It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in the Hollywood Hills, and I walk up an inclined street flanked by a dozen 10-foot tall cacti. This feels like an apropos approach when arriving at a Cactus Jack editorial takeover, which takes place in a three-story home with sprawling views and original architectural aesthetics. On the second floor, a rack of Louis Vuitton Men’s Collection, designed by Virgil Abloh, hangs in the walkway, inviting color, innovation, and style to the sun-soaked outdoor area. A floor below, I find myself fascinated by today’s subjects—the confidence of Bloody Osiris, the youthful playfulness of Sheck Wes, and the cool calm of Don Toliver. As each prepares for their time on camera, I pick up on the way they communicate with each other, trust each other, and overall enjoy themselves as a unit.
Together and apart, the three are influential figures in the worlds of both music and fashion. As signees of Cactus Jack Records, they’re tied to one the hottest labels, collectives, and creative tour de forces known to the world: rapper and producer Travis Scott. In 2017, Scott created Cactus Jack to offer others an opportunity much like he’d experience coming up, but better, and with a contemporary sex appeal that defies categorization. Today, the artists of Cactus Jack—including a deep ally of the collective, rayscorruptedmind—are swallowing up the industry, an uprising of creative energy that follows no formula on how to be. Given the choice to be whoever they want in this world? They each choose themselves, allowing us all to witness a bold and individualistic immersion in fashion, authenticity in attitude, and innovation in music.
Back to the set, fashion phenom Bloody Osiris, also known as Bloody O to his friends, self-styles a handful of finishing touches before stepping in front of the camera in his perfectly-fit LV suit. In a moment of reflection, he can’t help but share how grateful he’s been in this recent period. “This is as good as it gets,” he remarks, humility rolling off his tongue. As a friend of Louis Vuitton Men’s Artistic Director, Virgil Abloh, Bloody’s relationship with the distinguished French fashion house is tight-knit, and, as he would say—this shoot just makes sense. “Virgil calls me the Bart Simpson of this fashion thing,” Bloody laughs. Ironically enough, the Spring collection captures a youthful essence, with cartoon characters featuring throughout, bright colors, and animated shapes. “It brings me back to being a kid,” Bloody continues. “I think fashion should be this fun. I feel like everything is so serious, and I’m not serious.”
Bloody makes it look easy while also making it clear how innate fashion is to his being. In his story, there was no plan to get where he is today. As a young boy growing up in Harlem, walking runways and featuring on photo sets in luxury high fashion looks, to creative directing shoots and styling the hottest celebrity figures—there wasn’t a formula. He is his own mold, from rocking Jordans in Harlem, to featuring in the brand’s Proto-Max 720 campaign in 2019. “I think when people start getting comfortable with it and like it too much, that’s when it’s time to switch,” he remarks on knowing when to make moves in the fashion space. “I like to be the perfect medium between, like, ‘What the fuck is he wearing?’ and ‘This is fire,’ right? When there’s too much ‘This is fire,’ I got to switch it up.”
An integral part of the Cactus Jack team whose priority is imaging ahead of music, Bloody’s input never goes unnoticed. “Music and fashion are synonymous,” he says on today’s hybrid culture, “One can’t live without the other. I need the music to get inspired, to get dressed. They need the guys like us to look at, to get fly, and get the inspiration to go do the music.”
Bloody is a powerful reminder on the ways confidence influences one’s art, and the codependence of different aspects of culture. He makes it clear as day that he is invested in the entirety of the shoot, even when his own setups are over, and the blend of talents present seems to merge very organically. Through friendship, Cactus Jack enlightens and inspires those who come next—learning the ways of the game, growing into their own entities, and making their own rules. As the three continue to find themselves in new situations, unafraid to say yes to the next level up, it’s easy to imagine Bloody in the mix, making sure that it all looks perfect… and then quickly moving on.
For Sheck Wes, the youngest in the room, life’s purpose is about authenticity and being a man of your word. “I’m from New York,” he says, “and everybody from New York is all tied into music, sports, fashion, because we get fly, we play ball.” Wes, who currently plays professional basketball for Paris Basketball, of the LNB Pro B league, recounts iconic moments in the industry where musicians formed basketball leagues that truly solidified the relationship between the two worlds. “What’s normal to me is like, extraordinary,” he remarks on the culture he lives and breaths. “Sometimes it’s pretty unordinary for people outside of New York, but in the city, so many kids just like me.”
