“We can’t be afraid to be fresh and brand new. We must create. And create new.”
Mike Grapes. Creator, Innovator, Designer, Mastermind, Traveller, Teacher, Philanthropist, Father, Friend, I could continue this list of words forever. But these aren’t just any words, these are attributes and adjectives that help describe just who exactly Mike Grapes is. Although I’ve only known the man for a short period of time I feel that I’ve known Mike almost all my life. Mike has become a prominent source of inspiration for me as of lately just because of his experiences on this earth alone and what he’s done for other people. When Mike was my age he was traveling the country building orphanages for the less fortunate in South America, leading and teaching the youth to stay on a path of positivity and creativity and helping them express themselves in way they probably never thought they would be able to. Mike has also become very inspirational to me because he has been living his life doing what he loves and being happy while doing it. That’s one of the many things I strive for in this life, to do what I love and to be unfazed by the negativity that plays a major role in today’s society; in other words be happy. Mike has proved to me that I can in fact do these things and still be the person I am today. And like I said, I’ve really only known Mike for a whole month. So let me tell you the story of how I met the man.
In November, Mike had the grand opening for his store, WORK+SHOP, out here in Lexington, KY. The term WORK+SHOP alone means many things; yes it is a place where you can buy clothes and materials made by Mike himself, but it is also a place where all sorts of creatives and innovators can come network and collaborate with one another. Almost like a club house, or a workshop… After meeting Mike for the first time I felt that there were many things I could learn from Mike as well as somethings he could learn from me, after conversing for a little while he told me to come by the shop more often and that I’m always welcome. Whether it was to come by and talk, meet new people, read one of his many knowledgable books, or take a nap on the couch. I was welcome at the WORK+SHOP, so I made an effort to stop by as much as I could, which ended up turning into an everyday trip to the shop. The environment alone gives you that positive feel, you could honestly walk in there on one of your worst days and walk out with the biggest smile on your face telling yourself “Everything will be okay.” That’s just the energy alone that comes when you first walk in the door. I tell Mike all the time “Every time I come into the shop, I’m getting that good word about life, originality, individuality, and overcoming your obstacles in life” and it’s true. A lot of times Mike and I are having intriguing conversations about the industry and the game currently, and just how screwed up it is.
During one of my most recent visits, Mike read me an article he wrote to be featured on a small zine of a friend of his. The article he wrote titled “The Dream Team” was a write-up on the constant lacking of creativity and originality in the game at the time. Now let me say this, Mike wrote The Dream Team in 2006. Yes you read that correctly. 2006. That’s 10 YEARS AGO, coming up on 11. I can tell you from just sitting beside Mike and listening to him read the write up to me that this article has more relevancy NOW than it probably did when it was written 10 YEARS AGO. (I am putting these words in all caps for a reason). Many of you that follow me on social media know that all year I’ve been saying that these “creative” thieves have been getting by these past couple of years and that it needs to come to an end, very soon. After listening to Mike read this article I understood that this is everything I’ve been trying to tell you people, and more. With that being said, Mike has given me the opportunity to once again publicize his write-up through your favorite magazine family over here at Senclaire. So without further delay, you yourself can see the relation between the world now and the 10 YEAR OLD write up below. I personally hope you enjoy and also gain some insight on the future of our culture.
Planes, trains and automobiles. Sometimes traveling is not the most exciting thing to me, I mean the “getting from point A to point B” process. But I appreciate the time I get to reflect on where I am on my way to and where I just left and the people and experiences attached to both. And not just where I am, location wise, but where I am mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. SO here I am wide-awake on a United Airlines flight back to San Diego and I am reflecting. I just left an amazing 2 week experience in Lexington, KY and am about to get into a week of hosting friends that will be visiting, driving back and forth to LA, shopping, making international travel plans, and working on my new clothing line. And so I am sat in a roomy window seat in the exit row, listening to a Talib Kweli album someone just gave me, thinking about relationships, kicks, and influence. What a mix.
Sometimes I wonder why has it been a while since we’ve seen a new pair of kicks. I don’t mean a new color-way or a new feature on an old shoe, I mean a brand new type of shoe that we have never seen before that makes us wonder if we eve have the guts to embrace it. (You may be thinking, “are you seriously talking this deep about sneakers?” well, just stay with me I am going somewhere more meaningful in a minute.)
