Essential Rock 'n' Roll Fashion # 328: The Fat Gold Chain
It's 1984. The Hip-Hop bug has bitten you like a 10 pound cockroach. You've been honing your beat-boxing skillz all week, and your Mum's pissed 'cos you cut a piece of her living room carpet out so you could practise breakin' in the park. You've got a boom-box the size of a Shetland pony, and you're rockin' a fly box-fresh pair of Adidas Gazelles. And yet, despite all this, something's still missing...you're hangin' round the Arndale Centre droppin' some bad (that's bad meaning good, not bad meaning bad) lyrics in the cipher, your graf is on some next level shit, but you still ain't gettin' the props you so clearly deserve. Then it suddenly dawns on you. It don't matter what sort of game you got...if you don't got a Fat Gold Chain. The mighty Run-DMC, pictured here, knew the power of the Fat Gold Chain. This ain't no ordinary bling. This is a huge gold rope around your neck that says: "I'm takin' care of business."
To understand the history of the Fat Gold Chain (or 'Dookie' rope chain), we gotta go back, way back, to the days of Hot Buttered Soul. That's right, we're talkin' Issac Hayes, BLACK MOSES, who was known to 'floss' not just a single Fat Gold Chain, but an entire suit made of 'em. Well, not really a suit. But he wore a bunch of 'em, wrapped round his naked torso like a glittering string vest. Check his performance at Wattstax ("THE BLACK WOODSTOCK") in 1972: here's a dude who knows what's happenin'. For Isaac, the gold chain string vest was a symbol of black power, of in-your-face masculinity. It says: I SHALL FUNK YOUR WORLD.
So when yer back-in-the-day Hip-Hop legends were lookin' to bring some of that ol' funk flava to their style, the Black Moses approved Fat Gold Chain was an obvious accompaniment to a pair of shell-toes and a Kangol hat. The Fat Gold Chain became a status symbol, a statement of wealth, success, of how far you've come in The Game. It says: "I'm getting real paid." Widely popularised by the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and Kurtis Blow, and with the look perfected by Run- DMC, in the mid 80s you weren't shit if you weren't rocking a 'dookie' rope chain.
The Fat Gold Chain has become synonymous with a more innocent age, of simpler Hip-Hop times, before shootings, gangsta rap, crack and big money dragged it into a darker place. Consequently The Fat Gold Chain is an item remembered fondly, evoked in lyrics by many contemporary rappers with an air of wistful nostalgia. Modern bling culture may have produced some wonderful accessories (Ghostface Killer's Golden Eagle amulet springs instantly to mind), but the definitive, original piece of Hip-Hop bling, shall forever be The Fat Gold Chain.
"fascinated by gold rope chains
looking back at my hood days
but things ain't changed." - Nas, 'Kids In The PJs'
George 'Shadow' Morton: The Trash Pop King Of New York
George 'Shadow' Morton:
This guy wrote wrote & produced, among other melodramatic teen-pop masterpieces, 'Walking In The Sand' and 'Leader Of The Pack' by The Shangri-Las. 'Leader Of The Pack' - featuring talky gossipy girl bits, motorcycle sound effects bits and lasting 2:53 minutes is: The Perfect Pop Song. Then the other day I learnt that he produced proto-heavy rock combo Vanilla Fudge's first two LPs, including their insane hammond powered psyche-soul version of 'You Keep Me Hanging On', and even though Der Fudge couldn't write a decent tune for toffee, I've always thought their SOUND was just incredible, massive drums, loadsa overdriven organ, fuzz guitar, I mean, it's like a PASTICHE of that sorta sound almost, it's a huge, OTT sound, and when I learnt 'Shadow' Morton was the architect of this sound I was like "Oh, MAN! This guy's A TOTAL GENIUS! Of COURSE he produced the first two Vanilla Fudge LPs! The Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge! WHAT ELSE DID HE DO?" Then I wikipedia the guy and find he produced 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' by Iron Butterfly! OF COURSE HE DID! I mean, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is pretty much the shlockiest, dirgiest hunk of boneheaded hippyspoiltation psychedelia ever produced, even more so than der Fudge, I mean it's like, what, 17 minutes long or whatever, BUT - like Der Fudge's 'You Keep Me Hanging On' and 'Leader Of The Pack' - it is Pure A1 High Trash of the finest quality, has that ace, if incredibly over-repeated riff, and has earnt a special place in American Pop Culture. Then I read on a bit further and it turns out he produced THE SECOND NEW YORK DOLLS RECORD! Which, to be fair, pretty much sucked. But that wasn't George's fault. And producing The New York Dolls even if the album sucked is still really cool. George 'Shadow' Morton is The King Of The Really Great / Dead Trashy American Pop Record! AND his name is SHADOW MORTON! The COOLEST name EVER! I'm gonna start a Shangri-Las meets Vanilla Fudge garage-soul band and call 'em The Shadow Mortons! "THEY'RE LIKE THE SHANGR-LA'S...ON ACID!" I'd go and see a Shangri-Las meets Vanilla Fudge band called The Shadow Mortons! Wouldn't you?