STLNDRMS: The New Wave
As the music reverberates off Monday Night Garage’s beer-splattered floors, vibes reminiscent of J Dilla’s dopeness vibrate through the joints of every animate and inanimate object in the building. Electricity. Connectivity. Unpretentious audio orgies. Spunk. Funk. Soul. Frankenstein’s monster on 100% pure uncut cocaina. Sonic Snowfall. What Studio 54 in the early 80s must’ve felt like. Controllerise Atlanta.
I look to my left and see this beautiful Dorothy Dandridge-esque twenty-something radiating like the sunset sky. Short hair. Almond eyes. Marshmallow lips. Soft, thick frame. The stuff dreams are made of. In front of me, there’s a mob of third generation Def Comedy Jam dancers reminding me how it felt to hear “Peace. God Bless. Good Night.” then sit in awe of the illest breakers on television. Freedom. Raw shit. Everything. Mind-melding music. Hand-crafted Soundwaves. The heartbeat of the underground. I think to myself “is this what a Dilla set felt like?”
As the vibes elevate higher, I look to my right and instead of Detroit’s Don of Donuts—the most notable sample surgeon to dig through a crate, I see a headful of free-form locs bouncing under a tightly knit beanie. A conductor, orchestrating an ocean of energy. STLNDRMS: The new wave.
I say new wave like he’s new to the game or something. Fact is, he’s been paying dues for a hot minute–hot like grandma’s oven on Turkey Day. For at least a decade Christopher “STLNDRMS” Wilkes has been stewing his creative juices in a cast iron skillet of perseverance.
Before I ever heard a live STLDRMS set, or randomly stumbled across his music on the interwebs. Christopher Wilkes, the same dude who created Veggie Tacos III, was an impassioned photographer and video director. Not "Photographer" like everybody with a smartphone's a photographer. Or how your cousin's best friend's brother's a video director. Wilkes was actually doing the damn thing. His Vimeo page features the likes of West Coast phenom Schoolboy Q, Trap God Young Jeezy, Lil Scrappy, Skyzoo, super producer/emcee Focus, the list goes on. To sum it up in a sentence, dude’s understanding of the game runs deep, from multiple angles. Somehow he's found the courage to change careers, raise children, serve as a soldier, and master the art of moving the crowd.
To hear him tell it, he's only just begun.
The iconic Gordon Parks once said, “The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.”
I hope someone’s reading this with a dream. Maybe you’re just starting on your journey. Maybe you’ve been grinding for decades and you’re close to quitting. I’ve been there. In the face of all my un-accomplishments, questioning the very core of my being. But you know what?.... fuck that. The guy or girl who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed! People like STLDRMS remind us that the relentless pursuit of creative expression will lead to greatness. Even if that greatness is discovered in a room full of vibed-out counter-cultured misfits, drinking craft brew on a Monday night.
Be Free. Be Creative. Be brave.
Visit his website: www.stlndrms.com
Check out his throwback video work (it’s still dope): https://vimeo.com/christopherwilkes