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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Local Orange County Clothing and Music Group, A.S.G, on the Rise

Scribbling on a piece of ripped notebook paper, Dimitri Majors glanced down at his writing with a smile on his face before handing it to a classmate. “Hey! Psst! Here I got one look; A.S.G, guess what it stands for.” Dimitri passed the paper to his friend Matt as their game of guessing abbreviations continued. “A.S.G, I don’t know what is it?” It was their usual routine of passing notes and fooling around in their high school night class. “Attitude, Style, and Game”, Dimitri responded. Whether he was aware of it or not, what he had created in a simple game to pass time not only became the motto of three high school friends, but it has turned into a lifestyle and blossomed into a growing organization of music and clothing, founded in Orange County, and fueled by passion before profit.

When the idea of A.S.G first started, it was nothing more than a little clique in high school that Dimitri and his closest friend, Malcolm Henderson, created. Dimitri and Malcolm grew up together from diapers, being close friends and neighbors. When Dimitri approached Malcolm with the idea of A.S.G and what it meant, Malcolm loved it, “He agreed it was the coolest thing ever” Dimitri recalls, “so it became a little clique for us, we were A.S.G in high school.” Soon enough Malcolm and Dimitri told their long-time friend Chimere Obioha, CJ, about A.S.G, and he fell in love with the idea as well. The clique grew from two to three.
As they started investing more time into A.S.G, CJ had suggested that they start printing t-shirts just for the guys to wear. Putting together simple black and white American Apparel v-necks, with a custom “I See Money” graphic that CJ found from Customink.com, they started to print shirts at a local manufacturing location in Newport Beach. The “I See Money” graphic is an image of a man’s face, with his hair nicely done, an eager smile on his face, and dollar bills instead of his eyes. Along with the “I See Money” graphic, they also printed shirts with the A.S.G star, their trademark logo. The A made up the top point of the star, and the S and the G completed the bottom half of it. “Basically if we purchased a certain amount of shirts, we could chose a graphic from their selection and own it, we earned the rights to them in a sense. So pretty much whatever shirt we made, we owned” CJ explains. Dimitri, nodding his head, adds in “We would wear the shirts when we went out to parties, when we hung out, all the time, so people could know that we are A.S.G and get an idea of what A.S.G means. People started noticing it and showing interest and it was at that point that we knew we needed to take A.S.G to a whole other level”.

A.S.G had started to mean more to the three young men than just a small clique and a catchy name; it had become a part of their everyday life and a part of their identity. “Everything we did was A.S.G, from throwing some of the best parties in the OC, to getting the ASG star tattooed. It’s who we were. It’s who we still are” Chimere says proudly. It was then that the three decided to expand A.S.G and their vision to the community. The attention and interest that the young men received for their “I See Money” shirts motivated them to make even more designs and start an A.S.G clothing line. Their first step was switching to a manufacturing company called Merchwide, which is located in Santa Ana. “Merchwide offered more variety. They had more colors, more shirt designs” Chimere says, “It gave us more options, and it was the same concept, make a big purchase and own any graphic.” Comfortable cotton tank tops, sweaters, and short-sleeved shirts were soon added to the original v-neck style. From there on, “Swag Do Kill”, “Kings of Cali”, and “Deep Roots” designs joined the original collection, with several other designs following soon after. The group describes A.S.G fashion as uptown urban style, but Chimere and Malcolm explain where their inspiration comes from. “A.S.G. differs from any other clothing out there. All of our shirts have mottos, they all have a meaning behind them. What we say, what we hear, what we do in everyday life, some of it just goes Click! That should be our next design. A.S.G is inspired by ordinary people, by those who pursue the goals and ambitions of everyday life the same way we do.”

Along with the addition of new designs, A.S.G also welcomed several new members to its group; Curtis Cummings, Hani Habbas, Matt Weiner, Brandon Fosburg, and Alex Abetton. Even though they were new members to A.S.G, they had been friends with Dimitri and known Malcolm and Chimere since high school. “We have all been friends for a while, so we didn’t have any doubts making them a part of A.S.G, they were basically family” says Dimitri. Soon after, Chimere, Dimitri and Malcolm decided to combine their rhyming talents and expand A.S.G into a music organization as well. Chimere took the name Young Jeezy, Dimitri was AP, and Malcolm became DJ ASG. Dimitri’s two cousins, Tony and Davion, known as Young Hectek and Lil Hectek, along with Dimitri’s good friend Will, who goes by Murk, completed A.S.G music.

Orange County has had the reputation of being laid-back and relaxed for quite some time now. However recently, Orange County has also been considered to not be as motivated and active as before, also due to the economy. The Center for Demographic Research showed the facts and figures of Orange County within the last few years and made estimates of the future based on the findings. It is evident that Orange County’s G.C.P (Gross County Product, which is the local equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product), its Total Assessed Property and Real Estate Valuation, along with the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers, significantly dropped within the past few years. Even though the values have slowly rose again, the reputation has stayed with the county. A.S.G‘s mission is to rid of this thinking and show the community the more ambitious and “hungry for more” type of lifestyle that has influenced them. Within a few years time, the group has not only accomplished setting a basic foundation for A.S.G clothing and getting it up on its feet, but they have also put together A.S.G music, an organization that is well on its way.

