Thick, dense smoke filled the hollow industrial warehouse, while lasers pierced through the dark and darted about the room. Each flash of light revealing a different facet of the culture carnival of the future. The worlds of rap, rock-n-roll, extreme sports, gaming, and art came together for Dope Roots / No Ends NYC this past Sunday, August 12th in Brooklyn.
Each patron that took part of this mini-festival experience had their own clarification of what hip-hop now means in the modern context. You could see the roots of the past lingering in thread form; vintage Tommy Hilfiger and Jordan sneakers, to old school Balenciaga and Gucci apparel that was pulled directly from another period in time. But the evolution of the culture was what was truly on display.
X-Games sponsored their own Skate jam in a centrally located caged off park, where fans could sign a waiver and thrash with pro skaters and BMX riders. The middle finger to authority attitude of the sport and it’s riders seemed appropriately re-contextualized for today’s youth and where they belong in a Trump Presidency. The core values of individuality and rebellion still have a palpable presence in the air.
Arcade Alley lined up against the western wall with brightly lit vintage TV's one would find in their grandmother’s basement. From Halo to Time Crisis with the gun style controller, to Donkey Kong, to classic Nintendo NES games, the nostalgia was welcomed by all different fans. Male and female, young and old, it was one of the most popular areas of the event all night.
The event warmed up with live performances by Lil' Peep, Ricky Blaze, Squid Nice, Dylan St. John, and Acid Dad. Trap music was the anthem genre of the night, accompanied by old school hip-hop and rap. Latin American percussion and dubstep played small roles, speaking to tiny pockets of fans in the crowd that would cheer when their jams came on. 808 kick drums with double and triple time hi-hats served as the fundamental elements of nearly everything that came through the speakers. The rock-n-roll/metal influences on trap music and hip-hop culture were visible in the mosh pits during A$AP Ferg and the countless Metallica and vintage metal t-shirts sported throughout the crowd. The two worlds paired together well to create a feeling of unity inside of a seemingly aggressive facade. These two potent mixes of love and hate collided throughout the night with beats, elbows, and 1000 yard stares. Some people had a standoffish distance to them - sunglasses on in the dark with arms crossed as they watched the music, while others extended a hand upon approaching, flashing a bright yellow gold bottom grill accompanying a big smile.
Another common theme of the night was the use of blunts. Backwoods being gutted and stuffed around every turn, with bags of flower being waved as fashion accessories. It was very clear that New York’s hip-hop community was not made up of predominantly concentrate users. Is it the timeless appeal of rolling something up and sparking it? Is it that concentrates aren’t widely available for this group? Is the cigar-like visual just a little more baller than a pen? Clearly, the community had taken their stance on this issue, which aligned seamlessly with all of the other elements present being pulled from an older period in time. A regressive progression push and pull of eras.
Dope Roots / No Ends was a stake in the ground for where today’s NY hip-hop audience stands. Socially, politically, and musically. We had an absolute blast and can’t wait for this group to discover the power, potency, and quality of a true concentrate experience.