Everyone in This Wheelchair Sports Camp Is Stoned and Making Beats
Kalyn Heffernan is 42 inches tall, has been diagnosed with a brittle bone disease, is confined to a wheelchair, smokes lots of weed, and won’t hesitate to publicly shame anyone who gets on her bad side with a brutal rap track. Kalyn is the emcee and driving force of Denver’s Wheelchair Sports Camp, a hip-hop group that mixes classic beats with jazz and avant-garde sound experiments. The group formed while Kalyn was in college, with just her rapping and a DJ supplying the beats, but has evolved into a shifting lineup that sometimes features drums, a saxophone, and even a sitar.
Her music deals with social inequalities relating to handicap people, as well as getting blazed as fuck and how much cops suck. On her song, “This Bitch…” Kalyn attacks problems with healthcare, and on “Party Song” she taunts, “rock, let the midget hit it/cops on my jock, make ‘em, cough/cus I’m sicker with it.” More recently, she’s started to make beats for rapping Haitians who were displaced by the 2010 earthquake, and called out Goodwill for paying handicap people less than minimum wage.
Photo by Adrian Diublado
VICE: Hello, Kalyn. What is your writing process?
Kalyn: I’m a pretty slow writer. Sometimes I write faster, but more than not I have to sit down… well, I’m always sitting down, but I just have to go at it.
You used to sneak backstage at shows and meet people like Xzibit, Ludacris, Erykah Badu, and Busta Rhymes. How did you do it?
It was pretty easy. I would play the wheelchair card and say “oh, so and so” told me to come back here. I was a pretty good scam artist back then. I think, because of my disability and because of my advantages, that I’ve been able to milk the sysem. I could get backstage to almost any concert.
I think the fact that you are so marketable is that you’re one of the few rappers to bridge the gap from being just a rapper to being a pop culture icon. Let’s put it this way: my mother knows who you are. You even became a meme. How’d that come to be?
It’s probably because I talked to Bill O’ Reilly and asked him if he was mad. It was nothing really. He was trying to come at me and I thought it was hilarious, so I made a joke out of it. It’s a lot of things. But the simple fact is that I’m living my lifestyle and people are capitalizing on it financially or intellectually. I don’t plan any of this, I just wake up in the morning being me.
—We interviewed Cam’ron
Back in 2008, VICE released Peter Beste’s photo book, True Norwegian Black Metal. Thanks to Satan, the book was a runaway success. So much so that we asked Peter to help us make a film of the same name about Norway’s “most hated man,” Gorgoroth frontman, Gaahl. Having documented the insular black metal scene with more honesty and access than anyone before or since, Peter started up another long-term project—the documentation of Houston’s similarly tight-knit hip-hop community.
After nine years of work, his project is now a book called Houston Rap. We called Peter to talk about Houston, the media misrepresentation of hip-hop culture, Black Power, and just how much the black metal scene has in common with the guns, sizzurp, and DIY ethics of the Texas rap world.
Papa Screw, South Park, 2009
VICE: Hi, Peter. I remember seeing some of the photos from Houston Rap years ago. This must have been a really long-term project for you, right?
Peter Beste: It’s been really long. I started shooting in 2004 and have been planning it since about 2000. The book was originally going to come out a few years ago, but there were a variety of holdups with the publishing process. Having to wait allowed us more time to get deeper into the community, and in retrospect I’m really glad that we did have that extra time. The book would have been more surface level if we released it early, and I think this extra time allowed us to get much deeper into the topics and release a truly unique book.
Was it difficult to gain trust and get access? Did it contribute to how long the book took to make?
That was a small factor, but I was really fortunate because I was immediately introduced to the right folks back in 2004, like Dope E from the Terrorists, K-Rino, and members of Street Military. These guys have immense respect in the hood and were willing to bring me around, introduce me to people, and essentially vouch for me.
Tyler, The Creator - Pitboy - Episode 1
In the first episode PitBoy heads to Koko in Camden to see Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt.
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No One Is Paying Attention to Dubai’s Mega-Rich Rappers
The United Arab Emirates isn’t a country you’d typically associate with hip-hop. It’s a place that is generally bereft of the cultural signifiers native to the dark, dank locales where rap was birthed—Illmatic, for instance, probably wouldn’t have been the same album if it was about the struggle of going $40 million over budget on your new artificial archipelago instead of the fight out of inner-city poverty.
But the young Emirati elite throwing cash at studio time and music videos to force their way into the rap game don’t care about that, and why should they? Genres don’t have to stay rooted. Dubstep was spawned in a south London borough known for its train stations and knife crime, and has become the party music of choice for frat boys with facial piercings the world over.
The problem is that those wads of cash aren’t conducive to your scene being taken particularly seriously. There aren’t many rappers in the UAE unleashing conscious backpack records aboutthe government’s oppression of its critics; far more who are content to jack Flo Rida’s artistic process and find new words to rhyme “club” with over a lame club-rap beat.
We’re Giving Away Tickets to See Kanye’s Yeezus Tour
This month Kanye West is kicking off his first solo tour in five years, starting in Seattle on October 19 with 29 shows stretching across North America. Considering Yeezus is on our shortlist for album of the century and Mr. West is one of the most unpredictable figures in popular music today, there is no question on our mind that this is a tour for the history books. Not to mention, he’s bringing Kendrick Lamar along for the opening slot. The only downside is that tickets to see Yeezy and K-Dot do their thing at any one of the stops along this tour can costs as much $200—that’s a little rich for our blood, considering we’re still paying off our credit card from copping the Air Yeezy IIs.
To help folks like us, who don’t wipe their butts with twenty dollar bills, see the Louis Vuitton Don in IRL, we’re giving away two pairs of tickets that can be used for any ofthese selected dates on the Yeezus tour. To win a pair of tickets, send us a twitpic via Twitter to @VICE and make sure to include the hashtag #SENDITUP. Since anything goes when you’re dealing Kanye West, the picture you send us could be of anything—it could be one of your granny holding on to her 808 drum machine, your cat eating a damn croissant, or a picture of you snorting milk through a straw. There are no rules—just make us laugh, gross us out, or praise Yeezus. The contest starts now and we’ll be accepting pictures until midnight on Sunday, October 13. On Monday, October 14, we’ll announce the winners right here on VICE.com. Who knows, if we dig the pic, you might get a chance to finally see Yeezus ascend back to wherever the fuck he came from like the tour poster suggests.