Wake up! It’s the 30th anniversary of Spike Lee’s ‘School Daze’ In this #BlackLivesMatter era, the ’80s film is still very relevant

It was late summer of 1986. Jasmine Guy was standing on the streets of New York City, fresh out of a dance class at the Alvin Ailey School, when she heard a word unfamiliar to her: Wannabe.

She’d just run into director and eventual cultural purveyor Spike Lee. She first met him back in 1979, when she was a high school senior and he was a senior at Morehouse College who was directing the coronation at the school where she danced. Back then, he was telling folks that he planned to go to film school and had aspirations of being a director — although, at the time, Guy wasn’t entirely sure what that meant.

Spike had some news for her. “I just finished my first movie, you’ve got to see it,” she remembers Lee telling her. He was talking about 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It, which is now of course a lauded Netflix series of the same name. She saw the movie and was mesmerized by the very contemporary piece that was in black and white and dealt with sex, relationships and intimacy. She’s never seen anything like it before. With black people. And she was impressed.

She ran into him again on those New York streets, and this was the time that he added a new word to her lexicon. “I’m doing another movie, and you’re going to be in it, so send me your headshot. You’re going to be a wannabe.” She was confused. “You know how you all are,” she remembers Lee saying. She had no idea what he was talking about. Wannabe.

But she soon learned. As did everyone else who would consume Lee’s epic portrayal of a fictional historically black college in School Daze, a movie that altered how we publicly talked about blackness and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). For the uninitiated, the idea of a “wannabe” was a caricature of (for the most part) a high-yellow, lighter-skinned woman with long hair whose physical attributes look more European than African. “Wannabe” was also an attitude: Wannabe better than me.

School Daze. It’s been three decades to the day since theaters were lit up with a historically black campus waking up — this was when Nelson Mandela was still locked up, and students called for divestment from South Africa. Three decades since Spike Lee brought us a story of conflict, of when students pledging fictional Greek fraternities were pitted against those who desired global and local social change. The Gamma dogs. The Gamma Rays. The Fellas. The Wannabes. The Jiggaboos — oh yes, the Jiggaboos. School Daze was about the tensions between light-skinned black folks and dark-skinned black folks.

Everything was right there on a 50-foot screen. No escaping it. We had to consume it. And address it. “It was like, Wow, this guy’s really going to go there,” says renowned director Kasi Lemmons, whose first film role was in School Daze. “He’s really going to explore these issues. It occurred to me, when I saw it, how important it was because it explored so many things that you just hadn’t seen.”

In so many ways, School Daze was an extension of what was happening on campuses. It tapped into activations that were happening in the mid-1980s, and after it was released, it inspired and engaged other students, amplifying the work that was already taking place.

Darryl Bell — who was one of the “big brothers” in School Daze, his first role — was quite active as a real-life student at Syracuse University. He attended rallies where black and Latino students were mobilizing, much in the same way that Laurence Fishburne’s Dap did on Lee’s fictional campus of Mission College. In real life, Bell pledged Alpha Phi Alpha.

“I wanted to know more about these Alpha fellas,” says Bell. He remembers seeing them at rallies. “The idea that Alpha men were involved in, and on the forefront of talking about, issues that mattered — the divesting of South Africa — it encouraged me to be part of student government. All of these things … my experience at Syracuse, you saw in the film. … We were engaged in voter registration. We put on a fashion show to raise money to give scholarships to high school students. … That was the life I was living. That’s why I was so desperate to be in the movie. … This is all about me and what I’m living everyday. It was an extraordinary example of art imitating life.”

The film was more than entertainment; even before A Different World, it really illuminated HBCU campus life. It shed a light on colorism, one of the most uncomfortable and unspoken issues among black folks — something we’d been battling for generations and, in a lot of ways, still are.

“There was … division between the men and women,” says Joie Lee, who portrayed Lizzie Life in the film, “in terms of what constitutes beauty. I wasn’t ‘fine.’ I wasn’t considered that. I did not fit that standard of beauty, perhaps because I was brown-skinned. Perhaps because my hair was nappy, and natural. The women that are considered fine … were light-skinned or had ‘good hair’ — I’m using that term loosely. Those were some of the issues that [we were] grappling with.”

Thirty years later, the film still holds up. Replace School Daze’s international concerns with the Black Lives Matter movement and the activism, especially in this current political climate, most certainly feels familiar. “It does have a relevance to what’s going on today,” says Kirk Taylor, who portrayed one of the Gammas. “In terms of the look, in terms of the content, in terms of the final message about waking up … we need to wake up as much now as we did then — and stay awake. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, or false peace, and not be aware that things still need to be addressed. Things still need to be changed.”

