The notion of retro has been greatly relativized in the 21st century. It has become clear that one cannot simply “take” a symbol from the past, rip it out of the cultural context it resided in, and just recycle it with no meaning whatsoever. Rather, this is a task for those who feel devoted to a cultural time and can, through this kind of appreciation, give life to a symbol from the past in a different way. In a way, this can be called the culture of remembering, and it is much needed in the realm of pop culture. Illustrator and DJ, Axel Pfaender, and his team seem to have understood this, and showed it to the public at an event at HHV Store in Berlin, on July 18th 2014, presenting their new boombox models – The New Oldschool.
The Berlin Boombox is a project that has come to life with the successful fusion of several elements of the popular culture. On the one hand, the most important element which rests on the solid ground of a good idea, this project has started from the notion of cultural memory by paying tribute to an era mostly remembered as a time when sharing musical experiences on the streets was paramount. Secondly, the project has incorporated a fresh approach to an old symbol, both aesthetically and structurally. The boombox is a product of innovative design, wrapped in DiY kit built with the appreciation of the environment in mind. Finally, the project came into existence through a crowdfunding process on Kickstarter, where it became clear that a good idea does not go unnoticed.
Yo! MTV Raps, a show which lasted from 1988 to 1995, in the period when MTV was a cult phenomenon, represented more than a TV show. It became a platform for the part of a youth culture of that period, bringing rap and hip-hop sounds to the general public. It was the time when young people from different parts of the world became aware of a music culture which resided only in underground clubs of major US cities. Yo! MTV Raps didn’t only bring the new sounds of a generation to the surface of popular culture, but also a specific culture of visual proportions – fashion style, direction of the videos and conversations with the notable and emerging names from the world of rap and hip-hop music. This was one of the first arenas for multiethnic and multi-race groups of people to acquire the spotlight for a wider audience.
The Berlin Boombox, with the total awareness of the importance of remembering such cultural phenomena, have decided to give homage to the Yo! MTV Raps by designing a boombox. The visual tribute is reflected on the daring and flashy design representing the recognizable 1980s style. On the other hand, celebrating the culture of remembering, The Berlin Boombox, with their new models New Oldschool, organized an event which showed devotion to such elements of a 1980s scene as loud music, breakdance competition and mixtape sharing. So, if you remember the times when MTV actually played music, and you enjoy the beats of rap and hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s, the crew of The Berlin Boombox are surely your kind of folks.