On his guest verse on Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix),” Jay Z rapped, “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” It’s true. Jay Z has indeed transcended from being just an individual into a global brand. He is also someone who acknowledges other brands, especially fashion ones, in his lyrics. Real recognize real, I suppose.
For her project “Art As Wrench” (an anagram of Shawn Carter), Katherine Bernard, a fashion and culture writer for Vogue and Dazed and Confused, charted every time Jay Z has name-checked a fashion label in his rhymes and printed the results on a T-shirt.
Over the course of months, she poured through Jay Z’s entire discography. With help from Rap Genius, Bernard logged every label he name-checked in a spreadsheet in chronological order. The results offer a glimpse into Jay Z’s style evolution.
Once the data had been logged, it only made sense to visualize it on a T-shirt. Bernard launched a Kickstarter campaign that surpassed its $3,200 goal and raised a total of $5,334. Contributors who donated at least $45 will receive one of the shirts.
This is not the end of the project. Bernard only charted labels mentioned by Jay himself on his solo records. Further updates could include those brands mentioned by guest rappers or those name-checked by Jay-Z on other people’s records.
To see a video of people reading the labels, watch the video below: