Tag Archives: ari marcopoulos

ARI UP

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If you’re here, I’ll be presumptuous — and not in that irksome clickbait “You won’t believe what…” way —and assume that you own something by Ari Marcopoulos. Ari is one of the greats, working with the Gucci’s new order as well as Supreme, and his documents of NYC skate culture are immortal. Continue reading ARI UP

90s KIDS

Many months ago, I wrote a post on here decrying the 30 and 40-somethings bemoaning the current state of hip-hop and dwelling on 1993. I still believe there was plenty of crap around back then to match the current onslaught, but I have to admit to a certain hypocrisy — look at the old Source magazines and old ACG fanboy uploads in the posts that followed…it’s tough to shake off a love for the early 1990s aesthetic. I still have a problem with the people who seem to spend a great deal of time writing “THIS IS THE REAL HIP HOP. NOT WACK SHIT LIKE DRAKE AND LIL WAYNE” under pretty much every rap video from pre-2000 on YouTube. Less time spent on your anti-Drake crusade and more time realising that Roughhouse Survivors playing in a club isn’t conducive to meeting the opposite sex and maybe, just maybe, you’ll at least hold hands with a woman one day.

What I do miss is the level of criticism that went down back then and the seriousness with which rap journos went about their work. The ‘Unsigned Hype’ section of ‘The Source’ felt like something to aspire to and the magazine’s reviews would knock a mic off for minor infractions. I’m sure I recall ‘Beat Down’ dismissing ‘Life’s a Bitch’ for being too smooth. And yes, when we lost that sense of integrity, we ended up with Made Men albums getting 7 mics out of 5. Still, I would give ‘Classic Limited Edition’ 3 miss for the ‘Is It You?’ video alone, which combines some thug Aladdin ‘A Whole New World’ steez with leather camo gear rocked on flying carpets, the worst CGI sphinx ever, Master P as a hologram and cheap ‘Stargate’ knockoff elements that don’t fit the music in any way, shape or form. It’s more fun than another Rik Cordero production though.



What caught me off guard was the new generation of young MCs and their dedication to the early to mid 1990s. Mac Miller spitting over Lord Finesse’s ‘Hip 2 the Game’ was interesting, but Joey BADA$$ and Wiki seem to go even further in their preoccupations with old rap. Are we seeing some curious reaction from the young ‘uns to the mid-life crisis of rap fans my age preoccupied with the works of Gunplay and the artist formerly known as Tity Boi? Joey’s ‘Survival Tactics’ sounds like it’s from the HAZE ‘New York Reality Check 101’ compilation. It’s a bloody Styles of Beyond beat…it doesn’t get more Mr Bongo Jansport headnod than that. Pro Era might stand for Progressive Era, but it’s a throwback sound and the impending mixtape’s called ‘1999.’ That Joey’s 17 is pretty staggering — it’s not surprising that someone can spit at that age…Nas was on ‘Live at the Barbecue’ at 18, Kane seemed to be ghost writing for some greats at 16 and wasn’t Bun-B making UGK music at 15? What’s odd is that Joey was around 4 years old when Styles of Beyond’s ‘2000 Fold’ originally dropped. That makes me feel downright pensionable. Are we seeing indy rap’s sound and look being retroed by a generation too young to remember it burning out in a blitz of verbose super-scientifical babble (and full-lengths bogged down in boring Tribe-copy beats from a time when even a Tribe Called Quest were treading water musically and primed to implode)?

Wiki’s 18 but with a graff preoccupation, Rammellzee and Suicide references on deck, well rehearsed breath control, and inspiration from Cam’ron at the close of his Epic days and Buckshot’s work, he’s defiantly New York at a time when even New York doesn’t want to sound New York. Trumping Joey’s tape date by called his first EP ‘1993,’ I recommend picking it up for £3.25 or so from Bandcamp — it’s accomplished stuff that’s heavy with the wordplay and chunky beats in a world dominated by fluid ambience on the production front, despite the arty presentation it’s not some abstract project. Had ‘1993’ been released in 1993, it would have fallen through the gaps with Jungle Brothers’ 3rd album then been resurrected by German rap bloggers rinsing the Yousendit account in early 2005. Remember that scene in ‘Belly’ with Tommy watching ‘Gummo’ (“Shit is bugged out”) on that big screen in his palatial home? Looking at Eric Yue’s ‘Wikispeaks’ video, it’s as if Hype’s filmmaking opened some weird vortex where a high gloss and lo-fi world merged. Those children of the 1990s are making some interesting music and visuals. It’s all about the movements, and teams Pro Era and Ratking seem happy to talk about their reference points whereas OFWKTA get pissy at talk of anything pre-Pharrell. I like the Ari Marcopoulos helmed promo for Wiki’s ‘Piece of Shit’ too. Are we going to see major label dough getting thrown at folk making music like this? That really would be an early 1990’s throwback.





While we’re talking about the kids, shouts to commanderdeviss3 on his YouTube video where he shows off his “Swag collection” — this looks like a Harmony Korine creation, from the young man’s periodically disappearing headphones to the total lack of joy for any of the amassed swagger he’s hoarded. commanderdeviss3 is awesome.



