RETAIL

The hustle of retail is draining and I’m rarely surprised by anything on the shelves any more because everything’s either been blogged to death pre-release or is a global rollout that makes shopping abroad significantly less fun. So I ranted about it, and my friend Mr. Ronnie Fieg was kind enough to host my moaning on his blog.

Ronnie is that dude for a number of reasons — he knows his market as both a fanboy and as a retail veteran, he likes some weird shit and he’s one of the best E-marketers out there. Those qualities make him pretty fucking successful. I’m sure this is as close to a tangible collaboration as we can get because: 1. I can’t wear Ranger Boots, because they look wrong on me, 2. I can’t wear boat shoes without them looking wrong on me unless they’re those warship-size Visvim Hockneys and 3. Because I like mesh toeboxes and he rocks with nubuck.

Ronnie’s making ridiculous power moves with Sebago, and I’m in no doubt that a few more brands are going to be pleased they agreed to work with him too. It’s all about the relentless work rate. Plus his Clarks Weaver boots were — on the downlow — last year’s best footwear collaboration.

Again, go check that talk out on his blog. I want to just wander into a sports shop again and see that next shit on the shelf. I remember my small hometown (boogie-down Bedford) being home to no less than eight stores stocking an array of footwear circa 1990. That number of destinations was significantly amplified during London visits. Those experiences, often a simple case of window shopping, set me on the path to where I am now…sat on my arse, tapping away at a MacBook.

So here, out of sheer laziness (what can I say? I’m on holiday until tuesday) is the imagery I sent Ronnie for that piece, broken into bite size chunks. I really, really love the 1970 ad with the most remedial illustration of an adidas Superstar ever committed to paper, the $26 Campus, a shit Blazer picture and a store where you can buy rifles as well as Ewing Rivals and varsity jackets. I’m currently studying the world of store advertising before everything became ruinously slick. There’s merits in a cruder approach to marketing.

 

 

NOSTALGIA OFFSET

Mr Porter (not to be mistaken with Denaun or Charlie) is a good site. It makes me want to spend some cash, but I wouldn’t want to have to look after those journal features. That’s some high maintenance work right there, but they seem to be doing a fine job thus far.

My real gripe with online fashion retail is that the clothing has a tendency to turn up looking terrible. I’d sooner have someone take far too long folding up and bagging an object in front of my eyes than for it to arrive still in its plastic packaging as if it was “liberated” from a warehouse by a baghead acquaintance. They seem to be keen to break the spell of the aesthetically displeasing arrival with this much-hyped endeavor.

Mr Porter looks nice too…even if it ain’t hard to tell that ‘Fantastic Man’ was on the design moodboard. Selling Aubin & Wills isn’t a good look at all, but I guess that prick pound is a lucrative one. I just like gawping at brands like Marni one there — like Limoland (soon to arrive on the site too), it’s the sort of insider-favourite that crops up on the pages of ‘Monocle’ with pieces for the monied who seem to favour a certain restraint.

Two Tone Derbies and lambskin backpacks are some millionaire dress down styles, but the Contrast Front Panel Shirt is doubly ill for looking like a reverse version of Tré’s “Mr. GQ Smooth” comedy shirt in ‘Boyz n the Hood’ without the doubly bizarre circular detailing. That’s a strong look if you’re looking to engage in some Cuba-style gurning and wooing at daytime barbecues any time soon…

EFF A REMAKE

Let me start by pointing out that this blog entry is merely an excuse to post this Panther Books edition cover of Sol Yurick’s ‘The Warriors’ up here as some form of thug motivation.

That’s the only reason.

[[And before I commence rambling, big up Carri for the brief but brilliant Cassetteplaya show at Men’s day for LFW today – I thought I’d underdressed with the Polo, camo and AF1 Duck Boots, but her having ‘Bingo’ by Gucci Mane and ‘Salute’ by Dipset as a catwalk soundtrack (complete with models painted gold with gold hi-tops to match) vindicated my sartorial choice. The blazers, wood-handled umbrellas and leather holdalls around me were out-of-place, unless they concealed “Louie belts with the guns still tucked in ’em.” I doubt they did.]]

