Christmas is just around the corner, and so we’ve compiled a gift guide of 10 of our favorite books from the past year. The list features something for everyone—there’s books on ’90s-era streetwear, crudely drawn comics, Japanese monsters, gypsy graffiti, 2pac, prison recipes, and naked models. Need we say more?
Bury Me With The Lo On
This book is a must-have for anyone interested in streetwear or the streets. The 264-page book details two 1980s New York crews obsessed with accumulating as much Polo Ralph Lauren clothes as possible. The Lo Lifes, as they came to be known, stole from every department store in the tri-state area in order to dress themselves in head-to-toe Polo, and influenced the style and look of rappers from that era. The book, compiled by Lo Life founder Thirstin Howl the 3rd and photographer Tom Gould, features compelling interviews with crewmembers as well never-seen-before archival photos. The first edition’s already sold out, so check for this one on eBay.
Real Deal Comix
These raw and rageful comics about black culture first appeared in the 1990s, when Lawrence Hubbard self-published them, but have now been compiled and published as a monograph. The 176-page book features seven crudely drawn black-and-white stories, which include plenty of pimp slaps, beat downs, shootouts and unmitigated violence, as well as an interview with Hubbard himself. “It was a tip of the hat to all the people we knew who were just totally fucking crazy and didn’t give a shit,” Hubbard explains of the comics. “That ‘fuck it’ mentality, it was something you admire.”
Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters
Island of Monsters is an incredible book by French photographer Charles Fréger, who traveled to Japan and took portraits of people dressed as ghosts, monsters and goblins at traditional festivals there. The masks and costumes, which often incorporate straw and other natural elements, are strange and wonderful: There are spirits covered in black mud at for a ritual on the island of Miyako-jima, and bright-red horned ogres in the snowy Akita prefecture. In addition to 180 full-color photos, the book also includes texts from experts in Japanese folk traditions, as well descriptions of the different local festivals and rituals where the costumes are worn.
24H Los Angeles
Whether you live in L.A. or are just an admirer from afar, this book would make a great addition to any bookshelf. For his first hardcover book, Parisian photographer Karl Hab compiled photos he took of the city between 2007 and 2015. “I discovered an atmosphere, a vibe, a feeling, something that can only be described using pictures,” he told The Hundreds earlier this year. “I tried to show in this book how L.A. feels to me, trying to capture a certain essence of this city from a different point of view.” The interior includes photos of Venice Beach at sunset, aerial shots of DTLA, and images of our expansive freeways, neighborhoods and coastlines. It also includes an introduction written by contemporary artist Daniel Arsham.
Quartiers Gitans de Perpignan
Quartiers Gitans de Perpignan is a collection of photographs of graffiti in gypsy encampments in southwest France. But it’s not the colorful graffiti that is ubiquitous today, but rather, crudely written names of kids, which bring to mind the innocence and freedom of graffiti in 1970s New York. “When I discovered this graffiti, around 2002, I was fascinated by it,” says FUZI, the artist who published the book. “It was like vandalism in its purest form.” Quartiers Gitans de Perpignan is handmade and hand bound, and limited to just 100 signed-and-numbered copies.
Before & Further
If colorful graffiti and street art is more your thing, then DABS & MYLA’s new book should be on the top of your wish list. Before & Further chronicles their ambitious takeover of a 4,000 square-foot building in Los Angeles, which they painted inside and out, and filled with hand-painted Modernica furniture, lighting and ceramics. The 144-page book is jam-packed with the couple’s playful pieces and characters, like an aquamarine mural of cat faces and flower vases with triangles and squiggly lines. It’s limited to 2,500 copies, so we’d recommend purchasing now.
Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam
This comic looks cute—the main characters are a cat, an owl, a witch and a werewolf—but it’s actually dirtier than Real Deal. How can that be? Well, to start, they’re all on massive amounts of drugs and totally uncensored. In just one spread, the cat and the witch have sex in an Ikea, a parking lot, and then in a park, before the witch asks if she can stop. “I’m a bit bored,” she says, “and you need to trim your claws.” Then, in another spread, the characters hitchhike to a festival in the back of a bloody pickup truck, and later, the werewolf cries about how he gave two friends and his wife herpes and gonorrhea.
NSFW, a new book by esteemed British fashion photographer Rankin, is a collection of nude photographs taken throughout his 25-year career. Labeled the “Erotic Greatest Hits” of his nude work, the 303-page hardcover book features provocative shots of models hitchhiking naked in the desert, dipped in silver metallic paint, and much more. And although the book is outright sexy, it’s Rankin’s intention to celebrate and empower the female form.
Uncategorized, by photographer Chi Modu, features 200 pages of previously unseen photos of Tupac Shakur from 1994 to 1996. What makes this book particularly special is that many of the photos are candid: In one image, Pac drinks a beer on a sunny afternoon, and in another, he laughs and hugs a friend. The book offers an up-close and personal look at who Tupac really was, and reminds us why we came to love him, and why we still miss him. “Tupac had a profound impact on so many people, and his appeal transcends race, class, age, and geography,” Modu says. “It’s time to celebrate his life and there’s no better way than to share these photos with the world.”
Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Cookbook
Pick this one up for any Mobb Deep fan or friend who’s in trouble with the law. Commissary Kitchen is a cookbook of recipes that multi-platinum musician Prodigy improvised during his 3-and-a-half year stint in prison. The ingredients for each recipe can be found in any prison’s commissary, and the collection includes “P’s Prison Potstickers” (made of elbow macaroni, a can of mixed vegetables, butter and hot sauce); “Don’t Try This at Home Prison Surprise” (ramen noodles, Doritos, canned fish and hot sauce); and “Prison Sangria” (apples, oranges, mixed fruit cups, bread, ketchup and sugar). As one clever reviewer on Amazon wrote, “Ain’t no such thing as halfway cooks.”