Tag Archives: autobiography

AGNOSTIC

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.

RALPH LAUREN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Almost a year after Tommy Hilfiger’s memoir American Dreamer comes out, it would seem that we’re getting a Ralph Lauren autobiography. Releasing next September via Simon & Schuster to coincide with the company’s 50th anniversary, my earlier speculation about whether the Alan Flusser Lauren book that drops the same month was going to be an autobiography was wrong. Just as 2016 spawned two Lo-Life books, 2017 is going to be all about publications regarding the man himself. Hopefully, just as Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog offered personal insight that complimented the unauthorised Swoosh perfectly, hopefully this one will be as interesting as the almost authorised Genuine Article. In the meantime, YouTube user Tenaciously Procrastinate’s upload of Ralph’s 1993 Charlie Rose appearance is worth watching.

TOMMY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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It’s good to hear that Tommy Hilfiger’s memoir is dropping at the end of this year. American Dreamer: My Life in Fashion and Business is going to be published by Ballantine on October 16th and promises to be a definitive, despite weighing in at a slim-sounding 240 pages. I’m hoping that it’s not the usual dumbed-down, reiterate-a-point business book, because I want at least 10 pages on his time spent designing Coca-Cola clothing and at least a chapter on the moment when he spotted Puba and his boys clad in XXL Hilfiger gear at JFK airport and got his brother Andy to make the introduction. Continue reading TOMMY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

RAP BOOKS

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It’s been a minute since I bought a regular rap magazine, but I’m still buying hip-hop related books like a fiend. Scarface’s recent autobiography was an ultra-downbeat read, but a worthy one (I was pleased to see that have hated the cover art to Geto Boys’ Da Good da Bad & da Ugly as much as I did) that’s a fine accompaniment to Prodigy’s book (still the ultimate hip-hop bio) and the Q-Tip, Lil’ Kim and Benzino memoirs seem to have vanished from the release schedules after a on-off wait of almost Rawkus Kool G or Heltah Skeltah-like levels. The one that I’m ultra hyped for is the Nas autobiography, It Ain’t Hard to Tell: A Memoir, which, according to Amazon and the publisher, Simon and Schuster, drops later this year, on November 10th — four years after its announcement caused some brief blog fuss. Rap books get delayed even harder than the damn albums, but if Nasir Jones opts to make like P and pull no punches, it’s going to be a classic. In the interim, I’ll probably pick up the Luther Campbell, Buck 65 and Kevin Powell books in coming months, but there’s one extra volume with some serious potential — Rap Tees: A Collection of Hip Hop T-Shirts 1980-2000 by collector and connoisseur DJ Ross One, which drops on Powerhouse in October. Promising hundreds of promo, bootleg and concert shirts representing Sugarhill, EPMD, the Wu, BDP, 2Pac and everyone else, the Screen Stars style cover art has me sold on it already. This kind of archive is my idea of heaven — if somebody gathers the rap promo sticker collection of an OG like Jules Gayton and publishes it, I’ll be in heaven. On the Scarface front, the impending existence of a 33 1/3 book completely dedicated to The Geto Boys, thanks to travel writer and New Yorker contributor Rolf Potts, is something to celebrate too.

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MEMOIRS

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First things first — Robbie at Unkut just upped a photo of Showbiz that proves he was very much about that life pre-Rap. The gold, the white Reeboks on his feet, the Dapper Dan gear, the blue AF1s, the Air Max 1s, the adidas and the multiple Air Force IIIs indicate that Show was making some steady revenue circa 1988. Bronx kept creating that cash. This is the best photo I’ve seen since the 1990 Sports Illustrated shot of Steve Smith and friends cleaning enviable footwear when 15 pairs of flagship releases seemed like some Sheikh-level power move. This October 1991 Tim “Original armshouse lick for the girly-girl crew on that rammajammer tip, for the punani mechanics!” Westwood ragga set that Random Rap Radio recently shared is a perfect soundtrack to browsing those images — if the combination doesn’t inspire you in one way or another, then there’s nothing left for you in this world.

