Thursday, 29 November 2007

Its Sideways for a Reason

On Brick Lane, Where I live, The creative soul clashes with stock market traders.

Raise It Up

When it comes to the delicious in between-meals-snacks that Off Tha Cuff has been serving up for your momentary auditory pleasure, Detroit City has been the narrative thread holding it all together. So what better way than to round off november with this classic joint of the week from S-to-the-V.

This had everybody geeked back in 2000, and still puts any dance on smash. R.I.P J-Dilla, keeping the eargasm alive from beyond the grave.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

You Scratch My Back...And I'll Sell Your Kicks...

There may be a divide between those who seek to collect because trainers are their passion, and those to whom kicks are just another part of a multi-faceted hunger for materialism, and subsequent source of exhibiting their individualism. However, in the collaboration, there may be room for common ground. While some may cite the pairing of time-honored sneaker manufacturers with more underground urban labels as a misuse of traditional branding, its clear design collaborations such as the pictured Puma Clyde hi and ALIFE are mutually rewarding. This was highlighted by SneakerFreaker magazine, issue 10, on reviewing the cultural significance of the release of the Nike Supreme SB Dunk lo. "Nike seek to give their product cachet, but it was teaming up with Supreme that the SB Dunk hit the jackpot. Nike's power enables Supreme to produce high quality shoes. Supremes relatively underground/uber cool status gave the project the cultural cachet it needed." What this offers the consumer, is a kind of no strings attached affiliation with the product, an open relationship of sorts. The collaboration proposes to us the opportunity to feel comfortable with a brand we know, yet the borrowing of more cutting edge design allows us a brief flirting with exclusivity and individualism, without the 'commitment' required of a classic shoe. And it is the way in which these collaborations benefit both design parties that might seek to reconcile the hardcore collectors with the part time admirers. The afore mentioned can be geeked on every stitch of detail, while the latter can buy into a slice of sub-culture. Reflection on what design and any collaborations that may be birthed from it is no better summed up by Kosaka and Hommyo of UBIQ. "(collaboration)is one of the best ways to collect the diverse ideas of many different people, but I believe in collaboration when it is part of the creative process." Off Tha Cuff agrees.

Monday, 26 November 2007

I Know What I like, And I Like What I Know

We all love trainers, yet it seems the relationship we have with our kicks is not always enough in the eyes of true sneaker heads. Those that manifest a bond with their footwear seem to fall into two groups. There are those that truly collect, always on a mission to find the next rare edition kicks to tick off their list of personal desire, trawling through piles of deadstock, and who are willing to pay almost any price. Then there are those that recognize the importance of having a fresh pair of shoes in near constant rotation. This second type generally select their styles based on the movements of the industry, always ready to splash the cash on the latest re-issue or new colour way. There is a divide between these two groups, where passion and dedication is often replaced by the fickle nature of trends. Personally, I'm not sure I fall into either of the above categories. I feel I've been around long enough to know which models I like best, and more over, suit my style. I don't care how rare those lo Dunks are, only the hi's make it onto my footwear floor space. There are those that would surely wretch at the idea of my personal collection being made cheifly of Hi top Vandals and Air Max 1's, with a sprinkling of Jordan 1's and the occasional Blazer. The sneaker has become more than a shoe; it's unquestionably a culture. However, it's ascendancy to cult status is as much due to the boundaries of style and design being constantly pushed and prodded, as it is to do with our hunger for rarity and exlusivity. But thats just my opinion. And as Method Man once said, "Opinions are like assholes, everyboddy gotta have one".

The Issues

After coming within close proximity to so many potentially aggravating political topics this week, off the cuff believes it may be time to go back to considering the real issues, like "turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers, but whats the real cost, cos the sneakers dont seem that much cheaper. Why are we still paying so much for sneakers when you've got little kid slaves making them? what are your overheads?"

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The Shemagh

People love wearing these, but do they know anything about what they represent? Vote. I'll give my views later.

