I'm sure you will have heard of Fats Sarazzi, he has been in the scene for a while. He did a lot of cloth designing for some major hip hop labels and now does a lot of street photography. Read on to find out what he had to say to our reporter Nino…
Where abouts in London did you grow up? How do you think it influenced your personal style and insight into street culture?
Fats Sarazzi: Born in Chiswick, lived in Kensington, Gt Ticthfield St (in the West End), Karachi / Pakistan for four years, then Tufnell Park, North London at the borders of Islington & Camden. I do not really think that any one place influenced a style, it was more a person, and that person being my mother, Jubilee. My mother was in the clothing business… hey wait a minute she is still in the clothing business at 65 and she does not look like quitting. Anyway, I digress… Jubilee was a face about town in the late 60's early 70's, she worked and knew quite a few of the style players in those days. On top of that she was really into her music. I was listening to Miles Davis, Steely Dan & James Brown amongst others from an early age. She travelled all over the place and was always bringing us back gadgets and clothes from all over. All of it was the latest thing that was out. Myself, my sister and brother were a lucky bunch. So if I can be so bold I was born into this thing and have grown up amongst it all my life, so it seems natural and instinctive. I have a lot to thank Jubilee for.
You’ve gained a rep as ‘the Blogfather’ for your words online. For people who haven’t had a chance to check out your stuff, could you describe what your blog is like?
Fats Sarazzi: My Blogs… they are the rants of a madman, the thoughts of an optimist and information into what it is that interests me. Plus a whole host of pictures that of what I have been looking at or places I have been. I have a total of blogs that I have across that Web, two that I own and the rest I am a guest blogger. With all that exposure I reach approximately 100,000 readers a month… which is a lot of people to read the words of an old fool.
Do you think blogging is a huge step forward for hip hop? Do you think it’s given enough props?
Fats Sarazzi: I think blogging is something that does not get taken as seriously as it should. But that is changing slowly and it is always better to go along with small steps than bursting the bubble. In a world where we are driven by ecology and economy, print will get smaller and smaller. As for Hip Hop, there are many great blogs for Hip Hop and I would rather read articles on Hip Hop on line and save my money for the gigs I want to see rather than pay for a magazine that only gives me one opinion, and that magazine costs me a beer, ha ha hah. The other thing is there is no agenda behind most of blogs, it is free from and real expression of opinion. It is Freedom of Speech in real effect.
Any other bloggers out there who you really rate?
Fats Sarazzi: Wow, there are many… for music I really like Twelve Bar's 'A Story To Tell', Nick Jackson really knows his music and gives some amazing detailed accounts of music history that has it's roots in R&B and Hip Hop, Erik Brunetti from LA who owns the Label FUCT, he always has an interesting story to tell. Steven Vogel of Blacklodges in Germany, always an intelligent observation. The famed Dante Ross, now there is a man who lives and breathes Hip Hop. The there is SheOne, a well known UK Graf Artist; he has several blogs, not as many as I, but he is out there and is extremely witty. There are so many… I can go on and on. As for the Big Life Style and Streetculture Blogs… for me, hands down, the big three are Hypebeast, SlamXhype and High Snobeity… they kill it.
Who do you think makes the most out of the UK street scene? Is it actually the breakers and rappers on the street or is it the people at the top who buy into these things without knowing, or caring a great deal about them?
Fats Sarazzi: In the end and sadly it is always the consumer on the mass market, but by the time it hits them it is diluted into what is considered the main stream. This is neither right or wrong, it is just the way it is. But it is always the people on the street that make the changes and it is by doing that they bring about an awareness of style and identity. It is the streets that get and give the inspiration for the people at the top to buy in to this. Sadly in my opinion one cannot exist with out the other. They need us, and we need to be different… we need to express ourselves.
Does fashion influence the hip hop heads or do the hip hop heads influence the fashion?
