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King Adz - Opening Image

Street Middleman

by Roger Young / Images by King Adz / 02.12.2011

King Adz is the author of The Urban Cookbook and Street Knowledge, an A to Z of global street culture. He is currently writing Tony Kaye’s next film, a novel, and another non-fiction book and has worked with a diverse range of people including: Banksy, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and Irvine Welsh – who once said of him “…one of his great talents as an artist, complier, networker and an individual, is his resolute refusal to see barriers where the rest of us have been conditioned into doing so.” When he is not sat at his typewriter, he travels the world in search of burgeoning new subculture practitioners and liaises between them and brands. He’s the street middleman. He was in South Africa recently for STR CRD and we had a little chat.

Mahala: So what did you make of STR CRD?

King Adz: Look firstly, when the interesting stuff happens, culturally, it’s spontaneous. Events happen, you don’t know about them. You luck out and you accidently discover something. Before the internet that was a much more common occurrence because you knew what you liked, you had your fanzines and you subscribed to maybe a magazine that you had to send off for. Street culture as we know it has come out of this cultural mix. Whether it’s music, fashion, street art, writing, whatever. But now-a-days there is always this fucking huge white elephant in the room, as people who go to festivals and organized events are under the illusion, that they are actually part of something and what they’re doing, and this is the vital point, is they’ve just confused consumption with culture. Just because you rock up there, pay your money, get in, get your sneaker tagged, buy a t-shirt and listen to some piped-in culture, doesn’t mean shit. You may well think that you’re part of the scene but all you’re really doing is consuming something that’s been fed to you. 95% of the people who go to festivals, whether they are street culture festivals, music festivals or art festivals, they’re there because they think they have to be there. It’s like a badge. It’s a ‘like’ on their Facebook page. It’s not their fault. They’re confused. The internet is a fucking brilliant thing but it’s also a terrible thing because people can watch something on Vimeo, or fucking Youtube, or Facebook, or Flickr and then think that they know about culture.

King Adz

But there must have been something worth while there?

The interesting stuff, for me, are the kids from Durban (‘RUN DBN’) because what they’re doing, they’re not sure what they’re doing, they haven’t got a gameplan, they know there’s something interesting happening somewhere and they’ve started their own scene. When I chatted to them on the roof of Wits, they were like “We’re hustlers, we ain’t rich kids. We’re street hustlers” and I believe them. So I’ve spent fifteen years investigating street culture. I’ve documented it. Books, films, TV ads – whatever. The interesting stuff now is the stuff that isn’t online. That’s the stuff that’s really cool because once it becomes online, once it’s been written about, by fuckers like me, it’s not street culture. It’s media culture that is there to be consumed. And that’s the rub, where does this new stuff come from? It’s a snake eating its own tail. Where does it come from if all the kids that were going to be creating stuff, they’re caught up in this fucking loop online, fed stuff, brands, stuff that may be an advert, stuff that is ultimately paid for by a brand that manufactured a scene just to be able to sell off it; sell it out. A scene could be born then a brand gets involved, they don’t pay any money, they give away two pairs of trainers and a fucking t-shirt and they claim that scene…

And they get…

Yeah, they get a bit of heat for that brand but the scene is dead and the kids are confused.

The brand gets its little bit of credibility and moves on.

This internet fame is so fleeting. I mean Warhol said 15 minutes, this is 15 clicks. And this is an interesting point because with advertising, with brands, you can’t sell to these kids, they are way to savvy. And I respect that. So what you have to do is sponsor these kids, you get the brand to kick some money in, not just a fucking pair of trainers or a t-shirt. Then train these guys and girls to improve their lives, introduce them to some fucking influential people and then, two years down the road when they’ve had a little taste of success, they’re going pay it back by saying “brand X did this for me!” and this is what works. That’s the advert because they’re telling the truth. They’re not waving a flag because they want to be trendy.

Or they want to get something. They’ve got it already.

The way of the world is money fucking rules, right? So if you get some cool kids on board and you treat them right and you don’t fucking wheel them out at some shit event in a crappy mall, don’t force them to wear the brand, you might get some decent content that may work as advertising. And this is what is interesting, where this street culture, sub culture, whatever culture, plays a very vital part in selling to the youth, that is for me what is paramount, and sometimes I’m the guy in the middle, I’m the ringmaster.

