Fresh off announcing the release of Tha Carter V this Friday, Lil Wayne is now collaborating with 14 different designers and brands for a limited collection of merch dropping over the next nine days.
The roster of labels is curated by the music merch masterminds at Bravado, and will be released on shop.thacarterv.com at 5 p.m. ET each day. Every drop will only be available for 24 hours, with a new collab being revealed every day.
All of the brands involved weren't selected at random. The people behind them each have an emotional connection to Lil Wayne and the long legacy he's established not just in music, but also on the style front. Arguably one of the first artists who turned rappers into full-blown rock stars, Wayne's influence can be seen in artists like Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, and other iconoclasts who continue to redefine hip-hop style by their own terms.
We got the chance to speak to several of the collaborators, who tell us about their favorite “Wayne Moment” and share a bit about the myriad of inspirations behind each product. Find out more about the collaborations below.
Drop 9 - October 4: Advisory Board Crystals x Wikipedia
The final drop of Tha Carter V capsule collection sees Advisory Board Crystals reuniting with free Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia on a long-sleeve tee. The all-over print graphics nod to Internet meme culture. In addition to this surprise drop, all the previous collabs are restocked for 24 hours at shop.thacarterv.com.
The Inspiration: “Advisory Board Crystals official collaboration with Wikipedia follows Wayne's now-famous exclamation in Tha Carter V announcement video ‘Wiki Me Bish.’ This maximalist design is the visual interpretation of Lil Wayne's Wikipedia page. Advisory Board Crystals will donate a portion of their proceeds from this shirt to the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia and helps keep knowledge free.”
Drop 8 - October 3: Brain Dead
Cerebral streetwear label Brain Dead is known for its graphic-driven gear that makes esoteric art references and really bold prints. Take, for example, its recent all-over cow print chore jacket. For Tha Carter V Brain Dead's Kyle Ng taps '90s festival tees and psychedelic animals as inspiration.
Kyle Ng's favorite Wayne Moment: “I always loved The Hot Boyz and I loved Lil Wayne via the Hot Boyz, but the one thing that really sticks out to me about Lil Wayne was the documentary—watching him work so crazy and seeing his work ethic—he’s recording in his hotel room, in his bus, everywhere he was. And that really changed my mentality. That was the thing I always really loved about him—he was really intuitive and only wanted to make things that he loved. He never overthought anything.”
The Inspiration: “A lot of the stuff we’re really inspired by is like, weird ‘90s Lollapalooza vibes, and this idea of New Orleans and the idea of what music was. That’s why we used those fucking frogs—or they’re ‘hugging’ if you want to be PC. I just always loved the idea of early festival merch, so that was the big inspiration for it.”
Drop 8 - October 3: PIZZASLIME
PIZZASLIME injects a dose of humor in Tha Carter V by adding a reference to a modern meme and tapping Wayne's love of skating. The result is a cheeky T-shirt with a casual bootleg vibe.
PIZZASLIME's favorite Wayne Moment: “Definitely the week Tha Carter III came out. The energy and the hype—it was freakin' bananas. Everyone was listening to it and at that moment you knew Lil Wayne was the greatest rapper in the world. Even my mom was slappin' Tha Carter III.”
The Inspiration: “I guess I grew up on bootleg shirts and Wayne. That's pretty much it—and it looks super sick.”
Drop 7 - October 2: NASASEASONS
The brainchild of Alexandre Dalliance, better known as Millinsky, NASASEASONS is a young, Paris-based label known for its statement caps and tees, and already has a collaboration with luxury luggage brand Rimowa under its belt. Its Fall/Winter 2018 collection shows an expanded oeuvre of outerwear and more cut-and-sew pieces, and this Tha Carter V collaboration also speaks to the label's rapid rise.
Millinsky's favorite Wayne Moment: “I would say my favorite Lil Wayne moment is when Tha Carter III dropped. I was like 11 or 12, from Paris, and not really into hip-hop at that age, but Tha Carter III really put me onto the American hip-hop scene, and all the songs like ‘Lollipop’ and ‘A Milli’ inspired to me to do what I did later in fashion. Wayne was the first rapper I really fucked with.”
