Saturday 29 November 2014

Hip Hop Battlefield vs Daily Diggers Kick-Off Pt2

Well, it's been a long time since my fellow trooper DRASAR MONUMENTAL and I had our AIR FORCE 1 kick-off (see post HERE) and following a conversation we had this week we thought it was about time we set up another HIP HOP BATTLEFIELD vs DAILY DIGGERS (friendly) sneaker battle. DRASAR was keen for the kick-off and threw flix of some lively looking pairs over. It was on!
So, I've unplugged the ice machine and pulled a few pairs from the sneaker cupboard. Both DRASAR and myself are somewhat disillusioned with all the current sneaker hype we see in current times. It seems everyone and their grandmother is a sneaker connoisseur these day, and I've lost count of the amount of people I've met recently who tell me "yeah I collect trainers, I have 30 pairs of Huaraches". My answer (accompanied by a wink) is simple ...... "OK I'm really pleased for you .... when you get to three figures come see me and we can talk".

Ok, let's do this like Brutus.... and don't forget to head over to HIP HOP BATTLEFIELD to see what DRASAR pulls from his boxes. We agreed on 5 pairs I believe but I've pulled out a extra wild card pair of NIKE DELTA FORCE HIGHs just for good measure.

NIKE AIR FORCE ONE MIDS army green with black swoosh and black midsole
ADIDAS TOP TEN HIGH red with white stripes
NIKE DUNK HIGH premium curry leather with off-white laces
FILA FX-100 HIGH white leather with orange sole and ankle strap
ADIDAS JABBAR HIGH white with blue stripes
NIKE DELTA FORCE HIGH baroque brown leather harvest suede and blue swoosh
I would like to add that no sneakers were harmed during this post, HOWEVER whilst rummaging through a multitude of sneaker boxes I came across a pair of deadstock PUMA CALIFORNIA in Forest Green and Cream which have begun to perish due to age and storage conditions. I say perish, but I think "melt" is a more accurate term to describe the consistency of the sole on them. The moral of the story - there's no satisfaction of having sneakers hidden away in boxes, get 'em on your feet and rock them while they're still intact and looking fresh. To coin an old term (and one I which use often) ... they don't make them like they used to.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Spotlight on Dan Duce

Recently EGO TRIP and COMPLEX both featured the amazing work of illustrator DAN LISH, or DAN "DUCE" as he is known to the Hip Hop community. His recent portraits of various hip hop pioneers/producers/emcees have been globally acknowledged as the work of a gifted illustrator with a talent for concept art. In fact the likeness of his work is so uncanny that I do not even have to list the names of the subjects as they're all instantly recognisable. However DAN is no new jack in the city, an has been demonstrating his artistic skills within the hip hop scene for years. It was DUCE who designed the BREAK DJ LEACY "Breaksploitation" LP covers which Q-BERT recently showed off in his Crate Diggers interview, as well as the many LEACYBROTHERS mixtape covers. And we haven't even mentioned his "Block Party" illustration which has been one of the most "stolen" hip hop images of late on social media. His daytime job sees him designing digital characters for a computer game manufacturer and he has worked on top titles such as DJ HERO. I could go on for days listing this man's contributions, but let's find out a little more about the man himself.

DAN DUCE is no stranger to the hip hop community, and has been an avid follower of the culture for over 25 years. He has also worked and lived in NYC where he was able indulge his passion for hip hop with even more vigour than in his native UK. I first met him back in 1994/5 during a coach trip from the UK to Germany for the Battle of the Year event in Hannover (if my memory serves me correctly). He was a mutual good friend of DJ LEACY, and was sporting a black v-stitch leather goose jacket on the journey which made him alright with me on first impressions. (In fact DUCE was with LEACY the time they found the now infamous stash of deadstock Goose jackets in the Bronx in the late 90s - see photo below). This dude could DJ, write graffiti and get down on the floor - he seemed to have all bases covered. So what else can we find out about the man behind the pen? I caught up with DUCE himself and delved a bit deeper into what makes him tick...

Firstly, who you be and what you do?

DUCE: I'm a Human being from planet earth named Daniel Lish, better know as Dan Lish, also Dan Duce or just Duce.

