Tag Archives: john joseph


“Comin up on half a mil, we build/
Get real God, taking you on another one Son/
Uhh, Julio Iglesias/
Makin CREAM like that nigga.”

Raekwon ‘Criminology’

Yep. I’m aware that leading with a quote from a track taken from an album that fires barely concealed missiles at the late, great Frank White is a little odd, but I was hunting for Julio Iglesias references in rap. Funnily enough, Mystikal and South Park Mexican have used him in lines too, but I’m steering clear of the sex offenders. Kind of. Rap loves to grieve. If an MC or producer dies, we spend hours trading lines on Twitter, screaming to the skies, begging them to take Chris Moyles and leave us with our hip-hop hero for just one day.

Today’s been one of those days, being the anniversary of Biggie’s passing. And for once I fully understand. I love his wordplay, his versatility and his hunger for the hardcore. Had Mr. Wallace not been slain, rap would be different now – not necessarily better, not necessarily worse…but different. That’s an aura right there. Today you could get beat down for daring to wash your car when you should be listening to ‘Gimme the Loot.’ A murderer would be acquitted for stabbing you after hearing you hum ‘Hit ‘Em Up.’ My Facebook feed is riddled with the ‘Juicy’ video. Everyone’s copy/pasting lyrics in a bid to reach esoteric heights of fandom. But I don’t care, because, after Kool G Rap, Biggie Smalls was the illest.

But how do you blog about him without repeating yourself? You can’t. Everything he ever recorded is online somewhere. Except his appearance in Channel 4’s ‘Passengers’ in 1995, smoking blunts with Faith and wandering around Bed-Stuy, which somebody, somewhere must have ready to upload, I’ve actually posted the above image on my blog from when I used to blog at SlamXHype a couple of years ago. I actually posted it hours after being interviewed by ‘The Source,’ but when I told my mum, she didn’t give a shit, let alone smile.

But I think it’s remarkable that ‘Represent’ – a short-lived but excellent hip-hop UK-based fanzine – put the Notorious B.I.G. on its cover before anyone else. That’s deep. I read it in July 1994, and it contained (other than an ill-fated set of reviews that deemed Warren G’s LP better than the first Beatnuts LP) a feature on the big man based on a listen to the LP promo, declaring ‘Ready To Die’ as a successor to ‘Illmatic’ (released just a couple of months earlier).

I think the piece was written by DJ E-Legal, but I could be mistaken. ‘Represent House’ was based in Cumbria. We’re not talking London here – we’re talking Lake District territory. Matty C might have made his career-defining move, but it was a Brit-magazine – one that had Finsta Bundy on one of their covers – who made their own lo-fit but notable powermove during Biggie’s rise to fame.

Another key moment where strange gets stranger is the union of Biggie with then Jive upstart Crustified Dibbs aka. RA The Rugged Man. I never knew how this all happened, and an old email circulation of Biggie engaging in some kind of score sheet and claiming he wasn’t into the whole experience has floated around, but I don’t believe it — I’m sure I remember Biggie saluting just how Dibbs took it there in the misogyny stakes too. RA and B.I.G. work well together.

‘Cunt Renaissance’ is still one of the most offensive records I’ve ever heard and while the OG version is produced by Marc “Nigga” Nilez, matching the murky production I’ve heard on bootlegs of ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ (I’m not a massive fan going on the tape-sounding leaks — I prefer the sound of RA from 1997 to the present day), I prefer the mysterious remix from a mixtape from a decade or so ago. I’ve never known the producer, but it elevates these depraved verses to almost epic status with a lavish loop.

The sample in question comes from another duet, albeit one less preoccupied with bodily fluids — the introduction to Julio Iglesias and Diana Ross’s 1984 hit, ‘All of You’ (the mystery producer even let Miss Ross’s voice make a brief appearance when he used the record). I love the duality between the discarded blunt guts sex talk and the cocaine mansion seduction that the tracks evoke. For all the gossip, cinematic depictions, partying and bullshit, there’s still a lot of depths unexplored in Christopher Wallace’s short, memorable career.


I’m excited about Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’ after the disappointment of Criterion not releasing the version of ‘The Thin Red Line’ that goes on for, like, a week with half of Hollywood in it. Yesterday, ‘Little White Lies’ upped an interview with the special effects team who promised that there’ll be dinosaurs in it. Then the interview was pulled down. I hope the dinosaurs remain in the final cut and don’t get the Billy Bob Thornton treatment. There’s an interesting new poster doing the rounds too.