This cover just looks awkward — the gang member depicted looks about forty for starters, with a Mercedes badge and non-menacing font on the back. Where’s the sleeveless cut vests? If I started a gang, we’d rock the Undercoverism sleeveless hoodies (shouts to Acyde), the IronHeart black denim numbers, or — if we were hard up — prison fatigue jackets at £3.50 a throw. But then just as this cover hardly represents its content, the original novel bears very little resemblance to the final film. At least there’s a substantial resemblance between Richard Price’s ‘The Wanderers’ and the resulting film – both classics, even if some of the darker short stories in the former were excised.

Despite the whitey on the cover there, the main gang aren’t tactically mixed-race and they’re not even called the Warriors — they’re called the Dominators, and the Dominators are pretty brutal, making the book a far more gritty affair. While it’s still a trashy read, it’s not half as daft as the film. The same applies to Leon Garfield’s anti-vigilante novel ‘Death Wish’ and the subsequent “adaptation.” But I still love the films these books inspired, even if both authors were left fairly pissed off.

They still seem to be scheming a ‘Warriors’ remake with Tony Scott involved. This is a bad idea. His ‘Man on Fire’ was good (though I favour the Scott Glenn version — a onetime Sky Movies late night staple), but his version of ‘The Taking of Pelham 123′ was insipid.

This remake could well be a repeat of John McTiernan’s dreadful ‘Rollerball’ remix of a few years ago. I’m still smarting from the director’s cut of the original (the comic book captions and “Sometime in the future…” concept are badly misjudged), but Walter Hill is still one of my favourite directors — I concur with this tribute here. Anyone who directs ‘Extreme Prejudice’ has earned the right to fuck with own his films to his heart’s content. At least the novelization came over a decade before the film itself — anyone else remember the 1983 Scarface novelization which opens with Tony getting his face cut in Cuba by a cuckolded love rival? That book even ended with Tony being blown to bits by his own rocket launcher. Liberties. Major liberties.

It’s nice to know that the more obscure ‘Warriors’ gangs have been named in recent years. The UK fansite is phenomenal. Not only does it let you know who was a Jones Street Boy, that those fucking mimes were the Hi-Hats and that the camp-looking Moonrunners repped for Pelham, there’s a whole thread dedicated to identifying every other gang in the film that’s just mind-bogglingly exhaustive. There’s even some replica vests being produced within that community of obsessives.

I hope the remake gets put on the backburner — despite some tough competition from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Luther impression during ‘Shame on a Nigga’ and Puffy’s prior to the ‘Flava in Ya Ear’ remix, I still love the ‘Crunk Muzik’ video…notwithstanding the rollerblade content. Isn’t that what a crappy update would end up looking like?

And ya’ll might know your ’80 Blocks From Tiffany’s’, but I still want to see more video footage from the 1971 Hoe Avenue Truce meeting which inspired the Cyrus-led park gathering that opens ‘The Warriors’ — there’s footage in Henry Chalfont and Rita Fecher’s ‘Flyin’ Cut Sleeves’…though apparently that was all strictly for show, with the real truce being a more thugged-out affair, worked out behind-the-scenes…

RAP GOES ARTHOUSE & OTHER BULLSHIT

So you’ve all worked out that Hype Williams copied ‘Enter the Void’ for the Kanye West ‘All of the Lights’ video? You get the slow clap…the slow, slow, slow clap. Why? Because most of the critics should buy the film rather than furiously upping YouTube links. Mr. Gasper Noé would get paid that way. Not to defend what’s clearly a copy, but with an apathetic shrug, all I can say is, that’s hip-hop for you.

