Brooklyn Bullshit

2008 marks the 4th year anniversary of the so called “Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival” It also marks the fourth year I’ve been snubbed by the folks at, “Brooklyn Bodega”
I was scheduled to do as show for the Puerto Rican day Parade in Bridgeport CT that weekend
(shout to Block Royal) so I could not have done a full set at the BHHF. However, I did want an opportunity to promote the 2@atime project I am a part of. Our aim is to provide computers to underprivilidged kids in my neighborhood and I thought the festival would be a great place to kick things off. Many people tried to convince the event organizer, Wes Jackson to give me the opportunity to do 2 songs and to say few words about the computer program but Wes refused every request.

From the door, I want to say that I respect his right to refuse my participation. No problem.
However, the reason he gave to people for brushing me off was bullshit. It seems the content of my music is not conducive to the kind of event Wes promotes.

Once again, I don’t want anyone thinking what about to say is sour grapes cause I got snubbed by some random event promoter. That shit happens, no big deal. But the real reason Wes didnt want me there is cause I called him out on his bullshit the first year he had the event in the Williamsburg Brooklyn, steps away from where I was raised. Long story short, I got pissed cause there weren’t any non white locals represented, on stage or in the audience. NO one that grew up in my projects, on the Southside or on Greenpoint knew about the event. It was clear from the beginning that we uncool Black and Latin people in the neighborhood were not welcome. On top of that, they claim the name, “Brooklyn Bodega” but there were no flyers or poster boards in or around any bodegas in the hood. I found out about the event cause a friend that loads trucks for one of the sponsors told one of my managers about it. As the date got closer I found out another friend of a friend from Boriquen Projects was hired to clean up after the event.

It’s ironic they didn’t want us there because a few of the older people that live in that neighborhood actually built the space where the festival was held and they’re grandkids helped clean up the thrash after people left festival. Some those older dudes from around the South Side believe that this deliberate slight happened cause I’m Latino. I can kind of see why they think that but I don’t believe the decision to snub me was based on race. I dont think Wes Jackson is a racist.

However, the snub does speak to something just as hurtful to me,
Cultural Snobbery and Classism.
I know first hand about Classism cause I live in Cooper Projects which is in the heart of Williamsburg Brooklyn. For those of you who don’t know, Williamsburg is located in North Brooklyn and is Mecca to the hipster. Tight Jeans, Dope Sneaker Stores, Hip Restaurants, Cool Lounges and a lot of young artist types from parts unknown with lots of money renting apartments that are way too expensive.
It’s a great place to hang out on any night of the week cause there is always something poppin on the North Side. Except if your one of the poor people in that lives in this area.

Before I became Joell Ortiz, “the rapper” I was just another Puerto Rican from the wrong side of the North side. I got the automatic locked doors at the local hipster sneaker store as I tried to enter, the 1hr wait for a table at an empty restaurant and I never got any of the jobs at local shops or construction sites I applied for. It was as if I was invisible while in certain sections of this neighborhood.
Things have changed for me since those days. I am still a Rican from the North side but today the same sneaker store owner that shitted on me a few years back goes out of his way to show me new kicks when I pass by and he always asks me to take pictures in the store. He recently made a nice donation to 2@atime so all is good.

Although, certain things may have changed for me around here, on the whole, gentrification is a motherfucker for my people in this neighborhood. For instance, the local supermarket that we used to shop at closed and in it’s place they opened a more expensive one that frowns on welfare mom’s with EBT cards. They still don’t take applications at any of the construction sites and when they do hire someone from the projects or one of the Puerto Rican’s for the South side it’s only as day workers with no insurance or job security. When a worker does get paid its usually in cash from out the foreman’s pocket. Hardly enough to keep a roof over your head around here.

If you happen to be one of the working poor in this area that doesn’t live in the projects it’s almost impossible to keep an apartment. Landlords are throwing people out that have been in this area for generations in order to make room for wealthy newcomers. If they can’t get you out legally certain slumlords will opt to burn you out of your home. I’m not bullshiting. There have been more suspect fires in this area than any other time in the history of NYC. That is no coincidence.

There have been a few hippie rallies on our behalf and leftist flyers proclaiming workers rights have been handed out at local bars but for the most part, I don’t believe it. When it comes to real estate and bread they aint trying to let us eat. While landlords evict seniors that can’t afford the outrageous rents some of these same rallying hipsters are busy trying to open they’re own school in the same building as our PS 84. The hope is that they’re kids will receive a better education then the one provided by the local public school that happens to be in the same building. I know it sounds nuts but I swear it’s true. Seperate but equal, in the same building! I’m not the smartest guy in the world but I thought that shit was illegal in this country.

