Rinny Perkins RinnyRiot interview Nostalgia Mixtape

Artwork by Nataly Menjivar for Rinny Perkins’ interview appearance on The Nostalgia Mixtape with host Sama’an Ashrawi.

Houston-raised, Los Angeles-based writer, artist, and comedian Rinny Perkins sits down with us to tell the story of how Toro y Moi soundtracked her attempt to apprehend shoplifters at American Apparel in the late 2000s. Perkins first gained a following on Instagram through her collage art that combines vintage 1970s Black magazine aesthetic with 21st century slogans. Find her there @rinnyriot.

Foreword by Sydney Gore.

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[0:00:00]

Sama’an: Today’s guest, Rinny Perkins, is like me in that we both love music. I mean really, really love it. You name a genre, even a subgenre, and Rinny’s got a playlist for you. Just ask Rinny for her Yacht Rock playlist, you won’t be disappointed. The last time we hung out, we spent a day in Houston, had the chicken sandwich at the original Frenchy’s in Third Ward, the best smoothies of our lives at Juiceland, and talked about Houston rap and Eddie Murphy movies until the sun went down. The next night, we went roller skating at a spot called Houston Just Rolling, a massive and Black-owned skating rink on the south side of Houston. I only busted my ass once, I swear! But it was mesmerizing watching Rinny skate like a pro, forwards and backwards. You can tell it’s in her bones to express herself, and I think you can feel that when you see her art. 

Rinny and I first met in 2018 at the opening of her photo exhibit at a gallery called Junior High in East Hollywood, Los Angeles through an invitation from my friend Tara. The exhibit, called Where Ya At?, was her highly curated and excellently stylized tribute to 1970s Black skate culture. Some things you see and you can immediately recognize that they’re important, this was one of those moments for me. But to really talk about Rinny’s art, we need to turn to someone way more qualified than myself. Today, that someone is Sydney Gore, an editor and writer for places like Nylon, MTV, The FADER, High Snobiety, Paper Magazine, Genius, Complex, and Okayplayer. 

Sydney is way better at describing things than I am, so let’s welcome Sydney to the campfire and get a better understanding of Rinny’s art before we jump into this conversation.

[0:02:02]

Foreword

Sydney Gore: Sama’an, you are far too kind. Thank you so much for the lovely intro and for including me on this podcast. So, let’s talk about Rinny Perkins. She is a Houston-born, Los Angeles-based artist and comedian known for her retro digital collages that project Black Feminism in all of its melanated glory. The 60s and 70s-inspired propaganda tackles everything that permeates in the culture, from sex and politics to mental health and self-care, finding her instagram page is almost like unlocking a hidden utopia for Black empowerment even when some of the messages behind the memes are about ongoing systemic failures. So, I can’t remember when exactly I was initially exposed to Rinny’s artwork, but I do know for a fact that the Thank You For Flaking piece about not committing to plans was the first one that grabbed my attention.

This design in particular really spoke to me because for the last year and a half now, I’ve been following this unspoken rule where if I make tentative plans with someone and they do not follow up to confirm that we’re still on and it’s happening, I don’t feel obligated to show up. It really saves a lot of time and energy and she just perfectly conveyed that with that picture. So while the featured figures in these images come from the archives of magazine advertisements and album covers, it’s hard not to see ourselves in these women even today in 2020. Rinny’s designs really remind us that representation still matters and that there’s no progress in the feminist agenda without intersectionality. You can also promote Rinny’s work by ordering merchandise from her shop, Brownie Points for You, and I’ll let you take it from here.

[o:03:58]

Sama’an: Thank you so much, Sydney. And now, let’s have Rinny sit down at our campfire-time machine and take us back. Way, way back.

[0:04:07]

Rinny: Hello, I’m Rinny Perkins, I produce CO2 for a living, and [laughs] I just found out that I have been on a non-vegan diet via gummy bears.

Sama’an: [laughs]

[00:04:53]

Sama’an: And what songs do you wanna talk about a day?

Rinny: Oh, today I’m gonna talk about Toro Y Moi’s “Imprint After”, from his Causers of This album. catatonia. 

Sama’an: And Con Funk Shun’s… 

Rinny: Oh! And Con Funk Shun’s “Love Train.” It’s a bop!

[00:05:13]

Return to “Imprint After” interlude

 

[00:05:35]

Sama’an: So, my dad is Palestinian. 

Rinny: Mhm. 

Sama’an: He started the first rock and roll band in Palestine [Al-Bara’em].

Rinny: Are you serious?

Sama’an: So it’s like an incredible piece of the country’s history.

Rinny: Yeah! 

Sama’an: It’s wild. 

Rinny: Yeah.

Sama’an: So I’m working on a script about that… 

Rinny: Oh that’s super tight. Your dad is like… an icon.

Sama’an: Yeah, I mean, forgotten icon, but like… at the time, at the time. Yes, for sure. 

Rinny: He’s like the first, the first rock band? 

Sama’an: Yes, yeah, and so I just went back in April, and we found all these… like we went to my uncle’s house, my uncle still lives there, and he had just this dusty box in his basement and we found all these newspaper clippings about the band and posters and concert tickets and the UN wrote them a letter to play a show for them, and I was like, “This is…” My dad, just talked about it growing up, like he just had a garage band, you know what I mean? That just fucked around. But I was like, “This is actually quite legit.” 

Rinny: No that’s super fucking tight. 

 

[00:06:33]

Sama’an: Is there any kind of musical history with your parents at all?

Rinny: I don’t, as in like… Do they start like cool bands? No! 

Sama’an: Or was there music in your family?

Rinny: I’m gonna say no, I don’t think so. I’m trying to think, as far as even anything in creative entertainment industry, like that’s just me. 

Sama’an: These stories that you or… this one story that you wanna tell, can you talk to me about, before you tell us where it takes place, how old you are, or, sorry, what year it is, whatever…

Rinny: Okay, so it’s actually a culmination of stories, ’cause this particular song represents a time of transition in my life, and it was a time where I was in my last few, I guess, months in Houston, and I was moving to LA.

Sama’an: Okay, what year is this? 

Rinny: This is… ‘08? And I was working at American Apparel. All the cool kids worked in American Apparel in 2008…

Sama’an: Sure, sure. 

Rinny: And there’s this in-store radio station called “Viva Radio” and that’s all you could listen to in any American Apparel was strictly Viva Radio, and Viva Radio had their own DJs which were primarily other American Apparel employees.

[sample Viva Radio playlist below]

Sama’an: Interesting. Did they get paid extra for the DJ work? 

Rinny: You know it was free! [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs] That’s what I was gonna say. 

Rinny: I tried to get a DJ channel there and they were just like, “Eeehhh… No!” 

Sama’an: Well, their loss for sure. Wow. I would listen to your DJ channel!

Rinny: I know! I had all the hits from Hypemachine! So like I don’t know why they were frontin on me. I was like, “Look at my playlist!” 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: And they were just like, “We’re good.” Do you want me to get into the story, or just like… 

Sama’an: Set itup.

Rinny: Okay it’s 2008, I’m working at American Apparel, or… Wait, I’m sorry, this is wrong. 2009, I’m working at American Apparel in Houston.

Sama’an: Okay, well talk to me about… is this high school, college? 

Rinny: Yeah, no, this is college.

Sama’an: Okay, college, alright alright alright. I just wanna figure out what state of mind you’re in… 

Rinny: Yeah, so I was working at American Apparel in Houston, we had the whole Viva Radio setup, and one of the most interesting things about just working… I should preface this by like… Yeah, before this I worked at Urban Outfitters in or so I kinda knew the gist… And before that, I worked at JC Penny. The fun stuff. And before that, I worked at Astroworld!

Sama’an: Wow!

Rinny: I know! 

Sama’an: You worked at Astroworld in high school?

Rinny: Yes! 

Sama’an: Wowwww. That’s amazing.

Rinny: Right before it closed. 

Sama’an: Wow. 

 

 

Rinny: I also quit. This is a side story, but okay, I worked at Astroworld like two Fright Fest seasons, and the second one, or the final one, which I think was 2005. I basically came back and they had me work– the first time I worked near the Bamboo Shoot, or next to Thunder River? And then the second time they had me working in the employee cafe and it was the first day… This is gonna sound so pretentious… And so the first day, I don’t think I got a break… To be fair, I can’t even remember… I just remember it was a very strenuous day. Back then… God… Minimum wage was like $5.55 an hour…

Sama’an: That’s insane. 

Rinny: It was! Like, “What am I gonna do with $5.55 an hour?” Like, nothing! And I remember actually getting a task– like they would give you tasks — and somy task, I think, was to mop the entire restaurant? And I was like, “This is my first day. This is so bizarre. How do they even know I can do this?” Not saying I couldn’t mop but I was just kind of like… “I don’t even know how this…” No one gave me an orientation, they just like threw you in there, and I was just kind of like… cleaning out grills, like they didn’t… I don’t even remember… Would I get popped with a lawsuit if I’m like, “Oh you didn’t do food safety.” I don’t even remember. It’s very possible… We sat through a lot of video trainings? 

Sama’an: Okay…

Rinny: But when it came to my placement in the employee cafe which was not fun because that’s where the employees come when they’re in break and you’re working…

Sama’an: So everyone’s just fed up probably.

