Sakony Has A New T-shirt for the 'Burgh by Alex Young

 Sakony Burton | Graphic by Alex Young

Sakony Burton | Graphic by Alex Young

“More recently, I’ve been dressing more outwards,” Sakony said. Apparently from the silver drip on the Jumpman from his “Pure Money” Air Jordan four. Sakony Shakur Burton, 22 from Homewood in Pittsburgh, is pent-up printing T-shirts, out-of-sight in the basement, which you have to access through a secret door on the floor of Haus of Vain, a thrift shop on Centre Avenue. The graphic designer busied fulfilling orders for his “Stay Away” collection, tees with barbed wire around a yellow smiley face. It’s very anti, but Sakony says it’s for people who like their alone time. “I only go outside to seek genuine connection and then go home.”

InTheRough: How would you describe the wardrobe of a designer? By that I mean Steve Jobs. He dressed mad simple.

Sakony: Yeah he had a uniform.

ITR: Right, you know what I mean, but it’s either one of two things: basic or eccentric. I see you got a pearl Chanel earring on, bro.

Sakony: [laughs] I would say more recently I’ve been dressing more outwards. Usually it’s all black this all black that. My mans came over earlier and was saying, “I’m trying to be like Steve Jobs. Five turtle necks for the week type shit.” I would want to be like that, but I like too much shit. I opted out of that whole thing with making my own shit. I try not to do the same things too often. I had an angel hoop earring that I lost in Los Angeles. I have a weird affinity for angels. I dress how I dress. I dress like the people I’m around. It’s in the details. “Oh, Sakony got a Chanel earring. That’s hard!”

ITR: That includes your Love bracelet?

Sakony: We’re not gonna talk about that. It was a birthday gift from a brother and we all got one.

ITR: Oh, shit.

Sakony: Don’t even hype it.

I only go outside to seek genuine connection and then go home.
— Sakony

The designer describes his fan base as “people who’ve been following me through the Internet” throughout his youth at C.A.P.A., Pittsburgh’s creative and performing arts magnet school. Sakony was a Tumblr kid and that’s where his graphics first received love from around the globe. “I live for the love. If people continue to love me, nothing is for naught,” he said. The love gives him confidence to sell his work. “You can down play yourself all you want, but you really got that gift,” Sakony said.

Also, seeing the demand for SOSIMO, a streetwear brand by Pittsburgh native Ivan Rodriguez, influences him to produce more products. “We’re just kids doing the thing,” he said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now, and to some degree, if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing right now.”

The latest creation from Sakony is an ode to regional slang. While one of his friends was walking around Chinatown in New York, he read T-shirts that said “Fuck You You Fucking Fuck,” and sent a picture to Sakony. He liked the arrogant vulgarity from a classic New York accent. “New York got theirs, why can’t we have ours?”

A black tee boasts “Fuck Yinz You Fucking Jagoffs” in white text to get the point across.

 Sakony’s  new T-shirt  is limited to a 44 hour presale now  here .

Sakony’s new T-shirt is limited to a 44 hour presale now here.

InTheRough: That’s very vulgar, but I get swearing is peaceful in a way. Where’d the inspiration for this come from?

Sakony: It’s from a New York tee. “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck.” It made me think of the “Homewood You Schmuck” T-shirts and The Hill’s “Nephs” tee. It’s a regional tee. I ended up getting one that says “Always You Fucking Fuck” from my boy Mario out in Arizona. I was like I should make one for all of Pittsburgh. I might as well make something for the entire city. This will probably be the only Pittsburgh centric tee that I’ll drop. I'm not going to say I don’t take pride in being from here. It’s definitely one of the key factors of my character, but it doesn’t comprise more than 50% of my being.

ITR: Yeah, Pittsburgh pride varies, but everybody feels a tie to it at some point.

Sakony: I definitely feel the most Pittsburgh when I’m out of Pittsburgh. When I was out in L.A., I was like, damn I’m really a Pittsburgh nigga.

