He may refer to himself as the Kushed God, but Harlem rapper Smoke DZA is also a champion ’Lo Head. As expressed in-rhyme and interviews, the rapper bears a natty obsession with Ralph Lauren’s Polo and Rugby brands. His keen affinity for the line, which inspired the title to his critically-acclaimed Rugby Thompson album, is evinced so much so that when it was announced last week that RL would be discontinuing its Rugby collection, thousands of his Twitter followers flooded his timeline with the question: “What Will DZA Do Now?”
Stopping by the XXL offices dappered in signature RL gear—a navy blue and yellow RL Rugby Wool Varsity jacket—the Harlemite who claims to own more than 300 RL Rugby pieces unveils plans to capitalize on the brand’s shut down with his own upcoming line, an upcoming EP with fellow Harlem mainstay Vado, and his admiration for the man behind the popular clean-cut wear, Ralph Lauren. Riiight…—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)
So I got to ask you about this Rugby situation, how do you feel about it shutting down soon?
Honestly, it’s bittersweet. Like, I love it as you [could] see but, it’s giving me an opportunity to do my own shit and really embrace the brand and the shit that I like and make it my own. So next year, God willing, I’m starting my own line named Thompson. Strictly all rugby, bucket hats and skullies.
This is big news for fans.
Oh yeah, this is big news. I know a lot of my people going to be mad at me but, I can’t hold it. I got some big friends [who’re] aligned with me, that’s helping me with this thing.
So it’s all just bucket hats—
Bucket hats, rugbies and skullies. The name of the line is Thompson, we gonna keep Rugby alive.
So the shuttering is sort of a blessing in disguise right?
Yeah, because this was already in motion. We was already talking about it but then you know that morning that I got the call like, “Yo they shutting this shit down,” it was like, Get the fuck out of here, they closing the store in New York? “Nah they killing the brand, discontinuing it.” I was like, Wow. It’s bittersweet but, now it’s my lane, fuck it. It’s like when Vince McMahon bought WCW, the lane is open.
I heard you also got some other projects in the works.
Me and Vado are doing something, we doing an EP called Rugby Last Call. You know we both from Harlem and we both embrace the brand.
I remember you previously mentioning that you own over 300 RL Rugby shirts. Are you worried about having to stop your collection at that number now with the brand shuttering?
All my shits are gonna be vintage at this point. Like I was saying to all my Twitter friends that were hitting me up with the “What’s Smoke DZA gonna do?” I don’t have to do anything; I got the Rugby store in my crib. I was doing this shit before it got hot. So now all my pieces are turned into vintage. Like this [pulls on his RL Rugby Wool Varsity jacket], it’s new and it’s [already] vintage. You can’t even find this no more, they don’t even make these anymore. I got millions of pieces like this jacket, flannels, jeans, rugbies—rugbies itself I stopped buying [since] last year.
With just Rugbies?
Just Rugbies. Like my closet, I can’t fit [anymore]. I got half a closet because I share it with my wife but, I can’t fit any more [of them]. I have bins throwing up Rugby. Yeah, it’s fucked up. I need a bigger walking closet [laughs].
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