Expos Fitted | Montreal and Hip-Hop

The Culture and the City

Date: Dec 19, 2023
Author: Mikal Lee
Topics: 2023 Bowman Draft Baseball, Baseball, Expos, Hip-Hop & the Hobby, Mikal Lee, MLB, Montreal, Montreal Expos, Tom Brady
Length: 1433 Words
Reading Time: ~8 Minutes

In celebration of 2023 Bowman Draft Baseball and the fun and excitement surrounding the release of Tom Brady’s Expos 1st Bowman card, we thought it would be cool to examine other instances of sports and culture colliding in Montreal. So, we decided to explore the relationship between the Expos, Montreal, and hip-hop. Enjoy!

The Expos are historic and mythic in their own right. They are the first MLB franchise established outside the United States and boasted the first Dominican-born manager, Felipe Alou. Montreal, the city itself, can also claim Jackie Robinson with helping bridge his career into the majors. Robinson played for their minor league affiliate to the Dodgers, the Montreal Royals, in 1946. A world-class city, Montreal is home to some of the best art and culture in the world, so it’s also no surprise that it has a place within the global phenomenon we call Hip-Hop. So, let’s explore connections between hip-hop and the Expos in the City of Hundred Steeples.  

Expos and Hip Hop

I’m fortunate enough to have some connections to the Hip-Hop community in Montreal (shouts to Nomadic Massive), and one of those people is Holden Stephan Roy. Holden is an artist, entrepreneur, and social media mogul who runs his podcast, The Hu$tle, and a Twitch channel, amongst a few other things. He agreed to talk with me and brought along a known OG, Rico Blox, an emcee who’s been repping for twenty years. Both of them admitted that they didn’t have a real connection to the team, the Expos as much as the city as a whole did, but because of that, the Expos brand was something they adopted on their own. 

RICO BLOX

I just love my city, so rocking the Expos fitted – even the hoodies – is always a way for me to rep my city. Like I was telling Holden, I don’t have a connection to the team itself – I’m not a sports head – that’s not where the connection is. For me, clothing is always a way to represent my city.

HOLDEN STEPHAN ROY

I just love the city, but I don’t have any particular love for the Expos. I’ve been to a couple of games before they left but I think it’s an interesting way to rep the city, differentiating from the Habs [Montreal Canadiens] because everybody wears Hab’s stuff. There’s nothing special about it; it’s just “Oh, you’re from Montreal wearing Habs gear.” Whereas the Expos, especially because they aren’t around anymore, I feel like it’s a choice to wear the Expos considering nobody really likes the team, which we know because nobody ever went to baseball games here.

RICO BLOX

The reason a lot of artists choose to rock the Expos instead of the Habs is also about the Expos legacy. People still talk about wanting to bring the Expos back; it’s an ongoing conversation in Montreal forever and forever. I think artists choose the Expos because it’s all about trying to keep a legacy alive. The Habs don’t need us to keep that name alive. The Habs play such a big part of Montreal’s sports and cultural history. However, the Expos have a particular legacy that includes Jackie Robinson. The Expos are so connected to the city and how much it meant to the city while the team was there; it’s one of the most beloved representations of our city that our city’s ever had. 

HOLDEN STEPHAN ROY

That’s true, and the logo is pretty iconic, too. I definitely think there was a time when, all of a sudden, baseball caps and teams became a staple of Hip-Hop, too, and that became something else. We had a baseball team, we had a real one, and we didn’t have to grab some other city’s things. You can take pride in that, and considering how Hip-Hop tends to be about grabbing your city’s symbols and rocking them, it just ended up being the Expos in our case. And the Expos do have a worldwide understanding because it was a part of the MLB, and it’s something that got us clout – baseball is bigger than hockey in the states – so with that, it adds extra value as an international symbol for people, they know this symbol, and it allows people to quickly identify it. Let’s be real: there has to be some team uniform from your city for Hip-Hop culture to create clear, visible icons. It doesn’t have to be a sports team, but I know at least for an era, at least back in the day, everybody seemed to be rocking it. 

As we continued to talk, both of them debated about how relevant the moniker was to a newer generation of hip-hop heads, even as the current Hip Hop culture is more about “name brands” than sports logos. It’s at this point that he mentions what seems to be the jumping off point for hip-hop to at least adopt the legacy of the team. 

RICO BLOX

Even though I had an Expos fitted and a lot of artists had them, before Magnum [Magz Rlvr, who we will get to in a minute] doing “Expos Fitted,” I don’t think the logo had the same impact as would after Magnum dropped “Expos Fitted.” The song gave the Expos and the logo a resurgence on the scene – you would rock an Expos fitted to rep our city. I can think back to 2004, and 2005, and see pictures of me rocking shows with a Yankees fitted, and Holden can attest to this. Since he’s known me for the last couple of years, have you ever seen me with anything but an Expos fitted?

HOLDEN STEPHAN ROY

Nah, it’s always Expos.

RICO BLOX

And honestly that’s a change I did after Magnum did “Expos Fitted.” Magz made something that would be a little bit of a legacy beyond just a fashion statement, so him and Dirt Work, so shout out to Dirt Work. That was a game-changer for us. This is your city’s uniform now. 

And this is where it gets real. I asked them to go more into the anthem they mentioned, “Expos Fitted.”

RICO BLOX

It came out in maybe 2010 but it’s held up over all the years; it’s a reputable Montreal anthem. I would easily call that a Montreal standard. Honestly, the two songs that are most representative of the city and a Montreal anthem are Magnum’s “Expos Fitted” and Boy6lue’s “Hometown.” Those two songs really put a stamp on our city, and we were like, “Hey, this is our sound, and they are two very different sounding tracks, but they really gave us a reason to start rocking the logo again really hard. The impact, as Holden said, maybe the younger dudes who weren’t in the game at that time who weren’t outside to see the impact, but the rappers that were around my time, my generation, it’s still a thing. To have a song come out like in 2010 and the impact of the “Expos Fitted” remix, there were like 17 or 18 of us. There is footage on YouTube where there are like 100 of us doing it on stage. It’s completely bananas. Some of the best in the city were on that remix. It united the city in so many ways; as an anthem to say we are all on a song together, we all performed it together, which is rare if you have a big remix like that, that everyone is ever going to get to perform it. But it always comes back to the love of the city – it’s beyond the team at this point. It really is a symbol for us that our city has produced greatness whether it be hockey or whether it be baseball.

Hip-hop has always been referential to symbols and icons that epitomize greatness and are markers for the area where an artist or the community is from. It’s not as much about the origins of that brand or that symbol as much as what it represents to the community. In the case of the Expos, resilience, survival, and a collective spirit are what made Hip-Hop gravitate to the Montreal Expos and make their logo its own. 


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