This one is pretty rare. Given the recent hoo-ha regarding American social media reactions to Giggs’ duo of More Life appearances (our music being slandered by Americans would have stung a decade ago, but now? Less so.) and the frequently naive history lessons offered as a response from these shores, it’s worth rewinding to London Posse’s Yo! MTV Raps international edition appearance from 1993. It certainly wasn’t the first Brit-America rap crossover moment by any stretch, but I remember being impressed by this second-half section of an episode being dedicated to this nation’s capital, where a baffled Fred attempted to interview Black Radical and General Levy talked about our scene, before we had to watch a scattering of videos by Marxman, Urban Species and Honky instead of the American videos that the US audience was getting to see on their broadcast. Personally, I think that — with plenty of honourable mentions, mostly singles rather than albums — between Rodney and Bionic’s opus Gangster Chronicle (this interview was from around the time How’s Life in London? was reissued, remixed and sponsored by British Knight) and the rise of road rap, UK rap was a patchy, patchy thing. It took another 14 years or so for it to seem like it could be a actual career. Go to this blog right here and watch this encounter, filmed in Piccadilly Circus just after an IRA bomb scare for extra historical context — Rodney P espousing the importance of following the indie route and Bionic echoing the importance of that outside-the-industry approach preempts the recent business model that took Stormzy to the top by a long, long time. Back then, it seemed like a pipe dream. Now it’s the road to going gold.
To some, Sigue Sigue Sputnik were one of those press-inflated flops of the 1980s, billed as the new thing — a glam sci-fi band with a loose dystopian dress code and apocalyptic Droog-like art direction, but incapable of maintaining the momentum of their Giorgio Moroder produced breakthrough. I think they were one of the great acts of that moment — a post Generation X creation who made a record that defines its era and maintained a mystique that had me fascinated. The sense of swindle and piss-taking that pervaded their work had some serious marketing dollars behind it. That promo extended to a 1986 MTV takeover called Sputnik Network Television that user result has upped onto YouTube. Presented by Tony James, who introduces Peter Gabriel videos, interviews shadowy record execs and Jennifer Gray, quizzes a spaniel and takes phone calls a young Futura 2000 is art guest, painting throughout in bike courier attire. Lenny gets a lot of screen time, mentioning his Fila boycott, but citing the brand as, “Sort of a street Gucci of 1986,” and expressing embarrassment at his Clash-produced solo single. A fantastic time capsule of its era that — as Lenny’s mention of his t-shirt line indicates — sows the seeds for plenty of interesting things that followed.
First things first, rest in peace to Tycoon To$h. All us disciples of Tokyo streetwear owe the man and the culture he brought, from new wave to a local interpretation of hip-hop, a fair amount. Major Force inspired Mo’Wax and Mo’Wax inspired…well, you get the general idea. On the topic of early 1990s gems, the superb Webm8 site keeps bringing the gems, with nuggets like this fit-inducing two-minute retrospective of 1990-era ‘fits that was shown on MTV Europe in association with Swatch back in the day. Lots of crap and a few fakes in the mix, but to be fair, there was a lot of that my wardrobe back then. Shouts to everyone who used to watch this kind of stuff intently to take notes back in the day.
I’ve long assumed that Kurt Cobain would despise everyone that purports to be influenced by him stylistically, or, at the very least, he’d administer some onstage sarcasm their way. I also think he cared about his appearance a great deal more than he let on too, like that indie kid who puts in a lot of work to look like he doesn’t give a shit. As a fan of Nirvana and Goodhood, it was nice to get involved in their Cobain 50th birthday celebrations, because they always do this presentation and content stuff better than the rest. The illustrations are tremendous and I love Gregk Foley’s writing. Check it out right here.
This Jodeci VH1 biopic might be the best news of the day — a Jodeci flick and a full Ric Flair documentary? An amazing time to be alive, contrary to those apocalyptic headlines. If that rising ocean and those missiles can hold off for a couple of years, that would be ideal. I’m also very excited about the impending issue #1 of TTTISM magazine from the Sang Bleu stable. Maxime Plescia-Büchi is a friend and role model — a man so prolific that he’s put together an entire supplementary publication to an existing rollout, a complete apparel range and even changed his name since I saw him last. And that isn’t even his day job. On an unrelated note, big up Hezakya Starr for upping this 1993 news piece on the sagging, baggy denim boom — big jeans will be back soon (note: bootcut and baggy are two different things), and this is a reminder as to haw voluminous things got back in the day. Switching to unrelated mode again, a couple of cool Larry Clark interviews have appeared online too, including one where Clark talks about an impending retirement from films to drive around Europe in a Bentley and another one for French news — I post a lot of Larry interviews on here, and most tell the same tales and ask the same questions, but he is a character who will forever prove fascinating to me.
After years of haplessly attempting to write and watch TV shows and films at the same time, the ascent of the podcast has been a godsend. A wealth of deep conversations on niche topics scattered with anecdotal diamonds and some necessary myth busting is the soundtrack to most of my afternoons and it’s notable that the sprawling length of some favourites like Drink Champs fires warning shots in the direction of those who demand that information be kept to pithy lengths. Those attention span deniers are a regressive bunch. Give me hours of meandering chats over condensed blocks of information any day. Mark Anthony Green and the New Yorker’s Matthew Trammell entered the arena recently with Rich Friend: the Elevated Conversation and the interesting choice of guests thus far has made it one of my favourites. The most recent episode with DJ Clark Kent is a break from the regular shoe-centric direction he’s taken in to showcase how smart he is — never a passive conversationalist, Clark has an interesting opinion on the state of rap and the state of the world right now, plus an insane level of history in the hip-hop industry harking back to when it was just a scattering of New York jams. Good guy, good hosts, good podcast.
It looks like we’re getting a memoir by no less a legend than ‘Ram Jam’ Rodigan via Constable this March. David Rodigan MBE is a national treasure and, from a very brief interaction with him, a very decent chap (though his contract stipulated that he couldn’t be billed as “the Gentleman Rudeboy”. Somehow managing to keep it very real but also create wild onstage personas for clashes, how exactly he rose to international fame and find favour with a Jamaican audience who have zero chill if you don’t come correct is a story I’m keen to read when My Life in Reggae releases. That he had cameos in Doctor Who (and another scene boying off Sherlock Holmes) around the same time that he was hiding his craft with Kingston’s finest just adds to the mythos. Whether he’s entering the stage dressed as Elvis to unleash a Junior Reid Crank That dubplate, rocking a turban or having a Test Match theme skit lead into a Rodigan special take on Merciless’ Ole Gallis in NYC, that taste for the theatrical adds a manic extra dimension to his work. Long may he reign.