I came to ComplexCon with mixed expectations and a singular intention: to meet and chat with Freeway, the legendary rapper proudly sporting a new kidney.
He was posted up at the 83 Futures booth, repping an experience that art director Alex called, “Streetwear for a good cause.” Alex and I took a look at the clothes, the art, and the experience and immediately noted that it didn’t have a dark, “charity” feel. It was pure joy, and it was a one-stop operation to become an organ donor.
Before I arrived, I read over some facts that truly shocked me. There are 113,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list. Every 10 minutes another person is added to the waiting list, and nearly 60% of people waiting for an organ transplant are from multicultural communities. A single donor can save 8 lives with organs and help heal 75 more with tissues.
83 Futures, a new brand—or what Alex dubbed: a “baby” brand—assembled the likes of Staple, Naturel, Nathan Kostechko, A-Morir, Hypeadelic, Skull Candy, GRXN, Earl Mack, Just Blaze, Styles P, Bun B, Freeway and so many more to create one-of-a-kind, limited-edition fashion and art collaborations for a cause. The only way to get these exclusive items is by giving a piece of yourself by becoming an organ donor.
My mixed expectations had quickly imploded. I was afraid of the stereotypes I had heard: that there would be a tinge of clout and hype in the air. Instead, I found something truly remarkable: people making a difference. ComplexCon was colorful, diverse, and artful. It felt like one big family or a community celebration in the neighborhood.
My interactions left me hopeful and joyful, especially as we had the opportunity to sit down with Freeway, the ambassador for this amazing cause, to chat about this exciting venture.
LA Canvas: Have you had a certain interaction today that has embodied what you were trying to accomplish?
Freeway: Most definitely. I just met a brother, I think his name was Ramon. I had received my kidney transplant February 6 of 2019. And, he received a lung transplant February 8, 2019. Two days apart. And I just felt like that was amazing for us both to receive life-sustaining organs two days apart. I feel like we family down here. That definitely touched me.
LA Canvas: What is the most important thing you want people to know about this?
Freeway: The strongest message I want people to get is: it’s important to take care of yourself and it’s also important to be an organ donor. Because you can save lives. When you pass away, if you’re an organ donor you can save more than one life. You can save multiple lives. I received my kidney from an organ donor. A young man—he was 22—when he passed away I received his new kidney and it changed my quality of life. I was still moving and traveling and working while I was on dialysis but it was way harder. I would be burnt out. I wouldn’t have been able to sit here all this time. I wouldn’t have been able to walk around all this time. I would have been way too tired. So, it really changed my life and it really was a blessing. So, I want people to know: register, be an organ donor because you really could change people’s lives.
LA Canvas: In a time of much perceived division, do you think the message comes through even stronger because it’s an opportunity for connectivity through giving, health and the body?
Freeway: Yeah, most definitely. And, the crazy thing is, a lot of people have people in their family—if it’s not directly them, friends—that they know that are going through organ failure, you know? It happens a lot. And, it touches so many people so everybody can relate to it.
LA Canvas: I’m really intrigued by this full, life-size Operation game. How has having an interactive component drawn people into this inter-cultural and inter-generational exchange?
Freeway: Everybody remembers Operation from being a child. And, everybody loves things that are interactive. I’ve seen old people, I’ve seen kids. I’ve seen people my age. It’s an attention drawer, so when you get over there, you automatically want to play with it, but it’s teaching you something at the same time. And, it’s definitely a blessing.
LA Canvas: I love the fusion between pure joy, art, color, interaction and good. I think that we need that.
Freeway: Yeah, definitely! It’s a blessing.