• The New Counterculture

Article: The Creativist

Updated: Nov 27, 2018


An artist who uses various forms of art and music as an expression of their own individuality outside of traditional racial

stereotype.


Artist// Model, Shacar

“I prefer to be labeled as an artist, but even that is a vague term. That’s why I like the term ‘Creativist’ because it encompasses so many different aspects of being an artist and a creator.” - Tone Perigion

A Creativist is a black millennial artist who experiences the radical shift of gender, sexuality, and technology that currently dominates in America and in turn, shapes those experiences for their own identification of self. We are still living in a white-dominated society which casts minorities as “others” and, consequently, we tend to hypermasculinize black males; despite this, these black males are fighting against society’s push to pigeon-hole them by their race or the stereotypes of their race, rather than black males letting race define who they are as individuals. In order to unveil the many layers of what a Creativist is, we must not only recognize the current trends, but we must also analyze the ones that came before.



Dismantling Gender and MasculinityAs a result of the current trends in feminism, we are better able to examine what gender is and what it means to be masculine. As a society, we are slowly accepting alternative forms of gender expression outside the conventional male and female molds. The freedom to explore one’s gender—devoid of strict boundaries— can help unhinge the archaic stereotypes society has imposed on males, especially for black males. When we take a look at the new wave of hip-hop artists and black creatives who are heard on the airwaves, there is less stigma against hard rappers or overtly masculine rappers. Arguably, Kanye West and Kid Cudi not only spearheaded but also perpetuated the notion that black creatives can tap into greater emotional ground. These artists not only also helped usher in a new sound, but they set a platform for what we see many newer hip- hop artists producing, that is to say, being hard-looking rapper is no longer the definition of masculinity in hip- hop. Rappers like Lil Yachty, who have colorful hair and unique clothing, are very popular among millennials, while also having an older audience, composed of those who listened to hypermasculine rappers. 2018 hip- hop no longer glorifies, to the extent it once did, drugs, rape, crime, and murder instead it promotes the artist who wears his heart on his sleeve and is in touch with his emotions. Carefree Black Boy MovementThe Carefree Black Boy Movement (CBB) was established for black males to attach themselves to a movement that freed them from the chains of hypermasculinity exemplified by their race and gender as portrayed by various media platform. Chance the Rapper is one of the leading faces of CBB because he creates music and uses his own style as a form of expression, which is different from what is expected from his race. Recently, there have been several individuals who have defied the use of labeling non-conformed black males as “carefree.” Some will contend that labeling a black male as “carefree” simply because he just happens to enjoy things or do things that do not fit the stereotype of their race is limiting. The word “free,” comes from the lack of room where black men have to express themselves in a vulnerable state without being called “gay” and “feminine.”
Model // Rapper : Tone Perignon

A Creativist The goal behind coining the term “Creativist” is an effort to provide a space or a movement for these individuals to have, which won’t cloud people’s perception with a preconceived notion of these artist. Instead, the word creativist speaks volumes to their roles as active voices in changing the creative world. Critics will dispute that the use of having any sort of label placed on a group of black males will only exacerbate the stigma that already exists in America, but this is quite the opposite. If you are a black artist in America, especially a singer, you are automatically placed in a box. As Frank Ocean once said, “If you’re a singer and you’re black, you’re an R&B artist. Period.”Even though our attitudes regarding race relations and generalizing black people are constantly evolving, as a nation, we are not quite as progressive as we think. There are three facets to being a Creativist: Individualism through Art, Social Media and Technology and Art Spaces. Individualism through ArtArt has always been the medium where people, especially those who do not necessarily fit into the cultural mold, are free to express their individuality. Whatever artists put out into the world, they release a part of who they are. Individualism in art is a choice to focus on creating work that speaks to artists’ experiences, rather than to their communities; thus, focusing their work on their unique experiences is the aim of their artistic message. Individualism allows black artists to not always be boxed into a category and transcend racial line. Where would many black creativists be be without the great artwork of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his individualistic artwork?Social Media And Technology Social media and technology allow creativists to market themselves in a cost efficient way: Social media is free and also helps artists to share their work with a wide audience. Artistic freedom and expression on social media garner attention from a large number of people who, in turn, become fans of these artists on both a national and international scale. The measurement of success for a creativist is now in the hands of the audiences they have attracted on social media, whereas, in the past, the only way artists got noticed was if they appeared on the front page of TMZ or People.There are so many niches and varieties of what is deemed popular and cool, and social media makes it possible for this particular collective to shine. For example, Creativist, Shacar (pictured left) has been able to rise in social media prominence with over 15,500 Instagram followers, 1,277 Soundcloud followers, and over 5,000 Facebook (as of February 2018). Shacar has created a visionary persona of his art through a plethora of social media accounts, his style, and his futuristic, R&B sound. Tech-savvy millennial, opposed to their parents, are more aware of social constructs and want more diversity in television. Black consumers make a large contribution to the overall market and have a huge impact on how the market flows. Marketers and creators have recognized that Black-Americans are large consumers of content and want to be represented. Television shows like Blackish, Empire, and How To Get Away With Murder have been highly successful because they have a black-centered cast which younger audiences want to see. Streaming networks, like Netflix, have been common place for people of color to thrive. Shows like Master of None and Dear White People broke boundaries by casting people of color in lead roles.
The Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Art Spaces For the Creativist, the ability to have their own space is essential to their creativity. The space in which their art is expressed allows varying audiences to engage with art in a physical manner. Throughout New York City, there are various art spaces that are curated specifically for the expansion of independent and avant-garde displays of artistry. GAMBA and The Nuyorican Poets Cafe are two art spaces where a Creativists can be seen sharing their ideas and art. For some, these places act as starting points in their musical careers because the environment feels judgement-free. Other performing places many creativists perform at include SOB’s (Sound Of Brazil), Sehiii, The Luv Jonz and the Cozy Market. The underground GAMBA Forest, founded in 2013 by artists Christopher Carr, is a multi-purpose art space that hosts performance art, spoken word, cyphers, improv, and stand-up. What makes this space unique is the unique ambience within the art space itself. Carr has been an independent hip-hop musician for the past 15 years and has devoted his career to creating art and creative spaces throughout Greenpoint and Bushwick. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe has a long standing history for being a creative space. Founded in 1973 on the Lower East Side, the Nuyorican Poet Cafe became the home to many famous artists, poets, and performers like Esmeralda Santiago,Willie Perdomo, Maggie Estep and many more. Currently, The Nuyorican Poet Cafe is home to the Body of Arts event, created by Ralph Joseph. This event boasts a collection of artists who host “5 Minute Live Mic” and includes body painting, as well as vendors selling various handmade items. The highlight of these shows is the performance of up-and-coming singers, hip-hop artists, and poets who debut fresh, new material for their fans. ​Editor’s Note There are some reservations with using the term Creativist to describe this group of men. Labeling a group as called a creativist is submitting somewhat society’s need to for define what being a black millenial is, however, a creativist is about individual expression. It’s difficult to pinpoint what and who a creativist is because ultimately, the artist gets to decide. Detroit artist, Tone Perignon once said,“I prefer to be labeled as an artist, but even that is a vague term. That’s why I like the term ‘Creativist’ because it encompasses so many different aspects of being an artist and a creator.”

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