Tribe NYC, A Group of Young Artists Living in the Good Ol’ Days

tribe nyc photos bushwick brooklyn new york

A week ago, we came across Elijah and Manoah hanging out in Union Square, one of their regular meeting spots. With their 80’s retro clothes and high top hairstyles, they immediately stood out from the crowd and Guney had to take their pictures. Elijah and Manoah told us they belong to a group of like-minded individuals known as Tribe NYC, the members of which are recognizable by their retro fashion sense.

We arranged to meet up with seven members of Tribe NYC in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to shoot more photos and to find out more about their lifestyle. As we went to work on the photo-shoot, Tribe NYC turned up the music on the boombox and were clearly having fun as they danced in front of the Bushwick mural.

tribe nyc photos bushwick retro style

Tribe NYC was formed in 2009 with the aim of paying homage to the music and fashion of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Composed of 19 young artists, predominantly New York-based, in their late teens and early 20s, they are aspiring dancers, musicians, poets and designers who refer to this period as ‘the best era to hit the world’.

It was a period of hip hop that emphasized African-American social issues, but was also about fun, expression and innovation. The importance of this for Tribe NYC was eloquently revealed by Elijah who said “If you don’t know where you come from, you can’t become who you want to be.”

tribe nyc photos bushwick nyc

Tribe NYC members think of each other as family, and meetings involve discussing situations and problems as well as listening and dancing to music and having fun. Essentially, it forms a platform of support for young artists, showing them that it’s possible to succeed despite individual hardships and criticism from the mainstream.

tribe nyc photos bushwick

A characteristic fashion accessory of many of the Tribe members is a unique medallion: Mookie wears a self-made wooden ‘Do The Fly Thing’ medallion. Manoah has a Sonic the Hedgehog pendant and Jimmy has a music cassette hanging around his neck. Chelle’s medallion, made of fused plastic beads, bears the Tribe logo of two eyes and a cross for the mouth, representing the group’s ideology of ‘speak no evil’.

medallions of tribe nyc

Elijah, one of the original members of the group, explained: “We want to avoid negativity. The group is about putting yourself around good people, being humble and, above all, positivity.”

tribe nyc photos bushwick

Although the 80s are long gone, Tribe NYC demonstrates that an era can still exist if you want it to and that there is fun in everything – even when considered unconventional by others.

Whole set of pictures can be seen here: Guney’s Flickr

Author: Ilona Gutcher

5 Comments (+add yours?)

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  2. Trackback: My article on “Tribe NYC”, a Group of NYC-based Young Artists « ilona gutcher
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  5. Humberto Borges
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 19:26:37

    Loved this…

    It is very curious Elijah stated they they “want to avoid negativity” and that “the group is about putting yourself around good people, being humble and, above all, positivity”, as I had precisely got that feeling from the photos.

    This is either a tribute to you or to them…or, most probably, to both. 🙂

    Not only did I like the photos very much but I also think there might be something more to tap there…Have you considered a long-term association with them?


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