I'm very grateful to be able to support my family through my Artwork. For a regular occupation I am a Senior Concept Artist for the Video Game industry, and have been so for the past 14 years. Games I've worked on have been GTA 3, The Warriors and DJ Hero to name a few. I love to design characters and environments but rarely play Video Games.
I also Freelance as an illustrator and am in the middle of Book 2 of my Graphic Novel 'Cartigan' published in France. I also occasionally design Vinyl Toys for Unboxed industries and generally enjoy working with other creative folks.

KID DYNO: You've been down from very early on, please elaborate on how you discovered Hip Hop and your journey since then. (e.g. your move to the States etc.)

Well this is a very stripped down version; So my Father is from Brooklyn NYC, so I have dual nationality. Being brought up in deepest, darkest Suffolk, my Dad used to take me to the American airbases, where I'd see random Hip Hop/funk things happen.
I was too young to really put the puzzle together, just intrigued. This was about 1981/82. By 1983 I started to see snippets on the TV, i.e. Old Grey whistle test, Top of the pops etc. One of my best friends had cousins from London who'd come down, who inspired me with their tapes of Pirate Radio shows and Mike Allen etc. I started Dancing first, as a B-Boy. A huge influence was the Arena special with Gary Byrd, also Style Wars and Wild Style. There was next to no Hip Hop around for me in those days, so anything I could get my hands on was precious.
So as I grew older, earned some money (Newspaper rounds, Butcher boy etc) I could start to pic up Tapes and Vinyl. I would spend all my summer holidays practising windmills, turtles and head-spins, writing my toy tags and hanging with my boys. I was 15 when I went to UK Fresh 86, which made a huge impact on me. I started seriously writing (graff) in 1986 to 87. Pretty late really, as I was still at home with a strict step mum.

I left home at 17 to go to college, and with that came more exposure, meeting like minded folks (still very few and far between). My vinyl collection steadily grew, which progressed onto Hip Hop Pirate radio for about 6 to 7 years, then based in the south coast. I became great friends with Adam from the legendary BBOY crew STN (second to none) and practiced with Adam 3 times a week for a couple of years. Then I met Aidan and Jim Leacy at Battle of the year in Germany in 95. We became best mates from then until he passed. Jim inspired me to dig deeper into my Break Beat obsession and also introduced me to the Miami B-Boy Pro Am jams of 98 and 99.

Before I left Portsmouth, I started a night called the 'Go-Off' (1997), Portsmouth's first total Hip Hop night, embracing all the elements. I then finally moved to New York in 1999. That's where I dug deeper into the cultural aspect of Hip Hop. I got deeper into the dance, focusing on B-Boying and Brooklyn Rocking, as well as DJ'ing in clubs, Park Jams and Battles. My Wife and I where put down in Brooklyn's Dynasty Rockers by RC, better known as King Uprock. I became great friends with the Late Buddy ESQ, having met him whilst selling my artwork at NYC's comic convention.

I was still writing (with James TOP/CIA. Duro, OUI etc) and hanging with a lot of old timer writers, the first generation like Stay High and Roger. I was still deep into the DJ'ing and the Dancing aspects, but due to knee injuries I ended up in permanent semi retirement. Myself and King Uprock hosted a monthly event called the Dollar Jam, where folks would come from all over NYC, even upstate and Philly. Special K, Cosmo D, Rock steady Crew, Bambaataa, Ken Swift and Bobbito would regularly come to the jam. Also original Latino Biker gangs (who rocked) like the Devil's Rebels and many O.G. Rockers and B-Boys would regularly support. Our Jam would have B-Boy, Rocking and Popping battles. You'd have 3 generation of folks there, ageing between 8 to 50 yrs old. Great times. I would go up to the Bronx every week to hang with Buddy or I'd be DJ'ing at a B-Boy Battle, as well as doing my artwork, so I was kept pretty busy.
I don't really put my photos up online, but you can view a snippet of my NYC flics here;

KID DYNO: When did you first realise you had artistic flair? How does this flair collide with the hip hop world?

DUCE: I was always drawing and painting from as far back as I can remember. It helped to have encouraging parents who gave me pens, paints and paper.
Once I caught the Hip Hop bug, it was a natural progression to get into Graffiti Art and Comic books. I always loved to experiment in different mediums too, including Ink and wash (watercolour), Acrylics and oils. I've always had an affinity with the black line of an ink pen, and sketched almost everyday.

I also became known for adding Hip Hop styled B-Boy animal characters into my artwork, especially for Jim Leacy aka Break DJ Leacy's projects. The Battle Royal, The UK B-Boy champs and my own personal Hip Hop art would feature animals. I guess at the time, I was working for as an Artist for a Pet Book company, drawing and painting animals all day. From about 1987 to 2006 my Graffiti and illustration styles would morph in and out of each other. Only over the last couple of years am I starting to find, not my true voice, but a more honest and personal approach to what I create. In the past I often felt I had to 'represent' instead of creating something which was more honest to me, instead of subconsciously pleasing others.

KID DYNO: I understand you sketch a lot whilst commuting - what motivates you to draw and does it come easy to you (as it seems from the hip hop illustrations)

DUCE: I've been commuting on and off for the past four years, and in that time sitting on the train I draw in my sketch books. Being the Father of two young daughters, this is a time my mind can wonder and creative things happen. I work directly in ink pen to paper. The main challenge comes from the wobbly train journey, often packed with stressed out commuters. It's a stream of consciousness with most of my illustrations, where there's none to very little planning for each piece.

KID DYNO: The response to your illustrations of Pete Rock, Premo, Rakim, Bam etc.. has been far reaching (please elaborate). What are your plans with this series?

DUCE: I have to back up a little to explain. Over ten years ago, I created the LP cover for the late Break DJ Leacy, entitled 'Breaksplotation'. The illustration featured a snap shot/fly on the wall view of a late 70's, early 80's New York City park jam. So after receiving appreciation and praise from many Hip Hop legends (thanks to Christie Z Pabon from Tools of War), including Biz Markie, Rakim, Pete Rock, X-Clan and Grand Wizard Theodore to name a few, I embarked on a 'thank you' illustration back to these individuals. I started with Paradise Gray (X-Clan), Rakim and then Pete Rock. I created a portrait of the artist/individual in an honest un-egotistic interpretation, shedding the B-Boy bravado. This is why this ongoing series is titled 'Ego Strip', a shedding of the ego, catching these folks in a moment of thought.

Where can we find out more about Dan Duce?

DUCE: For my artwork;

BTW: Shameless art promotion... The Block Party archival prints and Litho-prints are now available to buy as well as J-Dilla, KRS1, DOOM and Bambaataa.
All info is available on my website, Twitter feed and Tumblr, and you can check out and order the prints for sale right HERE.

KID DYNO: What does Hip Hop mean to you right now? And do you still get the same buzz out of it as years gone by.

DUCE: I have changed over the past 5/6 years, as any human being should. You grow, you (hopefully) get wiser. So my priorities, focus and consciousness has also changed.
I still get a 'buzz' from many aspects of the Hip Hop culture, and still like being involved, but not from a battle perspective. Too much drama for me. I like to focus on creativity, nurture and Community. I still love to dance, I still love to DJ, but these happen now and then because my perception and consciousness have changed in my life. My main focus is on my immediate family and being able to Create Artwork for my personal growth and to support my Family.
So my perspective and priorities are different from the Dan Lish of 25 years old. I have to change... it's Natural Law. A good analogy is 'the Onion'. Like us all, we have many layers to our Onion....Actually I'll stop there, I'm getting too cosmic.

: Please name 3 of your favourite Hip Hop experiences?

DUCE: When I first DJ'd in the Bronx (with DJ Rockin Rob/Chuck City)
My First Park Jam in the Bronx (Disco King Mario at Rose-dale Park)
When I first watched Style Wars.

Sorry but I cant stop at 3...
When Bambattaa DJ'd for free at our Dollar Jam,
Painting with Duro.
Practicing with Ken Swift.
Hanging out at the Devils Rebels club house in Bushwick and rocking in their Apache line. Very intense.
Hanging out at the Bronx River houses with Buddy.

For shits and giggles, I'll also name my worst (but still cool) Hip Hop experiences.You'll see a running theme here....
My first B-Boy battle in Manhattan - I was so nervous I almost froze solid.
When I was asked to dance in Rikers Island for the prisons inmates. I almost shit myself.
Getting badly burnt in a Rocking battle in Harlem. Nako slid through my legs, making everyone piss themselves laughing....

