It’s been a minute since I bought a regular rap magazine, but I’m still buying hip-hop related books like a fiend. Scarface’s recent autobiography was an ultra-downbeat read, but a worthy one (I was pleased to see that have hated the cover art to Geto Boys’ Da Good da Bad & da Ugly as much as I did) that’s a fine accompaniment to Prodigy’s book (still the ultimate hip-hop bio) and the Q-Tip, Lil’ Kim and Benzino memoirs seem to have vanished from the release schedules after a on-off wait of almost Rawkus Kool G or Heltah Skeltah-like levels. The one that I’m ultra hyped for is the Nas autobiography, It Ain’t Hard to Tell: A Memoir, which, according to Amazon and the publisher, Simon and Schuster, drops later this year, on November 10th — four years after its announcement caused some brief blog fuss. Rap books get delayed even harder than the damn albums, but if Nasir Jones opts to make like P and pull no punches, it’s going to be a classic. In the interim, I’ll probably pick up the Luther Campbell, Buck 65 and Kevin Powell books in coming months, but there’s one extra volume with some serious potential — Rap Tees: A Collection of Hip Hop T-Shirts 1980-2000 by collector and connoisseur DJ Ross One, which drops on Powerhouse in October. Promising hundreds of promo, bootleg and concert shirts representing Sugarhill, EPMD, the Wu, BDP, 2Pac and everyone else, the Screen Stars style cover art has me sold on it already. This kind of archive is my idea of heaven — if somebody gathers the rap promo sticker collection of an OG like Jules Gayton and publishes it, I’ll be in heaven. On the Scarface front, the impending existence of a 33 1/3 book completely dedicated to The Geto Boys, thanks to travel writer and New Yorker contributor Rolf Potts, is something to celebrate too.
What’s the situation with these (scrapped?) Supreme x Nas images? Looks like a photo shoot that should have happened a long, long time ago and something that could cause a hype situation if it appears on cotton sometime soon. There’s a lot of rappers out there who don’t look at home in that kind of gear — they’re on that Karmaloop trolleydash non-steez or (insert Zumiez stocked brand here) surprise box anti-swagger. Nas looks at home in it.
The ad above is another late 1990s Small Earth ad (I posted a sumo wrestler in XIs one here a couple of years back) dating back to 1998. French-made adi, a selection of Jordans and a handful of cult 1985-era Nikes were worth money to Grand Rapids, Michigans buy and resell to Japan enterprise. Chuck Vander Hoek and his business partner capitalised on the Japanese kids coming into their vintage clothing stores to set up this targeted business — some OG American resellers. Anyone shifting their Hawaiis to them for $63 was probably jumping for joy. If only they knew…
I never got down with the whole toy thing because I’m old, every release was more expensive than I ever anticipated and because some dickhead decided to call them things like “urban vinyl” to justify being over the age of 11 and still buying action figures. That doesn’t stop me needing the new life-size Medicom Gizmo, complete with puffballs of potential mayhem caused by a clumsy Corey Feldman. I still kick myself that I never got hold of the Medicom Bride of Chucky era Good Guy doll replica, so despite the $300+ price tag (nostalgia is an expensive industry), I need Medicom’s latest foray into the Mogwai species in my life. Gizmo is the pet I always wanted and ownership doesn’t mean the fear of having a dubious stereotype knock at the door to claim him back, or the potential annihilation of my hometown.
Bobbito Garcia’s Where’d You Get Those? is the greatest book on sports footwear ever written by a long, long way. There’s a few books on the topic en route, but nothing touches this 2003 tome’s authority and sense of actually being there and hoarding AF1s at least a decade ahead of the majority. By cutting off at 1987 (bar his section on slept-on classics) to avoid the influx of gimmickry that dropped in the years that followed. The Where’d You Get Those? 10th Anniversary Edition drops in November after being out of print for a few years and it looks like Bobbito has wisely avoided any temptation to go beyond the cutoff year for this one. However, that proposed cover, is an abomination compared to Brent Rollins’ masterful work on the original release.
A while ago I wrote an interview with the mind behind SOTech. It’s pretty detailed and worth reason if you’re inclined toward military gear and tired of milspec’s misuse of late. My eagle eyed partner-in-hype Charlie Morgan spotted the SOT-BLK gear crop up in Union — the fruits of SOTech’s work with Rob Abeyta Jr (who has a military background and is who I would want on my side in a brawl situation) — with the near-invincible baggage that’s created for battle conditions is tweaked slightly for everyday use. If you’re going to protect your blank Moleskine and copy of Monocle you never got past page 17 on, it’s good to know that if those parachutes drop en masse, your MacBook will be protected during the subsequent fight for freedom. The SOT-BLK Mactac bag is a tweak on a design originally created post 2008 Mumbai attacks for anti terrorism gear to be kept in a single bag. It’ll be interesting to see how the recent moves to get the U.S. military share a single camo pattern affects contractors and manufacturers, but this is perfect baggage for the disorganised and accident prone. Built to survive the world’s worst and ideal if you wake up and you’re the last living blogger on the planet.
While I keep hunting the rest of this W)Taps GRIND shoot, I recommend listening to this William Friedkin interview, where he discusses throwing out some Basquiat paintings, meeting Darby Crash and naming Sorcerer after Miles Davis’ 1967 album (which is also discussed in his fine memoir, The Friedkin Connection). Sorcerer is a slow burner, but that exposition and slow-burn tension pays off, so it’s good to hear that one of the most underrated films of the 1970s (a notorious flop) is coming to Blu-ray in remastered form. Friedkin’s approach to audio is something deserving of more than the current bare-bones, half-arsed DVD release. Despite his reputation for rages on set, Friedkin’s opinions, co-signs and evident passion for the craft are admirable.
Do you know what’s hypocritical? Berating rap nostalgia and then losing my mind over a box set of a well documented hip-hop release from 1994. But considering I change my mind on most subjects at least thrice daily, consider whatever’s on here a screengrab of my psyche at that moment in time rather than any opinion with longevity. CNN just got excited about Nasir Jones’ output, I personally haven’t fucked with much of his work post-‘Illmatic’, bar guest spots, a couple of songs per album (‘You’re Da Man’ on ‘Stillmatic’ samples ‘Sugar Man’ by Rodriguez — the subject of the excellent ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ documentary), ‘The Lost Tapes’, that Mike Tyson bio track, and the newest LP. I attribute my own reverence to the running time — ‘Illmatic’ isn’t long enough to let my frayed attention span wane and that I purchased it alongside that bland Fugees tape when it first dropped, meaning it shone even brighter by comparison.
Get On Down‘s Akinyele set might have been canned (sample clearance hell), but their work on the classics amplifies the joy of gawping at sleevenotes in a digital era. The wooden case, audiophile CD, repressed and remastered double vinyl, hardback book, replica press release, poster and press shots, plus the reproduction of the earlier Nas logo sticker are all geek manna, but they’re as far removed from that launch priced Sony cassette with the distorted bass as it gets. There’s a handful of hip-hop albums that deserve the Springsteen-esque bombast, but when I can psychologically separate myself from the kind of rap fan-damentalists who leave “cool story bro” baiting essays beneath blog entries, this album remains largely (‘One Time 4 Your Mind’ still sounds inessential) unfuckwithable. Thank you Get On Down and Mr. Frank the Butcher for the hookup on this.
I’m hearing good things about the ‘Maniac’ remake and despite my love of Jay Chattaway’s score for the original, the mysterious Rob’s soundtrack for the redux is pretty effective. Before that film’s sweaty sadism wrecks your day, how about ruining your Sunday by watching the legendary Austrian serial killer flick, ‘Angst’ from 1983, with the innovative camera work (mentioned here before) that influenced Gasper Noé in a major way. Somebody’s kindly upped Gerald Kargl’s hard-to-find masterpiece onto YouTube. If you can tolerate things like this, you’ll love it and if it upsets you, it’s fucking meant to — it’s a kinetic but hyper real exploration of a serial killer’s antics in bleak surroundings. It kind of goes with the territory.
It’s tradeshow season and I’m anticipating a mass of prints on racks. Previews of Engineered Garments spring/summer offerings hinted at them executing that aesthetic better than most and the Nepenthes Osaka’s site’s images of the Anchor Baker Jacket, Paisley Ghurka Shorts and that insane oversized blow up of the more restrained floral print on another Lafayette Shirt from this season are all way more interesting than much of what I’ve seen elsewhere. These and the Hawaiian Print Microfiber Ground Jacket are all fun Ridicule is nothing to be scared of, but I bet I get too shook to get properly floral. Those that can will make that giant pattern look incredible while the rest of us resort to our drab wardrobe staples. More Engineered eccentricity. Just think of paisley as a form of camo — albeit, late 1980 indie club camo.