The Inspiration: “The first thing I think of when I think of ‘Lil Wayne’ is tattoos—specifically his face tattoos. His tattoos say a lot about who he is and what his music means. Even though he’s aggressive and curses in his lyrics, he’s painted a more vulnerable image on his own face, remembering family members who have passed with the tears and holding religion close with the cross. Working on these designs, I really used the whole tattoo aesthetic to be a part of the visuals.”
Drop 6 - October 1: Ignored Prayers
The next collaborative product to release for Tha Carter V is done in conjunction with Scott Tepper's Ignored Prayers line. Known for playful graphics with a meta-referential pop culture sensibility, the brand also has a penchant for garment dyeing its gear for a lived-in, neo-vintage appeal. Scott Tepper's long-sleeve tee pays homage to the eclectic style of Wayne's flow.
Scott Tepper's favorite Wayne Moment: “It is super tough to nail down just one moment from Wayne. I mean he is one of the most prolific artists of our time. The Dedication and Da Drought mixtapes are insane—Tha Carter III is legendary. It is really difficult to pick just one. But if I had to pick a moment in Wayne’s career I would say the Hot Boys era. The energy of those songs and the camaraderie of the group was something that I felt in a way was mirrored in my own life at that time. Running around recklessly with my friends; those songs would get us amped up.
The video for ‘I Need a Hot Girl’ with the fire and the Plymouth Prowlers was so sick to me at the time. And without a doubt—to this day—one of my favorite videos of all time was ‘We On Fire.’ Super low-budget, but so amazing…the whole crew running through the streets with the big bags of money being chased by ATF. I just love the energy of this era and you could see how much fun they were having.”
The Inspiration: “Listening to his music, his flow may seem random at first, or maybe un-orchestrated at times, but there’s always a story, and it always comes together. He switches up the flow to take the listener through a narrative. The flow is eclectic. I typically work, design, and think in the same way. I kind of see the sounds and how they build upon each other.
This tee is my translation of the energy I get off Wayne’s music. Layers and layers that combine to tell a story, just like a Wayne track. I wanted the type to evoke an emotion and that's why ‘CARTER’ is sharp and has a bit of heavy metal inspiration to it. It’s just my version of Wayne’s music.”
Drop 5 - September 30: Chinatown Market
Fresh off his recent feature in the latest issue of Highsnobiety magazine, Mike Cherman of Chinatown Market offers up a special T-shirt inspired by '90s hip-hop tees for Tha Carter V. Channeling the label's penchant for nostalgia and bootlegs, this limited-edition tee pays homage to old-school graphics and Wayne's musical legacy.
Mike Cherman's favorite Wayne Moment:: “Tha Carter III for me kind of fucking blew my mind as a kid. I think it was some shit that I spent an entire year just listening to over and over again. He just had a big effect on me as a young person listening to rap music, just having a different perspective and being weird. He was such a fucking weirdo, you know?”
The Inspiration: “We really wanted to have the opportunity to have our own execution of a parking lot-style bootleg shirt that you may only find outside of a Lil Wayne concert. We wanted it to feel like these images were stolen and the whole thing was made some random guy in his garage.”
Drop 4 - September 29: Midnight Studios
For the fourth collaboration in Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V capsule collection, Bravado taps the design of Midnight Studios, a young label known for its punk and rock-inspired aesthetics—so much so that it partnered with Bravado on a Sex Pistols collection earlier this year. Turns out designer Shane Gonzales is also a huge Lil Wayne fan, and his designs focus on Wayne's embrace of rock n' roll style and attitude and how he brought that into the hip-hop world. The back graphics turn Tha Carter V collection into a fictional tracklist.
Shane Gonzales' favorite Wayne Moment:: “I have so many memories of listening to Wayne, it would be hard to pin one moment down. Growing up, Lil Wayne was one of the first rappers I was ever introduced to. When I discovered Lil Wayne in maybe the 4th or 5th grade with my friend Chad, it really changed the way I listened to music. He was the first artist I really cared to listen to over and over, and discover every song. I remember using thepiratebay.org to download a ‘Lil Wayne Discography’ which basically gave me every single Lil Wayne mixtape, album, and featured song all at once. That was all I listened to for months—maybe years. I think my favorite Lil Wayne song has been ‘La La La’ since I first discovered it in middle school.”
