Team RECPhilly mobbin out at Atanta’s A3C conference | Photo via RECPhilly | courtesy of the artist
PHL to ATL: A disposable camera travelogue from RECPhilly’s music roadtrip
This fall, Philly music startup RECPhilly rounded up about a dozen and a half members of its extended fam, piled in two vans and drove south to Atlanta for the A3C Music Conference, an annual gathering that over the past decade has grown into the SXSW of hiphop.
Along with attending a bevy of panels and networking meetups, the group was responsible for one of the showcases – and a lineup featuring Philadelphians Milton, Armani White, Voss, Tierra Whack, Theodore Grams and Eddie Madird.
Taking a cue from Noisey as well as ImposeMagazine, we sent the REC #squad off with a bag of disposable cameras to document their week in ATL. After getting the film developed, we met up with creative director Will Toms in their Callowhill office; White was at a show in Dallas so he Skyped in, munching on BBQ, and we combed through the photos – “This is what Instagram filters are supposed to replicate, except it’s not a filter,” observes Toms.
The guys reminisced about the trip, the huge Air BnB they rented on 17 acres of land, the exhausted morning meetings to review the plan for each day (“people hated me in the morning,” says Toms) and the long / fast drive home (“I woke up, and was like ‘what the hell, we’re in North Carolina already?'” recalls White).
Toms also shared thoughts on the A3C experience in general: “Being a hiphop convention, the topics of the panels could get more granular, on hip hop and urban culture. How can hiphop help the community, how can it be put in schools to teach in a more engaging manner. But unlike SXSW, the audience wasn’t as diverse. At SX, you’d see people who didn’t look like they’d fuck with hiphop at hiphop shows.”
Check out the photos below, and mark your calendars for January 22nd – it’s the first of RECPhilly’s Underground POV showcases for 2016.
“We randomly round a Polaroid camera in a Wal-Mart down there, and Lou [Peluyera, of RECPhilly] decided he was going to take on a project he called his Pokemon Card collection,” explains Toms. “Basically just portraits of everybody. It makes a nice memento.”
The A3C Conference coincided with the Million Man March in Washington, DC, and with the main festival ground right near Atlanta’s Martin Luther King memorial, the RECPhilly team visited the park to snap some photos and pay their respects.
A candid moment, pre- or post-cypher in East Atlanta Village. “Voss killed the game,” says White. “It was real dope, real real fun, and you can see some cool Catlanta graffiti behind us.”
“A couple guys ran into Catlanta,” adds Toms, “and he gave us a tour of East Atlanta Village, which reminds me a lot of Fishtown. There was a cool sock shop – Armani got free socks – and a lot of old school Braves jerseys.”
Milton and Voss at one of A3C’s panels. “Voss is letting them know how much fire he delivered on cypher,” White says.
The RECPhilly #squad on Edgewood and Boulevard, the nexus of A3C. “Edgewood is like the South Street of Atlanta,” White says. “At least that’s what people told me on our way there.”
“This was before we went to support Distortedd, a Philly artist who’s now doing traveling art shows,” says Toms. “She had a show at the University and we took a couple vans over.”
A photo taken during a panel called Drug Culture, Trap Music, And Mass Incarceration; Toms was impressed with its incredible variety of perspectives. Virginia beach rapper No Malice (one half of Clipse along with his brother Pusha T) was joined by Complex Magazine writer Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins and Investigator Tyrone Dennis of the Atlanta Police Department Gangs Division.
Says Toms: “To have a police officer sitting next to No Malice, who used to rap about nothing but whippin work, it was awesome and interesting to get both their perspectives on the music, especially given the hip-hop culture in Atlanta. There’s a fine line between where it’s metaphor and where it becomes dangerous, but those perspectives need to be heard.”
RECPhilly team member Scarlett Hernandez shooting interviews in the A3C content center.
“Tim, focused,” says Toms of RECPhilly A&R man Tim Montgomery in this shot.
“Introspective Armani White,” says Toms.
