Rick Edwards, VP/Director of Marketing at Makaveli-Branded, proves that style transcends life and death as he and his team continue to honor Tupac Shakur through the clothing line. Rap-Up.com gets the lowdown on how Edwards and the brand’s leading lady, Afeni Shakur, are expressing the legacy of the late hip-hop prophet through fashion.
Tell me about the clothing brand and what kind of message you are trying to convey with it.
It’s the one and only official clothing line of Tupac Shakur. A portion of proceeds go to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foudation. The message is, first and foremost, to continue Pac’s legacy. Fashion is another avenue of hip-hop culture. We felt that by utilizing Tupac’s imagery, his poetry, and his lyrics on some of the garments was just another way to keep him relevant to his fans and to the future generations.
What role do you play at the company?
I am the VP/Director of Marketing. I handle everything from marketing and advertising to website design and conceptual projects. It’s a lot of different responsibilities; everyday it’s different so it’s a beautiful thing.
What’s the best and worst part of your job?
The best part is that I get to deal with really interesting people and do the fun things such as events and trade shows. The worst part is budgeting; we don’t have an unlimited amount of financial resources to do everything we aspire to do. That would be the worst part—just trying to stay within budget and be creative. When you’re a creative person, sometimes you just want to do things outlandishly.
Tell me how it all started and where the brand is now.
I’ve been there since we started in November 2003. That’s when we first went into detail. The brand has now expanded into different territories internationally such as Japan, Canada, and Europe. Within a two to three year timeframe, we expanded into our boys, juniors, and accessories categories of business. We just recently launched our sneaker and shoe collection this past spring.
What artists do you have endorsing the brand?
We’ve had Ludacris, Chingy, the entire DTP, Scarface, Twista, Chamillionaire; we’ve had Omar Epps in our previous ad campaigns. Right now, the brand is focusing on working with two artists—they are Makaveli-Branded sponsored artists. One of them is Roccett, and he’s based out of L.A. The other one is Romey, based out of Chicago. The brand does have charitable and community efforts so we do a lot of different things with these two artists, whether it’s speaking in the community or speaking to the children, any events that the brand is involved in.
Tupac was a “thug”Â and often defined by the streets, but he was also a poet and an intellectual. Do you feel like your clothing line reflects upon that opposition and appeals to different groups?
Yes. The clothing line does touch more to the person who identifies with the street but we do have button-ups in the collection and we were one of the first urban brands to utilize cuff links, which is a very high scale accessory for a garment. We try to do that in design and in concept. We have Makaveli-Branded suits and dress shoes that you could wear to church or to the office too. We try to appeal to both demographics.
What’s it like working with Tupac’s mother?
It’s great. She’s a very powerful person in everything that she’s been through in her personal life—from losing Tupac to being a part of certain movements. You can learn a lot from her. Her spirit is very big so it’s a blessing.
Did you do anything to commemorate Tupac’s 10-year death anniversary?
Yea, we definitely did. We’re currently doing different events in markets across the country. We did an event in the Bay Area, we did an event in Los Angeles, and we have events scheduled in Miami, Atlanta, and New York. We did a lot of media from different publications to television networks and even Internet sites such as Yahoo! In January 2007, we’re kicking off a Tupac Legacy Tour with Makaveli-Branded as a major sponsor. It’s going to be a thirty city tour with major label acts paying tribute to acts incorporating Pac’s poetry and music with their music.