For those of you who weren’t good at filling in words with missing letters in your infant days, the above t-shirt has the slogan ‘Cocaine and Caviar’. This is a picture that I took of myself wearing the tee from street clothing label Crooks and Castles back in July 2011. Since this picture was taken, I have worn the t-shirt four more times, I have had sex with a girl in Magaluf with this t-shirt and two days ago, I burnt this t-shirt. Why? Cos I realised what it meant

Recently, there has been a growth in interest in brands such as Crooks and Castles, Supreme and Obey, something stimulated by Hip-Hop artists such as Tyler The Creator, Mac Miller and Kendrick Lamar; people who are seemingly idolised by the Hip-Hop youth of today. The fundamental aspect of many of these brands is to promote that ‘street’ look which is home to many people of the world, ultimately people which include the rappers mentioned above. Consequently, as a result of the promotion of the ‘street’ life, you get logans such as ‘Cocaine and Caviar’ which means one thing to a hustler-grown-rapper in Compton and a complete another thing to a 17 year old boy from North London who’s trying to look ‘dope’ and ‘swag’ with the car his parents bought him and the 5-bedroom house in the suburbs. For that Compton kid, the slogan exemplifies the dream of moving from his cocaine selling days to a life where an expensive commodity such as caviar is more than a dream, more than a luxury. The slogan represents a way of life, a struggle which the poor, pre-dominantly black youth have to deal with. For that boy from North London? It just looks sick. 

What I’m trying to say is that before adopting a culture, or adopting elements of a culture, you have to understand the culture. By understanding that culture, you can then place yourself within it and assess whether a t-shirt that says ‘Cocaine & Caviar’ or ‘Dope Crisis’ is something which you should wear. Now obviously, it’s largely the fault of the brand that they promote these kind of things to a global audience but as a consumer, we have to ensure that we don’t get sucked in by it and that we respect the story behind the t-shirt. So next time you see an item of clothing, or a piece of art that you like, think about it, and think about the story behind it. Don’t promote things you don’t understand.