buy better

If you take one thing away from this article it should be this: buy better.

You are helping nobody when you support fast fashion retailers. Buying their clothes supports environmental irresponsibility, human rights issues, and overall shady business practices.

Not only that, but the clothes are awful. Ask yourself whether it’s worth it to buy cheap clothes that you will have to replace. You may end up spending more money in total on cheap clothes than good quality ones.

You are so much better off paying more money for fewer, more quality clothing. Have the clothes you buy become staples of your wardrobe.

Buy clothes from companies with a firm commitment to quality. Support retailers who pledge supply chain transparency. Stop buying crap from the mall. It’s horrible for everyone.

Checking in with Tim Rivera, New York’s resident subway wrestler

Its been nearly two years since Kulture Hub interviewed New York comedian and filmmaker Tim Hann Rivera. At that time, he and his content were blowing up from his hilarious video “Subway Mania- Triple H vs Kane vs Stone Cold Steve Austin.” The video shows him and his partners dressed up as iconic retired wrestlers, and having a narrated, full-fledged title match in a subway car, surrounded by an astounded audience.

It didn’t take long for the video to become wildly popular. To date, the video has nearly 2 million views on Youtube, and the videos that follow have also seen great success.

However, two years ago seems like a lifetime ago considering everything we have gone through. So, we thought it was only right to catch up with the visionary behind the “Subway Mania” series. We wanted to find out what he’s been up to, how he was affected by Covid, and when we can expect some new content. He did not disappoint.

Tim Hann Rivera’s wrestling inspiration

Kulture Hub: I know in your last interview that you said none of you were wrestlers, or even aspiring wrestlers. Where did the idea come from? Were you and everyone featured wrestling fans growing up?

Tim Hann Rivera: Uh yeah, so I just had this idea, where one of my friends posed on a subway chair as The Rock. We had a real WCW replica championship belt and I thought it would be hilarious. But I always want to put a story behind it. So I said we should do a wrestling promo on the train and talk crap to one another.

Immediately people in the comments were asking “Where’s the match? When’s the match?” So we gave the people what they wanted. I got a lot of inspiration from the “Attitude era” where people were fighting in different locations, not just rings. So I decided I would do that with my stuff, but have it in the subway.

Hell yeah, I was a wrestling fan growing up. I really connected with the Attitude era, WCW, and ECW. It made me genuinely happy. I loved all of the different storylines in such a small space. I cared less about the fighting than I did about the storylines and the characters.

Tim Hann Rivera

The epic title fights

KH: I think that what I appreciate most about the subway wrestling series is the nuance of the performances. The overreactions, the crowd hype, and the wrestlers’ mannerisms are all on point. In your eyes, what aspect of subway wrestling makes it so funny and successful?

THR: I think everything that you said is accurate. I think it’s also funny because, like, were not bodybuilders. You know what I mean? We’re average guys in the subway in underwear and tights. Imagine walking around New York and you really see someone dressed as Kane. We really left our houses like that.

That, and it’s just funny with the commentary, and it makes it even more funny that the matches were really, truthfully entertaining for people. There was a story behind it. I read comments from many people saying things like “I can’t believe how good this is”. Even though it is clearly a joke, people thought it was really good. Everyone played an important role in making that happen.

KH: I’ve seen that you have done some hype videos on Youtube for upcoming matches. Is there currently a new video in the works? Anything you are ready to reveal for our readers?

THR: I’m definitely trying to come up with a new subway video. I feel like now that things are opening up again, I would really love to have a big event in Harlem. We gonna have to make the “Subway Mania” title belt match as well. Right now “Mankind” is the champion so, he has to defend it!

Covid challenges to Subway Mania

KH: Briefly take us through some of the challenges your content creation went through as a result of the pandemic.

THR: Engagement with people. I like engaging with people while I’m making videos. A lot of my content depends on it. With the wrestling videos, I obviously need an engaged audience. In my other content, when I’m Jim the Gentrifier I need to engage with people and get their reactions.

It’s been especially tough with the masks because they hide people’s reactions. I think for everybody it’s taken a toll, but since things are opening up more, it’s time to get back to creating content.

Tim Hann Rivera’s other awesome content

KH: Let’s talk about some of your other Youtube content. Who is Jim the Gentrifier? What is the inspiration for that character and his misadventures?

THR: So, he’s a dude, who you will never know where he’s from, but he thinks he’s a New Yorker! He comes into the hood and he’s trying to change everything! He’s really trying to be cool with everybody, but he’s just being a d*ckhead and trying to change the culture.

