The JUKEBOX: 2 CHAINZ x ATL UTD

 

Like it or not, Major League Soccer has made huge strides both on and off the pitch in terms of the sport’s prowess in the United States.

On the field, the league has shifted away from an old-man policy and began resorting to a younger Designated Player approach. No longer do we see the David Beckhams and the Andrea Pirlos of the world joining the league, instead, we see a plethora of young talented South Americans making lasting impressions.

Off the field, we see the league showing off its culture and progressiveness. From its respect for the LGBTQ community to its passion for race and gender equality, the league appears to be climbing the moral high ground. (For now, let’s ignore other headlining factors that demote the league, i.e. Tyler Deric, Cyle Larin, and baseball pitches).

One aspect that the league has shown enormous growth in is music culture. Just announced last week, the Houston Dynamo is set to have American rapper Wale perform at their season’s home opener. In addition, U.S. Soccer’s National Hall of Fame has also announced that the infamous rock band Imagine Dragons will perform during their induction weekend.

Not before this year did we see so many talented and famous musicians taking interest in the league, but there is one good source for where and when being a musician and supporting the MLS became cool: the unveiling of one of MLS’ newest franchises, Atlanta United FC.

The day Atlanta United FC was revealed to the world, Atlanta’s biggest and brightest stars put on the team’s jerseys, two of which were Ludacris and 2 Chainz.

Not only did some of the country’s most beloved southern hip-hop artists sign on to support their hometown club, an immense amount of their fans joined along with them.

As a Dallas native and a current St. Louis resident, I had no desire to root for a team miles away from me but I would be lying if I did not say I envied Atlanta’s approach. In a way, the club’s ambition and desire to embrace pop media culture made me fall in love with it.

I’ve only been to Atlanta once in my life but after seeing how this club and these rappers made soccer somewhat cool in American was awesome.

And I think Atlanta United and MLS understand that.

When revealing their newest kit for the season, Atlanta United once again called upon the services of 2 Chainz to help their campaign. In their video, you can see the don dawn the club’s new jersey.

As for MLS, they called upon 2 Chainz to help narrate their ‘MLS is Back’ campaign.

All in all, the idea of music and MLS never placed itself in my head but now with the arrival of these entertaining artists, I can’t keep the two apart.

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THE JUKEBOX: NIGERIA X SKEPTA

There is no doubt that Nigeria will be rocking one of the best jerseys in the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. The eclectic and tasteful design is both representative of the country’s culture and jaw-dropping to any lucky on-looker.

The slick green and white kit with vertical arrows ushers back a retro vibe all while remaining glossy, dazzling, and modern. The design strikes a resounding resemblance with the country’s 1996 Olympic kit (where they won Gold), which was later reported to be a source of inspiration.

In addition to all of the hype, there is one interesting fact about the kit launch that combines the worlds of music and football: the Creative Director of the project was Grace Ledoja, who is the current manager of British Grime MC Skepta. But, before Ledoja was receiving her MBE from the Queen or dropping brilliant jerseys in February alongside Nigerian singer Wizkid, her client Skepta was representing his homeland on the stage in December of 2017.

Right before the end-of-the-year holidays, Skepta was pictured in Lagos at a concert dawning a throwback Nigerian jersey, black A-COLD-WALL Joggers, and a pair of OFF-White x Nike Vapor Max sneakers.

The style appeared comfortable and sleek all while repping Nigeria. Although Skepta was born in the UK, the London native is still able to support his heritage through fashion and lyrics.

In his hit single “Hyporcrisy,” Skepta gives a shout out to his home saying:

“I’m a Nigerian eagle,
In London smoking illegal”

The combined lyric may not be the MC’s greatest word cluster but it helps offer home pride…all while having a little fun.

MEDELLIN: A LOVE LETTER

Last summer I went to Medellin for a week since I had just bought a new camera and absolutely loved Narcos.

The fact that my girlfriend cheated on me, allowing my mental health to reach its absolute abyss and me wanting to ”find myself” on a 2-month drug-laden trip in South America had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Medellin is called ”The City of Eternal Spring” and that slogan alone should make you want to pack your bags. You lot can have summer, I’m all for spring. And Medellin embodies spring. Spring is about anticipation. Excitement. Resurrection. Wearing your freshly bought spring trainers for the first time. It’s about showing off your new Adidas Gazelles to the cute barista (whose freckles are starting to show) at the local Starbucks. Getting rejected.

