underneath that strange purple cloud hovering over my house. We worked our day jobs, we worked our FUBU sideline, we networked at clubs and parties and music video sets . . . and we waited to hit it big. We counted on it. The trick came in seeing it coming. In those days, we still had a little black and white television in the house, no cable, and I had it set up in the kitchen. One of those rabbit-eared sets, with the tin foil on the antenna. We’d see one of our videos come on Ralph McDaniels’ smoke 101
show and get all excited. First couple times it happened, we were jumping all around, clapping each other on the back, just out of our minds. Then we got used to it, but it never completely lost that little thrill. I still get amped every time I see one of my garments on a rap artist or celebrity. I get an even bigger charge when I see someone wearing one of our shirts out on the street or in a club, because that to me is just about the ultimate validation of what we do. But those first few times, seeing one of our hockey jerseys or jackets or t-shirts in a video . . . that was big-time, and we just hoped like hell the second- mortgage money held out long enough for us to fill all our orders. >> 05 Wasn’t long before every company on the planet began to target music videos as a promotional tool. I’m surprised it took that long, but by the butt-end of 1995, front-end of 1996, after we had about a six-month running start, MTV began blur- ring the logos and images on videos that seemed to be a little too strategically placed on and around the artists who appeared in their featured videos. I guess their thinking was, if Pepsi or Ralph Lauren or Mercedes-Benz was going to advertise on their network, they were going to pay for it, which meant that even if we convinced an artist to wear our clothes the FUBU logo would be scrambled. Still, a music video in heavy rotation on MTV was worth millions, in terms of product placement and brand recognition. All those repeat plays . . . it was like buying a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl. No way was I gonna let those suits at MTV DISPLAY OF POWER 102
close this little backdoor on me without some kind of fight. I knew there had to be a way around the MTV censors—there’s always a way!—and I came up with a new logo that I thought would be scram- ble-proof and at the same time signal our brand. I stole the idea from a lot of clothing companies, like Abercrombie & Fitch and Polo, which used the year of their launch in a lot of their designs, and Nike, which used Michael Jordan’s uniform number, 23, as a kind of brand, only in our case I wasn’t out to celebrate any anniversary or sports icon. I was out to celebrate me and my partners, and since there were five of us (me, Keith, Carl, J and that fifth Beatle), I hit on the number 05. For a while in there, we put that number on everything. Shirts, jackets, hockey jerseys, hats . . . To most people, it just looked like a number on a team uniform, but of course no athlete wore a 0 in front of the 5.
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