He’s trying to be down, but it’s just not happening. I got the inspiration just from my neighborhood and the gentrification that’s going on. A lot of the people, and the businesses we had growing up aren’t there anymore. So, I tried to shed light on what it is, and what has been happening through comedy.


KH: Your Short Story “Chicklett” is an interesting change of pace from the content you usually make. What is it about, and what was your inspiration for the project?

THR: “Chicklett” is about two guys that are having a photo shoot, then one of them has an idea to go viral on the internet. He decides to take a chicken from the slaughterhouse and take photos and videos with the chicken in Harlem. When they go back to return the chicken, the slaughterhouse is closed, so they’re stuck with a live chicken, on a leash, that they don’t know what to do with. So we go around trying to find homes for the chicken.

I got the idea because at one point I actually wanted to have a chicken that I could take photos with. But then I thought “where am I gonna keep this damn chicken?” The character in the story didn’t think that far ahead though. After I was done filming it, I actually did have to say to myself, “okay what do I do with this chicken?” I ended up giving it to one of my friends who owns other chickens.

KH: I saw on your Instagram that “Chicklett” recently became award-winning. What did you win? How did it feel knowing that your content received the ultimate validation?

THR: That film won Best Screenplay from The Mott Haven Film Festival. I felt amazing. Its so cool when you have an idea, and you don’t know how your gonna bring that idea to life. But you get support from your crew and they help you bring it to life.

It was so amazing seeing people acknowledge and enjoy the final product. It made me feel like all the hard work really came through. I knew then that buying that chicken and keeping it in my house for two weeks was worth it. It [was] such an accomplishment.

KH: Have you considered adding more serious things to your repertoire?

THR: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like, I’m funny, and I know I can do funny things. But I also know I can direct and create serious stuff too. I feel like a Jack of all trades. I would love to take on different genres. If the idea is good, I know that my passion will allow me to do a great job at it.

KH: Any closing thoughts for our audience? Shout-outs? Promotions for upcoming projects? Anything that you want people to know?

THR: The grind never stops! I’m never gonna stop doing videos! I’m never gonna stop creating because that’s who I am. With my work, I’m always looking to evolve. I am always looking to push the envelope do things I haven’t done before, and that I have never seen others do before.

With everything that’s going on with the pandemic, I have new ideas, new things written. I just want to do so much, and I’m so excited to take on new challenges. I’m so excited to show people what I got in my bag.

Tim Hann Rivera

There is much more in store for the Subway Mania/ Jim the Gentrifier/ Chicklett creator

Tim is an electric creator, with a great personality, and a vision. We hope that he finds success in whatever additional endeavors he pursues.

If you want to support the “Subway Mania” mastermind, subscribe to his Youtube channel, check out his Instagram, and keep up to date on his wrestling videos and other hilarious content.

COVID is a new normal: Time to worry about shootings again

It has been just over two weeks since Denver police arrested 4 people on suspicion of terror at the Maven Hotel. Police were tipped off by a hotel maid that saw excessive amounts of weaponry, body armor, and ammunition while cleaning their hotel room. This was just the latest example of attempted gun violence in the U.S., a chapter that seems to repeat itself incessantly.

It was later discovered that these 4 individuals had 16 guns and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition in their room. Perhaps most jarringly, they were staying at a hotel only a block away from Coors Field, where MLB All-Star Game festivities were to be held in the upcoming days.

Guns and baseball, American pastimes

The FBI declared that there was no reason to believe that these individuals were plotting terrorist activities. They also announced there was no ongoing threat to the MLB All-Star Game.

These arrests made some reminisce of the mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas in 2017. We all took a collective sigh of relief, knowing that even if these people were plotting something, it would only be attempted gun violence, not able to be acted upon.

The only problem is, that sigh of relief did not last too long. Just one week after the arrests in Denver, there was another baseball-related gun incident. Except for this time, there actually was a shooting. On July 17th, there was a shooting outside of Nationals Park in D.C. during a Nationals home game. Three people were injured, but, luckily, all will make full recoveries.

Although it was later discovered that the fans inside the stadium were not in any danger, the shooting sent fans and players scrambling for safety. The incident also resulted in the game’s postponement.

It is still unclear what caused the shooting, but it is believed there is a specific reason and it was not a terrorist incident. The suspect(s) have yet to be apprehended.

Pandemic gun violence, both attempted and acted out

Two incidents within a week of each other that both involve baseball. That seems a little bit strange. Could it be something related to baseball? Or is this just a side effect of America’s “return to normal,” “post-pandemic” mentality? More than likely it is the latter of the two.

