New York City: The Other Side of the Coin
Trippin in Brooklyn with photographer Joseph McDermott
Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Often described as “the other side of the coin” by me and my friends. New York is so similar to London in so many ways: the art, the culture, the music, the lifestyle....it’s all so familiar to us but so unique and different at the same time. In June 2019, me and a group of friends consisting of photographers, musicians, filmmakers, graphic designers and skateboarders all took a trip to discover “the other side of the coin”. The trip was a mix of business and pleasure, we had a few radio shows and a live performance out there so it was a great excuse for us all to escape London together for part of the summer and explore.
This was my first time in America apart from as a child. Growing up in the UK with American media it felt quite surreal, like being on the set of your favourite movie or sitcom. We’ve had the streets of New York presented to us thousands of times throughout our lives, but seeing it through a screen could never do it justice. Where we were staying we were instantly thrown into a culturally diverse melting pot, surrounded by great characters and personalities which is one of the things we cherish so much about London and is so important and welcoming out in New York too.
The most notable was the guy who lived in the flat below our Airbnb, Charles or Uncle Charles as we now refer to him. He was basically like the Mayor of the street we were staying on in Brooklyn. He knew every single person, car, cat or dog that came down the street and he even said to us "if new people move in and they don't know me.. Oh believe me, they soon will." He ran a Salsa Dance Class at a Casino in Brooklyn and every morning and evening he would catch us outside and share some crazy stories from his long life spent in the neighbourhood. He gave us his recommendations and guidance where we needed it. He would tell us how beautiful it was for him to see such a young, big, diverse group staying on his street. The mix of cultures: black guys, white guys, Filipino guys - he came from a different era and he would say how incredible it was to see us all together exploring the world. He let me take some portraits of him and even jumped in some group shots of us all on the stoop out the front of our flats. He felt like an embodiment of the spirit of the trip, welcoming, respectful and unforgettable.
We met a lot of great people out there: skaters at the skate park, locals on the basketball court, musicians and creatives we knew from mutual connections in London. It was cool to finally connect some of the dots between us. We showed them what was going on with music in London right now and they filled us in with what’s happening in New York. One of the best experiences we had from the whole trip was visiting “The Lot Radio”. We did it super last minute and expected it to be empty but a lot of people came out for the show and really embraced us and showed love. It was a great display of the underground music community out there, everyone hanging outside sharing drinks, socialising with a soundtrack provided by some of the most exciting artists and DJ's from New York. Our first trip there we saw rappers, punk bands, jazz groups and DJ's all in one night, it was a great showcase of the culture and the vibes. We really appreciated the love and we've made friends we hope to link up with and work with in the future in London or New York - If you go New York, go to The Lot Radio.
The best thing to take away from the whole trip was finding mutual respect with the tribes of likeminded people out there. There's always been crossovers, especially in Hip-Hop throughout the years, from Dipset starting a London ‘Chapter’; Max B's ‘From Harlem to London’ collaboration; more recently with Wiki jumping on Skepta's 'That's Not Me' Remix; London producer Rago Foot putting out a mixtape with New York rapper King Carter Slums and even Casanova, a NY rapper just visiting South London to hang out with Giggs.
There's always been a connection there, we’re cut from the same cloth. I feel there's a mutual respect, between London and New York, and that’s how it felt the entire trip. It really felt like two sides of the same coin. Now we’re waiting to show our New York friends around London.