Not that you give two fucks. It’s spring. You’re immortal!

Medellin is struggling to fight off its reputation of being a dangerous city, but it’s certainly not struggling to show the opposite – if you actually go there. The city is located in a valley with steep hills and mountains surrounding the city centre, making it really hard for the poor population who live in the mountain barrios to access the city centre. This caused the city to invest in a ”Metrocable” (a shit load of gondolas connected to the metro system) that’s running up and down the hillsides for tourists to easily access the diverse and lush barrios, and most importantly, connecting all Medellin inhabitants.

Football is everywhere in the city. It’s painted on the walls and played in the streets. Its shouted from the bars. So obviously I had to attend a football game since the city hosts two major teams; Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellin. They both share this magnificent 41 000 seated stadium that just oozes South America. The round shaped stands, the cracked cement, scary ass policemen that possibly have been instructed to beat the shit out of you, stray dogs (I always wondered why dogs are such a common type of pitch invader in South America. Turns out the stadiums are their home), 1,50 dollar beers and ultras staring at you with olive-sized pupils and gurning jaws.

Independiente Medellin, the footballing underdog in comparison to the bigger brother Atlético, played against Deportivo Cali in the quarter-finals of the Colombian Primera A when I was in town. Right up my alley. I never knew what it is like to support a winning team anyway. Then I heard that Pablo Escobar was buried with an I.M. flag wrapped around his torso, and it was settled. This was my South American team!

I hopped on the surprisingly modern and clean metro (it makes the metro of my hometown Stockholm look like absolute shit) down to the Atanasio Girardot Stadium to enjoy some Colombian football madness. I purchased a bootleg match jersey, some pork arepas and a well chilled Aguila (fuck right off Carlsberg, Aguila is the best beer in the world) from a street salesman. He insisted on me buying the jersey since ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” if I didn’t wear the home team colours. I took his advice, kindly rejected the cocaine he insisted on me buying since, again, ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” and entered the stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The game ended 3-1 to my beloved new team. Unfortunately, Cali had won 4-1 at their place for the first leg of the quarter-finals, so I.M. got knocked out. I still enjoyed the game though. I tricked a steward into thinking I was a photographer by saying ”Soy un fotografero” and waving my camera in his face and got full access to the absolute madhouse of a stadium it was.

Medellin. I miss you more than my ex. Stay you.

WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SALT WITH THOSE?

A love letter to the dinked finish. My favourite.

It’s well satisfying to watch a goalkeeper look completely humiliated. Hundreds of
ways to do it – all displayed in textbook style by Il Fenomeno during a 10 minute
YouTube compilation to the soundtrack of a Russian dance banger. If given one last opportunity to see some top class Keeper shaming, I’d make a beeline for the Chip. Cheeky, arrogant & outright humiliating for the Keeps. All forms of the finish –fucking great. I get giddy just thinking about a clipped finish. My mates know me well. Over a few pints, game on, we see a dinked finish – “one for you that, lad”. I grin. I fucking love it. I’m not fussy either. Any style of chip. Hit from distance, ball well above the Keeps’ head, backpedalling. Striker wheeling off – Sheareresque with a single limb in the air before the ball even arrives home. Keeper, jaw to the floor, complete disbelief. Keeper falls into the netting. Bliss.

Latching onto a through ball. Keeper flying out. Slight angle. Keeps goes to
ground to steal the ball. No. Striker clips it. Up & over. Lands right into the bottom
corner. (Bounce before net entry optional). Keeper rolls onto his back in
embarrassment. Hasn’t even checked to see if it’s a goal. The sound of the crowd tells
him all he needs to know.

Here’s my favourite. The chance can arrive from a mazy run or a beauty of a through ball. Striker bearing down on goal. Ball glued to feet. A Western showdown. Keeper, determined not be embarrassed, holds firm. Fills the space. Broad shoulders. Takes a knee to make a block. Striker lofts the ball. This time not over the head, but over the shoulder. Keeper literally watches the ball past his face & into the net. Add defenders into the mix. Even better when the defender thinks he can get there but is always a yard too slow. I love goalkeepers. Totally underrated tradesmen, they are. A boss save is just as satisfying as a 30-yard screamer. Not a chip though. Nothing against Neuer & the boys – but in this instance, your pain is the world’s pleasure, & I have a front-row seat.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: On the bounce, rooted keeper, defenders lobbed on
the line, off the woodwork & lobs that don’t actually come down until they roll down
the netting.