 Sakony’s cover art for  Linwood’s  “Hate Breaking Hearts” single

Sakony’s cover art for Linwood’s “Hate Breaking Hearts” single

Throughout his graphics career, Sakony has garnered an influence that “is not so easily seen,” he said. “Outside of apparel, my design makes you want to cop it. Music artists come to me for cover art because they want my little flavor of things.”

As Sakony continues, he refines more skills, like producing beats, so he can sell to the public that loves his work.

I live for the love. If people continue to love me, nothing is for naught.
— Sakony

What Mac Miller Meant to Our Youth by Lanie Edwards

I was 15 years old the first time I saw Mac Miller perform at the iconic 18 and under venue, Club Zoo, in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was the kind of club where kids would chain smoke cigarettes, it smelled super musty at all times, and you didn’t tell your parents you were going. You thought it was cool to go to the bar and get a Red Bull, and you couldn’t wait to dance to “Like a G6” with your friends. This night was special because unlike the usual trash music blaring from the DJ booth, there was going to be a performance. It was 2010.

I was with my older sister and her best friend. They already knew of Mac, but I had never heard his music. I timidly stood in the corner not knowing what to expect.

“Everybody please put your thumb in the air!” was the first thing this 18-year-old white kid said as the lights came up. I put my right thumb up with a straight face. It felt stupid, but as soon as the beat from “Knock Knock” dropped, I was hooked. That set the tone for the rest of my adolescence in the Steel City. 

I remember bumping K.I.D.S and Blue Slide Park in the car nonstop when I got my license at 16. Pittsburgh isn’t necessarily viewed as the most “exciting” city, especially by outsiders, and it often gets mistaken for Philadelphia. But riding around listening to Mac was an activity to look forward to on its own. I would listen during long bus rides to get amped up before a tennis match, and to get ready for high school dances—prom of course. I remember when Blue Slide Park debuted at number one on Billboard. He wasn’t just Pittsburgh’s anymore, he was the world’s. It was amazing to see the world fall in love with him as much as we did. 

I was 20 years old the second time I saw Mac Miller perform, this time in Washington D.C. at the Fillmore for his GO:OD AM Tour. Now in college, I felt like I had grown up with him. He and his music had matured, but the concert was just as exciting as my first experience—just add more fans, mosh pits, and a different city. I went with my closest friends from Pittsburgh, and we all sported Steelers jerseys and Terrible Towels. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t feel like we had a stronger connection to him in a sea full of D.C. natives.

Scenes from Mac Miller’s vigil at Blue Slide Park | footage by InTheRough

It’s been one week since his passing. I’m 23 now, and I’ve been thinking about it constantly. For me, no other artists’ death has hit as hard as this one for many reasons. As a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, it was beyond inspirational to see Mac Miller make it out of such a small, overlooked city and always remain true to himself and humble. With that unmistakable Pirates logo tatted on his hand, he repped the city wherever he went. Not only did he have a strong impact on the kids from his hometown, but he truly touched the hearts of so many worldwide with his music and pure soul. I never met him, but we all felt like we knew him. 

There’s this saying that no one loves Pittsburgh as much as Pittsburgh. When one of our own makes it, the whole city is proud. When one of our own passes, the city mourns together. It rained for 3 days straight and the Stillers tied with the Browns after Mac left. That’s how you know.

Steelers running back James Conner honors the late rapper Mac Miller on his cleats this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs | photo via Conner’s Instagram

Any time you listen to Mac Miller’s old music it’s a nostalgic experience. You think of great times with friends. You think of driving through Fifth Ave and dodging all of its potholes while blasting “Party on Fifth Ave.” You appreciate places like Blue Slide park even more. Life was simple back then. When you listen to his music now, you think of how much he had grown. You think about how hard life gets. You think about how we all go through the same things at some point, and he was never afraid to talk about them through his lyrics. 

Through it all, we always saw him smiling. We always saw him being a goofball and putting on an amazing show. We saw how real and full of life he was despite whatever he was facing. He made us even more proud to rep black and yellow and to never forget where we came from. He made us feel 15 again. No matter what, Mac Miller will always be there to remind us that we’re just some motherf*ckin kids.

