Hip-Hop has always been about ‘the crew’. Whether it was Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation, the Rock Steady Crew breakin’ out of the Bronx or TATS CRU wreckin’ walls- ‘the crew’ is ever present. Being that my work aims to reflect Hip-Hop I started looking for ways to represent my crew (Fat Chance Crew) and also pay homage to one of Hip-Hop’s greatest crews, the Wu.
Wu-Tang has seen a well deserved resurgence over the past few years – the influx of watered down Hip-Pop over the airwaves has left Hip-Hop Heads craving that gritty, real Wu-Tang rap. Even Wu Wear has gotten a second life in the form of Wu-Tang Brand Limited. True fans will tell you they never went no where and that’s a fact- whether aligned or on solo missions our remaining 8 (RIP ODB) dangerous MCs have been releasing quality Hip-Hop since ’92. They have come to embody in many ways the very essence of what Hip-Hop should be.
With the help of my own team, I set out to reflect that essence in a new way through 3 new sneaker masks, all in the signature black and yellow. The first mask was made from Nike Dunk HIs in Black & Maize, a rather slept on pack (I picked them up in Action Red too!), similar in a lot of ways to the legendary 1999 Wu-Tang Dunks. With only 36 pairs made, not even I am villainous enough to chop up grails so holy.
The second pair that I set aside for this tribute/project/shoot was a pair of Spizikes I designed on NIKEiD.com. Any folks familiar with my sneaker collection will tell you I’m a huge fan of NIKEiD so this was overdue in my opinion. The shoes actually waited over a year before they got chopped (With my current workload paying customers take priority so it’s not often I get to tear apart a personal choice). The very first mask made from Spizikes, the ‘Best of’ styling brought together pieces from Jordan 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s without me having to sacrifice multiple pairs. Like most of my work, this mask was made from just a single pair. In the black, white and yellow, I call these my ‘Taxi’zikes’.
Last and certainly not least is the Thunder IV mask which was commissioned by Fresche Lifestyle. The Thunder IVs originally released in 2006 but the retro release in 2012 made this sacrifice much easier. The Air Jordan IVs have been a popular choice for sneakerheads for decades, that definitely crosses over to collectors of my work. The Thunder IV mask is the 3rd mask I’ve made from IVs (the White Cement IVs and Fire Red IVs being the predecessors and the Bred IV and Toro IV masks are on their way – likely to be the last as I’ve decided no more IV masks for a while). This proposed a serious challenge for me: to continue to come up with new ways of transforming such an iconic shoe. As you’ll see the Thunder IV mask is a much different creature from previous IV masks and it is also the first mask to utilize smaller canisters.
The shoot was up in the air for months while I worked on the masks. I knew one thing for sure, I was going to find the old LA Zoo and shoot there. LA Rapper and close friend Zodiak Killa even scouted it out for me, that sealed the deal. It was a busy weekend and a lot of folks who I had hoped could be included in the shoot simply weren’t available, hard to pay tribute to 9 MCs with only 4 models and 3 masks but I was determined to make it happen. (Maybe I’ll be able to continue the series, ending with a total of 9 black & yellow sneaker masks? We’ll see.) Luckily I had the help of 4 good friends. Ladies first, my fiance Betsy VanDeusen was assistant photographer for the day and shot while I donned the Spizike mask. Fellow Fat Chance Crew founder Sebastian Bleak laced up his Thunder IVs and UNDS’d ’em as he modeled the Thunder IV mask. @SHO714 gave life to the Nike Dunk mask, fitting that he be a part of my tribute to the Wu because it’s thanks to him that the 3 masked men from these photos met M-E-T-H-O-D MAN back in March. And if you check out that link you’ll see the homie @MickeyCal who was with us that night and was also a huge help and a part of this shoot.