Growing up I’ve been in love with two things: anime & hiphop.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been infatuated with cartoons. Not quite anime at the time, but as a kid I was on the couch at 7:59 AM pronto every Saturday morning. From X-Men to Mega Man to (don’t even get me started on) Jackie Chan Adventures, I was all about it. It’s obvious to say it wasn’t too soon after that I found anime through Pokemon. Thereafter, it became my life. I discovered Naruto, Bleach, and a whole slew of others. So much so that I even went and got a subscription to Shonen Jump, a serialized manga magazine that both introduced me to manga and furthered my love for anime. (Which might be the most consistent reading I’ve done to date!). From there, I was in too deep. There was even once a time on a hot summer day where I had spilled a full cherry slurpee all over myself while watching Bleach, but kept watching cause the episode was too intense. I wasn’t even mad though. For a young awkward middle schooler, anime was an escape. Needless to say I was obsessed. I mean, what could possible top all that?
“Yo dude you got beats?”
It was sometime after I turned sixteen that I was first exposed to hip hop through the form of B-Boying. Like most people witnessing the dance for the first time, I was awestruck. People could move like that?! I knew I had to learn, I had to know what it was all about. Shortly after, I too was doing it — dancing, and enjoying the hell out of it. I found a sense of freedom that came with the ability to express myself through music. And again, I was diving head-first down the rabbit hole, just as I had done with anime. As I dug up new music to move to, to my surprise, what I actually found was old music; hip hop classics. From Made You Look, I found Nas, from Nas to Jay-Z, Jay-Z to Biggie, Biggie to ‘Pac. I had myself a direct-download binge. For a young awkward high schooler, hiphop was empowering.
It was freshmen year in college when I met HAMM LIANG. A fellow B-Boy and even bigger anime fan; us and some friends got down breaking between and after classes near everyday. I can’t remember when, but at some point I had a peek into his sketchbook. An aspiring manga artist, the kid was a natural. He just has a way with a pencil.
Only in our second collection currently, STEADY is still very young, therefore, we strongly value and understand the importance on building ourselves up first. Especially before trying to work with others. However, when given the idea to collaborate with HAMM came up, we had little reservations because it just made sense. We believe collaborations are amazing things. With the right people, collaboration allows for pieces — things to be created that are far greater than what could be done individually. Kinda like going Super Saiyan you know? (anime pun just this one time!). It’s with this understanding of collaboration that motivated us to want to do something really out of the box. Something that no one has seen before. Something like…anime meets hiphop.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G and Nas’ debut albums; Ready To Die and Illmatic; respectively, we crafted two pieces as an ode to their success. Though two things seemingly galaxies apart, we found that they (anime and hiphop) fell on common ground. Distinctly, in their characteristics. Like Naruto, Ichigo, Monkey D. Luffy the protagonists; arguably some of the most popular names in anime, they, Biggie and Nas alike have been OVERLOOKED.
Prevalent in anime, characters like Naruto are constantly challenged when in pursuit of their dreams. Told they’re not good enough, peers and society consistently mock their capabilities. While Biggie and Nas were never necessarily challenged in the same fashion directly, they faced similar struggles. As youth coming from disenfranchised, violence-torn neighborhoods, society didn’t paint them as much. They were seen and expected to become nothing more than products of their environments. Their talents were stigmatized. Of course as history would unfold, they proved them wrong.
The STEADY X HAMM LIANG collaboration is a tribute to their struggle.
It’s a celebration of their success.
A dedication to those who told you you wouldn’t amount to nothing.
A stance, cause when you attack there ain’t an army that can strike back.
It’s a NOTORIOUSLY NASTY,
JUICY STATE OF MIND.
And if you don’t know, now you know.