Clockers is one of my favourite films of the 1990s. An expansion of Spike Lee’s cinematic vision, aided by Richard Price’s forensic precision, it preempted the grittier, uncompromising procedural depth of The Wire years later (and Price was writer on several episodes, as well as HBO’s American remake of The Night Of). It also managed the feat of nearly topping the Crooklyn Dodgers’ classic 1994 all-star posse cut with a whole new roster and producer for the movie’s soundtrack. I only recently discovered that Saul Bass was very annoyed by the film poster’s Anatomy of a Murder tribute (resulting in an alternate edition with a more generic chalk outline character), telling Entertainment Weekly that, ”The convention is when anyone steals something, they call it an homage.” One-sheets aside, the film itself always felt fresh to me. On that topic, this movie and the previous year’s Fresh were a million miles from the ghetto clichés that distributors were buying up at the time and suffered as a result — those who wanted formulaic hood morality tales were bored, while an audience didn’t bother attending or renting because they thought it was going to be more of the same. This footage, uploaded by Zeke62 Nostalgia, of Ralph McDaniels presenting a Video Music Box show from the Clockers premiere party in 1995 is solid gold.
I don’t know whether it’s heartening that I frequently re-read longford pieces online and wish that I had a paper hard copy, or whether I’m just a total luddite. Caroline Rothstein’s Legends Never Die essay on the cast of Kids and their fates post-1995 is almost three years old, but I think it’s one of the best articles on the topic ever. I wish there were other articles of similar calibre on topics connected to “street culture”, but beyond the occasional FADER piece, I haven’t read anything of equal quality lately. Continue reading LEGENDS ON PAPER
Every now and again I put together the kind of thing that would traditionally be here for somebody else. My friends at size? asked if I could throw together something on Helly-Hansen’s moment in the spotlight back in the 1990s, and its subsequent trend-level moments. It’s kind of a celebration and cautionary tale. I’ll always respect the brand for trying to take that Nautica cash and embracing its hip-hop audience to the point where they ran HH Dead Prez promos.
“Got back to the mansion, to divvy up the paper/Helly-Hansen was the brain of the whole entire caper”
Q-Tip ‘Drink Away the Pain’
“I went from Helly-Hansen to mini mansions”
Mase ‘Top of the World’
“Had on the Helly-Hansen and a knot that was fat/Had the spotlight beaming on my Astro Black hat”
Quasimoto, ‘Hittin’ Hooks’
“I’m holding up for ransom, still rock the Helly-Hansen”
Action Bronson ‘Brown Bag Wrap’
Continue reading HELLY-HANSEN & HIP-HOP
No real updates tonight because I’m working on plenty of projects at the same time and can’t think of anything to add here that isn’t discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. For the hardcore nerds, the video below might be of some vague interest — a news report regarding the 1995 legal dispute over whether New Balance could call themselves made in the USA, when some components were made overseas. Continue reading NEW BALANCE 585s
What’s all the fussing and feuding for these days? I’ll never understand the people pretending that they emerged from the womb fully clued up, nodding sagely. Life is about discovery and evolving tastes. Got into something a year ago? Feel free to comment, regardless of what some old misanthrope who hopped on it five years prior tells you. Those who were really there at the start of anything, don’t sit and waste their time typing, blogging and dissecting them, unless they made a bad business decision and ended up on the outside. If something makes a few thousand kids YouTube Ninjaman or New Order, even if it’s just to get bragging rights over their online peers, then it can only be a good thing. then A brand like Supreme might not have been as widely discussed 20 years ago, but it was still fêted enough by the style press to warrant a page in The Face around Christmas 1995 — a magazine that was on the shelf of my local newsagent, with a then-circulation of around 113,000, back when mentioning anything in relation to Stüssy had us interested. Supreme was even on the shelf relatively locally at Dogfish in Cambridge for a bit earlier that year. It wasn’t necessarily a secret society then either — just a good brand, carefully distributed.
Whoa. Did Apple just acknowledge the obligatory Supreme box logo sticker on a MacBook that’s the Hypebeast Essentials equivalent of a Scarface poster in an episode of Cribs? That’s an interesting corporate co-sign. Things have come a long way. Personally, I think that it’s a 19th anniversary salute to Lord Nikon in Hackers, the Supreme sticker on a laptop OG back in 1995 who slapped a box onto a Toshiba Satellite. In a film that seems to be Apple sponsored, Nikon was one of the few without a chunky Powerbook, meaning he never quite brought the worlds together entirely, but Laurence Mason’s character is still the father of that rectangle you carefully applied to expensive hardware to fake not-caring. Unless we’re Dutch, we’re not listening to Urban Dance Squad, wearing shades to hack in strange digital cityscapes or whizzing around on rollerblades, but Hackers got one prophecy on point.
The whole Genealogy of Innovation project I worked on for Nike has been collated in a book by Sneaker Freaker and it’s very good. Weirdly, I put a book project on hold to write that website copy and now it’s a book, but there’s extra copy in there, all the shoes, all the stuff I wrote, some interviews with Nike football folks I did, other interviews with famous people and about 230-something pages of stuff. The packaging is bananas with the Magista (and Superfly) colour contrast on the slipcase. I still wish I’d written THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MARIAH AND NOT THE MARIAH PR after my Mariah copy all those months ago, but it’s a minor (and it’s correct on the site). I know quite a few were produced as promo pieces, Salutes to Woody, Ryan and the team on this — ridiculously fast turnaround and a very impressive product.
I’m out of town for a while, so this is a weak blog update. I only just realised that the Passengers segment on Biggie Smalls from 1995 has been uploaded on YouTube, despite it being there since August. For years this was inexplicably absent from the internet and just as The Word‘s Onyx Throw Ya Gunz made an appearance fairly recently after being little more than a gradually eroding memory for 19 years, it’s back. Not only was the UK the place where Biggie got his first magazine cover, the following year, Channel 4 transmitted nearly fifteen minutes of his daily operations on a Friday night as part of Passengers, the patchy but entertaining yoof magazine show that also included pieces like James Lebon profiling Shyhiem during his Rugged Child days. You get Chris Wallace’s mum talking about his Polo pieces as a kid, some studio static with some concealed firearms, great footage of Faith smoking lots of weed, some live footage and a young Lil Kim (credited as Little Kim). Classic material. Naturally, like most long-unseen things of this ilk, this was elevated to a D.A. Pennebaker level of insight in my mind during its absence, but significantly less in-depth now I’ve finally watched it again. Shouts to jimbeanthelegend1982 for that upload.
Edit: The original uploader, iom seventynine hasn’t got his full dues here — go check his YouTube channel for other UK TV gems like Company Flow on Jo Whiley’s show and Bushwick Bill on Badass TV…