Who would have “thunk” that after meeting this duo a few months ago, I would be so enamored with their latest project, Brooklyn’s Finest. The Stuyvesants, compromising of Darien V. Birks (flwrpt) and Allan Cole (AllanColeBlog) is a duo out of Brooklyn who recently released a classic instrumental mix consisting of rare records revamped with a modern day knock for the beat junkies like myself. Twitter buzz and all, Brooklyn’s Finest is inspiring emcees worldwide to write modern day masterpieces. Check out Fresh Daily, “In the Stuy (On My Mind)”. This song, which was featured here a while back, is the Bedstuy MC rhyming over “Stuyvesant Swing”.
So after playing this mix on my way to work, while writing/blogging and even during a few salt baths (real talk) I decided that I had to do my part in spreading the word about these two cool cats. Djsakir.com readers, I introduce to you The Stuyvesants….
DJS: How did the both of you meet?
Darien: We met in the 7th grade. Both of us were attending a performing arts & magnet school. I had been at the school for years…known for my drawing skills, but AL arrived in the 7th grade and his drawing talent trumped mine! There was never any competition or hate, we just became cool simply off of the fact that we were both art nerds.
DJS: It seems like overnight, The Stuyvesants were on the tip of everyone’s tongues with the drop of “Brooklyn’s Finest.” How did that [album] come about?
Allan: Well, Darien has been collecting records for years and I’ve been making beats for years so it was kind of inevitable. But to be more specific, the idea came about in the summer of 2009. Every Friday or so, I was going to Darien’s spot after work to just chill and start off the weekend. While there, he would be like “Yo Al, I found this CRAZY record! You gotta do something with it!” Then he would play it and instantly I would get the same feeling like, I need to make a beat out of this. We had been trying to figure out a way to do some non-client/non-job collaborative work for a while, but mostly through design & visual art. Once we recognized that we could incorporate music into the equation, it was a no-brainer. The project just kind of made itself after that.
DJS: I see both of you wear multiple hats. Please familiarize djsakir.com readers with the different things you’re involved in artistically.
Darien: We’re both designers/art directors professionally, however, I work for an agency and Allan works for himself. Some of the other things that we get into artistically is of course music, fashion design, blogging (which we DEFINITELY feel is an artform), and when we have the time we still try to take it back to the foundation and experiment with fine art. But we never feel totally comfortable; we’re always up for something cool and challenging in the artistic arena.
DJS: Brooklyn’s Finest is very soulful, which unfortunately is contrary to a lot of mainstream hip-hop production out today. What were your musical influences growing up and how much of that spilled over into this project?
Allan: Darien got into Hip Hop a lot earlier than I did. He was on it at a really young age. He was listening to Showbiz & A.G., Wu, Tribe and all of that when it was actually new. And the crazy thing is he retains all of it. He’s got OC “Word…Life” album cut lyrics memorized like it came out yesterday. I came in a lot later around 1996/1997 when Hip Hop started to cross over and really become Pop music. Around that time I was definitely on whatever was Popular. Then my homeboy Naturel put me on to the first SoundBombing record. It completely blew me away. After that I started going back and listening to older, rarer stuff, just to hear what I had missed. I also started to pay attention to the production then. That’s when Tribe, DITC, Gangstarr, Pete&CL, etc really started to stick out for me. I still enjoyed some of the popular records but the “underground” stuff hit me in a completely different way because of the beats. Currently, we both recognize Dilla as the best to do it and we listen to a lot of Madlib and other cats that can get away with straight up instrumental stuff. The project kind of reflects all of that, I think. There’s nothing new under the sun, but we definitely have our own I style which is an amalgam of different sounds that we like and listen to regularly. I still have a soft spot for some popular music and I think Darien does too. However, it does something completely different for us. You’re never gonna catch us at “the club,” so we have no real intention of making music for a space that we’ll probably never go to.
DJS: Your listening party last month at Cloud was a huge success. It was filled with diverse artistic people. It was almost like an underground Brooklyn Renaissance movement. What were you trying to achieve hosting this event and what are your thoughts about the turn out?
Darien: The event turnout shocked us actually. We had no idea how it was going to unfold, and honestly, we had no real expectations. We just knew that the people who wanted to come and support would come if they could, and that we would all enjoy the music together, and enjoy each other in general. We’re all about positive vibrations, and pushing that out into the universe, and that energy was shot back at us 110%. We’re very appreciative for that type of support.
DJS: Both of you have blogs that are very clean in design and diverse in content. What makes something blogworthy?
Darien: That philosophy is very simple, Allan and I share the same thought…if it’s blogworthy to you…then its blogworthy. Our blogs are reflections of who we are, and it would be absolutely crazy not to keep it true to ourselves. To answer the first part of the question, the blogs are simple and clean in their design approach because content is KING, so we make the sites as navigable and user-friendly as possible so that people can access the information they need to quickly and without confusion.
DJS: History has a way of repeating itself. What era in art/music would you like to see make a rebirth and how would you contribute to it?
Allan: Actually, this kind of scares me. So much is documented and accessible these days that it makes it hard to show people something they haven’t seen before. So ideally, I’d like to take things back to the beginning, where recorded music first came about when there seemed to be infinite possibilities. I’d contribute exactly what I contribute now, but with the possibility of some one hearing it and being amazed by never having heard anything like it before.
Darien: I actually don’t want any particular era to repeat itself, because then I would appreciate it less. The fact that a great era can never truly be duplicated is something that I’m totally cool with. Although I may not be an advocate to the current state of mainstream music and how that particular machine works these days, I can’t say that I’m totally against the progression. If someone has an opportunity and can change their negative situation to a positive, I can’t throw a ton of hate at them for that (I just don’t have to buy the album lol). As far as art and design is concerned, I’m incredibly excited about where it is right now, and where it’s going. That’s definitely an area where the growth is a beautiful thing. I’m introduced to new art regularly, and I see some AMAZING work. So a rebirth is totally not necessary, but an appreciation for nostalgic hints expressed within modern and contemporary art never hurts. Finally, my contribution in both lanes (art/music) is manifesting itself every day all day Sakir, you’re sharing that moment with us right now!
DJS: Do you have any future projects that you would like to share with the readers?
Allan: Of course! We’ve gotta keep the details limited, but I will say “The Stuyvesants” is just the beginning.
FYI: The Stuyvesants are keeping you laced with the freshness on so many levels.