Tag Archives: graffiti

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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News clip library channels on YouTube are as good place to waste some time as any. I occasionally spend an unholy amount of time trawling places like Getty or Corbis to see the good stuff in static form, but after browsing the AP Archive channel, I found some more recent, subtitle-free footage based around vintage denim and old shoes in London and Japan (where Bing Crosby’s denim tux by Levi’s was part of an auction). I hadn’t seen the footage of ageing writers like Zephyr and LA ROC (with some commentary from Henry Chalfont) before either, even though it’s only a couple of years old. Provided that there’s working Wi-Fi, I can’t fathom how anyone can get bored in 2015.



THAI FOOD

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There are plenty of better things to be doing instead of reading this blog. You could watch the first three parts of Noisey’s There Will Be Quiet — The Story of Judge documentary, or you could read Paul Gorman’s blog and get excited about the fact he’s following up a retrospective of The Face with a biography of Malcolm McLaren that releases next year. A few interesting Futura 2000 oddities have emerged on YouTube too — after seeing his work on the opening credits of Spike Lee’s 1983 film school debut, Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop I wondered what other film projects he’d worked on. Dale Cooper from Mo Wax Please (who also upped this RAMM:ΣLL:ZΣΣ interview) uploaded the painted opening credits of 1983’s In the King of Prussia — a film by Emile de Antonio (who co-directed the excellent Underground about the Weathermen Underground Organisation) that depicts the trial of the admirably ballsy “Plowshares Eight” in a hastily shot, ultra-real way using the real participants and the real court transcripts. I have no idea what the provenance of this short video, entitled “Thaifood in Thailand” and uploaded by BUILDESTROY, was — is it part of something bigger? Was it a short shot for TV? But with a 1990-era Futura, Daze, Doze and Toxic, plus a handful of soundbites on the state of the scene 25 years ago.

OI! MUSIC & DAMAGE

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These are strange times. I’ve got love for Hov, but the bad start for Tidal is nothing compared to his adoption of the banter-brigade’s beloved Hype brand while ‘Ye is wearing Soloist — he’s gone from getting his grown man on to getting his sport science student on. The only thing odder is Hus Kingpin’s video entirely dedicated to being SuperDry down that shouts out the “orange label.” Even Canibus —who busted out some distinctly Warsaw nightclub garms a few years back — once proclaimed “With no fear like them clothes white boys be wearing,” back in 1998. And what are these brands if not a No Fear for a new generation?

I’m impressed with what my friend Thibault Choay has been creating for his fine CLASSIC imprint. With a company name like that, the pressure to create greatness comes pre-loaded, but the CHIAROSCURO book project is pretty damned good. To create a graffiti book that doesn’t slip into the trappings of earnest graf book formulas is an achievement, but the subject of this book, Parisian tattooist and former writer Cokney, is an interesting character. For starters, he’s a huge fan of Cockney Rejects and has a case over his head that comes complete with a 228,000 Euro fine. Two years after they started planning this project with writer and curator Hugo Vitrani, they’ve completed this two-volume set — the Scuro book is the light side, a collection of photos from the artist’s perspective taken from undeveloped film given back to Cokney by the police in a good cop moment. To my knowledge, at least until the publication and launch of the exhibition at Sang Bleu last week Cokney hadn’t seen the imagery yet — a deliberate action to homage the pre-digital days of waiting for imagery to develop, and the inevitable unfiltered flaws in the mix. That photography is accompanied by the artist’s own texts.

Light comes with a darkness and the black book is synonymous with graffiti, and, at fear of sounding like Nigel Tufnel, it’s really, really black, with a lot of ink used to give it the Chiaro section the requisite matter-of-fact look. As well as photos, Cokney has access to a lot of his police files, and case N° 1203264038’s evidence against the writer — in the form of images, cleaning quotes and complaints — opens up the age-old art/vandalism debate. but gives an unorthodox perspective — through legal eyes, the critics of the piece — to the work that contrasts and complements the white chapter. There’s some translations in the book too, and it completes a real labour-of-love. It’ll be online soon via the CLASSIC site, priced at 45 Euros and limited to 500 copies.

Thibault kindly invited me to take part in a CHIAROSCURO themed Know-Wave show last Thursday alongside Cokney and Hugo where we talked about topics loosely pertaining to the book, fumbled after a sudden decision to find a Goldie track and played a Booba record loudly.