King Adz

Let’s go back to where you said the interesting stuff is happening off-line. If you’re a part of the process of bringing it online or bringing it into the advertising space, how much responsibility do you exercise about that? Because you’re saying the advertising is going to ruin the scene.

I mean, there’s doing it in a way that works and then there’s doing it in a way that most people do it. A lot of youth agencies are run by fucking shmucks who are just trying to get a buck out of it. They are totally and culturally clueless.

But how do you know what you’re doing is the right way to do it?

All I’ve got is my gut reaction, and the street culture that I was involved in the creation of. I can’t work with brands that I don’t get, I can’t work with brands that I don’t respect or trust. If you’ve got a brand that doesn’t trust you, it’s going to fuck up, you’ve got to look at the long game. It’s how you bring that idea into fruition and having a structure that’s not going to fall apart. The brand has to be on board and the bigger the brand, the bigger the risk, the bigger the pay off.

Well it’s like you have to invest in a lot of different people and one of them will pay off.

Yeah, so the fact that it’s unpredictable makes it the interesting thing. I increasingly find myself in-between the culture and the brand and the talent, and there’s always some kind of agency lucking about in the background. So I’m in this spot where if I play my cards right I can do some good work around the world, not just here, but mainly in developing countries where I am involved in some genuine culture which then eventually rolls over into giving whatever brand some cultural cache. And that’s all they can ever hope for. What people don’t like is when you parachute David Beckham in wearing a pair of shoes and you say ‘If you buy these shoes you’ll be more like Beckham’. That was the old advertising model. There is no new advertising model right now and that’s scary for the agencies and the brands.

King Adz

So let’s say the current best hope is when somebody five years down the line says Nike paid for my training. What’s the next step after that? Where do you go to from there?

That’s when it becomes word-of-mouth again. Word of mouth has become so diluted because it’s digital word of mouth. The ultimate thing is to re-establish the power of word of mouth and if you’ve got a cultural leader or someone that you respect, that was the old motto. The word of mouth generated by this kind of advertising worked a lot more in the long run because if they talk about it in interviews, they have a million fucking fans, and I don’t mean Facebook freinds, they’ve actually done something, they don’t just have a fucking blog. They make a film, write a book, make a seminal album and somewhere in that mix is the fact that this brand helped them out. Everyone of their fans is going to go ‘fucking cool’ and that’s all you can ever hope for. The brand actually participated.

Are brands the new patrons?

They’d like to be.

Should they be?

This is something that always goes back to money. If we were talking about movements, if a brand wasn’t in any of these equations, then it’ll be a totally different fucking answer. It would be ‘we’re doing this for the love’ but it’s a bit like when you get a band, they’re four kids, they live in a house, they make this great album, it sells 10 million, they had fuckall when they were doing it so this energy like ‘fucking yeah’ and it comes out, everyone loves it and the second album is shit because they’ve got too much money, they’re all on drugs, they’re all distracted. It’s a bit like an artist, like Banksy, what happens when your art suddenly become hundreds and thousands of pounds, does that affect the art? I think it does. And I think money influences and interacts, disturbs culture. There’s no way you can get away from that, because it does. You want to be doing something that’s genuine but on the other hand in the back of your mind, you know you’ve got to pay the rent. So the question is, yes, the brands can become, if they behave in a certain way, the patrons of culture and people doing interesting stuff, but to say ‘Is that right?’, the world we live in, it’s consumed by money, you know what I mean? It’s too late for that. So there is other stuff, there are other events, there are people doing stuff that shouldn’t go near brands ever and they will probably remain in the subculture and offline. No one really knows about them apart from hardcore fans. But that is a necessity. We’ve got to have stuff that isn’t just a t-shirt with his name on it and thinking he’s started a cultural movement. Because all they really want to do is sell more t-shirts or get a little piece of fame. They don’t care and the way people are, they will always take the money over the fucking credibility. The way the world is set out will make it harder for genuine culture to remain true to itself, because everything needs to be monetized. You know, it’s better to have 10 followers on a blog who really read and digest stuff than a million who just go ‘Ah, reblog that’ and they don’t read it. It’s like that Bitches Must Know/Paul Ward. Man, just cause you put your name on your fucking t-shirt doesn’t mean shit, it means you just wrote your name on a t-shirt.

