Welcome to the 2010 Come Up Show Holiday Gift Guide! People seem to be a little too comfy with giving gift certificates these days. It’s not that we’re hating on those convenient little plastic cards, because admittedly it is kinda cool being able to saunter out and buy whatever didn’t make it into your stocking. But there is nothing like giving the perfect gift, just as there is nothing like getting one.
So in the name of putting the squeal of excitement back in the holiday season, we’ve put together a list of certified Come Up Show holiday swag. This stuff is so awesome you might be tempted to keep this year’s presents for yourself. – Kara-Lis Coverdale
If the year of 2010 doesn’t belong to Kanye West, it is most certainly Jay-Z’s. Decoded is the self-written story of hip-hop’s most successful entrepreneur’s rise to the top, starting as far back as he can recall in the Marcy projects of New York City, and unfolding how his many–and there are many– fall backs and failures have lead to successes with perserverance and dedication. Jay tells his life story as a hustla through his lyrics, hence the title of the book Decoded, which reveals a wealth of information about not only his struggle, but how his own work is influenced by hip-hop music and culture, and in turn, how he has contributed back to it. A must read not only for Jay-Z fans but for those interested in what makes hip-hop culture tick. Available at www.amazon.ca.$23.
The Lacoste x Stones Throw Legends/Chevel men’s sneakers are gorgeous. There is a value of tradition and quality in both what Lacoste and Stones Throw stand for, and Peanut Butter Wolf, the designer, has taken those values and mashed them up one hell of a sexy shoe. As described on the Stones Throw site, the sneaker is “full grain leather upper with textile detailing- a tongue crafted from petit pique cotton, incorporating a woven Lacoste-branded tab finished with a mother-of-pearl button, referencing the intricate detailing found on the L.12.12. Polo.” That description sounds as good as these photo looks. Available at www.stonesthrow.com. $Upon Request.
Last September, Rob Walker of The New York Times said “I have seen the future of rock and roll, and it’s merch.” Merch has always been around, particularly in rock n’ roll cultures. But have Gucci Jackets always been named after rap stars? Naw. This is a 2010 thing. The Gucci x Jay-Z collaboration is only one of the many Jay-Z’s intriguing successes you can decode from the heiroglyphics imprinted on the inside of the Jacket. Released alongside his book Decoded, included above. Available at www.gucci.com.$Cha-ching.
Hip-hop writer Dave Tompkins knows a lot about vocoders. This book is printed beautifully as a coffee table number, but it is also meticulously researched with a wealth of weird, quirky and fascinating information about the interesting ways we have unleashed electronic manipulation on human voice. The story of the vocoder fits into a larger story about technology in popular music and how it has shaped the creative impetus behind some of your favorite records. The story runs a hell of a lot deeper than T-Pain and Cher’s “Believe.” Believe me. Available at www.amazon.ca. $26.
With songs like “Is It Because I’m Black” and “I’m Talking about Freedom”, Syl Johnson articulated the pains and frustrations of black social problems and communities in the 1970s. Syl’s sounds of hope, change, and empathy have been carried forward in samples by almost everyone in hip-hop, but now you can enjoy his entire discography in full and in the raw, along with essays and photos that give historical weight to his songs. Often overlooked due to the topical content of his songs, Syl was also an extraordinary song writer and producer. Available at www.amazon.ca. $73.
Michael Jackson’s career really took off when the MTV network first came through in the ’80s. Jackson’s music alone had already assured him the title as one of the most influential pop musicians of all time, but he truly became an entertainment icon when he began releasing highly artistic videos– short films in actuality– to accompany his hits. Spanned over three discs, this is the definitive collection of these game changing visuals. Available at www.amazon.ca.$45.
It’s fair to say rap stars mostly drink bubbly (crystal) or cognac. Which cognac you choose is a political decision in the rap game, because what you drink depends on who you roll with. If you want to link yourself to the RZA, or more recently T.I., then go with the Remy. If you’re more a Mobb Deep or more recently Kanye West, then go with the Hennessy. Decisions, decisions. Available at your local LB. $90/$60.
If you like feeling your bass, like literally feeling it deep in your chest, then you’ll probably love these slick phones from Dr. Dre and Monster. The cushy pads not only block out all extermal noise, but massage your temples while you zone out in sound euphoria. It’s better than therapy. Buds are also available, although they offer less motion in your ocean. Available at www.futureshop.ca. $350.
Adam Bradley studies rap lyrics as his full time job. This is his second work, which has taken over eight years to transcribe and compile. It is a follow up to his his first book called Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of hip-hop.The Anthology of Rap is both a comprehensive account of Rap’s literary techniques and how those techniques play into, say, the difference between East Coast New York flow and Southern Atlanta flow. If you want to be able to describe in words the differences in flow you can already hear, then this may be the bible you’ve been looking for. Available at www.chapters.indigo.ca. $23.
Even though they make custom pieces, you know a goodwood when you see it, like around the necks of Mos Def, 9th Wonder, Erykah Badu, and on and on. Besides the fact they’re rad as hell, there is no guilty conscience about Sierra Leone here since these pieces are made entirely from wood. It’s the organic bling of a new era. Available at www.goodwoodnyc.com$15.
