GOOD STUFF

There’s too much good stuff out there to maintain focus at the moment. Even I want to get way from the WordPress backend and read this right now, but the voices in my head won’t let me until I’ve uploaded something. It was good to see Jerry and Michael Richards talking about that fateful heckling incident…by incident I mean massive outburst of racism. I never bought the joke-gone-wrong theory, despite my love of Kramer, but I’m inclined to believe he had a post ‘Seinfeld’ breakdown of some sort that manifested itself alongside some extra issues. 6 years of sadness on, I think he’s served his time and he cuts quite a miserable figure on ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ — especially at the very end when Jerry talks to him about the career-killer. The other blast from the past in the latest episode (as seen on other installments too) is Jerry’s Nikes.

Funnily enough, Jerry’s swoosh obsession has been very good for my “career” and after Mr Josh Porter (formerly of NikeiD a few years back) told me that Seinfeld’s occasional appearances in the NYC iD space always involved him grabbing Shox and reportedly shrugging and saying, “I love the Shox” it’s no surprise to see him in the onetime rudeboys’ favourite technology. Seinfeld is still very much a Nike man. This entire episode feels like a bittersweet ‘Seinfeld’ epilogue – more so than the ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ arc that was a be-careful-what-you-wish-for for the show’s nostalgic fans. It’s a moment of catharsis and a one-man intervention for Richards that’s a long way from Richie Appel’s fictional one back in 1992. It’s worth giving the wire-haired eccentric points for at least conceding he fucked up, unlike Enoch-backing pseudo bluesman Eric Clapton.

Mr Nick Schonberger hooked me up with a copy of ‘Forever: The New Tattoo’ and it’s excellent. There seems to be a movement that doesn’t want to consider itself a movement within the trade of tattooing and this book does a great job of documenting some key practitioners who are vandalizing bodies with a skilled brutality that’s mesmerizing to look at. Tradition and free thinking, plus a certain unwillingness to participate in those TV shows and webisodes where a woman comes in to get a dolphin on her back to represent conquering some terrible malady makes pinning down some of these masters of the needle difficult, but Nick seems to be in that inner circle, asks some insightful questions and writes extremely well. Geometry, homemade styles, French cartoons and big, cool snakes and daggers for the fuck of it in the most visible places are all on display and the book’s design is beautiful. It’s not an encyclopedia, nor one of those ‘1001 Tattoos’ £6 from Fopp tomes — it’s an elegantly gnarly cross-section of the current mood. Guy Le Tatooer, Fergadelic, Duke Riley, Alex Binnie, Duncan X and Curly’s work is remarkable and in this format, paper does it justice. Go buy this and pick up the new ‘Sang Bleu’ while you’re at it – yeah, the new issue is £75, but you’re only going to spend twice that on a bad shirt that you forget to eBay and end up shifting for £60, so compared to that sartorial misfortune, ‘Sang Bleu’s a bit of a bargain.

I sneaked a look at an unfinished copy of the new ‘Hurt You Bad’ magazine and stole this picture from Sofarok’s Instagram too. If the notion of a graffiti magazine without graffiti in it seems absurd, you can get your fix of train and wall damage from a swift Google search these days. You don’t need to pay £12 for 24 pages of scanned photos and excitable German text to get your fix and the HYB team’s output is strong. Crucially, you won’t notice the dearth of drippy tags or throw ups until after you finish reading it – that’s quite an achievement. Where a lot of publications lose their footing — despite some bold press release proclamations — is the lack of an editorial agenda, leading to a cluttered, scrappy pulped tree equivalent of (insert blog name here) that defeats the point. I don’t know when it’s coming out though, but you need to pick up #1 — it’s the best graffiti magazine (the new breed of beautifully designed books don’t count) I’ve browsed since ‘Life Sucks Die.’ And I really liked ‘Life Sucks Die.’

Y’OH Streetwear has made some serious moves this year by creating gear with just enough nostalgia for the older heads who long for the Iceberg and Moschino era that got kids dressing back in the day and plenty of prints to ride today’s wave for the youth who couldn’t care less what we think. It’s a potent mix and Kara keeps creating it. If you ever longed for one of those tees from a diffusion line that was just expensive enough to get peer props and distract from your cheap denim — maybe you lusted after a Guess Jeans design with the embroidered letters — Y’OH’s embroidered take on the excellent Y’OH Sport design drops next week. Everything looks better when it’s embroidered. Shit, even NAFF CO.54 and any other knockoff on cotton or nylon coach jacket fabric used embroidery as a distraction from their fugazi nature. Great stuff.

