They are the hottest selling items in urban clothing stores, t-shirts bearing the image of an angry snowman made popular by rapper Young Jeezy. In this special assignment, News 12 is on your side to explain the hidden message behind the snowman and how wearing the shirt could land your child in big trouble.
Rapper Young Jeezy’s hit album, Let’s Get It, is topping the charts and flying off the shelves at local music stores.
“He has one of the hottest selling CD’s now,” Mona Gordon.
Jeezy, the self-admitted drug dealer turned rapper, has popularized the image of a snowman. The image is seen on the cover of his album and on shirts being sold across the country. But look closely, this is no typical snowman. This one has a menacing expression. It’s an image many say also has a dangerous meaning.
“It has certain associations with illegal activity,” Gordon said.
That’s right, on the streets the snowman is a term used for someone who sells snow, or cocaine. If you listen to Jeezy’s lyrics, he says, “I’m iced out, plus I got that snow, man.” Even in this clip you can see the rapper is performing as snow is falling around him. And the shirts have become so popular that hundreds of students are wearing them, but most parents have no clue about their meaning.
“If I were just to look at it, I would not even think to read it and think anything about it,” said Anne Fulcher.
But after learning the meaning of the snowman, Walter Reaves, principal at Butler High School, immediately decided to ban them.
“One kid said Dr. Reaves, what does this snowman mean? I looked at him and said you know what it means,” Reaves said.
And just a week later, all Richmond County schools followed suit.
“When the superintendent understood what this was all about through his deputy, put out an email saying these types of shirts were not allowed,” Reaves said.
According to the Richmond County dress code, students are not allowed to wear any clothing that in any way promotes or advertises the use of narcotics or any other illegal drugs. But some students think the snowman shouldn’t apply to this rule because they say wearing the shirt isn’t promoting drugs.
“We support a rapper, that’s all we are doing is wearin’ a t-shirt, supporting a rapper,” one student said.
“I ain’t doing it, so I don’t really see why I can’t wear it. I ain’t got snow,” another student said.
But Sam Lilly disagrees. He coaches football at T.W. Josey High School and he says banning the shirts is a smart move.
“Well, they’ll tell you ‘I don’t sell drugs, it’s just a shirt.’ And I’ll say doesn’t mean drug dealer, well yeah, but I don’t see drugs, it’s just a shirt,” Lilly said.
Coach Lilly says wearing the snowman may be the latest hip-hop trend, but it’s one that has dangerous consequences.
“You can get seen by somebody who thinks you’re a drug dealer on his block and get shot. A lot of things can happen with having a shirt like that on,” Lilly said.
And surprisingly, not all parents feel that their child should be told what to wear.
“I teach my kids, I don’t let the clothes make my kids,” said Craig Meyers.
And as Young Jeezy continues to soar to success, not just Richmond, but Aiken and Columbia County schools are steadily cracking down on Jeezy’s frozen friend. Several students say it’s a price their willing to pay to support their favorite rapper.
“I’m going to wear mine regardless of what the principal say or not,” one student said.
School officials in Richmond County tell News 12 the first time students wear the shirts they are warned and told to change. If there’s a second offense, they face suspension.