Stay woke, indeed.

Happy birthday, Oprah! Take a look at 10 times she wowed us all Today, we celebrate our favorite media mogul on her 64th birthday

Happy birthday to the woman who has been a source of inspiration to all — Oprah! Take a look at the 10 times Oprah wowed us all.

1985 — She performed in one of the best black cult classics, The Color Purple.

There will never be a day where The Color Purple is not referenced in some way, shape or form. The popular 1985 film — based on the best-selling 1982 novel written by Alice Walker — has since been used in the form of memes and GIFs on social media, and in more serious settings such as university lectures. In 2016, an interview with entertainment website Collider was published regarding Oprah’s role as the headstrong, fierce and proud Sofia. The media mogul explained how her role as changed her life:

The Color Purple changed my life. It changed everything about my life because, in that moment of praying and letting go, I really understood the principle of surrender. The principle of surrender is that, after you have done all that you can do, and you’ve done your best and given it your all, you then have to release it to whatever you call God, or don’t call God. It doesn’t matter because God doesn’t care about a name. You just release it to that which is greater than yourself, and whatever is supposed to happen, happens. And I have used that principle about a million times now. You release it to Grace. So, when you see me in this movie, I had never been happier in my life. It is the reason why I ended up owning my own show.”

1986 — Oprah earned her college degree and racked up a bunch more along the way.

Oprah may have earned her undergraduate degree from the historically black Tennessee State University, but the talk show host has collected honorary degrees through years from colleges such as Howard, Princeton, Harvard, Duke and the University of the Free State in South Africa. This was also the same year her very first daytime talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, debuted. It was the first successful year of a 25-season run.

1988 — The Skinheads episode of Oprah.

The Oprah Winfrey Show had only debuted two years earlier, yet Oprah was taking on one of the most polarizing moments in the show’s history. A black woman purposely inviting a group of white supremacists to expose ignorance and confront hate was a pretty bold move, but there were some very important lessons learned that day.

The white supremacists riled the audience with their sentiments that only white people created the country, and “blacks still lived in the jungles of Africa.” Oprah was even called a monkey on her very own show.

Twenty years later, Oprah expressed how that particular show changed the way she chose her show’s topics. “I realized in that moment that I was doing more to empower them than I was to expose them,” Oprah said during a 2006 interview. “And since that moment, I’ve never done a show like that again.”

2000 — If having her own show wasn’t enough, Oprah launched her own magazine.

In 1999, Oprah fans were thrilled to learn the queen of daytime television would be launching her own publication and when the first issue arrived in 2000, supporters ran to the closest stands to grab their copies. Eighteen years later, O, The Oprah Magazine remains one of the most successful women’s magazines on shelves. And like the boss she is, Oprah has featured herself on every cover of the magazine. Only a few of her closest friends have had the honor of sharing the cover alongside her.

2004 — “Everybody gets a car!”

It was certainly the happiest day in the show’s history for audience members of The Oprah Winfrey Show, who all received a new Pontiac G6 from Mrs. Oprah Claus herself (maybe she wore that stunning red dress for a reason!). The episode still remains in Oprah’s 25 Most Unforgettable Oprah Show Moments.

2007 — Oprah opened a school for girls in South Africa.

Oprah’s global humanitarian efforts increased in 2007 when the TV personality opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg. Oprah’s motivation to get the school completed was, in part, due to a promise she made to South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela.

“I wanted to give this opportunity to girls who had a light so bright that not even poverty could dim that light,” Oprah said at a news conference at the time. “If you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty brings out the beauty in you.”

2011 — Oprah launches the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

And what happens when you think you’ve acquired everything you could to build your brand? You OWN a network. Oprah took sole advantage of that feeling of pride, evident by the network’s acronym. Oprah shared her feelings on starting the network with readers shortly before its launch:

“I’m in the countdown to the end of the great phenomenon of my life. Headed off to launch a network of shows intended to do what The Oprah Winfrey Show and this magazine have done for years: inspire and entertain. Everything you’ve ever done prepares you for all that you can do and be. So I move forward to start a new chapter with the lessons I’ve learned and the strength I’ve gained. OWN debuts January 1; in its kickoff year, we’ve planned more than 600 hours of new programs. To fill the time 24/7/365, you need close to 9,000. We have a lot of work ahead. You can see why I hesitated for a moment. Do I really want to take this on? But the launch is just the beginning of what will eventually be a channel filled with creative, meaningful, and mindful programming.”

2013 — Oprah received one of her most important honors: The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Oprah has collected quite an impressive collection of hardware throughout the years, but her 2013 addition was one that left Oprah beaming as then-President Barack Obama presented her with the highest civilian honor a president can bestow. The honor was bestowed upon Oprah for being “one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists.

