"You see things differently when you read magazines and you seeing everybody having fun - you think, 'OK, that's where I want to be.' But once you get in it and you achieve the success that you want, it seems like that's when the playa hating starts. That's when everybody's like, 'Well, it's not all that. He's not all that.' I guess they just want it, you know what I'm saying? Sometimes when you stagnated and you can't really move to another level, that's the only thing you can do: complain or be jealous. I just want to get it myself. I was in a situation where I would see somebody with certain things that I want and I would just make moves to get it myself. I would never try to take somebody else's, because then it really wouldn't be mine if I took it from somebody else."
Like Christopher Wallace, SSUR, a.k.a. Russ Karablin, is not one to be satisfied with the status quo. From his start in the streetwear game as one of the official pioneers back in 1990, with absolutely no formal training in art or fashion, Karablin has built his operation from the ground up only to take his designs worldwide, creating a name in SSUR that goes hand-in-hand with adjectives as humble as quality, creativity and innovation.
Well, SSUR smashes the standards of streetwear once again, this time collaborating with acclaimed photographer Barron Claiborne to create The King of Brooklyn 3-Style Tees, including The B.I.G. Barron Claiborne Portrait Tee, The Biggie Gat Tee and Karmaloop staff favorite, The Biggie Skull Tee.
Claiborne, a Boston-born and self-taught photographer who excels in large-format portraits, took this original photograph just days before Big Poppa's untimely death, an image that has been replicated, ripped, stolen, bootlegged and otherwise pillaged throughout the past decade. However, when longtime friend Karablin came calling, he and Claiborne created three new, original takes on the iconic flick, the standout being The Biggie Gat Tee where guns morph into the portrait, a take that highlights the all-too-real dangers of gun play which took B.I.G.'s life more than a decade ago.
The B.I.G. Barron Claiborne Portrait Tee is the image as it was taken, featuring Wallace's sad-eyed, "black and ugly as ever" mug beneath the crown he so rightfully deserved, while The Biggie Skull Tee is something almost tough to look at, and even more difficult to look away from. A simple study cannot help but conjure such thoughts as "what if," or "why," especially with the garbage that floods the game at its present. Nevertheless, Biggie is gone, and he is not coming back. While that is ultimately difficult to accept, one can always take solace that no matter what, no matter how short Wallace graced us with his impressive presence, he will always live through us and inspire our strive to be the best at what we do, to never settle, never compromise. Real talk. Real tees. Unbelievable.
Check out the rest of the SSUR line at Karmaloop here.