In the early 2000s, ex-graffiti artist and indie label owner Austin Wilde ran a label that released cult classic compilation albums, including a hip-hop-inspired series called BADMEANiNGOOD, for which he commissioned a then-little-known graffiti artist named Banksy to produce four album covers and posters, and an additional 12″ sleeve for the 2002–2003 releases. Back then, Wilde shared an office with Banky’s first manager.
The concept for the albums was to shine a light on the compiler’s musical influences. The tracks chosen by each compiler were the soundtrack to their experience, a Venn diagram of hip-hop, turntablism, and sample culture. The strapline for the series was “Personal. Musical. A Hip-Hop Chronicle,” and this remains as true today as it was then.
Working with Stephen Earl (Banksy’s then manager), Banksy assigned Wilde the copyright for the designs. This in itself is a rarity, as Banksy only did this twice as far as we know:, the other being for Blur’s “Think Tank” album, released in May 2003, which features a couple wearing aqualungs and kissing.
For the first release by Skitz, Banksy produced an original image of heavy artillery wearing a pair of Adidas. A canvas of this image was sold with Pest Control authentication via Sotheby’s in 2008. For the remaining album covers, Banksy repurposed existing images from his catalog that would work within the subversion of the bad/good thematic principle.
“Ain’t Half Bad: The History of BADMEANiNGOOD” by Austin Wilde
Since the launch of the BADMEANiNGOOD mixtape series in 2001, twenty-something years have passed — and they have now become cult collectors’ items around the world. And in the world of music and rare records, “cult collector’s items” is very much a synonym for “lost a shitload of money when it was first released,” and that, fly girls and homeboys, is very much the case with BADMEANiNGOOD.
The four BADMEANiNGOOD mixtapes shone a strobe light on the selector’s musical inspirations and featured seismic songs that paved the way for jungle, dubstep, and grime. These musical game-changers went head-to-head with stone-cold classics: unrivaled samples, and super-rare esoteric breaks, all culled from the golden songbook of black music’s past.
“Right place, right time” is not a synonym but a well-trodden truth. And the reason these mixtapes are so celebrated is not solely musical but more akin to the fourth element of Hip-Hop: Graffiti. Namely, the artist who compiled the artwork for the series, Banksy (more on him shortly).
Right place, right time was very much the case for BADMEANiNGOOD creator Austin Wilde. I’m the person writing this marketing asset. Hello. I’m fully grown now but, way back then; a pre-pubescent kid from the ‘burbs, out to the East of London; a place of car factories, concrete dull greyness, a Tory heartland that swam in the flatlands of mono-culture, a place football vetoed music six days out of seven.
Something irrevocably changed when, aged 11 in 1985, I watched Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five perform ‘Step Off’ on Top of the Pops. In grey — the single color that had soundtracked my life until that point — school trousers with grass stains ingrained at the knees, I sat cross-legged and transfixed at Melle Mel and Keef Cowboy, acutely aware that I’d get a kick-in if I wore their outfits to youth club.
The performance was full of everything I’d never heard or seen at that point. It had surely been recorded in deep space. It was music from another planet, a planet I wanted to inhabit. Behind me, on a floral sofa with matching floral cushions, my mum and dad feigned indifference. Whilst for me, the song felt like the only progressive thing ever to have happened anywhere, ever.
Mum and dad made it clear they didn’t think it was music.
This made me like it more.
But in one way, they were right: it wasn’t just music. It was the Manhattan Project bomb — re-engineered in the Bronx Projects — going off on the other side of the Atlantic: a nuclear happening that made things better by getting rid of Duran Duran. I can’t say it for certain, but this moment started something that the release of Yo! Bum Rush the Show galvanized two years later: the need to escape the grey.
Pretty soon after, I started writing graffiti myself.
Pretty soon after that, I found the planet I wanted to inhabit. It was called Ladbroke Grove, home to the Notting Hill Carnival, officially the un-greyest place I’d ever been, which is strange considering we spent most of our first visits underneath a section of elevated motorway, the Westway, taking photos of wildstyle graffiti in the belly of a pour grey concrete beast.
As things turned out, I ended up moving to Ladbroke Grove, starting a record label in 2000 and sharing an office, beneath the Westway, with Banksy’s first manager Stephen Earl. Right place, right time.