2015 — Oprah also continued her health journey by buying 10 percent of Weight Watchers.

Oprah has publicly shared her weight loss journey with supports over the years, but investing in Weight Watchers was a pleasant, yet unexpected next step. “Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for,” Oprah said in a statement. “I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.” Stocks rose 105 percent after Oprah announced she would not only being investing, but also joining the Weight Watchers board. She has made roughly $300 million with the company since 2015.

2017 — In a candid moment, Oprah shows us why everyone needs a best friend like her.

A video of Oprah caringly, yet jokingly telling her best friend Gayle King that she needed to lotion her elbows was the best thing to happen to the internet that week. Oprah and Gayle’s friendship have been documented throughout the years from road trips to sit-down interviews. This was just a small reminder and rather funny reminder of how real their friendship is.

Welcome back, Tiger Woods is coming back to the PGA as a human, not a symbol of his father’s or golf’s hopes and dreams

The father spoke glowingly about his son to anyone who would listen. Once, at an awards dinner in honor of his son, the father issued a bold claim — or, under most circumstances, an asinine boast.

“My heart fills with so much joy when I realize that this young man is going to be able to help so many people,” the father said. “He will transcend this game and bring the world a humanitarianism which has never been known before. The world will be a better place to live in by virtue of his existence and his presence.”

His son would “do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.” Limiting the absurdity of such a prediction strictly to sports, that would be more than Arthur Ashe or Jackie Robinson or Jesse Owens. More than Muhammad Ali. The father’s logic (to stretch the definition of the word) was that the son was “more charismatic, more educated and more prepared for this than anyone.”

More charismatic than Ali.

“He is the Chosen One,” the father said, anointing the son who he also said would have more of an impact upon the world than Nelson Mandela.

More impact than Nelson Mandela.

This father isn’t LaVar Ball. His son Lonzo had not yet been conceived when these statements were made. These words uttered in 1996 are the vocal property of one Earl Woods, father of Eldrick Tont Woods or, as first his father and then fame named him — simply Tiger.

Earl Woods was many things at many times. He was a philanderer and, at times, an opportunist. But he loved his son deeply and passionately and believed absolutely in the once-in-a-lifetime talent his son carried on his shoulders. It’s an impossible question to answer, but worthwhile to ponder. Much like Kanye West and his late mother, is so much of Woods’ rudderless time in the past few years toiling between mediocrity, irrelevancy and frustration because his father and his absolute faith is gone?

J.D. Cuban /Allsport

That Woods is not as socially transformative as Ali is as expected as the rising of the sun. That’s just a wild boast into the wind (even if you believe it). It also does not seem possible in this time space continuum that he will eclipse Mandela’s legacy. He is not the Chosen One. And yet.

Woods did try. In the 21 years since those words were uttered, Woods changed the entire culture of golf. There is very little beyond the rules of play left unchanged in his wake. He became a tour de force, the most dominant player of his generation. There is such a thing as Tiger-Proofing and a Tiger Effect. Only Sam Snead has more tournament victories than Woods’ 79 victories, and his attack on Jack Nicklaus’ majors record was thrilling to watch. His father has died — its own complex story. Then Nov. 27, 2009, happened. The fire hydrant crash and all the revelations of all the infidelities obliterated his idealized image. Injuries ground his career to a halt. Then in May, his mug shot from a DUI arrest became as synonymous with his life story as the red polo on Sunday. And yet.

Here we are, as Tiger, almost 42 years old, a father himself, a ghost of the player he once was, embarks on another “return” to competitive golf. And he is still the most captivating name in the sport by a country mile. Tiger is why the 18-man Hero World Challenge is on TV. He’s why, as the 1,180th-ranked golfer in the world, he commands more attention than the 1,179 in front of him combined.

If only the son, in so many ways, hadn’t tried to live up to the prophecy his father set forth for him as if they were the Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Commandments. If only Woods had known that his father was wrong twice more in that benediction that could also double as a curse. There is no education or preparation for the burden he assumed.

Golf knows it needs Woods back more than Woods needs golf. Young stars such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, immensely talented and superstar golfers in their own regard, have failed to move the needle. There is no post-Tiger plan.

His dominance reverberated around pop culture in a way the game could have never imagined (or desired) for the better part of a decade — portrayed by Sean “Puffy” Combs” in The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” music video and the subject of legendary Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle bits. Not after his statistical tyranny over golf made Babe Ruth’s stats look trivial, even now a decade after injuries and scandal exiled him. And surely not after his game assured him a spot on golf’s Mount Rushmore.