If you’ve enough of slackness and ostentatious nostalgia, this interview with Peter Ducommun from Skull Skates on Sex Magazine is fantastic. Now that’s how you put logos on long-sleeve t-shirt arms with integrity. And there’s finally a cover for Scarface’s autobiography, Diary of a Madman, which will probably be incredible when it comes out in October. Willie Dee’s intro for the Houston Rap Tapes book has got me prepped for some Geto Boys memories on paper. The crazy look and a Sir Benni Miles skully is a strong cover image.

Perks & Mini are one of the remain one of the most underrated brands of the last 15 years and this grey P.A.M. sweatshirt might look like it’s been dyed at the neck but that’s actually wool. Misha and Shauna are the smartest innovators and reappropriators in their field — that explosive collar of mohair-like softness is excellent (the black and yellow version is good too.) An insane idea, well executed. They’re at Goodhood right now.

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SCARFACE'S MEMOIR

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Things I discovered today: I’m too slow with my social media to deserve all-red shoes, Nike really are aiming to put out the Mag that self-fastens next year (the patent for that technology has just been updated) despite me assuming that was just part of the 2011 campaign to keep everybody’s mind on the charity aspect and as well as Lil’ Kim’s autobiography, we can expect a Scarface autobiography this OctoberMade: a Lifetime in the Game. Beyond the always-interesting Prodigy (who had the greatest rapper autobiography ever), Scarface’s time with the Geto Boys, the depression and the love of Enya he once discussed with HHC gives this the potential to be another classic. Some rappers get tagged as deep-thinkers because they drop some GCSE-level thinking in their bars but Rap-A-Lot’s finest is a bluesman at heart who sounded world-weary from day one. If you, like me, saw the great man on the Combat Jack Show wearing Polo knitwear, weeping and talking conspiracies and pondered the possibility of a book, it seems to be happening. I just hope the rapper’s rapper creates the book he’s capable of writing.

With the ad above resurrecting the spirit of the era again (and with Goldie remixing Hand of the Dead Body back in 1994 and making people in Cypress Hill t-shirts angry), Josey Rebelle put me onto this late 1990s footage of Metalheadz Sunday Sessions at the Blue Note. It’s a nice companion piece to the great interview with Nicky Blackmarket that LAW Magazine upped on Vimeo. Coming from a town where tape packs in puffy VHS-style boxes were once a big deal, where one of the last surviving record stores traded in accelerated breakbeats and jungle still has a presence there’s something comforting about the scene’s ability to stay underground and occasionally resurface. Where’s my Helly Hansen jacket at?

READING

Has it really been 20 years since Koon, Powell, Wind, Briseño and Solano were acquitted, LA burned, Perry Farrell masturbated multiple times and then everybody declared war on rap and announced that everything with an f-word was “gangsta”? It led to ‘Get the Fist’ — not a pro-fisting anthem, but a charity record that’s better than Live Aid II and III’s reminder that 1989 and 2004 were dark musical times, but not as good as Springsteen and Run-DMC condemning Sun City. I remember footage of Positive K, Biz and MC Serch’s albums being sent beneath the steamroller during the storm over that crappy ‘Cop Killer’ song too.

Still, it was nice to feel like you weren’t meant to be listening to the music — authorities, parents and even the artists goading me and calling me a cracker made the experience fun. Now it wants to be your friend — it retweets you and collaborates with Katy Perry, then saunters off and reworks an Aston Martin. Hip-hop practically strokes your balls and asks how your day at work was. Things done changed. I still can’t resist the lure of the rap autobiography – DMX, Ice-T, 50 Cent, Jay-Z (a decent read beyond the lyrical deconstructions), Common and J-Zone’s efforts were decent in their own ways, but Prodigy set the standard with ‘My Infamous Life’ by talking smack as if he was never going to be released and not letting too much truth get in the way of a good yarn. That seems to have instigated some impending tomes — Lil’ Kim’s ‘The Price of Loyalty’ drops in June, ‘Bizzy By Choice, Bone By Blood’ by Bizzy Bone, ‘The Dynasty: Sex, Drugs, Murder and Hip Hop’ by Ray Benzino arrive in July, Boots Riley has one set for December and Q-Tip’s ‘Industry Rules: the World According to Q-Tip, From Linden Blvd. to El Sugundo and Beyond’ is a long way off (25th March 2014 according to Amazon). Somewhere among all those releases, RA the Rugged Man’s book might appear too.

