Team Famous Street Freestyle
Blink-182's Travis Barker recruits two of the West Coast's hottest street freestyle riders--Warren Jamez and Jamal "J-Beats" Kindred--to blow up his Famous clothing brand and introduce street stunting to the MTV generation.
Make no mistake--with his menacing lip ring, full-sleeve tattoos and ever-present sneer, blink-182 drummer Travis Barker is punk as f*ck. Coming up alongside other 1990s power-punk icons such as Green Day and The Offspring, So-Cal's blink-182 led a three-chord revolution that booted dingy grunge music off the charts and replaced it with a faster, freer (and in the case of blink-182, at least), more fun-loving musical form that still rules the radio waves today. Propelled by Barker's lightning-fast drumsticks, the band (which also includes guitarist Tom DeLonge and bassist Mark Hoppus) has since become one of the biggest in the nation--the most popular of their eight albums, '99's Enema of the State, sold more than four million copies.
Punk is more than just music, though--it also describes a particular attitude, an unconventional outlook on life and an individualistic fashion sense. Barker's unique personal style is punked out top to bottom, from the piercings to the mohawk to his tattoos, which incorporate everything from racing flags and automobile emblems to spark plugs, spiritual symbols, Disneyish cartoon animals and even mudflap ladies. This affection for classic American iconography and punk symbolism forms the basis for Barker's latest venture, a clothing and accessories line called Famous Stars and Straps.
Drive anywhere in Southern California today and it seems Famous' signature "bent f" stickers are everywhere: highway overpasses, delivery-truck doors, light poles and mailboxes all across the Los Angeles Basin. And the brand's signature gothic- and ransom-note-lettered T-shirts and jerseys are a huge hit with Hollywood's glitterati, this year's version of the Von Dutch trucker hat.
Barker tells us the ideas and designs of the Famous line have nothing to do with courting popular acceptance. Barker just chases images that inspire him (he's obviously feeling a bit nostalgic for the '80s lately, judging from the new cassette-tape belt buckles and ghetto-blaster-themed clothing recently added to the line), and if consumers dig it, all the better--but it's not a huge concern to him. The fact that the line has caught on so strong suggests he's doing something right.
In addition to fresh designs, though, a big part of Famous' success comes from aligning the name with some of the hottest trendsetters in the active-sports and entertainment world--and we're not just talking about Barker and the rest of the blink boys. This is where the wild world of street freestyle and our heroes Warren Jamez and J-Beats enter the story.
Team Famous is a loose confederation of top professional skateboarders, BMX rats, freestyle motocross riders and now, with the addition of Jamez and J-Beats, street freestyle riders who are hitting the scene nationwide to represent Famous not only by competing in their chosen discipline but also by bringing their own special version of ruckus to more mainstream events, such as store openings at Famous retail outlets or MTV reality TV programming. This isn't empty marketing hoopla, Barker tells us--the team is a "family that represents the soul of the company, and my inspiration for new additions to the line."
It was actually 20-year-old Jamez who brought the Famous street freestyle team together. An enthusiast of the Famous brand from its inception, Jamez originally sent Famous a sponsorship proposal hoping to receive nothing more than a few T-shirts or stickers in return. Barker took one look at Jamez's packet and immediately saw a clear connection between the f*ck-you energy that informs both blink's music and Famous with the raw, aggressive energy of street freestyle stunting. Just weeks after sending out that first sponsorship package, Jamez was rolling in Las Vegas alongside Barker, partying at the Hard Rock Hotel, mugging for MTV cameras and rockin' high-chair wheelies on his newly wrapped, Famous-branded Honda CBR929RR.
J-Beats, a Chicago transplant who arrived in L.A. at the tender age of 13, is well-known to anyone active in the SoCal stunt scene. A prominent player in Ruff Ryders West Coast, J was most recently spotted aboard his Famous-wrapped GSX-R1000 leading a thousand-strong horde on a tour of L.A.'s busiest freeways for the annual Ruff Ryders motorcycle parade. Jamez drafted J early to assist with spreading the Famous gospel far and wide--beginning with a Ruff Ryders-centered TV program in production for Spike TV that will showcase J's one-up talents.
In fact, for Jamez and J Team Famous is shaping up to be a real Hollywood story, full of lights, cameras and plenty of action. In addition to the Spike TV bit and a host of straight-up street DVDs (including Project Mayhem--California, Burn on the West Coast 1 and 2, plus RoninRacer's Stunt Delicious), the duo is also part of a short film produced by Famous Stars and Straps that will focus on the lifestyles of the various Team Famous personalities.
From there, who knows where it will stop. J-Beats, for his part, has his eyes on the prize. "I'm talking about a J-Beats lunchbox and a J-Beats video game," he says. "Hell, if Tony Hawk can do it, why can't I?"
Indeed, why not? With the force of Famous and the encouragement of ber-supporters such as Barker pushing them along, there should be hardly any limit to how far Jamez and J-Beats can push this freestyle thing. If a bunch of bratty beach bums like Barker and crew can parlay their punk-rock personalities into heavy rotation and a guest spot on MTV's Cribs, a couple of extra-talented athletes like Jamez and J ought to have a chance in this game, right?
For more on Team Famous visit WarrenJamez.com.