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Submitted by Hannah Assebe on September 22, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

News of Oakland’s current “renaissance” gives too much credit to the tech spillover from San Francisco. Acknowledged as a top travel destination in 2012 by The New York Times, the city’s appeal was reduced to the growing number of “sophisticated” restaurants, venues, and bars. While it’s great Oakland is getting props in the media, the young people who make its culture unique right now are far more important to its essence than the latest trendy neighborhood bistro. And let's be real: Oakland's been a cool and innovative city for a long time. 

Meet some of the most notable crews and collectives bringing knowledge, entertainment, and support to local Oakland ’hoods. They are the next generation of artistic and social entrepreneurs who have distinct approaches to style that challenge, inform, and sometimes plain ignore trends.

TRILL TEAM SIX

Members: Neto187, Bobby Peru, RNB Millionaires, Willie Maze, Pony Loco, Starter Kit, Tall Can Zee, So What

Trill Team Six runs an operation loosely based on puns, memes, and relevant cultural moments that influence their entertainment situations. Uncovering some of the most hidden venues in the city, they host events like an All White Diddy party and a monthly simply called "Ayyyyy." This group of clever boys is most infamous for their Sick Sad World parties—wild, underground, late-night affairs featuring amazing talent like Kelela and recently Diplo—while hyping the local Oakland music scene. You can catch them decked out in some fly denim jackets, vintage sportswear, or Mac Dre tall tees as they play alongside acts such as Riff Raff and Tinashe. And if you’re lucky to experience a Trill Team Six party, you may be able to catch DJ Bobby Peru taking his shirt off.

Trill Team posted

MALIDOMA COLLECTIVE

Members (pictured):  Kate Dash, Queens D. Light, Sasha Kelley, Aambr N'cole, Kara Kersey, Aqueene Simran, Sakiko Hill (there are members within the collective who are not photographed #weareeverbuilding)

Malidoma Collective is a group of female artists projecting a spectrum of the female vision and voice through event curation, workshops, and donation-based yoga. They encourage cultural, intellectual, and economic growth through community programs like “Hosted by the Homies,” a potluck, and a clothing swap called “The Proper Swap.” They recently did volunteer work and promotion for the Women’s Health Clinic—a free, pop-up traditional healing clinic that targets underserved neighborhoods in the East Bay. In keeping time with tradition, these ladies adorn themselves in vintage throwbacks while rocking a crop top. Also, shout-out to the Bomb Moms in here for showing us how to leave a legacy of curated looks for your progeny.

Baby Akari and Queens D. Light

SATURN RISING

Dancers Saturn and Aubrey 

Saturn Rising is a dance-based, performance-art show and collective founded by dancer Saturn Jones. Fusing hip hop, vogue, and theater, the group pushes the limits of performance and the body through choreography and visual narrative. Each show is a collaboration between the dancers and videographers who create pieces to project alongside the live performance. A key element in Saturn’s live performances are his outfits, which range from barely there booty shorts to layered ensembles of drapey tees and a signature pair of black Mickey Mouse ears. Saturn once said, “I am not just a dancer; I am a performance artist. King Saturn is the aftermath of the death of my fears and vogue was my weapon of choice.” He is very intentional about portraying himself honestly—in a way that is cathartic for him and memorable for the audience.

Saturn Rising crew love

YOUTHFUL KINFOLK

Members: Sam Gebru, Amir Aziz, Wallah Umoja, Spencer Stevens, Kristian Contreras, Shruggs, and Yared Kiflai

Youthful Kinfolk is a creative collective dedicated to cultural preservation. Formed in 2010 with the goal of spreading good music, the group has been creating content that highlights the work of artists, producers, and videographers nationwide. Its members thrive as a tribe by remaining aware of their personal backgrounds and contributing to black and brown empowerment through various community events like BBQs by the lake. Collective member Spencer Stevens’s grandfather was born and raised in West Oakland. He considers himself so Oakland, he rarely said he’s from Oakland—“I’m from the town,” he says. For these guys, style is a reflection of comfort and repping the town.

Youthful Kinfolk on City Hall

B4BEL4B

Members: Tiare Ribeaux, James Morales, Heather A Holton, Camilla Carper, Najee Rene, and Robin Roach.