On semi-related Criterion matters, go check Eric Skillman’s blog to witness his work. An occasional Criterion cover artist and designer, book cover designer and comic artist, he’s consistently excellent, and in an age where everyone’s a goddamn art director, this guy is the real deal. I love looking at his work (that ‘Wiseblood’ cover’s still a classic) and the design process section of the site is fascinating.

It’s not Eric’s work to my knowledge, but the cover for Criterion’s ‘Le Cercle Rouge’ (set for release in April) is a winner. A film this assured and stylish (the original promotional materials were good in the first place) can’t be an easy brief, but the gun element sets it off perfectly.

T-Shirt Party’s at an end. Nearly a year since I covered it here, and the mysterious Stan Still (who became less mysterious as the months progressed) fulfilled his mission to make 52 tees with accompanying videos. It ends with a black one, after 51 white shirts, plus a DVD of the visuals. I actually bumped into the man behind the project on a Supreme shoot when we were tasked with covering a backdrop with bricks of black box logo stickers. Time flies when you’re blogging gobshite.

I’ve never met anyone as dedicated to a singular subject matter as Scott (Bothan Spynet). He was doing the shoe-a-day thing a long time ago too. A nice bloke and someone with streetwear history, I stumbled across this little interview with him. Can’t remember if they were in that CLOT/ACU book a few years back with the alternate Stash BWs, but those samples of the 2003 Futura artist series Nike Blazer that Futura scrapped just before releasing the curry/Jedi version still kills me since they appeared on Recon a few years back. An amazing makeup that equals the unreleased Stussy Blazers from2001. They should have put out both.

And while I’m not a runner, I just freeload a lot, the Nike team in NYC recently instigated a masterplan that would even get me running. Training sessions with a hardcore mind-body correlator — Mr. John Joseph of the Cro-Mags. That’s serious. If you never picked up ‘The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ or ‘Meat is for Pussies,’ you should do. Training with a man preparing himself for this year’s Ironman tournament must be a pretty damned intense experience. He’s intense when he’s static and we’ve all seen him on stage so it’s safe to assume he’s pretty focused on the keep fit regime. Good work, Nike. Very good work.


Sometimes, just sometimes, there’s too much for one blog entry, but not quite enough to be broken down into a number of blogs. So the solution is to just shoehorn them into a solitary roundup, even if there’s no relevance between each topic. That’s how we do round these parts. This is one of those days. Lots of subjects on the mind that need to be put down in pixel, some trivial, some inspirational.


Everyone’s a fucking photographer now. That point’s been raised here before. Glen Friedman made some interesting points on the current wave of snappers in a recent ‘Juztapoz’ and while wilfully amateurish, warts and all is the order-of-the-day, there’s a sense that the current aesthetic lets a few chancers in the backdoor. If you’re going to sacrifice technique, for fuck’s sake shoot something pertinent, rather than some pallid coke slag in tube socks. Larry Clark, Nan Goldin frequently shock me into submission, and Stephen Shore altered my perception of the mundane, but Denmark’s Jacob Holdt is the man behind the greatest book of photos to date – ‘American Pictures’ (sadly out of print again) – seemingly an oddball idealist, he threw himself into a documentation of the American dream gone sour, specifically focusing on race and class relations.

Funded by blood donations and goodwill, wielding his Canon Dial, he compiled something extraordinary. Still powerful, and sadly, still relevant, his documented experiences and accompanying text – Jacob’s keen to reinforce this isn’t art photography – are unsurpassed. As a book and show, it was last updated in 1997, but while his personal website might look a little rudimentary, the whole of ‘American Pictures’ is online here. The follow-up from the images going public was even odder – the KGB got involved and he was involved at the premiere of ‘Precious’ too, having had a relationship with the film and book’s lesbian author Sapphire back in the day. As we’re shocked by the news that Terry Richardson loves to get his dick out, and that fellow dirty old man Dov Charney’s empire seems to have gone cockeyed, it’s worth taking it back to something real for inspiration. Vice’s recent interview with Holdt was good too.


Alongside Nasir, Shawn Carter isn’t one of the best-dressed rappers out there, seemingly in flux between getting his grown man on and dressing like its still 1997 with a touch of TK Maxx in there too. Still, his line on ‘Run This Town’ made an impact – watch it repped by the big brands later this year. While the young ‘uns can pull it off, what about those of us who look like cat burglars, Milk Tray men or mimes in a fully noir ensemble? What’s wrong with brown? Carhartt’s duck canvas and the current Dickies line do it well, but what about some other rugged mediums? Rest assured, this blog makes efforts to minimise the levels of cooing over chambray fabric – you can see that in every corner of the internet. Spit in the wind in any hipster hotspot and you’ll stain some fade-effect cotton with saliva. But why is there so little brown chambray out there? Buzz Rickson’s excellent Mock-Twist shirt comes in brown, and is a worthy purchase, and the chambray chino from Lofgren and Cushman is something different. Still, grey, pale blue and red have a tendency to run things.