“We were lost,” explains White. “Everybody’s leaving and they left me in the car.”
Milton poses in front of a mural by Hebru Brantley – his work is compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and anime, and caught the eye of the RECPhilly crew near the A3C festival ground.
Registration at A3C – it was bumpy and confusing, White and Toms recall, as any large-scale festival can be, but “All’s well that ends well.”
The photos segue to a disposable camera shot largely in and around the Air BnB RECPhilly was staying in. Here we see a shirtless Milton hanging out the window. “What is he, Tarzan?” asks White.
“It was a huge crib, huge,” says Toms. “So much space, big enough to get lost in.”
Housemate L.B. Doug on top of a van. “What’s he doing, some Michael Jackson moves?” asks White.
Stoop sittin’ with the crew. Toms says that housemate Chris Dickson “looks like he was in a band in the 70s or something.”
Vidographer Adam Carson at the house; White says he looks like he partied hard before this photo.
After hours DJing in the RECPhilly Air BnB, Armani White on the ones and twos, with the DJ rig and PA provided by REC team member Jahlil Peterson. “When Jah brought his equipment, it was a game changer,” he says.
The DJ party moves indoors. “Is that you?” White asks Toms. “You look terrified.”
“Jah isn’t spinning here, he’s doing homework,” Toms adds. “He had a midterm.”
More DJ vibes with Eddie Madrid, one of the artists on the RECPhilly showcase that was happening later on in the festival.
The RECPhilly squad packed in a van, getting ready to commute downtown for one of the daytime panels.
A video crew did a walkthrough of the RECPhilly Air BnB for an episode of A3C Cribs.
Milton, Montgomery and RECPhilly team member Ashley Garafolo take a selfie in front of the house. Or did they? “Okay, I’m going to ruin the magic,” says Toms. “This is a fake selfie, somebody was standing in front. We were like ‘how’s he going to to click the button with a disposable camera?’ So it’s an assisted selfie. We’re just so used to seeing pictures that way and wanting to take them that way.”
Exterior of the RECPhilly Air BnB. “Note the cloud of smoke from the second floor window,” says White.
Graffiti outside the Opus Lounge, where RECPhilly’s showcase was held. The mural may or may not have been done by Basquiat.
Fans in the crowd throwing up shockers as Theodore Grams hits the stage for RECPhilly’s showcase. As White recalls, his opening went like “My name is Theodore Grams and I smoke a lot of weed.”
Theodore Grams during his set. “Eddie Madrid looks so serious right here,” says Toms. “And Ashley’s posing and stuff. ‘What are you looking at? Party’s over here.'”
“You look like Will Smith,” says White when he sees this snap of Toms outside the venue.
Ant Beale onstage during the RECPhilly showcase. “He looks like hes ready to go hunting with Irv,” says Toms. Evidently his stylish hoodie was the result of combining two hoodies, cutting the logo from one and attaching it on the other. Toms recalls a conversation that pretty much went like “Who made that? I made that!”
Voss, pre-show chillin.
End of the night, celebrating vibes with Toms and Carson, “REC gear poppin.”
Hernandez scaled a staircase to nowhere that the RECPhilly team encountered on the walk to the convention center.
“We just saw these stairs and I said ‘Scarlett, you are the swag lord,'” recalls Toms. “You have to go up there.”
Garafolo flips off the camera while getting fitted for a grill. “We met this really dope local artist who had a grill, and he pointed us to this flea market on the side of a major highway,” says Toms. “It was this huge flea market, a strip club and a car wash. That was the plaza. You go there there, get a grill quick, wash your car, go shopping.”
Another shot of the cypher. “Milton is like ‘so I came here with the lighter to ignite it for y’all,'” says Toms.
“The girl on the right, we met her outside the convention center,” says Toms. “She asked about doing the cypher. I heard her spit for like ten seconds and was like ‘you’re in.'”
The RECPhilly van arrives back in Philly and Toms manages to take an actual (unassisted) selfie to finish off the roll of film. “I love that somebody’s taking a selfie during the selfie,” says White.