NORTHERN ITALIAN EXPORTS

As I lay here trying to influence myself to write anything, the whole notion of influence (and Bob Beaudine and Paul Adams’ works disprove the blog-centric notion of what constitutes and influencer) becomes even more ludicrous. Still, I’m honoured that my friend Mr. Matt Halfhill (whose drive and sheer knowledge of SEO and power of social media is genuinely inspirational) put me at #41 on a Complex list of people who have some juice in the sports footwear sector. To be honest, I don’t feel any more influential than I did when I started winging it in this industry — I’m still winging it to the present day. I’m also looking for some influence to assist me in executing some projects I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in, so I’m currently looking at hardcore performance boots from some respected names that don’t seem to have made the crossover. I’ve long been a fan of Bavarian boot masters Meindl (I obsessed over a transparent demo version of one of their top tier designs for some time), but Italy’s La Sportiva are an excellent brand too. I saw some of their ugly but efficient looking mountain runners on Japanese feet a few years back and became preoccupied with what this 80 year-old brand does.

The needs of mountain runners are myriad, but La Sportiva”s Zianno di Fiemme based factory makes performance footwear that’s far from rustic close to home with some serious GORE-TEX affiliations. From a visual standpoint, the Nepal EVO GTX mountain boot is hardbody and deeply obnoxious (my two key boot criteria), with the Rasta coloured midsole housing a variable thickness TPU for front crampons, the yellow being a similar deal for rear crampons and the red being an antishock material. This boot looks like a good post apocalyptic pick. I could spend a substantial amount of time just gawping at the wild designs La Sportiva put out and while they’ve had a rep for bold colours since the 1980s, these are serious in their performance capabilities. I believe that Merrells well-regarded 1980s and early 1990s Italian-made output came from the La Sportiva factory too. There’s colourway inspirations for days right here, but their more subdued stuff holds up pretty well too.

Another superior export from Northern Italy, Giorgio Moroder, is the subject of a tremendous interview in the new ‘Fantastic Man’ that covers an array of topics that might be relevant to the interests of this blog’s handful of readers. He purports to have never used drugs (despite the image I posted here a few years ago, with what seems to be a colossal line of chop), bigs up Rick Rubin and David Guetta, reveals he worked with Michael Jackson and, with a progressive mindset, explains that “Moroder-esque” is usually a byword for regressive sounds that he wouldn’t make now. He thinks the soundtrack to ‘Drive’ would be, “a little outdated in the ’80s.” Between that and Nile Rodgers’ 60th birthday video messages with the Daft Punk appearance, it’s a good week for legends who are still standing.

“JAMES WOODS IS A DEEP BROTHER”

Recycled material from the hard drive today, with a Tyson-centric theme incited by talk of Roy Jones Jr. scheming a bout with Kimbo Slice, thus devaluing boxing to the point where it might as well involve kangaroos like a 1950s British fairground. If I had my way, the majority of posts here would involve Kid Dynamite anyway. ‘Spin’s January 1991 meeting between LL Cool J (on the back of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’) and a post Douglas-defeat Tyson is excellent. The “Neither of them have ever heard of Morrissey” line in the intro is a nice start and the topics discussed are pleasantly incendiary, linking boxing and hip-hop and scattering it with a few choice bits of trivia along the way. It’s a bit like classic ‘Source’ meets ‘Playboy’ in terms of content. The ‘Wild, Wild Haircut Craze’ piece from a 1989 ‘Ebony’ uses Mike’s ‘Killer 1’ cut as the starting point to talk step-up flattops and “channel cuts.” The images of Tyson (wearing a Fila track top) and Ali, Tyson being congratulated by Eddie Murphy (who’s at a career point between the mild flop of ‘Another 48 Hours’ and the resurrection that was ‘Boomerang’) and an older shot of Mike proving that espadrilles are for players if you’re built like a brick shithouse and wear a chunky anklet with them. TOMS wearers are still bellends though.

JESUS IN A CADDY

It’s the law that no YouTube video — regardless of how dumb it is — can amass more than 100,000 without a race war or heated debate about religion (often both) beneath it. It’s also another law that every time you’re hit by rap nostalgia and have to Google say Hard 2 Obtain’s ‘L.I. Groove’, there’s somebody bad mouthing Drake beneath it in the comments. Lately I’ve been hit by Clipse nostalgia. It’s 10 years since ‘Lord Willin’ dropped. 10 years. It’s terrifying. So that makes it 13 since their debut was shelved — we got previews of Clipse tracks on free East West compilations as late as 1998. And here’s me assuming that the Thorntons are a contemporary rap phenomenon. I’ll put that down to Pusha T’s post 2009 solo work feeling like something new. And Scarface’s ‘The Fix’ is almost a decade old too. 2002 was a good year for drug rap.