King Adz

Bitches Must Know won the Blog competition. The Durban kids, who you say have more street cred are now left in the cold. So what’s the point of the competition?

There wasn’t any. It’s all about selling shit.

Mthi (From the Durban team, Street Sole Avenue) said to me, “How do they expect me to blog about a five thousand rand pair of shoes when I can’t afford airtime?”

That’s the reality, the pure essence of the street that is a vital part of the culture. This is where the creative side of advertising/branding has gone wrong. You used to have to learn to be a photographer, now all you need to do is print your name on a shirt, hook yourself onto the back of an assumed media culture and wank off some brands and you’ll win the competition. You’ll be the guy that reblogs the most and brings home the bacon. Where people are going wrong is that they’re seeing numbers, they’re not seeing substance. If you connect truly with 10 people who happen to be bloggers and you inspired them to go and do something, not reblog but write about what they’re seeing. Encourage them to create more online content, not like we fucking need it, more online content that’s original, those 10 bloggers will create more heat than a thousand rebloggers.

Where you see the same thing fifty times.

And that’s what’s happened to the culture. That’s the shit end of street culture. And these guys, they haven’t got a clue. They really haven’t got a clue. A walking billboard is a walking billboard and there’s no more depth to it. It’s like Warhol said ‘I’m as deep as my canvases’ and he literally meant that. Warhol wasn’t that deep. He had some great ideas and it was how he used those ideas, it’s not how great he was. It was what he did, how he put it into fruition. These bloggers don’t do anything. People who are after money, who are desperate for the brands. It’s these kinds of people who need the brands…

…To quantify their existence.

And it’s like purgatory. I think once you get in that loop, you’re forever chasing the next brand, you’re forever trying to get your numbers up because once you start needing those numbers of blogs, reposts, people following you, once you need that to be happy within yourself and this is the bigger picture that we weren’t going to get into, these people live online, they do some stuff offline in a shit club on Long Street, whatever, and their fulfillment and their self-confidence comes from how many people see it.

Not how many people are affected by it?

No, it’s how many people see it. The people who don’t like that shit, are cool because they’re not fooled. So people like Mr Ward aren’t actually doing anything real, in a pure cultural sense, they’re less than that because they’ve never done anything. I’ve got absolutely nothing against these people personally, I’m sure they’re very nice people and love their mums, the only problem is they’re fucking toying with my culture, my heritage, and that is all I’ve got. If you try that hard to create something it usually doesn’t work. If it’s natural and something that evolves, yeah that’s when it might just work.

So if you try and force something…

Yeah. If you force something you just shit your pants.

King Adz

Well let’s go back to that statement. ‘How do you expect me to blog about a pair of shoes if I can’t even afford airtime?’

I mean, that’s the real thing. That’s what they don’t tell you.

But now what happens if a brand hears this and says ‘Well, here’s a pair of shoes that you can’t afford’?

You just say thanks, put them on and ..

And there’s the test.

Yeah, and you walk away. It doesn’t mean anything. All it means is that he’s got a free pair of shoes. That’s all it mean. And on one hand there’s a saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch so maybe you’ll get snapped in those shoes, I doubt it. I doubt it. But on the other hand, he can’t afford those shoes but he’s got a pair because someone thinks he’s cool. If it’s the beginning of him working with that brand over a length of time doing some interesting stuff then that’s like the first kiss and the money is the fucking hand job. And then the full sponsorship, when they properly set him up to do something interesting, that’s him fucking them. Ultimately, because he starts off saying ‘I can’t even afford airtime’, he’s started off at a position of total honesty. If everyone with a shit blog started off saying ‘I’m a rich white boy with a camera and I’m just shooting shit I don’t get’, he’s being honest but no one wants that honesty.

But isn’t that like a Terry Richardson honesty?