Rinny: Yeah! They’re just like… and it’s like, “Dang, I wanna eat.” And I just remember I was like, “Oh no, fuck this.” And so I quit. 

Sama’an: First day?

Rinny: The first day! The first day back. Before that, I worked Fright Fest fine and it’s very interesting working at a place that you typically enjoy going to, ’cause that kind of strips the joy from it. But yeah, I don’t know why I just went to Astroworld, but yeah, let me go to back to what I was saying… 

 

[00:11:53]

Rinny: So the thing about American Apparel, this is American Apparel on Montrose which no longer exists anymore. Obviously, American Apparel doesn’t have stores anymore. And I had really cool managers. It wasn’t like a party, but it was a very lax work environment, everyone was pretty much around the same age. We’re all in college or just graduated high school and everyone is just like, you know, listening to the same music, the only thing that was a little bit interesting or the most exciting parts really was like: how many times you would see shoplifters in the store? 

Sama’an: And how do you deal with them, do you just let them go? 

Rinny: Oh that brings me to the story! 

Sama’an: Oh okay, alright alright alright, great! 

Rinny: Okay, so, legally, you’re supposed to let them go. Or at least I think that’s the company policy. Okay, so there was actually this one instance, and it was… This is, of course, during the summer, and I say to… So there’s two people, they come in and there’s a couple, it was a guy and a girl. The girl goes to try on disco pants, which are this signature American Apparel, like shiny, spandex-y pant. And they’re like $98. So, I mean, for my pockets? That was steep. I didn’t have it when I worked there. Even though we have a discount of I think 50% off… I was still like, you know? Gas. Gas for my… I think I had like a ’99 Nissan back then that would die on me on the 610 freeway. Like just shut off.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: So I’m thinking about gas and I think I had got my first root canal that year. First, of five! That’s a– thank you, Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Going back to the disco pants. So, a girl comes in with a guy and then she has to try it on in the fitting room, she tries it on, and she comes out and we clean out the fitting rooms and you ask like… “Hey, is everything okay for you?” If you have anything you didn’t want… She’s like, “No, everything’s good.” Of course, because we typically only have one of each thing on the floor. You notice when… Oh, a size small or… I think it was like a size small bright red pair of disco pants is missing or did not re-appear and I was like, “Oh man, that’s weird.” And so, I don’t know if I ever… My manager was like, “Hey just so disco pants is on the move,” you know what I mean? We didn’t have a code… Some stores have codes that they say when they suspect you’re stealing they’ll have a name or be like, “Banana Joe,” and then everyone’s on the look-out for who’s stealing. But we didn’t… We were just like, “Oh Okay, cool, got it.” So, I don’t know… Okay. This escalated somehow, so fast, and I don’t know how it got to this point, but, eventually the girl and the guy they leave the store.

Sama’an: Okay… 

Rinny: And honestly, that’s where it should have ended, but me and my boss, we were like, “Yo, let’s roll up.” [laughs]

Sama’an: Didn’t have anything to lose that day! 

Rinny: Nothing to lose! And we probably were really bored, so, god… we… Instead of just, I think… ’cause the girl and the guy, they were just walking the block. And so, if I could just set up the scene…

Sama’an: Please.

Rinny: American Apparel Montrose is off of Westheimer. The lower digits of Westheimer. So pass like Lanier Middle School, I think. Yeah, and like a Cane’s there now… So there’s like Leopard Lounge, there’s a Buffalo Exchange across the street, and I think a Wish store and then there’s Poison Girls, which is a bar and then a few other cool, trendy, resale vintage shops and then there’s across the street from American Apparel I think is like a convenience store and a tattoo parlor. 

Leopard Lounge and American Apparel, Montrose.

Sama’an: Okay.

Rinny: And so, obviously, usually when people come through American Apparel, they’re going to other stores around.

Sama’an: There’s like other… 

Rinny: Yeah, they’re like, “I’m gonna go to Buffalo Exchange, I’m gonna go American Apparel, I’m gonna take the stuff I stole from American Apparel and sell it at Buffalo Exchange.”

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: It happens! And they would call us and be like, “Hey is this your stuff?” And we’re like, “Yeah.” They’re like, “Well this girl is trying to sell us something with the sensor tags still attached.” Like… Oh, or like there’s huge holes in them ’cause they ripped them out.

Sama’an: Right. 

Rinny: When in actuality, all you have to do is take a magnet — I think it’s a magnet — or a screw driver. I don’t know. I actually Googled that once, but not because I was stealing anything. I have never stolen anything in my life! Like, period. Not from a store. Now, I might have taken my mom’s make-up sometimes, but not from a store! 

Sama’an: That’s a different story.

Rinny: Yeah, but one time, this is an aside… But one time I remember I got…. My mom actually gave me a robe from Victoria’s Secret, which, whatever.

Sama’an: Okay. 

Rinny: And it had one of the sensor tags on it, and I was like, “Well how am I gonna take this back? And mysteriously ask them like, “Hey can you remove this?” ‘Cause one, I didn’t have the receipt. One of the things my mom does, or used to do until me and my sister both were like, “Please stop buying us things from Victoria’s Secret. We do not want them.” So Victoria’s Secret, after Christmas, they have this massive sale, and so they mark everything down… My mom would go to their sale after Christmas, buy all the stuff, and then give it to us the following Christmas.

Sama’an: [laughs] One whole year later..

Rinny: One whole year!

Sama’an: [laughs] There were no other holidays in between…

Rinny: Nothing! One whole year. And because of that we could never take anything back. They would be like pajama sets, and we’d take them back, and they’d just be like, “We haven’t sold this for over a year” or a season. 

Sama’an: And you’re like… “I KNOW.”

Rinny: And so I had a robe and it had the tag on there and I was like, “What’s what am I supposed to do with this?” One, I can’t wear it with the tag; two, I can’t take it back, ’cause it has a tag and they’re gonna be like, “Oh well, you’re stealin’!” And I’m Black. Like, that happens.

Sama’an: Right, you’re not tryna walk down that road. 

Rinny: Yeah, that– psshh… It happens all the time. 

Sama’an: Yeah. 

 

[00:18:35]

Rinny: I also have stories about that! We can just go down the list, but, we are… the girl and the guy, they leave our store. For whatever reason, we get the idea like, “Okay let’s go pull up.” So instead of just like walking out of the store and approaching them, we get in my car…

Sama’an: [laughs] Okay…

Rinny: I’m parked in the back, in the employees’ parking lot, and I’m like, “Alright, let’s go do this.” And my manager’s like, “Yeah, let’s roll up!” So we are crunk as shit over this, like we’re like… Like this is a Set It Off scene or whatever. [laughs] And we pull up across the street, we see them, they go into the tattoo parlor across the street. 

Sama’an: Okay. 

Rinny: And then we go inside. And my manager was like, “Hey you have those red disco pants, and the girl’s like, “I don’t have any red disco pants. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And then my manager’s like, “Oh yeah, we know you have them, so you might as well just give them back to us.” She’s like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about…” And so I think eventually they walk out of the tattoo parlor to get in the car, and my car is parked next to their car.

Sama’an: Okay. 

Rinny: So at this point, that’s where it gets into this sparring match of words. Only words, ’cause we’re both in the car. I’m in the driver’s seat and my manager’s in the passenger, and the girl is like, “I don’t have nothin’ that belong to y’all! I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about!” She was definitely threatening us at some point, and my manager’s like, “Do it then! Do it then! If you feelin’ froggy then jump!”

 


And I’m just kind of like… At some point, I’m getting scared like… she could have a weapon! [laughs] I don’t wanna go down like this. So the guy who’s with the girl  — presumably they’re a couple — he gets out of the car and starts walking to my car. At this point, I’m freaking out, I’m like, “Hey, you think we should, like, leave?” And the guy comes to our car, pulls out his wallet, pulls out his ID, and he shows us the ID, and he’s like, “Hey, just so you know, I don’t even know her. I just met her today.”

Sama’an: Why is he showing y’all the ID?! 

Rinny: He was trying to sell her out. That just goes to show you, that’s what the patriarchy does!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Wow, like, you’re supposed to be my dude, and you’re out here selling me out ’cause I’m trying to get some fucking disco pants? 

Sama’an: It was supposed to be a Bonnie and Clyde situation… 

Rinny: Exactly. He wasn’t fucking down. And they’re always talking about, “Oh girls need to be ra-da-da.” Psh.

Sama’an: The Clydes needs to step up.

Rinny: The Clydes need to step the fuck up! 

Sama’an: We don’t talk about that enough.

Rinny: Obviously not! Because I mean like the old tales of women holding down the guys in prison, but when women go to prison, guys don’t hold them down! Hell no. That’s a wrap. I watch episodes of Love after Lockup, I know how that shit goes.

Sama’an: [laughs] There are tons of women that are writing to guys in prison and creating whole-ass relationships… Not that many doing the opposite. There are a few on the show, but it’s just kind of like… We know why you’re doing this. Come on, man, this is the real world. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Plenty Of Fish. None of that’s working out for you? Anyway, the guy comes up to us and is like, “I don’t even know her.” And we were just kind of like, “Oh man… That’s weird. That’s a wack-ass move, dude.” Like, come on. Like yes, we are trying to get our merchandise back, but…

Sama’an: Now I kinda want her to keep the pants just to make a point. 

