Interview: #CoOwnaz

Interview: #CoOwnaz


#CoOwnaz in Eastern Market, Detroit. (From left) Ben Miles, Kopelli, Goldzilla, Al Casinelli, Eddie Logix, Doc Waffles, Dante LaSalle, CF Hustle, and Mr. Chief
(Nicholas Kassab | Detroit Music Magazine)


#CoOwnaz isn’t a music group, or a record label, or a clothing company – it’s an arts culture which can only be explained with a non-explanation. 


Consisting of countless musicians, artists, filmmakers, promoters and others, #CoOwnaz is a cryptic guide to living life to the fullest. The culture’s livelihood is dependent on those who actively participate by using the movement’s hashtag, throwing up “snake fingers,” eating Twizzlers, and everything else in between.


Associates of the organic movement include: rapper and rare book dealer Doc Waffles, producer Eddie Logix, promoter and advocate CF Hustle, rapper Ben Miles, producer Crate Digga (United States of Mind), electronic powerhouse Dante LaSalle, rapper Mr. Chief, the Prince Al Casinelli, wordsmith Kopelli (Cold Men Young), emcee Goldzilla (The Anonymous), artist and musician Sheefy McFly, filmmaker duo The Right Brothers, Detroit CYDI, Flint Eastwood, Jamaican Queens, actor Tom Hanks, the cast of Comedy Central’s Workaholics and an exponentially-growing list of others. 


Detroit Music Magazine spoke with a handful of active #CoOwnaz citizens at the culture’s unofficial official epicenter – ‘The Penthouse,” a top-floor super space located in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighborhood. The artistic space serves as the culture’s meeting place, art studio, recording studio (also known as “The Viper Room”), brunch spot, living quarters, and media center. The infamous “Penthouse” is also the permanent home of several #CoOwnaz originators. 




How would you describe the #CoOwnaz collective to those that are unfamiliar? It seems like a lot of people may think you’re just a hip hop group or a record label. 


Doc Waffles: I mean, it’s really just this. It’s just kind of like hanging out – artistic people hanging out in drafty places, doing a drug, or making a song, or a movie. It’s just creative folks getting together. We all share the same predicament of needing additional resources and having other lives that we do in addition to this art shit. So by sharing our experiences we’re able to create an original scene… But we try to keep it as meaningless as possible, as nebulous as possible, and try not to have a philosophy. We just have it be an appendage to our lives.


CF Hustle: In my mind, it’s more about a lifestyle and a way of wanting to operate on a higher plane, not just being selfish, but being willing to help others. Show up for others. Just do what you can do. No one is expected to be the end-all be-all of anything. That’s not the purpose. But if you work together and you all have a common understanding of… basically, friendship – you can get a lot more out of it. I don’t make music. I don’t rap. I don’t produce, but I can yap on the Internet when I’m not doing my day job. I can help organize a show. I can help try to push these guys’ music to people like you to make sure you’re catching it.


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Dante LaSalle and CF Hustle at the #CoOwnaz penthouse in Eastern Market, Detroit
(Nicholas Kassab | Detroit Music Magazine)


The most recent #CoOwnaz music compilation [Portrait of a Gentleman] is basically the community’s tribute to CF Hustle. What are everyone else’s thoughts on CF Hustle’s role within the #CoOwnaz collective?  


Doc Waffles: [CF] Hustle is the muse. We just made the album inspired by him. He was like, ‘Oh, when I was in college we used to snort a bunch of cocaine listening to that Sister Christian song.’ We were like, alright – we need to do a sample of that song because it’s from your history. It’s like painting a portrait of him by focusing on those specific aspects.


Is that where the album’s Goonies and Caddyshack inspiration came from as well?


