The G-List is TheUrbanDaily.com’s annual celebration of 40 influential men from various walks of life who define what it means to be a trendsetter with style in their field.
Name: Mike B
From: White Plains, NY
It’s good to be the king, but sometimes it’s better to be the prince. Quietly, Mike B is the go-to guy for some of the most fashionable people in Hip-Hop. And although he has been styling celebrities since the mid-90’s, the White Plains-native still wants to allow himself room to grow. That’s why he recently did an “internship” at NYC’s Intermix store to learn the fit of women’s clothing. In today’s entertainment industry, it’s better to be perceived as still on the come up, rather than at the top of your game, because somebody always ends up throwing rocks at the throne.
Did you always know you’d be a stylist?
I started off as an artist. I was a rapper at first when I came into the industry. My name was Juicehead. I had a head full of locks. They called me Juice because I was the youngest kid out of the crew that had wild “juice” with all the OGs. They would give me a knot [of money] on the weekend, and let me go shopping for them and their girl. I didn’t really know what styling was back then. I didn’t know that you actually get a budget for shopping and you get to charge your fee separate on top of that.
So you were styling before you even knew what it was? How did you become “that” guy? You must have been big on fashion.
I was always into fashion. My mom used to take me to shopping to all the stores. My brothers and I used to play this game of who could find a new designer on the racks. Going in every week after week, we knew all of them early, from Jordache to Liz Claiborne. I grew up in a mixed culture. My culture was Jamaican Cuban. I would see [everything from] the Jamaican fashion to the drug dealer stuff. I would see the best of both worlds. At the same time, my parents had us in church every Sunday so we were always getting dressed up. Even when we didn’t have the fly clothes, my parents still made sure we were fly. We had two sets of clothes; school clothes and play clothes. If we got caught playing in our school clothes, we would get in trouble for that. One day, my mother thought she had lost me in Gimbels and they announced my name over the loudspeakers. I wasn’t lost. I knew all the floors, even the ½ floors. When they found me, I had rearranged the entire Mannequin. They told her, “Your son changed the entire wardrobe on the mannequin.” My mom was so embarrassed.
How did you work your way up to styling some of the biggest celebrities in the game?
I am from White Plains. Greenburg. I came up under Groovey Lew [the stylist].
I became Groovey’s personal assistant with styling, and then I was Puff’s personal liaison. This was back when [The Notorious] B.I.G.’s whole style was the Coogi sweater with the Kangol. Groove created that style from one of his close brothers. After a while, the Coogi sweater started evolving. That was a white boy style at first. Then it started to represent “Biggie.” Big never became “The Notorious B.I.G.” until we started doing the suits, the Versace shades, etc. That’s when he evolved and turned into the Notorious flow.
Wow, that’s an incredible time. Who are some of the artists you work with now?
Right now, I’m working with Swizz [Beatz], Chris Brown, Ludacris, Steve Stoute, Ne-Yo–and I’ve evolved his style. I don’t change people’s style or who they are. I enhance their style with a sprinkle of what I do and what I like. I feel like I treat everybody with a different personality of mine. I just picked up my first female client, Alicia Keys. I just do her day-to-day stuff. Her walking to the store, if she’s out with the kids, or going to an event. I haven’t moved myself up yet to doing her performances, photo shoots and magazines. I’m not upset with learning how to crawl. I actually love this even better.
So before Alicia, you didn’t dress females?
I ain’t never dress them. Just undress them.
Is there anyone whose work you admire?
I would love to be the Black Bill Cunningham. He’s a photographer with his own column in the New York Times. He sits there and rides his bicycle and takes pictures of fashion, and he’s done so for the last 40 or 50 years.
There has got to be a fashion line in your future. It just seems like something that is inevitable.
I’m not even really even styling anymore. I’m consulting with Public School. Public School is high-end contemporary Japanese wear. We are on our 9th to 10th collection with no backing. We’re about to do a re-launch. We launched a lower line, Black Apple NYC. It’s still that hotness. It still breathes New York City, the culture, the lifestyle, the hip hop, that street vengeance. It’s a cross between the Warriors vs. something like maybe even a Beat Street, or Wildstyle. It’s still that line that hangs to the left on the rack, you are not gonna see it where everybody else is at. Our clothes are not for everybody. That’s no disrespect to whoever loves it and trying to get it.
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