Fats Sarazzi: Hmmm, that is a chicken and the egg kind of question. If we take Kanye for example he influences fashion, as does my number one stylish man in Hip Hop, Andre 3000. Then there is Snoop. But, if we take the likes of sometime pop side of Hip Hop, they seem to emulate a style that has it's roots in Old School Hip Hop. But, because of the likes of Kanye and Andre, the mainstream Hip Hop artists are changing their appearance, but to suit an image of affluence, that goes beyond the old Ghetto Fabulous of Bad Boy Records, it seems to me to sometimes be all about the status and less about the music.
Where does your interest in fashion stem from?
Fats Sarazzi: All roads lead to mum. It is something that I grew up in and knew the in's and out's by 18. I was working from that age doing window dressing and working on the Kings Road in the mid 80's, then worked for my family for way too long. That is where I got an education and understanding of design and production and all the levels of the Industry. Sometimes I feel like Matt Damon in 'Good Will Hunting' as the Physics did to him, Fashion and The Clothing Business seems natural to me, I understand it and can play the game with my eyes closed. My one failings is I am not ruthless, other wise I would be a millionaire by now, ha hah.
Do you still design clothes?
Fats Sarazzi: No, and no… I have done my time, 22 years in Design, Production and Sales. Now I want to take pictures and consult and advise my clients what is stylish and give them inspiration to aid their design and success.
Something that’s really common in the grime scene at the moment is artists making their own T-shirt lines for self promotion… is that something you think you’ll tap into?
Fats Sarazzi: This is nothing new, and I like anything that comes up from it's roots, but there are many and only a few, say like, Trapstar, can make a business and a success out of it. If I could tell you how many calls I used to get when I did T-shirt production that came from people who had no experience but, '…got this idea for a T-shirt collection and have heard you are the man to talk to…' No. No thank you, let someone else do that. As Cedric the Entertainer said, 'I'm a grown ass man dawg', I have done my time. Having said that, if the right person came along and said lets do a Fatsarazzi T-shirt line, and all I had to do was supply the pictures and they did all the production, selling, chasing etc. and got a royalty fee every quarter, or a nice monthly retainer, or something like that… sure why not. I know the ins and outs of the business so well, I would rather someone else deal with that. Like I said I have done a life time bid in that game already, ha ha hah.
What’s your opinion on the grime scene as a whole?
Fats Sarazzi: I am a novice when it comes to Grime, but I do know the sound and what I have heard I like. It is raw, expressive and fucking definitively ours. It gets you, hits you with pure energy. I like the attitude involved, you can feel an urban heart beating with a lot of passion. I fucking Love it… same raw, real life feeling of Drum & Bass breaking on to the scene years ago.
Do you see grime and hip hop as entirely different genres or do you think grime is just a British progression of hip hop?
Fats Sarazzi: We love to label don't we ha ha hah. I say it is what it is. It is more than progression it is an evolution of interpretation and individual expression inspired by the sounds, the beats around you.
Do you prefer more old school break fashion as apposed to the common mainstream gangster look we’ve got these days?
Fats Sarazzi: Absolutely, it was less calculated and unaffiliated with the Gangster Style of today. And today we are in the middle of urban culture and style that is inspired by the Old School and long may it continue… look at Cool Kids you have to love that old style brought up to date.
I noticed you’ve got some shots with ‘Not Bad For A Girl’ designs. Do you think women have enough say when it comes to designing womens’ fashion in hip hop?
Fats Sarazzi: No, not enough, but NBFAG is not alone these days, we have a lot more girls out there pushing their product and it is growing. Along side NBFAG you have Married To The Mob, Hellz Bellz, and the Lovely Kesh and Carrie Mundane doing things their way, but still have their roots in urban culture and Hip Hop. But lets face it, the mainstream lady of Hip Hop wants to look more like Beyonce, than an up to date version or Mary J in her 'Whats The 411’ days.
As somebody who has been a part of the scene for a long time, how do you think the misogyny and general attitude towards women in the hip hop scene has changed? Has it got worse? Will it get worse?