Oh, and Woods unquestionably dominated America’s most segregated sport. Jim Crow didn’t fully perish. It continued to live in country clubs when it could no longer legally claim residency at buses, lunch counters and water fountains. Woods reigned in a sport that drew much of its identity from its exclusion, snobbery, socioeconomic status and walled-off fairways.

Getty Images

When asked about golf’s history with racism in 1990, a 14-year-old Woods’ answer was telling, cognizant of the world around him and perhaps more prophetic than anything Earl Woods envisioned.

“Every time I go to a major country club I can always feel [racism]. Always sense it. People always staring at me. ‘What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here.’ When I go to Texas or Florida you always feel it,” he said. “They say, ‘What are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here.’ And that’s probably because that’s where all the slavery was.” But in his very next statement, there was Earl Woods’ optimism, his aim-for-the-stars mentality shining through in his son. Woods recognized his power. “Since I’m black, it might be even bigger than Jack Nicklaus. I might be even bigger than him. I may be like a sort of Michael Jordan in golf.”

Diversity was an issue in golf long before Woods. That, not even he could change. Nor should that responsibility have sat so squarely on his shoulders.

Golf failed to expand its reach when it had the biggest phenomenon in sports on all the TVs, winning all the trophies and making it look good too.

The game will never see another Tiger Woods. That rare combination of irresistible force and immovable object that shook the game up forever and once made it almost cool. That so-rare combination of power, grace and infinite marketability. But every run has an end, and Woods’ is nearer than any of us would like to admit, even with the excitement of his return to competitive golf.

He returns to golf as a human, not a symbol. He’s a 41-year-old man, not the 26-year-old phenom. That Tiger is dead. At this point, he’s playing for two goals. He mentioned one Tuesday during the Hero World Challenge news conference. He wants his kids to see how good he was, not just through word of mouth and YouTube videos. That their dad was once a pillar of precision and skill in a sport that demands laserlike focus even on bad days. The other one — and this is a hunch, and he’d never admit it anyway — is to go out like Peyton or Kobe. Woods likely won’t eclipse Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, but a 15th would be the nightcap on a career that’s seen meteoric highs and soul-crushing lows.

Throughout Woods’ decade of course destruction, it was never his job to recruit people of color to play more competitive golf. To get the kids, who years earlier would have only been allowed to be caddies, and turn them into the stars of tomorrow. Woods was a window, not a door. Symbolically, he did lead people of color to take up golf in ways they hadn’t in the decade. Diversifying the sport fell in golf’s lap. But here we are, nearly 21 years after Woods became a household name at the Masters, and golf has shown minimal progress in the area. In 2011, Joseph Bramlett became the first player of African-American descent to make the PGA Tour since Woods in 1997.

Much remains the same on the LPGA Tour too. Founded in 1950, only eight black women have played the tour. Althea Gibson and Renee Powell were the first two, Cheyenne Woods (Tiger’s niece) came in 2015, and this year there is Mariah Stackhouse. Many black female golfers at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are up against a lack of avenues to improve their games as programs are slashed. No black woman has ever won an LPGA title.

But beyond the pristine beaches of the Bahamas and the competitive but fraternal bond of the Hero World Challenge, one unsettling question and one certainty looms.

Question: If this is really the beginning of the end of maybe the greatest golfer to ever live, was it all worth it?

Fact: A chunk of this is on Tiger, a chunk on Earl. The great majority, however, falls on golf and how it chose to capitalize on Woods’ glory years and ignore the diversity of the sport long term — determined to keep their chosen one. Woods may still owe a debt to the people closest to him. Golf and all who love it, though, owe him.

Derrick Rose donates $7K to man walking from Chicago to D.C. to raise awareness of gun violence The Cavs guard showed his support on Demetrius Nash’s GoFundMe page

Chicago native Derrick Rose, who recently signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, stepped up when he heard that Chicago resident Demetrius “DNash” Nash had set out Aug. 4 to walk from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness about the epidemic of gun violence in his city.

Rose donated $7,000 to help Nash and left a heartfelt message on his GoFundMe campaign page.

“We’re proud of all the great work you’re doing to save the youth of Chicago and providing a framework for at-risk youth for sustainability by providing training for a trade and mentoring via positive & successful mentors. God bless you with safe travels on your journey. From Derrick Rose & the Blackman-Reese Family.”

Nash’s goal is to get support for programs that will help youths find alternatives to street life. Nash founded Replace Guns With Hammers, which aims to provide training and mentors to those in at-risk situations. His fundraising goal for the walk is $50,000.

“It’s 672 miles from Chicago to the White House,” Nash wrote on his campaign page. “Walking will take 223 hours. Walking 10 hours a day will approximately take 22.3 days, at roughly about 10-12 hours a day.”

