My first morning in Bed-Stuy was the most amazing morning of my life. I sat on the stoop and watched as the neighborhood stretched and yawned. The sun peeked over the brownstones, as weed smoke wafted through the air like the smell of breakfast bacon. Rastas swaggered up the block, their hair stuffed into stockings, crowned high on their heads. Little boys in blue pants and untucked white shirts, chased little girls in princess dresses down the sidewalk, laughing. Their mothers strutted behind them, shouldering heavy purses and gripping tight to bibles. A shirtless man banged at something underneath his car.
Here is a thoughtful article, in the New York Post, about the "complex prestige game" that informs the New York graffiti community's disdain toward Banksy: "'Street art' is associated with whimsy and even gentrification—things the mainstream considers socially good, or at the least, nondestructive."
"American Secrets: New York City" is an audiovisual attempt at reckoning with Stop and Frisk, gentrification, and coming of age New York City by three young American artists (two emcees, one graphic designer) and their Mayor. The song and video embedded above deal with these hard questions; the lyrics are pasted below.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn is one of the most famously gentrified neighborhoods in the country, having completed its transition from industrial wasteland/ ethnic enclave to "place where financiers live in glass towers and joke about the 'hipsters' who can no longer afford to live there." But a few years ago, well— Williamsburg was wild, back then.