Sep 8, 2023 - Sports

New documentary looks back on White Sox rebrand and hip-hop culture

Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at the Billboard Music Awards in 1993. Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The White Sox haven't had many reasons to celebrate this season, but they're going all in on the anniversary of an overlooked part of city history: the rebrand of their logo.

Why it matters: The rebrand has been dubbed the "most successful in sports history" largely due to hip-hop stars like Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, who wore the hat and gave international recognition to the South Side ball club and the city.

Driving the news: "Fitted in Black," a new short documentary, tells the story of how the Sox replaced the red, white and blue uniform and logo in the early 1990s with the black, silver and white color scheme worn today.

Yes, but: The White Sox rebrand wasn't an instant success. It took Ice Cube wearing the hat in music videos to vault the Sox logo to the forefront of hip-hop fashion and culture.

The intrigue: Ice Cube wasn't a Sox fan (he's always been unabashedly L.A.), but he loved the Old English lettering and the color scheme.

  • In the film, he says he wore it because his traditional Raiders garb was too closely associated with NWA, the group he left to start a solo career. "We were looking for something cool to set us apart," Cube said in the film.
  • He was followed by Dr. Dre and Common and then several other 1990s rappers, who wore the hat in videos shown in heavy rotation on MTV.

By the numbers: In 1990, New Era made 9,000 new White Sox hats. In 1991, they made over 500,000.

What they're saying: "It exploded at that time," Fake Shore Drive creator Andrew Barber said during a recent screening of the film.

  • "It always felt more West Coast, even though it was a Chicago thing."

Between the lines: It's unclear whether the White Sox organization was comfortable about its logo being adopted by high-profile gangster rappers, but historian Shermann "Dilla" Thomas pointed out that they never filed a cease-and-desist or tried to intervene.

  • "In 1991 and 1992, there were protests against hip-hop and expletive warning labels and even congressional hearings," Thomas said at a recent screening.
  • "The White Sox didn't shy away from any of that."

Watch the documentary.


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