The TI vs Mayweather Gucci Debate

TI and Mayweather shoot barbs and valid points are made on both sides.

Entertainer and hip hop impresario T.I. reignited an old beef with Floyd Mayweather last week.

The “Troubleman” released a diss track aimed squarely at “Money”.

“F*&k Nigga” is T.I.’s dressing down of the Mayweather life of materialism. In addition, the song is in direct response to Mayweather’s stance on Gucci.

 

T.I. and filmmaker Spike Lee issued a boycott of a few luxury fashion houses amid the blackface balaclava controversy. They exposed a Prada accessory reminiscent of a Sambo caricature and a similar coat by Moncler.

The boycott called for a three-month cessation of wearing or purchasing the brands. However, Mayweather felt that he needed to exert his individuality and TMZ captured him living large in the Las Vegas Gucci store.

Mayweather’s Side

Mayweather issued a statement on social media explaining his vantage point.

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Many celebrities of color who purport themselves as culture drivers waxed poetic all NFL season long about the value of Colin Kaepernick‘s protest. Jay-Z, Rihanna and Cardi B all turned down Super Bowl Halftime show offers.

However, Cardi performed during Super Bowl week in Atlanta. In fact, Patriots owner Robert Kraft danced on stage with her while pointing to new bud Meek Mill.

A slew of other protest supporters also skipped the game but turned up on the Atlanta scene. With no economic tourism drive towards black-owned businesses in sight, rest assured Lennox Mall and the high priced European ateliers made money.

To Mayweather, it is a two-fold issue: lack of support for black-owned businesses and fickle melanin-conscious leadership. Although many will lampoon Mayweather for his numerous inconsistencies, he has a valid point. As an employer of people of color and black excellence in the boxing business, he does support people of color.

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Long-time custom luxury tailor Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day took to social media to espouse his love for the boxer. According to “Dap”, Mayweather and Jay-Z supported him during a tumultuous time in his life.

Compromise?

To Mayweather’s point, a three-month boycott seems a bit silly. If the goal is to prove that Gucci will see a downturn in sales from one quarter less black spending power, then the message can be diluted. Also, people of color who have already purchased these items in the past might not have the inventory of other designers to replace them,  so that to can be deemed inconsequential.

Black economic power is gold and beneficial to all manufacturers across all industries globally. The push to consolidate that power towards a movement is a throwback to an era when people of color had no other choice. Certain stores literally would not let people of color enter.

However, since the civil rights movement and increased black wealth, the poverty dynamic evolved and the formerly unattainable became a sacrament.

The push should be squarely focused on brands by folks of color, for folks of color.

Mayweather owns The Money Team brand and T.I. owns Akoo and Striver’s Row. With myriad other choices, why even wrap this debate around European luxury brands?

Regardless of how Mayweather and T.I. feel about each other personally, the goal is clear on both sides: support black-owned businesses.

Dapper Dan had a meeting with Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri in Harlem. There, Dan and community leaders took Gucci to task and received some concessions.

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Gucci has created a new role of Global Director for Diversity and Inclusion based at Gucci America in New York. They will promote diversity in recruitment and education as well as a multicultural design scholarship program.

If that is the goal, perhaps the so-called culture drivers should keep the in-fighting at a minimum. After all, it only adds to the distraction of the ultimate goal, buying more black and less European-centric “luxury”.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.