An unlikely force has brought together Meek Mill, Kid Ink, Ace Hood and more for a mixtape: underwear. Ethika, an underwear brand based in San Clemente, California, collaborated with the music artists to create a free exclusive mixtape titled RGB, as well as signature pairs of Ethika men’s underwear, both to be released on March 1.
How did you come up with the idea of a mixtape?
Matt Cook: Music is very inspiring to me personally and a staple fixture in the Ethika office. About four years ago, we made a conscious effort as a brand to focus on music and let it be the driver for our marketing. We handled from A to Z the Meek Mill live-streaming event in Philly several years back, and then followed that up by taking [Machine Gun Kelly] live the following year in L.A. We wanted to build a project around a lineup of artists that was more than just a collaboration pair of Ethikas. As a result, this concept of the RGB Mixtape was born.
How did you choose the artists featured in the mixtape?
Danny Evans: We started out by reaching out to artists we have worked with before like Meek, Kid Ink, Jahlil Beats, Chevy Woods and Casey Veggies. We met Ace Hood and Lil Durk right around the time we came up with the mixtape idea, and it was a project that they were really into. Once we had that group of artists, it was important for us to do our homework and look for some new talent that we could create some opportunities for. With help from the artists already on our lineup, we were able to get a few guys that have bright futures ahead of them.
How do these artists embody the Ethika brand?
MC: Internally we use single words to identify with — confidence, determination, diversity, resilience, equality, creativity and acceptance are just some of the many words we embrace, and I think if you look at these artists, you will find this type of commonality. We don’t care if you’re the biggest athlete, artist or celebrity in the world or you’re somebody that nobody knows. We look on a personal level to find a connection in values and build from there. Obviously, all the artists on the mixtape are individually great, but allowing Ethika to be the brand that brought them together was really special for us.
Does the mixtape have a theme?
MC: Yes, it’s called RGB, which stands for Red, Green and Blue. RGB is a concept of “Additive Color” — the process of these three colors mixing together in order to form thousands of colors and bring life to images, digital media, televisions and more. Being in the apparel industry, we live in RGB all day, every day, so adding this basic concept to our mixtape project made perfect sense.
Did the artists collaborate on the mixtape or each contribute their own song?
DE: They each contributed their own song, and you’ll see that some of the guys had features on some tracks together. Jahlil Beats really helped with the entire project, though. Lots of times, guys would send us a few different tracks and Jahlil would give his input on what songs would really fit well with each other. DJ Ill Will also gave us some valuable feedback when it came to bringing the whole tape together.
Do the artists create their own Ethikas from scratch or does the brand work with them to come up with designs?
DE: It ends up being a little bit of both. The process for this project started with myself and our senior men’s designer having a discussion with the artist and getting their vibe, and then taking that back and doing our research. Since each artist has a different style and different story, this part is important because at the end of the day, every design has to be signed off by the artist. We want the final product to be a 100% accurate representation of them. I am really happy with how all the designs came out, but have to say the Dave East one is my top pick.
What was your favorite part of creating this project?
MC: That’s a tough one. I guess it would be working closely with the artists, ambassadors and internal team. We pride ourselves in the relationships we have and love collaborating with them. All of these guys are like our good friends and we always have a lot of fun together. We also have a high internal standard of pushing limits, and we are constantly trying to innovate. The fact that we are a small underwear brand putting out a mixtape with the best hip hop artists in the world is pretty damn cool.
DE: We are always looking for ways to innovate and create moments that are unique, memorable and outside of the normal comfort zone. We held a small listening dinner for the artists and some of our athletes last week and that was a really cool event. Ethika is all about bringing people together. The artists were excited to get a chance to meet and hang with some of the athletes, and the athletes are big fans of the music so it was a perfect way to connect people.
What else does Ethika have in the works with musical artists?
DE: We have a couple projects in the works with some big artists that we will be able to talk more about very soon. As far as the mixtape goes, this is going to be an annual project for us. We want to continue to help the artists express themselves through their signature designs and help build their brands at the retail level.
Check out the RGB tracklist and exclusive photos from the Ethika listening party below.