Sep 12, 2008

Trust Your Struggle / jdavey at Afro Punk

THANKS TO Allford Trotman-u got some nice footage there dude!
Trust Your Struggle Collective

Hey yawl, the Afro Punk fest was more than a month ago and they will be having more of it in September.We rocked live for 4-5 days in a row along side some other dope artists! But damn, i wished I would have been able to catch JDAVEY perform.Anyway, heres a video with our work (green portraits) and of course, u know who performing.Peace.

My last stop before the bay-Flagstaff, Arizona

And it still aint over yet.Although im in Cali right now-in the valley-jo(or right on its border) im going back to Nyc right way.So for those folks who can make it (in the bay) you must go to Galeria De La Raza on August 28th for the final show to wrap up the tour. Its promised by my comrades to be one of our most magnificent achievements yet!

So Arizona? Ok, ive been to Tucson before and Yuma when I went to visit my son's abuelito, tia's, and his cousin. But this was my first time in Flagstaff.Or "Flag" as they call it. We took hella long to get there because, well, Texas is HUGE! It took bout 16 or 18 hours to get there because we stopped to get yucky road food and everyone in the crew seemed to be bent on buying nick nacks or knives at spots along the way. We rolled up on the folks in what I found out was a city 7000 ft up! It was a nice cool break from the heat we had been in-100 degrees and higher! In this city it was the riny season, nice and breezy. We met some young people that were already working on a dope mural. Our contact Cy introduced us to the folks at Black Mesa Water Coalition 9a ntaive run NPO that you should che out to see the work they've done!) The young artists doing their thing and some community folks just chillin. We meeted and greeted-then headed to figure out where we could lay our heads to rest.

We ended up staying with the homies Brett and ELi-thx for the hospitality! We went out that night.Crazy! I wasnt even gonna go, but i thought, why not have a drink. Im a cheap drunk yawl, give me one drink and im on one. Yoshi bought me a white russian.

I started slangin zine like crazy in Flag dude.I must of sold about 10-15 zines in this city.Some folks were hell drunk, some were down to support, some i struck up a convo with.One things for sure, I still got it.I felt like a underground MC on telegraph (berkeley,ca) back in 95'. One thing tho POC(People of color)-i know you going thru it and you are just trying to keep youre head above water-i know this because if it wasnt for my mom, my stepdad,fam, and friends, i couldnt made it thru this tour.Bu damn, show a young brown brotha some love, please!!!! Anyway, when u sell any product whether its tapes or what have you-you always get a better response, face to face because you can actually explain to people shit, or you can relate. Slanging gives me the opportunity to give to people who really cant buy them-thats why Onierokrites is free to ALL youth 21 or younger.

Anyway, back to the tour. We started the next day earlier than we had gotten up in 3 weeks.9 am. We met with a group of native youth of full and mixed blood backgrounds.The majority of native folks in this town were from HOPI or DINE(Navajo) backgrounds. And we didnt even make it to the res (indian reservation) unfortunately. But we talked to some folks about what we did, and rapped about what they wanted to see. We went to work with their ideas and trust to come up w/ a sketch.

Some of the things the elders(young adults) told us was that there is a huge battle going on btwn the native community/+ other Flag residents to stop corporations from turning a Sacred mountain into a fucking ski-resort.Hughhhjjjkkkk! Yup, can you imagine having to explaint o white people, this land is fucking special, its sacred! Its not meant to be used as a tool to make u money! Anyway, it dont even snow that much in Flag either-they wanted to use treated water (in the middle of the desert) to make artifical snow! Wow."Goapele's "Change it All" comes to mind.

Not only that, but the area where we were at was literally on the wrong side of the tracks. This community had little black folks in it, mostly white, indian, and some latino. The area where we were was considered the south side, where all the POC were to be kept and couldnt cross the tracks to get to the other side of the city back in the day. I didnt feel any racism towards me while there-but the youth def spoke of it. Anyway, the young people came up with the idea that most folks were stuck, stagnant, or not moving. The place where the mural was to be done was in the middle of a community garden that folks worked hard to create from a field of dirt, broken glass, and trash.It was now a beautiful garden with corn, fruits, and veggies growing.And we were going to put a small mural there.

