With no monumental number to place behind it, the date March 9 came and—with the exception of a few staunch supporters—quietly dissipated, at least nationally.
Fortunately for us New York City dwellers, we’re in our own universe, and with Planet Brooklyn leading the charge, we grieved and partied the entire weekend in memory of the passing of all-time great emcee Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G., who died 17 years ago. Quite a few emcees have represented the borough since he’s been away, but only one has come close to the reverence Brooklyn holds for Biggie. One of the reasons was found in his first chart-topper “Juicy,” in which he spouts:
“I made the change from a common thief
“To up close and personal with Robin Leach
“And I’m far from cheap, I smoke skunk with my peeps all day
“Spread love; it’s the Brooklyn way.”
That’s the communal “when I get on, we all get on” vibe that’s expressed by everyone aspiring for success but who forget the community that molded the ethic, mind frame and talent that helped them up the ladder.
Upstart fashion designer Jamal Smith knows the feeling oh so well. As a transplanted New Yorker, Smith found his way back home as a featured designer for Fashion Week Brooklyn with his clothing line Everything Brooklyn. The event, his initial runway show, was held at Gotham Stages in his hometown. It wasn’t met with angst or nerves, but the typical steely resolve that Brooklyn is known for.
Said Smith, “The fashion show was great. It was hectic and awesome at the same time. I was too consumed at the time to really get the experience, but I received a lot of great reviews and I am still getting positive feedback from the show. My team really took an extra step to make it perfect for the company. I am looking forward to the next fashion show.”
What did excite Smith, however, was the chance to hit the streets—the source of his creative flow.
“Just walking around and seeing the diversity of Brooklyn is an inspiration. I grew up here, and I realize Brooklyn makes you a different being, and it shows in my work. Every design of my shirts reflects some part of my life,” said Smith. “Like the one shirt that reads ‘I am still Brooklyn.’ It was designed for me and others that don’t live in New York City anymore, but we are still in Brooklyn. You can’t take Brooklyn out of a person. However, you can remove us from Brooklyn.”
As a gesture of good will and to share his vision with others, Smith went to a favorite mantra from his collection.
“In honor of Biggie Smalls, we gave out ‘Spread Love It’s The Brooklyn Way’ T-shirts. We stopped off in several areas and did random giveaways to honor the movement. That’s something we’ll be doing more of to honor Brooklyn. My belief is to always give back to where you came from.”
Those interested in purchasing Smith’s work can visit www.everything-brooklyn.com. That is, until the plans to open flagship stores in Brooklyn, and Atlanta, come to fruition.
Over and out. Holla next week, y’all. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.