KID DYNO: Dan Duce also rocks the 1s and 2s - please gimme 3 b-boy sureshots you're feeling right now?

DUCE: All the beats on Aidan Orange's latest mix tapes.
No Names will be called - Road Runners, Impuls - Didier's Sound Spectrum

On heavy rotation at the moment is Porter chops Glasper - Mr Porter

DUCE: Props and shout-outs to my Wife Karyn and daughters Ellsa and Abigail, Aiden Orange, Graham, Fast Break, Foots, Cold Chris, Numbers, Eke, Mr.ip, Dan Willett, IBZ, Ziggy Ramone/OUI, James Top, Biz Markie, DJ Just 1, PJ Born Kings, Ewan at Rarekind, Dexter, Lord Bongson, Waxer, DJ Skam Rock, Mark Madina, Dan Flan, Dan the Beatman, Mr. Fingers, King Uprock, Kwon, DJ DP One, DJ Rockin Rob, Break EZ & B.I.S, Rob Life, Macca and the Vinyl veterans crew, DJ Format, Dynasty Rockers, Bret Downroc Syfert, Ready to Rock, STN and UZN.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Formidable 45s

While we're on the subject of 7" singles, here's another selection of formidable 45s straight from the DAILY DIGGERS crates.

Formidable 45s by Daily Diggers on Mixcloud

The Beatstreet

These dudes are not your average buskers - they're getting live with the MPC beats in the street ... I guess that's why they're called THE BEATSTREET. Dope stuff.

Thursday 13 November 2014

A Message to the 45 Haters

Well it looks like I'm back up and posting on the regular again after a long time away from blogging. As more and more hip hop related websites sprung up over the last 5 years I felt my job was done as far as bringing a slice of authentic hip hop culture to the interweb. I started this site in 2007 primarily because of the lack of real deal hip hop info online, but the tables have now turned (pun intended) and there is a plethora of great places to go online for your daily fix of b-boy information, whether you are into breakin', beatdigging, graffiti writing, record collecting, turnablism or whatever. There is no longer a gap in the market.
HOWEVER, I will still be popping up from time to time to share with you any treats I think you need to see or know about, and to reminisce on good times long gone. And maybe every so often to voice my opinion (for what it is worth) on some of the bullshit that surrounds the culture. I think this may be one of those times...

So, here is my message to all the 45 haters out there. Yes you know who I am talking about, those dudes who get all hot under the collar when they see some of the prices rare rap 45s are making at the moment. And not just rap 45s, but any 45s (especially those that have received a little hype lately and are in high demand). First of all why you are concerned with how the next man spends his money is kinda alien to me - each to their own. But Ive been quiet for awhile now and I think it's time I shared my opinion on the subject. After all, I'm one of those guys who has many of those rare 7" records they are referring to. But there ain't no shame in my game, and here's why....
Firstly, I've always collected hip hop 7" singles. I started buying records as a small child on the 45rpm format (99p from Woolworths) so anything on this format is always gonna be dear to me. So, over the years I have always picked up any little hip hop records I have seen on my diggin' missions. They never cost me a lot, and it was always surprising what records were available on 7", especially the European labels who released some classic hip hop tracks on 45rpm not available in the US market. Now obviously hip hop records were all about the 12" format during the 80s and 90s, so it is no surprise that the US market didn't always put out a 7" version, and if they did it was mostly a promotional tool or jukebox single.
By the turn of the millenium, I already had a nice 2 crate collection of rap 7" singles, including some rare titles like ULTIMATE FORCE's "I'm Not Playing" and JUNGLE BROTHERS' "Because I Got It Like That" (Original Version) and I was always hungry for more. When digging online became the goldmine that it is, almost every record collector in the land realised they could find records online that were never gonna be found in their regular physical shops and boot sales. That's when the online boom began. Postage was inexpensive, the choice was endless and ever changing, and the only effort needed was a little bit of knowledge and an internet connection. I mean ... the records even came delivered to your front door! What more do you want? There is no shame in digging online, and anyone who says they don't do it is either a liar or a philistine.
Ten years on, we've all stocked up on random rap, bought that missing LORD FINESSE record from our collection, and almost completed our TUFF CITY 12" discography. Classic Hip Hop 12"s saw a boom in prices initially and as the collectors out there filled in the gaps so things began to level off. It's not rocket science, but buying trends are exactly that. Trends come and go as in all aspects of life.
So now 15 or so years after the online explosion, people are feeling the grip of the economic crisis, and we have all learned to tie our belts a little bit tighter, and carefully watch how we spend the pennies we earn. At the same time, the cost of postage from continent to continent has sky rocketed (globally with few exceptions), and now a 12" single or LP can cost in some cases $20 just to be packaged and sent to you. Gone are the 12" bargains, even if the record only cost you a single buck or pound or Euro by the time it arrives at your front door it's become costly (and that is before any customs charges if you are unlucky enough to be hit with one). All of a sudden it is not such a cheap hobby finding 12" records online and having them posted.
So is it really a big surprise to people that the 7" 45rpm format is getting some well deserved attention right now? Does it really shock you that a DJ will pay over a hundred for this or that promo rap 7" that very few people own? The 7" format is convenient, concentrated, easy to carry, cheap to post, and gives you that dope track you wanted with no filler or wack remix which you probably hated anyway. The have always been of interest and always will be. So if you're late to the party and wanna have a gripe about who or what record is being bought for what price, maybe I can suggest you worry about your own game and let those 45 fiends worry about theirs. If you wanna worry about money being spent in the wrong places maybe you should check out what the Government does with your taxes, why major labels push violent gang-promoting rap music, or how corporate corruption if feeding the rich whilst depriving the poor. Don't focus on some record collector paying over the odds for a rap 7". That shit is unimportant to you.