Nash was incarcerated for drug trafficking when he was 26.

“I’m very serious about giving back to my community and using my own life as a testimony,” Nash wrote. “I was incarcerated for eight years and recently completed four years of successful probation. Thank God! That’s right 12 years of bondage!!! I was inspired by a book written by Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom, in which he writes about his 27 years of imprisonment.”

Rose, formerly with the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, has paid for funerals of victims of gun violence and has donated $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization devoted to providing out-of-school programs for teenagers.

Including Rose’s donation, Nash has raised more than $23,000 for his efforts.

March on Washington Film Fest features 9th Wonder, Diahann Carroll and Eric Holder This year’s festival looks at civil rights across sports, entertainment, higher education and the legal system

The March on Washington Film Festival returns this month for its fifth year of celebrating films that explore themes of civil rights, activism and social justice.

Panels and events including actress Diahann Carroll, producer 9th Wonder and former Attorney General Eric Holder are among the highlights of the 21 events that run from July 13-22.

Holder will be on hand for a couple of events. He’s part of a panel discussing Walk With Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith before an invitation-only audience July 20 at the Supreme Court. And he and his wife, Sharon Malone, will be presenting writer Ta-Nehisi Coates with the Vivian Malone Courage Award on July 15. Vivian Malone, Sharon’s sister, was one of two students who integrated the University of Alabama in 1963 and became its first black graduate in 1965.

Carroll will be attending to support a documentary-in-progress co-directed by her daughter, Suzanne Kay. Festivalgoers will get a glimpse of the film from Kay and Margo Speciale about The Ed Sullivan Show and its importance in introducing America to black artists. Sullivan faced threats and boycotts for integrating his variety show, one of the most watched programs in America, but he persisted nevertheless. The full documentary is expected to be completed in 2018.

9th Wonder, the ear behind Jay-Z’s Black Album, Kendrick Lamar’s Damn., and Anderson .Paak’s Malibu, will be on hand to discuss The Hip-Hop Fellow (2014) with the Kennedy Center’s new director of hip-hop programming, Simone Eccleston, on July 21. The Hip-Hop Fellow follows 9th Wonder (also known as Patrick Douthit) as a fellow at Harvard’s Hip-Hop Research Institute, where he also taught for the 2012-13 school year. Among the records that 9th Wonder selected to be archived in Harvard’s Loeb Music Library: A Tribe Called Quest‘s The Low End Theory, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Nas’ Illmatic and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly.

This year’s festival also marks the introduction of the Freedom’s Children Student Journalists Competition. Earlier this year, students from around the country submitted work for the chance to cover the festival for various journalism outlets. The Undefeated is participating and will be running work from the winners.

Also worth a gander:

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice

Deborah Riley Draper’s 2016 documentary, narrated by Blair Underwood, looks beyond Jesse Owens to the 17 other black American athletes who participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, some of whom also won medals at the Games.

Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968

When many people think of violent clashes between college students and the police, the horrors of Kent State spring to mind. But Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968, the 2008 film from directors Bestor Cram and Judy Richardson, reveals the history and context behind a standoff at South Carolina State University in 1968, when South Carolina Highway Patrol officers killed three protesters and injured 27 others who were demonstrating for the desegregation of an Orangeburg bowling alley.


Director Pascale Lamche’s 2017 documentary about the freedom fighter and former wife of Nelson Mandela premiered this year at Sundance. Winnie Mandela sat for four interviews in two years with Lamche, and the result is a look at her fight against apartheid in South Africa and the toll it took on her and her marriage. The festival will host a discussion at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on July 19 with poet Elizabeth Alexander and Gay McDougall of the U.N. Committee for Ending Racial Discrimination.

Festival attendees can check out the full event lineup and purchase passes and tickets at http://marchonwashingtonfilmfestival.org.

This article has been changed to correct the number of events and the relationship of Vivian and Sharon Malone.

Get fitted: 28 ways the hip-hop generation made baseball’s classic cap a cultural phenomenon Hat to the back (or front) by musical icons such as Eazy-E, Aaliyah, Jay Z and Ice Cube made the fitted fit into popular culture

The hat is a modern-day crown. The right hat makes royalty of the modern-day ’round the way guy and girl. Think about it for a second. The perfect cap can set off an entire outfit. It can very well be the only redeemable item of your freshman-year wardrobe. There’s a sense of pride that comes with rocking a clean hat, whether it be the current wave of Bryson Tiller caps, or snapbacks. But truth is truth: No hat will ever come close to eclipsing the iconic status of fitted caps — in particular the baseball fitted.

