Gazelles, Bubble Fat Goose Down Jackets, Kangol hats, fat gold ropes, suede Pumas, Sheep skin jackets and lumberjack hats. These days the following words something of a cliché among the youth for the simple fact that they have likely heard the words so much, but what you know about that? These are the fashion accessories that dominated the early 80's would then be interpreted by such Hip-Hop elites as Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Kool G. Rap and LL Cool J, who then spread that street flavor to the four corners of the globe.
However, this writer, as well as others who came of age in the inner cities of the northeastern United States during the 80's, can recall a time when these fashion flavors were reserved only for the street elite; street hustlers, boxers, gamblers, pimps and drug dealers. These were the heroes of the impoverished during a time in which Reaganomics reigned supreme. New York City was a far different place back then, a time in which abandoned buildings littered the landscape and the police presence in the communities was barely noticeable.
This is the era that AlbeeSqaure87's Memories of Medina was created in remembrance of. Initially created by Professor Q as an Instagram a time capsule to explain the old New York City to the new school crew of hip-hop aficionados who are unwise in the ways of those who paved the way, and ignorant of what it was truly like growing up during the cocaine 80's, it has transcended the digital world and become an artistic entity.
The exhibit is produced by The Shadow League's Rhett Butler and this night's happening was hosted by Just Blaze.
The Shadow League was in the building at Brooklyn’s Bishop on Bedford Gallery for a night of memories inspired by the photographs on the way, the vibes in the air and the music supplied by DJ S1 of WBLS on the wheels of steel.
Titled “Albee Square 87: Memory Lane in Medina”, the art exhibit will be divided into eight sections focusing on the life and times of the era; Beam Me Up, which deals with the crack epidemic that wracked communities, In the Park explores how public spaces were Hip-Hop’s early incubator, If Looks Can Kill sparks memories of young teen shoplifters, aka boosters, being instrumental in spreading certain fashion trends, Honor Among Thieves highlights urban subcultures that evolved as means for survival among the youth, Fallen Soldiers and Incarcerated Scarfaces is a pictorial journey dedicated to the misrepresented, demonized and forgotten. Each 1 Teach 1 examines street mentorship in the 80's, Am I My Brother’s Keeper harkens to a time street allegiance and how fashion help solidify certain sets, and My House is dedicated to Albee Square Mall, where the very idea of Hip-Hop fashion exceptionalism was born.
This particular VIP happening was just a precursor, but Memory Lane in Medina opens to the public on Friday, June 26 at The Bishop Gallery in BK at 916 Bedford Ave.
Check out the video full of images that will take you back to a world that was less complicated yet more visceral. Also, listen to Professor Q explain the significance of it all.