About a month ago, I went to the Greatest Day Ever, an all day festival hosted in NYC featuring a bunch of dope ass DJ’s with weird ass names followed by a guest performance from the FLAME himself Travis Scott. Carnival rides, alcohol, good ass food, and live music. The festival was more than turnt. It was spiritual.
Having just returned from living in Korea for about a year, Greatest Day Ever was my first public appearance and turn up since my return. For one year, I fell in love with Korean culture and the Korean turn up. The turn up scene in Korea is real. Hip-hop is huge; everyone turns up, listens to rap, but when rapping U.S rap songs, often times I feel like nobody actually feels the lyrics and it largely comes from the language barrier and cultural differences. For the most part, unless it’s their own rap songs, many of the social and cultural symbols rooted in every Drake track, every Kendrick or Migos track isn’t really understood or felt. Though I do believe hip-hop is global, I believe that every country of origin in which hip-hop culture is created makes its own music that contains its own social and cultural symbols. So copying style and aesthetic together without its own cultural tones is appropriation.
Though I quickly integrated into Korean culture and their ‘turnt’ scene, never once did I forget about the beautiful turnt up culture that I came from. Greatest Day Ever reminded me of how much I missed my culture and how beautiful and unmatched it is. Dance circles, rap battlin’, dance battlin’, girls freakin’, twerkin’, vibin’, drinkin’, smokin’, and just livin’. In that outdoor venue, thousands of young black millennials were just care free and living. If at least for that day, we put all the politics of society away and just turned up.
At the pinnacle of the turn up, DJ Trippy Turtle played Kendrick’s ‘Alright’ and never in my life have I felt anything more powerful or spiritual. I’m not very religious but I’m serious when I tell you that what was felt at that specific moment goes way farther than my existence. The moment the DJ played ‘Alright’, thousands of us linked shoulders and screamed ‘ALL MY LIFE I HAD TO FIGHT NIGGA’. Then in almost perfect synchrony, we rapped the rest of Kendrick’s 8 opening lines but when that chorus hit, man when that chorus hit, we felt it.
As Pharrell sang the chorus telling us we were going to be alright, we believed him because we knew it was true. In that moment we were alright. We collectively understood the significance of that song, our struggles to get where we are now, and the struggles that we know that we were going to have to face in the future. We celebrated our struggle because without struggle we won’t succeed. Past all the violence, police brutality, systematic injustices, gang violence, discrimination, and disrespect, we were alive, together, and turnt.
Drunk, looking through the lens of my camera taking pictures of people, I momentarily thought about the way that media portrays us young black millennials though we reek of culture and potential. Though they try to bring us down and exploit us for our stories but we gon’ come out on top. We gon’ stay turnt.
We gon’ be alright.
Photos by theYOUTH
- Written August 14, 2015