The meeting for the ‘Lord Willin’ cover art is one I wish I was in. Pusha and Malice with Christ in the backseat of a Caddy is often lampooned as a Joe Cool ‘Doggystyle’ friends-with-felt-tips effort, but Vicki Berndt’s art has held up as a memorable cover before album art became quaint. We could study the credible pop and rap crossover a little longer, but it was the Neptunes that brought the worlds together a little more deftly than earlier, more self-conscious efforts. Coke rappers trading verses with Justin Timberlake on ‘Like I Love You’ two months after ‘Lord Willin’ dropped broke down a barrier for better or for worse that reverberates in those confusing 2012 Bieber co-signs.

Beyond pivotal pop crossbreeding, using Bendt’s art was an odd move that brought in some other influences. Berndt’s career went from playing in punk bands, fanzines and photography for Sub Pop records to paintings. Her 2Pac portrait based on Danny Clinch’s ‘Rolling Stone’ shoot for 2001’s ‘Until the End of Time’ grave dig may have caught the eye of somebody at Arista or Star Trak, resulting in the painting of a lot of folks’ favourite bloke with a beard taking a trip to Virginia. To talk up the album’s lineage of glorious silliness that goes back to P-Funk (and beyond) would be too ‘Guardian’ so I’ll just shut up and gaze at the glory of that holy excursion to the sounds of ‘Young Boy’s Ajax talk and Pusha talking Vaseline and Novocaine in ‘Comedy Central.’ I still want a Virginia is for Hustlers t-shirt too, even if Bapestas and Evisu is done. I wish Vicky Berndt had created more hip-hop covers.

Source: Nagoya Yom

You might be in urban ninja mode or pretending there’s more to print tees than there actually is, but Japan’s The Original Tenderloin still keeps creating classics. www.nagoyayom.com is a superior source for finding scans of the best from magazines like ‘SENSE’ and they’ve upped the Original Tenderloin Fall/Winter collection from the latest issue. I like the faint aura around this brand (it also reminds me of Bond International’s Newburgh Street era) and after rumors of the brand’s demise (can anyone clarify whether there was a Real McCoy’s style split within the brand at any point?), the Seagal-esque T-Leather Pullover, T-Sherpa jacket design and T-Lounger plaid dressing gowns are excellent.

Nagoya Yom also upped the ‘SENSE’ preview of the Supreme and Chapman Brothers (not to be mistaken with Chapman who make a lot of Supreme boards) decks. Guaranteed to perplex a subsection of a new audience for the brand in the best possible way and they’re some of the best artist series decks since the Christopher Wool designs, Jake and Dinos’ work looks good on wood. Once again, tap up the site for more. Fuckfaced graphics, part of 2002’s ‘Unholy Trinity’ crucifix sculpture scene and a McDonalds hoarding part of the Chapman Family Collection all seem to be present.

Source: Nagoya Yom

LAZIEST BLOG ENTRY EVER

I’m out the country for a week from tomorrow and I’m suffering from Wi-Fi paranoia, so why not drop a phenomenally lazy (down to the wonky scans) blog post on the off-chance I don’t get back online? When it comes to coverage, Supreme is thorough, but James Jebbia stays in the background. There’s chats on the brand history in ‘Interview’, the Rizzoli book and a scattering of Japanese magazines, but part of the brand’s appeal is in how a red rectangular box does the talking. Remember when Suge Knight called out executive producers all on the records dancing? He kind of had a point. If you’re doing things properly you’re probably too busy or/and successful to require a blog that charts your meals, freebies and new watches. The Supreme piece by Jeremy Abbott in the new edition of British ‘GQ Style’ is pretty good, with James mentioning his time at Morgan Allard’s Parachute store (a retailer with a pioneering pick of Japanese brands) and Ari Marcopoulos on photography. Don’t expect an excess of insight, because giving too much away hinders longevity, but it’s worth reading. And there’s more in it than in the ‘New York’ piece (above) from May 1994. Go buy the magazine if you want to see more images.