Doc Waffles: Same type of shit. It’s all just stories from his life. And then it’s like, The Goonies is about these kids who aren’t really the cool kids and, you know, the rap game can be a very hierarchal thing. So it made sense. It’s a portrait of him, but it has to be a portrait of us too, or at least it’s reflective of our style, because we’re the ones that are articulating it. We embrace that on the record too, or rather we use the idea of painting Hustle to advance our aesthetic… which is do whatever we want and have the most fun possible. We try to advance our unique culture instead of trying to emulate someone else’s culture or ride a certain style. If you listen to Portrait [of a Gentleman] it’s all different sounds and beats. Eddie [Logix] makes electronic music and regular pop music too. Everybody that raps on it has their own individual style.


Dante LaSalle: But Hustle is the thing that brings us all together. So as our muse, it’s all these different views and different takes on our own creativity and each other, ultimately. Specifically this gentleman right here. So, that sort of ties together what is really a pretty dynamic album. I think it’s sweet that way.


Mr. Chief: I think he’s also someone that brought us all together. I mean, a lot of us have known each other through many different circles, but Hustle was the guy that, for this project, brought a lot of us that knew each other from different circles into one circle. It’s all a big collective now. That’s how I got involved. I toured with some of these guys and at the same time I didn’t know some of these guys before we started this.


Eddie LogixYeah, basically it’s a way for all of us to do something together. We all cross paths playing shows and whatever. The project using Hustle as the muse for it just brings together a type of way for us to do something fun. It’s a way to bring the #CoOwnaz spirit out. It’s not a group. I guess it’s a collective, but really #CoOwnaz is like anything. This project could of had 100 different artists on it. It could have been 100 songs deep, but this is just what happened.


Mr. Chief mixes a Mimosa at the #CoOwnaz penthouse in Eastern Market, Detroit
(Nicholas Kassab | Detroit Music Magazine)


Where did you [Eddie Logix], Dante and Crate Digga begin production-wise with Portrait of a Gentleman?


Eddie Logix: Yeah, I mean [Crate Digga] sent some beats over as we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do – just to get it started. We picked out a few. The one we did early on was “Penthouse Anthem” with me and Doc. Then there’s the one Dante took through the mind wheel…


CF Hustle: And to speak on this project… someone who isn’t here right now, J Walker XVI, he’s got a solo song on here and he’s on another track. He’s quite the character. If I’m the muse, I don’t even know what to call that guy. He’s about to have the funniest and best video of the year. He’s going to bring the comedy – visually… if you didn’t catch it in the first video by The Right Brothers. 


What is the #CoOwnaz connection with The Right Brothers? They have done visuals for a lot of #CoOwnaz-associated groups, like Flint Eastwood, Jamaican Queens, Passalacqua, and a lot of you guys here.


CF Hustle: I’m going to tell you the honest truth. Which probably isn’t the best thing, but: the best way to work with The Right Brothers is by not even asking them. 


Doc Waffles: Just by being their friends is the best way to work with them. 


CF Hustle: Most people couldn’t even purchase their work. They take their art that seriously. If they don’t like the track, they are not doing it for money. 


Doc Waffles: Unless you’re a large corporation or something. They’re always trying to sneak little bits of our culture into the mainstream work that they do. They’re big enthusiasts. If you look at Andy [Miller]’s Instagram, he’s putting up #CoOwnaz stickers in France right now. They’ve bought into it heavily. 


Mr. Chief: I think anyone that’s been around these guys from the beginning wants to be involved. It’s very contagious. It’s a good group of folks. All artistic people. It’s like, ‘Man I want in.’


Producer Eddie Logix in his recording studio within the #CoOwnaz penthouse
(Nicholas Kassab | Detroit Music Magazine)


Is that the #CoOwnaz application process, just wanting to be in? 


Eddie Logix: There is no application process. That’s why it’s #CoOwnaz. Just be in. 


Doc Waffles: It’s not just CoOwnaz: it’s #CoOwnaz. If you think about what a hashtag means, a couple years ago nobody thought in terms of hashtags, but now you kind of do. If you just think about your life and just attach a hashtag to it… like #CoOwnaz. 