Anyway, I think Brooklyn Bodega represents the same kind of hypocrisy. They claim to rep “real Hip Hop” but only allow a certain kind of performer to play for a certain audience. To me, That’s bullshit. Hip Hop was started by Blacks and Latinos that weren’t welcome to party in downtown clubs owned and run by racist snobs. Those pioneers created a scene of they’re own and passed it down to us. Its only been 20 something years and our culture already has bougie snobs trying to keep poor people out of something that was created by the poor.
I’ll bet a stack that if we crunch the numbers and make adjustments for time the founding fathers of Hip Hop would not be part of the Brooklyn Bodega’s target demographic.

I probably wont ever be invited to perform at that festival but fuck it. I don’t want anything to do with a classist organization that goes out there way to exclude an entire segmet of this culture. When I perform in my neighborhood I want ALL of my neighbors to enjoy the show.

As you can tell I have few issues with gentrification. However, there are some bright spots that would be unfair for me to ignore. I wanna take a a sec to acknowledge the good people at Monkey Town on North 3rd. They gave my boy from Cooper Projects a job recently. He walked in off the street and asked if they were hiring and they gave him a job on the spot. That’s very rare around here. I actually went in there on a date one night and the chef came out to tell me and the chick I was with all about the dishes we were having. He didn’t know who I was he was just being a gracious host to a guest.
I love that spot!

You can help me help the underprivilged kids in the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick Brooklyn by clicking on Give at the top bar on my homepage.
Our goal with 2@atime is to get every disadvantaged kid in the four projects in the Williamsburg/Bushwick area computers. I want them to know about everything that is going on in, around and outside of this neighborhood. We gonna change our community 2 kids at a time.


45 Responses to “Brooklyn Bullshit”

  1. August 5, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Gentrification is global.That shit is real. I have seen it happen first hand in San Francisco over the last decade. Yo Joell, have you seen Danny Hoch’s play? it deals with that shit happening in BK. I recommend it. I commend you for helping out the kids, and trying to be objective about the situation in your area.

  2. August 5, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Yo I love the 2@aTime idea…that’s a way to make a serious impact…it’s a beautiful thing.

    Gentrification is some evil shit…it’s like the natural order of things in our nation though–sad…props for speaking on it so eloquently in a public forum.

  3. August 5, 2008 at 2:51 am

    the video for Brooklyn Bullshit truly was the beginning of a new era in hip hop vids

  4. August 5, 2008 at 3:34 am

    Yo I submitted a reply earlier but I guess it didn’t go thru? Anyways props for writin this blog and speaking the truths that need to be spoken–that’s some big shit, and for the 2@aTime program, that’s a dope way to make a serious change for some kids…

  5. August 5, 2008 at 4:52 am

    That was real talk and I am chipping in some PayPal 4 2 @ a time.

  6. 6 CCS
    August 5, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Damn. You should put on your own show next year on the same day as their bs show

  7. August 5, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Great blog post homie. That is so real on so many levels. Thank you for sharing that with us. As a NY’er I’ve never been to Williamsburg unfortunately, and can count the times I’ve been to BK on 1 hand as well but I’m from Uptown Washington Heights/Inwood, another section being hit with Gentrification slowly but surely and I definitely feel where you’re coming from on this post. Keep doing your thing regardless and hopefully more good comes with the changes in the future than bad for Blacks/Latinos in your community and every community really. Peace.

  8. August 5, 2008 at 7:15 am

    What up Joell…you’re an intelligent dude. I’m impressed with the way you express yourself my man. Keep doing what you do!

  9. 9 saul goode
    August 5, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Yeah,gentrification is the silent war right now. We need to empower ourselves and create our own platforms and services to keep the hood alive. The 2@atime program sounds dope. Good luck to you.

  10. 10 ijb.
    August 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Yes. Not much more to say than that.

  11. 11 Jay Mack
    August 5, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Joell, just wanted to pay my respects. You have no idea how proud I am to bump all of your music. I’m from right around the block from your p’s, Humboldt Street, I’m glad to see somebody reppin our hood, and for someone like you that really does it with class and determination is a beautiful thing. I can’t wait for your new album, the Brooklyn Bomber mixtape has been a great appetizer…. I’ve sent the Brick album & Brooklyn Bomber down south to some of my people in Florida and I got everybody calling me to see if I got more music from you. Anyway, just keep doing what your doing and everything will work out eventually, YOU CAN’T DENY OR IGNORE GREAT MUSIC!!!! B.K. ALLLLLL DAY! Williamsburg stand the FUCK UP! Thanks, Jay

