The Sprite commercials that incorporated respected Hip-Hop acts like a Tribe Called Quest and the under-appreciated Grand Puba starting back in ’94 were so official. Instead of shucking and jiving—sorry Hammer—the artists selected to obey their thirst and hawk Sprite kept to their core musical aesthetics. Catching a corporate check without having to (totally) sell out…can’t be mad at that. However, it’s a safe bet the participating MCs got paid peanuts when compared to how much Sprite, and in turn Coca-Cola, made off of Hip-Hop’s influence and cultural cachet.
I was looking specifically for ATCQ’s commercial about a year or so back and had no luck, until today. Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s clip, and a few others (Puba’s freestyle >), below. Never was too keen on the “battle” (i.e. MC Shan vs. KRS-One) commercial, though. I was reminded about these ads again while reading the incredible book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas. It will be required reading in all Hip-Hop classes one day.
Also, Nas, stop playing and make an album with AZ already.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth
Large Professor & Grand Puba
MC Shan vs. KRS-One… RIP Mr. Magic
“When I go bury me with the ‘Lo on.”—Raekwon “Iron Maiden” (Ghostface Killah’s Ironman)
The homie Dallas Penn dropped a post last week regarding Vado and his suspect Polo homage “Polo” [side note: dallaspenn.com is down and according to DP he is currently "unemployed by the internets," this must be corrected, stat.]. I gotta agree with DP’s sentiment, I can’t rock with cats shilling for ‘Lo in rhyme form when you can tell the appreciation for the nuance of the Polo lifestyle just isn’t there. Really, any MC suddenly repping like they’re serious ‘Lo heads reeks of gimmickry unless they’re certified ‘Lo connossieurs; like say Thirstin Howl III, Meyhem Lauren or that kid Shakespeare the Great. ‘Nuff respect due to official Lo Life members past and present too.
But the point of my post is that I was reminded of a couple of OG Hip-Hop videos that truly repped the ‘Lo lifestyle: Zhigge’s “Rakin’ in the Dough” and “Toss It Up” (both produced by Salaam Remi) as well as KRS-1’s “Outta Here” (produced by DJ Premier). A special nod must be given to Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” because—as the homie Rob Markman pointed out—Raekwon rocking the Snow Beach Polo jacket was truly epic.
I’m not going to even front like my ‘Lo pieces are that hardbody—I do got a few gems in the stash, though—but I’m an appreciator of the lifestyle. There’s something to be said when ‘Lo heads check each other’s gear and give appreciative head nods—pause—out of respect. It’s a mutual understanding that hearkens back to an era when the quality of your gear was first and foremost (think: Coca-Cola gear, North Face shells with Gore-Tex, Vasque boots, etc.). Pandering to the Hip-Hop generation with baggy cuts and too loud logos? Nah, hold that. We’ll keep gravitating to fly fashion that probably wasn’t intended for us to begin with, flip it, and have the establishment racing to catch up. It’s the Hip-Hop way.
And I’ll always have more ‘Lo than my bro-hims Vaughn C and DJ Maestro, mentally.
Zhigge “Toss It Up” -
Quality (image wise) of the vid is wack but (Added a better version) some classic pieces are seen in there.
Zhigge “Rakin’ In the Dough” - “…but did you know, the mall was closed/So I spin into Macy’s and get some Guess and Polo…” True.
Had to add the “Uptown Bounce” version, which is better quality anyway.
KRS-One “Outta Here” – Sun (sic) with the green rugby was winning.
Wu-Tang Clan “Can It Be All So Simple”
Grand Puba Ft Mary J Blige – “Whats The 411 (Live)” – “Polo the top gear…” raps Puba. The Alpine Polo rugby is timeless. Mary J’s Cross Colours outfit, not so much.
The Baby Polo Mansion Pt. 1 – When your pops is Thirstin Howl III your Polo game is proper since birth, literally.
You can call it Grand Puba’s version of “Strange Fruit.” Eskay pointed out via Twitter that folks over at his Nah Right homestead were feeling a ways about the photo (1st pic below) Puba selected for his new single (“I See Dead People” f/ Rell & Lord Jamar).
No surprise there since lynching was such a horrendous fate for too many in the Jim Crow South. It’s not the first time such imagery has been used, though. Public Enemy used a photo of a lynching (2nd pic below) for the “Hazy Shade of Criminal” 12″ vinyl’s artwork. The song is from their Greatest Misses (1992) album.
Puba’s new album, Retroactive, drops June 23, via Babygrande.
So the Bawse, Rick Ross, got called out by the powers that be at Louis Vuitton over those fraudulent specs he sported on his recent XXL Mag cover. Seeing that Ross initially and foolhardedly denied his past as a Correction Officer, the Internets is abuzz over his latest faux pas.
But really, Hip-Hop heads sporting bootleg gear isn’t anything new. O.G. rap fans will remember the infinite shout outs given to one Dapper Dan [via Iced Dot Com]; a Harlem clothing shop owner and designer infamous for his skill at creating Hip-Hop stylized takes on designer labels like Gucci, MCM or even Nike.
For example, those track suits and jackets sported on the cover of some of your favorite Eric B & Rakim albums, were as counterfeit as the day is long.
Since then the Hip-Hop generation has flexed it tastemaker muscle with artists like Kanye West (Nike, Louis Vuitton) and Pharrell Williams (Louis Vuitton)—can’t forget grand Puba and the Tommy Hilfiger too—getting the official co-sign from and even producing sanctioned lines for some of these brands.
The beauty of Hip-Hop is taking some otherwise milquetoast product, putting our fresh stamp on it, and making it that much more desirable to the wannabes (read: mainstream) hawking our steez.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not giving the Bawse a pass on this one. Those frames were hella tacky looking anyway (there is only one Undisputed King of Cheap Sunglasses). And if you think that more rappers than not are rocking the genuine article as opposed to Canal Street Specials, you’re lying to yourself.
That reminds of another of my greatest fashion peeves. The rocking of some grotesquely horrible piece of clothing with the wearer’s only defense for his suspect garb an excuse along the lines of, “But it’s Polo, yo.” Fugg outta here.
UPDATE: Rick Ross Explanation on Shades [via AllHipHop]
Real nice MF DOOM DOOM feature in the Village Voice. Guess it was really him. Really, I just wanted an excuse to post Kausing Much Damage’s “Peachfuzz” clip below. Shout to Grand Puba on the vibes. Hmm, what did ever happen to Onyx The Birthstone Kid?
DOOM Laughs Last [via The Village Voice]
Also, here is the version of “Angeles” (pretty sure that’s how it’s spelled) that for some reason DOOM decided to add distracting ass drums to for the version (“Angelz”) on his Born Like This album that dropped 3/23. The album is damn good. But, I’ll have to get back to you on whether it’s touching my “all caps when you spell the name” fav: Madvillainy.
DOOM & Ghostface “Angeles”
KMD “Peachfuzz” Video
DOOM X Frolab Art Screen Print [via Street Level]
Ms Def Recited DOOM Verbatim [via Nah Right]