With internet voices still chewing over the succession of events that began with the departure of the Shier-led Blueprint team (including the ill-judged Canadian re-launch, complete with re-used, but hopelessly out-of-context Magee imagery, Hitler's disappointment in the whole thing, and the launch of Isle Skateboards) - lets eulogise the Blueprint we knew.... via a top 5.
.... but not just any old top 5, oh no. Back in the day, before their vids became unfairly associated with middle-of-the-road indie, Blueprint were rap as hell. Waiting for the World (2000) marked a transition point from rap Blueprint to a more widely accessible indie Blueprint, but that vid still layered on dopeness with a thick old trowel - especially the use of that bonafide banger of an OC track. Blueprint's pre-2000 freshness was consistent with an aesthetic that channelled the mix of architectural imagery, conspiracy theories, and blatant rap references, that may seem a bit ill-judged in retrospect, but conveyed the requisite audacity for a new company on the up at that point in time.
So, in no particular order - please find below 5 of the OG Blueprint's dopest moments:
Mark Baines: Mixed Media (1996)
In an interview in Sidewalk some years back, Magee voiced regret over choosing a song about 'the streets of New York' (by Kool G Rap and DJ Polo) for a kid from Worksop. However, at the time it blew my sock off.... flowing street lines in some brutalist, Orwellian looking spots (heavy MK and Shell Centre usage in videos of that era), with a song that was full of swagger and self-assurance. It captured the UK's rising fascination with all things US east coast - pre-dating 1998's classic Mixtape - and was certainly a track I played in my head whilst skating round Sainsbury's car park in Beeston.
As well as super popped flat-land and on-point ledge tricks, many of them switch, Baines knew how to throw a mid/late-90s outfit together - baggy ass Droors jeans plus a bucket hat, a look that Lucien Clarke and other Palace dudes have been working hard to bring back, provoking enthusiasm from US commentators.
Colin Kennedy: Waiting for the World (2000)
"You lack the minerals and vitamins..." This remains one of my all time favourite sections, and not just for the inspired song choice (OC, 'Time's Up'). How the hell did a white Scottish guy, with a funny shaped head and a penchant for knitwear, bang out a section at least as dope as a brace of sections from Chocolate, Aesthetics or Zoo skaters from the same era? Impeccable switch skills, amazing trick execution, and a contender for the best switch heel ever performed is why (complete with backward looking 'this IS switch, motherfuckers' steez).
This section isn't on Youtube, but is on Mpora.... re-watch it then go and try and perform an all-switch line with just 2% of CK's perfection: http://mpora.com/videos/AAd8uo1hbttc
You might increase that to 25% if you play this in your head while you're doing it:
Rob Selley: Anthems (1998)
Again, awesome track choice (Camp Lo, 'Luchini'), and one of my favourite ledge heavy sections of all time (whilst CK is more of an all rounder). Seriously, much of this still stands up today - switch flip 5.0 shove-its, switch backside nosegrind reverts in lines, get me? Also no reference to Selley is complete without noting the Addidas Superstar devotion. Wish I was able to skate in shell-toes, then I'd purchase a baggy-ass pair of brown chords and an XXL white polo shirt to go with 'em to try and revive that sartorial combination (a high water mark of mid/late 90s preppy freshness).
He may have legendary status these days, but Selley was an opinion-splitter back in the day - allegedly a certain Anti-Hero loving emporium, either Ideal, Wisdom or Fleapit (depending on the teller) had a picture of a yo grinding Bobbie G on their dart board. If you plan to embark on a day full of ledges, its highly recommended that you watch this to amp yourself up beforehand - again, not on Youtube, but on Mpora: http://mpora.com/videos/HaOTZ8H1L
However, the original vid for Camp Lo's 'Luchini' is on Youtube... what.
Chewy Cannon: Lost and Found
Of the younger generation of Blueprint guys, Chewy was always the standout for me - ledge tech with Busenitz-like speed and Quim Cardonna-like looseness. Although I would have obviously dug this section more with a Wu-Tang instrumental, the whimsical pop tune works well with Chewy's carefree approach. Some of the lines are next level (the switch Ollie then nollie full cab at the start of the section, then the switch Ollie and switch backside flip line at the Palma de Mallorca plaza mid-way through both stand out) whilst you can really see the roots from Selley's earlier stuff in his trick selection: both are fans of a sneaky, mid-line switch basckside nosegrind revert for example.
The Build and Destroy Promo (1998/9)
And finally, the Build & Destroy promo - which was originally tacked on the end of Neil Chester's excellent Sheffield-centric indie vid 'Through the Eyes of Ruby', having previously been produced for a 411 industry profile that never came to pass. The start is amazing - the rain and thunder, the sub-Silverstar graphics and then the banging Alpha Prime track comes in (Misanthropic). People often refer to a couple of Shier's lines in this as the dopest things ever filmed on British soil - but I dig the
Scottish contingent in this (Col Kennedy again, and John Rattray's Southbank frontblunt ender). CK's bit wouldn't have looked out of place after Jeff Pang's section in Mixtape (love the frontside Ollie out of the wheelchair ramp over the railing... Pang as hell) and a solid announcement of Scott Palmer's arrival.... "I tried to be doooope." (with strong South Yorkshire/North Lincolnshire accent).