This is where I first met Banksy, who had recently relocated from Bristol to make his mark. Already a seasoned contrarian with considerable and admirable swagger, he was presumably attracted to the same glorious multicultural, expressive explosions that happened on the daily in this part of town. Or, perhaps, because he’d run out of walls to paint in Bristol; who knows? Much mystery whenever he’s involved. But one thing’s for sure, he lived around the corner from me with a lad from Virgin Records. And was a regular at the watering holes frequented almost exclusively by creative types, of which there was plenty, all relocated to (what was) the epicenter of the music industry: everyone on the hustle in the heyday of their twenties.
Rent in West London was, even then, fucking exorbitant, and writing on walls wasn’t (yet) the best way to make an easy living. Like Warhol before him, Banksy took on a few commercial music jobs from which he could continue to fund his other project: poking a stick in the eye of a whole city. Given what I wanted BADMEANiNGOOD to be, a celebration of Hip-Hop and its influences, and my ‘one desk away’ proximity to his manager, it felt like the right thing to ask Banksy to be a part of the project.
At the time, having him turn up at the office for a meeting never felt like the arrival of street art’s caped crusader anti-hero, but somehow that’s what it feels like in retrospect to others. Part of this has to do with timing, the Banksy of 2000 was not the Banksy of today; if you were into music in that part of West London at that time, he was known.
But the seeds of a covert identity were already being sown, an aloofness was perpetuated by him and his manager. Looking back, I’m unsure if this was by design or requirement: producing provocative illegal work attracted unwanted attention from the same police force who have subsequently protected his public works. I only ever knew him by his first name, and our conversations never involved a past outside of the cultural interests we shared.
At our first planning meeting, he very nearly walked out because someone he didn’t know was in attendance. For Banksy then, staying out of jail was good for business.
In keeping with the BADMEANiNGOOD name, Banksy’s idea for the series illustration was based upon subversion: an anti-aircraft gun in trainers, a police car on bricks, crows detaching the wiring to CCTV cameras, and a tank with bunny ears in place of the weaponry.
The typographical elements and the large cross upon which the illustrations sat were all based upon hazardous chemical labels, the type you find on radioactive waste. All the album covers are what the major art auction houses refer to as ‘signature Banksy’ — and the first release, by Skitz, was produced exclusively for the series.
The vinyl and CD formats all featured his logo — and we produced stickers, posters, and beer coasters distributed to record stores, club venues, and the above-mentioned watering holes for creatives. Another graffiti writer and friend of Banksy’s, Solo One, plastered the stickers across London, and the posters got pasted to walls at busy intersections or outside of nightclubs.
The press adored the albums, but they sold poorly, and the well of marketing money soon dried up. The 2x World DMC Champions, the Scratch Perverts, closed the series in July 2003 — ironically, the only album to turn a profit.
A couple of years later, our distributor went bust, meaning a lot of people lost a lot of money — and, sadly, I had to close the label.
I never saw Banksy much after that, I believe he moved to East London, and I stayed West. In 2009, we bumped into each other backstage at the Hyde Park Blur gig, who were now a part of my A&R roster at my new gig, Creative Director of EMI Music Publishing. I have a vague memory of seeing him leave the afterparty, but I could be wrong.
I now work as a muralist. It’s funny how things turn out.
Austin Wilde @nofrescoyo
Both Austin Wilde and MakersPlace will donate 10% of their sales proceeds to MOAS Ukraine, a charitable organization that brings medical aid and assistance to the conflict-affected civilians of Ukraine.
Vinyl 12″ REMIX
Roots Manuva x The Beatles: Yellow Submarine – The Completest Edition
The second in the BADMEANINGOOD series came from the one and only Roots Manuva: unarguably one of the most influential figures in UK Hip-Hop. Recorded as an exclusive for the album and available as a single-edition NFT (complete with deadstock, unplayed vinyl) is his dubbed-out cover of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” — a serious collectors’ item in its own right.
Raised in Stockwell by Jamaican parents, his father was a preacher and a tailor — and Roots Manuva’s music, undoubtedly a precursor to Grime, still fits the music it inspired like a bespoke suit.
For the rear of the album artwork, Banksy produced a portrait of Roots Manuva featuring a radio aerial sprouting from his left ear. For the cover, Banksy’s theme of subversion continues by removing a tank’s weaponry and replacing it with a natty bow tie. As with all BADMEANiNGOOD albums, the artwork is what major auction houses term “signature Banksy” — nuff said, buff ting!
