Tag Archives: drake

LONDON POSSE & FREDDY

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This one is pretty rare. Given the recent hoo-ha regarding American social media reactions to Giggs’ duo of More Life appearances (our music being slandered by Americans would have stung a decade ago, but now? Less so.) and the frequently naive history lessons offered as a response from these shores, it’s worth rewinding to London Posse’s Yo! MTV Raps international edition appearance from 1993. It certainly wasn’t the first Brit-America rap crossover moment by any stretch, but I remember being impressed by this second-half section of an episode being dedicated to this nation’s capital, where a baffled Fred attempted to interview Black Radical and General Levy talked about our scene, before we had to watch a scattering of videos by Marxman, Urban Species and Honky instead of the American videos that the US audience was getting to see on their broadcast. Personally, I think that — with plenty of honourable mentions, mostly singles rather than albums — between Rodney and Bionic’s opus Gangster Chronicle (this interview was from around the time How’s Life in London? was reissued, remixed and sponsored by British Knight) and the rise of road rap, UK rap was a patchy, patchy thing. It took another 14 years or so for it to seem like it could be a actual career. Go to this blog right here and watch this encounter, filmed in Piccadilly Circus just after an IRA bomb scare for extra historical context — Rodney P espousing the importance of following the indie route and Bionic echoing the importance of that outside-the-industry approach preempts the recent business model that took Stormzy to the top by a long, long time. Back then, it seemed like a pipe dream. Now it’s the road to going gold.

DOMINICK

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The recent talk of Drake appropriating London slang seems to be wilfully leaving out the fact that he hails from a city which, like this nation’s capital, has a substantial Caribbean community that passed on the dialect to subsequent generations. The whole Stone Island connection is still a mystery to me*, but I asked that question a couple of years ago. Another YouTube miracle occurred recently when Genie Madahar uploaded Fab Five Freddy’s visit to Sting 92 — something that became almost mythological in conversations with a friend for an interview with Supercat as well as a rare chat with the oft-discussed man like Dominick. As a white Londoner, Dominic Kenny was a curious case in outsider acceptance, a close friend of Paul Simenon, taking his love of dancehall to Jamaica as a journalist and becoming a DJ under the Dominick name. There’s a great piece on him here from 2007 here where he tell his story — another case study in this country’s connection to the culture — and the importance of black music, as well as its pillaging and dilution at the hands of white industry folks.

Dominick put out a few memorable records — Cockney & Yardie with Peter Metro in 1987 that follows a similar path to Smiley Culture’s (RIP) seminal Cockney Translation (the Ebonics of its time), complete with live performances where he looks like a taxi driver who seems to have stumbled onstage. Dominick would also record an un-PC track where he’d strenuously deny favouring Boy George over the Fresh Riddim (plus another track called No Shirt Lifter) as part of his self-titled, Sly and Robbie produced debut album — to end up getting produced by both them King Jammy was no mean feat. A second album, Ready for Dominick, followed in 1988 (the same year that he took to the stage with BDP in NYC on Christmas day), before this occasionally Troop-clad whiteboy with skills seemed to vanish. A testament to the power of putting in work and heading right to the centre of the action rather than merely covering it from the distance of a MacBook screen, it’s a shame that the book he promised years ago hasn’t manifested and it’s equally sad that the Junior Reid produced third LP mentioned in the Yo! MTV Raps piece that was set for a 1993 release never dropped either. Respect to Dominick for becoming part of the thing he loved**.



*Glenn just answered the Drake SI mystery by explaining the whole unpaid stylist scandal/Nepenthes/SI connection to me.

**Kish reminded me that there’s a follow-up to this story. Here’s Dominick on a 1994 Underdog remix of a Sabres of Paradise track. In 1999, Apeman Records and Apeman magazine were launched by Dominic Kenny, who’d already got connections to Mo’Wax and Major Force. Those who hoarded cut and paste records or were fans of Spine Magazine back in the day will be aware of some of the label’s output from the likes of DJ Bombjack.

YMCMB SWEATS

Every now and again, I become preoccupied with a piece of branded hip-hop apparel. For the most part, rap’s current aesthetic is pretty piss-poor — it’s either plain tees, borderline UFC apparel audaciousness or high-end worn badly.

I haven’t lusted after a label’s merchandising since Fondle ‘Em’s masturbating alien tee or Fat Beats lanyards. I wanted a Jeezy Snowman tee for a minute, but those heavily faked BBC tees and polos and N*E*R*D trucker hats were adopted by imbeciles before I could take an interest. The glow-in-the-dark Liquid Blue Skull Pile tee that Juicy J wore in the ‘Stay Fly’ promo wasn’t necessarily a label item, but, bar Champion’s big ‘C’ on Noreaga, it represents the last time I lost my mind over a rapper’s wears.


This image is taken from www.oldschoolheadwear.blogspot.com

My two benchmarks would be Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate apparel from the early ’90s. Occasionally spotted on these shores before ‘Home Invasion’ dropped and ruined everything, Rhyme Syndicate offered a photocopied catalogue, but it was the stark white lettering on a tee or black snapback hat that was reputedly Starter-made loooooong before everyone hopped on the throwback bandwagon recent years. It just go the job done and represented the best of the group’s aesthetic — my good friend Mr. Charlie Sofarok showed me an unreleased Vans Syndicate snapback cap with black SYNDICATE on white in the same stark font that seems like an opportunity wasted.

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo and bumbled into one of the many hip-hop clothing stores only to be bemused by the mixture of licensed labels, Old Navy clothes, Champion and lurid tribute tees, you might have spotted Rhyme $yndicate out there (“Since 1990”). The licensed Japanese wing offers those staple designs with a bonus dollar sign. It’s not particularly good either — but you can buy some of the worst button-down shirts I’ve ever seen, or a Donald D tee if you’re in the market for one.

We’re in the midst of a Carhartt boomtime, but the Tommy Boy Carhartt jackets with the HAZE logo and Shawn Stussy logos were killer. There was the retail variation (which seemed to be a more commonly seen in an Active Jacket form), while the “Staff” Detroit Jacket was almost mystical in its appearance around 1991. If anyone has the 2006 Stussy/Haze/Muro/Carhartt Savage variation, I still need it in my life…

Young Money Cash Money Billionaires (YMCMB) have my new favourite piece of rap apparel. A crewneck sweatshirt with the letters placed across the chest in a no-frills style. One might assume that Baby and Weezy’s conglomerate would lead to something that’s unnecessarily diamonique laden, but this is clean. Like that SYNDICATE clothing or the lettering on those Kanye Good Friday leaks, it’s been seen in hooded form on DJ Khaled (who really seems to like his, judging on repeated wears) and new Young Money man T-Pain.

Baby rocked the black variation and Lil’ Wayne wore the grey version during a recent interview with Sway prior to the delayed release of the ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’ video. Drake wore a grey sweat which seemed to have green letters while throwing up some unconvincing gang signs alongside Wayne as he performed ‘Green and Yellow’ at a Super Bowl party, and a nervous looking Lil’ Twist had a brown take. Both Drake and Twist’s had a Champion Reverse Weave bulk to their fit. Predictably, eBay is awash with fakes, but you can actually buy the “real deal” from here for $49.99.

Now, where can I get a Bronald Oil & Gas, LLC shirt or headed notepad? Did Willie D ever have golf umbrellas or mugs printed for his iPod withholding eBay store?