Nobody got their panties in a bunch over Kanye using ‘Akira’ for ‘Stronger’…nobody was up in arms over a trillion ‘Scarface’ and ‘Casino’ bites…it is what it is. I’m more depressed that so many people popping shots hadn’t heard of the film in the first place — it’s the kind of film Blu-ray was built for and if more people are aware of it as a result…cool. I’ve posted here before about the BUF (who are doing the effects for this year’s ‘Thor’ film too) special effects reel when it went online, and the finished article justifies the wait.

What’s the problem?

Sure, rappers seem to do pretense badly…but we’re being assailed with pseudo-pretension from all sides at the moment. Kanye never seems too sure of the smarter moves like the Will Oldham ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ video and that short film of his was willfully and brainlessly esoteric to such needless, self-indulgent heights that it made me want to cut myself…yet I’m glad he does it. I can even tolerate the Disney on ice strings and Viva Pasta approach to opera. Why? Because most rap visuals are regressive nonsense. I haven’t forgotten that ‘Ye’s seemed oblivious to France’s creative under/overground when he threw a hissy fit at Jérémie Rozan and So Me back in 2006. But I’m glad that led to some collaborative work. At least it’s not that bullshit Wale video for the track sampling ‘D.A.N.C.E’ — that was a weak So Me imitation.

Most other rappers trying to get highbrow, fail because they don’t seem to have the team that Kanye’s got on their side….the best progenitors of fly abstraction in hip-hop (Sean Price, Ghostface, Action Bronson and company) aren’t trying to bend the rulebook…their brains are just wired differently — and if you tried to deconstruct their rhymes in front of you, they might hit you.

Now Tyler’s made like Nick Cage in ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ and chowed on a cockroach, expect a wave of rappers who started as faux-gully street dudes, then got tatted up to the neck and wore backpacks these last couple of years making a shift into being bugged-out dudes chatting about necrophilia…it’ll be just like 1997 again, except the rappers won’t all be wacky, self-conscious honkies talking about how crazy they are…prepare for a tsunami of quasi-craziness in a quest to get signed.

I’m just glad that Hype Williams has moved on from the shitty CGI in the Busta and Janet promo. That was doo. What does this bode for the future? A French Montana video homaging Fassbinder’s ‘Chinese Roulette’? Jodorowsky directing a Gunplay WSHH installment in Mexico? Someone taking Lars Von Trier on tour to document the ensuing debauchery? Seeing as Thomas Bangalter did some sound effects for ‘Enter the Void’ there’s some cohesion somewhere down the line. Could a future Noé-inspired piece depict a drunken Consequence smashing a man’s face in with a fire extinguisher after mistaking him for Pusha-T? Perhaps a squalid ‘I Stand Alone’ homage, featuring the broke-ass supporting cast from ‘The College Dropout’?

The closest rap seemed to get to foreign film homage lately was Jay-Z’s godawful record with Mr. Hudson which sampled Alphaville, meaning some kind of tenuous Godard affiliation. Most rappers are unlikely to talk foreign flicks, lest someone calls them gay. The Sandman ‘Anchor’ video actually did a good job of paying tribute to the depraved Belgian masterpiece ‘Man Bites Dog’ in 2008, but nobody seemed to care. The album might have sucked, but that guy cut through the dope-talk monotony of Re-Up records. Rap’s biggest cinephile is actually RA the Rugged Man…anyone who read his ‘Mass Appeal’ pieces knows that, but naming a track after Werner Herzog’s lunatic masterpiece ‘Even Dwarfs Started Small’ was an incredible move.

It’s also worth noting that the use of the fonts in the Hype interpretation come off a little Superdry. They might tie into the bold fonts on the G.O.O.D. Friday artworks, but the way Gasper sends the Futura Condensed that represents his Kubrick love into a mix that includes Constructa and ITC Elan is immaculate and having Tom Kan (who, beyond some remarkable photography and motion graphics, worked on some memorable Daft Punk and AIR graphic design) on board as Typography Designer gives him the edge. I still don’t even know if Tom of BUF were even involved in the “homage” at any stage.