Out of interest, can anyone explain the Crustified Dibbs/R.A. the Rugged Man ‘Night of the Bloody Apes’ comic book? I’ve never seen this item beyond this mention here. I’m assuming that it was a Jive promo item like the Extra Prolific and Casual comic books, with Crustified’s proposed 1994 release date being around the release of ‘Fear Itself.’ I need more information on this one.

SPIKE LEE REVIEWS BASEBALL CAPS

I can’t actually wear caps because they make me look like a car thief, because I’m old and because my head is vast. That wasn’t always the case though — I used to have a Dodgers and White Sox hat (Ice Cube and MC Eiht inspired me) that I wore every day, until I saw a photo of myself with the cheap Starter hats perched high on my head, adding an extra four inches to an already sizeable noggin. That was that. But I’ll always respect the baseball cap. Some say it’s not British to wear one, but that’s usually strung-out rock stars and fashion advice gurus who dress like Paul Burrell. Their opinion doesn’t matter. They could counter my argument by pointing out that Jonathan King rocked a cap heavily on ‘Entertainment USA’ back in the day, and I’ll give them that one, but there’s a place for the hat in my heart, hanging in the affordable section of the sports shop, assisted by my mum’s 30% discount.

Before the reign of the fitted (my first fitted was actually an uncomfortable 1993 Hurricanes design in that glorious green and orange that lacked at least an inch in circumference), I was obsessed by Del’s peak in the ‘Catch a Bad One’ video from 1994. Just destructively folding the peak by that point was considered bad form, so I submerged the wool-mix test subject in the sink before fastening the peak around a length of plastic guttering using rubber bands and leaving it to dry. The effect was a temporary curve of at least 330 degrees, resulting in a long-term 180 degree effect. As you might have guessed, I was an odd teenager.



My oversized dome also led to shame on a purchase of a Stussy New Era a few years later, where shop workers frantically searched in the stockroom for a stray freak size fitted. It was like the time I witnessed a morbidly obese lady fail the turnstiles at Anfield and have to be let in a special door complete with dungeon master style keys. That deaded my personal relationship with caps entirely, bar my love for the Hundreds Starter tribute in 2006 that felt downright quaint in a world of 59Fiftys with spirit level straight peaks, complete with holograms and foil stickers. Who would have thought that the “snapback” (we just used to call them caps) would reign again alongside the 5-panel hat (another style I can’t wear)? Who decided that a fringe visible under the front of the hat was a good idea? Streetwear Dave steez in full effect.

Now I’m seeing more and more fitteds like the Our Legacy Ebbetts Field design, with plenty more Ebbetts creations from the hordes of imitators, but if it keeps a fine brand like Ebbetts busy, I’m cool with that. Is that a reaction to the snapback fever? I’m just glad that I never wore the Negro league Jackie Robinson cap I picked up all those years ago. I imagine it could have earned my pallid face some bruises, but I noticed that Starter are dabbling in those league designs again for later this year. I wonder if Chris Brown and Tyga will ever release a ‘Flexfit Back’ freestyle?

Back in 1990, ‘Spin’ magazine let Spike Lee, fresh from ‘Mo’ Better Blues,’ guest edit the magazine. Alongside excellent pieces on Public Enemy and Bad Brains, it also included ‘SPIKE LEE’S ALL-STAR B-BOY CAPS’ — two pages of Spike offering one-line reviews of his favourite caps, culminating in him decrying a man in a Celtics hat as an “Uncle Tom.” The images were shot by one Ari Marcopoulos and it’s an amazing feature. The Public Enemy piece has a nice picture of Chuck reclining in the white/cement Jordan IVs. He wears them well, though not as well as Hank Shocklee wore ’em in Glen E. Friedman’s images of the group.

While we’re talking big-name photographers in their jobbing days, before he was getting his boner out at any opportunity, Terry Richardson was shooting Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in Memphis to accompany a short Sacha Jenkins profile of the group (around the show that instigated the Three-6 beef?) before their cover story by Jenkins a year later. I’m in nostalgia mode, and the post signature wave of Karl Kani gear with the plate (I never saw the plaid shirt that Eazy-E wore in the ‘Real Muthaphuckkin G’s’ video on sale) to elude bootleggers had me fiending in 1993/94 like the Ape Shall Never Kill Ape letters and Supreme box would have me hunting a few years later. Biggie, Keith Murray and Aaliyah made it look necessary — I got the hoody, but despite the plate being a fake deterrent, I ended up with fake denims. And just like that, they were uncool. Bone Thugs wore the plate hoody heavy in the Richardson photos and twinned with the vast cellular phone in a liquor store, it was particularly effective. FUBU, Mecca and the rest meant that Karl caught a bad one.

Farewell to Mr. Geoff Hollister, Nike employee #3 and a man who brokered an SMU for Elton John, created the Windrunner jacket, designed the Aqua Sock and created a promotional strategy for a struggling Blue Ribbon Sports. I never got the opportunity to meet the man during his visit to the UK to promote his book, ‘Out of Nowhere,’ but I heard nothing but positive things. Rest in peace Geoff.

It’s good to see that the Big Star documentary ”Nothing Can Hurt Me: the Big Star Story’ that got Kickstarter funding seems to be coming along nicely. This trailer’s promising. Teenage Fanclub taught me about this group, and with only one living founder member, it could get emotional. Some legends fall through the gaps, but the influence stays substantial.