FILA Week here at The Source is in full swing!
After beginning with Regina’s Grocery earlier this week, our latest subject from the new Mindblower collaboration, which brought us over 40 exclusive designs, is none other than rapper Maino. His collab showcases a love for Brooklyn and an affinity to keeping things fresh for the culture — Hip-Hop culture, that is. It was more than enough of a reason to get into the mind of the MC himself to see how it all came together.
Catching up at Leila’s NYC recording studio, we chopped it up with Maino to discuss how guerrilla marketing led to a Mindblower collab, and also what he’s got going on when it comes to music, business ventures and even producing a documentary about strippers in NYC.
Trust — you’ll definitely want to know about that.
Keep reading to hear all about this Brooklyn-bred FILA Mindblower, from the mouth of Maino himself:
From music to fashion, you’ve been really moving out here. What’s been going on in your world lately?
Maino: Music-wise, we got the single called “F*** Boyz”, which I just dropped a video for. I got another song coming out soon called “Brooklyn N**ga,” followed by a new EP called Jermaine and then we gonna get into the K.O.B. 4 [mixtape]. We just dropped the sneaker with FILA, so that’s something different, dope, big and unexpected. They didn’t think I was gonna pop up like that.
Word man! You even pulled up today wearing a suit, and you’re just rocking a noticeable style upgrade overall.
Yeah, it’s gotta be unpredictable. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, so I got a lot of things going on — not just musically, either. I had some stuff that I had to do before [coming here] that pretty much required me to [suit up]. When you’re hustling and start to figure out all the other avenues to be creative in other than music, it creates other things that you can get into. Fashion is one of those, and it led to designing a sneaker with FILA.
I’m also producing a documentary that I’ve been doing for over a year now called A Dollar at a Time. It’s about the strip club culture in New York City and its uniqueness. When it comes to urban strip culture everywhere else in the country, in the world even, [the focus is] all about the dancers. It’s not about that here in New York; it’s about the bartenders. We’re editing it now, so that should be dope.
Let’s get into this fresh FILA Mindblower you created. When did the collaboration process start, and how did things progress into the product we’re looking at now?
It pretty much started in 2016 after I went on a campaign to pop out the whole summer wearing FILA. I wanted to see if I had enough influence to change the wave a little bit, almost like, “If I start wearing FILA, will n**gas f**k with it?’ I did it for me, because I love the brand and what it means to street n**gas in Brooklyn, and also to see if I could be one of those guys that starts wearing something and other n**gas start following it. When it started happening, I ran a social media campaign that had all my people wearing FILA. Around the time Yellow Tape dropped with me and Uncle Murda, we were doing shows and wearing all FILA — velours, sweatsuits, hats and everything. We even came out at Summer Jam wearing FILA. [The movement] started to make sales spike a little bit in the northeast retail market — it really started to speak.
FILA caught wind of it all and reached out to me, and honestly, who else but me? We started to develop a relationship from there, and we spoke about the relaunch of the sneaker and how dope it would be to collab on a version of it. I was like, “I never did anything like that before,” but we did it and here we are.
What’s the design story behind your FILA Mindblower, and just the overall inspiration of the colorway?
The inspiration is Brooklyn, man — had to keep it classic. It’s something that we would wear; it’s something fly. We got the black and grey camo on it, and I chose that pattern because it’s for whoever. Camo is not just about one set of people. It don’t matter where you come from, camo is universal. I even wanted to make it where it almost didn’t look like a FILA sneaker, and looked more like a slick runner.
How far do are you looking to take this collaboration, and just the relationship with the brand in general?
We’re in talks now to design velour sweatsuits to accompany the sneaker, so there’s a lot of big things coming.
I don’t know if you saw, but PUMA and MCM recently came together on footwear and apparel that celebrates the historic relationship between Hip-Hop and fashion. Why do you think the two worlds mesh so well together?
Come on, man — that’s just us as a culture. Us coming from the ghetto, we took brands and put our own spin on it. When you look a brand like FILA, it’s one of the few brands that’s beloved by the hood that didn’t really start from sports. Nike, adidas and all of them originally come from sports, but FILA was cosigned by the streets first.
Think about it: before rappers were wearing it, the dope dealers and the hustlers were rocking FILAs and FILA velours. There was a sort of “street prestige” in the outfit. Those garments, especially the sweatsuits, meant something — and honestly, why not?