Long Beach’s World Famous VIP Records and Tapes received a sign from the fashion gods just in time for ComplexCon. Recently, the apparel giants over at adidas Originals reached out to the legendary LBC record store for a special celebration that would help bring back the glory of the store’s iconic sign, which currently sits in storage. In honor of the 25th anniversary of Snoop Dogg’s debut album, Doggystyle, this month, the brand created an 8-foot-by-5-foot replica of the original sign, as seen in the “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” video that helped to spawn G-funk.
As we reported in a recent cover story, the saga of the VIP Records sign has brought plenty of sorrow and shame to Central Long Beach, which was only slightly alleviated by the development of the VIP Create Space, a new business incubator and multimedia center on Long Beach Boulevard that opened last month.
The VIP sign was taken down in January 2018 after 40 years. Declared a historic landmark only a year before it was dismantled and put in storage, the sign is now found only on T-shirts, posters and in photos. It has even been used without permission in a number of permutations, including a Long Beach version of the Monopoly board game and a World Cup-inspired jersey designed by rapper Vince Staples using VIP’s “World Famous” logo art. Though it’s clear the VIP brand holds a lot of weight internationally, it took one of the biggest brands in hip-hop fashion to acknowledge and include it in its celebration of Doggystyle.
“To be honest, I was surprised,” says VIP owner Kelvin Anderson Sr. “It came out of the blue.”
The brand had an audacious plan just three weeks before ComplexCon to resurrect the World Famous VIP Records sign in its hometown. The replica cost about $7,000 to construct.
“When [adidas] called us, they said, ‘Look, we just feel like it only makes sense for VIP to be a part of this.’ They did not flinch in spending the money on the sign,” says VIP’s president, Shirin Senegal. “I appreciate that adidas reached out to us and not just took our logo to do something.”
As Snoop’s longtime brand partner, adidas Originals says it wanted to celebrate in style with the expected 50,000 people who will gather at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The brand’s initial request was to rehab the actual historic sign and showcase it, but logistics and time made that impossible. Instead, the team went to the next best thing. Made by local company TNT Signs, the replica will be showcased in booth H7 at ComplexCon before making its way to the VIP Create Space.
“The VIP Records sign is an invaluable landmark for an entire generation of music fans. What better way to celebrate culture and the city of Los Angeles than at the 25th anniversary of one of the most electrifying records in hip-hop history with two of Long Beach’s very own, Snoop and VIP Records?” says Ernesto Bruce, General Manager Key City Los Angeles/New York at adidas.
A large image of the VIP store of the 1990s has been drawn by artist Daniel Harang III and will adorn the walls of the booth to take visitors back in time. The 49-year-old Signal Hill resident and self-taught says he learned his techniques through drawing people, street scenes and low-riders in Central Long Beach.
“When I came up, I lived near King Park. I would go over there when guys from the neighborhood would pull up in their low-riders and play football,” Harang says. “They’d be there for two hours playing football, and by the time they’d leave to go back to their cars, I would [have drawn] up one of their cars. I learned how to negotiate—$10 a picture.”
Harang says VIP was his main outlet to find new music back in the day.
“When we were coming up, that was the only place we could get music, especially hip-hop,” he says.
DJ Slice, producer of the original 213 demo, will be spinning ‘80s and ‘90s music, and prizes will be awarded throughout Complex Con weekend, including 25 pairs of hand-painted PODs by designer Gregory Siff that Snoop will be signing, Doggystyle albums and VIP merchandise.
To find out when the Doggfather himself is making an appearance at the booth, follow @adidasla and @viplongbeach on Instagram and Twitter.
“We appreciate adidas Originals helping us to create this amazing moment that celebrates and preserves the history of G-funk and all the years of dedication Kelvin Anderson Sr. has made,” Senegal says. “We look forward to doing many great things with them to nurture creative talent and expand our brand.”