Top 4 Google searches of Calabasas are as follows:
How much does it cost to live in Calabasas?
Growing up in The Valley, Calabasas was just some place where rich white people lived. Everyone called it Cala-black-less. White kids included. It was never a destination, the way say, Santa Monica or Malibu are. There was and remains, nothing there, save The Commons and even that, in many ways, is just a fancy strip-mall with shitty ice-cream.
The first time, I purposefully went to Calabasas, was, in fact, to go to The Commons to watch a movie. I was sixteen and just got my license and thought it would be fancy to go there on a date. My girlfriend at the time was Mexican and afterwards, she said, Let’s never go back cause people were staring.
The white kids I grew up with didn’t fuck with white kids from Calabasas. They would drive up to The Commons and skate around and knock over trash cans doing their best to scare the botox from foreheads.
In high school, I ran track and in the preseason, we would race Calabasas on their track. It was much of let’s-go-over-and-see-how-the-richer-half-lives, with their rubber track and entirely white team. Our team, which won city back to back, would mark this shit on the calendar. Cause we knew we were gonna fuck them up. Half of our squad was from South Central. The other half were Chicanos from the The Valley. The only event they ever won was pole vaulting cause we didn’t have a pole-vault team. Shit. We didn’t even have a rubber track—ours was dirt.
Calabasas was something you drove past to get to Kanan. It was absolutely nothing. Like Thousand Oaks and Augora Hills and all the other shit out there.
Jayden Smith just dropped a video entitled “A Calabasas Freestyle”, which means it will be one of several? Hopefully not. That’s not a shot at the other Mr. Smith. He’s not the worst rapper and I’m not his target audience. But this music video, among other narratives centering on Drake and Kanye and what-not, create a false sense of what Calabasas actually is.
It’s not pretty out there. It’s hot and dusty and kinda feels like every other wealthy suburb with track housing-mansions and horse stables and cul-de-sacs. There’s no commerce in Calabasas proper. There’s no shopping. There’s no where to kick it. That’s why in the video Jayden and his friends (which are the most amount of black people in Calabasas has ever seen) are skating in parking lots and drinking ice coffees at The Commons. Granted they’re skating around Teslas but it is somewhat-kinda similar to what other suburban kids do—just plus millions of dollars.
If you live in Calabasas, you entertain in your mansion because if not, it’s gonna be a long drive. Downtown LA is 35 miles away. This is part of what makes LA so weird. In what other universe are you living 35 miles away from shit to do? And don’t come at me about The Valley. I don’t care how much The Valley has been gentrified (ethically I definitely care)—the type of shit Calabasas residents want to do isn’t about to be found in Van Nuys.
The music video is somewhat representative of Calabasas, if you look past the wealth and false glamour. The only shots are in parking lots, at a strip mall, on some sort of semi-arid desert bluff, and it’s final shot of a fading afternoon overlooking the 101. This describes a good portion of my high-school life. It was driving up hills and parking and sitting on car hoods. It was sitting on car hoods in Ralph’s parking lots. It was going to house parties that your homie told you about and never materialized. And somehow, always finding your way, and the end of a night, to a Taco Bell. The difference is I grew up within a plurality. Kanye might’ve put Calabasas on the map but it’s still white heavy and conservative (which seems to be working for Kanye these days). People choose to live in Calabasas so they’ll be left alone, so they’ll be with others who look and think like them, so they wont have to see peasants, beyond the ones they employ.
When Smith decries (in auto-tune), “Another black boy dead again”, its your neighbors who perpetuate and perpetrate. Now that’s terrifying. To be trapped. Wealth is a trap. It’s a pretty comfortable trap but a trap, nevertheless. I don’t think one has to have grown up poor to rap well but I’ve yet to see the child of a celebrity rap well.
Smith drops a couple lines about “the freshest niggas” and how he’s seen niggas—stop it, statistically, there are less than .01% black folks in Calabasas. The recent comments of Rep. Steve King made about the new House and how the Democratic Party is no country for white men, literally there are entire cities made up of thousands and thousands and thousands of white people and no brown people. White people are not losing this imagined war. There are no niggas in Calabasas—however, if Smith decided to drop a song entitled ‘Niggas in Calabasas’ and it is 4 minutes and 20 seconds of silence, that would be hard as fuck.
Smith seems neither to critique nor particularly celebrate Calabasas. It just seems to be the backdrop of lyrics that believe themselves to be deeper and wittier than they are. And maybe that’s all Calabasas is, a fucking backdrop to be ignored.