Mitchell & Ness is a big deal for a number of reasons. Not only is it the longest-running sports apparel company in our fair city, it’s been operating for over 100 years with licensing agreements with the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and collegiate sports. And as you may know, people love their sports and the accompanying gear. So much so that some people just love the gear. You may not be a fan of a team but, oooh, that jersey is fly. Upstairs at their flagship shop on 12th and Chestnut, I got a chance to sit down with Big K.R.I.T. for a few minutes to chat about a line of hats and clothes that he’s launching via Mitchell & Ness called The Drinker’s Club.
Justin Scott’s a 26-year-old emcee from Mississippi. He’s done some pretty major tour and co-headlining support for some big names like Wiz Khalifa (the Waken Baken Tour) and Curren$y (The Smoker’s Club Tour 2010). He was also named to XXL’s Top Eleven Freshmen of 2011, sitting in pretty heavy company: Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Yelawolf, Cyhi da Prynce and Kendrick Lamar. Like most emcees, he’s issued a few mixtapes but only one proper LP, Live from the Underground, which he produced himself and issued on Def Jam this past June. It’s tight (and on Spotify). What’s weird is that the single, “I Got This,” which has garnered nearly 2 million views, is hard as hell. It reminds me of Big Boi’s badass “In The A” (featuring T.I. and Luda) because it’s downhome and has an of-the-people video which includes lots of locals in the filming and stylistic portrayals of southern life. And while Live from the Underground’s got a few moments of straight-up ferociousness, it’s got a lot of chiller, artistic and thoughtful moments of reflection and peace.
ANYway, did you notice a theme in those tour names? Sounds like Curren$y’s as down with the herb as much as we all know Wiz is – every song’s about weed. But K.R.I.T. doesn’t actually smoke; he likes to drink. In fact, he was sippin’ on a SOLO cup as I spoke to him and I peeked at the spread behind him and noticed an open vodka bottle and some lemonade (plus a deep, disposable oven tin full of man-I-wish-I-knew). I asked what the three Xs were. “Prohibition,” he said, “and like moonshine.” He was tired of reppin’ for the weedheads, when he wasn’t even one himself, and needed to pay respect to the liquor lovers. A raise ya glass, with hats and sweatshirts.
We talked about jerseys and gear for a few. He’s played baseball all his life but doesn’t actually love the Braves – his mom and grandmom are from Chicago, so he’s a Cubs fan. I mentioned that I see jackets and hats all the time in Philly from not-Philly teams. “Nah, man, it’s cuz they like that color and it matches their shoes,” he said. “Look at [the DJ] – he’s not from Charlotte but he’s rockin’ that turquoise.” Truth. He’d been coveting Mitchell & Ness throwbacks since childhood, so he was pumped to jump on the opportunity to make his own branded line of swag. 2013’s about expanding his brand and doing more than just rapping, he said. Even though a mixtape’ll be dropping in the next few months (called K.R.I.T., which stands for King Remembered in Time) and a single (”I won’t say which song”) in the next few weeks. We’ll be looking for it on DatPiff and Pitchfork this spring.