Photos by Elijah Dominique
A funny thing happened on Day 2 of AFROPUNK FEST 2015. Walking past the Gucci Ghost tent, I noticed a young woman dancing in a circle surrounded by youthful faces. With every twist and turn of her body she cleansed the air of unwanted energies while the voice of Gucci Mane, trap messiah to many, blasted through a single speaker.
Overwhelmed by this odd-but-refreshing scenario, I grabbed my friend, who was hesitant to enter this bizarre circle, and ushered her into the crowd. Soon enough, we are all captured by the spirit of youth and endless possibilities. Within seconds a volcano of voices erupts in unison: “EVER SINCE I LEFT THE CITY YOOOOU” – the crowd burst into the chorus of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” as if they ghostwrote it themselves.
A few seconds later, this blue moon of a moment was over and the group quietly dispersed in opposite directions, clearing a path to the host of the musical vibes. A small booth filled with artwork and cool people laid straight ahead. It was The Gucci Ghost tent, manned by Trouble Andrew.
Speaking to Andrew outside his tent, he tells of a similar moment just the night before, which resulted in his missing Grace Jones’ epic performance on the main stage: “I was playing a different role. As much as I was celebrating in the festival I had my own section were I had to be… Well, I didn’t have to be, but I wanted to be at. We were turning up in our little 10×10 space.”
Just the night before, tons of people flocked to the tent in numbers that aren’t accurately conveyed on Internet videos. What is it that attracts so many to this little 10×10 tent? Is it Gucci Mane or Gucci Ghost? We asked Trouble Andrew a few questions about how the Gucci Ghost movement keeps organically pulling in the youth.
Mass Appeal: Where did all of this come from?
Gucci Ghost: I have a space called the Gucci Trap House in Bed-Stuy where I’ve just been creating art out of on all different mediums. I’ve been directing videos out of there. I’ve been doing a lot of music, producing my own projects. Painting, designing clothes. Just doing a bunch of shit so I just wanted to essentially come over here [and do the same] Literally the front room of my trap house is 10×10, so it’s kind of a similar situation I just brought the vibe over.
Is that where this table came from?
I made this Gucci Mane dominos table – games table, really. You can play dominos, cee-lo, whatever… just a rolling table in general. It’s really interactive. Beyond my booth having things that I design—skateboards, T-shirts, posters or whatever for kids to get—it’s like kids are hanging out in the booth. It’s not like you can’t walk behind the table; everyone’s behind the table partying. We got a speaker and just blasted that shit in the parking lot and in between sets… Obviously we’re paying respect to the artist, but we’re also setting the bar. We had one speaker and we had the shit lit.
What is it that has so many people gravitating to this movement? Is it you? Is it Guwop?
It’s the general idea of DIY and making something outta nothing. Creating your own power. Taking your ownership to things and that’s really the whole movement. Just being creative. Not being afraid to just express yourself. People might not think it’s punk…we played a lot of trap shit last night, but I thought that was the most punk shit that went down. Punk is just doing you and doing what you feel and not being peer pressured into believing anything that you don’t feel right about. Last night it felt right to turn up like that. Not to say that we won’t be playing like Joy Division or whatever over here, but last night, it was just appropriate.
The energy is unbelievable.
You just felt the energy of people having fun. That’s what I’m about and all my creative friends and extensions are about. Shabazz is a friend of mine that was like, “Yo, let’s get together and do this.” We did an event a couple of weeks ago called The Burrprint and I came in and did an installation there. We were like, “Yo, let’s bring this over and bring the Gucci Ghost perspective and make something fun where we can all just hang out.” Malik Roberts, he did this “Gwop” shit right here [points to painting], but yeah, there was only so much space this year so we just did it. But, this will be a rotating idea board for many different artists.
I have a show with Zoë Kravitz on October 30th at Williamsburg Music Hall. I think it’s sold out already, but that’s kinda the next thing. I bring a visual component to it and I always bring my ideas to the stage so it’s always different. But yeah, it’s my musical expression of sorts. I keep it rotating otherwise I get bored. I have to either direct something or paint something or design something.
I did a couple of videos for Zoë. I actually worked with Jimmy, the producer that’s in her band, about 10 years ago. We’ve just kinda been loosely in touch over the years based on creative shit. He’s just a rad dude and we keep crossing paths but never got to actually officially work together. He started working with Zoë and hit me up. Showed her some of the things that I’d been doing visually. I never direct anything for anyone beyond myself you know. I was just doing my own visuals for myself, but yeah, she was like, “Yo, let’s link up…” And we just hit it off.
We just did some real simple shit. The first video we did was “AYO” and it just ended up being honest. It was an honest perspective of Zoë and just a fun visual esthetic. I always keep it really lo-fi and grimy. It was just nice to see her in that setting. The next video we did was “Bitch.” We had Miley Cyrus and it was shot down at SXSW and it was just another one of those honest situations. An hour before the shoot I ran to the dollar store and got some toy guns, the Hannah Montana cards and just some silly shit for them to have in the room, but that was Zoë’s room. We were all staying at that hotel so Miley came through and we just shot that shit in a couple hours of just hanging out. It was just fun. I really wanted to showcase to people like, Wow—it’s not even really a music video… When you watch past the video it goes into the candid shit and it was was just honestly them just hanging out. Then we shot “Every Fucking Day.” That was dope. A lot of people came. It was in the Gucci Trap House. Luka Sabbat came through, Marti Misfit like a bunch of friends that are just in the culture that are doing their own shit that showed love. It’s been fun doing different things are keeping myself occupied cuz I have like crazy ADD.