Planning on watching the Grammys tonight? We’re not, even though we do enjoy some of the yearly hijinks that are bound to occur. We’d rather just give our own awards instead.
With a panel full of old, out-of-touch voters who don’t understand what’s really relevant in music today, the Grammys are usually more rigged than a championship boxing match. Who can forget Macklemore beating out Kendrick Lamar for “Best New Artist” and then publicly apologizing for a win that he didn’t deserve in 2014? You’d probably prefer not to recollect Eminem winning “Best Rap Album” for “Recovery,” a putrid, convoluted mess of an album in 2010. Yes, the Grammys are hot garbage.
But we need a way to pay homage to the creators and innovators that make our space in culture special, so here at KicksOneTwo, we do the Street Culture Grammys. They may not come with the same amount of prestige as the regular Grammys, but we can promise you two things: they’re not rigged, and the winners are truly deserving of their titles each and every year (you can check out 2017’s winners here if you’re so inclined).
So let’s get right into it. Here’s 5 folks that shaped our culture in 2017, and are primed to continue influencing and enhancing it in the years moving forwards.
Underdog Of The Year: Alex James, Pleasures
Alex James’s Pleasures, an off-the-wall LA based label inspired by grunge, metal, punk, and all things 80’s 90’s alt-culture has been around since 2015, but took off like a rocket in 2017 due to its raw and honest DIY aesthetic. James has came under fire for his provocative imagery and bold graphics in the past, but the former Publish designer is simply being true to his and background and teenage years. Just take a look at the Pleasures Instagram story any day of the week and you’ll see exactly what we mean.
And that honesty resonates with his customers. With successful collabs (Chinatown Market, Grateful Dead), celebrity co-signs (Miguel, Playboy Carti) and one of the most iconic shirts of 2017 (A Girl Is A Gun), James and Pleasures are set for success in 2018 and beyond. The weirdos do always get the last laugh and a Street Culture Grammy after all.
Most “Woke”-Angelo Baque, Awake NY/Baque Creative
2017 was a wild year for Angelo Baque. Stepping down from his longtime role as Brand Director at Supreme in February, Baque launched his own creative agency and doubled down on his long-time personal brand, Awake. Through his new agency Baque Creative, he conceptualized and created the experience for Virgil Abloh and Nike’s “The Ten” launch New York, and also put together an epic pop-up with workshops and lectures at Art Basel in collaboration with Abloh, Heron Preston, and more. On the Awake end, Baque dropped his first extensive collection in the U.S. in several years, and also collaborated with Patta on a pair of tracksuits.
He’s receiving our “woke” Street Culture Grammy not simply because he always has his hand in a dope project or because his brand is called Awake (even though we do appreciate the irony) … it’s simply because he always attempts to educate and inspire instead of simply jam product down the customer’s throat with his curated pop-ups and experiences. In a world where it’s more commonplace to hoard your knowledge and look down your nose in mock disgust at those who don’t know what you do instead of sharing your knowledge for the good of the culture, that kind of willingness to educate is extremely rare.
Documentarian Of The Year- Imran Ciesay, Places + Faces
From the film photos to the grainy VHS videos to the rapidly-growing clothing brand and brand new magazines, Places + Faces has become an integral part of street culture, throwing and documenting parties and shows all around the world. Their raw, unfiltered, imperfect aesthetic that makes you feel like you’re in attendance at whatever small club or exotic location they’re at isn’t the slightest bit pretentious, which is fitting seeing as founder Imran Ciesay began his journey simply by showing up at events with his camera and shooting what was going on.
The behind-the-scenes look he provides is integral to the culture, and doesn’t offer the same “here today, gone tomorrow” too-cool-for-school aesthetic that many current photographers pride themselves on. We’ll likely be looking back on the content Places + Faces created a decade from now reminiscing about the “good old days,” just like we do with 90’s hip-hop photographs now and that alone is enough to secure a Street Culture Grammy for Ciesay.
Lifetime Achievement Award-Gary Warnett, Gwarizm.
A moment of silence for the Lifetime Achievement Award, please. Who else could it go to but the legendary, dearly departed Gary Warnett? His blog Gwarizm was a treasure trove of obscure knowledge, great stories and humorous quips … and his joy in sharing what he’d discovered and knew was palpable, as was his thirst for even more knowledge.
He was a voice of reason and a true scholar: someone who loved street culture for its rich stories in an era where those stories need to be told and preserved more than ever. We’ll forever remember Gary as lameaphobic (one of his catchphrases), and we’ll do our damnedest to carry on and teach others, just like he taught us. He’ll be missed tremendously.
Man Of The Year- Virgil Abloh, OFF-WHITE
Who else but Virgil Abloh could receive the “Man Of The Year” Street Culture Grammy? In a year ruled by hype, co-signs, and collaborations, nobody was able to generate all three like Abloh … and he also proved that he had the design chops to back the massive amount of hype behind his products, both in-line and collaborative up. From working with Champion to Jimmy Choo to Timberland and Rimowa, from his now-legendary industrial belts, to Lil Yachty, Bella Hadid, Heron Preston and dozens more artists, influencers and creatives rocking his designs, Virgil had his hand on the pulse of everything cool in 2017 and we didn’t even mention his biggest collaboration of them all yet: Nike.
Abloh and Nike’s “The Ten collection,” made up of 10 silhouettes both new and iconic shook streetwear and sneaker culture to its very core, and re-defined what a collaboration could be. In the past, collaborators would pick colors and materials, think of some interesting packaging and a humorous story and call it a day. Abloh refined what a sneaker collaboration could be and do, delicately stripping down and deconstructing ten shoes to their bare minimum before rebuilding them once again. We’d never seen anything like it before, and we likely never will again, which is why Abloh was a shoo-in for his Street Culture Grammy. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to accept and respect the impact he had on our culture in 2017.
Who’s Street Culture Grammy win is the most deserved on this list? Would you assign any of the awards to anyone else? What’s another category you’d create for next year’s edition? Sound off in the comments or hit us up and let us know on Twitter!