Skip to content Skip to footer

#PlayForChange: How DJ Set Free Richardson embodied a movement

DJ Set Free Richardson has always been able to bridge the gap between athletes, hip hop, and the culture. He is a cultural pioneer who is known as the founder of And1 Mixtape and The Compound Gallery.

He is also the creator of the NBA’s newest “Play for Change” logo, which embodied a movement among its players during a time in which the sports world was divided. 

Play for Change

Back before the NBA had decided to restart its season, there were questions as to whether players should even play, considering the social justice movement happening in America. Richardson was watching all of this unfold, and began to think of a way to encompass how the players felt. 

DJ set Free's play for change logo
Jae Crowder sports the Play For Change hoodie while in the NBA bubble

“I just thought that there wasn’t a symbol for the players to be able to connect the narrative to a mark. So when the George Floyd situation happened, that was the spark that made me come up with the idea to create change.”

DJ Set Free Richardson

New NBA logo (unofficial)

The Play for Change logo depicts a player holding a basketball on his hip with his left arm. The player also stands with his right fist raised.

This was inspired by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. The silhouette was used by Richardson because powerful history silhouette logos have had. Various NBA players such as Kyrie Irving and Jae Crowder have worn Play for Change apparel. 

“People are wearing something that’s not about me, they want to make change. They’re speaking without words,” said Richardson.

“The lasting impact I want of the logo is to resonate that the world of basketball is helping humanity through a bunch of different lanes.”

DJ Set Free’s inspiration

Richardson draws on inspiration from some of his favorite athletes of all time like Muhammad Ali. He says that all athletes have their own issues that they want to give attention to. Also, one of the key things for him is just trying to help people. 

“I just wanted to show a light on athletes and show that they’re humans by showing what else they’ve got going on. And I think that people always can relate to them off the court.”

DJ Set Free

Richardson and his team at The Compound are now focusing on a new apparel line centered around the number seven. It is being repped by athletes, musical artists and actors like Carmelo Anthony, Jadakiss and Don Cheadle.

Richardson says the number seven is significant to him because of the connections it has to God. And some of his favorite sports figures of all-time.

DJ Set Free number 7 design
Tyler Herro finishes up a game donning Set Free’s No. 7 fitted hat

“That’s what the number seven represents to me. But it took on a life of its own for a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons.”

DJ Set Free Richardson

Ten percent of all profits made from this new line has gone to charities such as City Harvest, Foodbank for New York City, and the Black Artist Fund

“It was important for me. Anything I do I always try to give back.” 

View this post on Instagram

I’m cut from a different cloth! 7

A post shared by Set Free (@iam_setfree) on