When it comes to preserving Hip Hop memorabilia, the flyer has always been on the top of most peoples list of must have’s. For some, it brings back memories of an event that they might have attended, for others it’s simply nostalgia of an era that they never lived or weren’t fortunate enough to experience. Original flyers from the 70s and 80s are highly collectible for various reasons. Of course the line up of DJ’s and performers make them sought after but also and sometimes more import, for the designer that created the flyer that ultimately became a work of art. Notably artists like Lemoin Thompson aka Buddy Esquire (R.I.P.) and Phase 2 are two names that are widely mentioned for their signature styles. Fast forward to the late 80s / early 90s and event flyers have taken on a different look. They’ve gone from single sided sheets of legal sized photocopied paper to a smaller slightly thicker stock, double sided and easy to pocket format. Although different in format, both era’s of flyer making share one common aesthetic, they’re both hand designed, cut & paste works of art done in a pre photoshop time.
As past generations move on and the next moves in, so does the history and memories surrounding it. The 90’s is considered the “golden era” by some, but for others (myself included), it was just a great time to be alive and live it without social media and camera phones, you were either there or you were square. We’re now seeing the resurgence of living that time through books like Rap Tees which focuses on rare promo t-shirts from labels and artists and the recently released No Sleep “NYC Nightlife Flyers 1988-1999”.
As with everything that I collect, there has to be some sort connection or nostalgia attached to it but in the case of flyers, each one is special because they are the original flyers that I received late nights while entering or leaving clubs by the person assigned to promo detail. Each flyer is of parties that I attended, some monumental moments in Hip Hop history that would never happen again in clubs that no longer exist. Things like seeing a young Nasty Nas perform at The Fever for the first time or catching a crew of 9 wild out MC’s on stage that would later re-spark the interest in classic Kung Fu flix inspired by the Shaw Brothers under the name The Wu Tang Clan. From Gangstarr to Biggie Smalls, Showbiz & AG to Mobb Deep I’ve caught some of the best and the worst artists to perform when they were young, hungry, humble and in their prime.
What a time to be alive!