The Inspiration: “The graphics for this collection are inspired by hip-hop legend Lil Wayne and rock n' roll—which he has often experimented with—as well as the force behind Midnight Studios. To me, the diamond guitar pendant he once wore symbolized the best of both worlds.”
Drop 3 - September 28: Advisory Board Crystals
Advisory Board Crystals is a psychedelic-inspired label whose graphics are influenced by space travel, holistic healing, and all types of trippy stuff. Their collaboration plays on the phrase “Better Living Through Chemistry” and is a visual pun on weed and the magnetic frequencies of the earth and the sonic frequencies of Wayne's music.
Heather Haber's favorite Wayne Moment: “When Tha Carter and Tha Carter II came out, I was in high school in Miami—and those years were major Wayne moments—especially in Miami. My best friend’s boyfriend was older than us, so we would always drive around in his car with him, and that’s when we would listen to it blasting with his crazy 305 style speakers. My friend and I would always start laughing and singing along to his insanely humorous (a lot of the time) lyrics. It was so good.”
The Inspiration: “The idea is Wayne (weed) meets ABC (crystals). The center graphic inspired by a vintage graphic we found that says ‘better living through chemistry.’ The overall graphic is a reworked NASA graphic of the rhythm of the earth's magnetic field. It plays on the rhythm of the world listening to music too. The arrow on the left is the entry point of the earth's frequency—there's some info surrounding the holographic vinyl about how that frequency passes through and gets tuned into a creative frequency—better living through chemistry.
The result of that tuned frequency is the ability to be creative and exist at any and all of our maximum potentials. For Wayne and the world, the end product illustrated here is Tha Carter V. The back graphic is the soon to be iconic ‘V‘ comprised completely of ‘Abc.’ logos.”
Drop 3 - September 28: dertbag
Philip Post is the young creative behind Connecticut-based label dertbag. The son of visual artist and creative Frank Foster Post, dertbag shows how much of his father's artistic tendencies he's inherited. From simple typeface graphics to more subdued takes on streetwear fare, dertbag's collaboration with Lil Wayne includes a skull that depicts several of Wayne's famous face tattoos, combined with one of the most memorable quotes from his 2012 deposition.
Philip Post's favorite Wayne Moment: “My favorite Lil Wayne moment has gotta be rockstar Lil Wayne—like guitar solo Lil Wayne—transferring into skateboard Wayne. It's very pure, and very what he wanted to do, and something that he loved, expressed, and didn't give a fuck. And that's kind of where I'm at with my art. He has a line in one of his raps where he's like: ‘I'm a good looking rapper; I don't need to stunt,’ and it resonated with me because I'm a good looking artist and I don't need to stunt. I can just make my shit like Wayne makes his shit.”
The Inspiration: “I had a skull in one of my references, and I was just messing around with textures and trying to get a certain feel for it. I always think about when Wayne saw that ‘greatest rapper alive’ shirt in The Carter documentary and he was like: ‘Yo, that's me.’ I added Wayne's face tattoos as a tribute to who he is as the greatest rapper alive. I added the deposition quote just to have a little humor to juxtapose the strength of the skull.”
Drop 2 - September 27: Cactus Plant Flea Market
Cryptic label Cactus Plant Flea Market is known for its puffy prints and dadaist graphics that give its wares an undeniably offbeat appeal. Their contribution to this collaboration pays homage to Wayne's hometown of New Orleans, which was hit hard by category 5 Hurricane Katrina in 2005. On the sleeves is a nod to “Tie My Hands” off Tha Carter III, where Wayne raps: “My whole city underwater / Some people still floatin'.” On the back of the tee are key dates that outline Lil Wayne's entire life and legacy, with September 27 not just marking the release date of the tee, but also Lil Wayne's birthday, giving the tee a 360-degree theme.
Cactus' favorite Wayne Moment: “When wayne arrives to campus in FIREMAN”
The Inspiration: “LIL WAYNE is. Max legend. …..the first alien . always dedicated 1000000000% to his craft and put community First. so often people forget but he never neglected his roots post-Katrina ?? category 5 like Tha Carter ? everything 360. Hollygrove ?Hollywood.”
