The thing that’s amazing about The Fader magazine is that they have this incredible knack for predicting the next big thing in music. When I got the call to head to Atlanta to shoot Ilovemakonnen, I had never heard of him and upon asking around, nobody I knew had really heard about him either. Just a few months later, he’s huge and I got to be there right at the cusp as it was happening. It’s cool to see the excitement of someone on the very edge of being world famous even if it is veiled behind a cool, nonchalant demeanor. The first time I listened to Makonnen, I hated it. Definitely didn’t get it. But after two days of listening non-stop as we drove around Atlanta and recorded in a bunch of studios, I’m a convert. Not 100%, but I can get down to some Ilovemakonnen. It was pretty amazing to see his process… Basically get reeeeeaaaaally stoned, do some mushrooms, and lay down an ad lib track usually in only one take. Give it a try kids, you could be the next big thing!

While filming a video for Vodka on the Weekend

Makonnen went to visit a band in the suburbs of Atlanta called Sea Ghost. Turns out they were all high school kids making music in the basement of one of their parents houses. Makonnen took it in stride though and recorded an improvised hook for one of their tracks.

The Awful Records house was a very different scene… you get the idea.

Mike Will Made it, Atlanta super producer was a big part of making Makonnen a success. He also produces songs for pop stars like Miley Cyrus

Loooootttsssss oooofffff wwweeeeeeeeddddd.

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I’m no history expert by any means, but I think it’s safe to say that so much of what made our country what it is today was our ability to build, manufacture, invent and develop the ways of doing things much faster and less expensive than anyone else. Well things have changed. Now Made in America means something a little bit different. It doesn’t necessarily mean the fastest or the cheapest anymore, but it still means quality. For us to be able to compete on price with over seas manufacturing at all we have had to turn our attention mostly to developing automation and reducing the number of people putting hands on the products. I’ve shot in lots of factories in this country over the years and seen huge facilities that seem almost ghostly quiet and empty with the quiet hum of efficient motors working away. But there are still a lot of people that are making their livings in factories all over the country today. A lot of hands on metal, a lot of soot covered faces, splinters and blisters. Here are some images from a recent shoot at Buck Stove, a manufacturer of wood stoves and furniture in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

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