"That Mitt I Don't Like" – Chief Keef Lyric Sampled for Clever Political Slogan

By - Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

In just ten minutes of standing on the street with Aaron Rhodan, a member of the 12ozProphet team, four different people stopped to comment on his shirt. A middle-aged woman, two young men, and a teenage girl all asked where they could get their hands one – it could have been the eye-catching red on black message or the timeliness of wearing a politically charged t-shirt weeks before the election. After fielding the questions of passersby, a beaming Aaron, shocked by the positive response to the shirt, sat down with 12oz to talk about how the shirt (and it’s success) came to be. Scroll down to check out our Q&A. 12oz: How did this all begin? Aaron: It’s three of us. Myself, John Searles, and my other buddy Julian Street all met up at school down at Morehouse, in Atlanta. We graduated the same year, and we’ve always kept in contact and bounced ideas off of each other. We got really close because we shared a lot of similar interests in design and marketing. We always used to sit down and brainstorm a bunch of good (and not so good) ideas. Long story short, we started getting frustrated with ourselves because we would plan and plan and then never execute. We had some ideas involving the election, not necessarily with the intention of doing something about it at the time, but we liked the general topic and had some shirt ideas. We got to a point where we were like, “Let’s stop talking about it, let’s just get the design done. Let’s get the costs figured out and just do it.” That’s how the “That Mitt I Don’t Like” shirt came about. The feedback and everything has been really awesome. It’s picked up in ways that we had hoped, but we didn’t imagine it would get to be this big. 12oz: You mentioned that the three of you have similar interests. Is politics one that you all share? Aaron: Politics is one of the interests that we do share, but I wouldn’t say that any of us want careers at Capitol Hill or CNN or anything like that. But politics is definitely something that we all are interested in and pay attention to. Which is why this shirt is something that we came up with. Other interests would be sports, we’re all big sports fans. I’m more into the quote, unquote downtown stuff, like graffiti, skateboarding…I’ve been skateboarding since I was seven. John’s really into graphics, graphic design, SEO stuff, coding – he’s a really big computer guy. Julian’s a really big design guy. And then there’s me with the skateboarding, art, music, shoes, sneakers, fashion. We all just kind of bounce ideas off of each other based on those things. But politics was definitely the core, especially with Obama’s campaign specifically, because we’re all very outward Obama supporters, and democrats. So, we saw an opportunity in terms of seizing something that could be pro-Obama, and kind of help out the campaign in a way, but also be very modern and relevant to what was going on at the time. Especially since, now it’s a lot different from the way that he ran in ’08, you know like, because then it was all about the first Black president, out-of-home material, you know like HOPE and stuff like that. This time around it’s a lot more focused on the issues and basically ensuring that he stays in office. You know, we’re going off of something with a little bit more meat behind it. 12oz: Can you elaborate on that point more? Aaron: Sure. I’m from Chicago, and I actually grew up in the neighborhood where Obama lived, like blocks away from his house. So I pretty much was at the center of all the pro-Obama hype and support. And although the support is definitely still there, I think its safe to say that the demand for Obama coffee mugs and pencil holders has waned. But the need for support has increased exponentially. A lot of Obama’s original constituants were pop culture enthusiast, and as a result they have shifted their focus on more fun-loving and relevant pop-culture topics. Chief Keef is definitely on their radar and the quote, the design – the whole package – is designed to help refocus his old and new supporters to present that linkage. We just had to be more clever with the delivery and make Obama’s platform a pop culture topic again. 12oz: For sure. So does the shirt feel like a more necessary or more urgent thing to put out now than it did in ’08? Aaron: Absolutely. For every one person that was super stoked that Obama got in office there’s one that wasn’t at all and another that was reluctant to do it in the first place. And they can’t wait to vote him out of office. They’ve waited four years for their chance to do so. He needs people at the polls more than ever before. 12oz: Where did the inspiration for the actual design of the shirt come from? Aaron: The actual design for the shirt came from two things. The quote itself came from a song by a Chicago rapper Chief Keef, “I Don’t Like.” In the unedited lyrics of that song, he says “that shit I don’t like.” “Shit” rhymes with “Mitt”obviously, so we kind of did a play on words with that. Being from Chicago and being heavily rooted in the music scene there, I was familiar with Chief Keef beforehand. But the remix that was done by Kanye West gave it a national stage and platform. We sort of took from the format in which the G.O.O.D. Music team did their lettering, with the black background and the red bold lettering that they did for the G.O.O.D. Fridays and their recent releases leading up to Cruel Summer. That was where the inspiration for the design came from. So we took the quote that people became familiar with, changing “shit” and “Mitt” and then also making the block letters like the G.O.O.D. Friday drops. That’s where all of that came from. The long answer [laughs]. 12oz: Going forward, are you guys looking to expand this into a business model? Aaron: Oh yeah, definitely. None of us really had the intention of being designers or starting a brand – specifically a clothing brand or anything like that. Really, we’re three guys that have a lot of ideas and wanted to get them in any way, shape or form. If we have an idea, if want to make something, we just think of how we can get it done – of course, how much it’s going to cost, or how much we can make it not cost. And trying to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Long story short, yes, this is something the three of us have talked about doing for a long time. It’s coming together, it’s coming up with good ideas, the process behind it, being able to get things going, get things moving. Being professional doers of things. 12oz: How have you been selling the shirts? Aaron: We set up our own online shop, mittidontlike.com, where you can order them. And we’ve been hand-to-hand-ing them. But I actually just sold my last shirt. I’m waiting for my second shipment. We’re gonna keep selling them as long as we can sell them, it’s not a one-and-done type thing. Also, with October being a really big homecoming season in Atlanta, we’ll be selling them at the homecoming for our alma mater, Morehouse, this weekend. So if anybody’s gonna be in Atlanta, stop by and grab a shirt. 12oz: Based on all of the people so far who have approached you on the street, would you say that you have a wide customer base? How does it feel to reach such a wide variety of people? Aaron: Friggin’ amazing. Our intended audience was more of an 18-25 year olds, familiar with Chief Keef and/or G.O.O.D. Music and pro-Obama. New[er] voters. To know that the shirt’s message is clear enough and universal enough to catch the eye of the 60-year-old White woman that ran up on me a few minutes ago is crazy. Great to know that the message is so universal. All three of us are super excited. 12oz: Any closing thoughts? Anything you want to add? Where do you want things to go from here? Aaron: We want ‘em to go up. That’s really a short answer, we want ‘em to go up. I want to say that I’m really appreciative of everyone who’s rocked with us so far. It’s been amazing. I’m overwhelmed. I know people always say that shit, but I fucking mean it. We’re just trying to ride this wave forever, for as long as we possibly can. We started selling them a month ago and it’s been insane. It was really quick, in terms of the feedback and how it picked up and everything. It’s insane. I’m so excited. I’m not gonna take this shirt off for weeks, just gonna keep airing it out [laughs]. I think this is dope. [Note: You can cop yours now by heading to the Mitt I Don’t Like website.] …And don’t forget to vote! Text and Photo: Nicola Parisi

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