King Adz embodies everything that is Street Culture and has a long history of exploring and promoting it. In his own words, “I am fascinated by culture, food, travel and stories from the streets of the world. I am not a chef, never have been and never will be; in other words I am a writer who loves to cook.” A writer, a cook, a filmmaker and most recently Creative Engineer on Honda’s Dream Factory project, we caught up with him to find out a little bit more. You seem to have done a huge range of things with your life so far – tell us a bit about how you got here. Well when I left school at 15 I was going to be a chef, but the opening of the restaurant I had the apprenticeship in was delayed, and so I went to art school instead. Looking back it was definitely the right decision. Take The Urban Cook Book – I didn’t want it to be a cookery book, because there are loads of them about, and there are loads of books about graffiti as well. I wanted to do something different. It’s not a book for foodies, because foodies are middle-class wannabees. My books are for people who like street culture and who want to eat some bloody good food. And I had some offers to take it on TV, but I turned them down, because it is what it is and I didn’t want to kill it by making it into something it wasn’t. It’s done well around the world, actually. Anyway, from being an art director I kinda slipped into directing films – something I’m still very into now, and I recently shot films in both Rwanda and Mali. And from there I went into writing books, which is what I’ve always wanted to do from time. I’m really lucky because each book I write is an excuse to work with my heroes, from Tama Janowitz to Irvine Welsh (who wrote the intro to my new book). I sometimes still work in advertising, but you know to be really inspirational you really can’t do adverts – look at Iggy Pop. It’s easy for me to say this because I’ve worked my way up in advertising so I know it; I’ve already prostituted myself. Knowing how the system works means I can bend it around me – take Jamie Oliver for example; he can’t talk about real street food or use street vernacular because Sainsbury’s won’t let him. Everyone’s got an eye on the profits now, the companies they can get in with, the lines they can spin-off. That’s just not how it should work. The true original shit is the stuff that doesn’t translate well into advertising, or spin-off onto the TV. This is a shot I took in the middle of nowhere in a village in Mali. Biggie gets about... Graffiti and cookery are an interesting combination - where did your love for both originate and which came first? Let's get one thing straight. Graffiti and Street Art are two separate art forms. My work has primarily been in Street Art, but I have respect for Graffiti as this was where Street Art came from. I've been immersed in street culture, which includes Graffiti and Street Art, for the last 25 years, even before I was at St. Martins studying Advertising. I love street culture and I love food. They are one and the same. Street culture for me is about creativity, about realising your dreams, which is how I got involved with the Dream Factory (Honda’s creative project to celebrate the launch of the CR-V) Tell us a bit more about that – what was your role in the Dream Factory project? Well I know Church of London and so I trust them, I know they do things right. So when they got in touch with me about this I was willing to get involved. It’s an interesting thing for a car company to do, as well. For the Dream Factory I helped out with suggestions of a couple of very talented people who were doing more than just the usual relentless self-promotion. The idea of Cultural Engineers suggests a more social role and this was good as I am working with Kevin Harman and had previously worked with Dicken Marshall, and both are doing good work. There are a lot of people involved in the Dream Factory who I admire. I was a consultant for the project and I’m glad they listened to me. Is there a particular city that kindled your love for street culture? New York and LA in the beginning of my travels and Tel Aviv now. I would move there tomorrow if I could as I absolutely love the place, and all my friends there are supercool and so talented. I really just want to connect with like-minded people. The inspiration you get when you surround yourself with like-minded souls is incredible: this is the magic you can’t describe, let alone bottle. What's the best street food you've ever eaten and where was it? Lamuchan and Shabir in Tel Aviv; = Bunny Chow and the Cape Malay lamb curry in roti in Cape Town...Lekker Lekker. London is rubbish for street food, which is a shame. Because street food isn’t about a greasy hot dog stand, it’s about real, quality food, available for everyone all the time. Places like Sunday Up Market, they’re a start, but street food really has to be in the culture from the beginning. Which graffiti artist(s) do you most admire and why? I am lucky to be friends with Quik, who was one of the original New York artists, and his work does it for me everytime. But also massive respect goes to Dr Revolt and Seen. My favourite Street Artists are Broken Fingaz from Haifa, Hush from Newcastle, and 'G' from Paris.
Levis advert Tell me a bit about your upcoming book, Street Knowledge. Street Knowledge is an A to Z of street culture and is the result of the last 25 years of my life crammed into 320 pages. It's a great body of work and an end of a chapter in my life. I can't say anymore at the moment. Which city have you most enjoyed spending time in, and which city would you most like to visit?
I love Tel Aviv. And I'm looking forward to a time when I can visit Mogadishu. I'm totally in love with the continent of Africa. I've recently been to Rwanda and Mali, where I shot a couple of films. Watch them here To find out more about King Adz, use the following links: Website Twitter Films To find out more about The Dream Factory and the Cultural Engineers visit www.dreamfactoryuk.com or follow them on Twitter @ourdreamfactory. All images copyright King Adz. Main image: album art