So we got an idea of people attempting to get out of a maze, and to pull themselves out using the corn stalks. It was an interesting process as we tried to work w/ the youth by helping them shape it, while giving pointers and advice.Some of the time that worked and some of the time it didnt.We a had to step back and let the folks run with it-which was another learning experience-even though we've all had teaching experience. Ok, so we keep ptg this and get offered the prospect of ptg another larger wall down the block.Everythig in the area was hella close-we would just walk from spot to spot. We started on a sketch for that and had our creativity and patience challenged because we had to rap w/ the folks.......especially Ms. Somana(Thank you!).We picked up a lot of game from Somana, and CY(A dope artist from the aea who helped organize this whole thing with our comrad Cece). We came up with sketches and ran em cross them and found out that som of the stuff was on the money and some was down right offensive.

You see, its not always cool for people who are not from a culture to go and paint something they've been told or have seen in a community.Thats why we asked and thats why every time we paint something we put some level of research into the idea before we paint. ARTISTS!! You must do this, or you could really offend some one.I dont mean censorship of you're art, i mean sacred things that are shared, not meant to be put up on a wall unless you're from that tribe. In this case were not even talking about white folks stealing brown folks' culture.Were a mixed group of artists (african amer, el salvadoran, mexican, japanese, european, phillipino, korean, and native) but none of us were from Navajo or Hopi tribes.

So we took some of the knowledge that was dropped and thought about how we could represent it in a creative and respectful matter. Go check blog to see what i mean.

Well, we def had a struggle in this town because an older white man who lived next door to the mural we painted with the young people didnt like what he saw-and changed the locks to the gate before we could finish it.Not only that, but he cursed out the homie brett( who helped organize these spots to paint) and cece. He threw huge stone into the garden, breaking corn stalks and fucking up the garden.Man, we were like "uh, lets go pay him a visit" but we all decided it would be better to chill and let him look like a fool-since he declared that he was going to destroy the mural and the community garden.It turns ou that he owned some part of the land where we painted this and was absolutely repulsed by the idea that we painted it using Aerosol.He said it was "graffiti shit, crap, not art".

As a result the dude who organized the spots to paint at was very cautious about us doing anything that looked too much like graffiti for fear of other residents' rage.Damn! Talk about resistance against art. It didnt matter though because we used cans and brushes and still collaborated with the community artists to make two dope murals that i personally recieved many compliments on while i was painting.

We even got offered to stay at and paint a Cafe in the area (after we slept on Black Mesa's floor twice!). The AppleSauce Tea House which is run By Derrick and his wife was dope.Another case of community folks taking us in.Derrick was hella cool. He not only gave us the key to his shop and gave us a nice place to crash, he also helped us get a discount on further repairs on our van "MONA". We chilled and started freestyle ptg on his walls at about 2 am!Were crazy! It turns out Derrick had heard about us and was following the tour online-he was an ex Graf Writer from the Bronx-transplanted to Flagstaff,Arizona!Wow, he told us some war stories about his train bombing, his struggle to keep open a venue that welcome the young, weid, vivrant, strange, punk, and hip hop heads in the area. Many neighbor's hated on his shope because he held live shows that brought plenty of young folks thru who didnt fit the 'normal' box. But we hooked up the theater (which is now a booming Spoken word spot) and we traded ideas with Derrick.Thank you!

Anyway, another homie Somana who gave us history lessons also cooked a dinner for us.Twice! With the entire native arts, and political movement in Flag eaing with us and doing a prayer-which i couldnt quite understand because it was in DINE(navajo language).But it was hella positive and we got to meet and kick it with many folks who brought all kinds of food for us. And you thought we were crazy for doing this art for free? The people showed us how much they appreciated our exhange and restored som of my faith in humanity! Peace to Somana's husband "Yaiva" -hes a native mc who has shared the stage w/ some prominent folks up there. Somonas told some great stories and had us laughing hella times as she talked bout the birthing process (which i remember vividly) and their visit to SF and "standing out" on Muni.