Favourite 5

I could’ve done a favourite 100.

Pires v Southampton

Proper lob. Classic FIFA 2002 when the cross button was actually called “Lob”.
Side foot, a bit of whip, classic backpedalling. Completes the hattrick. Typically
French celebration.

Lampard v Barcelona

Oh, Frankie Boy. Our very own. Our Frankie. Tight angle. Massive game. CROSS
IT TO DROGBA. The voice of ‘Arry Redknapp in Frank’s ear – “Go on, son. Have
a go. He’s off his line. Go where Niko & Crouchie have never gone before”. Lamps
chip it from virtually the byline & into the far side netting. Lovely stuff.

Messi v Bayern

Model chip. Just watch it. Embarrassed defenders, a classic Western showdown with Neuer. Over the shoulder. Lands flush in the bottom corner. I will say no more.

Totti v Inter

The master of chips, Totti is. It’s a non-argument. He has an 8-minute compilation
of the stuff. Christmas day every time I watch it. This one just epitomises how
easy he found the trade. Jogs through the middle. Looks up. Feints to lash it. Clips
it from 20 plus yards. The keeper dives backwards – still, acres from the ball – & in it
goes. Grazie.

Bergkamp V Leverkeusen

He even slips & still pulls off an ice cool lob. Doesn’t even celebrate. TOTAAL
VOETBAL.

The chip is a delightful aspect of the game and, when utilised correctly, can dazzle every fan watching.

THE COLLECTABLES: EPISODE VI

eBay is bloody brilliant and for fans of the game like us, delving into the wonders on the site gives us a shit tonne of excitement in our lives. Why? Because of the vast amount of random collectable stuff that no-one needs but everyone wants.

Hats. They’re a weird and wonderful fashion accessory. Some look cool on people. Some don’t; take Mario Balotelli’s mad glove hat thingy for example. If worn in the right way, with a decent outfit, hats can make or break a person’s look. However, we’re not here to give fashion tips to you guys but to showcase something boss from eBay.

A double episode (you lucky bastards) this week, bringing you two styles of hat allowing you to choose depending on what you prefer. Here we have two hats, both Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup specials but one is a bucket hat and one is a cap. Two fucking good hats with two different styles.

First, the bucket hat is a Coca-Cola merchandise piece in collaboration with the 2002 World Cup. A definite must if you enjoy rockin’ bucket hats or if you just like to collect shite like I do. A delightful red base with the two logos on and a big ‘2002’ down the side. Black rim. Wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

Second, the cap. A tan number with a simple design. Logo spanked right in the centre on the front, showing people exactly what you love which is football. ‘World Cup’ on the back. Why wouldn’t you pay the international shipping? You’re very lucky living in the US with this one, free shipping?! Aye, please.

 

 

 

 

Buy em here: Cap. Bucket.

THE JUKEBOX: KANO – “T-SHIRT WEATHER IN THE MANOR”

Whether it is fashion, video games, or the actual game itself, football surrounds us daily. It is a part of our culture, our livelihood and we it for love that. But, there is one amazing way that the sport is able to infuse itself into to us. It is not by seeing, but by hearing.

Everyone can name their favourite songs from FIFA, their most beloved match day chant, or one of Shakira’s typical World Cup anthems. On the front, these songs speak the game but very few of them actually mention the sport in their lyrics.

In this series, we here at The Culture Division will highlight those lyrics that mention the beloved game.

Up first is East Ham, London native Grime artist Kano with his song titled, “T-Shirt Weather In the Manor.”

The lyric in question is uttered in verse one, he states:

 “Forward some summers, I’m racing the latest Merc out, it worked out, ‘Cept Everton’s not top, but we don’t talk about it”

In a heartfelt song that discusses family and friendship, Kano whips out a lyric poking fun at English Premier League side Everton.

It has been a rough decade for the Toffees as they have been lowly regarded as the second-best team in Liverpool – obviously behind the Reds. Everton has yet to make a Champions League appearance since their 2005-06 campaign that featured the likes of Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville, and Tim Cahill.

Kano has claimed in the past that he is a West Ham fan and that he is never been shy for a bit of friendly banter, especially with his family.

