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SYREETA GATES

Age: 29

Location: QGTM Jamaica, Queens

Profession: Hip-Hop Archivist, Director and Creator of Word Is Bond: Can’t Wait To Put The Writers On, Founder of #TheGatesPreserve + @YoStayHungry

Favorite vinyl record or throwback tune: Total's "No One Else (Puff Daddy Remix)", the only joint that has Lil Kim and Foxy Brown together

 

What does black vintage mean to you?

Black vintage is a reminder that we have always created history. It's a reflection of both the past and the present, while more importantly what is possible because of it. Black vintage is Us - #teamUS specifically. It’s scrolling past and liking an old photo on Instagram that you've never seen before and every time you've been in your grandmother's basement and encountered personal artifacts that she had in the 1920's. Black vintage is iconic and rugged and ghetto fabulous. It's the bridge between what makes your mother the dopest person on the planet and how you feel when Mary J. Blige dances on stage. We all know what that feels like.

Do you see yourself as a “collector”? If so, how did you come to collect? If not, why not?

I absolutely do see myself as a collector, but the story behind my journey is kinda crazy. A few years ago, I was writing for an online hip-hop publication and was asked to be the Editor-In-Chief. It was an odd feeling, because in that moment, I realized that I actually didn't know any hip-hop journalist personally. I went to the Googles and I couldn't find a lot of easily accessible published work. This is what led me to collecting and archiving - it was originally about access. When I started collecting magazines, it was a turning point because that's when I started confidently calling myself a collector. Prior to that, I collected art and random artifacts that reminded me of who I was and who I could be.  I started to grow really passionate about archiving and adopted the title of "collector." Now, I'm honored to call myself such.

What vintage items in your collection are you most proud of and why?

Outside of my hip-hop magazine archives, I would say one thing that I'm extremely proud of is my Emory Douglas pieces. These were the first pieces of art that I actually purchased. I'm also really proud of my Rocafella Air Force 1 sneaker because that's just going to be a classic 20 years from now. Rocafella Records has had a HUGE impact on the culture in the last few decades. I'm also really honored to have original photographs from Jamel Shabazz, Danny Hastings, and Jonathan Mannon. My DNA consists of four people in three generations - my grandmother, who participated in the Great Migration and moved from North Carolina to Harlem in the 40's, my mother who was born in 1950 and matured during the Black Arts/Power Movements and lastly my uncles who've inspired me to be a keeper of our culture. A lot of my collection is directly inspired by them and their lives.

To connect with Syreeta, check her out on Instagram.