Hypocritical miserabilist rants about the proliferation of hiking styles on solemn city residents are about as ubiquitous as the gear itself on those who’ve no intention of conquering any more than the mildest of gradients. So there’s no point segueing into one here. It doesn’t matter how overexposed they get. There’s an intrinsic beauty to the D-ringed boot that’s hard-to-beat. It’s just a shame that the sports footwear industry is intent on “homaging” them at every turn. Still, in researching something that’s yet to be seen, and in conversation with Kish, the subject of greatest album sleeve footwear moments sprang up. On the hiking side, Stephen Stills seemingly had it on lock. The guitarist’s off road styling on 1969’s ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ and his eponymous 1970 album’s artwork is both effortless and iconic.
It’s surprising that ‘Free & Easy’ haven’t dedicated an entire album to Stills’s look. Were he to walk into the Rugged Museum, it’s safe to assume the staffers might fall to the ground in reverence. But that’s not the greatest album cover moment for trail footwear. That belongs to some other boys from Texas.
O.G. Style’s ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’, harking back to 1991 is the ultimate footwear LP sleeve. It’s easy to assume the east coast was hip-hop’s spiritual home for iconic shoe imagery. That would be incorrect. J. Prince evidently looked after his Rap-A-Lot roster on the sneaker side of things, and this is the best collection amassed in a single cardboard square. The Houston duo’s DJ Big Boss and MC Eric “Original E” Woods rocked matching Nike Baltoros on the front cover, but eyes left for the stern-faced, long coat and hiking boots look. Eagle-eyed fanboys will also note the Jordan VIs at the rear and the Foot Locker LE Air Max 90s on the right. For out-of-towners, there’s something curious about a bunch of men wearing ACG shoes in a Houston ghetto (5th Ward?). The assumption is that the area is a little warmer than say, New York or Washington. But that’s probably just ignorance. Turning to the rear, Big Boss rocks the grey Baltoro, and Eric opts for a Foot Locker LE 90 too, this time in a contrast black and white to his homeboy on the front. He’s also rocking that model in the ‘Catch ‘Em Slippin’ promo.
Closeup courtesy of NTM on the CT forums.
Not only is it festooned with the finest in footwear, but ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’ is a strong LP that’s up with prime Geto Boys and Convicts for the best early example of Prince’s rap dynasty. Good to hear James again on the intro to Bun B’s excellent ‘Trill O.G.’ Tragically, DJ Big Boss passed away in late 2006 of kidney failure, and Eric Woods died of a brain aneurysm on January 3rd 2008. Mourning should be officially inducted as a hip-hop element, given its prevalence. Currently the rap nation is mourning the demise of the NYC Fat Beats store, despite abandoning it for several years in favour of downloads. That’s the nature of the artform’s fans. O.G. Style deserve more respect, and the passing of both members warrants infinitely more retrospectives. Hunt down the album—listen to the music and respect their footwear savvy.
As a postscript, I’m actually hoping the current poor man’s monsoon season signifies the end of the UK’s summer 2010, so I can put this pile to use after months of inaction…