Tag Archives: tapes


This blog should probably become bloggingaboutchampiongearidontownagainandagain.com, but it’s my blog, so if I want to get stuck in the mud and dwell on one topic, I will. Nobody told me about the existence of this sweatshirt — I knew about last year’s Stussy collaboration on that slightly fussy M-65 style tracksuit employing Windstopper, but this ARMY Reverse Weave hoody in Oshman’s is the best Champion Windstopper design yet. Trying to give basic fleecewear technical properties is problematic. Angular, stiff fanciness defeats my primary purpose for putting a sweatshirt on. If a DWR treatment can’t sustain regular washes, it’s pretty pointless and if you can’t breath through the sweatshirt, it becomes a suffocateshirt. Water resistance has never worked for me on these garments, but Gore’s Windstopper protection layer makes sense and doesn’t infringe too much on the hand feel of a sweat. It’s good to see two technologies with over 50 years between them (I think this might be the Windstopper patent, a technology that officially debuted around 1992 while the 1938 patent here is a Champion one that seems to be focused on a Reverse Weave style technology). Pop fastenings on the collar, ribbed side panels, minimal vertical shrinkage, but annoyingly small Japanese sizing — everything that intrigues me about the work from a licensee that just does its own thing with a certain finesse.

The ‘Vintage Menswear’ book by Josh Sims and The Vintage Showroom’s Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett is good value for money. If, like me, you lay down £20 on a Japanese magazine covering similar ground just to gaze at the photos, the 130 items here and accompanying copy is a nice antidote to keep on the shelf. I’m still stuck in the military chapter, where reversible German mountain parkas, custom military greatcoats, eccentric footwear innovations, a truly remarkable Aero Leather company B-7 sheepskin flight jacket and a lot more deliver enough insight for an idea-free clothing brand to get at least 2 years of designs out of it. The notion that the British Army’s Paratrooper’s denison smock was painted with a non-colourfast ink so that it might fade in enemy territory and give the wearer a different kind of concealment by letting them blend in with civilians (though it’s just a rumoured innovation) fired my imagination. I had no idea that the reddish applications to brushstroke camo on the Indian Army paratrooper’s smock dated back to the 1940s — I thought they were a 1970s treatment to the (to tie it to the Windstopper talk, the Denison jacket design’s spinoff was the lighter Windproof smock) pattern. All of which goes to show that I know nothing about camouflage. Go buy the book and get educated — it’s bitesize pieces rather than an exhaustive history of anything, but the spotlight on the details.

Who else used to buy magazines for the tapes? ‘NME’, ‘Select’ and ‘Melody Maker’ seemed like better value for having them on the cover, even though I never listened to them. ‘The Source’ had a good Rush Associated Labels one attached in 1994 and on buying ‘Fantastic Four’ #376 in a mysterious polybagged pack for the tape, I was introduced to the mighty ‘Dirt’ magazine. Then dad-mags like ‘Q’ got all fancy and stuck CDs on their covers and by 1996, the cover cassette was done. Few genres justify continual use of a long-gone, labour intensive object like the audio cassette like doom metal does, and UK-noise bible ‘Terrorizer’ gave away a couple of CDs this month, but throwing Dorset-based stoner-doomers Electric Wizard’s new EP in as a tape was a glorious flashback to the newsagents of old. It was a shame that only select issues got it. It’s also a damned shame that I don’t own a tape deck any more.


“Charlie Hustle, I got a few mathematics,
I’m doing a compilation, should I go with Phunky Phat Graph-X?
I tell them, ‘Hell yeah that’s a done deal, dude them be off the hinges
Dude them did my cover and my bus benches”

E-40 ‘Hope I Don’t Go Back’

Today I’m talking about tote bags…I’m just fucking with you. I’m talking Phunky Phat Graph-x. That was the company’s name incidentally—I haven’t just returned from a Tory workshop on “yoof” speak. A couple of years back, my good friend Nick Schonberger asked me to write a piece on the well-known (even if it’s with a certain smirk) Pen & Pixel album cover empire, which ultimately, despite late ’90s ubiquity is line with the explosion of major-licensed empires like No Limit, Suave House and Cash Money appears to close doors to make way for Smart Face Media Management and Creative Resource Managements (though Shawn Brauch has mentioned plans to distill all 19,0000 covers in his archive into a book), their rival before Pen & Pixel truly owned the market was Oakland’s Phunky Phat Graph-x. Hardly as prolific but still commonplace in my tape collection, if you liked B-Legit, JT the Bigga Figga or early E-A-Ski (and the homie Maxime at ‘Sang Bleu’ knows the deal), you were drawn in by some lurid act of brutality by O-Town’s album sleeve maestros.

If, inexplicably, despite being a pasty Brit, you laid hands on Mista Boss Mann’s pimptastic output, you probably knew the power of Phunky Fresh. There was rarely ghetto glamour on commissioned work. After effects, yes, but significantly more grime. According to legend, Master P tired of their turnaround times and while P had been loyal to the Phunky Fresh for TRU and other early releases—even back when the company was called Underwood Works after founders Thomas and Tracy Underwood—and switched to Pen & Pixel. Sick Wid It seemed to stay loyal. There was room in my heart for both creative outposts. Phunky Fresh defined this curious aesthetic before I ever set eyes on their rival’s work. I still don’t know what happened to Thomas and Tracy (that’s what the comments section is for, after all), but vice-president Johnel Langerston runs a company called PHATEFX that offers a similar service. It’s too easy to sneer at a curious time for the industry as dynasties were forged before politics, gullyness and the dreaded right-clickers put a dent in those gold-plated mansions.

There’s no Bay Area sounds currently blaring via my iTunes—just an unofficial but slickly packaged Cam’ron and Vado mixtape called ‘Polo Sport’ that flips some of Lauren’s branding effectively on the cover art. The lineage is in full effect. Tastes changed, but the cult of lurid art lives on in the mix and street CD circuit. More often than not, these are part of a tactical leak, and are barely seen outside of a hi-res jpeg, but at least the spirit’s there. I hope all involved continued success, and remain in awe of their street-level excesses. Whether the Retweet takes prominence over curious or brilliant design to shift an album isn’t even open to argument. It’s done, but I still keep hope alive that another powerhouse of go-to guys will arise, and maintain this level of lunacy.

Filthy Phil reportedly killed a police officer and released this tape while he was on the run. Hence the name.

It’s worth noting that this entry was originally meant to have some jacket talk too because of some fine new acquisitions from Arc’teryx Veilance and Dickies and some talk of the new Rig Out too, but it jarred too hard for the above—even by my usual standards the transition would’ve been deeply awkward. I guess the Dickies associations are certainly there.