Every trend has a starting point. Baseball historians credit Blue Bloods (CBS, 2010-present) and Magnum, P.I. (CBS, 1980-88) star Tom Selleck with kick-starting the wave. He zipped around Oahu, Hawaii, wearing the cap of his beloved Detroit Tigers during the Magnum years. Another fitted fact you might not be aware of: Founded in the 1920s, boss cap company New Era is actually older than McDonald’s, Johnson Publishing Co. and the NBA. And by 1978, when New Era placed an ad for its merchandise in The Sporting News, it wasn’t just baseball fans who were infatuated with the gear.

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“We had to shut [the 1978 mail order] down; there were too many orders coming in. These weren’t people who went to games,” New Era company historian Karl Koch said in Jim Lilliefors’ 2009 book Ball Cap Nation: A Journey Through the World of America’s National Hat. “They were out in the middle of Iowa and places like that. It was an early sign that people wanted this.”

Selleck opened the door, but there’s little debate as to who made off-the-field looks legendary. The rise of hip-hop and its influence on fashion and culture in general turned the fitted into one of the all-time great fashion statements. With the 2017 MLB season celebrating the back half of its opening day schedule today, it’s only right to look back at a list of pioneers who helped make these fitteds just as poppin’ as the pros who get paid to wear them for a living — and, in certain cases, even more. As you’ll see, too, many of these creatives rep their hometowns (like Selleck). There are not many things more hip-hop than putting on for your city. Ask Jeezy. Note: We’re only going with game-day hats. Not the colorways.

Aaliyah — Chicago White Sox

Uncomfortable R. Kelly angle aside, Chicago was a huge influence on Aaliyah’s career. It’s where her first album, 1994’s classic Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (which featured the hit singles “Back & Forth” and “At Your Best”), was recorded. Also, I’m not saying the White Sox fitted could beat the Yankee fitted in a seven-game series. But I’m confident they could at least push it to Game 7.

A$AP Yams — Atlanta Braves

Rapper and founding member of rap collective A$AP Mob, Steven Rodriguez, aka A$AP Yams, is photographed near his office in the Bronx for The New York Times on Jan. 8, 2013.

Chad Batka/Getty Images

A$AP Yams’ 2015 death left a gaping hole in rap. The man who contributed to re-energizing the New York rap scene, ran influential tumblrs and helped make A$AP Rocky a household name with more than 5 million IG followers was without a doubt a dominating (and hilarious) culture curator and fitted-wearer. Not really much to say beyond that, other than “Long live A$AP Yams.”

Beyoncé — Houston Astros

Marriage is all about compromise. So there’s no doubt the Knowles-Carter household is a Yankee household most times. But you’ll never truly take the H-Town, her hometown of Houston, out of her. Case in point, here’s Queen Bey donning a James Harden jersey, too.

Big Boi (of OutKast) — Atlanta Braves

Big Boi of OutKast during the Good Morning America 2004 Summer Concert Series — OutKast at Bryant Park in New York City.

Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic

More often than not, Sir Lucious Left Foot is rocking some form of Atlanta clothing. Caps on.

Chance The Rapper — Chicago White Sox

As Kanye West once said, Chance is a Chicagoan, until Chicago ends. An official ambassador for the White Sox, the Grammy winner even designed a cap last year.

Ciara — Atlanta Braves

There have been several variations of the Braves hat over the years. None better than the one you see Ci-Ci sporting here in her “Ride” video.

Dr. Dre — Los Angeles Dodgers

If Eazy put on for the White Sox, Dre gets just as much credit for constantly repping his hometown team.

Dwayne Wayne — New York Yankees

Kadeem Hardison, aka Dwayne Wayne, on the set of the show A Different World.

Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Clean Yankee fitted? Patented flip-up glasses? We need to have a serious discussion one day about Kadeem Hardison, aka Dwayne Wayne, being one of the 10 coolest and most influential black people to ever appear on television.

Eazy E — Chicago White Sox

Rapper Eazy-E poses for a portrait in 1993 in New York City.

Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If we’re keeping it funky, it’s NWA who embraced the wave and led the charge in the late ’80s. Eazy often rotated between his “COMPTON” cap, his Los Angeles Raiders cap and this White Sox cap — all of which he immortalized.

Ice Cube — Detroit Tigers

Cube, aka Doughboy, rocking the Tigers fitted throughout 1991’s seminal Boyz N The Hood is in the running for greatest of all time fitted. Absolutely no disrespect to Selleck, but O’Shea is the biggest reason there’s a Detroit hat in my apartment right now.