Rinny: Like, you should be ashamed of yourself. [laughs]

Sama’an: [laughs]

 

[00:22:42]

Rinny: So I think the guy goes back to the car, and I can’t remember how this part happened, if he said like, “Hey, just give to ‘em,” or whatever, but eventually the girl tosses the disco pants from the car and they’re just like, “Whatever.” This whole time she “didn’t have them.” And then they scurry off. But that’s like one of the many shoplifter experiences. I had so many weird experiences… But it was like, mainly ’cause you’re bored. I mean like, yeah, you don’t want shrinkage to happen, but when you’re doing the same thing day in, day out, you’re like… What’s exciting? Chasing shoplifters down Westheimer!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: And which… the company is not even gonna reward you for that. 

Sama’an: Yep. 

Rinny: In fact, they’re like, “Don’t do that ’cause it’s a liability if you get hurt or someone else gets hurt.” So like I get it, I understand that part, but… Okay, so that was like American Apparel, Houston…

Sama’an: Okay.

Rinny: American Apparel LA… and I worked in the one in Studio City. That one was a little different. Yeah, we would have shoplifters, but no one was running out of the store. American Apparel is based in LA. So they’re pretty like adamant about sticking to the, I don’t know, code of conduct.

American Apparel, Studio City.

Sama’an: Just for the shoplifting, not for anything else [laughs] 

Rinny: Well, no actually American Apparel had a very extensive code of conduct.

Sama’an: Interesting. Is that ironic?

Rinny: You know what? Is it? No. But if you think about how around this time, this is ‘09, 2010-2011.You go to American Apparel, no matter which store, it’s like the same thing, like the same people, just in a different store, a different location, but everyone dresses the same, so it’s the code of conduct is basically something that was posted on the Internet. Can I say this? I don’t even know, I signed some arbitration stuff. Basically we had a responsibility to always remain on brand.

Sama’an: Okay. 

Rinny: And what that meant was… your eyebrows had to be done a certain way. You had to wear a certain kind of glasses. Like, no extravagant Quavo frames, you know what I mean?

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: They wanted you to wear something that made you look like you were a character on Pete & Pete or The Wonder Years, or like Wet Hot American Summer, which I just watched… It was very, very specific. So if you didn’t have glasses like that, I guess one of the cool things that they did was they actually would pay for you to get prescriptions and glasses that matched the brand and aesthetic, but you never wanted to get caught having a visit from corporate, like, “Oh, this is not on brand.” Your nails had to be a certain way; like no French tips, ladies, like no air brush, no crazy designs you could have color but it couldn’t be neon or anything like that. 


Sama’an: So the brand was very strong.

Rinny: Yeah, you had to have certain types of the shoes, and they would show like, “Oh yeah, you can wear this, but you can’t wear this.” They would have pictures on there — I think the faces would pretty much be cut out — of what’s on brand and what’s not on brand and how to wear certain things. It was very specific… they did not have anything about hair. I don’t think. 

Sama’an: Nothing problematic there….

Rinny: Yeah, nothing problematic. I would have remembered. And I’ve had a ton of instances where folks have said things about my hair, or I’ve been on notable music video sets where you get a note from the artist that they don’t want women with natural hair– or, no afros.

Sama’an: That’s crazy. 

Rinny: And I was shell-shocked because this was an artist that at the time, I was like, “Oh my God, I love [them] so much.” It’s still a really cool artist. But it was just so weird because the theme was kind of like, throwback vintage 70s…

Sama’an: You would think you would want an afro in there. 

Rinny: You would think you would want an afro! But then they’re like, no afros. So I was like, “Yeah that’s wild. What am I supposed to do here?” Because this is exactly how I was booked for this. Now obviously, I think it’s a little bit different because there is more acceptance and there’s frankly more women that are rocking their natural hair. So it’s definitely normalized… But I think, me being in that space, I was way younger, so my first instinct was like, “Oh man, I don’t know what to do…” Versus [now] saying, “No, this is fucked up. And, it’s the 70s, and I don’t know if you know but Black people in the ’70s had fuckin’ ‘fros. So, let me wear my shit!

Sama’an: Right! 

Rinny: But that’s another thing… 

 

[00:28:27]

Sama’an: So how does the song tie into… you said it was like a convergence of stories or something? 

Rinny: Oh yeah, yeah, so okay, so basically that just ties into me leaving Texas and coming to LA. And this goes into Viva Radio, ’cause that’s when I… I think I heard Toro Y Moi on Viva Radio first. It could be Hypemachine, it could be Hypemachine… But my brain is saying, I heard him Viva Radio, or am I confusing this with Hipster Runoff? Which I’m a super fan of. Shoutout to Carles.

[00:29:03] 

Rinny: So basically, Viva Radio would play all these really eclectic artists and that was a time for me… LSU wasn’t the most… it isn’t the most eclectic space. We had one little bar where you could go and maybe they would play Animal Collective if you’re lucky, but nobody there is gonna be like, “Oh yeah, I know what Bat For Lashes is,” unless you go to Urban Outfitters for whatever reason. ‘Cause there was one and I worked there, but yeah, so it was this major transition because it was like, “Oh, this is a different world.” Culturally, LA is definitely different than Baton Rouge. And it was just really like a… This is probably the real coming of age for me because this is how I became the “adult” that I am in today and for me listening to… And it’s not just “Imprint After” it’s honestly that entire album because I wanna say that’s 2010 and it started the whole Chillwave era, which I was a staunch fan of.

Sama’an: Mhm. Me too.

Rinny: ‘Cause I go hard for Chaz and for… 

Sama’an: I’ve got a playlist!

Rinny: Oh you do?!

Sama’an: I got a Chillwave playlist! Probably not as good as yours, but I’ve got one!

Rinny: I mean… You need to send it to me! It’s on Spotify?

Sama’an: [laughs] Yeah, it is. 

Rinny: I should have one. Because — actually, you know what, I did at one point. There was this website called 8tracks (RIP) and I had Chillwave stuff up there. Lil’ playlists. But no, that was such a golden era.

Sama’an: It was.

Rinny: You have Toro y Moi, you have Washed Out, you have I guess Neon Indian fits into that too. And these are new artists, like, I haven’t heard stuff like that coming from LSU or Baton Rouge. But yeah, getting out here, hearing Causers of This, and really just warming up to what this whole culture of going out and seeing shows… things that I didn’t do back home, really. I think I went to the Warped Tour once in 2008, it was hot as shit.

Sama’an: [laughs] Yeah it was. 

Rinny: And I only… This is so sad… to see Gym Class Heroes!

Sama’an: Woooww. 

Rinny: And that was is it!

Sama’an: Wow.

Rinny: And I think I saw Katy Perry play there.

Sama’an: No shit?

Rinny: Yeah, and… that was it, and I just didn’t go out that. And then I come here and I’m just like, “Oh okay.” In a space where I can kind of like do my own thing, explore everything, and I guess really come into my own as an overall person. I don’t wanna sound cliche, but that’s kind of what happened.

 

[00:33:04]

Sama’an: So that song, it wasn’t playing during the shoplifting incident, it was just relevant to the time period. 

Rinny: Yeah, relevant to the time period. Mainly because this is something that they would play throughout my time at like…

Sama’an: Was this on American Apparel radio?

Rinny: Yeah.

Sama’an: All the time, all the time. 

Rinny: Yeah, well, ’cause we would play… The thing is like you’d have different stations, but generally we would play the same station. They were pre-recorded, and you would play those stations just to hear like that one song you couldn’t fast forward it, unfortunately…

Sama’an: Damn!

Rinny: I was like, “Oh wow, another Talking Heads song?” 

Sama’an: [sarcastic] Love it.

Rinny: People probably love Talking Heads, or Tom-Tom Club, which ever David you want. That’s what you get, but… And so just to get to this one song there was a lot of fluff.

Sama’an: Yeah, 

Rinny: But yeah, that song, that album would be playing, and it’s just like… I’m getting really nostalgic!

Sama’an: Good! That’s what we want. 

Rinny: Yeah, I mean. Okay. For instance, I started going to shows at The Echo, and actually I did see Chaz play at the Echo. And I remember I went with one of my co-workers from American Apparel, and we actually met [Chaz], and it was really cool and I had this picture ’cause this is… [whispers] this is back when I had a blog, a fashion blog or lifestyle blog.

Sama’an: Woowww.

Rinny: I don’t even know why I mentioned that. 

Sama’an: Were you doing graphic design at that time? Were you putting your own stuff on that blog?

Rinny: Nooo! This was like, “I’m gonna be a blogger!” Beause in 2010 and 2008, that was the thing… Like you were… Everyone had some kind of lifestyle / fashion blog. 

Sama’an: Did you have a Livejournal?

Rinny: No, I didn’t.

Sama’an: Xanga?

Rinny: No, I had a Buzznet.

Sama’an: [whispers] What is that?

Rinny: [GASPS]

Sama’an: What is that?! 

Rinny: If you didn’t have a Buzznet in 2007 you didn’t do 2007 right. 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: So, okay… when I was at LSU I was a little bit more of ascene kid, which I would explain why I would go to see the Warped Tour [laughs] And yeah, I saw them at Warehouse Live too, in Houston. Yeah, I was a stan.

Sama’an: Wow. 