Dimitri, Malcolm, and Chimere stand eagerly backstage at Shark Club in Costa Mesa. Along with them stands Young Hectek. Screams and cheers can be heard from outside as the huge crowd is bursting with excitement and anticipation, their sounds echoing throughout the entire club. “Are ya’ll ready for the next performance?!” yells the DJ through the mic as the crowd gets even louder. “I need you to be louder than that! Ya’ll gotta throw it up for our very own O.C natives!”

The crowd becomes so explosive that the vibrations can be felt backstage. Fully dressed in A.S.G attire, the members of A.S.G stand confidently, anticipation pouring out of their eyes, with not a drop of anxiety in their demeanor regardless of the noise and the screams from outside. The only visible emotion the young men wear on their faces is determination, but the gratification and happiness they feel to be standing where they are can’t help but escape from the corners of their mouths. “Aight Aight! I hope ya’ll came with your attitude, style, and game tonight! Put your motherfuckin’ hands up for Young Hectek and A.S.G!!” The DJ drops the beat to Hectek’s familiar song and the screams from the crowd combine into one dynamic voice chanting “A.S.G! A.S.G! A.S.G!” The group takes one final deep breath, “Alright fellas, its A.S.G till the world blow, let’s get it!” Malcolm exclaims, and the group takes the stage. While Hectek starts to rap, the others throw out t-shirts to the crowd and rap along to the songs; ASG we makin moves, just keep on chosin, we are the truest. Out in the crowd, the familiar faces of the other members of A.S.G, family, close friends, and supporters are rocking out to the music, mouthing the words to the songs, wearing A.S.G Attire, and showing their love and support.

As of right now, Dimitri is a licensed Massage Therapist and a full time employee at Massage Envy in Costa Mesa, Chimere is attending the Fashion Insititute of Technology in New York City, ranked among the top five fashion schools in the world, and Malcolm currently graduated from Los Angeles Recording school, located in the heart of Hollywood, as a music engineer and an artist. The rest of the members of A.S.G also work full-time jobs or have recently graduated from well-accredited universities. “We work for our own, nothing has been given to us” Chimere explains, “Our biggest setbacks have been funds because everything is on us. But with every song, every shirt, every performance, anything that we make ourselves and do on our own, the gratification is so great, that it only motivates us to do more, work harder, and get further.” “We’ve been our own street team” Dimitri adds in, “we have printed out stickers and stuck them everywhere from stop signs to cars to campuses to restaurant tables. We hand out flyers in clubs, bars, businesses, and give out promotional t-shirts too. We have a facebook page, a blog, a wordpress, we are looking to have our own website up by the end of the year, and we are waiting to have the pay-pal option on our sites so people who know about A.S.G can start making purchases.” Even though A.S.G has been non-profit and is not yet an official clothing line and business, the group members are not worried about that. Their biggest success has been the attention and interest that A.S.G has received with its music and clothing. “We print the shirts, and a lot of people love them and want them, they appreciate the clothing, and that means a lot to us” says Chimere.

A.S.G music, on the other hand, is looking forward to finishing its long-awaited mixtape. “At this point, our major goal is to get the mixtape done. Once it’s done, we are planning on having an A.S.G launch party, hopefully this summer, and we’ll be giving out the mixtape, some of our shirts, and gift bags with A.S.G merchandise as well” Malcolm and Chimere explain. “Once we finish the mixtape, we’re going to start with the music videos. With that, our goal is to start performing at music venues, and that is where we will start selling our shirts.” A.S.G also has an upcoming opportunity of being the opening performance for one of the music-industries hottest artists right now. Even though they have had performances at Shark Club, Malones, The Daily Dose, Club V20, and several other places, this one is different. “It will be our first real performance, and we’re really looking forward to it, but you’re going to have to wait and see” Chimere says with a smile on his face.

Whether it is with music or with fashion, A.S.G has a determined one-track mind set. “It’s not about how we want to do it, its how we need to do it” Malcolm recalls. They are in no rush to get to the top, the members understand that patience and perseverance is key. A.S.G attire for right now is exclusive. “We are not trying to sell to the world right now; the clothing is for the members, for people who have put in money, time, and effort and have been rocking A.S.G for a while, and for celebrities” Chimere explains. “Eventually we will sell to the entire mass public, we will put a price tag on our clothing and have it in stores, but before we do, we want to make sure our name is out there, that people know who we are, know our music, know what A.S.G is and what we offer, and to appreciate that. We want people to feel exclusive when they wear A.S.G and feel that they are a part of something great.” It’s a strategy that has been effective with them; they work hard to get A.S.G out there, gain attention and interest, and gain funds. Then they work even harder, gain even more recognition and fame, and gain even more funds to do even more. “We don’t want to take the easy way out by latching on to some clothing company executive, we’ve been very patient with it, and we want to do it the right way. We study and observe what other clothing companies fail to do, their mistakes, and we learn and incorporate the right way into ours. We don’t want to appear in the spotlight and disappear, our aim is longevity, and we are in this for the long run. It’s A.S.G ‘till the world blow!”

Reporting Notes:

Interview with Dimitri Majors
Interview with Chimere Obioha
Interview with Malcolm Henderson
Follow up interview with Dimitri Majors



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