 

Other things on my mind today have been this picture of Miles Davis that I spotted on Miles Davis Online that links to talk of suede jackets a few weeks back…I don’t want this blog to turn into one of those stern image blogs, but Miles is always worth posting. Progressive cool until the very end. Nice watch too. I still wonder where he got that legendary ‘Milestones’ green button-down shirt from. The Andover Store? Brooks Brothers? I thought this Ralph Lauren article from fall ’08 in Ivy League style and jazz would have the solution, but it didn’t. It’s a good read regardless.

I’ve talked about the ultra-bleak and once-rare 1966 Canadian documentary ‘The Things I Cannot Change’ here a couple of times too…I only just noticed that it’s available on DVD and to stream on the site here. While it’s laden with anti-glamour, and makes the father of the family look pretty dislikable throughout, I was struck by how beautiful it all looks. Tanya Ballantyne’s film made the Bailey family a laughing stock locally, and sadly I’ve never seen the sequel, 1986’s ‘Courage to Change,’ but the fight over six dollars that leaves Kenneth Bailey looking worse for wear half an hour in is still one of my favourite onscreen scraps of all time.

Visiting the U-Dox office, big dog/HNIC Russell had a copy of the Queensbridge Park issue of Japan’s 212 Magazine lying around. Other than providing the browser with great snapshots, it really sold the Air Max 2009 to me all over again. Yellow and grey is a killer combo and I regret not picking them up. Cut through the swathe of deck shoe dickheads with totes and New Yorkers know how to rock shoes properly in the summertime.

If you’ve been waiting for Dave Carnie’s ‘boob’ book to reach the UK without an insane shipping charge, my buddies at Platform have just upped an excellent interview with Dave and are selling signed copies of the 720 page epic for £19.99. I was growing old waiting to get my hands on this one and if you don’t know, you need to get to know Carnie. Him badmouthing magazines and bigging up Celine’s writing style is more truth spoken.

NAME THAT TUNE

If you’ve ever watched Mitsuo Yanagimachi’s awesome 1976 documentary ‘God Speed You! Black Emperor,’ depicting one of the least scary biker gangs ever committed to documentary (I didn’t spot any drug use at all and there’s little more than verbal conflict), you may have marveled at the soundtrack. The Bōsōzoku evidently knew a good tune. Shinsuke Takizawa and team Neighborhood were evidently taking notes (note the swastikas in the film too, probably worn as a throwback to US bikers trying to piss everyone else off rather than a sign of outright Nazism).

I’d recommend it as a double bill with the bleak early BBC ’80s Brit gang documentary depiction. ‘The Outcasts’ or full effect — both are available online at time-of-blogging. I’ve been trying to work out what the track is when our young rebel picks up his bike and goes riding with a friend is — it’s an infectious fuzzy stomping record with an almost traditional vocal performance between choruses.

There’s no soundtrack to the film and even arch unearthers of oddities like Andy Votel had to resort to taping the songs from the VHS. The language barrier doesn’t make the quest any easier, especially when I’ve used Google Translator to discover that even Japanese fans are having problems identifying songs. It doesn’t sound like a Flower Travellin’ Band record and the vocals don’t seem to fit with the Anzen Band either. I’ve revisited Julien Cope’s ‘Japanrocksampler’ numerous times for a solution, but I’m still stuck. Anyway, the audio of the mystery record’s below and it’s here because I’ve been humming it all day and it’s somehow familiar yet utterly otherworldy at the same time.

I doubt I’ll revisit the majority of my 1993 tapes or CDs, just because most of them were filler-tastic, they replaced too many an “s” with a “z” and because they were — in the perceived era of orginality — very, very generic. Rasps and iggety-wiggety wordplay-aplenty. I still break out Yall So Stupid’s ‘Van Full of Pakistans’ — an album we had to whisper about at school, lest we were misinterpreted and beaten to a pulp from time to time — because it was a pretty consistent record and because the crew sounded dusted without being New Kingdom or Justin Warfield. Dallas Austin made some strange signings. These guys? Illegal? Da King & I? Fair play Mr. Austin, fair play. Well, maybe not on Da King & I.