Rinny: So… [laughs]

Sama’an: That’s fine, it’s fine!

Rinny: No, it’s not!

Sama’an: Live your truth, please.

Rinny: I don’t have any Gym Class Heroes on my iTunes currently…

Sama’an: Okay… 

Rinny: Actually, we listened to As Cruel As School Children recently, and we were just like, “Okay we see why we listen to that, but that’s enough!”

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: I was explaining what Buzznet is… So, Buzznet is this kind of Scene Queen kid place? So anyone that was really into Fueled By Ramen bands… ya had a Buzznet. 

Sama’an: I don’t even know what that means. 

Rinny: Okay so they had Fall Out Boy

Sama’an: Okay… Oh is that a label?

Rinny: Yeah it’s a label. Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes, I think Panic! at the Disco.

Sama’an: They were doing really well at that time!

Rinny: I think Paramore too! Yeah. 

Sama’an: Wow that was like all the Scene bands… 

Rinny: Yeah they had every band that had song titles that were like 18 words long.

Sama’an: Yup. Which was so vital!

Rinny: Cobra Starship! Yeah.

Sama’an: What was Cobra Starship’s big song.

Rinny: Oh! The Snakes on a Plane one?

Sama’an: Yeah. I know, okay, I haven’t heard that name in so… I may have never heard that name again as long as I lived until you…

Rinny: [laughs] They did the soundtrack for Snakes on a Plane and I remember I saw Samuel L Jackson in the music video.

[00:36:43]

Sama’an: Is this it?

Rinny: “Oh! I’m ready for it! Come on, bring iiit!” 

Sama’an: Oh my god! [laughs] I haven’t heard this song in so long!

Rinny: Really?

Sama’an: Oh my god.

Rinny: “SO KISS ME GOODBYE” 

Sama’an: [laughs] Y’all can’t see, but I’m bobbin’ my head right now.

Rinny: [laughs] 

Sama’an: Wow. WOW!

Rinny: Oh my god, pink streaks just appeared in my hair out of nowhere.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Do I have my raccoon liner on? Like Hot Topic sleeves like… Yeah.

Sama’an: [laughs]

 

[00:37:41]

Cobra Starship interlude

 

[00:38:10]

Rinny: No [laughs] That was a time!

Sama’an: That was a time.

Rinny: That was a time. I literally can chronicle my life by the music in that specific time. It was just kind of like… That and, what did I listen to so much? Like a high school… Panic! at the Disco.

Sama’an: Oh yeah. 

Rinny: Like A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Oh. My. God. I was like, “What is this?” And I was obsessed, I was obsessed. I’m not ashamed to say I was obsessed with old Panic! at the Disco.

 

[00:38:51]


Sama’an: That album and then the Fall Out Boy… uh… Cork, the cork tree? 

Rinny: Oh! Underneath the Cork– is it Kiss Me Underneath the Cork Tree? Or just Underneath the Cork Tree

[Editor’s Note: You got it right, Rinny!]

Sama’an: That’s a good question. 

Rinny: And then there’s also Infinity On High. Man, I bought these CDs! I bought those CDs. 

Sama’an: We were out here buying those albums. 

Rinny: I still bought CDs until recently, I think I stopped in the past two years? I sold most of my collection back to Amoeba for like 50 bucks when I was doing my Marie Kondo clear out, it was hard, but I was also someone that just needed to have the physical copy. And it was like, “Well why not just do LPs?” And I’m like “LPs? Like vinyl record?” like… “No, I need CDs, I can’t play that in my car. 

Sama’an: That’s what I’m saying. Yes. Thank you.

Rinny: And some people will be like, “Well you can just do the MP3 thing,” and I’m like, “Yeah, no, it’s not the same.”

Sama’an: It’s not the same. 

Rinny: Especially if I really love an artist. If I really love an artist, I will buy the album on MP3 and then I’ll go in the store and I’ll buy the CD, but now I’m trying to buy the vinyl, because I’m a big girl now and I have a record player at my house that I don’t even– it’s just for decor! I don’t even like…

Sama’an: It’s all about the aesthetic, ya know? 

Rinny: I mean like here’s the thing: People will have record players out here and then play 99% of their music on their SONOS system, that’s it. It’s literally just an aesthetic thing. Yeah, but some of the older hard-to-find albums obviously I don’t mind having those on LP. Oh well… oh my God… oh my God! 

[00:41:30] 

[Sama’an interjects with Panic at the Disco, the two proceed to sing along]

[00:41:51]

Sama’an: That part when it breaks down and it turns into a techno song? 

Rinny: Yeah [laughs] 

Sama’an: You know what I’m talking about? Why did they do that? But it was so good!

Rinny: Oh, you know what, there are two versions of “Time to Dance,” there’s this electronic techno version that they had on their MySpace page, and then there’s the one that’s on the album, but I don’t know if you can find it, but this Electronica, version of “Time To Dance” was like [makes mouth noises]


Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: But it was like so good, like, honestly, early Panic! at the Disco is something to be celebrated. It really is. I don’t know what homie… what’s his name? Brendon Urie is doing…

[00:42:36]

[Electronic part of The Only Difference comes on]

Sama’an: Why did they do this? 

Rinny: [laughs]

Sama’an: Why did this happen on this album? It’s great! But why did they do it?

Rinny: It makes me feel like I’m in an arcade. 

Sama’an: Yes! [laughs] Pinball wizard! 

[brief singalong]

Rinny: Basically everyone had a Buzznet and they’re like these really popular… Okay, so there were very popular scene queens on Buzznet, one of them was this girl named Raquel Reed and at the time she had this kind of blue hair, and then the other girl was Hanna Beth, and then — problematic — Jeffree Starr. They were all like the big Buzznet folks. And that’s basically… you would go there and follow their journeys, and I don’t really understand the purpose of Buzznet? It was kinda like blogs. They would post photos and stuff like that. It was like pre-Instagram. 

 

[00:43:54]

Sama’an: And you were posting fashion stuff on there?

Rinny: No, I did post some things on my Buzznet, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t fully actualized. I was just like… I didn’t know what I was doing. 

Sama’an: You had one… 

Rinny: I had one… 

Sama’an: But then when you had your own blog… 

Rinny: And then I had my own block and then yeah, I would post really what I thought were cute outfits, which were definitely not. Like, “Girl… We know you got that from Target. Like, what?” Target’s cute though. But sometimes I would just be pulling together, like, “Oh yeah, this collection works,” and… it didn’t. But yeah I had that for a little bit and I didn’t start posting my digital collages as I do now for… shit, I didn’t do that until I wanna say, like, 2017. I think I posted one thing I did on my blog. Nobody was feeling that, they were just like, “Okay, can you just tell us about playlists and hair?” ‘Cause I did talk about my natural hair, too, but that was pretty much that.

 

Sama’an: So you had the Buzznet? That’s what it was called? 

Rinny: I had the Buzznet, and then…

Sama’an: Was that the beginning of your creative expression?

Rinny: Umm, you know, I would say high school I was figuring out my creative expression because at first I just used to cut them out of like magazines back when magazines were a thing.

Sama’an: So you were doing your own collages. 

Rinny: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I would make my own collages. So I remember I would cut out things from VIBE and Essence, and I think there was this magazine called Honey back in the day, and I think there was VIBE Vixen magazine, and whatever I found from my mom’s stash of magazines…

Sama’an: What kind of magazines was she reading?

Rinny: Essence! Whichever were the Black ones. [laughs] Yeah, so, Essence, Ebony, we’d get a couple VIBE magazines and I don’t know how? I guess sometimes somebody would bring them home and so I would just take those. We had a ton of magazines and at my grandma’s house, she had a ton of magazines, she collected a lot of stuff. 

Lauryn Hill for Honey Magazine. (1999)

[00:45:50]

Sama’an: Did she have magazines from a looong time ago?

Rinny: Yeah, a long time ago. I wish I could go back and like… She had magazines, she had cookbooks… There was a microwave cookbook that my grandma had and on the cover, it was a lobster and I was like, “No. We’re not doing that ever.” [laughs]

Sama’an: Doesn’t need to happen.

Rinny: Never… Yeah, shellfish in microwave? No. 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: So, yeah, my grandma had everything, but yeah, I started cutting out photos from magazines and ads and then I started pasting them together. I would have brought some! If you told me I would have brought… wait! yeah, no, I actually do have one of my old notebooks from high school that I had, and sometimes I would even put myself in the collage, a little photo of myself wearing braces, and it never fit. I would stick myself in… 

Sama’an: That’s still really sweet though! You were kind of like imagining a future for yourself.

Rinny: I think. I mean, being an awkward kid is my anti-drug.

Sama’an: Yeah. 

Rinny: Yeah I would just do that. And then in 2017, which was like, oh god, it was such a terrible year for me… it was just like, I was so broke, it was so like… Oh my god, I’d been out of school for like five years and had some ups and had some downs, but 2017 I was like just like… I don’t know. It was a hard time. I remember I had this one job where I was a studio manager and basically no one was renting this space, so I had nothing to do all day. And so what I would do was just start making digital collages again, and I was like, “Okay well, I’m gonna post this…” and people always ask like, “Well why do you do the whole 70s thing?” And it’s like, “Oh, because I came from a household where that’s what you listened to,” like we didn’t really get to listen to a ton of, at least around my parents, like modern stuff. I remember my step-dad crushed my Diddy Family Saga CD and I cried. 

