For Us, By Us—by Any Means Necessary: Daymond John Tells the Story Behind LL's Legendary Gap 'Coo'

You may have been surprised to find FUBU was suddenly trending today, and maybe even did a little digging (as I did), hoping to discover a new drop or collaboration in the works. (There are, by the way, as the pioneering Black-owned brand co-founded by Shark Tank judge Daymond John is still producing streetwear). But no—as inexplicably as most things that occur on Twitter, an absolutely adorable Gen Z-er decided to break the news about this legendary Black-owned brand...which was founded in 1992.


Oh, honey—yes, we did. Did you know people and knowledge and experiences and fashion existed before you? But seriously, we love that younger generations are getting up on what was hot when we were their age—and actually have this newfound fashion historian to thank, since it compelled writer-director Matthew Cherry to bring LL Cool J’s 1999 Gap commercial onto the timeline, reminding us of the time the rap icon subversively wore a FUBU cap with his otherwise all-Gap ensemble.

“FUBU” also made it into the rapper’s rhyme; in fact, he winkingly throws in “for us, by us, on the low”—which proved true. Apparently, neither Gap’s creative team nor execs realized LL had slipped in some free advertising for the independently owned Black brand until the commercial had already been on the air for several weeks and fashion-heads were falling into the Gap looking for FUBU. Initially horrified by the cross-promotion, the numbers—a 300 percent increase in sales from the Black community—told a truth more labels should’ve heeded decades ago: Blackness makes everything better.

In response to Cherry’s trip down Memory Lane, Green took to Twitter with a “storytime” to explain how it all went down.


Aside from cringing at the subtitle referencing history’s biggest advertising “coo,” what we love most about the coup staged by LL is how deftly it illustrates the ethos of both FUBU and Black ingenuity on the whole; a pivotal moment in pop culture that encapsulates our ability to find a way or make one—for ourselves, by ourselves. Now, how easy was that?

Maiysha Kai is managing editor of The Glow Up, host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast and Big Beauty Tuesdays, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. May I borrow some sugar?