Category Archives: Writing

90’s Hip Hop Golden Nuggets

The mid-Nineties was undoubtably a golden era for rap music with so much amazing sound coming from New York (and elsewhere). Emcees were hungry and and producers were on point to make major musical statements that surpassed time and still sound fresh 20 years later. Here is a small selection of debut albums from artists who shone so bright yet burnt out too fast. Due to their premature careers, this a brief reminder of music you might have missed or forgotten about from that wonderful era.

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Art Technique Form

I wrote this short essay for my friend’s zine because I know he loves skateboarding and art and the two are one and the same. Sort of.

“It’s art. It’s technique. It’s form… It’s what looks good!”

J. Dill, On the topic of skateboarding

Skateboarders are naturally creative. They need to be. The world is their canvas and their boards are their tools to express themselves as they wish. No rules. No limitations except for their minds. From the wooden frames of the ramp to the unpredictable nature of the street; from the expressionism of poured concrete to the abstract spirit of freestyle, every skateboarder finds their place and perfects their skills.

The artistic integrity of professional skateboarders depends entirely on their ability to respect and defend their ancestors. Street skateboarders flock to the vast workshops of San Francisco, New York, Paris and Barcelona to redesign and refine the techniques their predecessors mastered in the multiple plazas and schoolyards of the city.

Sometimes the modern skateboarders draw inspiration from opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. For example, Ricky Oyola’s minimalist use of Philadelphia’s innercity architecture placed in juxtaposition with the surrealism of Japan’s Gou Miyagi has spawned a new genre of expressionism in Bordeaux, France, where powerslides are no longer limited to four wheels.

Even though skateboarding is a creative art form, it also embodies the qualities of a martial art with clearly defined technique and skill needed to perform tricks of the highest standard. The culture respects the skateboarder who has a response for every game of S.K.A.T.E. just as much as it respects the skateboarder who performs a singular trick perfectly.

Federations and corporate entities attempt to harness the creative force of skateboarding and use it to their own profit. However, core skateboarders have a sixth sense for authenticity and are quick to disown and condone any party that tries to benefit from the art form’s marketability. In the advent of globalization and free markets the popularity of the skateboarder identity has grown to the point that it has become difficult to recognize who is a true artist and who isn’t.

To distinguish between artists and imposters, analysis of equipment, health and posture are vital. The use and wear of a pair of shoes, signs of bruising on elbows and shins, or the manner in which a person handles their skateboard when walking are clear indicators of integrity. Grip tape thumb and mall grab are two benchmarks of the skateboard culture that separate the real from the fake.

 

Lookin’ handsome in our Helle Hansens

Thirty six years of age

Starin’ at this blank page

I just wanna say ‘Wassup!’

To all my friends from back in the day

Some of us were rich

Some of us were poor

None of us gave a shit

All we wanted from life was more

Slumber parties wake up on the floor

Parents kicking us out the door

Before we raided the fridge

Got the munchies for your biscuits

Just kids livin’ this life for free

Little did we know how hard this life could be

If you didn’t pay attention

Spending more time in detention

Than concentrating on those grades

We were F-this and F-that

Ignorant to the significance of straight A’s

Watching skate videos  and listening to mixtapes

 

Studyin’ the slang of Mobb Deep and Wu Tang Clan

It would be untrue to say gang life was something we knew

Even though we liked to act tough with our little crew

Lookin’ handsome in our Helle Hansens

Kickin’ back in class whilst all the other kids advancin’

 

To bigger and better things

We traded college halls for concrete walls

Painted by graffiti kings

Hours spent in the streets

Claiming allegiance to the underground

Then at night we’d creep home

To sleep in our flats Uptown

Life was so easy back then

If I had to do it I’d do it again

Same flow, same clothes, same trends

I dedicate these memories to all my friends