Nostalgia is like propaganda to convince you that your life has been awesome, but who was there with a camera for your first shameful, bumbling attempt at sex? Well, your vice-principal was, but that's not the point. For a tee line that uses nostalgia to keep it real, check out Staple.
The brainchild of mercenary designer Jeff Staple, who's done branding and concept work for everything from Puma to Xbox, and created the riot-provoking Nike NYC Pigeon Dunk, the bulk of Staple's new tees draw bittersweet nostalgia from graphics/old photos of rap icons from a time when the game was pure, and Diddy didn't make your boxer briefs. Photo tees include a way-young Jay-Z under the Twin Towers, walking the streets that would later be lost in ash, another showing a landscape of Biggie Smalls' Brooklyn hood during his memorial, with crowds standing on cars holding "We Love You Biggie" signs, and one with a pic of a skinny, hood-ish still-Nasty Nas in a Yanks jersey and bling, at the foot of a skyscraper with a suited business man walking in the background -- 'cause hip-hop may be dead, but business ain't doing great, either. Graphic tees stay focused on the trio of MCs, with a bold portrait of a younger, thinner B.I.G. in green outline, superimposed over all the lyrics from his first album, "Ready To Die", another giving the same treatment to Nas and "Illmatic", and one with Jigga in pink over the "The Black Album" lyrics -- obviously one of his 99 problems isn't being comfortable with his sexuality.
Non-rap stuff includes an ominous b&w map of the world, with the continents and oceans melting off the face of the shirt, and Staple's fave, a pigeon (a winged rat to some, a symbol of urban survival to others) flying away, as if it might poo on your shoulder -- triggering nostalgia for the event that made your first failed tender exploration all gooey and awful.