Jay Z — New York Yankees

I made the Yankee hat/ More famous than a Yankee can. He rapped this on 2009’s “Empire State of Mind,” and, well, is he lying? Shawn Carter’s worldwide cultural influence makes it hard to argue against him being the greatest of all time hip-hop fitted-wearer — a title I just made up. He’s so committed to the hat he’s requested to be buried in one. I put on for my city/ So when I’m dead and gone, I got one last wish: put my Yankee hat on, he rapped on Young Jeezy’s “Put On (Remix”).

Jennifer Lopez — New York Yankees


Yes, that is a very nice hat J-Lo is wearing. Thanks for asking.

Jodeci — Chicago White Sox

In the middle, Jodeci.

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

You rarely saw K-Ci or Jojo without a hat in the ’90s. And many times it was the White Sox hat that half of the greatest ’90s R&B group of all time, along with many others, helped turn into a cultural fashion statement. The simplistic color scheme, the font and the city it repped made it easy to understand why.

Kendrick Lamar — Los Angeles Dodgers

Kendrick Lamar throws out the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 27, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Noel Vasquez/GC Images

Los Angeles is never far from Cornrow Kenny’s heart. And head.

Mase and Lil Kim — Pittsburgh Pirates

Could Mase name three players on the Pittsburgh Pirates roster when this picture was taken? I’ll go out on a limb and say no. But that’s beside the point. Fitteds have never been about flexing baseball knowledge. They have, however, led to some really great pics, as we see here with Mase (before he went to Atlanta and started a church) and Lil’ Kim.

Nas — New York Mets

Nas performs at MLB Fan Cave on July 18, 2012, in New York City.

Johnny Nunez/FilmMagic

Shea Stadium, home of the Mets from 1961 to 2008, was in Queens. Nas is from Queens. It just makes sense. The Mets fitted is always a nice change of pace from the Yankee iteration, too. You know, if you’re already thinking about cookout attire.

Nelly — St. Louis Cardinals

Nelly’s the exception on this list. Not only is he wearing his hometown fitted, had things panned out a tad differently, he would have actually played professional ball. However, I’m fine with him sacrificing his baseball dreams. Selfish, I know. But if Nelly had gone on to become a pro baseball star, then Country Grammar never would’ve happened (see above). And Country Grammar needed to happen.

Pimp C — Houston Astros

Rapper Chad “Pimp C” Butler of Underground Kingz (UGK) poses for a portrait in Houston on July 25, 2001, in Houston.

Pam Francis/Getty Images

Port Arthur, the home of UGK, is actually about 90 miles east of Houston. That being said, there might not be a more appropriate picture than Chad Butler rocking the Astros fitted. Butler’s UGK partner, Bun B, went on to design a fitted for the team.

Queen Latifah — New York Yankees

Here’s the Newark, New Jersey, native — and editor-in-chief of Flavor magazine, for all my Living Single fans — keeping it chill at the premiere of Scream 2 in 1997.

T.I. — Atlanta Braves

T.I. and PSC during MTV Presents Hip-Hop Week, April 26, 2005, at MTV Studios in Times Square in New York City.

Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

The man known as T.I. is a fitted hall of famer. On countless occasions, the Atlanta native Clifford Harris positioned a hat on his head in the weirdest of angles, only to have it somehow stay on his head without having to readjust it, a la the Dodgers fitted he wore in the video for his mammoth 2006 “What You Know About That.”

Teyana Taylor — Detroit Tigers

Fashion has always been part of Teyana Taylor’s game. Look no further than how it’s carried over to her marriage to Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert. Consider this further proof that one can never go wrong with the classic Tigers fitted.

The Game — Cincinnati Reds

We can go all the way back to 2004 with The Game rocking the red hat and Tyson Chandler Bulls jersey in Jim Jones’ “Certified Gangstas” video. For “neighborhood reasons.” Word to the wise. Just be cognizant of when and where you wear this when visiting Los Angeles. Aside from that, the Reds fitted is low-key one of the coldest hats in rotation, though. A definite must-have.

The Notorious B.I.G. — New York Yankees

Biggie isn’t the first person to come to mind when thinking of fitteds. But during his brief time atop rap’s Mount Olympus, he was often dubbed the “King of New York.” Every king needs a crown. Which B.I.G. wore in 112’s “Only You (Remix)” video.

Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson — Oakland Athletics

Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson in promo photos for the movie Poetic Justice.

Photos 12 / Alamy Stock Photo

Born in New York. And raised in Baltimore. But if you know anything about Tupac Shakur, no city held his heart like Oakland, California, despite the fact he spent only four years of his short life there. “When I got to Oakland, that’s where I learned the game,” he said in a 1993 interview. “So that’s why I give all my love to Oakland. If I’ma claim a city, I’ma claim Oakland.”

