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Rightnowish digs into life in the Bay Area right now… ish. Journalist Pendarvis Harshaw takes us to galleries painted on the sides of liquor stores in West Oakland. We'll dance in warehouses in the Bayview, make smoothies with kids in South Berkeley, and listen to classical music in a 1984 Cutlass Supreme in Richmond. Every week, Pen talks to movers and shakers about how the Bay Area shapes what they create, and how they shape the place we call home.

205 Episodes
Ira Watkins paints Black history while living it. He's a self-taught visual artist who has been using dazzling colors, expressive images and hidden messages to document Black history for decades. His work has graced the walls of his Bayview neighborhood and has been shown at the Tenderloin Museum. He's also painted a huge mural in his hometown of Waco, Texas, where the city dedicated a day in his honor-- now every January 17 is Ira Watkins Day. This week we talk about Black history with someone who has seen it firsthand, and used his hands to make sure the stories are passed on.
As a kid in San Francisco, Tommy Guerrero would stand on his skateboard, sliding down the steep hills of San Francisco slalom style. He'd dodge the dangerous objects in traffic and aim for the lips of the driveways he'd pass, going off them in attempts to catch air. This skillset allowed him to win contests, have his own signature board, and turn pro before he could legally buy a beer. Instead, that first check from being signed as a professional skater, was spent on a four track recorder and a drum machine so he could make music. Skating is where Tommy earned his name as a teenager. Now, as an adult, he still skates but it's more of just a kick and push on smooth pavement in the park, with an occasional ollie here and there. It's the investment he made in his music career that is paying dividends. For over two decades Tommy has been producing Lo-Fi, boom-bap, jazzy, hip-hop, instrumental music where he plays every instrument. His music is cerebral, and his songs have titles that he pulls out of the ether. He's tuned in to the cosmos, as well as the popular trend of listening to vibey sounds. Plus, he's a dad, so it helps that he's tapped into the culture. Tune in this week as we discuss music, skating, San Francisco culture, and Tommy's philosophies on fatherhood.
Qing Qi is an artist, talented MC, and an actress who doesn't mince words. Her lyrics are explicit for a reason. She looks at the atrocities that readily happen in this country and all around the world, from bombings to kidnappings, and then she asks what's wrong with saying a few four letter words or euphemisms for genitalia? Qing Qi also doesn't shy away from the hardships she's navigated while living in the Bay Area. She pours her observations and personal experiences into her lyrics, delivering brash bars over bangin' beats. Last year she also got into acting, playing the role of Ally in the indie film, "Donna and Ally". So this week we talk to Qing Qi about music and movies, as well as the art of using comedy as a stress relief, and why being real with your children is the best form of parenthood-- and she means being really real.
Equipto (born Ilyich Sato) is a hip-hop cultural cornerstone and well-known activist who reps San Francisco to the fullest. He's been making music since the 90s, when he came in the game laying down tracks with the underground group, Bored Stiff.  Equipto has rocked shows with the late Mac Dre and was good friends with the late Baba Zumbi of Zion-I. Legendary rapper San Quinn even credits Equipto for teaching him how to properly count rap bars.  We discuss his various roles of mentor, father, artist and activist who is trying to make sense of all the changes happening to his hometown, while simultaneously developing a new community in a new state.
"Been through it all but I feel like it was worth it, not a perfect man but I feel like I am worthy," sings musician Rob Woods in a raspy yet uplifting tone that's reflective of the sentiment in his trademark song, "Worthy." Woods wrote the song in collaboration with Ricky Jassal, who he met while incarcerated in a California state prison. Since his release, Woods has been traveling around this state reminding people that no matter what they've been through, they too are worthy. His work is important, especially here in California where there are large numbers of imprisoned and unhoused people. For many people, even those who aren't living behind bars or sleeping on the streets, times are hard. In the scramble to pay bills and make ends meet, our inherent value as human beings often gets lost. So this week we talk to Rob Woods for a simple but profound reminder that you too are worthy.
"Turfin' is a way of life for me," says Telice Summerfield, a dancer who has the ability turn a BART platform into a stage where she can glide, tut, bend and bone break on beat. She exchanges energy with onlookers; they get entertained and she gets empowered. The dance is an art. It's also a political act, as she takes up space at will. Today we discuss how the hyphy movement opened her eyes to the arts as a child, how her experience at UC Berkeley exposed her to inequalities on campus as a young adult, and what dancing on BART has taught her about sociology. Now that Telice is a known name in the dancing world, she also gives us some insight on her plans to take the culture even further.
From global issues to community conflicts, Boots Riley has had a foot in a number of the major current events of the past year, and he says he's not done yet. So we're kicking off 2024 by talking to someone who has their finger on the pulse of the culture, and a hand in directing the future.
Marisol Medina-Cadena takes a tour of the American Indian Cultural District. It was founded in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood in 2020 to serve as a home base for the Urban Native community.  This episode originally aired on July 22, 2022.
This week on Rightnowish, we talk to librarian Mychal Threets about what it's like to be a social media star and how the public library system is a place for all.
This week Pendarvis Harshaw talks about how the music he grew up listening to, plays into how he and his daughter bond over music now.
Angelica Medina’s first memories of dance are from when she was five years old doing steps to a Selena performance on TV. Her wife, Jahaira Fajardo, remembers being a New York club kid in her late teens, when she thinks of her earliest dance experiences. That’s because dancing felt very heteronormative and exclusionary, and as a lesbian growing up in a Dominican household, dancing seemed just not okay for her. Now as adults, Angelica and Jahaira are co-founders of In Lak’ech, the first queer salsa and bachata dance academy in the U.S. and they are out to create dance spaces that build inclusivity.
Born and raised in Oakland, Helixir Jynder Byntwell did drag as a hobby until August 2022. That's when they quit their job, won the SF Drag King of the Year competition, and became a professional king, all in the span of a week. Since then, they’ve joined the Rebel Kings of Oakland, a performance troupe based at the White Horse Bar. They’ve also participated in several well-attended performances in New York and in the Bay Area, most recently at the Castro Street Fair. Byntwell’s performances are always fun, always flamboyant, and more often than not, very emo. On this episode of Rightnowish, they describe their perception of queer joy, and how it feels to exist uninhibited.