Redeemable: Buyer will receive an original near-mint 12″ Vinyl of “Roots Manuva x The Beatles – Yellow Submarine” via fully tracked and insured international shipping. In this condition, these records fetch upward of $735 on vinyl exchanges. This special “completest edition” will also come with an O.G sticker and second edition 50x70cm Roots Manuva poster stamped and signed by series creator and copyright owner Austin Wilde.
Each poster NFT comes with a limited-edition physical 1/5 blueback poster. This is the first time the full range of Blueback posters have been available on the open market, come with a certificate of authenticity, and are stamped and signed by BADMEANiNGOOD copyright owner and series creator Austin Wilde.
“Blueback” posters, so called because the reverse is blue, remain the best way to connect with street culture today as they did in 2001. They are very large format (60”x40”) and can be found on walls in the nightclub neighborhoods of every global metropolis. These are very rare, few remain, and they change hands for $6000 when they come onto the market. The buyer will receive a blueback poster (1/5 editions made) via free, fully insured, and tracked international shipping.
Priority expedited shipping can be arranged at an extra fee.
Vol. 1 SKITZ Large Poster NFT + Physical
The first release from the BADMEANINGOOD series was compiled and mixed by Skitz, a key player in the UK hip-hop and turntablist movement in the early noughties. The mixtapes tracklist was eclectic and featured musical game changers that drew from the past and paved the way for Grime, Dubstep, and Jungle. Skitz’s diverse selection includes records such as Roots Manuva’s synth-bass-laden “Witness (1 Hope)’ and Slick Rick’s top-down smash hit “Mona Lisa.”
Banksy produced the album’s original artwork, and this image has only ever appeared in the BADMEANINGOOD series. As with all BADMEANiNGOOD albums, the artwork is what major auction houses term “signature Banksy.” In addition, Banksy produced four canvases of this image, one of which sold at Sotheby’s for $332,000 in March 2021.
Vol. 2 ROOTS MANUVA Large Poster NFT + Physical
The second in the BADMEANINGOOD series came from the one and only Roots Manuva: unarguably one of the most influential figures in UK hip-hop. Raised in Stockwell by Jamaican parents, his father was a preacher and a tailor — and Roots Manuva’s music, undoubtedly a precursor to Grime, still fits the music it inspired like a bespoke suit. “Brand New, Second Hand” (his debut for Njina Tune’s Big Dada label) signaled the arrival of an influential voice, and his breakout single “Witness the Fitness” is a stone-cold classic and very probably the best UK rap record ever made.
Banksy’s theme of subversion for the cover continues by removing a tank’s weaponry and replacing it with a natty bow tie. As with all BADMEANiNGOOD albums, the artwork is what major auction houses term “signature Banksy” — ‘nuff said, buff ting!
Vol. 3 PEANUT BUTTER WOLF Large Poster NFT + Physical
The third in the BADMEANiNGOOD series saw its first trip across the pond to the Bay Area and was impeccably compiled by Stones Throw Records’ head-honcho Peanut Butter Wolf. The tracklist and mix had breakdancing and the dancefloor at its beating heart. Post-Kraftwerk early electro from NYC, soul gemstones from Roy Ayers, and reggae from Prince Far I — the mix was nothing short of an eclectic masterpiece.
Banksy again produced a signature masterpiece for the album: an LAPD car, its wheels replaced by bricks — its mobility nullified by the artist.
Vol. 4 SCRATCH PERVERTS Large Poster NFT + Physical
With 2x World Technics / DMC Team World Champion titles and two ITF individual titles for member Prime Cuts, the Scratch Perverts crew need little introduction. Their BADMEANiNGOOD mix, paired with original Banksy artwork, was termed a hip-hop head’s wet dream by the UK music press. With an all-killer, no-filler eclectic tracklist that spanned Lalo Schifrin, Gang Starr, Squarepusher, and Minnie Ripperton, it’s fair to say that this was the series’ stand-out mixtape.
For the artwork, Banksy again produced a signature masterpiece based on a piece of his street sculpture most regularly referred to as the CCTV Crows, in which the birds disconnect the camera’s wires, a way of debilitating mass state surveillance to let the artist work in anonymity.