Last month, my friends at Rhymesayers Entertainment invited me out to the Camp Flog Naw Carnival at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Growing up a Raiders fan, I’ve always wanted to see the legendary arena. Sure, it wasn’t an actual game & sure we’d be out in the parking lot area, but hey, it was going to be fun either way.
Camp Flog Naw has hosted this Hip Hop Carnival for the past three years. This year’s line-up was insane. With artists ranging in styles, ages & hometowns from from coast-to-coast, the event had acts for any and all hip hop heads in attendance.
I arrived in time to catch some of my favorites on stage…Step Brothers.
After their set, I met up with Ashanti to thank him for the generous invite.
He told me to head backstage where he’d meet me in a bit. That’s where all the magic happened..!
I walk around, greeting some of my favorite familiar faces. Some of the guys from Rhymesayers (who I met at Soundset) and, of course, some artists fall into that category. I love seeing them all behind the scenes, when they’re just “hanging out” with their peers. It’s beautiful to watch the interactions.
My heart is thrilled when I spot my friend, Evidence… Because he’s seated at a table that’s hosting pure Instagram Royalty. Sure, I want to play it cool and not show too much of my giddiness… But I can’t help but be excited when I notice WatchxWitness (13th Witness & Jason Goldwatch), Madchild, and others…
I carry on a casual conversation with Ev & Madchild. When Madchild asks me to snap a group photo of the guys…
I see my opportunity, so, before the moment escapes me, I give in and ask for pictures, too! I start by asking Ev to pose with me. I know him, so, it’s not weird… But here’s the kicker… I ask the legendary photographer & Instagram King, Tim McGurr aka 13th Witness to take the photo. It’s seriously an honor. I love every picture that he (and his girlfriend, Monica Alcarez) posts.
Ev turns to me and asks if I know who that is… I respond with “Yes, that’s the reason I asked him to take the picture.” Ha! He laughs & trades places with Tim. Now I have another Instagram legend (and amazing “Director of Photography“) taking my picture with King Witness himself. I’m stoked!
I decide to keep it going at this point… I’m asking one genius after another to snap my picture & to use their talent to capture my moment with each of them:
So, after 13th Witness took my picture with Ev, & Ev took my picture with 13th Witness, Ev snapped me with Madchild, Jason Goldwatch caught me with Murs, and Misha Louy shot a few fun frames of me with Jason Goldwatch!
I got to chat with Jason for a bit and gush over how much I love his work. He captures human beings from all over the world in the most beautiful, authentic way. He captures exactly what I see when I’m traveling the world… unique, wonderful people, all different, yet all the same… He captures a true sense of unity. His work is moving.
I asked him if he ever felt weird taking candid shots of strangers… His response, “I got over that a long time ago.”
*Check out one of my all time favorite Jason Goldwatch videos here.
After my personal photo-shoot, I took some time to walk around the festival to catch some of the live musical acts.
Locals, Grouch and Eligh made me feel right at home.
Mac Miller gave me a chance to celebrate my (part-time) PA residency.
Rick Ross had me & the guys dancing to his hits. Tyler, The Creator (the mastermind & founder of the carnival) made us all feel like kids when he took the stage. His set was a huge bedroom with a ginormous bed. There was definitely lots of jumping around and it felt like play time when beach balls were being tossed around in the crowd.
We stuck around to watch a huge chunk of headliner, Pharell Williams, set. He hit us with a real show. His amazing dancers and the N.E.R.D. reunion kept the crowd thoroughly entertained. It was a great festival, overall. I had a blast.
After the festival, I made my way to Santa Monica with Ashanti, Dem Atlas & his DJ, Justin. I had great time chatting with the guys. They’re all hip hop geniuses & I love their energy.
One of my favorite moments of the night was when I was talking to Josh (Dem Atlas, 22 years old) about his success & how he deals with the guilt of being away from his family. This is something I’ve been experiencing lately… Fulfilling my dreams, and missing precious time with those you love dearly. The answer that this young man gave me was mind-blowing:
What keeps me going is that I know I’m doing all this for them. I’m not doing this for me. You know, I’m doing this for my mom, for my family, for the youth… When I realized that I could actually have whatever I want, that the power is within me, all I could think was, “Ok, what’s next?” Today, I saw so many artists that I admire & I got to talk to them & let them know that I love & appreciate their work…then, I turned around & some kid would be saying the the same thing to me. Like I’m that to them. It’s beautiful!
Well put, young sir. Well put!
We shared a moment discussing The Doors, Jim Morrison, Southern California, music, love & the power within… It was the perfect way to end a perfect day… Well, that & tacos! 😉 Thanks, Ashanti.
Thank you for taking the time to read my about my adventures. If you’re reading this, know that I appreciate you. Now, what are your dreams? What’s your story? What’s next for you?
Special thanks to my friends at Rhymesayers, Ashanti, Siddiq, and Skye, for feeding my obsession of hip hop & amazing human beings and for introducing me to people that I connect with and adore like Dem Atlas, Clint Schaff, and so many others linked to the RSE family. It’s an honor to feel so welcomed. Thank you!