A mass shooting is defined as any incident with four or more victims either killed or injured from a single incident, not including the perpetrator.

According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that records American gun violence data, there were around 200 more mass shootings in the United States in 2020 than in 2019.

This is in stark contrast with what we’ve been led to believe, that a “silver lining” of the pandemic was that we had fewer mass shootings. Research has found that there were more mass shootings during the pandemic, and that the shootings that occurred were simply less publicized by the media in light of Covid-related news.

So, what does that have to do with 2021? Well, at this point we are on pace to have even more mass shootings than we did in 2020. From the start of the year until writing this today, July 23rd, 2021, the United States has had 380 mass shootings.

This means we are on track to have more than 150 more mass shootings than we did in 2020, and we are on track to have about 350 more mass shootings in 2021 than we did in 2019.

Why so much gun violence in the past few years?

So, why has there been such a drastic rise in mass shootings over the past two years? That question is complicated, and since no two incidents are the same, it would be irresponsible to say the reason is something it’s not.

However, we do know two things for sure. The first thing is that gun violence makes up a large part of the violence we see in the U.S., both attempted and acted out.

The second thing is, since the advent of the vaccine and the lifting of Covid protocols in 2021, people are together more, and out in public more often. When you couple these factors together, it makes sense that we are on pace for one of our most violent years ever.

Keep your head up

While people everywhere have started the process of “returning to normal,” they must keep something in mind. In this country, mass shootings are normal.

Since legislation for stricter gun laws is on the backburner, it does not seem like there is an end in sight for this carnage. The overwhelming source of pride and happiness that comes with being able to do what you want again, should not also come with the fear associated with the possibility that you may be involved in a tragedy.

Mass shootings are ingrained in American culture. They are a part of our way of life. Duck and cover, America! Because as our lives get back to normal, it is only natural that mass shootings will occur.

Gregory Siff created his own canvas with custom bat

If you were watching the Home Run Derby last week, you may have noticed that Pete Alonso had some pretty sick custom designs painted on his bat. The bat featured cerulean blue and pumpkin orange paint that faded into one another, with black icons all over it, and it thus made headlines. The artist behind this unique baseball bat, Gregory Siff, received a special acknowledgment from Pete Alonso during the broadcast on his way to the Met star’s second straight Home Run Derby title.

Gregory Siff is a talented artist, painter, fashion collaborator, and a huge Mets fan, who was given the opportunity to customize bats for his favorite team’s best hitter.

Pete Alonso’s Home Run Derby bat was not Gregory Siff’s first glimpse into baseball collaborations. He was invited by Topps to participate in Topps Project 2020 and Topps Project 70. Those projects were outlets for artists to customize their takes on existing cards.

We got a chance to catch up with Gregory Siff about his work, his life, and the opportunity of a lifetime he got to design the bat for Pete Alonso and the Home Run Derby.

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Gregory Siff-designed bats lined up (Photo by Andy Choi)

Gregory Siff’s bats

Kulture Hub: First things first, the bats are very cool. Are custom bats something you’ve been doing for a while, or is it still something you are relatively new to?

Gregory Siff: These are the first bats I’ve ever painted. It sort of found me. I’ve painted on a lot of different things in my career but it was a first. The opportunity came to me through Topps. I was part of Topps project 2020, where they gave artists the opportunity to give our takes on awesome, classic cards. Now I’ve been in contact with them ever since, they’ve been setting up some great opportunities for me.

KH: How did you get the opportunity to design custom bats for Pete Alonso? Was social media a factor? Did you know him personally beforehand?

GS: No I didn’t know him personally. What happened was Topps called me and told me that Pete Alonso was looking for an artist who really loves the Mets. They told me he saw my work and really liked it, and his agent really set things in motion. They told me that they wanted me to collaborate with him. At first, it was just gonna be like hoodies, t-shirts, and stuff.

But he actually commissioned me and asked me if I wanted to paint on these Dove Tail Bats he uses. They make some of the coolest bats, most beautiful bats I have ever seen, like sculptures made of wood. Needless to say, I said yes.

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Gregory Siff holding his creation: Pete Alonso’s Home Run Derby-winning bat (Photo by Andy Choi)

I like to tell stories with my art using symbols and iconography, so that’s really what I wanted to do for Pete’s bat. I wanted to show the story of his career, his family, and his life on the bat. He really gave me creative freedom to do what I felt like. The rest is history, man.