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TUNNELS

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Not every new magazine is worth celebrating. Some just seem to be made by six people for another six people, some feature the same rapper on the cover because the editor has only heard three new hip-hop acts in the last three years. Some will only ever exist as one edition, gathering dust in sale or return limbo. But where there’s expertise and passion, there’s something worth reading. Graffiti obsessives are a different kind of obsessive — beyond letterforms and the act of writing itself, they’ll discuss defunct paint pens for hours, know station after station, and appreciate the very thing they obsessively love to scar more than people who’d rather it was left pristine. The most interesting print projects relating to graf provide a distinct perspective and, as is often the emphasis within its tunnel-like mass of connecting cultures, their own style. With his own architectural practise, Whole Train Press don Andrea Caputo, whose imprint recently put out an Italian translation of chase story compendium Getting Caught, has put his passions to work with Public Domain magazine. Issue #1 of this hardback bi-annual celebrates underground activity with The Tunnel Issue. Intended as ongoing research project with a single type of space as the driving theme for each edition, this 128-page project is an examination of social potential, politics, physical and theoretical boundaries and constructions, freezing some temporary habits and rituals within these places. Including Kafka, words on walls, artists using the tunnel as guidance or a hiding place, criminal activity, Parisian sewers, journeys, catacomb histories, crew shots, conceptual drawings, scholarly essays, police pursuits, and a networked dark realm that visits Moscow and Amsterdam, the content is varied. There’s very little graffiti in Public Domain, yet the hardcore mentality and abundance of intense, intellectual outlooks makes it seem steeped in the habit without resorting to the predictable. More a book than a magazine, with its ad-free editorial, this #1 is well worth a dig.

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This 1989/1990 voxpop from outside the Astoria via The Kino Library is pretty amazing. Shoe-centric talk, as Chipie, knitwear and shearlings are twinned with ZX 8000s, 9000s, Stabs, Kickers and Timbs captures a moment in dress well. Another piece from the same segment features a giant mobile phone being wielded and waved at the camera.



STACKS

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I’m late to this one and I only ran into it trying to get hold of a copy of Ice-T Shot Me in the Face (if anybody has a copy of that book for sale, holler). I’ve long railed against lame shoe-dude apparel (bar Stüssy AM95, Dead Stock and OG CT tees) and the misconception that being into trainers is necessarily connected to style nowadays, but this 2007 image by the aforementioned book’s Montreal-based publisher Paul Labonté called Rubber Bands and a Shoebox (which, as part of a 2008 exhibition, probably isn’t a reference to this track by Ya Boy, who completely confused me by changing his name recently) is a Tumblr classic (which can be summoned by typing in cash and shoebox on Google Images) that benefits from filling a box that could contain some obscure AF1 His from 1992 or some Raids with stacks rather than some new packaging. Paul Labonté’s work is something I’ve been a fan of for a while now (as Paul 107, he wrote 2003’s excellent All City: the Book About Taking Space and he directed the video to Azelia Banks 212 too, plus this Black Atlass video) and the photo has been put on a long-sleeve t-shirt from Desfois/SOMETIMES that just started shipping. You can also grab the 2010 Photographs Inspired by the Rap Music That Once Inspired Me book from here and an enamel badge made with fellow Montreal man, JJJJound’s Justin R. Saunders, bearing the stuffed box image. Very well executed.

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On the subject of graffiti and beautiful presentation, burning down the house, Norman Behrendt’s study of Berlin writers, looks incredible, studying the participants, the process and the spaces. That camo-like U-bahn seat pattern cover is incredible.

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TRANSMISSIONS

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Forgot today was blogging day. Can I just talk about the last three things I watched on YouTube? While I’m at it, I’ll plug this Tinker Hatfield feature too because there’s a few jewels in there for the nerds. I’ve been distracted by Mickey Drexler’s remarks in this Stanford appearance from late last year — I don’t subscribe to the quasi-motivational drivel that do-littles hurl all over Twitter and Facebook, but Drexler’s answer 23 minutes in regarding explosive modes of management is amazing and he offers a good excuse to use next time you swear loudly in a meeting. “Surround yourself with people that get it,” is easier said than done but it’s the key to greatness. It also means you need to recruit fellow dysfunctional oddballs.

This BBC footage of Goldie in 1989, as well as some other writers is pretty good too. It’s a shame that Dick Fontaine’s candid clips of Goldie talking about NYC trainyard and tunnel excursions have been taken down from YouTube.