Sama’an: Oh no!

Rinny: And I cried. It had “Let’s Get It” on there, I think. How could you!

Sama’an: Oh no!

Rinny: Oh, Harlem Shake area, but… 

[00:48:35]

Sama’an: So what were you listening to? 

Rinny: As a kid? 

Sama’an: Yeah, what were those old bands? 

Rinny: Oh, Okay, well, okay, so my folks, they’re considerably older, so, all their music. My mom’s favorite band is Earth Wind & Fire, she also likes Frankie Beverly & Maze.

Sama’an: Of course.

Rinny: I know, right? My dad’s a little different. My parents are divorced. My dad, he’s a little bit more, a little bit of everything, so my dad, he likes Yacht Rock which I love too. 

Sama’an: I love Yacht Rock! 

Rinny: Thank you.

Sama’an: I’m so happy you said that!

Rinny: I listen to the Yacht Rock station all the time, like…

Sama’an: Oh my gosh, that makes me so happy, Rinny. I love Yacht Rock

Rinny: I didn’t have a story about Christopher Cross “Sailing,” but I love it so much. It’s just something about that [mouths song] 

Sama’an: It just makes you feel good. 

Rinny: Yes! 

Sama’an: Come on. 

Rinny: It’s so… Ugh! It’s just so peaceful and beautiful. When I first discover like, “Oh that’s the name for that genre? I love that shit.” 

Sama’an: It’s perfect, it’s a perfect name. 


Rinny: Yes! So they have the Yacht Rock station on Sirius XMU and it comes back every summer and they’ll just play like Christopher Cross, and the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Billy Ocean, and they play some Hall & Oates, which, they’re not really Yacht Rock…

Sama’an: They’re like on the border.

Rinny: Yeah.

Sama’an: They get on the Yacht from time to time. 

Rinny: Yeah, from time to time.

Sama’an: You know what I mean?

Rinny: But it’s like, “We’re also gonna stop at the blue-eyed soul dock,” so I played them and it’s just, I can’t explain how cathartic and peaceful it is to hear it. But yeah, no, my folks are just all about… My step-dad will listen to The Spinners. Anything that had a “the” in front of it, like The Four Tops. And so he was more of a 50s, 60s era and my mom was more of like a 70s era. So, like coming up, listening to The Whispers and whatever came on Magic 102. That’s another thing…

Sama’an: Magic 102 was an experience. 

Rinny: It issss, I don’t even know if they’re still kinda playing the same stuff. I think I listed when I was last down on there, but growing up and you’re hearing these songs and you’re like, “Oh wow, these are actually jams.” But also… Destiny’s Child — [whispers] version one — is also a jam.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: And B2K. Also listening to Patrice Rushen, and I’m trying to think of like there’s just so many…

[00:51:12]

Sama’an: When I think of my happy place, my ideal future, it’s like me in a mountain home wearing a robe, I’m not even smoking a cigar but I just have one, you know what I mean? and I’m listening to Michael McDonald.

Rinny: Oh my God.

Sama’an: You know what I mean?

Rinny: Amazing, amazing. Yes! That just feels like such a cathartic space. 

Sama’an: Why can’t we have that? 

Rinny: I don’t know. And I feel like that would probably solve like 70% of our problems. 

Sama’an: Yeah, if at least just me and you had mountain homes… 

Rinny: Yes! Fresh air…

Sama’an: Come on!

Rinny: Fresh air mainly [laughs]

Sama’an: Come on.

Rinny: And Yacht Rock is like a late 70s early 80s era. Some of it, it still kinda has some ’70s elements to it, but I go back with Yacht Rock. I probably will listen to it leaving today. I have that station, it’s set. It’s on station 70. It is set. But yeah, no, my folks just listen to a lot of 70s stuff. And then on top of that, my elementary school, it was on and all-Black elementary school in Third Ward, and some of the things that they would show us they weren’t showing us the newest Lion King or Goofy Movie or whatever, they would show us stuff from the 70s. We would watch movies like A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich, and Cornbread Earl and Me, and you’d just kinda pick up… I guess the cultural references around that time, and then it just is something that’s like, “Oh this is a normal thing. We don’t have to watch Nickelodeon.” It just stuck with me and it just became really ingrained and integral to the kind of person I am, and when I see a lot of 70s imagery I’m really reminded of a time where I am comforted by being okay with who I am and having that acceptance. Because you go to an elementary school and everybody looks like you? Correction, there was one white kid, and he had all of the Animorph books, he had all of them. I was like, “Shoutout to you.”


[00:53:34]

Rinny: It was just really cool because you in a way, kind of, I won’t say it sheltered, but as a young kid growing up, especially in an urban environment, when outside of that environment like you are definitely othered… It created this really cool safe space… And a safe space for you to actually embrace your identity. Black history was not a foreign subject for me coming up. We had Black History Programs, we were very much aware of who we are, what it meant to be Black, and just like how, I guess, special, it is as well. And that’s like something… I think if I had gone to another elementary school that may not have had that demographic, I probably would not have gotten– and so I just developed this strong sense of culture just from that upbringing just from K through 5, and obviously being around my parents and stuff like that, and my grandma and uncles and aunts, that’s all their generation, and it’s just something that represents a lot of pride for me. 

Sama’an: Yeah. 

Rinny: And a great way for me to articulate pride to others ’cause I see these images, especially around the Black Exploitation Era, right, which some people, obviously, there’s always gonna be critics and create at time we’re like, “Oh well, this is actually exploitative of Black characters,” but it’s also, put Black people in spaces, and entertainment that they didn’t really have before the narrative before it was like, “You are a maid, you are a slave.” Not to say that those narratives still don’t exist in some capacity, but you have folks like Pam Grier and Richard Roundtree and… Oh God… Jim Brown?

Sama’an: Yeah! For a little bit, right?

Rinny: Jim Brown and Calvin Lockhart? Man, I watched so much.

Sama’an: [laughs] It was like, “Now we can be crime fighters and mob bosses…”

Rinny: Yeah, yeah, fighting crime! You’re challenging oppression even if it’s in a way that is only on screen and you’re still dealing with very real shit when you come home.

Sama’an: You need that escape though!

Rinny: You need that escape! And that’s not what you had before. And so seeing that, and I love going back and looking at those posters and seeing Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson and Lola Falana and Judy Pace, just doing the damn thing. And it was just like, for me, that feels like… That was a time where Blackness was pushed to the forefront as like, “Oh we are characters. We’re just not like the side characters, or the under-developed best friend, but we can be at the forefront of the story and be the protagonists in those stories.” And then after that, it changed, and then after that Soul Man was made, but [laughs]

Tamara Dobson on the cover of JET Magazine. (September 13, 1973.)

[00:56:49]

Sama’an: Right. It’s so cool to hear, knowing now that you grew up with this certain kind of music, and you were seeing these old magazines in your grandma’s house, and you were watching these movies in elementary school, and knowing what your art looks like, it all was starting to click and that’s really cool.

Rinny: Yeah, I am a… 

Sama’an: It comes from a place, ya know? 

Rinny: [laughs] It comes from a place, it’s not just like, “Oh you know what, this is gonna look great,” no. And one of the other reasons that I actually chose to kind of stick within that narrative or particular aesthetic is because when people ask, “Oh, how would you describe your work?” And I always say I feel like it’s propaganda but in a positive sense!

Sama’an: There’s good propaganda! Yeah, yeah.

Rinny: Yeah! It’s not just all associated with…

Sama’an: Putin?

Rinny: Tyranny [laughs] yeah. But propaganda for Black personhood and identity. I really push for the Black experience to be normalized and [for] personhood of Black people, especially me as a Black woman, to be normalized. It’s great to be able to create things that are really relatable to folks, I love doing that, but I also want people to get like, “Okay, this is relatable,” and you also see this juxtaposed next to this Black image, right? So you are understanding like, “Oh okay, like Black people also go through these things,” We’re also complex individuals.

Sama’an: Crazy. Crazy thought, right?

Rinny: I know! Like… I could be happy, sad, mad? All of the things. And I just really want to push that narrative that we exist in this very complex world that… wait, I might need to rephrase that… we exist and we have a very complex way to look at the world and it’s something that people should really acknowledge.

Sama’an: Yeah!

 


[00:59:04]

Rinny: And more anything it goes back to representation because, James Baldwin quote, “You can’t be who you don’t see.” And I feel, without getting too preachy, I feel that it’s so important to have images out there that look like me or look like someone that looks like me, because outside of when I got out of elementary school and I’m no longer surrounded by those images of old Black movies and everyone that looks like me, things become different. Media is different. You might see one Black person here or even just one person of color here. So there’s always this need for me to want to see somebody that looks like me, so I don’t feel like I’m like this othered person which makes it hard, because you know… the way this country’s set up. 

Sama’an: [laughs] 

Rinny: I want Black people to able to see themselves in art and I want Black people to be able to see themselves in media and this is just kind of my way of making sure that’s happening. And I wouldn’t create anything that was any less than that. And it’s the only thing that’s just really authentic to me because… Oh God, it’s just like… it’s so… it’s just so incredibly important to be able to… just to see yourself… think of it like this: I remember the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders when they would have one Black girl on the squad. I was like, “This is amazing!” 