(Edit: Oh .. and if you're thinking "another rap blog going on about trendy rap 45s" then check out the 2nd post ever on DAILY DIGGERS from July 2007 HERE. Nuff said.)

B-Boy Bionics

My fellow VINYL VETERAN MAC MCRAW's new 12" on the COLD ROCK STUFF label is now available to buy, so if you're a fan of that gritty SP1200 sound then get yourself over to the COLD ROCK STUFF website and grab a copy.
MAC is no rookie when it comes to releasing sureshot Hip Hop music, and began his vinyl career as a member of UK hardcore outfit SEVERE CARNAGE in the early 1990s. He also ran the revered PUMA STRUT label and recorded under the name BEATHOVEN. However my first encounter with MAC was many years ago when I heard the name WILDSTYLE BOB NIMBLE mentioned on a late night hip hop radio show, and thought to myself "that name is fresh ... who is that dude?". It wasn't until 25 years later when I got down with the VINYL VETERANS crew in Brighton that I realised that MAC MACRAW was actually WILDSTYLE BOB himself. That's a quarter of a century later and we are BOTH still obsessed with Hip Hop culture. That speaks volumes on how much Hip Hop grabbed the attention of us kids in the mid to late 1980s.

Nowadays MAC is the VINYL VETERANS head honcho, organising a thoroughbred team of enthusiastic vinyl lovers who share their musical passion with the club going crowds of Brighton town and beyond. If you've ever attended a VINYL VETERANS showcase then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

COLD ROCK STUFF proudly present MAC MCRAW's latest release "B-boy Bionics" b/w "Dust" featuring AUDESSEY (SOUNDSCI) and guest rhymes by none other than OXYGEN (VINYL VETERANS USA). THE PROCESS (JOHNNY CUBA & OLLIE TEEBA) have supplied a kick arse remix and once again MAC came to the DAILY DIGGERS and asked us to flip a little remix for "Dust". We have obliged and are proud to be involved once again with such a highly skilled team, in fact most of the time we don't feel worthy. Thanks MAC for getting us involved.

Here's some soundclips below of all tracks on the 12" - get yours before they're gone like hot cakes!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

More Cold Rock Stuff

There is another COLD ROCK STUFF release about to drop any moment soon. MAC MCRAW brings more SP1200 12-bit grit to the table alongside vocals from AUDESSEY and a guest appearance from that good dude OXYGEN. And the reason that your eyes are popping right now is because MR KRUM has done it again with the sleeve design. Oh ... and did I mention there is a DAILY DIGGERS remix. More details soon...