Hype makes the industry tick. No blog buzz within 24 hours of launch? Disaster. Nothing gets time to breathe. I find myself laughing at peers picking up on something that went wall-to-wall on Facebook 48 hours prior, and it’s not something that I’m proud of. I’m convinced that the downside of this quick hit, tentacled notion of “street culture” is that while it might snake out far beyond printed tees (and my friend Mr. Marcus Troy made an interesting point on Hypebeast regarding the possibility that too many brands might be dwelling on an “over it” audience at the expense of an audience who want to wear caps, tees and hats, rather than washed-out, button-down blues), it doesn’t seem to take time to create any roots.

I also think that exposure to everything that goes down globally in ten minutes of browsing is homogenising local scenes. I still the joys of information overload provide benefits that outweigh that issue, but I felt it was something worth discussing, because when you turn into a miserable old fuck like me, you cease to create, and commence with utterly unnecessary introspect. Eugene at Hypebeast was kind enough to let me vent a little on the site about a lack of movements (though the title accidentally invokes my lazy way of life and approach to my career too), complete with a little disclaimer too for the site’s Op-Ed experiment.

Lest I look too much like an ageing hipster doofus, I wrote it a short time before the OFWGKTA movement truly went mainstream with the Kimmel and bug-chewing and I realised that nearly every hip-hop blog had become a redundant Johnny-come-lately. So please allow for the token trendy dad reference point. It’s the kind of unfocused ramble you might find here – mostly BlackBerry written and bearing my trademark cavalier approach to grammar. But the aim wasn’t another tiresome things were better in 19_ _ or 20_ _” rant, rather a query as to how cultures might progress in the abundant information age. You can find it here. The next Hypebeast crossover with this self-indulgent corner of the internet will be more focused, but it’s a fun opportunity I appreciate.

Any talk of HYPE also reminds me of the excellent 1989 Sports Illustrated article of the same name, talking about the relationship between sport and hyperbole, using the white leather jacket with “Don’t Believe the Hype” in gold and black across the back that Mike Tyson was fetching from Harlem’s Dapper Dan store at 4 in the morning when he ran into Mitch “Blood” Green and left him needing expensive sunglasses.

Just as the Lo-life gang’s illicit efforts popularized Polo, Hilfiger Nautica and The North Face in such a way that they altered street style forever, Dapper Dan deserves similar status — Gucci, MCM and Louis Vuitton can’t have been too pleased to see themselves bootlegged to the point where folk thought they might be making the madcap items taking pride of place on record sleeves sailing up the Billboard charts, but they created a brand loyalty and aspiration that’s made these houses a fortune. The Louboutin Swizz hookup and Kanye Vuittons are the by product of what “Dapper” Daniel Day was capitalizing on when he stayed open 24 hours for an audience of celebrities and the criminal minded back in the day.

Exclusive Game clothing are following that lineage with their gear for Jadakiss, Rick Ross and Diddy (check the custom MCM piece in the ‘Another One’ video) and anyone crying “FAKE!” might be missing the point. I only recently noticed that DJ E-Z Rock is wearing some customised Louis Vuitton monogram Air Force 1s in Janette Beckman’s 1988 photo shoot for the ‘It Takes Two’ album. Maybe I’d always been too distracted by the early Uptown sighting on an artist’s foot as well as that Dapper Dan tracksuit to pay full attention to the swoosh and heeltab. I always thought the designer fabric Air Force was a late 1990’s phenomenon, but this was Harlem style in full effect.

PHADE and the crew’s Shirt Kingz empire that ran relatively concurrent to the Dapper Dan movement with their printed sweats and tees deserves its props as part of the bigger contemporary picture now too. Mr. Paul Mittleman posted up some images of the crew’s heyday (I love the Safari sighting and some shots reiterate just how popular the Air Force II was — there’s some Assault action beyond the Fat Boys too) recently and it was clear that while the west had its own surf and skate culture for new brands to gnaw on, hip-hop’s golden age informed the east coast’s streetwear — Jamaica Coliseum Mall, where the Kingz had their retail operation apparently has a stall selling airbrushed shirts up to the present day, but PHADE, NIKE and KASHEME helped form a uniquely hip-hopcentric apparel and an industry that’s worth billions.

