If there is one thing rapper Walter Edwin, also known as the Popper, is known for, it’s his absolute dedication and pride for Kansas City.
“I’m KC to the bone,” he said.
Since 1996, the successful hip-hop artist has dropped more than two dozen albums and mixtapes, including a song with Tech N9ne called “Kansas City.” One of Edwin’s most famous songs, “I’m KC,” is the inspiration for his IMKC Clothing Company, which he started in 2015, shortly after the release of the song.
In his “I’m KC” song, Edwin raps about Kansas City from past to present, including the Chiefs, the Royals, barbecuer Arthur Bryant, comedian Eddie Griffin and the KC Monarchs.
Edwin hopes the IMKC brand allows other proud Kansas Citians to express their dedication and love for the city. Some supporters argue IMKC is the city’s official hometown uniform.
The line includes T-shirts, hats, hoodies, football jerseys and baby onesies. IMKC recently dropped a new t-shirt collaboration with Gates BBQ, which features the famous Gates barbecue sauce and a basketball jersey that features Ollie Gates’ name on the back.
As the brand’s popularity grew, in 2018 Edwin opened an IMKC brand store in the Historic Lincoln Building.
Continuing to expand, last weekend Edwin held the grand opening of a second IMKC store inside the Ward Parkway Center at 8600 Ward Pkwy, KCMO. The new store is located just inside the mall’s east entrance between Five Below and Firehouse Subs.
Kiona Sinks, longtime IMKC brand supporter, said she remembers Edwin going from selling shirts from his trunk and popups, to now operating two storefronts.
“(Edwin) is a trendsetter for the community,” Sinks said. “He represents what a lot of young people want to be.”
Karis Harrington, marketing manager for IMKC said she remembers visiting Ward Parkway Center when she was a kid and not seeing many Black businesses there.
“Growing up, I thought this was unattainable for us as Black people and people of color,” Harrington said. “When we walk in Ward Parkway now, we can turn around and look at this store and see what’s possible for all of us.”
Edwin credits his parents for his success. They moved from the West Indies to Kansas City before Edwin was born. “Anything is achievable,” he said.
“We have to support this man,” said David Jordon, owner of Drip Ultra-Pure Water. “The IMKC store is a brand I love, so I want everybody to support IMKC just like they support Nike.”
Shop IMKC online here: https://yesimkc.com/?fbclid=IwAR0pxLnRdgizT88iy0xpcnSCF7cRbvN66mL1juV8Gdwmcm5HlBQFtWtkcnU.