These Atlanta residents wore Vans and early ’90s skatewear, plus they had Glen E. Friedman doing their photography. By all rights, today’s hipsters should have had a seizure over this one. Except they hadn’t been born yet. And there weren’t blogs yet. My tape had these idiots on the A-side of the tape until I bought the real deal, making it a pretty schizophrenic TDK. Merge Yall So Stupid with Gangsta Nip and you’ve got Odd Future. Kind of. After getting dropped, the group made some noise (Massinfluence were interesting) but Wikipedia claims a follow up to ‘Van Full of Pakistans’ is coming. Really? After 18 years? I imagine they could fill a stadium in Japan or some such madness.

Once upon a time, only the Pharcyde and Yall So Stupid seemed to wear Vans. Then Lil B and his Pack buddies turned up and swagged it out.

Speaking to the homie Sofarok the other day, we both seemed to find ourselves gawping at the same website on the same weekend – Mystery Ranch. Dana Gleason’s backpack brand was born in 2000, but he’s got 30 years in the game, and his site’s excellent. US-made (they’re based in Bozeman, MT), rigorously tested and guaranteed for life, the range is extensive, there’s enough optional extras to keep equipment geeks happy and military and fire personnel safe. I love well-designed, functional, aesthetically pleasing gear like this. It’s far from rustic or folksy. Now THIS is what a fucking video lookbook should look like

My respect for BNTL (Better Never Than Late) is substantial. They do the socialising so I don’t have to. Who would have thought it? Bloggers that actually have lives beyond the monitor. In terms of content creation and plenty of opinion, they bring it. They’ve been putting it down for a while too.

I was skeptical when I heard about the Silas store opening in London yesterday. I loved Holmes and Silas. They hark back to a time when Zoo York, Supreme, Silas and Shorty’s seemed to be on the same level in terms of my obsession. Silas did great graphics, non-tokenistic womenswear and focused on shirting and knitwear before every fucker was a self-proclaimed expert. Then Silas pissed off to Japan. Tonite, Slam City, Pointer and latterly, Palace kept the old school Silas feel alive. Slam and Palace even seemed to be using the same tee and sweat suppliers that they used to.

I was concerned that the relaunch would be estranged from the Slam family origins, but this image (FROM BNTL’S COVERAGE OF THE OPENING) shows a nifty little collaboration trade on the Slam City and Silas logos. Looking forward to seeing it in the flesh…

www.bntl.co.uk

YMCMB SWEATS

Every now and again, I become preoccupied with a piece of branded hip-hop apparel. For the most part, rap’s current aesthetic is pretty piss-poor — it’s either plain tees, borderline UFC apparel audaciousness or high-end worn badly.

I haven’t lusted after a label’s merchandising since Fondle ‘Em’s masturbating alien tee or Fat Beats lanyards. I wanted a Jeezy Snowman tee for a minute, but those heavily faked BBC tees and polos and N*E*R*D trucker hats were adopted by imbeciles before I could take an interest. The glow-in-the-dark Liquid Blue Skull Pile tee that Juicy J wore in the ‘Stay Fly’ promo wasn’t necessarily a label item, but, bar Champion’s big ‘C’ on Noreaga, it represents the last time I lost my mind over a rapper’s wears.


This image is taken from www.oldschoolheadwear.blogspot.com

My two benchmarks would be Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate apparel from the early ’90s. Occasionally spotted on these shores before ‘Home Invasion’ dropped and ruined everything, Rhyme Syndicate offered a photocopied catalogue, but it was the stark white lettering on a tee or black snapback hat that was reputedly Starter-made loooooong before everyone hopped on the throwback bandwagon recent years. It just go the job done and represented the best of the group’s aesthetic — my good friend Mr. Charlie Sofarok showed me an unreleased Vans Syndicate snapback cap with black SYNDICATE on white in the same stark font that seems like an opportunity wasted.