Given his notorious inability to hold his tongue, Benzino’s book appeals to me – I want more information on the whole ‘The Source’ deal, the early Boston rap days, label issues as a result of the aforementioned ‘Cop Killer’ fallout, the CGI magic carpets and that strange documentary that was on WSHH recently, which featured an inexplicable Jay Electronica appearance banging on about Satan and the illuminati, years before he took to blasting the shit out of pheasants with Zac Goldsmith of an evening. I imagine it will probably indicate that Made Men made classic albums too, but I’m willing to overlook all that. Every rapper used to have a book, film and beverage in the offing, but many failed to materialise. I never believed ‘Zino’s book would appear, but now there’s even a cover shot as proof of life. On a biographical note, HarperCollins are reported to have obtained UK rights to Mike Tyson’s memoir and it’s apparently set for an October 2013 release — very good news indeed. Getting overeager about these things can prove humiliating though – a lot of us have been waiting for ‘Bowie: Object’ (which sounds like an even fancier version of ‘My Rugged 211’ or that Hiroshi Fujiwara ‘Personal Effects’ book, but this time, it’s a tome showcasing some of Bowie’s favourite archive artefacts), but Bowie Myths showcased a “leak” that looked questionable. It was evidently written by somebody that understands Bowie, yet predictably, it turned out to be fake and even the man himself took to Facebook (“Blinkin’ garden gnomes! Really”) to dismiss it. Between that and a hastily doctored pair of Jordan Is with the Nike SB logo on the tongue (as I understand it, that Jordan I SB for the Bones Brigade film isn’t happening), fast news travel and a hunger for information are optimum conditions for pranks.

Every meeting I’ve gone to lately seems to have talk of “a print project” thrown around in the same way they were banging on about an “online magazine” a year or so ago. Unless you’ve got an oligarch backer the high gloss approach will crash and burn and just trying to be ‘Monocle’s fashion section distilled down like weak Ribena – a sickly pink when it should be a purple, isn’t enough. I can’t say I’ve been awed by a magazine lately (though there’s been some strong content) on visuals alone in the same way that ‘Relax’ used to blow my mind frequently. Sure, it got to a point where on grabbing it from Magma, it was all plants, pastels and Mike Mills again and again (the visual angle was important, because I couldn’t understand a bloody word of that Japanese text) and then it was cancelled in 2006, but before that, it was a perfect, progressive example of magazine design — inserts, posters, stickers and those covers…inspirational in a way that ‘The Face’ once was and very little has been since…at least nothing that would leave you with change from a tenner. The adidas and Dogtown issues were tremendous and there’s still room in my life for something just as powerful. The Being Hunted crew always seemed to worship this magazine too (I’m looking forward to seeing Being Hunted 7.0), because Jorg and co know their stuff. Salutes to the LMCA archive for maintaining the covers and the YouWorkForThem squad for keeping their magazine and book visuals stored, even after they stopped selling them. Why isn’t there a ‘Relax’ retrospective book? I still believe print can change lives, but `also I believe that it’s a format that only a select few can truly succeed in.

Page images taken from YouWorkForThem

If it’s quirky, it’s cult now. I’ve been trying to work out when cult ceased to be an appealing tag – perhaps it was the post Quentin slew of chatty, smart-Alec mob flicks that jarred each and every time. Maybe it was Rob Zombie and co’s attempts to reproduce a moment in time that was originally simply a victim of no means and a lack of professional crew. Either way, the best stuff from back in the day had an earnestness about it and a sense of strange that wasn’t synthesised. All the talk of ninjas last week had me thinking of David Carradine’s work and I still maintain that 1989’s ‘Sonny Boy’ is underrated. Alongside ‘Santa Sangre’ it offers something uncomfortable but intoxicating in a totally unrestrained approach to bloodletting and Carradine’s commitment to the film, from his cross-dressing performance to the work on the soundtrack is admirable. Cheap and memorable is a fair summary (like 1990’s unnerving ‘Luther the Geek’), but that doesn’t necessarily make it a film for all tastes — come to think of it, many will just find ‘Sonny Boy’ deeply offensive, but I guarantee you’ve not seen much like this one before. Brad Dourif has spent much of his career stumbling into curiosities like this and I’m assuming distribution issues mean it won’t ever get a proper DVD release again.