Samir Hamid wants to build a "creative skyscraper."
Possibly somewhere between the Duke Energy Center and Hearst Tower, he envisions rooms on rooms on rooms, all dedicated to creativity.
"A whole building just for dope shit," he said.
The vision lines up with Hamid's other aspirations, considering he uses his career to create platforms for artist. Even the side of his F4mily Matters clothing store on The Plaza is a platform, as it features an eye-catching wall mural painted by local artist group The Southern Tiger Collective. The painting resembles an old-school Super Mario Bros. Nintendo game, but with a Charlotte twist. The city's sport teams pose as players and the city's skyline is the game's course.
- Samir Hamid outside of F4mily Matters. (Photos by Alexandria Sands)
Hamid has also helped put on local events such as hip-hop shows and the AMCD Bodega that ran for six years and showcased art, music, clothing and sneakers.
He created the streetwear brand F4mily Matters in 2011, with the help of two friends. They sell it all: T-shirts, hats, jackets, tracksuits, jerseys, you name it. Eight months into the business, he took it to the next level when he bought out the printing company that had been making his company's clothes.
"That helped my skill and the brand really get way better," he said.
I sat down with Hamid at his store to learn more about the brand and get his thoughts on the city's creative community. Hamid has been one of many outspoken attendees of "Let's Talk Dammit," local artist Dammit Wesley's discussion series at Camp North End where creators get together to talk about the challenges artists — especially artists of color — face in Charlotte.
Luckily, I got to him at the right time. The day after we talked, he announced on Twitter that he was taking a vow of silence over the weekend, only speaking to customers and his wife. "I'm noticing that even though I have a lot of meaningful conversations, they are usually at the wrong time or when I should be doing something else," he stated in a tweet before announcing his weekend-long vow of silence.
So if you missed out on a good talk with Hamid on a recent weekend, we've got you covered.
Creative Loafing: How would you describe what you do?
Samir Hamid: I don't know. I have this conversation every day. I don't even like the word entrepreneur. Business owner, creator, I create things; a builder. I'd label myself as a Charlotte creative. When I saw the "Let's Talk Dammit" [ad], it said Charlotte creatives and I fell under that.
What was the inspiration behind F4mily Matters?
Me and another one of my friends were working at Social Status, the clothing store, and we just had this story to tell. The way we treated each other and our surroundings and our own homies was like a family. We had a sense of pride about each other that we began to promote on clothes and people started to rock with it, promoting what matters. Some of it was centered around money but at the end of the day, the name of the company was "Family Matters." So we started making dope clothing.
What is your process when you're making a piece?
The process is more so about telling a story or making a point. It does start with the story. Every time we're dropping a collection, it does come from a feeling. Whatever that feeling may be that inspires it, I want to translate that feeling onto the clothing. So it really does start there, like "What's my tone of the collection?" mixed with the timing and the season. I'm consistently inspired not only by what's around me now, [but] what I've been through, what I plan on going through, what people around me have been through. I really use the clothing as a canvas for our reality.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I always love the newest stuff cause it's the stuff that we've been best at and worked hardest at. That's our newest shirt with the Hornets. We call it the "Home Team" T-shirt. That's definitely one of my favorites right now.
Those tracksuits from the "We All We Got" collection, that was promoting unity and kind of highlighting the unity in community and how we are all we have and putting that feeling out there.
What does the four in F4mily stand for?
My quick catchphrase for it is 'the F is for family, the four is forever.' It really started as, the four is the dollar sign on the keyboard, so it kind of started there. The friends that I was talking about, they used to use that dollar sign all the time so it kind of started from there. In the early stages of the brand, it was what kept the money concept. We used to do a ton of stuff around money. Kind of inspired by that.
It also represents Charlotte. It's 704. It's for the city. We utilize that four a lot. It represents the city. It helps us represent Charlotte without being limited to Charlotte. It's in there. People outside of Charlotte don't necessarily know why, but people that are inside of Charlotte correlate it to four, like the 704. It's a brand that's to represent Charlotte but not be limited to Charlotte. Our perspective of storytelling comes from Charlotte, it comes from this community and this environment that has inspired the clothing.
At "Let's Talk Dammit," the organizers asked people to bring a demand for the city to deliver to creators. Did you have one?
I do a lot of music events but I would do a lot more if the venue owners weren't ... um ... racist. I would demand that the city enforces some inclusion for different genres into these venues. It doesn't matter where the venue is. They get to pick and choose and of course, they're not labeling it as race. Some have, explicitly to me, labeled it as race but they would never publicly label it as race.
You can't book a hip-hop show at any local venue in Charlotte. I could put together the sickest hip-hop show. I could have a great turnout, no issues, but just because black people come to the show, these venues have an issue with us doing shows. It's more than a known fact. It's an underlying issue in Charlotte for sure. That's my demand: that we demand they have more inclusion.
Would that be your only demand?
How about we don't have to motherfucking demand something? How about we get it to a situation where we don't have to demand shit, where we can fucking talk? By the time I'm demanding it, I'm pissed. We gotta get past that. We gotta open up the conversation. It's not necessarily the hip-hop community, the creative community, it's young people in general. We've got this big middle finger sitting at every major door. It's like, "First things first, fuck y'all and it's what we want."
That kind of attitude pisses me off. It pisses everybody off. It makes us not want to fuck with the older people. It makes us lose faith in these organizations, lose faith in the government and I think it's happening on a global scale more than just even in Charlotte, North Carolina. But in Charlotte, North Carolina, specifically, the conversation gets down to demands and I'm tired of that shit. We should be at the table anyways.
Young people, the creative community, in these other cities, they get promoted. They understand that they're the DNA of the city and they're older, more mature cities that have kind of gone through their shit, but Charlotte just doesn't appreciate that creative community to the extent where we've always gotta get pissed off enough to start making demands. I'm tired of spending my energy in that direction.