Luke Sick's Music/Culture zine LET'S SIDE Rewinds to Simpler Pre-Digital Age Aesthetic

Posted by Billyjam, October 7, 2015 11:23pm | Post a Comment
10 Random LET'S SIDE Items culled from Issues #1 thru #8

1:  LUCKY 13 by Lord Toph
2: On That Town Shit
    Confessions of a Rap Nerd

3: "Resident gets a package of gorilla dung"  newspaper story
4: Memphis Murder Music
5: To Make D.M.T. In Your Kitchen
6: Five "rarish" Bay Area rap records
7: RBL Posse early 1990's In-A-Minute press photo
8: Break Science & The MC
9: Ocean Floor Records profile
10: 5 Random Grabs by DJ Eons One

You've got to love everything about DIY music and culture zine LET'S SIDE - the Bay rap-rooted, retro styled, DIY printed publication that is curated and published by longtime Bay Area underground hip-hop artist and label owner Luke Sick (Grand Invincible / Grand Killa Con) who, via his original hip-hop crew Sacred Hoop, initially came to fame in the 1990's. That same decade gets a lot of throwback love in the zine that Luke launched three years ago and has tirelessly been publishing ever since.  LET'S SIDE is a heartfelt homage to not just the nineties but that whole era of 80's/90's/early 2000's right before the Internet pretty much took over everything. His zine's stubbornly simple, pre-digital / analog aesthetics are similar to Luke's indie music label MegaKut - on which he releases extremely limited run cassette-only releases of typically a 100 copies total pressing. Similarly LET'S SIDE is a print only, quarterly zine, of which only a 100 printed copies are made. The zines are all handmade by Luke down at his local Xerox store - just like in the olden days before websites, blogs, and Instagram when information was limited and slowly disseminated. With a small talented crew of contributors, but no advertising or financial backing - just his passion for music and culture Luke delivers a wonderfully raw, unpolished, throwback style zine that is unlike any other. 

LET'S SIDE's wide ranging music and cultural reference points encompass such divergent topics and subjects as William S. Burroughs (cover of issue #5), Memphis Murder Rap (in latest issue #8),  a newspaper headline and report on a San Mateo resident receiving an unwanted package of gorilla dung (part of a collage of local newspaper headlines in issue #6), to a graf centerfold collection photographed by Southpaw Sibler that include legendary, long defunct Market Street SF writers haven Psycho CIty among his "photos from the 1990's taken while cutting High School or on travel to Europe."

Looking more like a publication from 1992 than 2015 LET'S SIDE - that takes its name from an early recording by E-40 and The Click - goes completely against grain in this digital age, taking readers back to the relatively simple pre-Internet era when the printed word in underground zines, be they punk rock or hip-hop, was the main information pipeline. Like punk zines from the 80's and 90's LET'S SIDE revels in its raw unpolished, cut and paste layout that is unapologetically all B+W including the graffiti photo layouts. Note however that he does make a handful of color Xerox copies such as his newest issue whose cover and center pages are full color. That latest issue is LET'S SIDE is Issue 8 Fall 2015. Its diverse subjects include a Slick Rick Interview, Break Science & The MC, Bay Scene Report, Metal Mixtapes, Awesome J Da Deathsnake's aforementioned Memphis Murder Music, a Fairfield CA rap report [Confessions of a Rap Nerd - Fresh Out The Flats], Hella Fiction [Jaundice by Justin Kennedy], and Toph One's Lucky 13. The latter alone is enough of a reason to track down LET'S SIDE for its author is noted longtime SF DJ / scribe / cultural commentator, and curator of the Red Wine Social parties. This is "Lord" Toph's legendary Lucky 13. This is the column that during the publishing days of beloved SF electronic and beats music magazine XLR8R, Toph One's Lucky 13 column was the article that XLR8R readers flipped to first to read. And as you will see from his latest Fall 2015 Lucky 13 column (scroll down to see scan) Toph One is as culturally observant and as sharp a writer as ever.

"The main goal of Let's Side is to keep the issues coming out!" said Luke Sick who uses some of the same indie distribution channels that he sells the cassettes and records on his MegaKut label on, to get the zine out there. He credits one of his musical collaborators - DJ Eons One in Grand Invincible - for turning him onto the such fanzines as "Node Pajomo and Pukka Joint Massiv from Bellingham, WA, Hot Dog Dayz and SodaKillers from Minnesota, Bacon in the Beans from Thousand Oaks, Ca, Ear of Corn from Michigan and Throat Culture out of Chico, Ca" - all of which gave him his initial inspiration to first do LET'S SIDE. "When I made the first issue it was to trade through the mail to get [those] other zines I was reading at the time," he said of his labor of love publication whose format he describes as covering "a variety of kinds of music/culture but mostly hip-hop oriented stuff with a highlight on the Bay scene around us. We are also obsessed with collecting (anything), graffiti, fiction, cutty Bay Area shit, crime, sex, sedition, drugs, fiction, mail art, trading DIY USPS publications, music reviews, artist interviews, collages, comics, tapes, records and ourselves." The end result is a cut-and-paste collage of interesting oddball stories and images that will keep its readers busy reading for hours.

Unique in that LET'S SIDE is a new publication in this online age presented in a strictly retro manner as a printed stapled mag I wondered how the overall reception to LET'S SIDE has been? "My first reactions were from people who could generally give two-shits about the web," said Luke Sick adding that, "I did create a Tumblr of some scans of the first bunch of issues so the people of the Internetz could find out about it." Despite (or perhaps because of) its atypical raw and gritty presentation, people have most definitely been noticing LET'S SIDE. "Red Bull Music Academy added us into an expose they did on rap mags new and old, and I thought that was really really cool," noted Luke Sick who, not surprisingly, adapts a simple basic distribution model to getting his zine seen. "I usually sell the zine through mail-order and around the Bay at local shows, happy hours and other events, or on consignment at local record stores. Right now Park Blvd. Records & Tapes in Oakland is carrying issue #8." Those lucky to cop the zine are loving it. "The response from people has been 100% positive." reports Luke. "I think folks are generally happy to have a weird book of stuff to flip through in their hands again. Peeping out cutty links of dope shit when you can sneak it at work is kinda tight, but when you get home it's way sicker to curl up with a good book of shit you might be into or amused that someone else is."

LET'S SIDE is affiliated with To mailorder the zine, that sells for $3 to $5, email [email protected] (PayPal is the same address). In addition to aforementioned places to find the zine Luke invites folks to "Come to me and Toph One's happy hour "Gurp Wino Showcase" at F8 (1192 Folsom SF) every first Friday from 5pm-9pm-ish for art, drinks, DJ sets and rap shows. As for what to expect in Issue #9? "I'm trying to interview a rap group from Redwood City called USF (United Sicko Foundation) who put out only one 12" back in 2001 on Family of Resistance Records and there is a rumor that we might get an interview with Chico, CA rap pioneer Diz Money whose first tape came out in 1989-90 I think." Luke Sick added that he might even change the current format. "I was thinking of graduating to a tabloid-size newspaper format and our "Lucky 13" columnist has urged me to start soliciting ads, but trips to Kinko's are all I can handle right now."

Relevant Tags

Toph One's Lucky 13 (1), Bay Area (34), The Click (8), Megakut (1), Gurp City (11), Sacred Hoop (2), Luke Sick (5), Toph One (5), Let's Side (2)