Jill Marie Jones, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader (1993-94) and future professional actress.

Sama’an: Yeah. 

Rinny: I think in the Houston Ballet, there was this one Black ballerina, and, granted, I may not have wanted to be a ballerina — I did wanna be an ice skater, but that’s in the story. I could have been the next Tara Lapinski, okay? — just to see that, it just makes you think… Oh like, “Oh I could do something like that or there’s someone else that looks like me that’s doing something really cool? And it means so much, it means so much to see yourself in spaces that you wouldn’t otherwise know that there was a place for you. 

Sama’an: Yeah, and I feel, and this is just my opinion… Obviously, not everybody’s the same, other Black artists might differ in opinion on this, but I think it’s your responsibility if you have any kind of visibility to extend that visibility to everybody that looks like you and basically once you get there, once you get through the door, you uh…

Sama’an: You hold it open!

Rinny: Yeah! For other folks! 

Sama’an: Yeah! Come on. 

Rinny: At least just like throw us a bone, inspire us to continue to strive to do those things, and I just want people to like… fuckin get it! You know what I mean?

 

[01:02:20]

Rinny: I don’t like having to prove my humanity all the time, and that’s a part about being Black is proving to people that you are human. I’ve had instances where… this is also going to another social conversation, but just the instance of the whole angry Black woman trope… How you are always cognizant of what you sound like. Can’t be sarcastic, because they might think that you are being angry… That actually happened to me like someone’s thought I was angry when I was literally just being sarcastic, I was like, “You really would think I would…”

Sama’an: Come on!

Rinny: Yeah, you know I’m complex, right?

Sama’an: Come on. 

Rinny: You know I’m as complex as a TI-83 calculator…

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: TI is “Texas Instruments,” guys, not TI the rapper! [laughs]

Sama’an: Not uh Clifford whatever his name is. 

Rinny: Clifford “Tip” Harris.

Sama’an: Clifford Harris, yes.

Rinny: Cliff “Tip of the Hat” Harris!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: That hat is always sittin’.

 

[01:03:22]

Sama’an: Well look I’m not Black, but when I… My first introduction to your work was that art gallery you did…

Rinny: Which one?

Sama’an: The one at Junior High.

Rinny: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Wait, you came?!

Sama’an: Yeah!

Rinny: What!? That night?!

Sama’an: That’s the night we met!

Rinny: Wait, who were you there with?

Sama’an: Tara. 

Rinny: Tara! My friend Erika’s friend. 

Sama’an: Yes. 

Rinny: Wait did I say that I had seen you around before? 

Sama’an: I don’t know. 

Rinny: I feel like… ’cause I have! 

Sama’an: Maybe. 

Rinny: I have… I’ve seen you with other Houston folks. I was like, “Oh yeah, I recognize… Yes!” 

Sama’an: Yeah, but I knew you art was important the second I saw it. 

Rinny: Aww yess thank you. 

Sama’an: It was very clear to me.

From ‘Where Ya At’ by Rinny Perkins, 2018.

[01:04:00]

Rinny: That’s really cool. ’cause that’s also another example… obviously, you know what that is, but… the show at Junior High was called Where Ya At and basically, what I wanted to highlight was the absence of Black skaters in the 1970s archives. Because I go through archives a ton and when I’m looking at all the historic — ’cause I also skate, not a very good skater, so no one challenge me to skate —

Sama’an: It’s fine.

Rinny: Rollerskating, different. Basically I’m going through these archives, and I’m really looking hard to find some examples of Black skaters and I could not find any. And so what I did was I was like, “You know, I’m gonna create that.” And so I got a bunch of, I guess, people that skate now, lots of Black skaters and I styled them in traditional 70s-style clothing, and then I shot this series that was one half class portrait and then the other half was this kind of light Black exploitation. Because I wish I had done a lot more collage on them, but the other half was the action shots where they’re doing tricks and stuff like that and it was just a way to create what I didn’t see, and I’m glad it’s out there. 

Sama’an: Yeah, it’s so cool!

Rinny: Thank you, thank you. 

[01:05:57]

Sama’an: I have just a couple more questions for you.

Rinny: I love questions! 

Sama’an: ‘Cause this has been a great conversation, but I’m like… Now let me do my job as an interviewer. So this Toro Y Moi song, “Imprint After,” the lyrics are mainly questions, so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna ask you the questions in the lyrics…

Rinny: Okay.

Sama’an: And you can answer them however you feel comfortable? 

Rinny: Okay, this is fun. 

Sama’an: Does that work? 

Rinny: Yeah, yeah. 

Sama’an: Okay, alright. The first one is: why did you choose to stay?

Rinny:  ’cause I didn’t have no damn sense.

Sama’an: Are you sure about your life?

Rinny: [exhales deeply] Wow. Am I sure about my life? Ya know… No, but I’m gonna roll with it, I’m gonna fake like I am.

Sama’an: Same. 

Rinny: [laughs] 

Sama’an: Have you found how you’re gonna live?

Rinny: I mean, long as my student loans don’t find out where I live… I’m good.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: No, that doesn’t makes sense, I’m always talkin’ about my fuckin student loans! God damn, the shit they don’t tell you when you go to school, man…

Sama’an: What made you want to come back?

Rinny: Well, you were the only option. [laughs] And it was cheap!

Sama’an: [laughs] Okay, that’s it for the Toro Y Moi. And then your last song was Con Funk Shun’s “Love’s Train” …

 

[01:07:56]


[01:08:53]

Rinny: Yeah, you know I didn’t have a particular story about that — personal story — but I really love songs that have like this story behind them. So, that song came about from what I read in one of these old school forums… it’s a love triangle. So it is this kind of… They had these back and forth with this one particular woman who I can’t remember who it is, but I just thought it was so interesting that this guy is just like… And the song is like, “Warm night, can’t sleep, too hurt, too weak, gonna call ya up.” Yeah! It’s this guy and he’s just going and pining after this woman who clearly knows her worth and is like having her pick, and I just love that. I love songs that kind of flip things a little bit, and I was like, “Oh yeah, this is tight.” And also the song itself…

Sama’an: Very good. This could be on a Yacht Rock playlist. 

Rinny: It could!

Sama’an: It really could, right?

Rinny: You know what? And it also kind of sounds like Michael McDonald kinda singing this…

Sama’an: When I listened to it. I straight up thought he wrote this. 

Rinny: Wait, did he? What if he did? [starts singing along] Oh my God! He’s calling, she’s not picking up, he’s begging to come over, but she got company and… tough titty, dude! 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Early bird catches the worm! Early bird catches the bad bitch.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: [laughs] I’m gonna make a bumper sticker and put that on there.

Sama’an: I’m gonna see who wrote it. 

Rinny: [keeps singing] This is where she laying that game down, she said she wants to see him too, but, this is a twist… [keeps singing] “It’s just that someone’s over…” like that is some fucking GAME!

Sama’an: [laughs] Right! While you’ve got someone over…

Rinny: I wish I had the fucking cajones!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Somebody’s like, “Hey what you doing tonight?” And I’m just like, “You know, kicking it with somebody, but I really want you to be here.” Like, what kinda bad bitch is that?!

Sama’an: That’s insane. 

Rinny: I praise this woman, I need to find out who she is. 

Sama’an: There could be a Blaxploitation movie just based on…

Rinny: Just based on the song! 

Sama’an & Rinny: Yes!

Sama’an: 1000%

Rinny: And he is still like, “I still wanna be with you, I still love you.” 

Sama’an: Yeah. 

Rinny: Props. Is this Pam Grier? I need to find out who it is because that is like the sickest thing to be able to be like, “By the way, I’m sorry, my first option came over.”

Sama’an: Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah. Ya hate to see it!

Rinny: [laughs] 

Sama’an: [laughs] 

Rinny: “But maybe next week…” and maybe not. And then it’s like, “You know what? I still wanna pursue you.” But this is also before you could swipe right.

Sama’an: Right.

Rinny: This is like you can only call on the phone. 

Sama’an: You had to actually go and find out. 

Rinny: Yeah. Oh god, this song is just like… I have a bad bitch playlist, and this should honestly be on it, but all of my songs on there are like femme singers. So it probably wouldn’t, but I just love the message in this.

Sama’an: The storyline is fantastic. 

Rinny: Yeah! 

Sama’an: Would it fit like right behind Azealia Banks “Licorise?” 

Sama’an: It’s kind of the same energy, a little bit, as Azealia Banks. 

Rinny: [laughs]

Sama’an: She would get herself in a situation like this, for sure. 

Rinny: Oh, for sure.

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: I mean I got that, I got I think Tony Braxton on there…

Sama’an: For sure.

Rinny: En Vogue, whatever. Oh my God, I probably should look at it. 

 

[01:13:47]

Sama’an: This song made me wanna ask you, this is my last question for you…

Rinny: No, I’m not in a love triangle! … Unfortunately…

Sama’an: That is NOT what I was gonna ask you [laughs] but thanks for letting us know!

Rinny: With two individuals fighting, vying for my affection. I have no time for that.

Sama’an: [laughs] I was gonna ask, have you ever had an impossible crush? 

Rinny: Oh, I don’t know why I thought you were gonna ask me if I had a threesome. 

Sama’an: Wow! No!

Rinny: [laughs]

Sama’an: Was not going there either!

