One DJ's 'Rap Tees' Collection Will Make Any Hip-Hop Geek Envious
True music lovers are always guilty of hoarding memorabilia that they might be able to share with their kids one day -- in hopes of reliving the surreal moment when they saw the Beastie Boys or Wu-Tang Clan for the first time -- but DJ Ross One made much better use of his coveted collection of rap artifacts.
He compiled the paraphernalia, which spans from 1990 to 1999, in his new book "Rap Tees," and was kind enough to highlight his favorite pieces for MTV News and explain why they're so important to him.
The full collection includes gems from Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy, Jay Z, EMPD and Nas.
"Yo! MTV Raps," Early 90s
"Somehow I actually had this shirt in black growing up. I think during the show's prime, the tees were being sold at bigger chain stores at the mall. 'Yo! MTV Raps' and a few hip hop magazines were really the only ways to learn about new rap music in the Midwest, so I watched pretty religiously. In an era before the internet you had to tune in on time if you wanted to see your favorite videos. Still trying to find one of these that will fit me today!"
Beastie Boys - Check Your Head (Cabin), 1992
"This was my first shirt that I got when I was 15. You couldn't find many shirts at the mall in Ohio back then, but the Beastie Boys had enough crossover appeal that they would turn up at the local CD store. I loved the Beasties and this shirt got worn at least once a week for a few years. The photo is by Glen E. Friedman who has a couple of images in Rap Tees."
De La Soul - De La Soul Is Dead, 1991
"The debate over which De La album is their best will go on for eternity, but discovering this record as an adolescent was a real game changer for me. De La was in their own lane completely when it came to the designs and merchandise, using bright colors and imagery that went completely against the norm for hip hop at the time. This is one of my favorite shirts."
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince Tour Shirt, 1988
"These guys completely dominated MTV with the 'Parents Just Don't Understand' video. Doesn't matter where you were in the world, the story of a kid wanting to look fresh at school and probably failing miserably is pretty relatable. I didn't find the tee until many years later."
Public Enemy - Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black, 1994
"The Enemy Strikes Black, 1991: This record was super important to me. 'Can't Truss It' was my favorite song and video at the time, and I always remember how great Flavor Flav and Chuck D dressed - Flav in an Air Jordan flight suit and Chuck in his cursive script Bulls Starter jersey. Both essential early 90's clothing articles. I bought my first Public Enemy t-shirt from the mail order form in this CD booklet."