Wale — Washington Nationals

Recording artist Wale throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals fitted is so cold I’ve got (or at least had) it in three different colors. Highly underrated fitted. All still game day colors, of course. If we’re doing power rankings, the Nats cap is a no-brainer for top seven. Catch me on the right day and I’m saying top five.

Will Smith — Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Story, episode 26 of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Raymond W. Holman Jr./NBCU Photo Bank

Aside from its football team, the city of Philadelphia is one of my favorite places. And it also is the proud owner of one of the cleanest fitteds in all the land — evident here from one of the City of Brotherly Love’s most famous sons.

Wiz Khalifa — Pittsburgh Pirates

Personally, I’m more a fan of the black hat with the yellow “P,” but that’s just splitting hairs.

Young Jeezy — Baltimore Orioles

Yes, the hat is backward. But I know it’s the Orioles. The orange on the bill gives it away (and I find it hard to believe Jeezy’s wearing another team’s fitted when he already has the Orioles jersey on … an unwritten no-no).


Nelson Mandela — New York Yankees

Nelson Mandela acknowledges the crowd after donning a New York Yankees warm-up jacket and cap during a rally in his honor June 22, 1990, at New York’s Yankee Stadium. He told the crowd, “I am a Yankee.”

AP Photo/Ron Frehm

OK, I know I said this would be the hip-hop generation, but you bend the rules for freaking Nelson Mandela. This picture originally scared me. It had to be photoshopped. It just had to be. Mandela, one of the five greatest leaders to ever walk the planet, in a clean Yankee hat (which may or may not be a fitted, but so what) and a satin Yankee jacket? Incredible.

Yesterday in black history: Nelson Mandela released from prison and Buster Douglass knocks out Mike Tyson Black History Month: The Undefeated Edition Feb. 11 presented on Feb. 12

1977 – First black Secretary of the Army confirmed

Clifford Alexander Jr. would hold the position until the end of President Jimmy Carter’s term.

1989 – Barbara C. Harris was ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church
Born in Philadelphia, Barbara C. Harris was ordained bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts on Feb. 11, 1989. She was the first woman and African-American in the position. She was threatened and was at one point urged to wear a bulletproof vest, but she refused. Harris retired from the position in Boston in 2003.

1990 – Nelson Mandela is free
South African’s black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years of imprisonment. Three years after he was released, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and four years after his release, he was elected president of South Africa. He led armed and political resistance against apartheid and was a part of the African National Congress, then found himself first a fugitive from the government and then a prisoner. He became an international symbol of defiance against the brutality of South Africa’s racist regime and finally, the face of the end of the entire apartheid apparatus.

1990 – Buster Douglas takes Mike Tyson down
Mike Tyson, the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion, was knocked out by James “Buster” Douglas in the 10th round of the fight held in Tokyo. Billed as “Tyson is Back,” this 42-1 ending is considered one of the greatest upsets in boxing history.

On this day in black history: Announcement of Nelson Mandela’s release date, 1964 Civil Rights Bill passed and more Black History Month: The Undefeated edition Feb. 10

1907 — Grace Towns Hamilton, civil rights activist and politician, is born
In 1965, Grace Towns Hamilton was the first African-American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly, and she served in the Georgia House of Representatives until 1984. A chair in the Emory University political science department was named in her honor.

1964 — U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
By a vote of 290-130, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited any state or local government or public facility from denying access to anyone because of race or ethnic origin. It also provided the U.S. attorney general with the power to bring school desegregation lawsuits. The federal government was allowed to stop giving federal funds to companies or states that discriminated. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964.

1971 — Major League Baseball welcomes first African-American baseball announcer
Bill White, the former first baseman and five-time All-Star, was recommended for the New York Yankees play-by-play job by broadcast/radio legend Howard Cosell. In 1971, White became the first African-American broadcaster for a major-league team, even though he had never called a baseball game.

1989 — First African-American chairman appointed by a major U.S. party
Attorney Ronald Brown became the first African-American elected national chairman of the Democratic Party. Five years later, he was named secretary of commerce by President Bill Clinton and served in this role until he was killed, along with 32 other people, in 1996 plane crash en route to a diplomatic mission in Croatia.

1990 — Date of Nelson Mandela’s release is announced
South African President F.W. de Klerk announced to parliament that Nelson Mandela would be released unconditionally on Feb. 11. The news took many by surprise. Besides Mandela, other political activists were also freed. The formation of a democratic South Africa would eventually result from this action.

1992 — Renowned author Alex Haley dies
Alex Haley, who became famous as a result of his novel Roots, which traced his family’s lineage back to Africa and retells the story of seven American generations, dies.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn’t drop his second album.