Meet The Creatives Behind Khaled’s Infamous Buju Shirt

DJ Khaled proved once again why he has been crowned the “King of Social Content” with his most recent trip to Jamaica. The producer, record executive and media personality developed a fear of flying which kept him from international travel for over a decade. After the birth of his son, Asahd, Khaled overcame his phobia and began taking private jets again.

The DJ, who got his start in dancehall and reggae, returned to Kingston after 12 years to work on his upcoming album (Father of Asahd) and reunite with his island friends and musical family — which includes the recently released reggae legend, Buju Banton. In honour of the historical occasion, Khaled copped a fresh Buju shirt, which is now as infamous as the visit itself.

Source: Just Vybz TV on YouTube

The purple-hued, long sleeve shirt features an image of a young Buju and garnered attention on social media, local and international outlets, becoming a symbolic part of both Khaled’s arrival and his link up with his longtime friend and collaborator later on that evening. It was the perfect choice for the monumental moment — and a pretty dope design, still.

It turns out that Khaled saw the shirt in a lookbook, and decided to order a few for his trip. In addition to the one he purchased for himself, he also grabbed a few more for Buju and his family. Of course, as creatives, we had to know more about the team behind it all: Michael Nicholas, curator and designer for DIEM (Does It Even Matter) and Mougabe Saint Louis (also known as Royal Purp), the super dope photographer who shot the lookbook.

First up, Meet Michael Nicholas

Image courtesy of Michael Nicholas

DIEM is a well-known brand, especially in the music industry. How did the clothing line come about?

Doesitevenmatter started back about 5 years ago. Our philosophy is: before making brash decisions, being hard on yourself, or stressing over things. Just asking yourself “Does It Even Matter?” It’s a message we feel the world should live by, and we use clothing as a medium to get the message out.

What inspired the Buju shirt? The style is very unique.

I was born & raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Where it’s a concentrated Caribbean diaspora. My family is of Saint Lucian heritage. So reggae is in my DNA. In my world Buju is Iconic. I tried to create something to make him look larger than life, but at a different frequency. I could have easily used Red, Gold & Green but it wouldn’t have stood out as it did. And potentially reach a broader audience.

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What role did Buju’s music and legacy play in your creative process?

Buju’s music played a vital role in my creative process. When trying to create from a positive place and operate at a positive frequency, you need those vibes. Buju fortunately has a wide range of sounds that keep you motivated and inspired. His lyrics are eternal, and need to be shared, appreciated and loved.

What’s your favourite Buju song?

My favorite Buju song is Hills and Valleys. Hands down. The metaphors used are very clever and the underlying message of uplifting one another is part of my life process.

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I’m inspired by Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Drake, Sizzla, Nas, Gregory Isaacs, to name a few. I love music and it shows in my work.

What inspires your work overall?

People inspire me; we are all connected. We all share a lot of values and ideas. At the same time, we are individuals and clothing is our second chosen skin. It’s our way to tell the world what type of vibe and person we want to express ourselves to be. So when people chose the skin I created to represent them, it keeps me going.

Other than apparel design, what other passions do you have?

My other passions would be cooking for sure. Consider myself a mean chef, second to my wife Nicole. Other than that I would say films. One day I would love to exercise that passion.

Next Up, Meet Mougabe Saint-Louis

How did you get into photography?

I’ve always had a camera in my hand since high school but never considered taking it up as a hobby until my older brother put my first DSLR in my hand. I took that camera and shot the very first 40 Oz Bounce [event] about 10 years ago. That unlocked a world of possibilities that I was not achieving with my disposable camera at the time.

What inspires your work?

This may sound super cliche but my dreams …80% of my ideas come to me in these super elaborate yet simplistic and theatrical dreams I constantly have. I would less than often write them down, then try to execute a very specific scene to photograph. From there, it’s just a snowball effect of ideas.

How did you and Mike link up for his line, and what was the creative process like shooting the lookbook?

Mike and I have been working together for a few years now so that creative energy is pretty much aligned at this point. Half of our creative process is verbal, the other half is eye language. We can both spot the perfect shot a mile away. That form of communication makes our collaborative process very seamless & organic now.

It’s a very surreal experience knowing that a globally known celebrity such as Khaled is wearing that Buju shirt with the legend himself standing right next to him. The dynamics behind him actually seeing the design that Mike created and the lookbook that I photographed is something we have to thank social media for. This literally went from my camera to our laptops to Instagram.

What is one creative goal you’d like to accomplish next year?

To have my own solo exhibition. I’ve been pushing out a lot of creative content over the years & I believe it’s time to that I take the leap of faith into the art gallery world.

Stay inspired. You can follow Mougabe on Twitter (@RoyalPurp) and Instagram (@purpito), and order DIEM merchandise at

Khaled & Buju link up. Shirt by DIEM. Image via