OBEY The Neck

I don't hate many things in life. Though I mildly dislike certain aspects and angles of life, even the things that cause me considerable discomfort rarely breed within me to the point of hatred. Today However, I found a new thing that I hate, that somehow had been there all along, breeding among my internal insecurities and fickle falsehoods aquired throughout my breif 23 years on planet Cuff. The thing I hate, is the necks on t-shirts. I hate it when they are too big, when it looks like I'd been trying in vein for hours on end, hopelessly poking my head through the sleeve holes, stretching and contorting the material to get it on, and ending up looking like a 10 year old that's put on his dads t-shirt. When this ridiculous cotton lasso is finally hanging limply around my collarbone, I could just as easily hoola-hoop my way into the rest of it. Whats more frustrating is that shops love to hang the t-shirts on hangers, taking them off, putting them back on, all the time stretching the neck over an over again. I just don't understand it, you wouldn't wear a pair of jeans if the waist had been all stretched out and contorted, so why would you wear a t-shirt that makes you look like you bought it in the wrong size. And if you do want the neck to be a little more snug, you have to buy it in a smaller size that doesn't fit the rest of you. My good friends at Gloria's recently held a party for the release of some of OBEY's exclusive and limited edition products, including some of the American line of new T-shirts. And you know what, they had L and XL sizes with normal sized necks! OBEY t-shirts may now provide a new staple for Off Tha Cuff, so if you like your tee's to fit properly, and have a soft spot for the artistic vision of Shepard Fairey, OBEY's got what you need.

Thursday, 22 November 2007


Alright, back to the shoes. Pictured are the UBIQ Fatimas, a shoe so nice I'm trying to get my hands on a pair as we speak. UBIQ is a Japanese Label, that so far has seemed to remain in the anonymity of my consciousness. In fact, Sneaker Freaker magazine recently called them "an obscurist's delight", when reviewing the release of the all leather version of the Fatimas you see to the left. Obscure is perhaps an over-zealous word I would prefer to replace with subtle, something often associated with the flawless simplicity of Japanese design. The silhouette of the shoe is a perfect marriage between the hi top fatness of a basketball shoe, and the more streamlined retro appeal of a vans or converse model. UBIQ have clearly sampled heavily on many of the elements of a Puma Clyde hi-top on the upper, and Vans Chukka boot on the sole, but like all good sampling, they've made it so much better. Look closely at this particular shoe, and everything works. The colour way is rich and effortless, from the black suede dominating the upper, to the sparingly added stitching, turquoise corduroy detailing on the tongue and heel, and the charcoal grey laces setting it all off. They also have a second layer wrapping around the very top of the upper, that folds down to reveal a check pattern, seen on a couple of this years Air Max 1 releases and a whole load of Stussy garms, and you wouldn't expect anything less from the Japanese than to add at least one element that immaculately appeals to the fashion victim in us all. But that really doesn't detract from what this shoe offers. Not only is it like a Puma Clyde, Chukka boot and Pointer Mathieson all in one, it seems to have taken the best elements from all of them. However, while it might be tempting to keep simplicity at the heart of design, especially when you get it so right, it is worth noting that simplicity can also be the foundation for a more expansive creativity. I would hate to see a shoe this nice begin to start looking like you could pick up a pair at Muji, alongside some equally simple, stylish, yet ultimately boring underwear and office supplies. But for now, these are dope, no question.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


Track of the week- M.E.D. feat J Dilla- 'Push', off Medaphoar's 2005 Stones Throw release, 'Push Comes to Shove'. Yeah there is a Neptunes-ish side to the production but you know what, Dilla did that raw shit better than anyone else.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

How We Grew Down

When I was around 13 years old, I started skateboarding. There were many reasons at the time why I started, but in retrospect I now know that one of them was that I was fortunate enough to live in a suburban environment which gave me every opportunity to express myself in whichever way I felt to. My family was moving up in the world, we had more money, our house was nicer, my school was now private not state, and when I asked for a Skateboard that cost £125, I got one. Every saturday me and my freinds would meet up at each others houses and watch skate-videos of all our favourite skaters, watching their style, the way they dressed, the way they talked, the tricks they pulled off. Afterwards, we would attack the city, board and bones to the concrete. As I got more and more into skating I found my musical tastes being moulded by those skate videos I watched. Hip Hop began to dominate my consciousness, a music that spoke to me about a place I used to know when I was younger, when if I asked for a Skateboard that cost £125 I would not have got one. Skating, and Hip Hop were so influential in my life at that time because they both represented very contrasting yet integral parts of my indentity. When Shawn Stussy began selling T-Shirts along with surf boards around Laguna beach in 1980, he did so at a time that seemed to birth a generation of people hungry for a cohesiveness to their cultural inspirations. As the white middle classes were skating and surfing their way into adulthood, black kids in the ghettos of New York were cultivating a whole culture of their own. While one explored the ideas of individuality and youthful rebellion as part of the gift of freedom, the other, did the same, because that freedom was not gifted. These two cultures were born and growing at opposite ends of the conventional social spectrum, yet thirteen years later when they reached the sunny shores of warm beer, bangers & mash and a council flat, both already seemed woven into the fabric of my consciousness. And I wasn't the only one, there were loads of us. And now we are all grown and getting jobs, but still our jeans sit a little too low, our kicks are still fat with the laces undone, and we can't help but say 'yeah man' instead of 'yes sir'. And sometimes I feel like a kid that hasn't grown up, like I should buy a nice suit and get a real job. But then I put on a Stussy Tee, and remember that we did grow up, just like the Stussy brand did, with hip hop and skating and surfing and Punk, Ronald Reagan and a fresh pair of Jordan 1's, all becoming parallel parts of commentary running through our lives. And what we have grown into is a generation inspired by the artists, musicians, surfers and skaters. We spat at each other, sampled each other, kick flipped a 5-stair on a Saturday afternoon and landed on a united sense of self. Sound like rose-tinted hippie shit? Maybe. If a brand like Stussy is representative of the naivity, idealism and wastefulness of youth, then I suppose nothing changes. But even cynics can make room for a view, what we do is make a room with a view, grind it up, tag the city scape, and make songs for those who wonder where their tax money goes.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Ah, The Battle. The most unquantifiable element. Destructive, creative, tribal, individual, artistic, dividing, uniting, empowering, emasculating, but at its base- genius. The integral contradictions of the most powerful and influential music our ear drums can cope with.

