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.
“I think it’s important to recognise that hip-hop has a historical and cultural status that’s undeniable, unavoidable, and as big and as strong as any other genre of music. The Beatnuts are as important an influence on my life as The Beach Boys.” Green Gartside
Back in the late ’80s, I clocked a video for Scritti Politti’s ‘Wood Beez’ and promptly decided that Green Gartside was the man. This wasn’t the UK promo, with some hideously dated expressive dancing from punk rock types (the tribute to Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s black power salutes was fresh though) that was Jarman-lite, but a slightly more acceptable, but still dated US-promo. I can’t recall whether it was to tie-in with a 1988 re-release to give the follow-up LP, ‘Provision’ a push.
The track name seemed clever, and the lyrics, depicted onscreen seemed to have a little more gravitas than any Pete Waterman produced tosh. Importantly, the production seemed so genuinely funky. Not just funky for some blue eyed soul wannabe whiteboy, but genuinely so, with a synthesised sheen that was nicely at odds with Green’s expressive vocal range. I was sold on Scritti. Beyond that song title, I sussed the clever integration of structuralist theories and linguistics within the heart-on-sleeve pop sensibilities a lot later.
To shift from residing in a Camden squat making music to sit alongside the work of post-punkers like Pere Ubu to taking early morning phone calls from Miles Davis fishing for ideas is an incredible evolution. And that’s just their first decade. To have worked with Miles, Robert Wyatt, Roger Troutman and Mos Def is proof of a deeply respected and continually shapeshifting vision that’s reflected in Green’s choice of outfits too.