No visit to the USA is complete without bringing back some kind of preoccupation as a psychological souvenir. That was the case after a trip to Los Angeles. Obsessed with gun-toting rap from the safe distance of a provincial part of the UK, attitude was only one part of the package – those outfits were the next. Chucks, Cortez, Dickies, Pendleton, Cascades, and Carhartt. And white tees. Lots of white, pressed tees – that’s how you pull off basics with aplomb. The love of cheap workwear that runs through this blog with irritating repetitiveness isn’t the byproduct of a site informing me of the wonders of Americana or some Japanese bible of utilitarian brilliance – gangster rap made me do it. But the current boom in workwear has made picking up gear significantly easier with an explosion of stockists. It doesn’t quite match visiting a clothing store in the middle of god-knows-where browsing stiff short-sleeve shirts with monkey labels while a shopkeeper eyes you quizzically.
The main style king? MC Eiht. MC Chill was, well, cool and all, but Eiht wore the quintessential left coast uniform like no other. The only swagger to match was King Tee – especially in shotgun toting ‘Act A Fool’ mode. The cover of 1992’s ‘Music To Driveby’ looking down at the two MCs, sans Slip in presumed jack mode, with the record in your hands in the back seat, creating some kind of infinite driveby effect is one of the greats. June 1994’s issue of ‘The Source’ (alas, ‘Zino crept into that gangsta rap summit) homaged it well, with occasional collaborator Spice 1 and Scarface in the driving seat. One of the most effortless transitions from lyrical persona to screen in ‘Menace II Society’? For sure. It was good to see Supreme reproduce the cap he wore on MTV Raps a few years back. Every good west coast production feels culled from Compton’s Most Wanted – Cube and company made entire tracks from the funk and soul loops that were implemented for mere seconds on ‘Straight Checkn ‘Em’ and ‘Music To Driveby’. DJ Slip doesn’t get his dues as a pioneer. At all. Respect to Peter Dokus (who also shot Above The Law and NWA) for that art direction and photography. Team Life Sucks Die were quick to pay tribute to the 1994 solo opus ‘We Come Strapped’ album’s lettering and composition. Rightfully so – nice watch too.
Take a snippet of Gwen McRae, mix it with Isaac Hayes and throw in a denim shirt worn better than you ever could and you’ve got a classic promo…
Sadly Japan’s version of ‘Lowrider’ magazine exited recently on its 98th issue – there’s still something touching about a final issue that bids the reader farewell. It’s less jarring than a no-show, rumour then confirmation from the publisher. Fortunately help is at hand – a couple of months back, Jae Bueno recommended a new publication from the Far East – ‘Roots’ magazine. Sal Barbier and Vans Syndicate are in the content page of the debut issue too. Only in Japan, as the print industry crumbles around us, could a niche publication like that spring up, fully formed. It’s something to celebrate and support.
Seeing as I’ve been dwelling on the early ’90s, it’s time for a spot of retro offsetting. Gasper Noé’s ‘Enter the Void’ looks stunning from trailers, Thomas Bangalter is assisting sonically and it looks like a significantly less grounded affair than ‘I Stand Alone’ and ‘Irréversible’ – BUF’s computer animation work is unbelievable. Check the effects footage reel here. WARNING: The much-discussed sex scene shot of a penis during intercourse from a vagina POV is in there. Don’t sue me if you get fired.
Looks like 21st stoners/nutmeg drinkers/acid munchers just got their own ‘Altered States’ or ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ – suddenly Gasper’s Kubrick preoccupation shines through more overtly. Can’t wait for this one.