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo and bumbled into one of the many hip-hop clothing stores only to be bemused by the mixture of licensed labels, Old Navy clothes, Champion and lurid tribute tees, you might have spotted Rhyme $yndicate out there (“Since 1990″). The licensed Japanese wing offers those staple designs with a bonus dollar sign. It’s not particularly good either — but you can buy some of the worst button-down shirts I’ve ever seen, or a Donald D tee if you’re in the market for one.

We’re in the midst of a Carhartt boomtime, but the Tommy Boy Carhartt jackets with the HAZE logo and Shawn Stussy logos were killer. There was the retail variation (which seemed to be a more commonly seen in an Active Jacket form), while the “Staff” Detroit Jacket was almost mystical in its appearance around 1991. If anyone has the 2006 Stussy/Haze/Muro/Carhartt Savage variation, I still need it in my life…

Young Money Cash Money Billionaires (YMCMB) have my new favourite piece of rap apparel. A crewneck sweatshirt with the letters placed across the chest in a no-frills style. One might assume that Baby and Weezy’s conglomerate would lead to something that’s unnecessarily diamonique laden, but this is clean. Like that SYNDICATE clothing or the lettering on those Kanye Good Friday leaks, it’s been seen in hooded form on DJ Khaled (who really seems to like his, judging on repeated wears) and new Young Money man T-Pain.

Baby rocked the black variation and Lil’ Wayne wore the grey version during a recent interview with Sway prior to the delayed release of the ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’ video. Drake wore a grey sweat which seemed to have green letters while throwing up some unconvincing gang signs alongside Wayne as he performed ‘Green and Yellow’ at a Super Bowl party, and a nervous looking Lil’ Twist had a brown take. Both Drake and Twist’s had a Champion Reverse Weave bulk to their fit. Predictably, eBay is awash with fakes, but you can actually buy the “real deal” from here for $49.99.

Now, where can I get a Bronald Oil & Gas, LLC shirt or headed notepad? Did Willie D ever have golf umbrellas or mugs printed for his iPod withholding eBay store?

BOOKS, SHOES & SHIRTS

Who would have thunk it? Chambray shirts are the new punk rock.

Rushed blogging because I’m hectic this evening. No 1000 word stream-of-consciousness drivel until the weekend, but I thought I’d mention a trio of things that are making Wednesday 09/02/2011 more bearable right here.

The Steven Alan Nike project had an underwhelmed response from some quarters, but honestly, the Lava Dome with green swoosh is my idea of a dream shoe. The homie Mubi hooked these up from NYC and not even a madcap pricetag could elicit a single sense of buyer’s remorse—that imperfect suede texture, the subtle tongue patch…all of it—it’s perfect to me. I love the orange swoosh original, but these match it pound-for-pound. The ’02 reissues were cool, as were the ’08 vintage variations, but this is my favourite collaboration in a long, long time. The Talaches, Tokis and Magmas do absolutely nothing for me. Lava Domes will always reign supreme. And that’s word to John Roskelley.

Normally when friends tell you they’ve got a book project on the way, they’re lying or exaggerating. Somehow when the homie Nick Schonberger—a rap, nacho, tattoo and antique furniture scholar—mentioned this, I believed him. It’s nice to know people like that and his historical contribution to ‘Homeward Bound: The Life and Times of Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry’ helps make this hefty hardback, clothbound beauty of a book a keeper. From fonts to the wealth of imagery and some deep history on the era, location, the big man himself and techniques of the time, this is a tremendous undertaking and a perfect companion to Erich Weiss’s ‘Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry’ DVD. Having had the pleasure of spending time around some big names in tattooing, there’s nothing that matches it for absolute obsession, and any legit project on the topic frequently exceeds expectations. I still haven’t taken the time to digest the contents, but kudos to Nick, Jason, Beth, David and Erich for bringing this to life. It should be in spots in Europe like Colette shortly, and the documentary might be set for a slightly more substantial cinema release soon as well. Thanks to Sarah for lugging it down south to get to me too.