Flud is sorta the god of urban watch makers. They have various styles apart from these turntables, including a boombox! Unfortunately the tone arm doesn’t move. Available at www.fludwatches.com. $70.
Def Jam Rapstar is the Rock Band of Rap. Do you think rapping looks easy? Or better yet, know someone who thinks it is? Give that sucka one of the the most humbling experiences of their life and let them try to spit out rhymes from Nas, Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, and Twista. You can also film their … um… attempts. Could get hilarious. Available at www.bestbuy.ca. $60.
All you need is one mic. And it’s the legendary Shure SM58. Tried, tested, and dope in live performance and studio recording, the SM58 is tough as nails (though I’m not sure I’d recommend throwing it around on stage) yet remains sensitive enough for capturing the slightest whisper. At least, of course, the slightest whisper a dynamic mic can hear. Available at www.long-mcquade.com. $120.
Impress your guests and bust out your favorite Prodigy quotes while serving organic raspberry salad. Gama Go also makes a series of pan flippers shaped like guitars, coasters that look like records, and cassette tape measures. Available at www.gama-go.com. $12.
Kanye West’s kick ass new record, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is poised to be the record of the year. THE record, not only just the HIP-HOP record. It has never happened before in the history of music that a hip-hop record has garnered this much attention across the boards. So get on the history bus. That aside, the CD packaging is being hailed as a modern work of art in itself, featuring prints of George Condo’s original MBDTF paintings that reflect Kanye’s obsession with high art and fashion. Available at www.amazon.ca. $13.
In case you’re not familiar with the 33 1/3 series from Continuum, the concept is to provide in depth acounts of some of the more influential, and dare I say canonic, records in music history. Been-around music critic Christopher R. Weingarten throws down some big research in this small book (all releases from this series are about the size of your palm) that delves into the essence of what he calls “the greatest anti-government record ever made.” A must read for those interested in political oriented hip-hop. Available at www.chapters.indigo.ca. $11.
Wes Williams, better known to most Canadians as Maestro, was the first to ever do it big in Canadian hip-hop. He essentially laid the foundation for artists like Classified, Saukrates, Shad and Drake. While he is still making music and performing today, Williams also spens a bulk of his time giving talks, visiting Universities, and writing. Using his own career as a guide, Stick To Your Vision is Maestro’s guide to getting where you want to be. Available at www.amazon.ca. $16.
Battery powered and fitted with a small speaker and a carrying strap, Crosley’s Revolution record player is as portable as it gets, perfect for toting along on trips to the record shop. It may not be as rad as the Fisher Price ones old school DJ’s used to lug around (how tough, eh?) but this is a pretty convenient alternative. It can connect wirelessly via FM with a stereo, and also has a USB output for analog-to-digital transfer. Available at www.urbanoutfitters.com.$180.
Turntables are an essential for any serious hip-hop musician and fan. They are also great for just spinning records and getting your audiophile on now that CD’s are soon dead and gone (yay!). Speaking of the audiophile imperative, The Panasonic Technics 1200 will sound better than your laptop tinners, but Technics came to be not the most iconic of turntables not because of its sound quality but because of its durability. The Technics was the safest investment for club owners whose visiting DJ’s tend to have a lot of beer, coke, and cigarettes flying around club set-ups. For this reason, every working DJ knows how to use one. As common as they are though, they may soon become a collectors item Panasonic recently announced they are discontinuing the line due to lack of demand and the difficulty of sourcing analog components needed to assemble them. I have a feeling it will still be available for a while. Available at www.axemusic.com. $550.
Canuck Luke Owerko has a crazy obsession with boomboxes. In his TriBeCa studio in NYC, he has dozens of machines wrapped lovingly in bubblewrap that he has collected from all over the world in fleamarkets and on ebay. The photography of these well aged beauties in this book is stunning–the metal on these machines alone is something to appreciate– and there is commentary from artists like LL Cool J, members of the Beastie Boys, and the Fugees about the role these boxes played in New York’s street culture from the late 1970s to the mid-’80s. Available at www.amazon.ca.$19.
These little babies are for those who still rock the speakerless ipod. Chances are that person harbors a certain nostalgia for the classic ipod turnwheel, which is fast becoming a throwback technology now that touch screens are multiplying. Long live the retro, right? Equally as likely, then, is the chance they’d get a kick out of these little boom boxes. Always useful for whenever a cypher breaks out. Cop the Boombox Project as a side gift and they’ll be able to name which model number it is. Available at www.urbanoutfitters.com.$18.
The Come Up Show is first and foremost about rocking out to Canadian hip-hop and making a name for ourselves on the rap map. But doing so takes a village and requires support. It’s cool to get down with someone else’s hometown as this is half the fun of hip-hop. But don’t forget: first and foremost, always rep your own. Available at www.hiphopcanada.com. $35.
Back just in time for the holiday season is the official Come Up Show hoodie. Those who have rocked CUS swag in the past have been known to reach unimaginable heights of cool by becoming not only Canadian hip-hop authorites but conversation starters. Tailor your order in Black, Red, White, Navy Blue, and Grey in S/M/L. Available via email@example.com. $30.