Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Kool Keith's 'Retail Therapy'

Ok, so this is a story that has been floating around for some time now, one that I was certainly told probably somewhere close to ten years ago by a colleague who will remain unnamed but, and I can assure you of this, is a trustworthy source of information. There is still no way that this particular tale can be substantiated 110% so names will not be brought into play to protect the innocent/guilty (apart from Kool Keith's, but surely any beef will just up my Bandcamp download numbers/be reported to me by his lawyers).

I will tell you that the story teller once worked for a good few years at the Brighton (UK) branch of Size?, a popular trainer store, actually owned by JD Sports (its inbred cousin) that caters to the more design and style conscious sneaker heads amongst us (myself included, from time to time).

As far as I'm aware, Size? Is actually a relatively exclusive chain in that there are really not that many store locations in the country when compared to JD, Foot Locker and all the rest. There's only three branches in the whole of London at Carnaby Street, Portabello Road and Covent Garden. This particular tale goes down at the Covent Garden branch.

As some of you may or may not know the Covent Garden Size? Actually moved premises recently….I say recently, although I haven't really got a clue when it happened. All I know is that I bopped down Neal Street a few months ago to go and cop myself a pair of crispy Air Jordan Flight 9's and found myself confronted with a Dr Martens AirWare emporium. Shocked and bewildered, I wandered further down the street only to find Size? a few doors down, thank fuck.

Anyway, my point is that this particular tale took place at the original Covent Garden location. Due to the sparseness of Size? locations, branches would (and probably still do) stay in relatively close contact with each other to see what was selling and what wasn't so they could then ship off unpopular kicks to other branches where maybe they could potentially shift better. Because of this, my friend in the Brighton branch got to talking to the (then) manager of the CG branch who then regaled him with this bizarre tale, although when dealing with Kool Keith, I suppose anything is to be expected.

Picture if you will….Half an hour or so before shop closing time, Kool Keith bops into Size? with one of his minders and politely asks the star struck manager (who was a massive fan) if he wouldn't mind closing the shop up early so Keith could blow a stack on kicks. Seeing as it was closing time anyway and dude was such a huge fan he of course obliged (as any self respecting head would) and ushered the remaining shoppers out of the store before locking the door.

So, the shop is completely empty apart from the manager, the 2 (?) other shop workers, Keith and his minder. Dude is buzzing cause one of his all time idols is in his shop, he's at least going to get him to sign a pair of Stan Smith's to display in the shop, maybe even get a photo with dude, so he's made up with the situation. They're all keeping their distance while Keith glides around looking at crepes.

At this point it all goes a bit 'Fear & Loathing'. As I was told, Kool Keith picks up one of the faux leather stools that you sit on to try on kicks/begrudgingly wait for your dime to get her shopping over with, takes it into the middle of the (empty) shop floor, sits down and proceeds to start crying, before sobbing and then wailing uncontrollably into his hands, inconsolable, tears streaming down his face.

Keith's minder seems completely unperturbed by this and pays his behaviour no mind. The manager, however, after a few minutes walks up to the dejected, bawling figure of a rap star and asks if he's OK. He gets no answer and Kool Keith continues sobbing as if his dog has just died. His dog might have just died, of course, but I won't speculate. How ironic.

Anyway, after a good 20 minutes/half an hour of this the shop workers are suitably ticked off as they should have left already, the manager is caught between his workers and one of his all time rap idols losing his shit but still apparently planning on spending a wad of cash in the store, the minder is paying the situation no mind (no pun intended) and all the while Keith is beside himself.

At this point the manager makes a second attempt to get through to the dejected Black Elvis. Asking whether he still intended to purchase any trainers due to the apparent discomfort of the situation and the growing agitation of his employees at being kept late at work to watch a grown man cry, Kool Keith wipes his eyes and nose, stands up, walks to the door (which was unlocked for him) and then walks out with his minder, having not spent a single penny and leaving with no kicks whatsoever. What happened after is anyones guess; needless to say I'm sure it was one of the more interesting experiences to be had working at Size? for those guys.

Maybe that's the true meaning of 'Retail Therapy'. Feel free to balk at this story and say it didn't happen, but really, do you honestly think I could make this shit up? The answer is no, by the way. Another Urban myth, but told from a reliable source. Think of it what you will. As an aside to all you aspiring/successful rappers out there, I thoroughly recommend seeking the proper medical and psychiatric advice when you have a problem rather than relying on minimum wage sales people of grossly overpriced shoes to sort your problems. Just an idea. But for real though, mental health problems are no joke, so seek the proper help. I honestly don't know if Keith has any specific issues, but I'm talking in broader terms here. You're welcome.

The Claybourne Family - Kool Keith, Marc Live & Jacky Jasper. Big up Jimmy Hatetank. Peep it, its the best rap song ever made.

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