Shit, even the cheap artist photo tees that followed (usually incorporating a deceased artist) inspired Supreme’s teamups with Raekwon, Jim Jones and Juelz, plus the rest of those eBay-friendly releases. That lineage makes the sight of a sullen Lou Reed on a shirt even more entertaining.


4 thoughts on “HYPE”

  1. I tweeted a few select quotes from the HB Editorial for the kids who ask me idiotic questions about starting a streetwear line on Twitter all day.

    I even broke down the quotes to be nice and simple for them to understand and subsequently have their minds blown. Hopefully inspire some awesome project out there somewhere in Kansas along the way in the mind of some bright young chap.

    All I get in response are kids asking me when they can buy new Award Tour t-shirts. Failure.

    Great fucking piece.

    1. Thank you Phil.

      By creating something fresh, you’ve unleashed a wave of copyists. I guarantee the majority won’t want to put the hours in when it comes to coding the damned thing and would water down what makes Madbury great. Thus your mad endeavor stays winning.

      But there’s definitely mad amounts of kids out there creating the next shit. I have faith.

  2. wow – great read. just found your blog. I have been thinking & talking about this recently and its good to find a similar thoughts.I am a 37yr old skater with family so I guess the same old ‘you’re just jaded old man’ stigma applies – just wanted to get these thoughts out of my head

    Death of the underground. There is no underground anymore – if you were in the minority that looked for skateboarding/punk rock/hip hop/b-boy culture in the late 80’s & early 90’s, you went through a process, a search for that thing that got you stoked, it was hard to find.
    you knew friends of friends who were into it, or had tapes or import mags, or knew some mailing address/or crazy shop that stocked just a few items in a far away town to get it.
    it was a proper sub-culture and you had to work at it to find out more. That search (which helped define you through the social interactions along the way) is no longer there for young people today. Or at least the search is there but the answer is a few clicks away
    My sons will have the opportunity when they are a bit older to say “I want to be a hip-hop head”
    and with a net connnection, some time and a bit of disposable income they will maybe in a month be pretty knowledgable on hip-hop (if they study the endless info online), they can have some on-point gear, maybe some OG/vintage sneaks and they will walk & talk it.
    AND then, next month, they can start over again and be a punk -rocker and so on and so on.
    What took us years and helped form & nurture our personalities, can take a matter of weeks (at least the education part) for the youth of today
    The explosion of youth culture and youth power in the 90’s (from the Berlin wall coming down etc)unlocked brands & corporations ‘minds’ to see that that was where the new ‘market’ was.
    And so over the next ten years+ through the noughties – these former sub-cultures became mainstream youth movements and the potential customers were very carefully and deliberately targeted by the likes of sports/electronic/soft drinks brands
    This has obviouly all been aided & structured through the ‘net. It couldnt really have happened without it.
    Is it a good or bad thing? Hmm, Good that kids will have so many opportunities to learn and experience new things in such an easy way. Bad in that they wont necessarily have or need the social process to discover these passions

    my point? I’m sill trying to work it out, I have hope for the future but whilst we are at this sub-cultural internet highway, I think if you really want underground now – I suggest a book reading club in the middle of a forest, with no phones allowed

    *goes back to looking at photos of Natas and puts on ” A Nation of millions…” again

  3. Amazing article, thanks so much. The comparisson between Dapper Dan’s & Lo Life’s contribution to the whole hip hop and, might I even say, “urban” fashion is a solid rock fact to most people who lived it, or like me, who studied it from abroad, but it’s hard to find these facts, stories and anecdotes outside of the states.

    Much respect from Madrid, Spain.


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