*All photos were taken by Jamie Drew*

WHY I HATE DARIUS VASSELL

The man to define my near quarter century as an England fan.

We’ve been here plenty of times before. Get them on the plane. Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, David Nugent, Darius Vassell. They’ll offer something different. Bring them on with the half hour to go. “This’ll baffle ‘em lads – Emile, get warmed up!”.

It’s caused some huge debate over the years with Three Lion’s fanatics down the local boozer – who should fill that fourth striker position for the Summer of Hope. “FRANNY JEFFERS” was probably the worst shout – although he does have a 100% goals to game ratio in the England White.

Disappointment is something we’re all used to as England fans post ’66. However, I’ll always remember the first time I was well & truly disappointed. It was the summer of Darius. Five foot Seven Darius & half of the Midlands behind him.

France 98 (belter) & Japan/Korea 02 (also belter) were my earliest encounters of International football. (No idea where I was for the Millennium Euros – but that France team was glorious). Both disappointing as per the usual England protocol but for ’98 I was four & literally couldn’t comprehend anything I was seeing beyond Marcel Desailly’s absolute chill in those Predators & the glorious FujiFilm advertising boards. As for 2002 I was busy getting away with an R9 trademark semi-circle fringe at school & not actually being a) sent home & b) embarrassed. To be honest you could not be disheartened after losing to that Brazil squad. Don’t worry David, I wouldn’t have saved that either.

So up to press, I had been fairly content with England’s showings on the international stage.

The Euro’s. The Golden Generation. A perfect chance to prove we can obliterate Europe & take on those pesky South American’s in Germany in a couple of years. Untypically optimistic as I had not faced the heartbreak of my senior England supporters. Also, in-form Villa Marksman Darius has made the exclusive strikers club! Wayne, Emile & Michael with open arms – “big up Vass, welcome to the goal show”.

I’ve had many debates with the same Man Blue fan for years about Darius. I’m not sold. He is. He loves him. He shows me the same grainy footage on YouTube every time we have this drunken debate of Vassell illegally obstructing the ball between his feet before doing a backwards roll away from confused Fulham defenders. Granted, if I had seen Robbie Fowler do that I would be in awe. But not Darius.

We get through the group stages relatively easily. Plus, we treated the neutrals to a fucking glorious first fixture against France. Not so glorious for Beckham & co (Becks now sporting a classic number 1 that Ross Kemp would give a reassuring nod to – even in the most hostile of gang territories) as we went down cruelly to a Zidane fest in the closing of the game – but nonetheless a cracking tie. That’s the thing with our lot. We put a show on for other countries. Such a selfless nation we are. A golden generation of players, unselfishly choosing to notturn up to big tournaments. Give Spain & Italy a chance – those lads are having a dry spell.

What happened next was about to set me up for every single international fixture I would ever watch in my England Whites. Cue Barry who works down the Red Lion ranting in the pisser:

Portugal. Fucking Portugal. Sandwiched between Portugal victories in 2000 & 2006. Our very own Bolton to Arsene Wenger. Bottom 3 sides to Liverpool. Legitimate goals to Pele. A thorn in our side.

For starters, Sol Campbell (who 100% had his fair share of emotional disappointment during his career) climbed well above everybody to legally head the ball into the well tight, fucking mega green/black netting *note – the nets were pleasing, but how beautiful was that ball* only for it to be cruelly disallowed. Still not over that.

That was disappointment number one. Still not onto Darius.

Then obviously Portugal took a 2 – 1 lead with 10 minutes of extra time to play – albeit that goal from Cult hero Rui Costa was some effort. A quick turnaround though. England gets our hopes up again – we will not be beaten! Frankie Lampard swivels in the box from a peak John Terry knockdown to get us right back into the game. Surely there will be no more upset. We’ve even put Darius on for the pennos because he’s ice cold from 12 yards. Our wildcard. Our saviour. The Midlands Marksman.

Wrong. Penalties. Beckham. Well over. Blames spot. Back to reality. But again our hopes are raised as the shootout levels itself. One pen each before sudden death. Ricardo’s gone rogue. Gloveless. No man’s land for Darius’ soon to be a goal-bound penalty. Oh, Darius. Saved. Could happen to anybody. Still, you’re my scapegoat for this tournament exit. Ricardo then remains gloveless to smash the winning penalty beyond a helpless Jammo.

