Should be no surprise that one of Europes greatest artist whose most notable work was influenced by African Sculpture as far down as the Congo made the statement, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Was that a statement of self admission? We don't know.
Do we agree with that statement? Partly, but not to the degree to which creativity is void. Hip hop is one of our tuning forks has had its share of biting, bootlegging and jacking, etc. It was the capitalistic residue of the culture. Onyx and Tupac were a few artists we recalled who actually approached tape counterfeiters who sold their music. All to say, we feel primed to receive imitation as flattery. But what seems like repeated imitation begs our attention.
In 2008 we created our classic "Kiss Me I'm African" T as shown in the orange and our following was the Mandela, Biko, Zulu, and Tutu T. Nothing is new under the sun. What is new is the level of how something is juxtaposed, so to not unintentionally create something that someone has already intentionally created we sometimes search google indexes, trademark databases, and the Madrid protocol.
Around 2013ish we believe it was, We received a Facebook message from a friend linking to a Kiss Me I'm African T on the OkayAfrica shop. We were like naa ok wow esp since it was the same red color as our first T and the text was also in black letters. Initially, we didn't think we had been bit, but then we thought about the nature of coincidence, the few NY stores that carried the PA, the large scale festivals we have participated in New York where OkayAfrica also had a booth space that brings out all of New York, from Afro Punk, BAM's Dance Africa, African Street Fest, in Chicago, North Carolina, Phili, etc. We've even seen pics of our brand worn by random people on the OkayAfrica IG, so someone there maybe the designer is aware we exist, and it made sense. We've been bit.
It wasn't as serious as a cease and desist for trademark infringement but reinforced the greatness we had been exposed to as a child of hip hop and Pan Africanism so we changed our classic Kiss Me I'm African T to orange with black letters as it exists today.
Then a few years later, we happen to see first had another similar concept via OkayAfrica in which seemed to have been borrowed from the Personal Advisory classic, Mandela, Biko, Zulu, & Tutu T by the OkayAfricas "African Leaders T"
We never planned to trademark African names or tribes as British fashion brand Timbuktu trademarked "Yoruba. But a little tact and respect would be great. We're open to partnering with OkayAfrica and even have a good bit of concepts that don't readily fit the Personal Advisory brand that would be ideal for OkayAfrica.
Do ya'll think we got bit or we just on Cloud 9.
-All the Way Up