I’m not a fan of Terry Richardson’s work. If I want to look at photography, I’ll look at Peter Beard or William Eggleston or Roger Ballen or David fucking Goldblatt. So the bit about airtime and shoes is so fucking relevant and that’s almost like the starting point of where I’d begin with those guys. Fucking brilliant quote. He was just saying how it is and that came up. And yeah, that could be the start of something. That is major. Because: one, he said it, because he wasn’t fronting, two he trusted us, three he needs it.

King Adz

OK, all that aside. Let’s get back to what you do and what you’re doing now.

I’m writing a book about youth advertising, as well as a couple of movie scripts.

So you did Street Knowledge?

Yeah, that was a book about my 25-year journey through street culture and before that I wrote a book called The Urban Cookbook which you could say put me on the map; that book is my fucking heart man: street food, street culture and some glorious talent. A cultural and cultinary view of five main cities in the world. It was simple. I really care about those things. I mean really care. That is my cultural DNA right there on the pages of those two books. That is why I get so mad when people dip in and try and get some fame off it. Or a fast buck.

Do you know about these kids in Durban recently? This court case?

No.

These kids who get paid to graf, did a wall to commemorate the anniversary of a death of one of their homeys and they got arrested, they didn’t get the right permissions, they thought they had but they didn’t and now they’re criminals.

Yeah, the thing about that is what Banksy did is comoditize something that is essentially vandalism. In England it’s no different. You get caught doing graffiti, you get knicked. If you’re Banksy or someone of that calibre, they make sure your artwork doesn’t get damaged.

King Adz

So where do you cross the line?

It goes back to money. It goes back to Banksy is a vandal who is now protected because he’s bringing in money. He had an exhibition in Bristol that brought 15 million quid into the community, outside of the exhibition people queued for two hours. People travelled there from all over the world. So with the graffiti street art contradiction, what’s happened is that part of street art has splinted off into “Street Art” and it’s become something to collect by people around the world by people who’ve got a lot of money who basically run things. So if you are a proper bomber/tagger and you’re doing this ‘fuck you’ thing, and you get caught they put you in prison. That’s just how it goes. I don’t agree with any of it. I think there’s no difference between graffiti and street art. A tag’s a tag, a stencil’s a stencil. Just because one’s more valuable as a commodity, doesn’t mean that the law should be any different. Like anywhere in the world. If you’ve got money, you’ll get away with it. If you haven’t, you‘re fucked both ways. And your example in Durban that is just like the three strikes rule because a lot of people go to prison who shouldn’t be there.

Yeah, completely.

And running prisons is a fucking huge industry. It all goes back to this commercial world. What people don’t understand is that the Apple factory in China has a extremely high suicide rate. So many people have killed themselves working in that factory that they’ve had to block everything off so they can’t jump. So when you’re sat in your fucking suburban home with your iPad looking at the fucking Amnesty International website with a tear in your eye, the reality is unknown to you; the thing you’ve bought into is the cause of somebody’s misery. And that goes for whatever: graffiti, making a song going Fuck The Police, making a t-shirt that is a pastiche of a famous brand for which you get sued for and lose your house. Money rules and that’s the bottom line. In reaction to that we have to create some good-to-honest culture because we need to enrich people’s lives.

Unfortunately the world is run by money. So if brands are going to pay for anything, let’s push them to help enrich other people’s lives.

And everyone has their price. And we can’t change that so you take that as a given. When you start going up the flight of steps from here to where you want to get to, writing on the first step is ‘every man has his price’, the next ‘everything’s for sale’ and then ‘there is no such thing as selling out’ and so on. That is just the way the world’s like. Like I was saying earlier, even the most talented artist has still got a shopping list. If you do it as a hobby, you can’t put the time in to be really good, if you do it full time, you’ve got to monetize it.

King Adz

If you truly believe that you want to be true to yourself artistically, the way the world is set up at the moment, you move to a farm and you turn off the fucking internet and you just do it for yourself and then no one will see it and you’ve got to be happy with that. But the moment you enter the cycle, those are the things you have to accept.

But the things is that no one may see it and then you may die and someone may stumble upon it and go ‘Oh My Fucking God!’ and because you never sold out they’ll make the film, the book, the website and you’ll inspire a million people.