Gregory Siff and Pete Alonso’s bat linkup

KH: Take me through the process, how many bats did you end up customizing for Pete? How many did he end up using? Were there first and second drafts?

GS: So the plan was to create 8 bats that I would give my all into, then Pete would pick his favorite bat to use during the derby. They told me “do whatever you wanna do!” We wanted him to have a variety of choices. I wanted him to get a feel for all of them and decide which one felt the best.

pete alonso home run derby bat
Gregory Siff-designed bats lined up (Photo by Andy Choi)

I made two test bats for him that would not be used for play, we needed to see how my paint would react with the wood and how it would react to striking balls. He ultimately decided on the blue and orange one with black lettering. He picked my favorite one! We have since decided to recreate the bat he used 100 times for a limited release, and we’re gonna send a portion of the proceeds to his charity.

gregory siff pete alonso bat
Gregory Siff’s designs (Photo by Andy Choi)

On top of everything, he got me the tickets to go to The Derby, so I really couldn’t be more grateful. I have done a few fashion projects, so I decided [to] paint a custom leather jacket for him as a way to thank you so much for the opportunity. The guy is a true champion and gentleman.

Baseball and art

KH: I can see from your Instagram that you are clearly a big Mets fan. Does it mean extra to you that you were able to design a bat for one of the Mets’ biggest stars?

GS: I’m a big-time Mets guy. Going back to when my dad owned one of the biggest catering halls in Brooklyn. When they won the World Series in 1986, they had a party there and I got to hang out with the players. The Mets have always been a part of my life. Pete is a really strong, committed player on, and off the field. I was so happy to be able to paint bats for a real gentleman.

I also want to shoutout his charity Homers For Heroes. He is the type of player like Clemente that wants to leave a mark on this world. I was just super excited and grateful to be paired up with my guy! It meant so much for me because I was doing this for the representation of my favorite team, but also, after getting to know Pete, it was equally as cool doing it for him since he’s such a good dude.

KH: Now, you have also designed a few baseball cards for Topps Project 2020 and Topps Project70, including Aaron Judge and Darryl Strawberry edits. What was the experience like putting your own designs on these established cards?

GS: The feeling of creating your own baseball card is like no other. When I was young, I had always wanted to cut up my cards, paint on them. Now in my studio, that part of my creative process! When Topps signed us on for Project 70, the idea was for us to take our favorite players and our favorite Topps silhouettes, and add something to the cards that nobody else can do but us.

I put a shoutout to my dad’s old catering hall on one of them. Really personal touches. I put my own story on their, and picked players that I felt had a sentimental meaning to me. People I grew up idolizing. Having Topps give you the creative freedom that let me see out my vision was the best! There is nothing better than having your true voice come through in a collaboration. It was awesome that Topps gave the artists the freedom.

Gregory Siff the artist

KH: Let’s talk a little bit about you as a creator. How long have you been making art? Was being an artist always your career goal?

GS: My first job was in the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. I was in the boy’s chorus when I was around 12-13. First, I wanted to play for the New York Mets. But really my first aspiration was that I wanted to become an actor.

I was in musicals in high school, then started doing commercials after that. I moved to Los Angeles once I got involved with acting to pursue my dream. However, as I started to mature and get older, the work wasn’t there for me as much as before. I found art to be a response to that frustration.

I didn’t have to audition to make a painting, I would just make one, and it would satisfy me. I’d be the writer, director, and actor all at once through my paintings. That passion for art quickly took away my passion for acting and my wanting to become an actor.

KH: Do you feel like your experiences in other walks of life, such as being an aspiring actor, help shape your art?

GS: Definitely, yeah. The things that I’ve experienced in my life before were all gasoline to tell my story in my paintings. Everything that happens to me is reflected in my work and, simultaneously, everything that I create is a way to deal with the things in my life that inspired the art. I think the most memorable paintings come from the realest place.

Like Pete Alonso’s bat, an artist can always leave their mark

KH: What characteristics do you feel truly distinguish your work from others?

GS: I experienced this last night actually, when someone told me that they saw the bats and they knew that it was me. That was really cool! It’s the energy that an artist brings which cannot be duplicated. I bring my energy to each piece, then I go in there with my colors, and my symbols, and everything that makes my art mine.

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Gregory Siff sitting with his designed bat (Photo by Andy Choi)

Eventually, you get to a point where it doesn’t matter the medium that’s used, your voice will come through. You will figure out which tools sing your song the clearest. I feel like that’s what separates me, being that I approach everything with the same energy, the same heart, and the same voice. You get a little bit closer to finding out what distinguishes you every time you pick up the brush.