Lead photos right to left by G L Askew II and Christaan Felber

Long Live by Alex Young

YUNG MULATTO Sept. 17, 1996 - Nov. 30, 2017

JIMMY WOPO Jan. 13, 1997 - June 18, 2018

MAC MILLER Jan. 19, 1992 - Sept. 7, 2018

Photo of Mac Miller in front of Jay Z Tweet by | Art of Mac Miller and Jimmy Wopo in heaven by Vigna Vines | Photo of Yung Mulatto by Tyler Calpin

Mac Miller, Pittsburgh born and raised until his rap career launched him out of the city to big markets like Los Angeles and New York City, died on Friday, September 7, 2018. The 26-year-old was found dead in his Studio City home in L.A. from a suspected drug overdose.

Support for the great friend, Pittsburgh native and legendary rapper has poured in as many remember his legacy.

In Pittsburgh however, we hurt for the loss of creative kings who gave so much to our community. Within the last year, illustrator-producer Yung Mulatto and rappers Jimmy Wopo and Mac Miller have passed away. We hurt because each artist had so much more to give even bigger legacies to leave behind. The timing here seems unfair. Mac just had a top 5 album in “Swimming,” Wopo was about to sign a deal with the Taylor Gang and Mulatto had momentum as the man illustrating Pittsburgh hip-hop for the world. The circumstances are depressing considering these young men were some of Pittsburgh’s biggest champions on the main stage. It’ll be impossible to forget the impact Mac, Mulatto and Wopo had on us. We need to keep pushing as a city to honor them, to achieve their success and more.

Come together and honor their memory. A public vigil for Mac takes place today at 5 p.m. at the Blue Slide Park in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. A fresh coat of blue paint covered the slide today to honor the rapper and his first studio album “Blue Slide Park.” Check the Facebook event here for more details. Also, tonight local DJs celebrate the life and music of Mac Miller at the Goldmark bar in Lawrenceville. DJ Alex Rivera, DJ Jx4, DJ Red and DJ Spillz spin the Most Dope tracks from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is no cover to enter the venue. Lastly, a petition started online to change the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey goal song to Mac Miller’s song “Party On Fifth Ave.” Sign the petition here.

Blue Slide Park

2005 Beechwood Boulevard (Nicholson St)

Pittsburgh, PA 15217

The Goldmark

4517 Butler Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15201

The Social Media Curtain by Maxwell Young

The Stillers had just triumphed over the Kansas City Chiefs in a knock-down-drag-out of a 2016 Divisional Playoff game when Antonio Brown--not even showered and changed--let the world catch a glimpse of the rituals and gaiety that are only confided in a team's inner sanctum. Boasting numbers of 44k ("Woo! That's a lot of K's," shouted offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva in the video), the Stillers locker room was broadcast via Facebook Live starring the likes of Le'Veon Bell and a particularly enthusiastic ex-Stiller, Sammie Coates.

By now, Stillers Nation is accustomed to the pop star lifestyle of AB. If you're not, this piece by The Undefeated on Brown's social media usage should paint the proper picture.  Then there's the hip hop bars of Juice, the "Rappin' Athlete," and even the millennial virility of newcomer Juju Smith-Schuster.  Watching some of these personalities unfold during the sacred moments of that post-game was not only a demarcation in sports history but also symbolic of this generation's Pittsburgh Stillers, whose personas transcend their play on the field. 