Darius was plan B. England’s fourth striker. The one we all secretly hope turns up & unpredictably lights up the tournament. In reality, this is never going to happen. But this tournament & Darius Vassell ultimately showed me the “England fan ropes” in which we look for a reason we can achieve before realising when it all goes horribly wrong that this reason was actually a load of bollocks – See Harry Kane, England’s new corner taker/Steve McClaren, we WILL qualify.

Now it was far from Darius’ fault we left the Euros. But he will forever in my mind be the reason England are shit. He is the reason we only put three past Andorra. He is the reason I now approach every single England game with the same “I told you so” attitude when we inevitably cock up.

Still. We’re gonna’ win the World Cup. It’s coming home. 

ART OF FOOTBALL X MARK JOHNSON

A new collaboration between brand Art Of Football and designer Mark Johnson landed in our inbox and we loved it so we had to share it.

As big fans of the creative side of football, art like this are something that we instantly become interested in. Mark Johnson is a stupendous designer and he hasn’t failed to impress with this new project.

Johnson looked to incorporate classic kits with the typography from these famous shirts. Each version, whether it be the Newcastle one or the Holland one, encapsulates the history of the club through art and through their most iconic shirts. Not only has he honoured specific clubs but has focused on the two Ronaldos as well; CR7 and R9, two of the games finest. A wonderful collection paying tribute to some of the most epochal times from the beautiful game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole collection features art on Liverpool, FC Barcelona, AS Roma, Nottingham Forest and more. The prints range from size A4 to size A2 canvas and the designs are now available on t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Get yours here and follow Mark Johnson on Instagram here.

THE COLLECTABLES: EPISODE V

eBay is bloody brilliant and for fans of the game like us, delving into the wonders on the site gives us a shit tonne of excitement in our lives. Why? Because of the vast amount of random collectable stuff that no-one needs but everyone wants.

Board games are a wonderful thing. They bring families closer and more together during Christmas time and game nights. Or that was a load of lies and they cause mass arguments and, if it’s Monopoly, we spend the next few days finding little houses around the place following an outrage moment where the board was flipped across the room.

However, this isn’t a piece focusing on the playing of the board game but more of the board game itself. I bring to you, in this edition of ‘The Collectables’, a special edition 2006 World Cup Monopoly board. Each property featured is a country participating in the World Cu, with the ‘Chance’ cards being ‘Referee’ cards and ‘Community Chests’ becoming ‘Manager’ cards. Player figures become football related, with the one everyone wants to be being a golden boot. The houses are stands and the hotels are stadiums. A delightful acquisition for any hardcore football nerd who also loves a bit of Monopoly on the side.

There are many different versions of Monopoly relating to football, whether that be club versions or one focusing on world football stars but the coolest versions of the game come from the World Cup, 2006 and 1998 tournaments being the best of the bunch.

Buy your versions here.

 

*special thanks to Harry Smith for the photos*

AIK x NIKE ‘BLACK PACK’

Swedish side AIK based in the capital of Stockholm recently announced their new sponsorship deal with Nike, by releasing an eye-catching and rather exclusive pre-season kit. AIK has been sponsored by Adidas since 1988, and are now trying their luck with Nike. And it seems to be a match made in heaven.

AIK & Nike teased their fans on social media for weeks before dropping the kit, with cryptic videos and images of a blacked out team crest and captions such as ”Ett nytt år – en ny era” which translates to ”A new year – a new era”, and ”Det vi gör i år kommer att gå till historien”: ”Our actions this year will go down in history”.
Modest? Fuck no. Appropriate? Hell yes.

AIK is a sleeping giant in Scandinavian football, with overly presumptuous fans and players (even though they haven’t seen silverware since 2009). Expectations are huge every season, and the whole club is just basking in the most noxious of hubris. Kind of like a Swedish Hamburg.

Nike utilises the all-black kit to pay homage to the AIK team of 1901, a side that won the clubs second ever league title. The team of 1901 was also the one to debut the now standardized black kits for the club, in contrast to the previously sported white kits.

A mere 127 shirts were made, a homage to the 127 years of the clubs existence. The shirts were drawn to 127 lucky AIK fans in an email raffle – and it seems that they’ll never reach general sale. The club even told their players to hold tight to their jerseys and not give them to fans or family but keep your chin up! AIK will release a similar away jersey on Saturday7:45 GMT. Just check their Instagram for more info.