November 6, 2009
Scraper Bikes Featured On "Urban Alliance For Sustianibilty"
Sometime In 2008
Straight outta Oakland- Have you been seeing this group of highly inspired kids riding around the East Bay on bikes that are hand built, colorful, engaging, and exciting? If you haven't, meet the Trunk Boiz, who spawned the world-wide trend known as Scraper Bikes, all while maintaining an active musical career, holding down day jobs, setting up non-profits, being community leaders, and having a great time.
While the Trunk Boiz are spread throughout the East Bay, from Oakland to Richmond and Vallejo, the bike movement that they created and showcased in their YouTube video has gone global. The music video "Scraper Bike" has over 2 million hits, thanks in part to a connection with the Bicycle Film Festival, which gave the group a chance to expose their special brand of bikesmanship to viewers in Japan, France, Italy, England, Switzerland, and beyond. "Scraper Bike" was also nominated in 2007 for YouTube's Best Music Video.
So what is a scraper bike? "The idea came from riding around and seeing scraper cars: old school [mid 1980's-90's] GMC model cars, mostly Buicks, with sound systems and rims that match the paint. They ride around with speakers and play music to promote it. So we did that with bikes," says T.B. member Bay-be Champ. Indeed, scraper bikes are hand-built from donated or salvaged bicycles, painted with matching bodies and tire rims, sporting speaker systems run on mounted battery packs, and the crew ride around at rallies, through the streets, and into your head with their unforgettable "Scraper Bike" anthem blasting.
It doesn't stop with the bikes and the music promotion. The Trunk Boiz are down-to-earth, incredibly dedicated community activists. When asked to define what the Scraper Bike movement means, they say, "It's fun, creative, positive, and educational." Like many urban communities in the late 20th century and into the 21st, there is a lack of opportunity for youth in Oakland, which often leads to increased drug use, behavioral problems, and broken families. "These kids don't got anything to do, so we're trying to interest them in bikes, fixing them and riding them, so they stay out of trouble," says Champ. "Me being 19 and living in the urban community, I see there's not alot of resources for creativity. But bikes are an [opportunity for] expression of that creativity, and that's where Scraper Bikes comes in." The rest of the band, all between the ages of 17 and 22, agrees: "We are community activists. Whenever there's a problem [such as the increase in violent gun crime in Oakland] we get together and say somethin'. Scraper Bikes is getting a group of kids together to voice our opinions," says T.B. member B*Janky. The Trunk Boiz are building bikes to donate to Silence the Violence and recently contributed a scraper bike on behalf of Youth UpRising to the Oakland Museum's Cool Remixed: Bay Area Urban Art and Culture Now exhibit.
The Trunk Boiz are also heavily involved with a bike rally and barbeque on July 13th, 2008 at the Lake Merritt playground in Oakland. The theme of the ride is "Bike for Life: Riding for Peace" and will be held in collaboration with the SF Bike Coalition, Silence the Violence, Books Not Bars, and anybody and everybody in the Bay Area who has a bike, a burning desire to come together for a worthy ideal, and some food for the grill. What better venue for community action than a unity barbeque! Imagine a world where bike cultures and hip-hop cultures come together for the sake of peace and life. In the past few years, Oakland has increased its reputation as a violent, dangerous place to live, but "we changing it. We doing something that people aren't used to, giving it a new vibe. In Oakland, they's a lot more out here than people dying, and we're trying to help change that image. We're not superstars, we're just regular people, doin' this for the kids," says T.B. member 2Deep.
To help make that happen, the Trunk Boiz bring the Scraper Bike mentality not only to bike rallies and music; the group have incorporated a non-profit organization called Super Innovative Teens, which according to B*Janky, is a headquarters for Oakland youth to meet up and work on bikes, as well as house young people with talents and skills in music, art, business, and education, and give them the resources necessary to succeed. The idea is to provide a safe place that becomes a bike youth center, get a dedicated membership together, and be creative with minds and bikes. Of course, the Scraper Bike movement here in the East Bay has spawned start-up community action bike groups in cities around the world who inspire the Boiz with news and updates on their impact: "That's showing some unity."
In Oakland in 2006, there were 36.4 murders for every 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 7 murders per 100,000; robberies, car thefts and aggravated assaults make the situation seem even bleaker. Oakland resident Dame Hooker, interviewed by Kevin Epps for Current.com, says, "It's a cold game out here, man." On the other hand, the soul-utionary thinking of the Trunk Boiz is making a healthy and real impact in the community. "Everything we do is positive... The future is endless," says Champ. B*Janky chimes in: "For real