The white t-shirt quest continues and with an unseasonal snap in the cold weather, I finally road tested the slightly thinner but substantial enough Kirkland Signature shirt. They’re not transparent to the point where your nipples are exposed, but they’re not Hanes Beefy/Pro Club thick either. I favour a fairly long tee that doesn’t expose the belly button after three washes and these fit the bill if you like a shirt that’s not skintight. They compress and thicken up a little after cleaning, but it’s not drastic. At around $15 for five they’re pretty disposable too if you want to remain dope boy fresh…being in the UK doesn’t help my cause as they’re seemingly only available at Costco stores in the USA. Are these still the best value plain tee on the planet? I think so. Our UK equivalents fail miserably—Primark and Matalan’s see-through, boxy efforts need to fall back.

THE FADER’S EARLY DAYS & SOME OTHER STUFF

STAPLE IN PRINT

It’s good to see that the Reed Space’s ‘Reed Pages’ has reached issue one with a more substantial, perfect-bound offering than the launch edition issue zero all those years ago. I know I’m prone to assuming cancellation when follow-ups aren’t forthcoming, but almost two years is quite a gap. Just bear in mind that Mr. Staple is no stranger to printed matter.

It’s worth taking this moment to take it back to a time when you were still mildly optimistic about Rawkus releases, when Zab Judah was on the rise and Gravis Tarmacs (were they co-designed in any way by a pre-Visvim Hiroki?) were still a contender. ‘The Fader’ does an excellent job now on the music front, but in 2000 and 2001 it was a bible to me in my Bedford residence for matters of style too. I was more than happy to shell out around £6 an issue at the Piccadilly Circus branch of Tower Records in the hunt for this title and ‘Mass Appeal,’ ‘LODOWN’ or the lesser-spotted Transworld spinoff, ‘Stance’.’

These were pre-blog (shouts to the Mo’ Wax bulletin board massive, Spine Magazine, Rift Trooper and Being Hunted though) days, and if I saw an article I liked, it got memorized like rap album thank you’s. Jeff Ng’s contribution to the editorial side of early issues (the jeffstaple design was excellent too) gave us some English-language profiles of brands, product and people that had been confined to Japanese publications like ‘Boon’ and ‘Relax.’

It’s always nice to see the smart Supreme advertising that ‘The Fader’ carried, but Jeff’s 2001 Paul Mittleman and Hiroshi Fujiwara/Nike Japan profiles from issues #4 and #5 were very strong and resonated with me for some reason. The Hiroshi piece places plenty of emphasis on an innovative early ’00s boomtime—the Monotone collection white/green Terra Humara are something I’ve looked out for ever since in a US10 and the Air Max 120 remains underrated. Paul Mittleman’s recurring Arc’teryx coat and the shots of the never-bettered Dunk Lows (reissued next week) that built on his appearance in ‘Stance’ talking about the same shoe.

I spilt coffee on issue #4 of ‘The Fader’ and lost it when my mother culled my magazines left in her loft back in late 2002. Since then, I’ve been looking to read the Hiroshi article again (I’m sure that at one point it used to reside on its own http://www.fader.com/hiroshi URL). Then the homie Masta Lee at Patta saw my Tweeted plight and hooked me up with scans of the piece—props and praises to him for that act of kindness. Shouts to Jeff and the Fader for creating some essential content that resonated with an info-hungry freak like me.


UK RAP RENAISSANCE

Just because I think some folk need to deal with hip-hop’s progression doesn’t mean I feel some UK legends deserve to exist in a netherworld where their names are only uttered by the older generation during talk of the olden days. I think most of the current wave of UK hip-hop that’s broken through is still a crappy imitation of our American brethren, and while I appreciate that men rapping about demons over very fast Bomb Squad-style production isn’t going to cut it any more (maybe in some other parts of Europe, but not here), I love to see some of the old guard who made some classic LPs and reinterpreted rap on their own terms deserve some shine.