Inside of a classic Queen Anne Victorian in West Oakland, photographer Traci Bartlow displays beautifully framed images of the people who shaped hip-hop culture here in the Bay Area, and across the nation. Photos of Outkast and Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes and ODB, hang alongside images of the Luniz and Shock-G, as well as E-40 and The Click. While the photos tell a story about what life was like in growing up in Oakland, it's her house, which is a photography museum and a boutique hotel, that tells the complex story of multiple generations of Black folks, land ownership and community appreciation. This episode originally aired on October 14, 2022
Despite the uptempo party music and the perception of free-spirited fun, it's clear that 2006 was a violent year in my Northern Californian community. But until recently, I hadn't stopped to consider the issues impacting the kids of the Bay Area in the early 2000s, during the hyphy movement: violence, crime, poverty, sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination. These are no different from the issues we're facing today. If you look closely enough, you'll see that all these issues are rooted in capitalism and imperialism. In this episode we talk to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents the East Bay, about her history of dealing with these issues while serving this community for the past 25 years; Rich Iyala, a younger San Francisco based musician who wrote a song that inspired multiple aerosol artists to write tags that read, "hyphy children got trauma(s)" and "hyphy kids got trauma,"; and T'Jon, a senior at Oakland's Fremont High school, who was born in 2006 and views the hyphy movement as a groundswell of art, culture and community.
In the early 2000s, the underground DVD business was a major conduit of culture. Those documentaries showed the backstory of hip-hop artists and street culture all across the United States. One of the films Hood 2 Hood: The Blockumentary,, also included an early depiction of hyphy culture as I knew it to be-- hyper aggressive. But as the "hyphy movement" spread, the way the culture was shown drastically deviated from the origins of the term. In this episode, filmmaker Aquis "Cash Out Quis" Bryant discusses the era before hyphy went nationwide. Mac Dre's former manager, Chioke "Seaside Stretch" McCoy shares insight on how Dre's murder pushed the culture into the spotlight; and how the industry subsequently took the "hyphy movement" and ran with it. And Rita Forte, a former radio host known as DJ Backside, opens up about the highs of taking the hyphy sound around the world, and the lows of seeing her DJ career come crashing down after bad experience while working for a local radio station.
Before the "hyphy movement" and even prior to having its own name, the style of dance now commonly known as Turfin' or Turf Dancing, provided an outlet for young folks in Oakland to party to their favorite music, have fun by physically telling stories and express themselves while taking up room on the floor. In this episode, we talk to Jeriel Bey, the person credited with coining the term, "Turfin'," Jacky Johnson, a founding Youth Uprising staff member, and Jesus El, my longtime friend and a well-known turf dancer.
The Hyphy Movement was often looked at as goofy, but there was a lot of pain behind those big sunglasses and oversized airbrushed t-shirts. Welcome to Hyphy Kids Got Trauma, a four-part series about the Bay Area, and the significance of the year 2006. In part one we land in Oakland and meet host Pendarvis Harshaw, a budding journalist at 18 years old. We see the highs and lows, the songs and scars, of that year through his eyes, and meet a few of the artists behind the music.
Rightnowish Presents 'Hyphy Kids Got Trauma' - A four part exploration of a transformative year in Bay Area music history, 2006, through the eyes and ears of Pendarvis Harshaw. As a college student and burgeoning journalist at the time, Pendarvis navigates the shifting tides of a culture in transition, all set to the seminal sounds of the Bay Area’s “Hyphy Movement.” It was an era fueled by uptempo, bass-heavy songs with a free and fun-loving vibe. But 2006 also marked the second highest homicide total that the city of Oakland has ever seen. The violence was compounded by drugs, over-policing, the onset of gentrification, and the ongoing War On Terror. The wounds that occurred almost twenty years ago still impact the adults of the Bay Area today. Hyphy kids got trauma, and this is why.  The 1st episode airs September 21st!
Hey Rightnowish listeners, today we’ve got a special bonus episode to share with you. It’s from our friends at Ritually, a new podcast, from Brazen Media hosted by London-based journalist Nelufar Hedayat. She’s reported about all sorts of things — human trafficking, the war in Afghanistan (where she was born), the climate crisis and more. Now, she’s looking inward, and trying to answer some big questions that came up for her during the early days of the pandemic. What does spirituality look like, when you think of yourself as a secular person? What role do rituals play in our fast-paced world? And how can we use them to help make our lives feel calmer, richer, and more balanced?  In her podcast, Nelufar tries out new spiritual or wellness rituals to find out if practicing them can actually make us feel better. In this episode, she digs into a ritual that’s at the centre of her religion: the daily call to prayer. But as a progressive Muslim woman, she struggles with patriarchal interpretations of Islam, and the constraints of organized religion. So with the help of feminist spiritual practitioner, Nelufar tries following a new version of the call to prayer. And it’s different — radical, actually! — because it’s in a woman’s voice.
What began as a personal quest to get out of this rut (or flop era as the chronically online people say) that I was experiencing, quickly developed into my focal point for work. So, I enlisted the help of my podcast department colleagues to help me figure out how I would translate this self help journey for our Rightnowish podcast. I know this was my idea but still... I was lowkey nervous about stepping into the limelight as the host, airing out personal woes of not feeling my best self, feeling like a ghost of myself (if I'm being totally honest). Turns out, that the dedicated time to focus on this theme of adornment for work was a befitting experiment. It allowed me to bring my full self to work and not have to hide the truth that I was feeling so crummy about myself. With the goal of learning new tools to work myself out of this self loathing pit, I set out to interview Bay Area creatives/business owners who specialized in different forms of adornment: fragrance, flower arrangements, colorful clothing and custom jewelry. Learning to view these forms of decorations as rituals has been a game changer for me. I now realize getting ready doesn't have to be about centering opulence, it can be about taking care of myself and setting intentions for the day or for the experience I want to manifest. I hope this series has been enjoyable for you as much as it has for me. To celebrate the end of this series, we leave you with a conversation between producer Xorje Olivares and I about the journey of making 'Adorned'
Comments (5)

