Dance Hall Style: Supreme’s Wackies Collection

June 5, 2013

Words by Jesse Serwer—


Normally, we wait until the end of the week to catch you up on fashion runnings. But when a clothing label like Supreme teams with a record label like Wackie’s, we have to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming.

You see Wackies is one of our favorite record labels ever. It’s not that the list of song or LP titles released by the imprint are particularly attention grabbing. It’s just that the Wackie’s sound is. Producer Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes’ version of reggae is bass-heavy, ethereal and unlike any other.

In its day—the late ’70s through the early ’80s—the Bronx label/studio was like an alternate universe where some of the most innovative reggae and dancehall was made in the shadow of hip-hop’s earliest rumblings. Spaced-out, lo-fi reggae made on the same turf as Wild Style and The Warriors. Most of the label’s releases were released in extremely limited runs, and barely promoted—underground reggae for a select few in the know, or close enough to Bullwackie’s orbit on White Plains Road in the BX.

Germany’s Basic Channel let the cat out of the bag in the late ’90s, exposing Barnes’ sound worldwide through a series reissues. While Wackies’ releases may have been too out-of-step with trends to play in Jamaica and too Jamaican to gain traction in the States back in the ’80s, they found their audience globally in the file-sharing era, as awareness of dub and reggae’s influence on a now-massive electronic dance music scene grew. Once-obscure LPs like Horace Andy’s Dance Hall Style and the Lovejoys’ Lovers Rock Reggae Style have since rightfully taken on iconic status. Supreme’s co-sign ensures that a new generation will at least become aware of the label. Hopefully some of the kids who hit up the Supreme shops in NYC, LA and London to pick up new gear in the coming weeks will be inspired to pick up some new music, too.

Tee designs in the collection—which drops tomorrow—feature artwork from classic releases such as Dance Hall Style and the Reckless Roots Rockers compilation. There’s also a label logo hat, and some album-art tanks, too. See more designs below, then watch the little-known 1986 Wackie’s documentary, Bullwackie in New York, in full right here.

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