“The world is fucked, the city is gone.”
When MC Wiki of New York noise-rap collective Ratking spat those bars on ‘Protein’ from last year’s So It Goes LP, it struck a chord with listeners who felt that the Big Apple has been rotting in recent years and a younger generation that feels shortchanged by their city.
Native NYC youth are pissed off with the post-9/11 disappearance of the ‘gritty old’ city thanks to the policies of an establishment with a dull and sanitised vision of what New York should become. This process manifests itself in fast-paced gentrification, police brutality, the snubbing-out of local communities and the loss of diversified cultural and artistic scenes – ultimately squashing the city’s identity. This peaked when Taylor Swift – a recent import to NY – was crowned as the city’s ‘welcome ambassador,’ galvanising the grass roots to stand up against the corporate selling-out of NYC
Roy Vlcek, a 20-year-old Tribeca local has seen this wilful mischaracterisation of NYC since his childhood and came to the conclusion that art was the only weapon to restore the city’s long-held living idiosyncrasies. Without a budget and just a $350-rented camera, the young writer, filmmaker and student at Columbia University went out to give a platform to the city’s voiceless and gave birth to the New Wave New York (NWNY) project.
NWNY is a set of video interviews with young New York artists – from Brooklyn to Manhattan, from Harlem to Upper West Side – who vent their resentments towards New York and share their inspirations, motivations and mind-set. The series is paving the way to a soon-to-be-released short documentary, featuring the city’s brightest young creatives alongside defining cultural figures like Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon.
I spoke to Roy to find out more about the project and his beef with the Big Apple. It’s on Huck Magazine.