Fats Sarazzi: I have never been a big fan of referring to my lady as my bitch and the like, and I really do not like the way woman are portrayed in Hip Hop videos etc. That sadly is the old machismo showing through. But as long as we have girls playing that tune in the videos in the clubs that is how they will be, as that is what is put up in front of them on the daily and that is considered the norm. But as I have mentioned we have icons like Mary J that show a way out and a stylish alternative. Oh God, let me just say it, yes I am in love with Mary J, who in their right mind would not be. She is what a Hip Hop Diva should be about. She has been someone's bitch and has been taken to the brink, and bounced back in full control. Fucking A to that, she is what the change in Hip Hop for women is about and let there be more and more like her.
How influential do you think dancers, i.e. breakers and krumpers are on street fashion? Do you think they’re given enough cred?
Fats Sarazzi: They are as important as the music. They are part of the same energy and attitude. They have not been given enough credit, but slowly you see movies, all be it crap movies, but they are happening. And that in itself is an indication that people are watching and see a market to tap into.
Have you been into photography from a young age? Do you remember your first camera?
Fats Sarazzi: Yes I have been into Photography since I was 16 and my first camera was this heavy beast of a Pentax that was my fathers. Wish I had that now, it was a great camera and I exchanged it for a Ricoh… what a fool. But my real drive in photography came when I saw 'SALVADOR' in 1986. A movie where James Woods plays a Photo Journalist covering the situation in El Salvador. After seeing that, I wanted to be a reportage photographer covering wars and the like… I soon woke up to the reality of that dream and concentrated on people.
Which individuals in the UK hip hop industry have you worked with that you think are really pushing forward the scene?
Fats Sarazzi: Wow, well I have not worked with many artists but as far as DJ's that are pushing it, I have worked with the likes of DJ MK, BenjiB, A-Cyde, The Chain Gang, these chaps are doing it for London and the UK for me. But Hip Hop for me whether British or US is about the people on the floor, with out them there is nothing just amazing music with out appreciation. So when I am at Hip Hop events I am all about the people on the floor being charged by all this beautiful music.
Which artists in and out of the UK would you like to work with?
Fats Sarazzi: Andre 3000, Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu… my problem is I do not know enough of the UK artists, I just know how they sound less about how they look… but I would like to shoot more, or is it Tor, I shot her for Trace and that girl has killer attitude. And the other is the up and coming Ainzly Jones, I have shot him a few times and that man is going to be big. So forgive me for not repping the UK, it is purely from lack of knowledge and I can except that as I like learning new shit on a daily. Makes life worth while… imagine if you knew everything… life would be so boring.
Are you into the work of David LaChappelle at all? Do you think you might release some books of your work like him and perhaps even go into music video making?
Fats Sarazzi: I like David LaChappelle, man is a genius of the surreal and colour. I would like to release many books, ha ha hah… I have been in brief conversations with Thames & Hudson, but still need to get them a concrete proposal, but I am a patient man. As for video, let me conquer the world of photography before I cross that bridge… one at a time nah mean, but I will not rule it out.
How about general film making? Is it something you’re looking at in the future?
Fats Sarazzi: I dabble a little here & there, even have a YouTube page with a few of the 'Kaleideoscape' movies that I made etc… but nothing too serious.
Is there one image you have always wanted to capture? Like your ultimate white train as a photographer?
Fats Sarazzi: I think you will never find the one picture as there could be another the next day that was better that the last. I think that is the way it should be. But if I could shoot one person the way I wanted with my style, and being Indian it would be Aishwarya Rai the Indian actress, and I would like to do a series of portraits of her, she is beautiful. I love portraits.
How would you compare the British street style to the American one?
Fats Sarazzi: It has a little more expression and tends to be a little edgier than our Atlantic Cousins. We are influenced by any facets around Europe, the US and the Globe. The US market is rather isolationist and looks to it's own for inspiration, but that is slowly changing, I mean Puffy as Sean John is doing catwalk shows and it is very different to anything that is considered street.
Any final words for the British hip hop audiences and any aspiring designers or photographers out there?
Fats Sarazzi: Do not stop what you are doing, and remain who you are. Concentrate on what you are good at and not what you think you should be doing to fit a genre. Being yourself will prove your talent… or not. But following and fitting in only makes you another link in a long chain. What you do must have the potential of giving you ultimate joy on one hand, but can potentially drop you in to the depths of hell for your individual choice of expression. That is what its is to believe in what you do.
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