By having not sold out.

Yeah. So who’s the winner there?

Yeah, you lost an ear.

And a testicle but still you didn’t sell out.

But somebody else got all your comfort.

There’ll always be someone there in the corner with the gold that you want. And human nature is that you’ll be drawn to that because ultimately the only way to rebel and the only way to drop out is by making a shit load of money by doing something and then stop doing that and buy and house and get a shit load of food and do your thing. Money buys freedom. If you’ve got money, you’re free. If you ain’t got money you will never be free, in this paradigm. You get your money, you drop out and then you can do good.

What do you mean by “doing good”?

The thing that gets me is how shallow advertising is. I’ve dealt with that. I’ve been working in advertising since 1992 and I know that it is just a means to an end, and if I dropped out now I’d be fucking failing because I still have a way to go; I haven’t done what I set out to do. But to be truly free you need a few quid. And then you can properly travel the world, because part of our culture is travel. And then you can start doing stuff for the good. For the love. You can truly help people and set stuff up that isn’t connected to brands. I have a set of skills that I can transfer, whether it’s in the media, film, writing, whatever. Skills that people essentially can learn and it’s only when I’m sorted financially and I’m comfortable that I can look over my shoulder and see who I can help because even the most fucking grizzled of us want to do good. I fucking absolutely and unreservedly love South Africa. I really do, and when I’m financially set from creating illusions that then turn into sales for a brand, then it’s only right that I come back here and contribute something.

King Adz

King Adz

King Adz

King Adz

King Adz

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*Opening Image © Guy Pitchon
**All other images © King Adz

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RESPONSES (31)
  1. Bob says:

    Shall I start the slow clap?

    *clap* *clap* *clap*…

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  2. Poster says:

    Whoa!

    Thumb up2   Thumb down 0

  3. Margot says:

    TL;DR

    Thumb up4   Thumb down 0

  4. neo geo says:

    *clap* *clap*

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  5. alex says:

    wicked!!!

    Thumb up1   Thumb down 0

  6. SihleMthembu says:

    Standing O

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  7. Chris says:

    Read this again.

    Of course the knee jerk reaction in most of us is ‘Oh God. He’s good!’ because his responses have a lyricism that we have come to identify with being fucking cool as shit but at the same time he speaks with a cultural awareness and sensitivity that is elucidating. Until you ask the real question, which is, at a fundamental level, how much does this guy differ from Paul Ward.

    - and before before freak out about this, just ask yourself that question and think about it for a bit –

    This is a dude who calls out people like Ward (vacuos blog producers), saying he’s ‘toying with my culture, my heritage, and that is all I’ve got’.
    Deep, right?
    True to the streets, yes?

    Until we realise that this is a guy who’s just published a book with Thames and Hudson called ‘THE URBAN COOKBOOK – CREATIVE RECIPES FOR THE GRAFFITI GENERATION’.

    Are you fucking serious?
    It gets worse. The marketing blurb on this piece of shit offers us ‘a cookbook with a difference: recipes to feed the creative appetite, born out of the edgy, rugged culture of the street’

    JESUS CHRIST! What the fuck are we even talking about here.
    A Low GI Cheeseburger for that slow release energy when you’re running from the pigs.

    There is a hypocrisy in saying that people are toying with his culture when this guy is cashing in so blatantly on a series of abject fucking lies. He’s aware of it too. He knows his position.

    And personally I don’t give a fuck about what this guy does. I could care less if his latest published masterpiece has a mouthwatering basquiat burger and shepard fairey shake.

    Do your thing. Sell to the youth. Make your cash. Retire and do good (!)

    But don’t put yourself above other people like you’re some fucking righteous messenger from the streets.

    You’re in advertising.
    You make scenes into commodities.
    Being aware of this doesn’t change it.

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  8. Luke says:

    so chris. must bitches know?

