Wikispeaks, the untamed Upper West Side high school senior, who’s the rap Cory Matthews on Adderall, represents the next generation of this visual revolution. The world Wiki inhabits is slow, disillusioned, filled with blunt guts and stale smoke, but it’s very much theirs. Wiki and his Brooklyn counterparts, the insanely talented Pro.Era are the result of this de-centralized music industry that is empowering the creators, allowing them to just add their voice to a conversation that had previously shut them out by making the process unrealistically expensive. The funny thing is that the process is so natural for these young artists, they don’t even feel the wave they’re creating. The only difference between dropping a video ten people see and ten million people see is the counter under the viewer and a lot of e-mails from strangers.
“People tell us we’re revolutionary all the time, but don’t look at ourselves that way.” – Steez of Pro.Era
“Me I’m from Flatbush, you have to have a hard exterior, but you have to be smart otherwise you’ll never make it out the hood,” Steez continues. These kids have grown up with all of the world’s information coming at them through a wireless signal on their cell phones, so it doesn’t make any sense for them to do things any other way. The technology to create is so readily available that self sufficient kids who don’t give a fuck about school have the opportunity to turn their delinquent afternoons into record deals or ever more popular indie companies run by their boys. Steez says, “I have a problem paying attention, and it’s funny ’cause I wrote that song in History class. That’s kind of the whole thing, like instead of paying attention in school I was doing my own thing.” Pro.Era’s video for “Survival Tactics” has over one hundred thousand views in just a month.
A$AP Rocky’s first three videos “Higher,” “Purple Swag” & “Peso” all take place in or around the A$AP Mob hub. “Purple Swag” is the pinnacle of Rocky editing Harlem to just a couple blocks. When the crew leaves the apartment they don’t actually go anywhere. The most movement in the entire video is the slow motion bike scene where Rocky let’s his JScotts fly. “Peso” takes place on the blocks around Broadway where the Mob still lives. From the Jumbo Burger to the bodega, to the catacombs of that roach-infested Uptown pre-war apartment building, where you might become the next casualty of a dice game, Harlem is A$AP. It wasn’t about New York, it was about Rocky. It’s the Flintstones Jeremy Scott adidas, and the Supreme towel over Rocky’s head. Take this in contrast to “Oh Boy,” which was shot on almost the same block as “Peso,” but looks like a promo for a bad Paid In Full sequel: Rico’s Revenge. Rocky, like Tyler and LiL B and Kreayshawn before him, wore their surroundings like wardrobes, without any emphasis on the hood, they brilliantly translated Harlem without even really showing Harlem. These videos were about real life, real streets, the parts of NY that won’t make it into movies, because they’re just too fucking normal, which made the stars that much more magnetic.