Stress magazine is the hip-hop magazine that doesn’t get as shouted out as it should be. Completing a quartet of Tower Records buy-on-sights with On The Go, Mass Appeal and Ego Trip, KET and the team’s labour of love had a nicely politicised side when The Source seemed to let that angle slide more than a little. The annual Black August events they sponsored in aid of political prisoners and freedom fighters (an event that’s still ongoing) showcased an interesting collection of intelligent artists. Stress ran from 1996 to the early 2000s (did it get beyond issue #25?) and this Unkut interview with KET that dates back almost a decade is a lot of real-talk on the publishing process. In December 1997, the magazine “Made from the best stuff in NY” ran several interesting articles, including a brief dual timeline of Gucci and Versace (this was the close of the year when Gianni was murdered) by Jessica Green. It’s certainly not the very best thing from this project’s run, but for that mention of a bizarre 1996 Versace hosted rap themed party where pretzels were handed out to evoke a hip-hop ambiance, it stuck in my mind throughout the years. And has there ever been a citation for the Tom Ford “I design for the urban person…” quote that’s used in it?
A while back I schemed to put something together regarding the relationship between hardcore and athletic shoes, but the task seemed colossal when it came to research and, crucially, I’m not qualified to write it. The connection between hip-hop and shoes has been mined to mediocrity in pursuit of content and, like some cultural fossil fuel, all that seems to be left — bar those untold stories and archives from those who were there — is fumes. In a cynical world, the do it yourself, self-powered earnestness of it all seems like the antithesis of a marketing grand plan. This ad from a 1986 Maximumrocknroll is just one of thousands of moments — the southern Californian band Half Off (rest in peace to Jim Burke) had a cult following and they briefly had a ‘zine-powered war of words with Youth Crew folks as mentioned in this Noisey Billy Rubin interview from a couple of years ago. The hand-drawn Vandal style Nike with the Terminator/Big Nike style lettering is a nice touch and on that topic hardcore connoisseur William Cathalina has put together a sneaker-centric ‘zine called Shoegazer, with issue #2 dedicated to shoes and the scene. The first run of 25 is long gone, but it’s worth giving him a shout via Instagram to see about a second run.
It’s easy to wish you were somewhere that you never were and engage in some fake nostalgia, conveniently ironing out the fact we’d probably be total victims, but late 1970s New York always looks like a culturally fertile place to be. The downside being that it was probably terrifying. After getting turned away from some fabled nightclub for being aesthetically displeasing, there’d be a kicking when you tried to hop on the hip-hop scene early in boroughs that didn’t want your culture tourism. Factor in a stifling heat wave, a blackout and the risk of David Berkowitz shooting you in the head, and it’s probably better left to the residents who were built for that shit. The Kino Library just upped some 1977 NYC footage from that summer that I’m sure I’ve seen extracts of in a variety of documentaries. Seeing as it’s silent, I recommend supplying your own soundtrack: Jimmy Sabater’s This Is Love, Rufus and Chaka Khan’s At Midnight, Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation or anything off Destroyer by Kiss might work well. Continue reading SUPPLY YOUR OWN SOUNDTRACK
The internet just keeps spitting out gems. Kyle Lilly upped another chunk of NYC public access show Video Explosion’s coverage of a 1996 Vibe Magazine and Def Jam party. With DJ Finesse chatting with Mic Geronimo, Charles Oakley and the mighty DJ Red Alert (wearing this incredible Odd Squad promo t-shirt for a night out), plus (a grainy) umlaut-era Jaÿ-Z with Mary and Foxy live on stage (where did I leave my Nutty Professor cassette?), it captures a transitional point for hip-hop. Half a year later, Jay would command a very different status in the city.
Thanks to an insatiable appetite for content online (and a lot of curious writers) there’s a lot of deep histories on some brands that had been barely mentioned online in recent years. Slowly — and whether a more image and video inclined audience have any interest in reading it — the lesser-discussed foundations of an industry are being given the treatment they deserve. I wondered what exactly happened to the R.A.P brand — which made plenty of appearances in British style magazines before it folded in 1996 — that was founded by Moroccan-born London resident Hassan Hajjaj and began as a shop on Neal Street in Covent Garden in 1983 before spawning its own apparel line. Continue reading HISTORY OF R.A.P
If Harley Flanagan’s recent memoir (which, by the way, is an excellent read) whetted your appetite for further tales of fighting with found weaponry, godawful living conditions and a decidedly un-gentrified Lower East Side, then the news that Roger Miret’s book My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory is set to arrive via Lesser Gods next August will cheer you up. Given that Miret’s story starts in Castro’s Cuba before the New York experiences, it’s the stuff of movies. In fact, the Kickstarter funded Agnostic Front documentary The Godfathers of Hardcore should be out around the same time as Miret’s autobiography. I’m addicted to these things — unlike those atrocious footy top boy and gobby UK gangster memoirs, NYHC books are anecdote after anecdote of confrontations and tear ups with a bit of heart behind them. As a bonus, Miret also seems to have obtained a foreword by no less than Phil Anselmo too.
I meant to up this here yesterday, but the gloom of being too slow and old with the keyboard to buy the Zoom Spiridon when it rereleased the other day dampened my spirit. Going forward, I might post more shoe-nerd bits here in this vein, though the cult of reposting and my own laziness might stop me doing that.
There’s something about the Zoom Spiridon that two solid reissues hasn’t dampened.
Released in 1997, promoted by Michael Johnson, and named after Greek runner Spyridon Louis — winner of the first modern-day Olympic marathon in 1896 — it’s a lightweight training model and a fan favourite from a golden age of design. It wasn’t the first Nike shoe to carry that name either — around 1984, there was a gold swoosh racing shoe called the Spiridon in the line that was followed by the Spiridon Gold a few years later. Continue reading SPIRIDON-DADA: A TRIBUTE TO A CULT CLASSIC