That may be true, but how many of those kids will ever walk fashion shows, enter the NBA draft, and create music that engulfs an entire space. Sheck’s multi-disciplinary lifestyle is one fueled by community and communication. It’s about energy, giving his full self, and shifting the atmosphere. The atmosphere got a serious taste in 2017 with track “Mo Bamba”, and Scheck would later release his debut record, Mudboy, in October of 2018. “Part of being an artist is being vulnerable,” he tells me. As he details the interconnected aspects of this discipline, he continues on to say, “For me to be able to do all these things, you know, I’ve been blessed. It’s big for me and where I’m from, and I never let it go over my head. It’s not just like a one by one thing, right? It’s like, all in all, not one thing is defined to me. Everything is amazing.”
Sheck’s charming personality is on full display as he cracks jokes and encourages the others throughout the afternoon. Like a true athlete, he shows good sportsmanship and knows his role. “I’ve just been prepared in all the correct ways,” he says about the experience we’re witnessing on set. This shoot is a big deal for each participant, but much like what Bloody said earlier: it’s just life. A life full of promise not only to himself but to his people. Born to Senegalese parents, Sheck’s ties to other landscapes stretches far beyond his NYC stomping grounds, and he fully intends on extending his reach, “All around the world too. In all my hoods, in Senegal, my hoods in New York, anywhere.”
The 22-year-old rapper continues to talk about consistency within his new world and how he’s grown. He compares his time in the industry thus far to what would have been four college years since he was discovered at 18. “I’m just at a whole different point now—just growth, learning, having ups, having downs, and just learning that every down is an up, you know. Every up is an up. Everything is just up.” He continues with a very Californian metaphor: “I look at myself like a Red Wood tree. I compare myself to a tree, you know? Whose roots are forever lasting. Whose trunk is super strong and branches are well amassed. I look at myself as a very strong tree with many fruits.” These fruits recently meant a tease of Hell 2 Paradise, Scheck’s forthcoming follow up to Mudboy. As an artist, his entire being is his work, and he’s continuously sharpening his tools. “My art isn’t like a character,” he concludes resolutely. “I’m actually Sheck, I didn’t choose to be something different. Growing up, that was what people really called me, so I just always knew to stay and be myself, and that is my art.”
As it’s been told before, Don Toliver, whose second album drops this summer, began creating music at age 17 with no prior knowledge or guidance on what to do. Now at 26, Toliver’s single from the upcoming debut, “What You Need”, is bouncing around and his name holds weight—he’s someone to know and someone whom everyone wants to work with (recently including the likes of Rico Nasty, Gucci Mane, Big Sean, Nas, the list goes on). “It took time,” he recalls. “It wasn’t an overnight thing at all. I had to do a lot, but it feels good to get here.”
Don keeps his cool while on set as he gets his hair retwisted, casually smoking and snacking a bit. The crew have created an organic energy on set, where the rotation of setups and looks feels like something they do all the time. Don has just completed his first look, and remarks on what he feels he’s mindfully kept consistent to date. “I really just do the same thing I’ve been doing,” he remarks, “which is just record, stay creative, stay in a creative mind space, and, you know, stay positive within each situation as much as I possibly can.”
Like Sheck, consistency has been a major key to Don’s rise and the biggest lesson learned in the business. “You want to be the same person every time,” he declares. “You don’t want to confuse two people, because it leaves space for questions. I like people to know straight up front: it’s hard, this is serious. It’s something that you can’t contain.” He shares that Cactus Jack vibes and internal loyalty keep the bar high. “We’re just a group of friends who just take it to another level,” he smiles of the dynamic. “And just me evolving as a person kind of just keeps that real deal youth within me.”
For all three, real is what you get. Don echoes Sheck when he describes pouring himself into music, creating safe spaces and opportunities to express vulnerability. “I’m always moving forward,” Don shares. “I’ve always been someone that moves forward within my life, but that was step after step after step, I always find a way to move forward. That’s one thing I know about myself.” Don then affirms, not surprisingly, that the influence compelling those forward steps was, in fact, music, “It didn’t steer me wrong at the end of the day.”
Noting the impact of the pandemic, Don believes in music outside of himself—that universal language—that way to revive the energetic and connective forces around us. “I just want to bring some real balance to what’s going on,” he demonstrates. “I just feel like the world really needs what’s to come next. So I’m really focused on it.” Don concludes, speaking to the language of his art, his legacy, his being overall. “At the end of the day, when I’m gone, I want people to really use my music as a blueprint for them to figure it out. That’s all I really want. Like, when I’m here, when I’m gone, and everything’s all said and done, that’s all I want.”
Photographer: rayscorruptedmind at Jeffries Agency
Stylist: Zoe Costello at Forward Artists
Groomer: Diane Dusting at Opus Beauty
Styling Assistant: Brandon Yamada
Photo Assistant: Samone Zena
Flaunt Film by: Nate Rynaski