April 10, 2019 words

This article from Wired opened my eyes to a whole sub-culture I had no idea existed:

DJs of the Future Don't Spin Records–They Write Code.

There are plenty of rabbit holes to follow in this article, including the Soundclouds of the DJs in the scene, as well as the open-source tools they use. Please go down all of these articles, the things these artists are doing with code and music are amazing.

One rabbit hole I didn't expect to go down was regarding this part of the article:

[The Gray Area conference is] situated inside a renovated Mission District movie theater, which, in the decade before the current tech boom, had fallen into disrepair and was long occupied by a schlubby dollar store. Now, just in time to catch a boost from the Silicon Valley cash flooding the city, the Gray Area operators have transformed the old Grand into a comfortable and hip meeting place.

The description, particularly the "schlubby dollar store", and the "hip meeting place" set off my less-informed-than-I'd-like-it-to-be "gentrification radar". Digging deeper it's a complicated situation but the Gray Area and its founder Josette Melchor are doing some genuinely great work with great intention.

It's best to let Melchor's word speak for herself, such as in this excerpt from an SFGate article:

The intersection of art and technology is fertile, but it can also be precarious, especially in a city like San Francisco where the two are often seen as diametrically opposed.

“There’s this idea that big tech is responsible for gentrification, overthrowing society with machines, all of these ideas, and they’re not necessarily grounded,” Melchor says. “We all need to know technology and how to use technology. If we don’t, we’re powerless.”

Melchor and Gray Area are trying to shift that paradigm, little by little.

...

The artists who go through the [Gray Area's programs] are diverse, Melchor says. More than a couple have been drag queens and DJs, and there’s an intentional effort to make sure people of color and women are represented.

This TechCrunch article also has some insight and quotes from Melchor, including this one which mentions the dollar store that caught my eye from the original Wired article:

“People are really scared to see the dollar store go away and to see us standing in there. They think we’re gentrifying. But when we explain what we’re doing, they’re less afraid,”

I'd really recommend reading all three articles. The discussions on gentrification in the SFGate and TechCrunch articles are something I'm trying to educate myself more on, as well as appropriation. It's especially important in this space where tech and culture are crossing paths more and more frequently (and specifically hip hop in my case).

Melchor's work is inspiring while also being very dope. I need to make my way to some of these events soon.

In the meantime I'm personally getting back into my analog turntablism hobby (shout out these DJ Angelo tutorials) to keep that "right brain"-only creativity in my life.

Enjoy the read(s)!