A year ago, four educated black men got together to form one of the hottest up and coming brands in the Bay Area- The Culture Junkies. Sean York, Cameron Burks, Corinthian Criner and Aaron Hodnett created a movement for the culture and they show no signs of slowing down.
To get a better understanding of The Culture Junkies and how this brand operates, I will give you all a brief description of each of the organization's founders:
Sean York, 27, is originally from Dallas,Texas. He is an Aquarius who relocated to the Bay Area for tech work, and ever since he’s been out here he’s been making nonstop moves. According to his counterparts, he can be a tad manipulative, but at the end of the day he always gets the job done. Cameron said, “Sean argues and uses points to manipulate his point to make it sound like he’s right. He's the jokester that wants to crack all the jokes appropriate or inappropriate which is VERY ANNOYING. He’s that annoying paper cut that annoys you all day and Sean thinks he knows it all”.
Cameron Burks, 28, is an East Oakland native who works in the entertainment industry and runs a management company. According to the guys, Cam is Mr. political who plays both sides. They explained that he’s all about the business and doesn’t entertain any drama. Sean said, “If Cam says he’ll do something 90% of the time he’ll do it”. Aaron added, “Cam gets shit done and does the dirty work. He’s like our Draymond Green." Corey explained, “His ego is getting a little big. This n**** thinks he’s Diddy at times.” However, despite his big ego, Cam is described as the one who understands everybody.
Corinthian Criner, 30, is an Oakland Native as well, who works in the entertainment industry and runs a management company. Corey AKA. Mr. bidness, does the small and annoying things when it comes to the brand. According to Cam, “Corey tries to sound too PC. Like you are in a group full of n***** just be yourself.” Cam proceeded to give us an example, “Although I understand how you guys feel, I feel as a brand we should move forward. He is like T.I. the way he sets up all his statements”. He is described as the one who always has to prove his point. In conclusion, Sean added, “I’m proud of Corey. He’s grown the most since the start of the business. He’s the guy whatever y'all need just let me know. He has the least biggest ego in the group and I go to Corey a lot for life advice because Corey is the oldest and hes married”. Sorry ladies! The other three founders are single though ;)
Aaron Hodnett, 28, is from Riverside but was raised in South Berkeley. He is a Libra who works in holistic health and he is described as the sensitive one in the group. “Aaron is the most agitating big brother you ever had. You ever had someone who swore up and down you don't know what you’re talking about? No matter what you say or what you do because he's older you did it wrong? He says things like ‘I seen more life than you in one year’… cause he's older than me by one year. He’s sensitive af. When you have an opinion against what he has to say and its outvoted he starts crying. He's like the victims victim,” said Sean. Aaron is also described as being very calculated.
From left to right: Aaron Hodnet, Cameron Burks, Sean York and (below) Corinthian Criner
It all began when the guys went to a club, and concluded that something was missing .
“We discussed events we wanted to do, started a group chat and 4/20/17 was the day we came up with a name,The Culture Junkies”, said Sean.
After hearing all of this, I wanted to know why? What was the purpose of them creating this brand? Sean said, “Everyone has a culture and vibe they bring and we want them to come to an event to embrace that vibe and share that with people as well that want to share that culture.” Aaron explained, “We are all in Oakland for a reason and we are all trying to bring something to the table to bring the culture back to Oakland”. Corey described how Oakland is different now and how this brand has a goal of ‘reviving the city.’ “Being a real n**** from Oakland, it used to be alive and it was unreal. It's the epicenter of northern Cali no disrespect to the other cities, but they get their vibes and culture from us. There is alot going on in SF, but we wanted to bring a lot to Oakland.” Cam reminisced on the past, “Oakland use to be smackin, but Oakland took a real dive. Jeffrey’s, Maxwell, and Shadow Lounge were poppin.” Aaron added, “During the hyphy movement, we were out doing hella shit then it went dead when the market crashed”.
The first event the Culture Junkies threw was Carpe Diem on July 9th in 2017 at Liege, 481 9th street, Oakland Ca.