Gregory Siff’s inspiration

KH: You have tons of street art, graffiti-looking designs. You also have a lot of sophisticated doodles reminiscent of high school desk drawings. Were you the kind of student to make art during class? What do you think inspires your stylistic choices the most?

GS: I still look at my notes from my NYU classes where we are talking about these important literary epics and next to all my notes are just these drawings I did of characters and Greek gods. Next to those drawings are random designs and characters and logos.

It made me ask myself, “was I even paying attention?” The source of my inspiration is simply my everyday life. What I do, where I go, what I eat, what I see, who I meet. I’m inspired by everything.

I am inspired by the artists that have come before me, paving the way. My style can be acknowledged and accepted because of the work of artists like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, various New York artists.

My gratitude for being alive, my life, God, all inspire me, my paintings have a little bit of a prayer in them to say “thank you that I get to do this.” When life gives you thongs that are beautiful, or you have to be present for, you must take it and make what you will with it.

Advice and final thoughts for aspiring artists

KH: What advice do you have for aspiring artists who admire your work?

GS: The best advice that I can give is: Live it! When you go to sleep at night, close your eyes and dream it. See where you want to take it. Dream of your work on the side of the biggest building you can imagine. When you wake up, live it! Get to work. Do it because you love it! Create something everyday.

It doesn’t matter what it is that you create, just create something that you can leave behind. Make a mark on the world every day! Those things will stack up and bring you closer to yourself.

Think about where you are today, think about where you are going, but always appreciate today. Don’t let negative experiences deter you. There are no rules in art. Nobody can tell you you’re doing something wrong, because nobody knows how to paint like you!

KH: Any last things you want the people to know? Any closing thoughts?

GS: I just want to say thank you to Kulture Hub for always putting the artists forward. Every time I speak to you guys, every time you show up to my shows, you guys are so supportive. I think, as artists, we need that sometimes because we question everything.

We say “is this good? Will people like this?” But when you have friends like Kulture Hub that support what you do, and reassure you, it makes for a stronger more confident artist. Thank you for that!

For Gregory Siff and Pete Alonso, that bat will last a lifetime

What may not have come through from the interview is that Gregory is one of the friendliest people you could ever meet. He is talented, he is a workhorse, and he is deserving of the attention his art receives.

Pete Alonso could not have picked a more perfect man to design his bat for the Home Run Derby. Go support Gregory Siff by checking out his Instagram, and his website, where you can browse his work, shop, and contact his studio.

How Google lets us see the best street art the world has to offer

Street art is a complicated art form. For instance, it is illegal in most instances, yet it can be legal under certain circumstances. Its origins are unknown, but we do know it has been around since ancient civilizations. Luckily, due to the Google Art Project, lovers of art can safely surf the web for street art from all across the world and learn about art’s roots.

Even the name of ‘street art’ is controversial. Depending on who you ask, there is no such thing as street art, only ‘graffiti.‘ Many people believe that ‘graffiti’ is only ‘street art’ once certain criteria has been met, such as approval from property owners. Some people believe there is no ‘graffiti,’ and that all forms of so-called ‘graffiti’ are artforms to be appreciated.

The revolution of the world’s street art

People have used street art for centuries as a means to express grievances, make statements, and display their impressive artistic talents.

Over the past several years, artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey, have transitioned street art from a largely ignored art form into a more accepted, mainstream form of expression.

Whether or not this was the intention of popular street artists is unknown, but one thing is for sure, street art isn’t going anywhere.

Google Art Project

One of the greatest limitations of street art is that since it is almost exclusively done on something stationary like a building, the range of people that can view it is constricted.

It is true that people can use social media to share street art that they like. But where should you go to find new street art? Well, thanks to google, you can use a website to find street art all over the world. The website allows users to view online exhibitions and read artist stories.

Another amazing feature on the website is a built-in map tool that allows people to view street art with a click. The map also comes with a ‘surprise me’ button. Clicking on that button shows you a random piece of street art from the numerous in their collection.

When you click on any given piece, you will be shown the art, the location, and the name of the artist/project the art belongs to (if applicable).

google art project
Screenshot of surfing the Google Art Project

Perhaps the coolest aspect of the website is the virtual audio tour feature. This feature allows you to take a guided tour through street-art-heavy neighborhoods using the power of Google Earth.