For a minute I thought that a 2000 Channel 4 documentary (from Madonna Night) on her early Downtown days was a figment of my imagination, but it’s partially available online. One of the few documents of Futura 2000’s relationship with Madge, it includes a few soundbites from the man himself plus Fab Five Freddy’s entertaining attitude to her antics in the early 1980s, “I really thought Madonna was cool, but for me personally, she was not the kind of chick I would really would have wanted to get with, because a lot of my other crew had been up around her. You know what I’m saying? And that just wasn’t my steelo at the time.”

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The FUCT book for Rizzoli arrives in September, but Erik Brunetti has got his hands on an advance copy and it looks very good indeed. He’s taking pre-orders for signed copies on his site and with “streetwear”s continuing slide into just being a load of self-congratulatory thirtysomethings selling crap to kids (actually, it’s always been like that, hasn’t it?) the sense of threat that Brunetti managed to bring to the party seems more vital than ever. The fact Erik really fucking hates street art is reason enough to support his cause.

Zack De La Rocha wearing the classic Ford bite tee on a No Nirvana — a 1993 BBC Late Show special, was a great moment in streetwear on British TV. While Rage Against the Machine sure ain’t grunge (though that show was mostly bands that fell into that genre), will the current preoccupation with that scene’s industry mean an onslaught of short-sleeve tees over long-sleeves as well as plaid around the waist?

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The perfect soundtrack for that FUCT book would be Sly and the Family Stone’s classic There’s a Riot Goin’ On, with its aura of apocalypse vaguely audible beneath the good time riffing and Get On Down’s gold CD remaster comes with an embroidered take on the blood and stars American flag cover. No matter how jaded you are with fancy packaging to make you buy things you’re familiar with all of again, you’ve got to admit it looks pretty.

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2PAC’S LEATHER VEST

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I was perplexed to see a Tweet of mine rise from the dead the other day as part of a hip-hop controversy. That’s hip-hop controversy in the 2013 sense, where it’s not particularly controversial and no diss records will ever manifest. I’m fully conscious of most of my mouth running and rarely guilty for a moment’s brain flatulence and 30 seconds of thumbing, just because it’s out of timeline out of mind within 48 hours. A few years back, when Bossip ran something about fetuses, miscarriages and Joe Budden and some ex-flame I remarked that I preferred fictional misogynists from the worlds of TV and cinema to Budden — namely Trevor from EastEnders and his psychotic gravy pouring and the guy that rams a grapefruit half in his wife’s face in Superman III. Mr Action Bronson retweeted it and I was amused to see a Queens MC acknowledge a BBC soap opera reference. Some guy found it, and retweeted that 2011 Tweet as part of a project to remind rappers of their forgotten disses from when their follow counts were in the very low thousands. Thankfully, I’m not an MC and I still stand by my opinion (maybe I’ll put out a mixture one day and this will come back to haunt me). Still, there’s definitely a cautionary tale regarding the digital trail you leave every day. Salutes to Bronson for being a man and not panic deleting his retweets.

That, my friends, is what passes for rap beef nowadays. Only Chicago’s rap scene seems to have managed to merge greasy social media talk with actual bodily harm. Nobody’s going to commission a Lynn Hirschberg cover story on some guys calling each other lame and then blaming the fact that they were in their mid-twenties and high when they did it. I’ve never been able to ascertain what’s more amazing in that cover photo — Suge’s Piru-red suit, or ‘Pac’s strange mix of bulletproof vest looking leather corset that looks like a relic of the California Love video shoot, giant jeans, Moschino belt and what looks like some quasi-formal riding boots on his feet. It was a testament to Shakur’s post-jail swagger that he pulls it off.

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On the subject of New York’s greatest magazine cover shoots, this one from New York Magazine (some fairly early graffiti coverage) on the tagging epidemic stays gold too.

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Earlier this week, I got to ask Tinker Hatfield about how he actually went from architect to shoe designer. I need to see the slimline Euro-centric motor scooter shoe that doubled as a runner that he presented to Peter Moore.

On these shores, rappers used to be dressers before UK hip-hop (a frequent struggle in recent years) span off into different strains — the guys still wearing the faded Carhartt garms they were given for an Austrian tour a few years back, the guys in their tracksuit/AF1 combo and the handful of guys who made some money and get called “well-dressed” solely because they’re not the former. I hope the indiegogo campaign funded Unstoppable: The Roots of Hip-Hop in London showcases some unseen footage that proves our dudes used to be able to style it with our Yankee counterparts back in the day.