  12. August 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Williamsburg stand the fuck Up!!!!!

  13. 13 robin
    August 5, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    keep doing what youre doing because your going somewhere. people all over the world listening to hiphop need more thinking role models, your hard work will pay off! you dont put on a fake outside to try to fit in and thats what i respect about you and that is the meaning of real. this isnt asskissing this is what i feel and i don compliment things i dont think is right.

    you arent just making a step for the people in your comunity your making a step for everyone growing up with hiphop

    i wish you all the luck

  14. 14 Steve
    August 5, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Its terrible whats going on in Williamsburg & all over the city. Im all for people from other places making our neighborhoods their home (thats what this city was built on) but to completely neglect a part of a neighboorhood is unacceptable. Most people that dont know brooklyn dont even know that their are housing projects and a thriving hispanic community in Williamsburg. Its like they dont want people to know. Its not as extreme as Williamsburg yet but something similar is happening in my neighborhood of Long island city,Queens. My building is under new ownership and they would LOVE to get all of us old timers to leave. My Family came from the Dominican Republic over 40 years ago to nyc and has been in l.i.c. for almost 30 years. They treat us as if we have no say in this issue. This is the equivalent of somebody being at a job for 30 years and getting fired for no reason. No loyalty watsoever. I support your cause Joell and we gotta continue to fight and have our voices heard.

    One love

    p.s.-Keep making that real hip hop!

  15. 15 spanish jay
    August 5, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    tell me something i don’t know.

    the same righteous hipsters that look at you crazy at the fish fry spot are the same ones that live in the crazy lofts, want to be accepted for their “alternate lifestyles” and vote democrat.

  16. August 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    thanks for sharing… for reals.

  17. 17 Jay
    August 5, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    crazy. sounds like something out of the movie barbershop lol.

  18. August 5, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    this is so real, and thank you for writing about this. more people def. need to hear what’s up and see that all non-mainstream hip-hop is not absolved from being racist and classist as the shit everybody’s rallying against on the radio.

  19. 19 Blu The 80s Baby!
    August 5, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    that’s some bullshit w/ what’s going on in BK & the brooklyn bodega concert.

  20. August 6, 2008 at 12:27 am

    hey joell, where can i learn more about the 2@atime program?


  21. August 6, 2008 at 2:36 am

    I live in Borinquen so I know exactly what you’re talking about. The signs of the gentrification is more than evident on the L train and across Bushwick Avenue. Fortunately most cats I kick it with are really cool.

    2@atime really need to drop their flyers or brochure in the local libraries. They would really welcome it especially if they know what the organization is about. The local Bushwick Library is really cool about community efforts.

    On another note, it is really good to see that you’re more than just another rapper.

  22. August 6, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Great post. Gentrification is a bitch. It’s like the middle-class need a good recession. Even out the playing field a bit.

  23. August 6, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    I know what you mean about the gentrification thing out there. I’m from the So.Bx, but my sister moved out there a few years (10 or more and i forgot what stop on the L i use to take out there to visit) back with her heavy metal boyfriend (latino, but his crew was diverse) and this is when there were the mix of starving artists, heavy metal rockers, people from that area thats been there for generations and before she bounced for FL., thats when we saw the snobby wannabe upper class that couldn’t find a spot (was too expensive or not the right area) in Manhattan moving in and ripping shit down to make the place in their eyes classier.

    I’m just getting my shit together before this happens to my hood so i’m not caught up and trying to let people know that it will happen if we’re not careful so they need to get their ducks lined up, but considering how wild things are getting the only white people we’ll see on my block will be the ones with the backpacks wanting to preach God when they knock on ur door during the weekend.

    Ur blogs tight J.O. i’ll be checking back.


  24. 24 Joey
    August 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I’m glad someone said something! The artist selection was poor when it came to non classic artists. Wes Jackson is scared of “street” artists. There however is a big difference between street knowledge rap and just straight ignorant rap music. The difference between Maino and Uncle Murder compared to Saigon, Joell Ortiz and Papoose is immense!

    Also the gentrifaction in Williamsburg is fucking depressing. I used to come out there in 96, 97 and chill with my peoples from out there. Most of the neighborhood spots we went to are long gone now. I don’t even feel like I’m in Brooklyn when i walk on Bedford on the north side!