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  9. Kenny says:

    Chris – if you really did your homework you will see that The Urban Cookbook was published in 2008, when you were still wanking off your dad.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 7

  10. Chris says:

    @Kenny

    That changes what?
    Besides the fact that we now have a more legitimate street art scene because of all the true street motherfuckers who’re much better nourished because they’ve been eating banksy baguettes since 2008.
    When you were still wanking off King Adz

    cunt

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  11. Kenny says:

    Chris/cunt

    You did exactly what KA said you’d do. You went on line and read about his books from a publishers blurb or amazon. I guess you haven’t actually read his books? How can you possibly comment on how real KA from a quick scan on the internet?

    ‘The internet is a fucking brilliant thing but it’s also a terrible thing because people can watch something on Vimeo, or fucking Youtube, or Facebook, or Flickr and then think that they know about culture.’

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  12. Chris says:

    Kenny. I can’t argue with that.
    But I think you’re missing out on something.

    He wrote a fucking book about street recipes for aspiring graffiti artists.

    And as I said, I don’t give a fuck about that in isolation.
    I’m not gonna buy it. What I resent is that this guy feels justified in slagging off other cultural producers as though he taps into a more authentic vein of what is relevant.

    I’m not defending Bitches Must Know. I’ve been aware that it is vacuous and masturbatory since before ‘KA’ schooled us.

    I’m just saying a guy who spends his time compiling extensive lists of cool to pawn off to corporates who then monetarise these trends hasn’t gained the moral highground to talk shit about other people who do the same. In my opinion.

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  13. Gareth says:

    But what is culture? Is it something unique we create or is it merely the influence of our environment. Does it have to be alternative to be culture? If it reactionary is it truly creative or is it just a mirror of what we don’t like? Can it be contrived? Surely if it is contrived from a system of belief it could be more refined that simply reacting emotionally or not giving a shit. Perhaps the best culture is something that is really created from a lot of careful thought and with a specific intent. Or perhaps it is best to simply be which is the most authentic culture. And what makes you cool. If a company thinks you can sell their stuff are you really cool or would it be better to have some firm and informed beliefs and to then support organisations that are in line with those beliefs.

    One thing that is not cool is Nike though and you could never change that no matter who you slapped that on. It stinks of American corporate, Chinese sweatshop artificiality they way Pep Stores stinks of rubber

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  14. cnut says:

    I really must commend the photogs this site draw on… they are light years ahead of anything else around in Mzanzi… no matter what the topic… the one thing ‘real’ punters keep coming back for are the pictures… most certainly not the staid-stereo-typical-pseudo-gonzo-mahala-high-5-amatuer-jingoistics!

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  15. Stander says:

    Are you Gareth Cliff?

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  16. cnut says:

    And this over-edited-re-re-re-rewritten ‘piece’ is no exception… almost as predictably edited as Roger Young having a go at the last quart in the party despite the stompies…. or Andy crying out that ZAF surfers get the wrong rub of the score-cards when not one can make it to a CT semi!

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  17. Roger Young says:

    In another flash of insight cnut works out that magazines and websites are edited.

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  18. Andy says:

    oh peter your mom just called, she wants you to stop wasting her bandwidth on the staid-stereo-typical-pseudo-gonzo-mahala-high-5-amatuer-jingoistics!

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  19. creepy steve says:

    i know this hobo in bangkok, he has no money but he puts all this shit in his hair like flowers and garlands and stuff very colorful shit he’s like a moving artwork, people give him food he just chills, he collects stuff out the trash; bottles old toys ect and arranges a display on the pavement and then people clear it away(when he’s not around) because its littering the sidewalk and then he starts again. it really pisses me off i mean the people are good they give him food but then they clear his stuff away. if they didn’t interfere he could have the biggest collection of stuff in the world

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  20. Roger Young says:

    @Chris

    Been thinking about your comment.

    I don’t think King Adz is slagging off another producer of cultural content, I think he’s saying they don’t produce any cultural comment and anyone who thinks they do are confused.

    This is my reading of his views and not necessarily my opinion.

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  21. Chris says:

    Hey Roger,

    I agree. BMK is a ridiculous excuse for a blog.
    Its a massively overbranded aggregate of other people’s content.
    There’s no other way to put it.

    All I’m saying is that we’re talking about a dude who has spent decades using his intellect and persuasive power to sell kids a bunch of shit that they don’t need, fucking up scenes the world over as he goes.

