By Ryan Velez
Keinon Johnson, national director of Urban Promotions at Interscope Records and founder of The Maven Brand, noted that he no longer wanted growing up in the hood to be a reason why young Black men could not be a success. As a counter to the drug culture that has been pushed both by neighborhood dealers and some mainstream rappers, he came up with the ‘Never Sold Dope’ apparel line. The apparel is designed to show people in urban environments examples of success, made “the right way.”
“I feel like this campaign opens up a lane for this important conversation to happen. Contrary to popular belief, these kids are not stupid; they just need proper guidance. I want to use my platform as a purveyor of this culture to inspire them,” explained Johnson. He added that Black culture in general has too much of the negative emphasized over the positive. While he understands the presence of some negativity, part of the Never Sold Dope’ campaign is about creating a “balance.”
Since its inception, ‘Never Sold Dope’ clothing has caught on both in Atlanta and through celebrities. Some celebrities who have been seen wearing the ‘Never Sold Dope’ clothing include Tamar Braxton, Anthony Anderson, Chaka Zulu, Ludacris, Shanti Das and more.
At the anniversary event at the Zucot Gallery in downtown Atlanta, several people dropped in to celebrate and support the campaign, including City Councilman for District 2 Kwanza Hall. Johnson took a moment to express his appreciation for the community.
“I am absolutely floored by all the support and love. I am thankful because this was never about me. It’s all about giving back to the kids and to the community. I feel like me doing this gives a voice to a lot of people who may want to do it. If Keinon can do it, then so can they,” he said.
Johnson plans to add a new ‘Never Sold Dope’ line this summer, with more discretion in the new designs to make sure that they weren’t misinterpreted.