Black males selling drugs in their adolescence happens at an alarming rate and escalates into serious consequences. The heavy influence is typically intertwined with poverty, lack of parental guidance and education.Thousands of Black youth share the unfortunate commonality of growing up without the privilege of knowing their father and as a result, they seek role models elsewhere. Many idolize local neighborhood dealers or mainstream rappers who are notorious for pushing drug culture through irresponsible lyricism.
Year after year, a large percentage of Black male youth end up either behind bars or dead before they reach the age of 21 and no one is there to shed light on an alternative solution to steer these misguided, young millennials on an upward path. As for Keinon Johnson, national director of Urban Promotions at Interscope Records and founder of The Maven Brand, he no longer wants growing up in the hood to be an excuse for why African-Americans aren’t successful. “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,” said Johnson of his Never Sold Dope campaign.
The Harlem native created a forward-thinking apparel line called Never Sold Dope to prove that selling drugs isn’t the only route to making a living and is a dangerous lifestyle that can potentially take away your life. “I just felt like the universe is out of balance when it relates to Black culture and our youth. It has way too much negative and no positive. A lot of times rap is going to celebrate the negativity because that’s what’s fun, but we need balance. I want these young people to see that people who come from the same environment as them made it and did it the right way. These kids can do the same and get all the things they want in the world,” says Johnson.
The movement has gained a lot of local buzz from the city of Atlanta and garnered attention on a national scale through the support of celebrities who’ve been spotted wearing the T-shirts like Tamar Braxton, Anthony Anderson, Chaka Zulu, Ludacris, Shanti Das and more.
On Friday, April 15, The Maven Brand proudly celebrated its 1-year anniversary in downtown Atlanta at the Zucot Gallery. Event sponsor Seagram’s Gin kept the drinks flowing throughout the evening as guests showed support for the campaign. City Councilman for District 2 Kwanza Hall even dropped in for the festivities.
“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 adds.
Johnson has high hopes for the brand’s expansion and announced that he will be adding a new “NSD” line that’s more exclusive than the original styles. He finds that the message can often be misinterpreted, so there will be more discretion with the new design. Make sure to look out for the new line making its debut summer ’16.
For those interested in purchasing items from the collection, go to themavenbrand.bigcartel.com
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