    He is the guy painting the Lacoste crocodile in a generic street art style in Manhattan, thereby aiding the corruption/mutilation of one of the few artforms that was largely free of marketing.

    http://lacosteliveblog.com/?p=237

    Street artist King Adz painted a LACOSTE L!VE croc outside NYC’s The Standard Hotel yesterday to kick off the release of his new book Street Knowledge, in stores today. ”

    Imagine that. He was so excited at the release of his book that he felt compelled to show his elation by painting the Lacoste crocodile.

    He says that one day, once he’s made ‘a few quid’ he’ll sit back and get to work undoing all of the seeds he’s sown. Unselling all of the sneakers. Purging the minds of all of the impressionable kids with cupboards full of Jordans. Get fucking realistic.

    All I’m saying, and I can’t say it again, is that I don’t feel that this guy has the right to call Paul Ward clueless. To claim that WARD/BMK is toying with his culture. When you make that claim, you’re putting yourself closer to the streets, and asserting that you’re more authentic / more valuable to urban culture. Which might be true, but it neglects the reality that your job is to steal original forms of culture, copyright them and sell them back to their producers.

    I don’t know this guy. I’m sure that, as he says so fucking smugly, he’s a ‘very nice person who loves his mum’. I just feel like we’re watching this public spectacle of two dicks on stage. and the one dick is pointing at the one with the branded peak and saying ‘look at this dick’, and I’m thinking,
    ‘well uhhh, yeah, but… I don’t know if you’ve noticed….’

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  22. Roger Young says:

    @Chris

    The real question in the end is, how do you monetize working in street culture authentically and responsibly? How do you put money on the table if you’re a graf artist or a b-boy or whatever, in a way that doesn’t access corporate sponsorship money?

    Dick swinging happens in all disciplines. King Adz is making a distinction, which is that he TRIES to act responsibly when he liase’s between brands and street culture and he TRIES to act responsibly when he has a project of his own. By asserting that he will have to eventually do good, (I believe) it’s a tacit admission that he does not always succeed. I think what he is trying to say is that certain social photography bloggers do not have that level of awareness. Yes, it’s dick swinging, but I think it’s a valid point whether you buy King Adz authenticity or not.

    There are many different levels to this whole game. As we rely on advertising to survive at Mahala, we often encounter similar ethical challenges. For that reason this interview was interesting for me because it highlighted, as you have discovered, and as pointed out by King Adz, that street culture, and the reporting of it, is fraught with a kind of monetized Heisenberg principle.

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  23. Africa is a Country says:

    On these cultural “middlemen” who “travel the world in search of burgeoning new subculture practitioners and liaises between them and brands” I’d suggest reading Chiefboima’s take on the politics here: http://bit.ly/u8ltyo

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  24. Roger Young says:

    Hmmm.

    But that last para?

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  25. Gobikowski says:

    @ Chris, chill out bro, grab a cold one or spank the Arch or something, read a little more broaden your mind and then you will see the genius of the Bangkok artist who stick stuff on his hair rather than the hole (u seriously need to stop doing that, every time we are together it feels like i am swimming in an ocean). Non-commentary is perhaps the best commentary!

    @ Roger Young, Right on brother man, Illicit vices virtuoso, unclothed genius of the seven ill-morals.

    @ Creepy ;) Can you feel me man, telepathically loving you through this wicked universe, tripping for love….love…love…..love…..

    Yours truly forever truly
    The Lagos connection aka Urbzoid the Glutton aka Gregory Sleaze!

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  26. whitey with suicide mac says:

    i’m gonna re-post this article on fb
    it will be my first re=post
    not because it will make me feel cool
    luckily i’m too old for that
    but because it inspired me to make better work.

    he did that, this king adz cat
    and although i agree with chris
    the reality is on some level we all sell out
    intention is what counts.

    my favourite line …

    If you force something you just shit your pants.

    brilliant!

    its just a pity that shit smells like money
    and feeds the kids .

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  27. whitey with suicide mac says:

    ok fuck

    how do i share it on facebook ?

    now i feel like a knob

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  28. luke says:

    This interview was a really good read and I often don’t. The comments just piss me off

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