Some might argue that's not a particularly good thing.  Le'Veon Bell, still looking to be "fairly" compensated for his value to the franchise, has surprised teammates by not reporting to the team's facilities in preparation for their season opener against the Browns.  This is a deviation from last year when Bell refrained from training camp activities only to return locked-and-loaded for a full regular season. Football was football and when it was time to strap up, Bell was in the huddle with his brothers.  Through the second year of a contract stalemate, it appears as though Bell is only concerned about himself.  And although number 26 is established as a premier player in the NFL with millions of followers to reinforce this popularity, his five seasons with fellow Killer B's Big Ben and Antonio Brown have been championship-less.  That's not Stillers football, and that’s not the track record Stillers Nation expects from one of the deadliest offensive trios to ever grace the gridiron. This team is flashy with their splash plays, creative celebrations, and bespoke Gucci suits--everything is finesse. They are not the Steel Curtain anymore, no, welcome to the Social Media Curtain where image is everything.

Personal social media accounts of Stillers players only scratch the surface of the worldwide exposure Stillers Nation has.  A quick search for "Steelers" on social platforms pulls a number of fan, news, apparel, and parody pages that provide additional commentary throughout the NFL season.  Below are a select few of these accounts as well as a conversation with John Irvin, founder of Stiller Gang, the fan base responsible for extreme tailgates, unique merchandise, and a worldwide cohort.

Pittsburgh Dad

The quintessential Yinzer--Pittsburgh Dad reinterprets what fandom of the Stillers really looks like in his weekly reaction videos on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.  His enunciation of Pittsburghese and aptitude of football culture make his skits like "At The Steelers Game" quite authentic.  Pittsburgh businesses have caught onto the popularity of Pittsburgh Dad as well, and now he's starring in local commercials.

Evil Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin is a man of few, yet impactful words.  Though he is often emotive with his body language, his press conferences are filled with distinctive one-liners such as, "We're not Powerball excited, but we're excited," "The standard is the standard," and "Everybody with a helmet on is in the mix."  With over 100,000 followers on Twitter, Evil Mike Tomlin is the alter ego of the twelfth year head coach--fully transparent with no tact.

City of 6

For over 50 years, Stillers Nation has taken the journey up to Saint Vincent's College in Latrobe, Pa. for the free spectacle that is NFL training camp.  Of course, there are die-hard fans who travel thousands of miles to see the makings of the latest Stillers squad, but some of us don't have that freedom.  Fortunately, City of 6 was on the campgrounds from start to finish, filming one-on-one drills and full-padded competition.  Every day he'd upload multiple clips to Instagram of Stillers draft picks acclimating to the system or Antonio Brown demonstrating that he's already in mid-season form.  Coverage was so comprehensive that SportsCenter used one of his highlights of Brown in their Top 10 Plays segment. 

Stiller Gang™

Stillers faithful have probably noticed the large banner of a skull wearing a hard hat that says, "Stiller Gang" hanging from one of the rotundas at Heinz Field.  It is apparent every game, adding to the hometown aesthetic.  It is also the official signage of one of the largest Steelers fan clubs in the world.  Whether at home or away, Stiller Gang hosts weekly tailgates where supporters of the Black n' Yellow showcase their affinity with a variety of official merchandise.  In fact, Stillers linebacker Vince Williams and mega-fan Snoop Dogg have been spotted in Stiller Gang gear.  We caught up with John Irvin via email:

ITR: Some people become Stillers fans by birth, others are Stillers fans because they’re from Pittsburgh...some base their support on merit, while others are fans by association. We accept band-wagoners and roll our eyes at the fair weather-ers. What’s the story behind your Stillers fandom? 

JI:  I was born in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers are a part of the culture. It's taken for granted here that the average citizen is a fan. You have the occasional jag off that just wants to go against the grain, but for the most part we all support the home team.

ITR: Favorite Stillers memory? 

JI: Of course my 1st game was the most memorable... But my favorite Stiller moments were being present at Shazier's draft (the "fans" present at Radio City boo'ed when we didn't select a DB) and Dec. 25, 2016 when AB stretched for the Inch That Stole Christmas. Intense isn't powerful enough of a word to describe the emotion in Heinz Field at that moment... We all went nuts

ITR: What was the impetus behind Stiller Gang (and when was it founded)? How were you able to spread this identity across the globe? 

