When you hear a Rasta say ‘seen’ it has a certain meaning. It means understood or understand. As a statement it means ‘ I understand’ or ‘I overstand’, ‘I agree with that’, ‘I see’. As a question it means, ‘do you understand?’ like, “This is the for real shit, seen?”
A ‘scene’ is much harder to describe. A scene is made up of people, places and times. People make up a scene. There are regulars, who aren’t always performers or promoters that make up the scene. They are the other people who are always there; the ones taking pictures, drinking, paying to get in, supporting the venue in a real way. They also just might be the guy, with the guy who does the thing; the promoter’s boy, the artitst’s “mans and them”. Who are they? Oh, that’s my mans and them. You always see them at the spot too. They also help make up the scene.
Then there’s the places. On the underground, the name-brand spots are not the places. Everybody tries to be in those spots; rappers, rockers, singers… whoever. Those are the mainstream spots which sometimes showcase underground. The real spots are the ‘hole in the wall’ clubs, the places off the beaten path. These are spots which might not have been open for business just a few years earlier or might be closed down soon after the scene changes. Sometimes, the more out of the way or uniquely run-down the place is, the better you might enjoy it. No energy is wasted on esthetics. It’s all culture when you enter these kinds of spots.
Lastly, there’s a time factor involved. That’s how scenes change. Over time, they become something different. In the lifespan of a scene, you might have certain events that epitomize the era, ones that people in the scene remember. It’s not just one time, but over the course of 1 to 4 years a scene evolves and matures, then changes. As time goes by, only a memory and a bunch of disconnected pictures in different hands give you a clue to what happened there.
Shades of Hip Hop: Undaground Seen 2008, is a collection of material from the underground scene of New York and New Jersey in quick capture form. There are other spots and other people that weren’t included here. This is just one corner of the scene. Still, from this vantage point of the scene back then, it was very enlightening. It almost made you feel like Hip Hop would never die, that Hip Hop culture was thriving. Those were some good times…