Aakash Amanat

"Rightnowish" is an engaging and culturally significant podcast that captures the essence of contemporary life and creativity. Hosted by the talented Pendarvis Harshaw, the show offers a unique platform for artists, activists, and changemakers to share their stories and perspectives on the issues that shape our world today. What sets "Rightnowish" apart is its deep dive into the experiences of individuals who are making a difference in their communities and beyond. Through insightful interviews and conversations, listeners gain valuable insights into the diverse voices and initiatives that are actively shaping the world's social, cultural, and artistic landscapes. The podcast explores themes such as art, social justice, music, activism, and community, making it a valuable resource for anyone seeking to better understand the pulse of the current moment. With its powerful storytelling and thought-provoking content, "Rightno

Oct 25th

Aakash Amanat

Rightnowish" is a captivating podcast that transcends the confines of traditional audio storytelling. Hosted by Pendarvis Harshaw, the show brings forth a dynamic exploration of contemporary culture, art, and the zeitgeist. It delves into the pulse of the moment, uncovering narratives and voices that capture the essence of the now. What makes "Rightnowish" truly special is its commitment to highlighting the intersection of creativity, social issues, and individual experiences. It's not just about the latest trends or headlines; it's about immersing the listener in the richness of the current cultural landscape. From discussions on music, fashion, and visual arts to in-depth interviews with artists, activists, and change-makers, this podcast covers a wide spectrum of topics, all rooted in the present.

Oct 17th

Leon Ransom

I've told you a number of're the son I never had. Proud of you, son...keep the faith. Uncle Smokey

Oct 21st
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