Drop 2 - September 27: Illegal Civilization
Part tight-knit skate crew, part-killer clothing line, Illegal Civilization is known for its great videos as much as its lo-fi graphics with a cartoon-like sensibility. Illegal Civilization's Mikey Alfred recalls the first time he met Lil Wayne when he came to skate the bowl at Supreme's Los Angeles store, forming an instant bond. But it wasn't until Alfred and company began working on Cherry Bomb: The Documentary that he was able to connect on a deeper level with the artist. Alfred's reverence and respect for Lil Wayne shines in this collaborative tee melding Illegal Civilization's DIY aesthetic with the spirit of anticipation around Tha Carter V.
Mikey Alfred's favorite Wayne Moment: “The first time I met Wayne was in 2015. He cane to Supreme to skate the bowl. I gave him a copy of Illegal Civilization 1 on DVD, the next day he tweeted the words ‘ILLEGAL CIVILIZATION,’ and ever since that time it was all love between us. My favorite story with Wayne though, was when we were filming Cherry Bomb: The Documentary. Tyler, The Creator and Wayne had made some songs together, and I knew Wayne had a lot of respect for Tyler, so it was important for me to capture him in the documentary. Taco was helping set up an interview—time after time it kept falling through.
One Day Taco calls me at 3am, and I wake up out of my sleep to answer. All he says is: ‘Wayne is ready now, you down to go over there?’ I reply: ‘Hell yeah, text me the address.’ I pull up to a CVS parking lot around 3:30 am, and Taco says: ‘Get in with me. We’ll go together.’ I hop in Taco’s BMW, we pull up to a random recording studio in Hollywood. I was nervous to be in the studio with Lil Wayne, but excited. His bodyguard asked to play pool with us before we walk in. At the time myself, Aramis Hudson, Ryder McLaughlin, and Kevin White were playing pool every night at Million Dollar Billiards—so I SMOKED his bodyguard.
During the whole game though, I was nervous to get in the studio with Wayne. After about an hour of playing pool, we got in there and it felt like a movie. Wayne was doing his classic smoking in the booth, he sounded exactly how you hear him on songs. I looked at Taco and said ‘We’re here, this is insane.’ After all the times it fell through, we finally made it. We conducted the interview and then ended up talking for an hour after. I love and respect Wayne so much. We walked out and the sun was up!”
The Inspiration: “This collaboration was inspired by our deep love and respect for Lil Wayne. We looked through the archives of Wayne’s old tour tee shirts—myself and Shawn Rojas came up with this airbrush aesthetic and worked on it for a few weeks. The only part that was challenging was figuring out the Dino’s: How do we make them look like real people but staying close to our cartoon aesthetic? Once we got the right feeling looking at the graphic, it was go time.”
Drop 1 - September 26: Heron Preston
For the inaugural drop, Bravado has tapped Heron Preston for an old-school airbrush-inspired design. Preston tapped several artists off of Etsy to bring his ideas to life, resulting in an authentic, DIY appeal to the final design. Check the gallery above for a look at the original prints.
Heron Preston's favorite Wayne Moment: “I think my favorite Lil Wayne moment was The Carter documentary. When that documentary came out it really helped people understand who he was as a person. One of my favorite scenes from that documentary was when he was in his hotel room—I think he was in Europe somewhere—and he was recording by himself off of a laptop and microphone. Just to kind of see his process behind-the-scenes, how he works, and exposing that side of who he is as an artist was game-changing, both for his career and his fans.”
The Inspiration: “I wanted to do an airbrush theme that was very unique to the South where he’s from. One of the first directions I started to take was his lyric that I can’t really get out of my head: ‘What’s a goon to a goblin?’ That was one of his most famous lines. Then I went looking for portraits of him, because I wanted to have his face very present on the T-shirt—not just the lyrics—to celebrate him as a person. I looked for amateur airbrush artists, and I found a bunch of them on Etsy. I didn’t want something that was super polished or professional; I wanted to capture that amateur skill level—which is the same kind of skill level that I saw when looking at old airbrush artwork back in the ‘90s.”
For a chance to cop Tha Carter V collaborative products, hit shop.thacarterv.com at 5 p.m. ET through October 4. This page will be updated with an exclusive look at every new drop.