I remember being super-impressed in 1998 when Polo Sport seemed so powerful that it could spawn a sub-label like RLX. Then Polo Sport vanished, bar a blue bottle of fragrance (developed by the same nose that would launch Power by 50 Cent 15 years later). I’ve never known the reasoning behind that switch — if ever a brand was of its time, the metallic fabrics and big branding on Polo Sport was it, embodying the late 1990s. But post-millennium the cold weather RLX line would take over like a young upstart at the office elbowing out its predecessor in 2005 in favour of skiwear and golf gear with the three-quarter sleeves. Still, it’s better than U.S. Polo Association gear (I only just found out that there was once a U.S. Polo Association bear on their cheap luggage) Having said that, I’ve never noticed anyone wearing RLX (beyond Diddy), but I’m guessing that it must make some money and the last half a decade of Polo Sport seemed pretty unmemorable and maybe the SoHo store opening in 1999 that promised to be a more accessible experience killed it. Now, in a world where 1996/97 Hilfiger and Polo Sport colour blocking, arm lettering and mesh pockets and panels is being homaged heavily, it’s ripe for a resurrection, but it’s probably for the best that it stays on the other side and is left to the vintage and thrift store gods for rediscovery. The old ads with the Bruce Weber photography stay classic and while that Polo Sport tie is not top of my wishlist, the J Peterman style copywriting is no joke.
There’s a special place in hell reserved for people wandering around saying “Trill” and “We out here”. Especially hipst… actually, let’s be more direct — whiteys. Unless you’re Haystak or Lil Wyte or something. Self hating hipsterdom of the Homer Simpson “It’s funny ‘cos it’s true! We’re so lame!” kind is equally jarring, but honestly, the only rap nostalgia I’m interested in is a restoration of the days when melanin-deficient rap nerds got a “What do you know about hip-hop?” reaction to any attempts to spark a chat about Rap-A-Lot. I used to enjoy the vicarious thrill of listening to X-Clan, King Sun, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Geto Boys and Brand Nubian just because they didn’t seem to want me listening to them. They weren’t retweeting my endorsement — rappers were taking my international money order for fan club membership or merchandise and sending me nothing because I was a white rap fan and I didn’t deserve it.
It was a poorly kept secret that we were the ones funding the industry by making up a lion’s share of music purchases, but nobody seemed to cut us any slack — we were honkys, crackers, goofy dudes or cops with amplified caucasian dweebiness on album interludes. We kind of knew our place. Even MC Serch sometimes sounded so disappointed at being white that he’d berate white devils too. Somewhere down the line, the pet white characters like that white dwarf in Too Much Trouble, Miilkbone and Knucklehedz gave way to a post-Eminem world where wild liberties are taken, kids that aren’t Paul Wall have fronts, people actually debate whether it’s cool for white people to say “nigga” (some people even think it’s cool if Gwyneth Paltrow does), hug rap replaced thug rap and even the gooniest goons seem to want to interact on social media, not helped by a climate of dickriding where rappers and hip-hop personality on Twitter “reacting” to stuff is a big deal and everything has to be “addressed”.
As is the case with high-end brands and formerly snooty stores wanting to be buddies all of a sudden, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with rap’s acceptance of me. I’m assuming that the NPR intern kid is white (posisbly even fictional) and there he is dismissing Public Enemy — that would have been a beatdown in 1988 (not that I’m advocating one and it’s kind of quaint that kids still want to be music journalists). Now it’s just a low-level viral ticking off. And how did you just get on the Trill talk when UGK said it 24 years ago (20 if we’re talking Jive records)? “We out here” is strictly for white teed characters in the background of WSHH videos. Revoke those passes people — hip-hop needs to start getting intimidating again. The music’s still on point but some folks need to be kept in check.
Anyway, everyone knows the only white dude hip-hop allows is Phil Collins.
If you spotted the mysterious artwork for Pasolini’s ‘Trilogy of Life Criterion Blu-ray set doing the rounds this week, which may or may not be a fake, because its origins are mysterious, you’ll have spotted the homage to Basquiat in there. Whatever the origins, it’s a lot cooler than Swizz Beatz shouting about “That Basquiat Life!!!!!” on Twitter. Is a disfranchised, heroin addled existence something to add multiple exclamation marks to? How about, “That Mark Rothko Life!!!!!”
I maintain that Long Beach’s Proper don’t get their due for breaking from the collaborative norm just before a hype communication infrastructure was in place. Their ASICS GT II used speckles when they were still cool and applied military grade ripstop long before everyone else did. In a ‘Sneaker Freaker’ interview in 2005, they talked about a Gel Lyte III they were working on (seemingly coinciding with the model’s reintroduction). And then, nothing. This Knicks-colour version of the shoe is one of the great lost collaborations and it even has a phantom-like quality, thanks to some wonky Photoshopping. If this shoe had come out, I would have lost my mind and I still think it holds up, despite the slew of makeups that have dropped since.
Once again, there’s no real modus operandi behind this blog, but even though I’ve got sufficient outlets for athletic footwear and hip-hop, I still thought I’d make it the topic of discussion today. I’ve been pondering Lord Finesse’s attire over the years alongside the beat and lyrical battle between him and Extra P to solidify an answer on the best producer on the mic debate. Today, Finesse. Tomorrow William Paul Mitchell. Like many of my boom-bap pensioner associates (I’m 31 – rap is a young man’s game), I gave up trying a while back.