Then, another friend whos name escapes me at the moment, opened his home to us for a home made pizza party with him, his sons, alot of music playing/jamming, cookies, and cake.Whew.We ate better this week than we had in hella long! Thank you!!! Flagstaff.We wrapped up last paint touches, thx for the love francis!, made soem friends, and said our goodbyes.

No matter what happends after the tour, whether people know about it or not we got hugs, and personal thank you's from people.Face to face, hand to hand.And the fact that we could have an exchange like that is what matters most. Art is seriously needed yawl.So if you have to do some corporate shit to pay the bills-im def not mad at you.But do something for the people-they need it the most and will thank you for it.They'll even open their hearts and their homes to you if you give them that gift. I may be broke as fuck right now, but i became so much wealthier with friendship and experience.I know i could go back to any of those cities and theyd give me a place to stay-theyd share whatever they had-and theyre struggling too!

"The job of the revolutionary artist is to make the revolution irresistable".

Change comes the minute we exchange.
A proud member of the Trust Your Struggle Collective

texas on the mural tour

OK, I had no idea what I was in for when we pulled up to the Victory Grill. From what Burner said it sounded like a spot that was in my head "retro blues club, maybe latino owned, maybe this maybe that".

We were greeted by a brother named Cliff who was originally from Trinidad and spoke with a "i tell it like it is" accent. He showed us some cool hospitality and we spoke about the city we just visited and the mural. He spoke a bit about the spot and hinted at a need for art and for the spot to maintain its historic glory. Historic glory?For real? I found out what this meant later. So Cliff offered to take us to get some food since we were not asking for any payment for the huge mural we were going to paint.

We went outside and it was about 100 degrees! The wall was about 120-150 feet wide and about 20 feet tall.It was split up in one section that was really long, then about 8 feet that wrapped around, then another long section, with an upper area that I had to climb up and steady myself on.

So we went to work, asking questions, kind of throwing out our pre-concieved notions.Which is what happends at almost every wall and community we encounter. Cliff told us it would be good to speak to Ms Eva Lindsey. So we went to the store, then back to our homie Courtney's house. Thank you Courthey Y Martin! Shes hella cool and let us crash at her house-which was dope.It makes me hella anxious to own my first spot.Soon......soon.

So then we sketched.Straight to working on how the mural would look, flow, be balance, the color, everything. Two things we all practiced alot on this tour was how to freestyle together and to plan an actual composition, which is hella hard.Especially when everyone has talent and can hold it down there selves; we steeped up and stepped back

Next day:We wake up, hella tired, kind of delirious but ready to talk to Ms. Lindsey. Mannn, she dropped so much history on us, i felt like i went rhough a whole class. But she did it by telling stories and beign there made you feel what she was talking about.It turns out that BB King, Bobby Blue Bland, Count Basie, Ike and Tina Turner had performed there. Wow, I had no idea! Not only that, this venue had been one of the spots on the historic "Chitlin Circuit".This is back when "black folks couldnt go to certian clubs" and "people liked to jook(dance)". The historic Victory Grill was established in 1945 and was still going strong!

So we took notes, tried to film everything Ms. Lindey was saying and began making our sketch. Miguel came up with the best put together idea for the wall. At first i was slow to get on this idea which was hella doable, but once we started it worked. We were able to bust out something cohesive and balanced quickly.

Took us about 4-5 days to do, we got to meet some cool folks as we painted.Much respect to Mofoz-the homie mark helped us out greatly. Sloke and spain, and loomit came thru plus hella austin and texas in general came thru. We rocked it once again, kicked at Marks show, washed clothes, and were out. Another exhcnage of history and life for some artwork(that if we did it right) reflects those experiences. Were in Flagstaff,AZ right now.More soon.
Trust Your Struggle Calamity
"Come Bien" Books

TYS in New Orleans, LA

New Orleans! I have already bounced to two or three other cities since NOLA. But, i thought Id let you know what it was like.HOT! Dman, i thought ATL was hot, it was burning up there.

The space we were painting at was called the Craig Cultural Center in Algiers section of NOLA-Which was not flodded by the storm.But it was damaged severely afterwards with most of the previous office spaces inside and the roof being damaged by the storm water. After the storm, the main organizers of the spot left town and returned later.

