Local musicians and clothing companies gathered in a small entertainment space in Brighton on Saturday to celebrate some of the creative talent spawning from Boston University and the surrounding community.
Called the disPlay, the event was a pop-up shop and party organized by Jordan Carter, a senior in the College of Fine Arts, and his artist collective, The Arsenal. A portion of the proceeds went to the BU Black Artists Alliance, which Carter, a percussion performance major and rapper, co-founded last year.
“There isn’t a lot of space for art-making and stuff like that,” Carter said. “We’re just thankful that we got this space to make it happen and bring a bunch of people together.”
Carter said he wanted to form a Black Artists Alliance on campus to “showcase the essence of black art throughout campus” and to provide a “supplement to the lack of color on campus.” The organization is currently raising money to host an Afro-Caribbean dance workshop. In the past, they have put on events such as a “talent exchange” for Black History Month.
The Arsenal started when Carter’s friend Kyle Campbell, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, heard Carter rap and wanted to put together an artist collective in the vein of Future or the Wu-Tang Clan.
“He was just in his room, rapping, showing me the unfinished version of one of his songs — the first song that he ever made — and my mind was blown,” Campbell said. “I was like, ‘Why are we not doing anything with this?’”
Carter and Campbell got the idea for a pop-up shop and performance combination after Raury, a rapper who went to their high school in Atlanta, put on a similar event and became famous. Two years later, Raury is now signed to Columbia Records and has a small annual music festival called RaurFest.
The disPlay pop-up shop featured deejay performances and clothing displays from local brands.
“It’s just nice for people to come in and see [my clothes],” said John “Jb” Macaroco, whose clothing line Wicked Clothing was featured at the disPlay. “It’s not really about me selling it, it’s just to show my work.”
Carter also hired Sean Mackey, a 17-year-old photographer and clothing designer, to take photos of the disPlay. His clothing line, Way Of Life, debuted at the disPlay.
“With my photography I started to get more involved with streetwear and fashion,” Mackey said. “I got inspired by a lot of different people and I decided to start my own thing.”
Priya Dadlani, a senior in the College of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, said that shops featuring small, local clothing designers are important because the customer can have a connection with the person who made the clothes in addition to the clothes themselves.
“I would rather give $20 to someone in my area that’s living in the same community as me than give $20 to a store like Forever 21 or H&M,” Dadlani said. “It’s a good feeling when you buy something from someone you meet in person, like they made it.”
The party portion of the event included performances by Carter, whose stage name is King J; Jean-Luc Lukunku, another member of The Arsenal and a senior in COM (whose stage name is Jean-Luc); and Anthony Echols (Roam), another rapper from Georgia who is friends with Campbell and Carter.
A variety of local designers and musicians, in addition to the hosts’ friends, also attended the event. Caliph, whose given name is Abdourahmane Doumbouya, is a rapper who found out about the disPlay through his friend who had a fashion line on display.
Caliph, 27, of New Bedford, started rapping 10 years ago. He moved to the United States from Senegal when he was younger and said he was in the country illegally for a short time.
“[Rapping] was kind of like an outlet,” Caliph said. “I could speak for people like me who don’t have a voice.”
Caliph emphasized the importance of appreciating local artists because it is hard for musicians to become well-known if they do not have the support of their local community.
“You know that that group’s there regardless,” he said, “so it pushes you to represent them. It kind of makes you feel bigger than yourself.”
Campbell said he agrees that gaining support from their community is an important part of a musician’s journey to success. He cited Raury as an example, since he was able to gain support in Atlanta before signing a record deal and gaining followers from all over the world.
“No rapper or artist would be where they are today,” Campbell said, “if everybody in their vicinity didn’t support them.”