“Shout Out Chris Rachal and Jeff Surrant, they gave us our first shot. We went to all kinds of venues, but Liege was the first one that said yes. They liked our personalities and persistence,” Cam explained.
Most of TCJ events are held at Liege, but some events have been held at Venues such as Level 13, Era, Parliament, Soulspace, Complex and the Jack London Movie theater. As far as collaborations, The Culture Junkies have collaborated with Run the World Clothing, SoOakland, Black bay area, Hoopmaps, Sievent and Mistah Fab.
According to Cam said, “Our goal is to be taken serious as a full brand and not just seen as guys throwing parties to have fun. We are working on self health events and things like that to show this is more than just coming to turn up and go to a party. We are a real brand and someone you want to be associated with.” Corey went on to explain, “We plan on talking to kids at various schools in the bay area because we want to give back. Oakland Unified School District is open to it and we will be working on creating curriculum for the kids to teach entrepreneurship.” Their podcast, which was Corey’s idea, will be based on TCJ brand and discuss relevant topics related to the culture. Corey and Shamari Bell will be the hosts and the podcast will feature guests and a plethora of serious dialogues. Sean discussed how TCJ will be starting a venture capitalist firm under the brand and invest in small black owned businesses in the bay area such as tech, fashion, and different music artists. Any small business owners, TCJ want to help them invest in their dream. In my opinion, all three of these upcoming ventures are super dope and necessary for the culture.
The Culture Junkies founders consider their staff a family. In addition to the four founders, there are four more people on the TCJ staff. Dayina Darby helps with decor and design and Shamari Bell handles outreach. She taps in with ppl for new connections and assists with anything they need. The other two staff members are the ones who capture the moment. Terrance “A. Note” is TCJ’s videographer and Keiko Williams is the photographer.
I asked TCJ about their goals five years from now and their responses gave me life! They want to work towards making May 5 the official Culture Junkies day, they want to embark on a nationwide TCJ party tour and they also told me (EXCLUSIVE INFO RIGHT HERE!) that Aaron is working on TCJ Los Angeles. Sean said,“We want to be more invested in building other brands as well and more with our VC and giving out business loans and helping small businesses grow.”
The Culture Junkies is an extremely unique brand. Corey explained, “We care about everything. The time slots, how much they are getting paid, to the T. Down to the bottle service we are meticulous. We are the business and we run the business across the board. It's a full on registered company across the board. The best company for young black professionals in the world, anybody who has worked with us will all tell us they love us. We really create an environment. We are NOT A PROMOTIONAL COMPANY WE ARE A LIFESTYLE BRAND.”
There are a number of people who think TCJ is a promotional company, “People classify you as a promoter, and don’t know what promoters do. They aren’t booking venue paying venue fees making the flyer, not promoters. There’s charitable work and community outreach work, tech ventures, uses startups for events and takes chances working with people and companies not even known to help them build their brand,” said Cam.
The guys take pride in TCJ and the positive image they uphold. The brand was founded by four young black intelligent men who all went to college and got degrees, never been to jail, and have no kids.
Corey expressed, “ We get love from everybody. It’s a beautiful thing for us from there who grew up and seen the changes in Oakland to be at this point making a difference in our hometown.”
Cam mentioned other organizations like Trap Soul, SoOakland, Trapxart and explained how people have options again.
So now that ya’ll are aware of The Culture Junkies, make sure you keep an eye out for their upcoming events. At the end of the interview Cam wanted to let our readers know, “Say wassup, come to parties, come kick it with us! We want to be a vessel for people to live out their dreams, and we can help any kind of way- for the cultured, by the culture. You can work together as African Americans in the business. People feel like they can’t. As men we can put our egos to the side and really make some dope shit, some dope cultural shit. All about the moments and more of them are on the way.”
To stay in touch with the Culture Junkies, make sure you follow them on Instagram and Twitter and visit their Official Website. Also! Don’t forget to follow each founders personal page Sean York (as_sean_ontv), Aaron (kingaboogie), Corey (bangisme) and Cam (Kodeezyfresh).
Michaela P. Shelton is Managing Editor of CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Michaela at Darealmichaela1.com