Hip-hop tees get a brick & mortar

With Chris Brown being so bad he's getting dropped from Got Milk? campaigns, it's worthwhile to recall the rap game's kinder, gentler days, when things were less about assaulting women, and more about just plain shooting people, and slinging crack. Rep those roots, with The Originators

Launched in 2003 and just now situated in a cozy two-story Mid-Wilshire storefront, The Originators is a tees-plus-more brand dedicated to "honoring the early MCs, DJs, writers, and B-boys of hip-hop". Some of their newest shirts honor legends directly, including "Native Tongues", a shout-out to the late-'80s super-collective (a Rolling Stones logo styled like Tongues' member group A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low End Theory" cover art), and a Raiders logo instead saying "Rulers", w/ an eye-patched Slick Rick and the text "Commitment to Hip-Hop" (coming soon: "Committed to Rikers"). They also hit on pop culture and genre identity: witness the "Jordan Grenade" (a camo'd kick complete w/ lever & pin), the Nike-slogan-aping "Just Hip-Hop," and "Rap Is Only One Element of Hip-Hop" -- graced only with a mic, which makes for a really confusing message

In addition to jackets, hats, etc, they're also stocking new shirts of other cultural originators, like Obama, legendary Lakers announcer Chick Hearn, and a simple, smiling image of Gandhi -- momentarily putting aside the nightmare of Apple billboards to reflect on the kinder, gentler days of brutal colonial oppression.