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.
First things first — Robbie at Unkut just upped a photo of Showbiz that proves he was very much about that life pre-Rap. The gold, the white Reeboks on his feet, the Dapper Dan gear, the blue AF1s, the Air Max 1s, the adidas and the multiple Air Force IIIs indicate that Show was making some steady revenue circa 1988. Bronx kept creating that cash. This is the best photo I’ve seen since the 1990 Sports Illustrated shot of Steve Smith and friends cleaning enviable footwear when 15 pairs of flagship releases seemed like some Sheikh-level power move. This October 1991 Tim “Original armshouse lick for the girly-girl crew on that rammajammer tip, for the punani mechanics!” Westwood ragga set that Random Rap Radio recently shared is a perfect soundtrack to browsing those images — if the combination doesn’t inspire you in one way or another, then there’s nothing left for you in this world.
If you’ve enough of slackness and ostentatious nostalgia, this interview with Peter Ducommun from Skull Skates on Sex Magazine is fantastic. Now that’s how you put logos on long-sleeve t-shirt arms with integrity. And there’s finally a cover for Scarface’s autobiography, Diary of a Madman, which will probably be incredible when it comes out in October. Willie Dee’s intro for the Houston Rap Tapes book has got me prepped for some Geto Boys memories on paper. The crazy look and a Sir Benni Miles skully is a strong cover image.
Perks & Mini are one of the remain one of the most underrated brands of the last 15 years and this grey P.A.M. sweatshirt might look like it’s been dyed at the neck but that’s actually wool. Misha and Shauna are the smartest innovators and reappropriators in their field — that explosive collar of mohair-like softness is excellent (the black and yellow version is good too.) An insane idea, well executed. They’re at Goodhood right now.
Things I discovered today: I’m too slow with my social media to deserve all-red shoes, Nike really are aiming to put out the Mag that self-fastens next year (the patent for that technology has just been updated) despite me assuming that was just part of the 2011 campaign to keep everybody’s mind on the charity aspect and as well as Lil’ Kim’s autobiography, we can expect a Scarface autobiography this October — Made: a Lifetime in the Game. Beyond the always-interesting Prodigy (who had the greatest rapper autobiography ever), Scarface’s time with the Geto Boys, the depression and the love of Enya he once discussed with HHC gives this the potential to be another classic. Some rappers get tagged as deep-thinkers because they drop some GCSE-level thinking in their bars but Rap-A-Lot’s finest is a bluesman at heart who sounded world-weary from day one. If you, like me, saw the great man on the Combat Jack Show wearing Polo knitwear, weeping and talking conspiracies and pondered the possibility of a book, it seems to be happening. I just hope the rapper’s rapper creates the book he’s capable of writing.
With the ad above resurrecting the spirit of the era again (and with Goldie remixing Hand of the Dead Body back in 1994 and making people in Cypress Hill t-shirts angry), Josey Rebelle put me onto this late 1990s footage of Metalheadz Sunday Sessions at the Blue Note. It’s a nice companion piece to the great interview with Nicky Blackmarket that LAW Magazine upped on Vimeo. Coming from a town where tape packs in puffy VHS-style boxes were once a big deal, where one of the last surviving record stores traded in accelerated breakbeats and jungle still has a presence there’s something comforting about the scene’s ability to stay underground and occasionally resurface. Where’s my Helly Hansen jacket at?