I remember a time when lowriding had far less drama — then again, those were the days when you could also find duets in R&B. Remember Rick James and Teena Marie with Fire & Desire? But that gets me to my point. How do we, the lowrider community, infuse a little bit of fire and desire back into our community?

It’s a question we have to ask ourselves both as individuals and as a community. Along with the founding fathers of lowriding, we’ve all built a culture that’s being seen, felt, and appreciated all across the globe. Yet as proud parents of a culture that’s continued to grow, I will say this: I think part of this drama may be from the growing pains of our industry getting bigger. I also think it’s just a small hurdle that’ll pass as we continue to forge our pathway forward. Just like business, our scene has seen its fair share of guys who treated it like a hobby and money-making opportunity, but in the end it’s the enthusiasts and people who respect this culture and heritage who will help it remain as classic as the cars we build.

So how did this editor’s letter come to light? It came as a result of watching the Japanese lowrider community grow. Now some may say that the Japanese lowriding scene died in the late ’90s, but I think that’s when it really began to grow. What did die back then was the boom of money-making opportunities in the lowriding community. The late ’90s marked the death of speculators and car-flippers, and left standing in the wind were the purists who really loved our culture and these are the same soldiers who continue to hold down our community today.

Now some people see Japan’s interest in lowriding as a decade-old fascination, but it’s not. Japan has been into lowriding for close to 30 years and it was only a decade ago that they finally got the recognition they deserved. Yet in reality, Japan didn’t really take an interest in lowriding, instead, they adopted our culture and embraced it with respect while paying homage to it in its full entirety.

If you’ve ever been around any lowrider from Japan you’ll see that they’re eager to learn about our culture so they can better understand the evolutionary history, backing, and spirit of our cars — and in essence, this is what lowriding is all about. Lowriding is about pouring your soul and passion into your car, not to mention your paychecks, and it’s all a result of the way we’ve been brought up. Our cars are a portal of self-expression and the blank canvases we use to create memories and traditions. The bottom line…this isn’t some hobby that’s done to pass time and look cool, this is a culture that tells stories about hard work and dedication, and a craft with roots that run deep. In short, lowriding is just as much a part of our family unit as it is an essential part of our DNA.

That said, it’s impressive that our fellow brothers from Japan take lowriding this seriously. It says a lot about why they’re interested and proves that it goes beyond speculation and making a quick buck. From the way they dress to the way they customize lowriders, they didn’t only adapt to our lifestyle, but they helped evolve, and even improve and inspire our culture in ways that we could only appreciate and applaud.

Anyone who’s played host to one of our fellow familia from Japan will understand that when they visit us in Los Angeles, they do so in order to value, recognize, analyze, and interpret what it is we do, how we do it, and how we live. They take notes as if lowriding were a college course and they do so with enthusiasm. To say that they’re passion for lowriding is commendable, would be an understatement and after years of watching them progress it’s left many of us wondering if we appreciate what we’ve built as much as they do.

Now I say that with all due respect to the lowriding community, but we really have to wonder where we’re headed with what we’ve built. We’re the ones responsible for building these legacies and spreading the love of the lifestyle, but sometimes I wonder if we appreciate the culture and want to promote it as much as they do. They’ve upped the bar when it comes to building quality show cars and their unwavering passion is bar none. You can see it in their builds; you can feel it at their shows. It’s also quite evident that they’ve taken what they’ve learned from L.A. street culture and added their own finesse, and when it comes to club outings and meet-ups it reminds me of the good ol’ days back at Legg Lake and Whittier Blvd.

That said, their unwavering passion for our culture is our doing, and it’s our responsibility to uphold what we’ve built. Yet we have a social responsibility to do more than just uphold it, we need to move it forward with a positive focus so future generations can enjoy and experience lowriding at its finest. So in closing, shoot us some ideas on how we can expand and spread the love of lowriding because we built this together and it’ll either flourish or fail at our own hands.

Joe Ray