Dante LaSalle: It’s kind of like our breadcrumb on the Internet. People don’t have to be familiar with the culture to catch the little plugs we might get in other things. Instead you can go walk back through the forest and find these breadcrumbs, and see them attached to all the different instances and build the picture… the portrait. Just by following the name. 


Prince: So, recently there was this episode of the show Workaholics, and there was a small snippet where they were referring to each other as “co-owners.” 


Dante LaSalle: Yeah, they kicked it one time. They came through here one time – years ago, right before we started doing the #CoOwnaz stuff. We got super, super wavy over at Alvin’s when it was open. So, they’ve been following the breadcrumbs. We can only assume. We’re looking forward to seeing more of that counterculture come out.


Prince: I’ve moved around a lot. This chick from the east side that I haven’t connected with in a long time is the one that pointed it out to me. I don’t really watch TV or nothing like that. But I got this message from someone that I haven’t heard from and she was like, ‘Hey, I saw this episode last night of this TV show and they kept saying co-owners, co-owners.’ I was like, ‘How do you even know what the hell that is?’ She’s not in our circle at all… but it’s out there.


Doc Waffles: If you listen to the music on Portrait, it’s all very illusive and we use a lot of inside terminology and jokes all the time. It’s just deigned to draw people in – to immerse themselves more into the culture, and eventually find their way here to our penthouse. It’s for everyone. Everyone is #CoOwnaz. They just haven’t taken the step to use the hashtag. You’re in – you have to opt out.


CF Hustle: You don’t get jumped-in to the gang, but you do get jumped-out. [Laughs]


Crate Digga and Goldzilla at the #CoOwnaz penthouse in Eastern Market, Detroit (Nicholas Kassab | Detroit Music Magazine)

Crate Digga and Goldzilla at the #CoOwnaz penthouse in Eastern Market, Detroit
(Nicholas Kassab | Detroit Music Magazine)


Inside things like “snake fingers?” 


Eddie Logix: Oh, shit. Well actually… Me and J Walker used to live together and I was working on a beat. He was about to bounce out of the crib and he came in and wanted to just say a couple of things before he was peacing-out. Before he was leaving I was like, ‘Hold up though. What did you think of the beat? Was it tight?’ He was like, ‘Put it on again.’ So, I played it, and he just went… [holds up two clawed fingers and hisses] I stopped the beat and was like, ‘Wait! Hold on a second! What the fuck was that?’ He’s like, ‘Oh… that’s snake fingers. Just this new thing I’ve been thinking about.’ [Laughs]


Ben Miles: I’ve been trying to think of a good way to add to this, and I think that there is an unquantifiable variable with the #CoOwnaz thing that makes it attractive and self-perpetuate, but what it is will be a different answer depending on who you’re asking. I know people who think it’s a record label. It’s different to different people. Those people who see those stickers in Paris, who knows what they think this is all about. But you fucking kill all that if you try to make it too defined, or linear, or put it in a box. It ruins that magical quality. You just can’t do that. 


Kopelli: Yeah, ten years ago the scene in Detroit was really fractured. People kept to themselves. There was no artistic collaboration, never mind just being social and being friends. Being able to be somewhere and hang out with some guys, form bonds with them, and then collaborate artistically with them – that had to be formed naturally the way it did. It’s a blessing to see. I’ve been around the scene for some years now and I saw the transition. I knew when it wasn’t like this. You couldn’t just reach out and say, ‘Hey man let’s do a song. Let’s do a show. Let’s just drink some beer.’ It’s great.


Crate Digga: I partied at Grasshopper [Underground] two times this month. #CoOwnaz isn’t a group. It’s not a crew. But the scenery – that’s #CoOwnaz. The party last Monday was a great party, but not just the people performing were #CoOwnaz. The people being there, the audience… that is #CoOwnaz too. Everybody is #CoOwnaz. 


Listen to the #CoOwnaz-inspired project Portrait of a Gentleman below: