I was actually going to up something else here today that I’d written elsewhere, but it probably wouldn’t translate, so I didn’t. That left me with not much to add here that isn’t readily available elsewhere. The last of the holiday block of brie before bedtime had me dreaming about owning this suede jacket from 2000 (fortynos deserves some kind of New Year’s Honours for his services to magazine scanning a few years back) last night. Back then, we were just hunting box logos, hats and sweats and anyway, stuff like this never seemed to make it to the UK anyway — only expensive import copies of Boon and occasionally, Straight No Chaser, ever seemed to let me know these grown-up bits even existed. Now we’re just hypocrites who lambasted a younger generation for doing exactly the same thing. The prospect of NIGO and Tet’s DOUBTFUL AS DOUBLE® line had my ears burning for extra information (I got confused as to whether it was just an exhibition in the Gyre building or a brand, but it’s both) and this Vimeo video is full of Japanese pop-cultural gems from two gents with Kodak memories for moments in magazines when they were on the come-up. This chat with Joe Corre on the subject of menswear from a year ago is good too, despite the terrible sound. Too many great little documents of encounters are hurt by a lack of proper microphone.
Making light of Channel 4’s ‘Street Summer’ season is like shooting beatboxers in a barrel, so it would be too obvious to lampoon their Superdry-friendly mix of parkour, BMX, making music with your mouth and dripping stencils. It is what it is, “urban” culture zip-filed up into some kind of rapping, dancing expression of da ‘yoof. If you expected a three-hour Money Boss Players documentary, a JA character study or a celebration of Hypnotize Minds, then you were being wildly optimistic. Still, it’s curious that T4’s ‘Inside SBTV: From Bedroom to Boardroom’ and some of BBC Two’s ‘No Hats, No Trainers’ felt like superior attempts at the same subject matter.
But their two-hour ‘How Hip Hop Changed the World’ was a wasted opportunity. It’s not a case of naivety and nerdery, angrily fist waving at a lack of Beatnuts — it was just a weak offering that seemed to be cobbled together by the same minds behind ‘Street Summer’s infamous commercial. Idris Elba waved his arms around and swaggered like Danny Dyer on a roof somewhere, Nas was deadpan and dull, plenty of UK acts got excited, people were filmed in the act of racking their memory banks and historically it flitted around like some Burroughs-esqe cut-and-paste hallucination. People spinning on their head! Mike Skinner! Ronald Reagan looking impressed! Diddy being wealthy! The Sugarhill Gang! Weetabix men! A clip from a Wu-Tang Video!
‘How Hip Hop Changed the World’ was simply another ‘I Love…’ nostalgia show that felt curiously dated, like the sort of thing you might catch at 3:15am on a freeview music channel in a drunken haze and it displayed a curious regression — 1999’s ‘The Hip-Hop Years’ attempted a history and failed with a simplistic delivery, but it was more watchable than friday night’s offering. As if to highlight the inferior nature of Channel 4’s latest failure, adverts looked culled from YouTube and plenty of footage from 1987’s BBC Open Space documentary ‘Bad Meaning Good’ and 1984’s ‘Beat This! A Hip-Hop History’ was used. The latter efforts were excellent, and while hip-hop culture operated in a smaller space for documentation, how on earth is hip-hop still being treated as some kind of fly-by-night gimmick in terms of documentation?
The truth of the matter is that hip-hop needs something akin to the ten-part Ken Burns treatment. An adaptation of Dan Charnas’s ‘The Big Payback’ would be fascinating. Some would say that it’s still too immature and others claim that it regressed…that it doesn’t respect itself enough to warrant a serious documentation, but that would be erroneous. Contemporary “urban” culture being treated as some kind of bad musical where folks dance out their grievances in dayglo clothing is part of the problem — depictions of the inner-cities are wildly at odds with the realities, and a multi billion-dollar business that seems to have permeated everything is still being summarised in a 1-minute moving tableaux of twattery.
Forget $299 books retreading the flawed steps of ‘Hip Hop Immortals’ or the equally messy ‘Hip Hop Immortals: We Got Your Kids’ and ‘Rhyme & Reason’ documentaries. The culture got more complicated and the depictions got dumber. How on earth does an expert in Tudor history end up on Newsnight in lieu of any of the young journalists who could have offered some valuable insight without resorting to a Mr. Starkey-friendly “white voice”? How did Channel 4 go from screening Henry Chalfont’s masterful ‘Style Wars’ in 1984 to 120 minutes of unstructured stating-the-bloody-obvious 27 years later? This was a valuable opportunity to celebrate something remarkable squandered.
While we’re ranting, what’s up with the 5D culture of factory-tour videos? If your brand needs to show me the manufacturing process in order for me to appreciate it, then I want nothing to do with it. The provenance of a garment or item seems to be superseding whether it’s actually very good. Making something in the UK and describing it down to the strand of cotton doesn’t necessarily make it better than anything else. Production line shots, earnest images of men in aprons, occasional blur and a SBTRKT or Beirut soundtrack are becoming a formula — if your documentation of handcrafts feels formulaic and clinical, then you’ve missed your own point.
I had a wander round Jacket Required in London. I can’t remember much, but I enjoyed myself. My favourite item was a velvet jacket from Sk8thing and Nigo’s Human Made line depicting a Toddy Cat (aka. the Asian Palm Civet — the creature that defecates the berries that make Kopi Lawak coffee) enjoying a brew. It’s a very expensive item, but like the varsity jacket with a hotdog across the back, Nigo seems to have restored his aptitude for awesome again, building on the URSUS styles to go completely crazy with these surreal, self-indulgent vintage style. I like the Carhartt camo pieces as part of the archive line that are dropping soon too — definite crowd pleasers, and the contemporary buttons on the recent heritage-style stuff have been ridded in favour or something a little more olde world.
Picture from Thursday’s NOWNESS feature.
Rest in peace KASE 2 TFP. I mourned his passing a little too early on Twitter this week, but the one-armed, letter camouflaging, King of Styyyyyyyyyyyle has passed away. I know Goldie painted with Kaze, but did I dream up the footage of a starstruck Goldie meeting KASE 2 back in the 1980s? Was it from the ‘Zulu Dawn’ footage pulled down from YouTube? My love for the ‘Beastmaster’ scene in ‘Style Wars’ has been expounded upon here before, but this legend deserves a celebration.
Linking to that Canon 5D remark, you’re likely to see an influx of tattoo-centric videos soon, but ignoring a lot I’m really enjoying VBS’s Tattoo Age. In a fantastic coincidence (and one that will no doubt cheer up the homie Nick Schonberger, just as VBS started teasing the Grime episodes, Grime Daily started showing their ‘Tattoo Watch’ episodes. In the latter, there’s no talk of technique, just lots of madcap meanings or none-at-all, but the UFO chest piece is awesome.
I grew up watching teen gang-related films. Some were credible and some of my favourites (the Sean Penn ‘Bad Boys’ being a strong example) were downright daft. Whether it was ‘Boulevard Nights’ or ‘Quadrophenia,’ there’s been a fair degree of melodrama. The best examples are coming-of-age creations, but too often there’s too much lofty talk and angst. I always found being a teen in a provincial town to be bollockings in the classroom, boredom, the occasional contraband amusement and senseless blasts of depressingly memorable brutality delivered with a casual ferocity. That’s what Peter Mullan manages to capture with ‘NEDS’—a final entry in the unofficial trilogy of masterful misery he started with 1997’s ‘Orphans’—and it’s underpinned with a strong narrative
Most things in the 1970s looked grim, but Glasgow looks notably dreary, meaning teenage kicks give way to teenage stabbings, bottlings and teenage paving slabs to the head. There’s a curious mix of surreal flourishes and total realism at work here too. First timer Conor McCarron’s performance as John is a hard-faced evolving study in simmering rage—one of the best performances in years, while Mullan is a repulsive drunken father with a deathwish who brings an extra depth and deftly avoids the self-pitying pitfalls of hard life cliché. From recognisable menace to dreamlike oddity, ‘NEDS’ is a masterpiece. It’s not about using the accuracy of the wardrobe’s team aptitude for obtaining synthetic fabrics of the era as a selling point – this is truthful, terrifying cinema.
The scene of a fatalistic two-fisted knifing spree to eerie electronics alone confers a viewing. Scottish period gang cinema is hardly a subgenre, but this impresses as much as Gillies MacKinnon’s ‘Small Faces’ did back in 1996 – that in itself was a poorly promoted film, dropping in the opiate haze of the excellent ‘Trainspotting’ and with a more deliberate pace compared to Danny Boyle’s kinetic approach. There’s room in my heart for this solemn, joyless treatment of teen war as well as the gleeful silliness of Kim Chapiron’s ‘Dog Pound.’
What’s up with folk gloating about the BAPE situation at the moment? The streetwear industry owes much of its existence to the house that Nigo built and many would do well to have taken tips from BAPE’s plus points rather than biting the more lurid elements. I would sold vital organs to have laid my hands on an ‘APE SHALL NEVER KILL APE’ tee. James Lavelle seemed to have the hookup, but £50 for a tee if and when one cropped up made it out of my league. Prior to that, does anyone remember the BAPE windbreaker in ‘The Face’ circa 1994, with a gloating write up that indicated this would never be in your personal possession?
It was a tiered acquisition mission—after succeeding in identifying the item, where on earth were you meant to obtain it from? And when you found the fabled spot, would it time with a drop date? And thus, a legend was born – western influences honed, gloriously repackaged and sold back to us in a fetishistic style we could never match. Shawn Mortensen’s fabled shot of Biggie in a borrowed BAPE camo or the short-lived Gimme 5 Very Ape spinoff were a huge inspiration to me. Best of all, on laying your hands on some BAPE apparel, the thickness of material, tiny two-sided tab and build with shrink resistance in mind seemed to justify the hunt. Every brand could learn a lot from BAPE’s approach to marketing and product. The majority seem to imitate the more obvious elements of the company’s output.
This article is very interesting indeed.
DJ MURO x AVIREX x STAX MA-1
DJ Muro isn’t just one of the greatest DJs on the planet—he’s the man behind some of the most bugged-out collaborations on the planet. I’ve bored of most double and triple acts, but Muro and King Inc. (plus SAVAGE! too) has maintained my interest by creating the sort of thing that would blow my mind on a Tokyo visit as I attempt to understand how it came into fruition. I’m loving the latest creation—the resurrection of Avirex outerwear in conjunction with Muro and, just because two partners isn’t enough, Memphis soul kingpins Stax. It looks like the imagery of the Memphis Sound has been applied to an MA-1 style design. After the North Face x SAVAGE! pieces, Muro x UCS x Porter 7 inch box and SAVAGE! x Carhartt x Stüssy Active Jacket, this is another unexpected creation that’s up there with the A Tribe Called Quest x Gravis x X-Large output in the XXX stakes.
MORE MAGAZINES IN LONDON
The new ‘GQ’ is a marked improvement on recent issues and the rare interview opportunity with Dick Gregory makes March’s issue very necessary. But with the new issue comes some significant news—I welcome any new spot for magazines in London, and around February 21st, Condé Nast Publications are opening Condé Nast Worldwide News—a store located in Vogue House on London’s St George Street promises 130 different Condé Nast titles from 25 countries. Designed by Ab Rogers to display the magazines like a museum in a carefully lit white and yellow environment, I’m looking forward to seeing the output. More technical types can browse digital editions on some wall-mounted iPads and hopefully it’ll sell Vogue Nippon at a more reasonable price than the usual £17 fee. But I doubt it.