What happened to the ‘Blue Gold’ denim documentary that did the blog rounds back in 2009? While we wait, ‘Warp and Weft: a Snapshot of Raw Denim in the United States’ is finished and out there with a Kickstarter cash boost (thank you Selectism for the heads-up). 70 minutes of denim fanatics talking proved pretty absorbing — Superfuture culture is prominent throughout, and the appearance by their denim Jedi, RingRing, with his face blurred, the interviews at Selfedge, the DIY jean making footage (via Roy Slaper) and the visit to the Levi’s archive (I once worked on a LVC project and had to get in touch with the archive who didn’t think some late 1980s Levi’s selvedge designs existed) are all highlights. The infamous Levi’s legal blitz of 2007 which changed the repro market is mentioned, as is the occasionally overlooked but pioneering Warehouse brand. The RED camerawork’s nice, but the sound doesn’t match that clarity, but it’s a minor gripe. If you missed the launch, you can still support it over here. This is the subject’s surface scratched — a sequel set in Japan is needed. A UK edition with footage of Robert Elms’ near lynching for goading Northerners over jeans after the December 1984 end of Levi’s selvedge production as the opener would be amazing.
I would love to thank the person who sent me this scan of a page from what I believe was a 1986 issue of ‘Runner’s World’ with the entire Steve Cram Nike collection (including the legendary Destiny — for kids who were too cool and monied to fuck with the Bongo), but I lost the original email to email or comment and I’ll amend this. This collection flopped at the time, but the uncommercial colours of the time look great in 2013. Bourne Sports in Stoke-On-Trent didn’t need a website — they just slashed prices and an order form. I wish I could use some kind of time traveling Diners or Access card and buy the lot. The Cram Range is very, very underrated. I know we’ve discussed it here before, but this is a clearer look at the scale of the line.
“You’re pint-sized, I’m Mike’s eyes with the gladiator tattoos on it.”
Nas, ‘Nazareth Savage’
“I freak beats, slam it like Iron Sheik/Jam like a Tec with correct techniques.”
Nas,’It Ain’t Hard to Tell’
This post is dedicated to the memory of the MacBook Pro that just passed, taking away imagery for a planned post and making me improvise with hastily cobbled together entries like this. Iron Mike‘s Instagram image of the big man stood alongside the Iron Sheik at the end of last week was — and I’m not being ironic here — one of the best pictures I’ve seen in years. This was a meeting of two of my favourite people who’ve grown up but not lost their capacity to entertain. The Sheik’s wild threats via twitter live up to his wild image of old, namechecked by Nas and authentically unhinged in a heavily rehearsed realm, and Mike Tyson is a man who seems to have emerged from the darkness, the family tragedies and the apparent catharsis of James Toback’s ‘Tyson’ documentary a changed man — less the rent-a-thug or genuinely unnerving thousand yard stare of his appearance in the Wu-Tang heavy mess of ‘Black and White’ and more of a controlled presence that seems to be in on the jokes. I’m not a Tyson apologist, but I’m a fan of his fights, his respect for boxing history and willingness to bare his soul. He’s a complicated character and the current woeful state of heavyweight bouts has me nostalgic for the Mitch Green scrap outside Dapper Dan and even contemporary Mike meltdowns like the Lennox press scrap (now that’s how you brawl at a press conference — it isn’t a real brawl unless legs get inexplicably bitten) and the threats at journos. That’s the raw side of a warrior mindset, but the Haye and Chisora dust up’s use of props was straight-up WWE behaviour.
In fact, I’d rather watch WWE than watch the aforementioned pair fight. At least I’ll respect the fighters more. Long after Mike’s 1990 WWF refereeing replacement for a Hogan and Randy Savage bout in favour of an unexpectedly victorious Buster Douglas, and several years after his wild post-jail antics seemed to be an influence on the Raw-era he was given WWE Hall of Fame status at the weekend. And it was here that two legends met. That image of them together is a classic Mike image beyond the ring — up there with his meeting with Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1991 clad in flamboyant knitwear, his late night Wheaties run in a particularly fly Fila tracksuit, ‘LIFE’ magazine ‘s shot of him in an MCM and Rolex combo, plus the entire ‘Sports Illustrated’ shoot from 1985 (note the Etonic Mirage on his feet in the pigeon coop) for the January 6, 1986 cover story (which you can read here), where a 19-year-old Kid Dynamite greets well wishers and chills with his pigeons. A hero meets a hero. I’m just surprised that when these two legends met, the universe didn’t implode in honour of them. There’s a few personal favourites below, plus a heavily watermarked picture of Webster in Air Jordan Is from the 1987 ‘Webster’ episode with the Tyson cameo.