The ability to recycle is one of the key elements keeping Los Angeles’ beat scene healthy. After all it’s a movement sturdily built upon imagination and reimagination, taking existing relics and spindling new abstract lifeforms out of them. As a result, it never fails to bear fruit of a mind-stretching and exploratory manner.
We’ve put together an enviable rollcall of names for our next west coast outing. Pie2K, Ahwlee and Pink Siifu are all seasoned beatmakers with a stockpile of Soundcloud and Bandcamp treasure between them. As well as being half of Lab Waste, Giovanni Marks (aka Subtitle) runs Get Crev Labs and has unleashed oddball verses for labels like Alpha Pup. 5 Chuckles sees Ras G, and rapper/prankster The Koreatown Oddity join forces for heavy doses of interstellar rap while Jamma Dee is exhaling new life into the new jack swing and funk of the early 90s.
It’s a different form of recycling that forms part of the backstory for next week’s LA broadcast though — the litter-ridden areas of the city itself. Despite passing a new initiative that will feed $5m into hopefully revamping Downtown, some parts of the city still receive no clean up services. A report from late last year stated that only 35% of the community’s streets receive regular garbage care.
Rap Vacation is a digital/cassette label out of Santa Ana with beatsmith connections to Italy and Iceland. Michael Lundy, also known as Former Boys, is head honcho and is also spearheading an incentive to jump start some action. In return for making things clean on one of his organised sweep-up runs, volunteers gain entry to the next Boiler Room that’s in town. All proceeds from their Bandcamp will be going towards further litter-battling deeds too. A worthy cause with an equally worthy reward.
“The concept for the street clean up is rooted in a very heavy psychedelic trip I shared with one of my oldest friends. We’d been posted on a beach in Malibu all day, and when it was time to go back home we started cleaning up the area around us which triggered a really raw realisation. I littered all the fucking time. It was crazy that I had known this, but I never acknowledged it as an issue. Just from cigarettes alone I feel like I’ve littered enough to fill several rooms in a house. My logic on littering was so flawed. I’d conditioned myself to believe that if it was a small object, it’s OK to litter it. Or if someone will eventually clean it up, it’s OK to leave behind. What the hell is that, right?
For a few days after that I kept obsessing over what I’d learned, and through rapping about ideas back and forth with my roommate Nick (who also plays a part in Rap Vacation with me), we realised a street clean with a private concert incentive for the participating volunteers would probably work really well. From there the skeleton of the street clean up started to form.
We just had our first clean up and I’m pretty surprised to see the results. We cleaned a section in the outskirts of Downtown that probably hadn’t been tended to in close to a decade (special thanks to Alona Hassid/DTLA Rent for donating a dumpster towards our cause). We had a workforce of about 11 people. It was such a gratifying experience. I was thrilled that a lot of homies with busy schedules were willing to take a break from their lives to come and help out the community for a moment too.
Sofie, Mndsgn and Ahnnu came out and helped clean up. Manny from Dahga Bloom came out. It was really amazing. I had met a guy a couple months prior to the street clean up who mentioned how Mndsgn was by far his favorite producer of the past decade, and he ended up rolling through to help. Now here they are cleaning up condoms and syringes on top of McDonalds super-sized drink cups covered in dirt, side by side. After the clean up, our homies at Alexanders Greek Kitchen in Vernon hooked us up with some amazing greek dips and a salad for all the participants (special thanks to those Gs as well).
I started to notice that this concept squashes the weird mental image of social hierarchy or ‘this cool guy at the show’ mentality that seems to be prevalent for a lot of people when they go to shows. By the time you would go to the Boiler Room provided to you for helping us clean, you would have already met everyone in the room at the clean up. There would be no need to shun another person inside of the room the entire night because you didn’t know them or think it would be awkward to say “what’s up”.
At the clean up you would have already cut through most of the weird tension we share as humans in public atmospheres. You wouldn’t have to feel awkward to take a picture with your favourite producer Mndsgn, because you’ve already met him and he’s just the homey Ringgo now, y’know what I mean?
In addition to certain pockets of LA not even getting a truck that comes by to semi-clean up these dirty ass streets, it seems like there’s barely anything being done about the piling up of trash on train tracks. Then there is the lack of disposal of broken electronics and flat tires scattered all throughout the city, the hundreds of pounds of broken glass shards and fragments that eventually get scattered around the streets. This has definitely been a longstanding issue in Los Angeles. There has been a gang of waste that plagues this beautiful city since I was like 14 years old and going to an abundance of shows at spots like The Smell and Safari Sam’s.
It’s astonishing that the city has passed a new initiative, funding $5m into helping revamp the Downtown area, and that’s still not even close enough to fix our problem (they acknowledge that too). It would be foolish to think that what we’re doing is a solution to this problem, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. In my opinion, it’s about promoting self-accountability. You have to become a vessel for change and just hope that it catches on with the people in your community, and from there maybe you can branch out a little further.”
– Michael Lundy/Former Boys, founder of Rap Vacation
5 Chuckles will be joined by Jamma-Dee, Pie2K, Pink Siifu, Giovanni Marks and Awhlee for next week Wednesday’s broadcast. Find out more information here.
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