STYLE WARS THE MUSICAL

It’s almost a never forgive action that I had no idea that ESPO and REAS’s one-minute Style Wars the Musical short (which, for a moment a while back, I thought was actually a trailer for a full off-Broadway musical) was online via its production company, ApK. This video (on a slightly faraway screen in the Street Market 2 recreation) was one of the highlights of a trip to the Art in the Streets show at MoCa LA back in 2011 — now I want to see a full version of Skeme and his mum’s big number. There have been a lot of magnificent tributes to this iconic documentary throughout the years, but this is one of the very best.

WHITE FORCES

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Continuing the recurring Air Force 1 theme of the last few months, I threw together an attempt at a history of the ubiquitous white Air Force 1 for Complex. I would love to know how many pairs that specific iteration of the AF1 has shifted since its debut, but one thing is for sure — contrary to reports, it definitely debuted several years before 1997. Right now, brands are falling over themselves to force a footwear phenomenon on young people with their pop ups, event spaces, panels, careful drip feed of numbers and blood advertorial onslaughts. It makes sense, given that the social media herd mentality, plus hundreds of thousands of new converts to resell, generally makes creating hype far easier. But the white Force never had that push initially (though later down the line, its numbers were deliberately reduced to increase their demand). You can read it right here.

AIR SHIPS

This did the rounds a few months ago, but after the regular splatter of speculative articles surrounding what the banned Nike Air Ship actually looked like, all we seemed to have to go on was a couple of black and white training and action photos and really blurry split second pre-game footage from Madison Square Garden. But this footage of Jordan playing against the Bucks at a Washington High School, East Chicago on October 9th (easily falling into the period that’s mentioned in the stern letter from NBA commissioners) was dug up by true Jordan fan MJO23DAN. I was also pretty sure — though I can’t find the supporting evidence I spotted right now — that the lettering that replaces the wings logo on the strange Rare Air versions of the AJ1 is taken from the heel of Jordan’s Air Ships. We tend to exist in an echo chamber when it comes to legends around shoes and I and many others are guilty of pecking at what’s already out there, so salutes to this YouTuber and connoisseur for researching and sharing this video.

RAM JAM

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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.

AIR TR*MP

For a while I was convinced that I imagined that Donald Trump appeared in a Nike commercial in the late 1990, and the sheer volume of great campaigns during the 1990s didn’t make ascertaining which ad any easier. But, thanks to YouTube (big up mercatfat), I was reminded that it was part of the 1997/98 era Fun Police series with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Tim Hardaway and Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Damon Stoudamire and knowingly fun-free characters like Cherokee Parks. Promoting a series of memorably eccentric Zoom-assisted silhouettes, one spot includes a one line speaking role by the future president-elect himself. Before you take those red boxes into the back garden ready to set them alight, chill — this was when Trump was seen as a New York mascot of sorts (and back then, without the internet, it was easier to forget that this was around the time he seemed to switch from Democrat to Republican, or that just eight years prior, he demanded the execution of five wrongfully accused young black men — including a boy of just 15), appearing in everything, from Home Alone 2 to The Nanny to Sex and the City, as well as ads for Pizza Hut, Oreo and McDonald’s. And by turning him into this larger-than-life caricature of capitalism, we all created a monster. But 20 years ago, the events of this coming Friday seemed even more improbable as a young boy left alone in New York thwarting the same duo of bumbling crooks he’d defeated before in a completely different city.

DIE DASSLERS

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There’s a two-part drama miniseries on the way that’s entirely based on the adidas/PUMA rivalry. Am I the only person excited at the prospect of a three-hour film about the Dassler brothers? The apocryphal tales of a misunderstanding over the supposed “the dirty bastards are back again” remark/unsubstantiated accounts of infidelity or Barbara Smit’s more feasible history of the family feud have long fascinated me and I’m interested to see which version makes it to screen. Adi and Rudi’s post WWII contempt for each other is the stuff of legends, and this German-language production was titled Die Dasslers in its origin country and will be retitled Rivals Forever: the Sneaker Battle (I would prefer The Dasslers, but I appreciate that it probably wouldn’t draw the crowds) for its subtitled distribution. Whether it’s going to be a two-parter outside Germany or a single film (it’s even up for offer to potential distributors/broadcasters as four 45-minute episodes) is up in the air, but the trailer — which you can view right here — makes it look quite appealing. I’d likes to see more shoe related dramas in the future — a Bowerman series, a biopic of PONY founder Roberto Muller and his wild ‘80s antics, a Reebok vs Nike production and a slapstick comedy about Nike’s Steph Curry presentation starring Seth Rogan.

1996

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.