Rising rents and changing neighborhoods got you down? Tonight head over to Bushwick’s main-squeeze community space, Mayday, for an art and music fest to commiserate on our supremely “gentrifucked” city.
The show (which, let’s be honest, will be less misery and more party) is organized by Buendia Brooklyn, a collective of local rappers, graffiti artists, and MCs operating out of Sunset Park– a neighborhood that’s still (somewhat) insulated from twee cocktail bars and doggy spas. (They even have a non-ironic bowling alley!)
“The Gentrifucked show is basically getting a lot of local Brooklyn and Bronx artists– majority Latino, minorities, or immigrants– to talk about how gentrification has affected them as local artists,” said Solace (aka Daniel Aguilar), a co-founder of Buendia. “You know, talking about what effect it has on the the way they create their art, what opportunity they have to perform, because it’s not just rents going up and displacement, but also the opportunity to showcase your work.”
Solace, whose family is from Ecuador, knows what’s up from first hand experience– he grew up in Williamsburg where he first fell in love with making music, but, like others who founded the collective, eventually moved out of the neighborhood to continue his art. Another reason why Solace left Williamsburg was to avoid “contributing to gentrification” by paying the area’s newly outrageous rents. “Williamsburg just wasn’t my neighborhood anymore,” he said. “When gentrifiers moved in, the established Latino art scene was completely ignored.” The influx of new music venues catered more to indie artists popular with the young professionals moving to the neighborhood.
Buendia originally began with a crew of ex-Bushwick and Williamsburg Latino artists, but it’s grown to involve mainly locals based in Sunset Park, and has expanded greatly, adding Japanese members who eventually moved back to Japan and established their own Buendia chapter.
If you’re worried that the show tonight, with all its lofty gentrification-talk, might feel like a stilted seminar– don’t. It’s a party, after all, (for all ages, but content is kinda PG-13). Solace said the artists plan to talk a bit about their experiences with gentrification before and after their sets. “It’s really about the artists having time to perform, for everybody to have a good time, and everyone to hear a story about [gentrification],” he said. The vibe will mainly be good old fashioned “boom-bap hip hop”– the collective isn’t really into trap or EDM– with lots of Spanish mixed into the flow. “We’re very straightforward: DJ, turntable, hard beats samples,” said Solace. “It’s ’90s hip hop, which I guess at this point is old-school.”
The topics musicians in the collective like to rap about fall within the “conscious rap” category, meaning fewer rhymes about gangsters and drugs, and a lot more lines about evil landlords kicking out families, police brutality, and racial profiling. Check out this example with Versos’ anti-gentrification anthem, “We Don’t Care,” for a taste.
Gentrifucked, May 20 at 7 pm at Mayday Space, 176 Nicholas Ave, Bushwick,