I remember as a young lad, falling asleep on my top bunk bed, exploring my new sneakers. And then waking up with them right next to me excited that they were going to be apart of my and my young life. The smell of a brand new pair of kicks could get me high. Yeah, I loved sneakers. Kicks had meaning back then. Do you remember 1992, when the Nike Air Force 180’s that Barkley wore in the Olympics came out? Those had meaning because that was the year of the Dream Team and that was the first year NBA players were able to compete in the Olympics. For a young ball-head growing up in the middle of Brooklyn where we dribbled imaginary basketballs everywhere we went, kicks like that meant something. And they were fresh. Kicks were an expression of creativity and life to me. So to find a pair that had styles and designs and colors that expressed certain elements or activities in my life was exciting, More than exciting, it was love.
Nowadays, I am left only to reminisce about the past. I mean it is a good thing that we have special issues and new color combinations but that fades after a while. You don’t believe me? Well think back to when you copped a pair of Jordans back in the days, even after playing ball in them and destroying them, you still rocked them. Why? Because they were special to you. That kind of thing rarely happens today. We are not excited about kicks like that today because kicks are being cranked out of the sneaker-mill like donuts just to appease the appetites pf the masses. All we are concerned with today is the color coordination between our kicks and the rest of our outfits. So where does this leave us today? It leaves us at a lack of creativity, as are not even of the same quality of the originals so we have to endure something of a lesser standard just to remind ourselves how food things used to be. “Yesterday” should inspire us, not be a creative crutch. We must remember that its people who make trends, trends should not make people.
And what about music? I almost don’t even want to touch the subject of music because of the lack of creativity we have been experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, there are still artists and bands that stay true to who they are and what they intended to do, but for the most part, we are left to weed our way through a lot of watered down, industry-led, pop culture-driven, non-creative, forced music that isn’t really even saying anything. You don’t really feel the passion and sweat on music these days like you used to. Everyone is lip syncing oner studio-recorded tracks. What is that? It doesn’t feel real. Will the real musicians please stand up? Producers boast of cranking out beats and tracks in 3-4 minutes. Oh, thank you for putting your heart into that and creating something new, Mr. Producer. I just have one questions for most of these producers. If we are sampling all of the great songs of the past, what will the next generation have to sample? Let’s create again. We can and should definitely learn from the greats but not try to clone them. Let Chris Brown be who he wants to be, don’t try and mold him into the next MJ, it just doesn’t work.
Ok, now I will switch up a bit. Think about relationships now. How much of our past experiences are carried over into our present situations? Why does our new relationships just seem like a retro-edition of something we have already experienced? Maybe the person is a different color, with a new style but somehow we managed to reinvent our past experiences in our present situations. Don’t get me wrong, our past is a big part of who we are and we are molded by a lot of what we have been through and that is automatic. But what will our future look like if we continue to run in circles? The person we get involved with doesn’t deserve all of our leftover baggage. They deserve a fresh excitement, not a hype but a genuine effort to explore something in a non-regurgitated way. And so that brings us to a place to examine ourselves.
Will our relationships all end up the same way? Will our music continue to be recycled and sampled? Will retro and throwback be the norm for fashion? Will anybody be bold enough to think again? Will there be any new ideas that escape the realm of mere imagination and actually make it onto the production floor of reality? What will it be? We can’t be afraid to be fresh and brand new. We must create. And create new. Think new. Be open to relate and communicate in a new way. Because our future is only going to be built upon the foundation is just leftovers of the past, have we really grown and matured?
These are not the rants of a mad and frustrated individual. No. I hope is doesn’t come across that way. I am not mad. Actually I am excited and hopeful. The purpose of this article is to encourage change and challenge creativity. Whether you agree or disagree with what was said, the truth is that this generation is looking and searching for something to believe in, someone to follow, a way of life to call their own art to enjoy, and music to accompany their lives. We all want something new and fresh, so why don’t we be a part of producing that? Take the limits off. The world is waiting for someone to do it, why can’t that person be you? Let’s begin to live out our dreams instead of living out our fears.
See what I mean? DO YOU SEE THE RELEVANCY NOW? It’s almost as if Mike wrote this from the past and sent it through a wormhole into the future for us to read. I feel that this should be a testament to the dying originality that has fallen among us in our time of experimentation with the future of art IN GENERAL. I’m not dissing anyone for their actions this year; but those of you who have been sliding by with barely being creative and stealing originality from others who are unknown, you know who you are. All I can say is it’s gonna be harder for you to continue this storm of thieving in the future and sooner or later we’re gonna want to see what you can really do and who you really are. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Mike Grapes very soon, until then you can follow Mike on his Instagram page as well as visit his website GrapesLife to see the creativity and hard work for yourself! And please like Mike said, “Let’s begin to live out our dreams instead of living out our fears.”