These two flip it on each other every round. Personally I think Math took this one, but only just.

Math vs Iron Solomon, S.M.A.C.K. DVD.

Follow the link to watch and decide for yourself who won.

Reebok Voltron

This is just one of the five new Reebok 'Voltron' edition kicks that make up the Voltron pack, each coming with its individual Voltron Lion. Pictured are the Pumps, arguably one of the only decent Reebok models out of the five. Reebok's re-release of many of the more simple styles in recent years has enabled them to apply the popular nu-rave colour ways to models such as the Ventilator and Racer. For any fan of Bandai or Mecha, this collection will no doubt have them reaching deep already, but I'm just not sure I want my feet to look like they might at any moment transform into a robot. My hands are already up, I'm not an expert when it comes to Voltron, however I'm also not an expert on Thunder Cats or Sesame Street, and thats stuff I did watch as a kid. If they brought out a 'Converse Cookie Monster' shoe I wouldn't cop them just to reminisce on lost youth, I've got drugs and Alcohol for that, plus a mid-life crisis to look forward to. And what am I supposed to do with the toy? hang it from the laces? That way everyone will know I bought the pack. Maybe I could put the special box they come in on my head so nobody can see what a mug I am. Reebok make some nice shoes, especially when they stick to basics, and I'm the first cat you'll see in a fresh pair of all white Exo-Fit Hi's in summertime, but this design collaboration is nearly as bad as when they let 50 cent write G-Unit on their sneakers.

Saturday, 10 November 2007


Got to be my album of the week, feels like I should be hearing it off a tape deck. Kept the vinyl crackle and the soul sample strong but still feels fresh and new. Doesn't cut up a sample like Dilla did but its clear the Motor City is still leading the way when it comes to the nicest production right now. Its good to hear a producer who has actually got some bars too. Black's not a poet but still has enough lyrical ability to carry his beats, although the tracks with Slum Village, Baatin, Phat Kat and Guilty Simpson show how an emcee can really damage his production.

Friday, 9 November 2007


These are the latest addition to my existing collection of 25 pairs of trainers- number 26- The Air Max 1 Premium in Varsity purple and medium grey. The colour way does look a bit bait but trust me, they look fresh on, and the perforated nubuck toe box kills it.

When i bought them, I brought them home and as normal, let them marinate in the box for a few days, I can't bust them out straight away- to a sneaker freak thats like opening the presents under the tree before saying grace on the 25th, its a strange ritual of willpower that I seem to take pleasure in enduring. After a few days I took them out of the box, and placed them alongside the rows of other shoes varying in rarity, colour and style. There's no doubt that I have so many pairs because I love trainers, because I'm materialistic, and because they're all part of forming identity. Its ironic that by trying to stand out from others we buy into brands that seem to represent individuality, yet end up wearing the uniforms of non-conformity. I suppose if i really wanted to be different I should buy shoes made out of Hemp and crafted on a commune in Oregan buy some guy called 'Star' or 'Astro-Belt', but the rain in London doesn't really suit the "I foraged for my footwear" style. My shoes need to be crisp, and sturdy enough to kick a crack head in the teeth if necessary.