B4BEL4B is an experimental art gallery and interactive modular community based in Oakland’s Chinatown. Over the past six months, B4BEL4B has hosted an experimental sewing lab, artistic works that feature performance art and technology, and weekly dance classes in their two-story space. Stepping into the building, you can feel the energy that arises from new methods of approaching art, how we interact with it in space, and what it means to have several forms of artistic expression co-existing. B4BEL4B encourages people to immerse themselves in its space in the spirit of play and discovery, and provides a safe space for queer and radical ideologies. The B4BEL4B look? Where sci-fi meets health Goth.

B4bel4b looks

ONTASK FAMILY

Members: Ahyve, Lady, Rob The Kid, Veeej, Jerm, Jus, Jewsh

Ontask Family is an eclectic group of artists whose aesthetics range from futuristic digital art to early ’90s traditional abstraction. Members are illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, and documentarians of life. From art school to town life, these folks are turning out amazing visuals for the various personal brands they’ve developed, some of which can be found on their personal instagrams. Catch them in custom tee-shirts, streetwear brands, bucket hats, and a rare pair of vans.

OnTask Family adorned

WINE & BOWTIES

Members: Max Gibson, Will Bundy, Danielle Schnur, Morgan Johnson, Deelan Kashani, Ben Dandridge Lemco, Amanda Mester, Emilio Courtade, Chris Perry

Wine & Bowties is an online arts and culture magazine dedicated to presenting the wonders of the world in a more accessible way. It features artists, musicians, and thoughtful essays on local happenings. What’s more, its editors love cultivating a sense of community by organizing Oakland Bike Rides, tracing through the city and stopping by local shops, and hosting movie nights. Most recently, Wine & Bowties screened “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975,” after which Elaine Brown, a former chair of the Black Panthers, spoke about her experience with the Panthers, creating change for our generation, and how to overcome fear. The Wine & Bowties style is unpretentious, cool, calm, and collected. Effortless is a win above everything.

BODY WAVES

Members: India Davis, Antoinette Chen See, and Ana María Agüero Jahannes are the founders, choreographers and dancers in the collective, which invites rotating guest dancers and collaborators.

King Texas

Body Waves has a special place in our hearts for its dynamic approach to acrobatics and choreography. An Oakland-based queer, black, multidisciplinary dance collective founded in 2013, Body Waves has been recognized for its stunning acrobatics, including hand balancing and choreography rooted in black movement and aesthetics. You can often see its members twisting and turning on custom-built metal structures to the tunes of OutKast, Beyonce, BC Kingdom, and Kelela guiding their movements. Most recently, they were the culminating act in the National Queer Arts’ Festival’s Topsy Turvy Queer Circus: Visions are Legendary. They see themselves not only as choreographers and creators of visual and performance art, but also as curators of spaces for community evolution. Their beauty is in all the details: All costumes are entirely hand-made—pieced-together body harnesses, leotards, and booty shorts.

Body Waves performing at Topsy Turvy Queer Circus

M. Vargas

FRESHMAN DJs OF OAKLAND

It wouldn’t be a full spread without repping some of the most stylish DJs and producers on the rise here in Oakland.

First up, Jaqi Sparro. With recent stints curating soundscapes at art shows, Jaqi Sparro has an imprint all over the Bay Area. Her sound, informed by years raving in the ’90s, has taken her to Egypt to play alongside international acts at the DoLab’s Great Convergence in 2012, and at the New York Fashion Week Skingraft after party in 2013. Avant grime, RnB edits, footwork, rap, and future bass best describe her vibe, but you gotta feel it in person to believe it.

Next—DJ 8ulentina’s name is inspired by Bulent Esroy, a legendary transgender Turkish singer. For 8ulentina, DJing is about creating a personal archive that tells a story; it can take the form of a Turkish trance remix, an Egyptian Mahraganat track, or a sad R&B track. They keep it feminine, fast, and worldly.

Then there’s Namaste Shawty—the newest shawty on the DJ block. She’s been teaching herself how to DJ and pulled some killer house jams at a new local party, Future XL. She’s a natural hype master, loves to read and respond to the crowd, and will duck out of the DJ booth to twerk to her own set.

And they don't take requests

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Though we couldn't feature all the crews out there, we regularly feature cultural innovators on our blog. For more in-depth engagement, check out our magazine. Much respect to all the young people doing it, and all those who came before us.

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