Take Hijack for instance—they had one of the best visual identities of any British band, but remained a cult favourite due to label politics—or MC Duke, or labels like Kold Sweat or Music of Life. There was a vitality to these names in their heyday and a sense that they’d go far to rep our nation at a point when hip-hop truly hit the mainstream circa 1991. Some are content to talk it up and simply recollect, some feel that they’ll give Giggs and Pro Green a run for their money at some point (still labouring under the misapprehension that their time is coming) and others entered a bigger industry and made a buck by taking off the blinkers and branching out. Respect to former HHC editor Andy Cowan for starting Original Dope—a label dedicated to reissuing old British hip-hop albums in remastered, repackaged and expanded form. Ruthless Rap Assassins, Blade and MC Duke fans should be delighted.

I remember the merchandise pages in Blues & Soul, HHC and several LP sleeves, but who was going to entrust their cash or postal order to some mysterious P.O. box address? I got my fingers burnt several times over the years, but I always wanted those mysterious tees and sweats that groups and labels promoted. Then there were the acts that should have had tees, but never did. What’s the solution? Officially licensed UK rap shirts from Style Warrior UK. Back in 2006 I spotted a MySpace for this UK label but missed out on a Hijack shirt…then I was outbid on eBay for it twice. Now it’s back—Overlord X, Son of Noise, Gunshot, M.C. Mell’o’, Music of Life (and there’s an excellent breakdown on their logo on the site), MC Duke, Silver Bullet, Kold Sweat are reliving their youth on cotton in a remarkably well-designed way, and there’s even two Hijack styles to pick from. The blog’s very good with some video links to the old ‘3rd Eye’ video magazine, talk of Stereo MCs and Cash Crew tees on the horizon and a history of the Demon Boyz logo too.

Today’s actually the cut-off for picking up the Hijack ‘Style Wars’ shirt. I assume there’s some rapidly aging fuckers like me who bug out at that kind of thing. It’s up there with the Japanese BBP licensed Showbiz & AG tees from five years ago in the very necessary stakes. Props to all involved.

JIM REDMOND: NIKEHEAD

Thinking about Nike endorsements, one of the most extensive one-man brand examples actually comes in the shape of an athlete’s father—Jim Redmond, the dad of Derek, who memorably accompanied his stricken son to the finishing line of the 400 metres in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. From the “Just Do It” hat to the Huarache t-shirt, socks and 180 running shoes, Jim was Nike down that day. I’m not 100% sure if the shorts were the brand’s own, but in late 2002 I bumped into him at an event and asked if he’d sell me the Huarache t-shirt. He laughed deeply and wandered off. I don’t think he realised that I was being serious.

NOSTALGIA OFFSETTING:

‘CONFESSIONS’

It’s no surprise that ‘Confessions’ (‘Kokuhaku’) has been nominated for a foreign-language film Oscar. It’s a unique, strange, overblown, almost operatic blast of human misery, but it’s also one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve seen in a long time. The entire film pretty much moves in a stylized slow-motion, but it doesn’t jar or de-humanise the hyper-emotive nature of the film. Best of all, it relies on certain facets of Japanese culture that would confer any attempts at a Western remake to failure status.

THE RIDE #5

I’ll confess—I have no interest in riding a bike at any time in the future. I lack coordination and live in a town where the roads simply don’t want to accommodate car and bicycle at the same time. It’s a democratic mode-of-transport though, and for some reason, that seems to breed great journalism. ‘Rouleur’ is awesome and ‘The Ride’ journal is good too—from the ilovedust covers to the 700 word stories and accounts of bike experiences, brief interviews and fine photography, it’s evidently a painstaking production. I can’t be arsed to take foot to peddle, but cycling is such a broad church—far more than Eras, rolled up Uniqlo chino legs and fixies – that it generates absorbing and eclectic reading matter. It’s available at Albam, Howies and some other spots right now. Anything with a piece on 1960s Eastern Bloc cycling artwork that adorned matchboxes is worth the expenditure, plus all profits go to charity. It actually makes me want to take a ride, and only the knowledge I’ll end up under the wheels of a bus within an hour discourages me…