Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear On No Stamps – But They Do Appear On My T-Shirts
You are always told “never meet your heroes”. However, this isn’t always the case. Over the past couple of years I have been very lucky to meet some of mine. Mainly by hanging around with an old school (as in education not just street slang) mate and gig going buddy of mine, Mark. Otherwise known as Madina, Mark just happens to be a very talented artist and is now the t-shirt designer of choice for many US top Rap artists. For the record, I am acutely aware of just how w*nky that last sentence is, but strangely it’s true. Not bad for a bloke originally from the mean streets of Royal Tunbridge Wells.
This started off as a fan project inspired by the immortal lyrics from the Public Enemy song “Fight The Power” and has now taken Mark to the dizzy heights of working with many of them.
Over the last two years this image and several others has flown around the internet amassing over 100k followers on Twitter and is now being worn by a who’s who of Rappers and Rap fans alike.
Appearing on the new RUN DMC video, the list goes on and on…
It’s Harder than you think..
Now obviously having a mate that does this has its advantages, and I don’t just mean free t-shirts. It means that when any profile rap group comes to town we tend to be able to get backstage and meet them.
Don’t get me wrong- its not like I am riding his coat tails. Mark and I have been going to jams together since we were 13. I go along in my “professional” role as PR advisor, crap photographer and token white bloke role, all the time trying to remember to act cool.
This, to steal another one of Chucks lyrics is “Harder than you think,” especially when inside you the 14 year old you is screaming “ IT’S FUCKING insert rappers name, YEAH YOU KNOW THE FELLA FROM THE POSTERS ON YOUR WALL AND THE ALBUMS YOU CONTINUALLY PLAYED. MEMORISED THE LYRICS TO AND THE INSIDE LINER NOTES FROM THE RECORDS. THE ONE THAT TAUGHT YOU TO SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY AND QUESTION WHAT YOU WERE BEING TAUGHT BY “THE MAN- YEAH THAT ONE”. For the record, I was never quite sure who the “man” was. Is it the same “man” who your mum said would tell you off when you were misbehaving in the shops when you were 5? It becomes slightly surreal at times. But I remain intact, just.
Don’t Believe The Hype Brighton
Back in 2012 at the start of Mark’s quest to get every one of the living rappers on the print to sign it, Public Enemy played Brighton Dome. It was the ideal opportunity to hold the launch party for DBTH the agency. In fact it wasn’t ideal; it was f”cking perfect. After all here was the group that had inspired me 25 years ago and were still inspiring me. Playing a gig in my home town, and the same town that I had first seen them play in 1989 as a 15 year old (quite coincidentally with a 15 year old Mark as our first “big” gig). After all, how many other new PR agencies do you know that have “Rock & Roll” Hall of Fame legends to play their launch party?
When I found out, I told Mark and he told Twitter.
I set about working out a plan to get my 7” record signed. However, I ended up doing something a little better….
Chuck D picks up my copy of “Don’t Believe The Hype” during “Don’t Believe The Hype”
I can’t share exactly how this happened. I’d like to claim it was a mixture of military planning, contacts, lengthy negotiations between my people and their people. It wasn’t. It was me and couple of good friends, a very understanding wife and a lifelong obsession with Hip-Hop. It may look easy but it’s harder than you think (enough of the references already!)
Chuck D gives “Don’t Believe The Hype” Brighton a shout out and signs on the dotted line.
This was the icing on the cake – The 7” that’s been on stage as part of the anthem now hangs pride of place in my home- a reminder that you can get away with ruddy murder if you put your mind to it.
Since then, PE have come back and played another killer show in Brighton at the Concorde 2. Yeah I know, my favourite group and my favourite venue – can it get any better ? Yes it can; for a start it was meant to last 90 minutes and it ended up lasting 2.4 hrs as they simply wouldn’t leave the stage. With twelve studio albums, two live albums, four compilation albums, two remix albums and over 40 singles it’s not like they are short of material to call on.
Public Enemy storm the Concorde 2 stage.
I have to say, considering how many tours PE do and that many of them are, to quote a mate “older than all of One Direction combined,” they never put on a half show. The amount of energy and willingness to give to their fans is something that a lot of lesser and more arrogant artists could learn from.
That night after what was one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen, I was fortunate enough to meet them again. Only this time I was remained slightly more together.
If you ever get the chance to see them live, do it. You will not be disappointed.
Also, if you want to dress like your favourite rapper without looking like a nob, go check out Madina.co.uk. Order something and tell him I sent you – it won’t get you any kind of freebie or special treatment, but it will allow me to claim a pint from him next time I see him.
And remember kids whatever you do – Don’t Believe The Hype