JI: I attended my first game ever (thank you for the ticket, Bobbi) Dec. 4, 2011 and was blown away by the camaraderie amongst fans from all over the world and all walks of life. People who normally wouldn't interact with each other based on demographic differences embraced each other like family, bonded by a common love for them Stillers. On that day the first "Bang Bang Stiller Gang" was uttered (we beat the Bungles 35-7) and an idea was formed to gather fans under a common banner. The following summer of 2012, the movement began. Spreading across the globe has been made possible in part by social media, and in part by people in key places pushing the movement. The West Coast (California has the most Steelers fans outside of PGH in the US) has shown a tremendous amount of support, and it couldn't have been done without Martin Villareal pushing out West. Mexico, Germany, The UK, etc.. all places with people going all out for the movement and creating the momentum that spreads it further.

ITR: What do you make of Le’Veon Bell’s contract situation? The recent disparaging comments by his offensive line suggest a rift between the all-pro back and his army. How does his absence affect our season? 

 The Stillers offensive line sees the Le'Veon Bell situation a bit differently now that his contract holdout could extend into the regular season. Quotes via  @Steelerzn , Border by  @StillerSupply

The Stillers offensive line sees the Le'Veon Bell situation a bit differently now that his contract holdout could extend into the regular season. Quotes via @Steelerzn, Border by @StillerSupply

JI: I understand Bell's perspective. He wants guaranteed $ just in case he gets hurt and his career is cut short. He produces as a running back and a wide receiver and feels he should be paid accordingly. The front office feels like they don't want to pay and gamble on him remaining healthy. I wish this situation had been taken care of because I would love to see him on the field. However, if he isn't, the next man up will handle the job. James Conner has been working hard in the offseason and will be up on Sunday. The apparent rift is unfortunate and I hope these guys can work it out like family and come to a better understanding. How this affects the season depends on Conner's play and the play of the team as a whole.  

ITR: What cities are you looking forward to traveling to the most this season?

JI: All of the away games outside of the AFC North are going to be crazy this season. Florida is FULL of Stillers fans, so Tampa Bay and Jacksonville will both be packed. Jacksonville is a grudge match and we want revenge for last season. New Orleans is a game I'm looking forward to just because of the location. We look forward to seeing our fellow fans from that part of the South. Texas will definitely be present that weekend. Same with Denver. Oakland is a game I'm looking forward to not only because we will be with our West Coast chapters, but because of the historical significance. It will be the last time we play the Raiders in the city where the Immaculate Reception happened.

ITR: Which Stiller Gang cohort goes the hardest? 

JI: Man for man, pound for pound, the German Chapter of Stiller Gang EU goes the hardest. Big air mileage. They flew in from Heidelberg for four games last season and will attend at least 4 this season. 

ITR: Describe the difference between the 1970s Steel Curtain, the early 2000s Stillers, and the 2010s Social Media Curtain Stillers.

JI:  I feel that one of the biggest differences between the eras is the speed of the game and how it's changed the offensive attack. All 3 eras played above the bar for their respective periods.

ITR: What’s our record this year?

JI: 13-3, then we win the Super Bowl... Bang Bang Stiller Gang!

Serena Williams' New Nike Ad Will Give You Chills by Alex Young

Serena Williams at the U.S. Open in 2004 and 2018 - Comtpon x Off-White™

This Nike ad will give you chills. Not for the star power that is tennis champion Serena Williams or the promotion of a new Nike product, like the Off-White x Serena "Queen" collection, but for the jolt of confidence the commercial gives each viewer.

In her newest Nike spot, Serena Williams is seen as a child being trained by her first tennis coach and father Richard Williams. "This is you at the U.S. Open. This is you," Richard Williams says as she practices her serve. The screen cuts to Serena as a pro, a proven champion and her father's voiceover directs her movement on the tennis court. "Switch to the backhand... Take the net!... Be tough just like you want to win. Just like you at the U.S. Open," he says while Serena crushes opponents throughout her career. Black screen to copy. "It's only a crazy dream until you do it. Just do it."

It's up to you to turn your dreams to reality.