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Lurking the Lower East Side with Lurkavelli

Outsiders have taken over the Lower East Side, but according to the rapper Lurkavelli, gentrification hasn't stopped the neighborhood's poverty and crime problems.

by Taji Ameen
22 March 2014, 3:15pm

Photo by the author

For this week's Mahal, I lurked the streets of the Lower East Side with rapper and renowned lurker Lurkavelli. A member of New Lurk City, a New York City-based rap collective, Lurkavelli creates music with Regular Guy V and Migs Migster. Von Brown founded the group in 2010. When he left to start the Lurk Gads, he chose Lurkavelli as his successor. After hanging out with Lurkavelli in the Lower East Side, I chatted with the rapper, over dumplings, about his rap collective and the Lower East Side's crime problem. 

VICE: How long have you been lurking with your crew in New York City? 
Lurkavelli: Probably since the summer of 2010, when I used to sell shirts I designed. That was around the time I linked up with my boys Von Brown, Migs Migster, and Regular Guy V. At the time, they were supporting and buying merch from my brand. We all built a relationship and became homies. Von was starting a team and brought up the name New Lurk City. We threw dope parties everywhere from kickbacks to lounges.

In what way does the Lower East Side correlate with your lurking and rapping? 
The LES has everything to do with everything I'm about. For starters, I was born and raised in the Lower East Side right in Baruch Housings. I also feel the LES does not have someone to tell its story. Usually people think, due to the rapid gentrification in certain parts, that there aren't hoods out there or people on welfare who can't feed their families. It may not be as bad as in Chicago or certain areas in the Bronx or Brooklyn, but kids under 18 are still getting killed, and it's whack. Just last year my little homie was shot right around my way. Now as far as lurking, this is also the area where the bars and best venues are [outside of] Brooklyn. This is where the scene is at. We have got a lot down here. 

Do you predict the lurkers will remain in the Lower East Side forever or will gentrification force them out of the neighborhood?
Gentrification has been going on for sometime now, and it hasn't stopped us. I doubt it'll stop us in the future. To be honest, I doubt the lurkers' mentality will go away. Only way we're going away is if we [get killed], but even then there will be more lurkers out there.

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