Tag Archives: twitter

SOUTH SIDE

The whole Chief Keef/Jojo situation reiterates the strange relationship we have with rap and gun talk. Everyone seems to love the gangster talk vicariously, but when the reality — youngsters wielding weapons and snuffing each out over seemingly trivial actions — enters their timelines, it gets a little too close for comfort. The whole @rosemo700/WorldStar Hip-Hop situation earlier in the year opened a few eyes, but the lack of major label money, “intelligent” rappers getting sonned on social media and profile meant that loss of life and the ignorance of goonery as a spectator sport didn’t become the issue that it became last week. Have you backed any ratchet rap lately? Thrown up faux gang signs behind closed doors in a suburban environment? I plead guilty to rooting for the “realness” but tutting at the fallout of beefs turned deadly. I plead guilty to being excited by the firearms in the studio for the SMACK DVD video to a Jeezy “freestyle” back in 2005. Keef’s bringing the scary kid with braids O-Dog aesthetic back, except he’s not played by a tender actor who played Frankie Lymon.

We love to hear about a club brawl, slap caught on iPhone and in an era when pop stars and rappers are interchangeable, some of us might long for a time when bullets were exchanged outside HOT 97. You can decry that as ignorance, but you know you’d be frantically hitting the touchscreen if you heard it happened. Recently I was listening to the second NWA album en route to work and I was pondering what happened to that kind of gleeful nihilism. And here it is. You wanted rap to get scary again after all the emo choruses and Stargate-produced white paper spliff anthems? You wanted somebody who actually used a firearm after you put your head in the sand over the actors playing crime boss roles? You got it. Pitchfork even took a teenager to a shooting range, then pulled the video. Keef seemed to be visited by the three ghosts of PR, communications and label bosom and had a Twitter change-of-heart and became all positive overnight.

How would the Ruthless roster have talked on Twitter? Would we have seen Bushwick Bill’s breakdown narrated by the newly one-eyed Bushwick Bill from his hospital bed? Would Chi-Ali have updated on his post-murder antics as the police closed in? Would Dallas Austin’s teeny 13 and 14 something (at least 3 years younger than Keef) gangster rappers Illegal have talked about slaying Kris Kross on there? And with the talk of Interscope, who’ve made a fortune from gun talk, involved, how would @deathrowrecords have carried on if Twitter was around in 1995? Would we have blamed Twitter for 2Pac’s death?


The essence of internet rap fandom

Our own fascination with gun talk is perfectly encapsulated in Michael Bolton’s Scarface rap-along at the beginning of ‘Office Space’. We’re facilitators, but Chicago’s South Side has long been a gang epicenter and even back in 1967, it was considered a problem area. I loved Lee Balterman and Daclan Haun’s images of Almighty Black P-Stones and Disciples from ‘LIFE’ but ‘Ebony‘s August 1967 edition featured an equally excellent article by Phyl Garland on the situation in the South Side, complete with a visit from social workers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, dwelling on the Blackstone Rangers (the gang that spawned the Almighty Black P-Stones, with membership estimated at 1,500+ at time of writing) and their ladies’auxiliary. Twitter shit talking is just a byproduct of something with far deeper roots.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

According to a Complex.com rundown, I’m one of the top 25 influential sneaker Twitterers. That was a nice surprise. Shouts to the Complex famalam, but I’m definitely not influential, unless being strange is considered aspirational. Still, it’s fun to be acknowledged in whatever form, even if it appears just after you Tweet than sneaker culture is just a load of old men in colourful hats and big shoes. Like all lists it also had some folks acting all “How come he don’t want me, man?” Will Smith too. Between the brands and the consumers, I still think the whole sports footwear cycle is in a dark, dark place right now. Blame the egos, their ’97 mindsets and forays into blog reliance. There’s good shoes out there — in fact there’s some amazing stuff out there — but we in the UK seem to be denied them in favour of some dreck.

Take the Zoom Huarache TR Low for example. Most updates of shoes are a letdown — the Platinum Dunes remakes of the sneaker world — but this shoe somehow channels two years of Huarache running designs and brings it up to date without being anything close to terrible. The Mids seem to be a more popular choice Stateside, but we Brits always loved the runner — from Derek Redmond’s old man (“Have You Hugged Your Foot Today?”) to Olympus sale racks and the Foot Locker and JD Sports high street resurrections.

Thus I’m baffled as to why this model — one of the few pre-Presto times when something so progressive got road wear before popular footwear on these shores went defiantly retro in white-on-white or black-on-black. This model debuted late last year but I’ve not seen any pairs over here. That’s a Bozo move, and with the subtle change in textures and Knicks colours, a bargain at $69 in NYC. Admittedly some other variations feel a little too plasticky, but this is a classic in the making. It’s fun that you can still saunter through ‘Nothing to Declare’ at Heathrow with a gem in tow, but I can’t help but feel that it’s an opportunity wasted over here. These were a breath of fresh air amid the city’s spectacular humidity.

Other online appearances this week included an interview with ‘Crack & Shine’s Freddie for the excellent new site, ‘The Heavy Mental’ that operates from Australia and launched quietly with a wealth of features on talented folk like Lev Tanju, Fergadelic, Luke Meier and Shaniqwa Jarvis. Even Union’s Chris Gibbs — a style king in a realm populated by herbs — is involved. It’s a great start and props are due to Ed for putting it together. It’s worth your energy and a fine antidote to padded paragraphs for SEO’s sake or the shackles of 140 characters.

www.theheavymental.com

It was also good to see Allen and the 12ozProphet crew making big moves at site and agency level at the moment. There’s evidently some huge things in the pipeline that they’ll be rolling out soon, but their meticulous approach to digital, paper and cotton product is an inspiration. There’s never a pixel of half-step on display from these guys and their appreciation for graffiti in its hardcore form manifests itself in the meticulous rather than cliche drips and arrows. I was privvy to some amazing, energising and inspiring work that’s all too rare these days, left as it too often is, in the hands of a head designer with a grip of Thames & Hudson tomes and precious little else. 12oz are role models and I need to get these stickers up by any means necessary, having seen the logo throughout both Berlin and New York these last few weeks. The amount of detail in the labelling and packaging of the tees is appropriately uncompromising.

The late, great RAMMΣLLZΣΣ may have decried the ‘SNEEZE’ logo as “toy” but for $2 (those import charges are a motherfucker) from that Lafayette vending machine, issue #12 is a banger. The almost jizzy, translucent cover lettering over Kate Upton, a big Prodigy fold-out from the Supreme shoot and an interview with the perennially wavey French Montana are all breaks from the bullshit. The Downtown broadsheet delivers time and time again — there’s some insightful content amid the gloss.