Rinny: An impossible crush?

Sama’an: A crush on someone… I’m not talking about a celebrity crush. 

Rinny: Okay.

Sama’an: A crush on someone… 

Rinny: I mean celebrity crushes are possible in this town.

Sama’an: Very true.

Rinny: Yeah.

Sama’an: But it’s like… maybe it’s one-sided, it’s all you.

Rinny: Oh, okay, yeah, more than a few times I think. In high school, there was just like… he was a sk8r boi!

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Yeah, and I was like, “Oh man, I’m gonna wear my finest low top Chuck Taylors and grommet belt. And you have, not the wallet chain, but they’re those loop chains… And I’m just gonna hang out with them ’cause the skaters at my high school, they didn’t sit at the lunch table, they just hung out in the hallway. I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m gonna hang out with him and just try to impress him.” Yeah, that went nowhere.

Sama’an: What about as an adult?

Rinny: As an adult? Oh god, just like a crush on someone that was going nowhere? I feel like as an adult though I recognize that I’m a bad bitch, and I can get who the fuck I want!

Sama’an: Yup.

Rinny: You know what I wanna say there has been, for sure there has been… I think it’s just a little bit harder because if someone doesn’t like you, you don’t take it as hard as when you’re younger. 

Sama’an: Right.

Rinny: But wait lemme think. Someone that I really liked, and that it was just like one sided… 

Sama’an: Mhm. 

Rinny: There was someone… I don’t know if this is the same, there was somebody that I dated and… Wait if I dated him it doesn’t count.

Sama’an: I mean… if you think it applies.

Rinny: I mean, that’s a really awful story.

Sama’an: What I’m trying to get to is how do you handle that?

Rinny: Like, rejection? I don’t… I’m an Aries! 

Sama’an: Right, right, right, right.

Rinny: No, how do I handle… There’s always gonna be people that don’t like you. It’s so hard to like… Like how I handle it? If someone I’m attracted to is not attracted to me, there’s a multitude of ways that one can handle it. Especially someone of my identity. I feel like I don’t internalize it, I’m just kinda like, “Well, maybe they’re interested in someone else,” but I don’t, I just kinda like… I honestly I don’t think I’ve really had… Oh wait, I have. This is gonna sound weird but… I get what I want. 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: But I’ve had a crush on someone, and then it ended up like kinda close or kicking or dating or hooking up or whatever with them, but I don’t, I don’t think I had anything where I’m just like, as of late, like adulthood, where I’m just like, “Oh yeah, I like this person but they’re not giving me the time of day.” I mean, I’ve definitely had folks like ghost me.

Sama’an: Wow.

Rinny: For sure. That’s currency here. 

Sama’an: Right.

Rinny: And then that… it just sucks. And you know, I actually posted this a while ago about people that you aren’t initially attracted to, but you give them a chance anyway, and you’re like, “Oh I’m not gonna be shallow. You know, this could work,” and they ghost you and it’s like… Do you know that I’m a bad bitch?

Sama’an: Do you know who you’re ghosting right now?

Rinny: I’m assuming you don’t know because you wouldn’t be ghostin’ my ass. That kind of thing, it hurts your ego. And I think one of the biggest things that I just had to kinda learn about that is, it’s not necessarily me all the time, and then… What I normally do is just channel that energy into making something to be honest, any kind of… Any transgression, but I recognize heartache — and this is for not just myself, but anyone — You go through a break up and watch how creative you are after that. Some of the best songs were written after someone broke up with someone. But no, I think so much great art comes from heartache and rejection and that’s where I just channel pretty much everything. Whenever I’ve been rejected from anything, a job, I’ve had crushes on jobs.

Sama’an: That’s very real.

Rinny: Crushes on things that I didn’t book and I’m like, “Oh wow. You went with her? That could have been me!” Yeah, those kinds of things but yeah, I just channel it into my work and how to really get something out in the ether I guess. I don’t like sit in the corner and cry about it, anymoooore, but ghost me in 2011 and yeah, I was definitely like, “Wow.” The world would shatter around me. It’s just different. I think you just grow and you’re just like, “Okay cool, you don’t fuck with me like that, and that’s cool.”

Sama’an: That’s strange! It’s weird that you don’t. 

Rinny: It’s weird that you would wanna pass up a bad bitch! But like… I’m completely fine with that! Ya missed it. And you know what, someone else else out there is gonna be happy with me, hopefully. And then you’ll regret it! They always regret it.

Sama’an: They always regret it.

Rinny: You know what I mean? And if they don’t regret it, then, you know, fuck ‘em! [laughs]

Sama’an: Fuck ‘em straight to hell!

 

[01:20:50]

“Try Your Love Again” interlude

 

[01:21:40]

Rinny: I guess I didn’t even preface this, but yeah, it’s coming up on my 10 year out in LA…

Sama’an: Wow.

Rinny: So that’s probably why it’s like, “Thank you!” At the end of this month. That’s probably why it’s one of the biggest things for me. I’ve been out here.

Sama’an: You did that.

Rinny: Paying California state income taxes for ten years.

Sama’an: That’s something to really be proud of. Oh my gosh.

Rinny: Yeah, no, it is, because the first two years are like, “Shit.” And then after that you’re like, “Okay,” and then after that you’re like, “Oh shit,” and then you’re like, “Okay,” until… knock on wood… and then you hit your stride, hopefully. 

Sama’an: Yeah.

Rinny: But yeah… thank you for having me.

Sama’an: No problem. 

Rinny: A big Houston, Texas, thank-you.

Sama’an:  Hell yeah. 

Rinny: Third Ward, trill ass thank-you. 

Sama’an: What do they know about that? 

Rinny: I didn’t put nearly enough Houston references into my answers today. I’m upset with myself. Usually I’m very much like…

 

[01:22:38]

Sama’an: Do you wanna talk about the Houston music you grew up on?

Rinny: Oh shit. Yeah.

Sama’an: Destiny’s Child of course.

Rinny: Obviously, Destiny’s Child. 

Sama’an: For sure, for sure. 

Rinny: Okay, so Big Moe. 

Sama’an: Mann!

Rinny: You know what’s so amazing about Big Moe, RIP, like “Barre Baby” was such a great song, but then you had “Purple Stuff,” which I remember the music video clearly.

Sama’an: With the Oompa Loompas?!

Rinny: With the Oompa Loompas!! 

Sama’an: Come on, that was insane!

Rinny: Had no idea as a child what the fuck they were talking about. 

Sama’an: Where did they get the money for these videos back then? 

Rinny: Was Moe on Swishahouse? I think he was. 

Sama’an: He was on something but he wasn’t on something big.

Rinny: Yeah, I think it was Swishahouse. That was like a production. I remember that.

Sama’an: That was a legitimate production.

Rinny: [sings along to Big Moe] Oh my God, okay, so, Big Moe… Well, obviously, Yungstar… Was it Lil Keke? Did he do “Southside?”

Sama’an: Mhm!

Rinny: Okay, great. I would feel terrible. People gonna think I’m from Mo City getting this wrong. Sama’an: It’s fine, it’s fine. 

Rinny: So, okay, Lil Keke, Yungstar, obviously a Big Hawk.

Sama’an: Yeah! 

Rinny: Big Hawk, “Chillin’ with my broad and you already knoowww.” 

Sama’an: “…hit me on the down low.”

Rinny: “If I don’t call back don’t put on a show / when I pass by your house and blow instead of knockin’ at your do’” I’m like, “Who does that?!

Sama’an: That’s another great narrative for a song…

Rinny: It is!

Sama’an: That’s the same narrative as the Con Funk Shun… [laughs]

Rinny: It’s the same narrative! But switched around! Presumably, this is a woman on the other side of this. 

Sama’an: Right.

Rinny: Like, “Fuck, I mean, I guess.” So I’ll just wait ‘til he pass by my house and toots his horn, then I know we’re good. 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: So that was Big Hawk… Is it Big Pokey?

Sama’an: Yeah, it is! 

Rinny: So they did a… He did “Country Rap Tunes,” is that Big Pokey? 

Sama’an: Well, Towdown, but Big Pokey and Hawk are on that. 

Rinny: Hawk is on “Country Rap Tunes?”

Sama’an: Yes!

Rinny: Damn! 

Sama’an: And that’s such a good song that no one talks about!

Rinny: It is amazing.

Sama’an: It’s one of my favorite, favorite, favorite songs.

Rinny: Amazing. And you did that playlist, and I remember ’cause I had it. Wait, yeah, I do have it. 

Sama’an: Yeah, for the Complex article. 

Rinny: Yes it was so good! And I was like “Oh yeah, you got all…” ’cause I remember we’re talking about it… and I was like, “Oh no, he got all of ‘em.”

Sama’an:  I’m really mad because I had “Daddy Lessons” on there and they took it off because they said I wasn’t rap, and I was like, “Okay, technically that’s true,” but I wanted Beyonce to be on there!

Rinny: It’s still fuckin yeehaw! It’s still fuckin H-town.

Sama’an: Come on. 

Rinny: Ugh. It should have been on that. I mean…

Sama’an: It’s fine. I’m not upset. 

Rinny: Give Beyonce her thanks. Yeah, no, okay, so Towdown, Big Pokey, Lil’ Flip!

Sama’an: Freestyle king!

Rinny: Switched from Motorola to a Primeco phone! 

