Combining one of my favorite emcees with one of my favorite clothing lines in the Cleveland-based I Love The Hype (iLTHY), the event turned out to be a huge success. When I arrived at Beachwood Place and waded my way through the remaining 14-year-old girls who use the mall as their stomping grounds, I headed straight to N.E.X.T. to get my hands on one of the limited edition t-shirts iLTHY created specifically for Wale's appearance. As always, iLTHY designer and founder Glen Infante's illustration on the t-shirt is stunning. There is something about Infante's style that I just absolutely love, and yet it depresses me because it makes me realize what little artistic ability I truly have.
A pretty sizable crowd of a few hundred people came out, as the line outside of N.E.X.T. snaked past Nordstroms and finally stopped all the way at Ambercrombie & Fitch on the other side of the mall. It was a lot of waiting from that point on, as Wale didn't arrive until a bit after 9 p.m., but just the fact that he took time out of his day to sign autographs for fans was enough to justify the wait. After having my shirt signed and hand shaken by the dreadlocked rapper, I was a satisfied customer.
But the best thing about the event was that Cleveland's creativity was on full display. Over 50 percent of the crowd was draped in either iLTHY or Another Enemy t-shirts, another Cleveland-based clothing company. Indians and Cavaliers hats were donned by many of the heads in the crowd. It was a really cool, Cleveland-oriented event, and iLTHY and Eighty81 should be praised for putting it together.