by Ben Osborne / @bosborne17
Mashing up the worlds of basketball, community outreach and music like few (no?) other brand could do, Converse brought national basketball, entertainment, fashion and music journalists to Atlanta this weekend for the Atlanta Takeover.
In the brand’s own words, Converse came to Atlanta to showcase its “rich history in sport, music and culture” in a city that has all that as well. (Check out the video tribute on the homepage at Converse.com/basketball.)
Friday night was the Converse Tip Off event at the Georgia Freight Room, an awesome, sprawling old space downtown. The night started with the unveiling of Converse’s line of basketball shoes for the Fall.
Putting a light-weight high-performance package together at a $65-$75 price point, the shoes look good to me (close-up product images later in the post). I did a lengthy interview for SLAM #140 with Converse Basketball General Manager Rick Wilson, a real pro of the shoe game who is committed to keeping Converse relevant as a performance brand.
Before long, shoe talk gave way to loud music, hundreds of guests (two I caught up with of note were skateboarding king Stevie Williams, and Atlanta Dream star Chamique Holdsclaw, who remains the only woman to be on the cover of SLAM) and a lot of alcohol, with the NBA Playoffs conveniently showing on a big screen. Showing that the Nike ethos of do it big or don’t do it at all has trickled down to the swoosh’s ‘affiliate brands,’ the party was really well-done and a lot of fun.
Today we were up early to check out the Converse Open Gym at Georgia Tech. Held a couple times a month, Open Gym is a chance for local kids to get some fun runs in a great setting.
After that the media got bused to Clark Atlanta University for the Band of Ballers Tournament. Last year this event went off in New York and was pretty under the radar, with video not getting released until late-summer (you may have watched the recap on here, in fact). This years event was bigger, the culmination of the outreach Converse has done in ATL for the last few months.
The tournament was set up as a a round-robin with seven teams, all made of musicians and their crews. The list of artists included some rising rock groups acts from the rock scenes (Black Lips, Of Montreal, Steel Train), buzzed-about rappers (Donnis, Jay Electronica) and a couple OGs (Jermaine Dupri repping the So So Def team; Jim Jones and his defending-champion Jones Family). Save for some brief moments of greatness from ringers like Adrian Walton aka A Butta aka Whole Lotta Game of Jones Family, Spider of And 1 fame of So So Def, and Dan Solomito of Bad News, the basketball wasn’t much to watch, especially since calls were argued about non-stop.
There was a “monumental” hip-hop moment, though, when Cam’ron showed up and was greeted warmly by Jim Jones, apparently putting beef rumors to rest, and the positive vibes surrounding Jones Family continued as they won the title for the second straight year with Walton icing the championship with a long J.
After a brief rest at the hotel, it was back in the bus for the after-party, which was held at…Dallas Austin’s house. For real.
The classic music producer rented out his home, in the woods about 25 minutes from Midtown, for an extra-exclusive event that capped off the weekend in beautiful fashion.
The property was ill, modern but classy, with ponds, a pool, a bar—whatever a real baller could want. But we weren’t there to gaze at the real estate. To keep everyone fed and entertained, there was top-notch bar-b-q, Rita’s Italian Ices stand, open bar, and flat-screen TVs everywhere you turned, all tuned to the Pay-Per-View feed for the boxing.
There was also a DJ and, about 10 pm, live performances from YelaWolf (pictured below) and Donnis. Despite the fact that my office in New York abuts XXL’s offices, I wasn’t two familiar with either of these cats, but they both did a nice job, performing a couple of singles and raising the energy at the party. With maybe 250 people there, it was definitely an intimate way to see live music.
After the mini-concert ended, attention shifted to the Mayweather-Mosley fight. There were a few moments of excitement, but for the most part it was just Floyd being Floyd: surgically dismantling another fighter and further cementing his legacy. I mostly kicked it with SLAM’s David Schnur and DeMarco Williams at the party, also finding time to build with the key folks from Converse and the PR and advertising companies they work with. The media, musicians, staff and everyone connected to them all had a great time.
Riding on the bus back to our hotel, having been pampered all weekend, it was almost easy to forget I had a job to do: share my experience with our readers. And, though the previous evening’s press preview seemed well in the past, to not forget about the shoes!
To that end, click on the next page to see press pics of Converse’s fall line…