POST NO BILLS

My refusal to use an RSS feed has dropkicked me out the loop. I miss out on everything. It took FACT to tell me about the first of 18 Rinse YouTube interviews to celebrate their 18th birthday, Oneupmanship Journal to tell me that Four Pins had upped a piece about the resurrection of Padmore & Barnes (I believe that the new production will be in Portugal rather than Ireland) and Mr Sofarok to tell me about the relaunched LTD’s two-part PNB Nation retrospective, complete with interviews with all the brand’s founder members. I don’t think PNB Nation gets its dues (in fact, there’s a number of “urban” brands that deserve a retrospective — I know a number of significant figures passed through Phat Farm) and solid information is thin on the ground. Knowing that the PNB crew ended up in significant industry roles, both founding brands and guiding existing entities, I got the feeling that there was no time for retrospect, because the wheels were still in motion for their careers. The contemporary PNB Nation with the Nick Cannon affiliations was an abomination compared to a pioneering east coast entity that linked skating, hip-hop and graffiti before Supreme got there (though James Jebbia and Union played a significant role in PNB’s elevation). Now emails and @ Tweets about t-shirt brands are the new please-listen-to-my-demo as the cotton ceasefire that had us in plain white and grey seems to be over, young ‘uns need to learn about the selling-from-a-carrier-bag approach of years gone by before they starting visualising dollar and pound signs. West works for Supreme, handling special projects (the special ops of skatewear) and I damn near Stanned out on speaking to him recently because of the PNB legacy. I still don’t know what happened with the Perry Ellis deal between 1998 and 2000, but PNB stays important. For those who’ve seen this blog before and remember me thinking Ed Lover was wearing a Supreme sweatshirt on the final ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ in 1995, former PNB man Sung corrected me on Instagram — it was PNB. Fuck punctuation and paragraphs. Go and read the feature here. Salutes to Hawaii Mike for putting it together.

SOUTH SIDE

The whole Chief Keef/Jojo situation reiterates the strange relationship we have with rap and gun talk. Everyone seems to love the gangster talk vicariously, but when the reality — youngsters wielding weapons and snuffing each out over seemingly trivial actions — enters their timelines, it gets a little too close for comfort. The whole @rosemo700/WorldStar Hip-Hop situation earlier in the year opened a few eyes, but the lack of major label money, “intelligent” rappers getting sonned on social media and profile meant that loss of life and the ignorance of goonery as a spectator sport didn’t become the issue that it became last week. Have you backed any ratchet rap lately? Thrown up faux gang signs behind closed doors in a suburban environment? I plead guilty to rooting for the “realness” but tutting at the fallout of beefs turned deadly. I plead guilty to being excited by the firearms in the studio for the SMACK DVD video to a Jeezy “freestyle” back in 2005. Keef’s bringing the scary kid with braids O-Dog aesthetic back, except he’s not played by a tender actor who played Frankie Lymon.

We love to hear about a club brawl, slap caught on iPhone and in an era when pop stars and rappers are interchangeable, some of us might long for a time when bullets were exchanged outside HOT 97. You can decry that as ignorance, but you know you’d be frantically hitting the touchscreen if you heard it happened. Recently I was listening to the second NWA album en route to work and I was pondering what happened to that kind of gleeful nihilism. And here it is. You wanted rap to get scary again after all the emo choruses and Stargate-produced white paper spliff anthems? You wanted somebody who actually used a firearm after you put your head in the sand over the actors playing crime boss roles? You got it. Pitchfork even took a teenager to a shooting range, then pulled the video. Keef seemed to be visited by the three ghosts of PR, communications and label bosom and had a Twitter change-of-heart and became all positive overnight.

How would the Ruthless roster have talked on Twitter? Would we have seen Bushwick Bill’s breakdown narrated by the newly one-eyed Bushwick Bill from his hospital bed? Would Chi-Ali have updated on his post-murder antics as the police closed in? Would Dallas Austin’s teeny 13 and 14 something (at least 3 years younger than Keef) gangster rappers Illegal have talked about slaying Kris Kross on there? And with the talk of Interscope, who’ve made a fortune from gun talk, involved, how would @deathrowrecords have carried on if Twitter was around in 1995? Would we have blamed Twitter for 2Pac’s death?


The essence of internet rap fandom

Our own fascination with gun talk is perfectly encapsulated in Michael Bolton’s Scarface rap-along at the beginning of ‘Office Space’. We’re facilitators, but Chicago’s South Side has long been a gang epicenter and even back in 1967, it was considered a problem area. I loved Lee Balterman and Daclan Haun’s images of Almighty Black P-Stones and Disciples from ‘LIFE’ but ‘Ebony‘s August 1967 edition featured an equally excellent article by Phyl Garland on the situation in the South Side, complete with a visit from social workers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, dwelling on the Blackstone Rangers (the gang that spawned the Almighty Black P-Stones, with membership estimated at 1,500+ at time of writing) and their ladies’auxiliary. Twitter shit talking is just a byproduct of something with far deeper roots.