    Keep doing your thing Joell. The real Brooklyn got your back. Not these phony transplants!~

  25. August 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Word up Joell. Keep doing it!

  26. 26 Gabriel
    August 7, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Keep at em Joell, gentrification is some bullshit, neatly disguised a beautification and progress. To be perfectly honest, I fail to understand how the fuck do you even have a fucking all-white “hip-hop” festival at all, let alone in Brooklyn?! (I’m white boy from Australia no less, and it makes no damn sense to me) Classist/cultural bigotry is entrenched everywhere and is more implicit than racism and certainly as divisive and destructive.
    You’re one of the nicest goin round bruh, One

  27. 27 D Ross
    August 7, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Great post thought provoking and insightful. Much respect your the peoples champ………

  28. 28 bknesto
    August 7, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    that was real spit right there. And I definitely feel you on the gentrification thing. I started my blog based on what is and has happened in my hood in BK. I went to the BKHHF this year for the first time but what kept me away was the exact shit you’re talking about.

  29. 29 e$
    August 7, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    I pretty much feel you on all levels. I live right smack in the middle of the north and southsides and work in Bushwick and I see the bullshit cause thats what it is, we just gotta push past and show them that where not what they think we are and im glad to see someone like you doing great things for our communities!!

  30. 30 TallulahBankhead
    August 7, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Please keep doing what you are doing …speaking truth to power and putting your beliefs into action.

  31. 31 L.A.
    August 8, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    The Brooklyn Bodega is the exACT same hypocrisy as the music industry in general. its fucked up. thank god we got people like Joell Ortiz and Immortal Technique reppin us. Latino pride

  32. 32 nyc will come back
    September 9, 2008 at 12:16 am

    I just read this now… months later… but i feel you. fuck brooklyn bodega. same people that think those words sound so great and catchy together are the same ppl that call the cops when they see too many people standin’ outside of one … in “their” neighborhood, that they just moved into 3 months ago..

    the city is fucked now… shit is crazy but we’ll get through it … big ups to Joell

  33. July 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Wes Jackson is a dick. Plain and simple. Everyone knows it. No one says it to his face. He is all about his brand and parlaying BHHF into a platform for his other ventures. He does not respect authentic hip-hop and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was involved in payola. Artists want a chance to rock a hip-hop show in BK since BK is so crucial to the birth and development of Hip-Hop culture. No dice. There are rarely BK artists performing!

    Your insight on gentrification is poignant and honest. It is happening everywhere in this city. Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem… I’m waiting for them to tear down Queensbridge projects because thats PRIME real estate right now.

    Its unfortunate… this Bloombergization of NYC.

    Note to Bloomie: Not everyone is a billionaire.

  34. 34 Retrokidbk83
    July 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Beautiful post. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. The Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy area. I left in ’05 after my moms passed and cameback to visit in ’06 and noticed how nice everything looked around my hood (Weeksville Gardens) and when I got to my P’s it looked terrible. We are losing our community to these implants Gentrifying everything! It’s not just hurting us but it’s going to hurt the youth. If you get with the right people you could bring back that real hip hop with a real festival of your own and I will be donating to your charity. Try to get some info into Libraries, Schools, and After school programs like Jackie Robinson. Much Love Yaoowwwwaaaa!

  35. 35 Melissa
    May 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Yo I’m a mother of 7 from the williamsburg projects, and my kids could really benefit from a computer I need to find out more about this 2@time. It sounds like a great thing for the true kids from the community. I always tell my kids if I hit the LOtto I would just make myself a big house right here in Williamsburg!

  36. 36 Marie
    July 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Love, love, love everything you wrote! As a teacher in a low income area I love 2@attime. Definitely donating!

  37. 37 Bridget Brown
    July 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I appreciate your thoughtful approach to this post. It wasn’t about you, it was about something bigger than any one of us. ONE LOVE. Knowledge is power, and I believe that in my soul. All children deserve an opportunity to grow and flourish, and each one deserves the chance to shine.

  38. July 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    It always happens when people or projects blow up that decisions are made based on the power tripping rather than staying te course. The International Hip Hop Parade will fall into those traps by the way I’m Puerto Rican and President of the IHHP

  39. 40 Hip Hop
    July 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Hip Hop wasn’t started by black and latin people at all and that statement proves to me once and for all that ortiz is in fact a racist

    Hip Hop was started by POOR people period to state otherwise is racist, how you just gonna flat out ignore the contributions of people like The Beastie Boys, MC Serch etc and without the contributions of White people in Hip Hops early days we wouldn’t have had Def Jam and the countless influential acts it put on that shaped the culture

    it’s sad in this day and age people like you still care about race and segregation and try to ignore the contributions of one race who helped build a culture you yourself profit from today

  40. 41 Tommy
    July 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Joel, well said.. very well said.. You’ve got my donation.. again sir, very well said..

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