February Edition: Our First Birthday
The Birth Of Brooklyn Took It - How It All Started
By Nomsy Russell
Your first anniversary for anything is one of the most important milestones in your life. It represents a path that you may have knowingly stepped on or stumbled on and stuck with it for 365 days. In most cases, it's that wake up call to let you know that you're doing something right, unless you're doing something negative in your life and that's not something you really want to celebrate. Right? Right. It's one of those events where you can stand up tall, pound your chest like the silver back gorilla that you are, and scream out, "WE MADE IT". Of course it's not the end game so to speak and you obviously want to rack in more anniversaries, but that first one is just so damn sweet.
For anyone reading this, you know that the first year is usually the toughest one. Aside from naysayers and haters trying to knock you down, you're still dealing with everyday life, and you're still working through one of the most challenging aspects of it all - what's the end goal? For me, it wasn't that simple. I'll be honest, I was in a very weird and difficult place in my life and was actually considering walking away from DJing all together. I just wasn't sure exactly what was going on. I had left Scratch which I had dedicated 9 years of my life to, started a company with a few friends that just didn't pan out that way I would have like it to, and on top of that, my personal life was just an all around cluster fuck - yeah I'm getting personal here.
It was a Sunday afternoon when the good homie Dash (Friends and Lovers) had contacted me about doing a monthly event at his venue when it all started. At the time, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to. I had this all around bad taste in my mouth with everything going on in my life, not to mention the DJ scene in NYC had become lack luster and just all around boring, and I was tired of doing the same shit week after week. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do an event that focused on creating a positive atmosphere for our guests, but also gave us full control of what we were playing. No input from owners. No requests. Just us...playing stuff that WE think is dope and if the crowd didn't like it, then this event wasn't for them. I wanted to create an experience...something that people would talk about in a positive way and not just because it was trendy and cool.
To be honest, I wanted people to have a "spiritual experience" at our event. Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but hey, who gives a shit right? The more and more I thought about this, the clearer it became. I didn't want to do this on my own so I decided to pull in the homie Rogue as a resident DJ. That quickly changed to Co-Founder after she started unloading ideas about the event...and that ladies and gentleman is when Brooklyn Took It was born.
I want to say it was mid January when Rogue and I came up with the name. We were walking to the train and I had Jeru The Damaja "Brooklyn Took It" playing in my head non-stop - I don't know why but it just was. We were wrestling with names for the event for weeks and I remember just blurting it out. We both stopped and laughed and was like - there it is. She asked me, "Why Brooklyn Took It?". If memory serves me correctly, I think my response was, "...If your props are gone, then Brooklyn Took It. Brooklyn takes everything and just makes it that much doper. So yeah, we're taking that party vibe back to Brooklyn. Yeah there's dope shit going on in Brooklyn, but we can bring something different to the table. So yeah, Brooklyn Took It". February 5th, 2016 was the first Brooklyn Took It at Friends & Lovers...and we killed it.
The goal for us was to improve all aspects of an event outside of just playing - come up with catchy social media posts, engaging visuals, and a look and feel that just said, "we throw a dope party in Brooklyn. Be there". Rogue and I were doing everything on our own. Everything from graphic and web design, promotion, playing, booking other djs, financials, etc. Some people thought we were crazy for putting in all that work. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I heard, "why do all of this for a monthly event? Just go in and play and leave it at that. It's not worth doing all of this for an event". But we didn't want that and for those that know me well, I don't like being told I can't do something. We wanted to do something that people could connect with. Something that people would remember. It had to be consistent from start to finish. No exceptions.
Right around April is when things really changed for us. A very close friend and former student of mine, Jamaal Orr, approached me at our April event and said he had some ideas that would definitely help us. I was a little hesitant at first, not because I didn't trust his experience in marketing and branding, I was just super protective of what we had created. I didn't want someone to come in and change what we had worked so hard for. I eventually gave in and it was the best thing I ever did. Within the first 10 minutes of meeting with Jamaal, he identified our voice, our brand, our style, and above all, an approach to making this thing really hit home for people. His approach to design and doing recap videos was so on point, I knew I had to step my game up on that front. Real talk - dude is a beast when it comes to marketing and branding.
Right around this time we linked with photographers Noah Fowler and Kenny Polyak to do a series of promo videos and photo shoots for upcoming BTI events. We knew that in order for us to be taken seriously, we had to have some serious promo behind it that looked professional and carried our voice. Once again Jamaal proved to understand what we were going for. The look and feel of that entire series really struck a chord with our viewers and fans. It put that message out that we're here to stay and we know how to throw a really solid party...and you shouldn't miss anymore of them.
And now, here we are. One year later. Over the past year we have stayed true to our mission statement - come as you are, ready to get down. For us, that's the most important thing out of all of it, staying true to what you believe in. And we promise you, that will never change. Before I end this super long post, I'd like to thank the following people:
- Dash, Dee, Justen, Kern and the entire Friends & Lovers staff.
- Jamaal Orr for being the dopest marketing and branding guru on the planet.
- Noah, Kenny, Still1, and Cappa for the photography and videos.
- Fresh Daily and the entire BeatHaus Crew.
- Tommy Masucci for the prints and the never-ending support in what we do. A lot of this wouldn't be possible without you brother.
- Orlando and Mala for tearing up the dancefloor and getting that crowd going at the start of the night.
- DJ Esquire for ALWAYS being there and jumping on to play whenever we force you to. But also keeping that vibe on the stage perfect.
- JayRicks, Tiffstarr, Twelve45, JSmoke, Fred Love, Soko, iRon Duks, and Alias for bringing the heat as guest Djs and the continue support.
- Last but not least - all YOU beautiful people who come out and dance your asses off every month. We can't thank you enough.
So do yourself the favor, mark your calendar, grab your crew, and meet us at Friends & Lovers for our One Year Anniversary on Friday, February 3rd, 2017 at 10pm. We got heavy hitters on the line up that night...don't miss out.