6.21.2013

Funky Flyer King – Regnoc of Dem Dare

In the boogie down Chi-town, between 1990 and 1994, the legendary urban fraternity known as Dem Dare had most of the Windy City's party scene under padlock. This multifaceted crew was made up of deejays Twilite Tone (aka Ynot), X-Ray, Reno, and the funky flyer rocker known as Regnoc.

It was through Regnoc's skillfully made flyers, that most of the young party people in Chicago were introduced to the productions of Dem Dare. Each 8.5" x 11" or 11" x 14" handbill carried his trademark blend of graffiti writing, black pidgin English, and comic strip-style cartoons--complete with slang-filled word balloons.

Unlike a lot of party pluggers circulating in the "Chi" at the time, Regnoc's flyers always offered a clearly defined aesthetic and a signature theme. Depicted on each of the black & white handouts were scenes of cool urban youths rockin' fly clothes branded with the embroidered logos of Polo, Adidas, Timberland, Nautica, and others.

In addition to providing interested parties with the requisite information one would expect from a flyer (who, what, when, where and how much), the recipients got a little something extra, too. From each sheet, cool hunters got a glimpse at a very bourgeois lifestyle from the nicer parts of the hood, as well as some its accompanying philosophy.

Like so many other hip-hop heads in the late 1980s and 90s, the Dem Dare posse was on that Nation of Islam-inspired “god body shit.” As such, the hella condescending view that the Five Percent splinter sect holds towards the ignorant 85% of humanity ('cause they lack knowledge of self) was right up in the esoteric mix.

Observing the lessons of the Percenters, black women were adoringly referred to as "wisdoms" and "Earths," swine or pork eating was forcefully rejected, and the books of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam in Chicago, was recommended reading. And on at least one flyer, folks with woolly curls (or dreads) atop their heads were said to have "hair like Jesus."

And speaking of the anointed one...

In one of Kanye West's typically candid interviews, recorded in 2002 while seated in the barber's chair of Ibn Jasper, the "Jesus Walks" rapper refers to Regnoc--well-known in Polo worshiping circles for his fabled Ralph Lauren sportswear collection--as the "god of Polo." Even more, the Louie Vuitton Don enthusiastically calls him the "god of Chicago hip-hop."

Now, while this journalist prolly wouldn't go as far in his praises of Regnoc as "Yeezy" does, he cannot help but recall here the not-so-old adage that God is in the details. And this because Regnoc's celestial body of work is all about the details.

From 1994 to 2000, a period that would see the quick end of one creative era and the start of another, Regnoc (now Reggieknow) moved the marketing of hip-hop to a whole 'nother level. While working for Chicago's Burrell Communications, he masterminded a highly successful series of hip-hop flavored Sprite commercials--Yes, those Sprite commercials.

It was Reggie who oversaw those dope hip-hop "Obey Your Thirst" spots. For anyone who missed ‘em, the 30-60 second ads featured rappers like MC Shan & KRS-One, Grand Puba, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Nas, AZ, and others. As the brainchild of one of hip-hop's own, the thoughtful spots touched the hearts and mind's of the generation. But the best of those ads was still yet to come.

In 1998, Reggie's five-part Voltron spots, featuring Common, Fat Joe, Mack 10, Goodie Mob, Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay, rocked both the small screen and the domes of old school cartoon fans. The following year, he assembled the clan of the "Five Deadly Women." This second campaign, based on a Shaw Brothers celluloid classic, featured Roxanne Shante, Lady Bug Mecca, Eve, Mia X, Amil, Angie Martinez, Millie Jackson, Swizz Beats and Kool Keith. 

If you were watching Soul Train, Rap City, or even Dragon Ball in the mid to late 1990s, by way of the commercial break you'd actually come to know some of this master's later and greater works. But since everything great starts somewhere, this YKFS retrospective is goin' all the way back in the day to spotlight a classic time in Chicago hip-hop when Reggieknow was the city's flyest "paper king"

Submitted for your approval: the Dem Dare flyers of Regnoc.








 




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