Rising rapper Butch Dawson is best known for his experimental style, in and out of the studio. The producer and songwriter has explored mixing genres like jazz and punk into his rap flow, while simultaneously making a name for himself within the fashion industry by modeling for brands like Telfar. Yet for Dawson, some things are too good to mess with — his hometown of Baltimore being one of them.
Butch tells Input he’s somewhat of an “it boy” around the city, which is why he’s decided to pay tribute to Baltimore, his fans, and his roots. In collaboration with a Baltimore neighbor, skate brand Carpet Company, Dawson has crafted a four-piece collection that he describes as “extraordinary.”
Art inspired by art — Much like the experimental wave of the rapper’s music — and the equally exploratory nature of Carpet Company, which has created Nike sneakers made to be ripped apart — the capsule takes on a DIY look. “It’s raw and playful, yet still put together,” says Dawson. “It’s more than just clothes — there’s art to this shit.”
He means it literally: The four shirts that make up his capsule feature graphics that look hand-drawn or hand-written. A sole long-sleeve tee boasts near-illegible words on its backside, while three T-shirts boast a graphic of a Black face — meant to be Dawson himself, he says, pointing to the face’s star tattoo.
Inspired by Jesse Kanda, whose artwork appears on FKA twig’s debut album LP1, Dawson wanted to depict an image of his own face reminiscent of Kanda’s alien-esque faces in shades of black, red, and pink. The rapper’s drawn face graphic appears against orange, red, and green backgrounds, with the latter being his favorite, he says.
IYKYK — “When people walk down the street and see [one of the shirts], I want them to question what it is,” Dawson says. “It looks like a two-year-old drew [the graphics], but that gives people a reason to look at the shirt.” And with upcoming project “Stardust” — the lyrics of which appear on the backside of the collection’s long-sleeve tee — the rapper has an incentive to make the collaborative collection stand out from the crowd.
Dawson hopes his fans, particularly those in Baltimore, see his vision within the apparel collection. Without obvious branding or obnoxious logos, the shirts carry “if you know, you know,” energy, says the rapper, making the merch that much more meaningful to those based in his hometown. Should fans share Dawson’s vision, or want to take a closer look, they can shop the graphic tees on Carpet Company’s website.