40 BELOW

Abercrombie & Fitch is probably the most oppressive retail experience on the planet – Polo Ralph Lauren channelled through a provincial nightclub, with musclebound men at the door for absolutely no reason. But people love it — especially in the UK where people travel far and wide to buy overpriced collegiate tat in dim lighting at a mismatched conversion compared to the US RRP. Do people still buy it in the States? Still, at least it’s not Jack Wills or Superdry, but it still begs a question — why not just buy Polo? In fact, the A&F phenomenon evidently had Ralph shook enough that a mega budget Rugby appeared in Covent Garden recently. Still, A&F’s heritage beats any of the new wave of fictional Americana brands, and it seems that Abercrombie & Fitch stores were awesome once upon a time.

Before they sent anybody with more than 3% body fat or any person with a deformity to a stock dungeon, away from the gaze of misguided teens, and long before they made wildly racist t-shirts, Abercrombie & Fitch were cited as the supplier of the shotgun that Ernest Hemingway used to kill himself in 1961 — but that was discredited many years later. What we do know is that A&F were early suppliers of Timberland’s legendary 40 Below, aka the Super Boot back in 1984. That was an era when they were owned by the mighty Oshman’s, pre-1988, and a time long when the six-packs weren’t a prerequisite.

Oh yeah — can every t-shirt line take a look at No Mas’s plastic-sleeved trading card hangtags that contain all the necessary details that go that little extra? That, my friends, is the difference between journeymen and champions.

Managing to merge two of last year’s significant rap crazes, Texan MC Pyrexx is both caucasian and carrying some serious face ink. After a low-level “Free Pyrexx” campaign he was released from jail last year and promptly got some eyebrow tattoos to rep for Houston’s ABN Gang crew. All eyes are on sweary white ladies at the moment, but I like Pyrexx’s verse on Trae’s excellent ‘Strapped Up.’ Then late last year, Trae tweeted something about him no longer representing ABN — despite having it on his face. Rap fans love rumours. I heard it was about a Yelawolf/Paul Wall diss, but that’s second-hand smoke. Face tattooing an allegiance, then being ousted from that group must be a little problematic (see also, Yung LA), but I can’t help but salute the impulsiveness of it all.

At the weekend a new Pyrexx video emerged, with those eyebrow pieces barely perceptible. Did he get them removed? And to the racist WSHH commentators, the ignorant face tattoo isn’t a black or white issue — it’s a goon thing. As cracker rap goes (what happened to Jeezy’s boy White?), I respect Pyrexx’s decision not to pull wacky faces and wear OBEY caps like most new whiteys on the scene do. On a similar note, I still need to adjust to loose French Montana affiliate B.A.R.S. Murre’s white Max B, Cam-a-like flow. It’s not happening for me after he squandered what could have been an awesome Biggavelli beat, but I liked it when he says “R.I.P. Bob Barker” even though the ‘Price is Right’ presenter’s still alive. He even wears ignorant True Religion denim like the incarcerated king of the wave.





It’s twelve years to the day since Ghostface’s ‘Supreme Clientele’ dropped. Don’t confine that game changer to old man rap status either — team A$AP appreciate the contribution that Ghost put in and it was a unifying overground/underground moment in time. Few rappers upped their game like that (though I have to salute Lloyd Banks for morphing from molasses-sounding punchline-mummy MC into a great artist) — especially considering the dude was so skilled to start with. I remember the minor two month delay after the November 1999 release date in ‘The Source’ and I remember ‘Apollo Kids’ via RealPlayer on defunct sites like Platform.net. Post ‘Immobilarity,’ not caring for Meth and Red’s ‘Blackout!’ and being utterly underwhelmed by ‘The W,’ I would have given up on the Wu entirely without the oddball masterpiece that united rap fans, musos and skaters for a minute. What became of that 50 kid he was dissing on there who’d just been dropped by Columbia? On a more serious note, what became of the brilliantly named Lord Superb after his ghostwriting for Ghost allegations? Happy birthday ‘Supreme Clientele.’ And no, I can’t get excited about a sequel…

0 thoughts on “40 BELOW

  1. Super boot was available in Houston and Dallas. You know it doesn’t get bigger than Texas. It also doesn’t get anything like -40° below. And hardly ever 40° for that matter. I work less than 5 minutes from the A&F store off of Regent Street. If I go in there I’m causing a bloodbath. Ghost is one of my top 5 rappers, I’d listen to him slurp soup. But he has released some questionable albums, record label choices I guess. Still, bring the man some soup already…..

  2. Abercrombie and Fitch still has some cred here in the States but the kids seem to have drifted over to wearing Hollister now and getting their skate gear from Zumiez. I swear it brings me back to when I was coming up and kids were all over Abercrombie and Fitch and American Eagle and The Gap and Pac Sun. Me? I was running to Union NYC, Stussy, Recon, Supreme, and even Phat Farm when you could only get in on Prince Street. I love Ghostface though. Wu Tang was back from a time when you believed that these rappers would knock you the fuck out if you ever stepped to them. I remember going to a Wu Tang after party and they literally had a box by the doorman to leave your guns. It gets no realer than that! Today’s rappers? I’m not even sure I’d say excuse me if I bumped into Wiz Khalifa. And whatever you think about Lil Wayne, I want to punch him in the face for the way he is blatantly and unapologetically trying to exploit skateboarding culture. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    1. Thank you Eric! Bugged out that Hollister is so big in the UK and US. That gun box story is crazy! I liked the era when rappers seemed to goonish to ever approach. Phat Farm was my shit for a minute.

  3. LO and 40 BeLO’s is was the From Chicago to BK I was rocking them like my life depended on them. I remember Dr. Jay’s in Newark had a clearance on them in like 98 because they was “going out of style” and was in the middle of a hot ass summer but Man I copped 5 pairs of my size and the half size up just in case. 10 in total. 6 are still on ice inside individual air sealed bags. AYAK!