September 19, 2003

Victorian Hip Hop

Peeped out the Nike Laser on a quick run through Nolita, 255 Elizabeth is the unmarked "gallery" space being used by Nike. The shoes really are beautiful and I really want a pair. Of course they promise to be some of the most expensive sneakers ever. $250 -500 is what I've heard, which puts them in the range of a extremely nice top of the line dress shoe. F'in Ouch.

Yeah, so that's the gushing bit, getting over it quick. Now for the critical and the meta. First off Nike has truly mastered this exclusivity marketing game, its getting absurd. Worst bit is I have to assume its working on me, since I want a pair of the shoes (although I'd like to imagine its just the beautiful craft of the laser etching). The private club, secret address bit is going over the top though, on might say things are getting positively Victorian in this post hip hop space.

Part of it is just the invitable fusion of hip hop culture with the mainstream power structure, the new generation is building its base. But this old English gentlemens club thing that is infecting the culture is quite odd. Could it be that hip hop is becoming bourgeois? Private clubs and ornately crafted status symbols, there are real echoes.

Perhaps hip hop is following the Bushco lead. We've got a old boys club of politicians linked to 19th century industries, trying to build empires in back rooms. Perhaps Nike, Alife, Mo' Wax and Bape crowd are just unconsciously emulating Empire politics in a pop culture context. Is a post hip hop/skate/graf cultural imperialism about to crystalize, centered on the Tokyo-NY-London axis? Or perhaps in this accelerated age, its already about to collapse?

One thing is for sure, the populist in me is hearing warning sirens loud and clear, duck and cover y'all or maybe just hide out in your private club.

Posted by Abe at September 19, 2003 10:02 PM