2017.11.15
BY hanna

Celebrating SMIB: Ray Fuego

From three young mavericks to creators of culture

Introduction

The boys were once connected by growing up in the Bijlmer: Ray, who still lives there; Georgy, who now lives in the center of Amsterdam; and Quincy, who now lives in the north of the city. Today, they are connected by how they think and what they want in life. They are connected by their way of life, a lifestyle that is the result of their creation: SMIB.

Go back two years, to 2015, and discover the ideologies and beliefs of SMIB.
A group of young artists and entrepreneurs who grew up with seemingly all odds stacked against them yet inexplicably have them all in their favour.

What were once just three peculiar boys from a marginalised neighbourhood of Amsterdam has become SMIB Worldwide. Their idiosyncrasies, desire to do good and their deep-rooted social engagement led to a colourful uprising of young people on the fringes of society.

They pair up with fashion labels and perform at festivals; they’ve created their own stage. So much so, that they now proudly present their first exhibition, giving insight into their self-made universe through their work and inspirations.

As they have grown, so has their following. A following of what might be described as a group of misfit youngsters, not sure of their place in the world but determined to excel in their lifetime. This group might be their most successful creation yet: a subculture.

Two years ago our art director Hanna Eenhoorn, a photographer and creator, noticed them at the beginning of their promising careers. She interviewed Rayvel Pieternella, Georgy Dendoe and Quincy Ofosu on their beliefs, backgrounds, and futures all the while painting a picture of these young visionaries set against the backdrop of their boyhood homes. Celebrate with us, and take a look at the origins of the platform, movement, and family: SMIB.

Introduction written by Imogen Mills

Click here to see what SMIB is up to at the moment

Click here to buy tickets for their expo

 

 

 

2015

In the Bijlmer, in Amsterdam, something fascinating is happening. In what is a place closed to outsiders, hidden away amongst the grey blocks of flats, a new subculture is developing. The Bijlmer is a neighbourhood in the southeast of Amsterdam, a neighbourhood long associated with stereotypes of poverty, crime, and danger. At one time this created a tangible rift between the Bijlmer’s residents and the rest of the city. But now this predominantly black neighbourhood is seeing a new generation that aims to challenge these preconceptions.

The Netherlands has not seen a substantial rise of any subculture for years

The Netherlands has not seen a substantial rise of any subculture for years. Amsterdam has become a melting pot of intertwined cultures without a distinguishing identity, creating a town of mere individuals who do not belong to a certain group. However, this has recently begun to change at the hands of an unexpected group: SMIB, a new movement of young men that creates an artistic and diverse lifestyle. SMIB is inspired by skateboarding and punk, in combination with the new do-it-yourself, makers movement, through which individuals can express themselves in a group of like-minded people. The word SMIB comes from the word Bims, but backwards, which is slang for the Bijlmer. Together and individually, they create music, art, fashion, videos, photos and much more.

Some would describe a few of the members as the misfits of the Bijlmer, a description they themselves seem to embrace. This neighbourhood nourishes a street culture that values and respects status. But SMIB’s focus on creativity and personal interests doesn’t leave room for social ranking in this way. Members of the SMIB movement try to push each other to follow their dreams and make the most of life.The SMIB crowd stands out from the other Bijlmer inhabitants in terms of the way they dress, too, and this is something they are recognised by.

Their sense of style has been picked up by I-D Magazine, GlamCult magazine, the streetwear brand Patta, stylist Bonne Reijn and more.

The movement attracts young people that feel that they don’t fit within the norms and values upheld by the majority of the neighbourhood.

The movement attracts young people that feel that they don’t fit within the norms and values upheld by the majority of the neighbourhood. The SMIB community is now gaining more followers every day, which leaves the boys to slowly change the negative stereotypes through their creativity and unique attitudes. They are independent creators, they don’t want to be confined to a business or record label that already has a name, and where they would have to adapt to conform to institutional demands. They want to have freedom and act as individuals who also come together as a group of people who support each other, even if they don’t like what the other is making.

As a new subculture that previously has only been reported upon in the media about their artistic creations and sense of style, it is compelling to learn about the people and their intentions behind the movement: it is much more than a group of young men creating music. By following and experiencing SMIB, this magazine offers a set of feature articles that shed light on these individuals, and in so doing, give an impression of the group as a whole and its diversity. SMIB’s members are true interdisciplinary artists. For them, SMIB is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle – a lifestyle that seems almost more important than their creations: the lifestyle is the art.

 

They are connected by their way of life, a lifestyle that is the result of their creation: SMIB.

RAY FUEGO
Rayvel Pieternella
19 years old*

Ray Fuego has big dreams. He is a young artist, rapper, musician, fashion designer, philosopher and much more. “SMIB is Bims – slang for the Bijlmer. Everyone here is Smib. It’s just a bunch of people doing cool things”. The walls of his room in a small apartment where he lives with his mother, two sisters, two brothers and his nephew show traces of his adventures: they are covered in photos, stickers, and quotes.

The music Ray creates doesn’t seem to belong to a specific genre, but it is clear what influences him. “Punk is how I feel. I really get the lines; I understand what they are feeling.” Listening to punk and loving fashion are both very important to him: from a very young age, he already knew what he wanted to wear every day, and now has his own clothing brand: SMIB-SA-LAND. This is something he is very proud of: he has the name of the brand tattooed on his belly. He studies Fashion at the ROC Amsterdam, though he wants to drop out because he feels like he isn’t learning anything new or useful.

“SMIB is Bims – slang for the Bijlmer. Everyone here is Smib. It’s just a bunch of people doing cool things”.

 

Ray wants to start a revolution, to wake up his generation. “I want to start a subculture, and teach kids to fulfil their ambitions and dreams and that anything is possible.” Ray has made it his mission to teach the new Bijlmer generation to respect themselves and each other. He has written graffiti tags around the neighbourhood with the words ‘black power’. Since a big part of the Bijlmer’s residents are black he wants the people to embrace their roots, and make them more aware and proud. “Black is beautiful. Black is God.”

“Black is beautiful. Black is God.”

 

A perfect example of Ray’s influence in and around the neighbourhood presents itself when a 17-year-old SMIB member talks about him at Ray’s home. The boy explains that if it wasn’t for Ray and SMIB he would be in trouble now. He calls them his family. “He taught me to believe in myself – only love for this man,” he says when he first points at Ray and then places his hand on his chest. Ray seems humble but serious about the gesture. He feels responsible for a lot of young people, takes them under his wings and gives them things to do like producing music or making a video for him. He believes in them when nobody else does, and therefore plays a crucial role in discovering and supporting new promising kids, who – without him – may never have tried.

 

Text and photos by Hanna Eenhoorn

Text edited by Imogen Mills

 

*at the time the article was written, in 2015, Ray was 19 years old

Click here to see what SMIB is up to at the moment

Click here to buy tickets for their expo

Follow Ray on Instagram