Portraits of Lexy Panterra

Recently, while in Los Angeles (and among other projects), I collaborated with, and shot promotional portraits of recording artist and actress Lexy Panterra, in L.A.'s beautiful fashion district.

Given Lexy's Persian heritage and laid back personality, I felt connected to her as soon as we met, due to the fact that I grew up in Toronto's North York district, with a number of close friends who are of Iranian descent. In fact, prior to high school, at least a quarter of my friends were children of Iranian immigrants, and from a certain perspective, hanging out with, and working with Lexy felt familiar -- as if I was spending time with an old friend.

Moreover, I was excited to work with her, due to her obvious talent and beauty, and I was curious to find out how a relatively young artist was able to amass a social media following of well over two million fans (via Instagram alone), within a relatively short time period.

My excitement was further amplified by the fact that I was working with Lexy's highly-organized assistant, Naaz Amirsadeghi, her talented make-up artist, Jenny Ventura, and my friend Monica Seggos, who happens to be one of the most gifted stylists that I have worked with. As such, I entered a state of flow and extreme focus, prior to taking a single picture, primarily because I fed off of the creative energy in the awesome studio that we were working in (FD Photo Studio), and also because we had a clear game plan of combining cool, late 80s and early 90s looks with modern looks.

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Music Video: "Feel" By SAFE

I've had "Feel" by SAFE on replay for the last two months and the record's music video is no less mesmerizing than the song itself.

Indicative of Toronto's cultural diversity, musical prominence and experimentation over the course of the last six years, SAFE is  undoubtedly one of my favourite musicians from my hometown.

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a j a n i photography: Miguel Live In Concert For HipHopCanada

Musicians like Prince, Queen, Guns N' Roses and Michael Jackson dominated the 80s and set the bar unbelievably high for live musical performances.

As such, very few artists  that represent my generation have been able to measure up to the superhuman standards that were established during the 1980s and before.

With that said, one of the few songwriting and musical performance anomalies of my generation is undoubtedly Miguel and I didn't truly have an appreciation for his level of artistry until I saw it firsthand.

Last week, the Los Angeles native performed to a packed crowd at Toronto's Sound Academy as part of his "Wildheart" tour and between his open  jacket complete with white fringes and the rawness of his music, he did not disappoint.

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a j a n i photography: Skepta Live In Concert For HipHopCanada

Grime is a powerful musical movement that was birthed in the UK during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Grime is primarily influenced by UK garage, drum and bass, dancehall and hip-hop. And in addition to  Dizzee Rascal and Lethal Bizzle, one of my favorite pioneers of the genre is Skepta.

Active since 2003 as an MC and beginning his career as a DJ for the Tottenham-based grime group Meridian Crew, Skepta has most recently experienced international success through his collaboration with Drake via the record "Shut Down", wherein the Toronto-based superstar performs the intro.

This past Tuesday morning, I was fortunate enough to document Skepta's first solo show at the Hoxton in Toronto, soon after his cameo appearance at OVO Fest.

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EP: "P2P" By Ramriddlz

Even though I grew up in Toronto, even though I'm very much a part of Toronto's arts and entertainment community, I'm still baffled by the current volume and quality of art that is being produced within Canada's largest city.

Recently, I've been listening to quite a bit of Ramriddlz' limited discography and I really appreciate the 21-year old musician's raw talent.

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Event: Pluto Live In Concert For Canadian Music Week

At this point in history, it's quite obvious that Toronto is one of the most talented cities in the world when it comes to the arts, entertainment and everything else pertaining to culture and human creativity.

Toronto's r&b and soul musicians are a great representation of Canada's creative melting pot  and vocalists like Drake, The Weeknd and Melanie Fiona have set the bar incredibly high for what Toronto-based singers can accomplish.

Recently, in addition to Majid Jordan, I have been incredibly excited about the body of musical work being produced by Scarborough's own Pluto.

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a j a n i photography: Travis Scott Live In Concert For HipHopCanada

Over the course of the last seven years, I have worked with, have been on stage with, have learned from, have documented and have shot portraits of countless musicians, artists, entertainers and icons that I admire on a number levels.

With that said, at this point in my career, it takes a number of unique qualities for an artist to peak my interest, regardless of what medium they use to create their artwork.

Since 2013, Travis Scott has been one of a few musical artists that I became an instant fan of (for numerous reasons). As such, I was truly excited to cover his concert at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall this past Tuesday and even though I had thoroughly listened to his “Days Before Rodeo” project prior to the concert, I had no idea what to expect from his live performance.

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Documentary: "Not Afraid: The Shady Records Story" By Complex

Much of the chronology of my life and many of my memories are tied to music that reminds me of certain periods of time.

In terms of my early high school years, many of my memories are intertwined and triggered by Dr. Dre's "Chronic 2001" masterpiece and most of Eminem's seminal work during the late 90s and early 2000s.

In fact, one of my earliest high school memories involves being intrigued and perplexed by my first viewing of Eminem's "My Name Is" music video.

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a j a n i photography: Rich Homie Quan Live In Concert For The Substance Group

Prior to traveling to Atlanta, I didn't have a truly experiential point of reference for Atlanta's Hip-Hop culture or the the societal nuances that influenced it. My appreciation for Southern Hip-Hop only extended as far as BET, MTV, Much Music and a childhood of mixtapes, mix CDs and digital downloads.

However, once I visited Atlanta for the first time, I began to understand Atlanta's Hip-Hop music at a deeper level.

Prior to that first trip, I read an interview featuring Julia Beverly (of Ozone Magazine) in which she described Southern Hip-Hop music as being music that doesn't place a great deal of emphasis on lyrical complexity and is produced primarily for nightclubs or as part of one's soundtrack for a long drive.

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Short Film: "Jungle" By Karim Huu Do

"Jungle" was recently shared through the October's Very Own blog and features Drake traveling throughout the GTA while providing his intimate insights on the entertainment world, his lifestyle, superstardom and Toronto (among other things).

The short film, directed by Karim Huu Do features a number of Drake's collaborators, friends and colleagues, including 40, P. Reign and Future and is interlaced with poignant visuals that feature a cold and dream-like overtone.

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