These guided tours are provided by various non-profit organizations devoted to preserving and displaying street art. There are currently 6 virtual tours that you can take any time you feel like it. The voiceover is also available in several different languages.

google art project
Screenshot of Artscape 2014

Get lost in the world of street art

If you are a fan of street art, or simply looking for an interesting way to pass the time, we highly recommend giving this website a visit.

Come get lost in the vibrant, fascinating, and seemingly endless world of street art.

Fireworks accidents are a Fourth of July tradition, but do they have to be?

On July 5th, 2021, news broke that Mattis Kivlenieks, the backup goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets, died at a Fourth of July party because of a fireworks accident. It was reported from multiple sources that he was accidentally struck in the chest by a firework mortar, which ultimately led to the Latvian-born player’s demise. He was only 24 years old.

For some, this incident sparked the conversation we seemingly have every single year…

Why do we allow these fireworks accidents to keep taking place?

Why do we light fireworks if we all know they are dangerous and lead to accidents? Sure, 4th of July fireworks are a tradition that spans generations.

But every year we are bombarded with new stories and reports that people misuse fireworks and cause significant damage. Simultaneously, consumer fireworks become legal in more places every year. 46 out of 50 states allow for firework sales and use of some kind. 30 out of 50 states have next to no restriction on what kind of fireworks consumers can buy and use.

Yet fireworks remain destructive in more ways than one. They annually cause personal injury, significant property damage, and they are also harmful to the planet.

Personal injury like that of Mattis Kivlenieks

The tragic story of Mattis Kivlenieks is not the first instance of fireworks causing injury and death. It’s not even the first time a professional athlete was injured or killed by fireworks.

On July 4th, 2015, NFL defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul lost three of the fingers on his right hand from mishandling fireworks. He has since become an influential advocate for firework safety measures. Injuries to hands and fingers are most common, but eye-related injuries are also common and could result in permanent vision loss.

In 2020, The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that fireworks caused around 10,000 injuries to American consumers that required an emergency room visit.

Furthermore, 73 percent of said injuries occurred during the period of June 21, 2019, through July 21, 2019. It should also be noted that 18 firework-related deaths occurred in 2020, which was a 50% increased from the year before.

Fireworks accidents cause property damage

According to The National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause an estimated 1,300 reported structural fires per year. The average amount of fires caused by fireworks amounts to 43 million dollars worth of property damage annually.

On July 5th, it was reported by Fox 7 Austin that fireworks were the cause of a fire that damaged three homes in the city. The damage is estimated to be worth over 250 thousand dollars.

That is an insane amount of liability stemming from just a single incident. It is true that the majority of property damage caused by fireworks does not total nearly that much. But, it’s very possible that you may be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of damage if you misuse fireworks.

It is also important to remember that your insurance likely won’t help you if you damage someone else’s property with fireworks. Depending on the firework restrictions of the state you live in, you may not even be covered if you damage your own property with fireworks.

The most important thing to remember is that fireworks accidents are not anomalies. Rather, they are far too common in the United States.

The environmental impact

Finally, it is important to remember that fireworks can cause harm even if handled by professionals.

Fireworks, especially grand firework shows, have been proven to be harmful to the environment. Fireworks release gasses and metal particles upon detonation that contribute to air pollution.

According to a peer-reviewed study, air pollution sours up 42 percent between July 4th and July 5th as a direct result of firework use. Some of the particles released by fireworks never go away. Instead, they become permanent parts of the atmosphere that will be breathed in forever.

This pollution is harmful to people and wildlife in the short term, and then also in the long term. Firework displays are typically held in grassy, open areas where wildlife live.

They are also held over large bodies of water containing marine life. Wildlife is adversely affected by these displays, as breathing in, or directly coming into contact with these chemicals can be lethal.

Honestly, let’s stop it

Firework are dazzling, they are fun, they’re are festive, and they’re part of American tradition. However, they are so dangerous and harmful that it is hardly worth warranting their use and legality.

Every year, especially on Independence Day, people hurt themselves or others. People destroy their property and other people’s property. People further their destruction of the planet for their own selfish festivities.

Perhaps it’s time for technology to take control of our festivities. In China, drone light shows have become an increasingly popular way to celebrate occasions. They are captivating, and also most importantly, harmless to people, animals, and our planet. Maybe it is time for this to be adopted in the United States.

Whether drones do or do not end up being utilized, it is important to realize fireworks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We encourage people to not use firework personally, particularly when with many people.

It is best to leave firework use to professionals. If you do end up using them personally, then please be careful. If you hurt yourself, someone, or something else, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Rest in peace Mattis Kivlenieks.