Supreme New York, a clothing brand built upon hype, exclusivity and over-exaggerated white T-shirts, got into the Houston rap business last week. Its long-rumored collaboration with Rap-A-Lot Records went live, and as opposed to a bunch of diehard fans of the Geto Boys, the Odd Squad, the Convicts, Big Mike, Z-Ro and more showing up to make purchases, diehard Supreme fans showed up instead.
One thing that needs be noticed about the Supreme x Rap-A-Lot team-up is how Supreme kept the apparel relatively simple: windbreaker jackets, album-cover T-shirts, hoodies and leather hats. But because the label says Supreme, a brand synonymous with American streetwear culture, it can be that basic and still sell out. How big of a tag are we talking with the Rap-A-Lot capsule? The recent pop-up at Sole Lounge (5959 Richmond) charged admission just to let people potentially pay for Supreme gear. America, y’all. ’Murica.
But I have my questions. As should we all.
5. How Much Did J. Prince Punk Supreme Out for This?
Rap-A-Lot CEO J. Prince, original gangster from the Fifth Ward, doubles as one of the savviest businessmen in rap, depending on who you ask. So no way on God’s green earth there was a 50-50 deal between Supreme and Rap-A-Lot in regards to apparel. Houstonians speak about J. Prince in hushed tones, like he’s the Boogeyman. What makes you possibly consider the idea of Supreme boss James Jebbia negotiating with J. Prince and walking away feeling confident he got the upper hand? You don’t. In case you needed a reminder of J. Prince's gangster, he's willing to go through hell and high water to not only get his son Jas's money from Birdman, but Lil Wayne as well — to the point where he will even, according to hiphopwired.com, reach into the Cash Money founder's anal cavity to do so.
4. Who Decided on the Geto Boys?
If you’re going to mention Rap-A-Lot in the canon of Southern rap, then you obviously need to mention the Geto Boys. You know, the tried and true trio of Bushwick Bill, Scarface and Willie D. But do you know how easy it is to screen-print a copy of the We Can’t Be Stopped cover onto a white T-shirt and feel impressive? Supreme should have taken into account how ridiculous the Rap-A-Lot catalog is, and printed a ton of T-shirts with Devin the Dude’s The Dude on it. Or The Convicts' first album with “1-900-Dial-A-Crook” on it. Or Willie D’s Controversy cover — which is begging to be put on a T-shirt. But no, Supreme knew that the litmus test for anything and everything Rap-A-Lot begins with that Geto Boys album.
3. Could Supreme Have Teamed With Another Iconic Houston Imprint?
No, and that may be the beauty of it. DJ Screw’s estate has a lock on all things Screw and Screwed Up Records & Tapes, and holds more Screw merchandise than anybody else in the world. Swishahouse, which runs in a similar legacy-minded vein, could have the same run but have already set up their own shop. Rap-A-Lot is the foundation for many, and I do mean many, a boutique rap label. Rap-A-Lot is relative to Coca-Cola in this sense. It’s a brand name. Not to be confused with the idea of Pepsi as a brand name because woof.
2. How Did We Fail London as a Rap Culture? Or Did London Fail Itself?
Hypebeast, a streetwear/culture website that essentially exists to document all kinds of reactions to Supreme drops, decided to interview a few customers over in London who got the Supreme x Rap-A-Lot gear early. Some of the responses to “Who is Mike Jones?” or the people who thought Skrillex and DJ Khaled could have been responsible for Screw music, are reprehensible. The real joy is found in the comments section, where reading everything with a British accent is infinitely more fun. Though I will never forgive the English for believing "Slab" means cocaine.
1. Did You Know How Deep Supreme’s Music Collaborations Go?
Supreme’s first foray into Southern hip-hop came when they put Three 6 Mafia on a T-shirt in 2012. By proxy, it was a send-up to Hypnotize Minds, the Memphis-based label that gave us the genesis of crunk music. Before then, the brand had done tributes to Miles Davis, Dipset, N.W.A, Lou Reed and more. Whether or not the younger generation is fully aware of said artists isn’t the point. Supreme has built a reputation of being on the nose when it comes to the iconography of musicians plastered on their T-shirts and hoodies. Rap-A-Lot may be their first official touch point with Texas rap and Houston rap specifically. But Lord knows had they decided upon Pimp C, a symbol far more culturally significant at the present time, over Rap-A-Lot? Nobody would have given a dumb answer or two in regards to the legacy.
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