Sama’an: Uh huh uh huh. 

Rinny: Oh God, this is… I think it was like Lil O? “Don’t you go nowhere, stay right here forever.” Is that Lil O? It’s a very throwback throwback. It’s like 2000s I think, but it’s kind of like… I used to hear it on 97.9. It may not be Lil O but I found it one time. Okay, so obviously Slim Thug.

Sama’an: King of the North. 

Rinny: King in the Northside [laughs] Is that what he calls himself?

Sama’an: [laughs] Yeah. 

Rinny: I used to see him at Lakewood Church when I was going there.

Sama’an: Wow. 

Rinny: That would always be fun. 

Sama’an: Yup, yup. 

Rinny: Okay, wait, so I said Slim Thug… Paul Wall, obviously. For some reason, this sticks out the most to me, but Choppin’ Em Up Part Nine was a really great… It’s probably one of the best like chop-ups of OG Ron C. 

Sama’an: For sure. Shoutout. What up, OG?

Rinny: Because, my God, the best… Fuck Action or F-Action.

Sama’an: The man has given us so much.

Rinny: So much! And what have we given him in return?

Sama’an: Not enough.

Rinny: Nothing, just streams on Spotify? 

Sama’an: [laughs]

Rinny: Come on, give him his things.

Sama’an: Yeah.

Rinny: You know what, I do have a question. I don’t know where the hell the “Bunny Hop” is from.

Sama’an: By Da Entourage?

Rinny: Da Entourage.

Sama’an: Where are they from? I don’t know. I’m gonna tryyyy to find out… 

Rinny: ‘Cause I was like–

Sama’an: New Orleans!

Rinny: Okay, well then they’re not… But the great thing about being Houston, you also grow up with a ton of New Orleans influences…

Sama’an: A lot of Zydeco too.

Rinny: A lot of Zydeco. That was like… We’d go to Zydeco festival every year as a kid. And then obviously after Hurricane Katrina there was an even larger merge from New Orleans culture and Houston culture, and we just made a big gumbo to sound cliche.

Sama’an: [laughs] Mhm. That’s a beautiful metaphor.

Rinny: Thank you, thank you.

Sama’an: I love it. 

Rinny: But yeah, no, there’s just so many… I don’t really know too many Killa Kyleon songs. 

Sama’an: Yeah, he was on a lot of songs, but I don’t know much of his solo…

Rinny: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean they’re… Honestly, I could probably…

Sama’an: We could go on and on.

Rinny: I could go on and on because there’s such a very extensive history in Houston rap… Oh! I cannot leave without saying Ideal is one of the motherfucking baddest R&B artists from Houston. 

Sama’an: They’re from Houston?

Rinny: They’re from Houston. There’s only a few R&B groups that are from Houston, outside of Destiny’s Child. Ideal. And H-Town, obviously, but Ideal they made the song “Get Gone,” and they made the song “Whatever,” which is like the quintessential summer song. So, drive around LA, windows open.

Sama’an: We’ll put that on your playlist for this episode. 

Rinny: Yeah, and put “Whatever” on ’cause that’s — I think they went to Cashmere High School — one of the greatest, underrated, but probably one of the best early 2000s artists out there ’cause w’re not just talking about, like, rap.

Sama’an: Right, right, there’s other people outside of rappers. 

Rinny: Yeah, I mean the ones that matter.

Sama’an: Khruangbin! We gotta shout them out. 

Rinny: Those are my baes! 

Sama’an: That’s Houston!

Rinny: Lauraaaa! I love youuu! Yeah, of course! I’m thinking about, like you said, growing up though. 

Sama’an: Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rinny: ‘Cause then it would be like, “Oh yeah, also Megan Thee Stallion!”

Sama’an: For sure.

Rinny: Bad bitch, ugh, I love her. That’s a whole episode. But anyway, yeah. Oh, and Lizzo also. There’s a lot of great artists coming out especially like currently, but um…

Sama’an: So I’m from Cypress and Slim Thug used to live out there when I was in high school…

Rinny: Wait, really? [laughs]

Sama’an: Yeah yeah yeah. Like, the “I Ain’t Heard Of That” video? That was filmed at his Cypress house.

Rinny: Are you kidding me? 

Sama’an: And when he talks about, “Now my estate sits on the lake” or whatever on that album, he’s talking about living in Cypress, which is really funny, but…

Rinny: Wait… what?

Sama’an: What? Yeah!

Rinny: He’s not talking about River Oaks? ‘Cause that’s where you go to stay.

Sama’an: No. He’s talking about boring Cypress. I mean, I love Cypress, sorry people. I love Cypress. 

Rinny: [laughs] They’re like, “He’s talking shit about Cypress! Come get him!” You’re like, “You ain’t gonna have my neck.” 

Sama’an: So I’ve known Slim since I was in college and I was like… I’m not gonna tell him that we used to go drive by his house just to see if he was outside. 

Rinny: [busts out laughing]

Sama’an: I wasn’t gonna do that at first! Because I didn’t want him to think I was crazy! So years and years and years and years went by, and I never told him, never told him, I probably known Slim like almost 10 years now, and I finally told him last year…

Rinny: [laughs]

Sama’an: And I was like, “Slim, I feel like it’s time. Enough time has passed. I can tell you this…” 

Rinny: “I’m comfortable, you’re comfortable.” 

Sama’an: Yeah. “… We used to drive by your house just to see if you were outside! And one time you were, and we didn’t know what to do, so we just kept driving.” And then I thought we were gonna have this really wholesome conversation and talk about how we’re connected, and he was like, he was like… I can’t do a good Slim Thug voice ’cause my voice doesn’t go deep enough, but he was like, “Yeah man, I had to move ’cause I couldn’t get no hoes to go out to Cypress.”

Rinny: [busts out laughing]

Sama’an: [busts out laughing]

Rinny: Oh my god. Oh my fucking… You damn right. Ain’t nobody hopping on 290 for a dick appointment — I like to say clit appointment — but nobody’s hopping on 290 for that. Are you kidding me? Come on!

Sama’an: [deep exhale] Whoooof!

Rinny: [laughs] You shouldn’t have been outside of the loop anyway. 

Sama’an: I think he learned his lesson. 

Rinny: Yeah, oh my God, that’s funny. “I had to move…” I thought you were gonna say, “I had to move ’cause it was too many people spying on my house,” or whatever, but…

Sama’an: We’re talking about Slim Thug. 

Rinny: We are talking about Slim Thug… But because the quality and quantity of women was far and few between… Because like… gas? 

Sama’an: Yeah, that’s something we’re not even talking about.

Rinny: Gas. Is he covering to toll charges? 

Sama’an: It’s a whole thing. Right, exactly. 

Rinny: Are you gonna pay for my EZ Tag to get out there?

Sama’an: Paying for someone’s toll tag is like the Houston version of flying someone out.

Rinny: [busts out laughing]

Sama’an: [busts out laughing]

Rinny: “I got flewed out! I got a EZ Tag!” If someone got me an EZ Tag and they were consistently paying for it on a monthly basis in Houston. That is, honestly, getting flewed out. That is like… you might as well be flying me from New York to LA first class. That’s what that is. ‘Cause like I can go anywhere I wanna go, and once you have the EZ Tag I think it’s unlimited, there’s no cap to that, why not? You don’t need Uber, you just need an EZ Tag. That’s what you should have did, stop being cheap! 

Sama’an: It’s way cheaper than buying a whole new house!

Rinny: Way cheaper than buying a new house! Like, you solved the problem. “I got your EZ Tag,” and you’re like, “Oh… Okay! Well, I was kind of thinking about it, but since you got my EZ Tag… Ima just come on through, I could probably stop at the outlets on my way there or something like that.” I used to go out there, I went a couple of times, but it was so far. 

Sama’an: Yeah, I know. 

Rinny: Comin from like Third Ward– inside the loop, I like to stay inside the loop. Not the Beltway loop, I mean the 610 loop. 

Sama’an: The original loop. 

Rinny: The original loop. The loop that doesn’t require EZ Tag.

Sama’an: Yeah [laughs]

Rinny: [laughs] So I’m getting flewed out, I’m not getting EZ Tag’d out. God dang well and that is how you date in Houston…

 

[01:34:41]

Sama’an: Thank you so much.

Rinny: Thank youuuu! 

Sama’an: I appreciate it.

 

Epilogue

Sama’an: So my big question is: what would you have done if you were that age, and someone busted into your store and tried to shoplift a bunch of stuff? Look, I’m not confirming or denying that I ever dabbled in shoplifting as a kid. I’m just saying that, hypothetically, if I did, I knew how to quit when I was ahead. Kids don’t shoplift, please. There’s better ways to fight against the system. Anyway, we wanna say thank you so much to Sydney Gore, our guest correspondent, for her wonderful introduction of Rinny. You can find Sydney on Twitter at @sydegee. And Riny, I wanna say thank you so much for being part of The Nostalgia Mixtape, season two. You’re welcome back any time, thank you for your great stories. I’m sure you have a million more. You can find more of of Rinny’s work on Instagram @RinnyRiot is her handle. This episode was produced by Jason Crowe and hosted by yours, Sama’an Ashrawi, we’ll catch you next time.

By | 2020-05-21T00:33:37+00:00 May 1st, 2020|Creative|

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