In fact, most people we talked to including organizers from YAYA in the 9th ward left the city and came back. So about the CCC in Algiers. Because we were delayed in ATL for so long we missed out on an opportunity to paint with their young people( who did an amazing project of color wood cut outs of life size people as symbols in the 9th ward), so we found a spot to crash with a great homie named candace who eric hooked up.Thank you Candance! Then we headed over to CCC checked out their outside wall and a wall they had inside. Then we tried to weigh our options because if we did the wall outside we might have faced hella rain-and we only had 4 or 5 days to do it. So we went and got a little R&R and relaxed for a day-then we decided on ptg the inner wall.

which you can see if you go to

This was a interesting process.We all came up with sketches, and i came up with a solid idea for a sketch which would involve a march of activists, mardi-gras dancers, nola indigenous tribes, children, even super human folks. We started on that idea and everyone got to working.We got about 40-45 % done with the mural and decided the flow wasnt working, so we repainted it!!!!!!

It was hard to erase some hard work, but Este/Shaun Turner came up with a really good idea for how to use elements of the piece and change the flow of people marhcing. So we re did it.Workingf from about 2 or 3 in the afternoon till about 5 or 6 in the morning most days. It was inside too so we got our fair share of paint fumes-even w/ ventilation. We got a lot of ideas and actual art direction which was hard to take at times but comforting because the homie Vince who was running the center with his brother Todd knew what he wanted to see.

Man, this was a huge growing lesson as an artist-why?? Because some of my shit got painted over and my idea was not the original one it formed into.

BUT, as an artist in a group, you have to work together and you must be ok with making what will turn out the best for the center or spot.And it did-it came oput really dope! I swallowed my artist ego and invested in working with the group so that one artists stuff wasnt dominating one particular area.

We all have diff styles so we mixed up the placement of people and styles so it looks more like a group of people and not "I drew those characters", "I did that", etc. Which is hard-because we are all so dope individually-we come together and form much better artwork when we allow each other to take the lead, when we take adviuce from each other, and when we go with the flow-instead of saying "im not going to do it because its not my way"-even tho sometimes u feel a little frustrated-I sure did. This is a lesson for all you artists out there reading this-be dope on youre own and with a group of other artists!

We also collaborated with a brother there named Monk-who kept the dope music flowing when he wasnt at school.

We got to meet some of the folks from YAYA-and they gave us a quick tour of the 9th ward.Mann, yawl, there were about 5% of homes left where there used to be a neighborhood. The grass, the weeds, the earth had overgrown the whole area.They spoke of their experience there, their return, fema's response, the markings to tell you who was alive or dead in the homes, how there was so much anger, desperation, and yet-defiance and triumph over all that. I wish I could get into it more-but I'll just say that YAYA is doing some great work and bringing up their youth right.

We met some interesting characters too in this city.When we were chillin w/ the locals in some of the clubs or after hours areas- i discovered that you could pretty much drink anywhere outside as long as you had a cup-not a glass, that people there have a rich istory of jazz, blues, partying, and that their resilience wont stop. The care-taker of the CCC was an interesting cat named Farley-who always referred to himself in the 3rd person and well, ask me more if i see you. The dude Vince was a activists, spiritual, about the upliftment of the black community, not down with cracker ass bullshit, muthafucka. He was dope-and cussed every other word.Also we met this old brotha they called the Ghetto ,scientist-homie was trying to blow shit up-for real.

We also were lucky enough that we met some folks Greg and Jankai in ATL who hooked us up in NOLA. Greg was a retired police officer(who gave us all a new outlook on brothas in the police force-because he was so cool), and Janaki (gregs wife)who was hella invited us to their home in the ATL and brought some prominent media to interview us there-which was really great because when Vince saw them -he was super juiced!

Ahhh, we rocked it-and just finished at about midnight and jumped into the van to drive to Austin,TX.The folks really gave us a heartfelt goodbvye-and actually told us they would miss us.Wow, I was touched.


since then we ptd a mural in TX, and escaped TX, and were now in Arizona planning another one.I cant wait to see my boy!