Somewhere right now, Adam Weiss probably is spazzing out and shouting the word “swag” over sleazy rap songs with hooks that have to do with eating pussy.
The 31-year-old party promoter, who lives in Echo Park, is perhaps best known for his outfits: tie-dyed T-shirts, DayGlo windbreaker jackets, a rhinestone-encrusted “Swag” belt buckle and snakeskin snapback hats. He piles on so many chains that recently he was jumped. (Unfortunately for the thieves, the chains were all fake.)
Along with his beard-n-'stache combo and nerdy black glasses, Weiss looks like a mishmash of hipster, hippie and hood. He might seem like an odd duck, but he's more self-deprecating than dumb. He wants you to stare at him. What's most surprising is that people have recently started taking him quite seriously.
His shows feature under-the-radar hip-hop acts and champion genres like trap rap and ratchet — Southern-bred, sing-songy hip-hop strains that focus on dealing drugs, frequenting strip clubs and sipping codeine cough syrup. “We just wanna get ignorant and ratchet. [This] is an excuse for people to do that,” Weiss says over coffee at downtown's Syrup Desserts.
Weiss is part of a collective known as “H.A.M. on Everything.” (H.A.M. stands for “Hard as a Motherfucker.”) As his full-time job, Weiss handles logistics like scouting acts and locations; his cohort Stereotype is the resident DJ, while another partner called Romo designs their fliers and directs videos (including this one for Sirah, whom we profiled last year).
His formula? Rent a space, charge a pittance, have acts perform short sets and follow with DJs and the occasional freestyle from Weiss himself. The parties feel exclusive, even if they're not.
“I don't overpromote anything,” he says. “We just make the Facebook page and post it a couple times. When you're [desperate], people feel it and think, 'This isn't a cool party to be at.' ”
Weiss fell into promoting by accident. He split his childhood and teen years between L.A. and Phoenix, then moved back to Thousand Oaks and proceeded to get arrested often, mostly for selling drugs. In 2008, the year before he began throwing parties, he says, he went to jail five times. “That last time I was like, shit needs to change.”
A wannabe rapper, he quit drinking and doing drugs and started poking around MySpace for open-mic nights. When he couldn't find any geared toward his brand of hipster hip-hop, he decided to book indie bands at tiny Echo Park art galleries and rap over their songs. “The hipster shows I'd been to were so much fun 'cause they were all-ages and you could bring your own beer,” he says of the inspiration for his first events. “I wanted to bring that to hip-hop.”
He began doing just that under the moniker Hipsters Who Heart Hip-Hop, and continued until July 2010, right as Waka Flocka Flame was bringing his hyper-aggressive rap to the mainstream. “We were just tired of doing faggy hip-hop stuff,” he says. Thus was born H.A.M. on Everything.
Nowadays, they throw one big party per month, which usually draws hundreds of people. The one problem, he says, is that most spaces won't rent to them a second time. “They're used to doing hipster shows. Usually, they're like, 'We don't want 300 black kids here jumping around getting crazy.' So it's hard.” (He declines to name any of the venues, for fear of jeopardizing his relationships with their owners.)
Despite detractors brushing him off as a “hip-hop minstrel,” Weiss has a love for the music and the scene that trumps his outlandish appearance and over-the-top persona. “I jump around and do chants like, 'Girl, twerk that ass,'?” he says. “It's fun to watch, which is why people book us.”
Still, not everyone is impressed. The owner of Echo Park's Short Stop, where H.A.M. on Everything holds a biweekly event, has banned him from using the mic because he says “swag” too often.
H.A.M. on Everything's next warehouse party will be June 29 at a secret location. Follow twitter.com/hamoneverything for details.