How about denim? Brown jeans are a tough one – they’re out there, but chocolate-brown APCs and Levi’s have been lacking. There’s distant memories of Tenderloin making something decent along those lines, but Sugar Cane made a good dyed version back when they were homaging the red tab device. The current SC40302A version that uses persimmon juice to get the brown hue seems a little fussy. Superfuture’s got a whole discussion on persimmon denim colouring going on – apparently it oxidises and, contrary to the preoccupation with gradual fade, gets darker with age.

Personally, as admirable as these creations can be, the obsession and proliferation of retailers nerding out with the reproduction brands can occasionally lose sight of denim’s no-frills intent and make product as far-fetched as any overtly distressed, boot cut monstrosity – an abject case of when keeping-it-real goes wrong. But then again, the notion of brown denim is presumably inauthentic from the very beginning. Hence duck canvas’s popularity. All suggestions on this matter are welcome…brown jeans wanted, preferably selvedge and preferably not as part of some madcap natural colour science experiment.

iii. P.M.A.

NYHC stalwarts seem to be pushing the self-help mantra even further with some interesting side projects. Toby from H2O is going school to school for the ‘One Life One Chance‘ initiative which espouses the benefits of straight edge and empowerment to schoolkids. The west coast’s school system gets Toby, we got mumbling policemen telling us tales of “wacky baccy” and mystery pills. Respect to Toby for that move. The images on the site with some D.A.R.E. tie-in were an odd one – having seen the tees worn ironically, I’d always been apprehensive of that project, but presumably, Mr. Morse knows the deal there better than I do. Additionally, Cro-Mag John Joseph is following up ‘The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ (which you really should have read by now) with the brilliantly titled ‘Meat Is For Pussies‘ which, from reviews, sounds like ‘Fast Food Nation’ with bigger biceps and a lot more ink. Looking forward to picking it up. THC and red meat are my downfalls – I’m open to being swayed by these two underground figures on those issues.

Seeing as Positive Mental Attitude plays its part there, it’s worth taking a brief look at the history of P.M.A. – self-help author Napoleon Hill included it in his seminal philosophy of achievement tome, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ back in 1937 before teaming up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone to pen ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’ in 1960. Stone, a notable conservative, donated around 10 million dollars to Richard Nixon’s election campaign. HR from Bad Brains was introduced to Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in the late ’70s and P.M.A. became part of the doctrine of the early hardcore scene. Unlike Stone’s outlook, HR’s “A true person would never vote for any politician, especially Ronald Begin and his husband Nancy because they eat many taxpayers jellybeans.” section in his ‘DO’S AND DON’TS OF A TRUE PERSON’ approaches things from a different angle politically. With Bad Brains’ heavy weed intake, and what came next for their career – some major drug issues for some members – positivity never necessarily meant abstinence, but by its very nature, it’s open to reinterpretation. Hence Toby’s version, continuing the lineage of P.M.A. in hardcore for a whole new audience. Which can only be a good thing.

(Image taken from X442X’s photostream)

Some good CBGBs footage recently released from Japan-only rareness…



Charlie Porter just previewed a new ‘Fantastic Man’ on his Twitter – no other magazine does men’s fashion like this publication. Precise, sharply written and innovative, it would never trouble itself with matters of brown denim. It’s also a step your styling and shooting game up to the wannabes. Artist Wolfgang Tillmans on the cover,’Village Voice’ and ‘Vanity Fair’s finest, Bob Colacello and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor makes this an interesting proposition. Thus, the stakeout of glum-faced London magazine hotspot RD Franks begins…


Good to see the obsessives at Eastman Leather going even crazier on the details. The coined KWIK (“The Zippiest Zip!”)  zip was the faster of choice on plenty of flight jacket designs, but has been out of production since WWII. So Eastman seem to have acquired the exclusive rights (after putting the Crown zipper on other garments) to KWIK, putting it onto items, whenever it’s historically relevant. Now that’s dedication.


And I’m still recycling my Black  Lodges blogs…

Lately I’ve been pondering as to why Emilio Estevez was the major studio’s punk rocker of choice back in the early ’80s. On face value, he fits the mould as a varsity jacketed jock or rough-edged clown (as demonstrated in his Mickey Mouse tee-wearing, ‘Two-Bit’ Matthews turn in ‘The Outsiders’) than he does as a punk rocker.