According to Patso Dimitrov, most rappers dream of being basketball players, and most basketball players dream of being rappers. It was this simple premise—which does hold a certain amount of water, shout to folks like Master P and Kobe Bryant—that led him to design a collection of stylish jerseys that pay homage to the cover art for rap and R&B albums. Images of these mock-ups have been circulating online since last year, but soon his takes on Views, Illmatic, Channel Orange, and Piñata will be available for actual purchase.
Dimitrov is careful to mention that he doesn’t brand any of the jerseys in association with the actual albums or the artists who created them. This precaution is ostensibly a means of protection against the type of legal recourse he’s already dealt with. Dimitrov says he received a cease and desist letter from Chance the Rapper’s lawyer, asking him to take down his Acid Rap jersey design.
Other artists’ teams, however, have seen Dimitrov’s work and decided to collaborate with him. He designed a J. Cole tour poster last year, and Livemixtapes.com approached him about creating an extremely limited run of a jersey based on Future’s Purple Reign tape. Both Future and DJ Esco have been spotted wearing them.
Dimitrov has also been on the other end of unsanctioned usage when ILoveMakonnen appropriated one of his pieces as the artwork for “Black Mamba Freestyle,” a SoundCloud loosie that honored Kobe Bryant’s last game. Dimitrov protested via Instagram and his followers proceeded to light up Makonnen’s announcement post with comments demanding proper credit. Soon Makonnen’s camp got in touch. “His manager or friend, I’m not entirely sure, was like, ‘This was not our intention, we can take it down if you want,” says Dimitrov. He did ask for it to be removed, but it never was. Dimitrov moved on, deciding there was nothing to gain by pursuing a fight.
Once Dimitrov’s run of rap jerseys are sold, he doesn’t plan on creating any more. “I kind of want to do something that’s completely mine,” he says.
Pre-ordered jerseys are expected to start shipping on June 10 and he’s currently collaborating with North Carolina’s Rapsody on a project. In the meantime, Dimitrov offers a word of advice to anyone reading: “Put your stuff out there. Anything can happen on the internet.”