B.I.G.’s Early Stylist, Groovey Lew, Speaks On the Big Man’s Fashion and Swag Influence


Celebrity stylist to the stars and Mount Vernon native, Groovey Lew came in the game under Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment movement in the days of the company’s formation. Providing the budding entrepreneur in Combs with some of the latest swag waves of the moment, Lew turned that skill into a styling career that has spanned and survived the times. He’s worked with the likes of Jodeci to Lauryn Hill to Jadakiss to everyone in-between. However, the one that truly set his sessions on fire was his time getting The Notorious B.I.G fresh for events, videos and performances. The man with the trademark head wrap, raps poetic about B.I.G’s fashion, flavor and marvelous style. -Datwon Thomas

First Meeting B.I.G

The first time I was introduced to his voice, Diddy came up to Mount Vernon and he had the remix with Mary J. (sings *“Look up in the sky…”*), that’s the first time I met his voice. Then I met him at Uptown Records at Diddy’s office, in the 90s like, “This is B.I.G” I was like, “This big black muthafucka (laughs)?” He sounds crisp and clear but then when I put the face to him, I was like “Oh, that’s son?” I started with Craig Mack and when B.I.G got poppin’ we started with B.I.

Original Stylin’

He was dirty, straight Brooklyn. Karl Kani hoodie, one army jacket, maybe two army jackets, a green one and a black one. Karl Kani jeans. Timbs. We were giving him pieces, nobody had any money. We coming up, young, (Diddy) trying to start a label, (B.I.G) coming up trying to start rapping. We just figuring out how we gonna eat today to get to the next step before he really blew.

Style Wars

B.I. was like this, he would tell you, “You do the clothes, you do the clothes. I rap, so I’ll rap. I’ll worry about the music and you worry about the gear.” He’d let you do you. One time he was like, “Yo, you know how the Wu got all the Wallabees and they dip their Wallabees? I want to have all the color Timbs like that.” That’s what he wanted to represent, then Timbs started to come out with all the colors. But I did dye him a burgundy pair one time. We took the yellow ones and dipped them burgundy. He just wanted to be the colorful Timberland kid, like how Wu was on their Wallabee shit.

Custom Made

I started to deal with the tailors and laying him out (with) tailor made pieces. That’s the King Of New York, mostly everything we tailored. (Brands like) Mecca would make stuff for him, Lugz would make stuff, Rochester’s (Big & Tall), Casual Men, different (brands) would make stuff for him.  Most of the fly pieces, all that is unique. All that Versace, that was going to find the materials and put together. That’s no store brought. Those Euro sizes never come in the big homie’s sizes. Putting all that together is what made the (big guys) want to get fly and get fresh. They started to feel like they could have what the lil’ slim homies was having. B.I. gave all them cats inspiration. “One More Chance”, “Big Poppa”, all the smoother R&B joints, singing and all that. He’s the flyest, smoothest, muthafucka.

Man of the People

He had the illest charm, all the honey’s loved him and all the niggas fucked with him. There’s nobody like that. There’s never gonna be an artist like that kid and I’ve been around millions of them. Nobody has that persona. Niggas can’t make me laugh, get serious, fuck with the honeys, get on some gangsta shit, then get on some boss shit, killer shit…the kid wore every hat. He was a father…the first nigga with the R&B honey. All the lil homies are following his steps. It’s good though, no disrespect, he just set the tone like, “This is how it’s going down.”

He was about everybody making bread. That’s another thing, he wasn’t on no selfish shit. Everybody’s gonna eat around this kid. Everybody’s gonna get kicks, everybody’s gonna smoke, everybody’s gonna have drinks, everybody’s equal. Nobody’s higher than any other around that kid. The king in the building and the nigga that’s cleaning up the studio get the same respect. He’s ill like that.

B.I.G’s Kids

God bless him, that’s just natural. That would happen regardless cus CJ got talented parents, that’s just in the bloodline. That’s written, nobody can take that away from him. It’s just crazy that he rhymes about Penn State and (B.I.G.’s daughter) goes to Penn State. It’s crazy how all that is just written and they really living it. Through all that talking, that shit just came to life.

Favorite Songs

“One More Chance” for the dance and “Long Kiss Goodnight” for the hardcore listener. There are so many, I can’t have a favorite. That’s just two off my head, but “One More Chance” is the anthem. No matter where we are in the world, we hear that and got to get up and do a two-step. That’s just the rules.