The Hip-Hop Phenomenon

By: Susanna Granieri 

I’m sure some of you have looked around and realized that Champion was a brand sold in Walmart when we were kids, and now a hoodie can cost over $60. This is true for brands across the spectrum, including Adidas, Nike, Saint Laurent, Balmain, Gucci and many more, all because of one thing: hip-hop culture has become the new norm.

Hip hop culture in the ‘90s was subjected to baggy pants, platform sneakers and short crop tops. Now, in 2019, history is repeating itself through the spiked interest in rap and hip-hop music.

Compared to the 1980s and ’90s, hip-hop figures such as Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and many others of their time decided fashion would be the statement they made to represent their character. Performers ask themselves, “what do you want to be seen and and how can you get there” according to rapper Dave East in a Youtube interview, proving that the personalities of popular stars are displayed in their wardrobe.

Obviously; yes. But, if you open your mind to the actual shift in fashion, you’ll see the impactful change hip-hop music had on society and our popular fashion.

“Hip-hop as a musical genre and the artists who populate the industry are at the center of culture,” according to the LA Times. “Players such as Nicki Minaj, Drake, Cardi B, Pharrell and others now dictate major pop-culture and fashion trends.”

Although fashion may be a statement in the hip-hop community, it stems from the roots of the Black community and their respect for fashion identities. This, in turn, increases the confidence of performers.

Fashion represents a confidence within the esteem of self, and front runners such as Lil Baby, Meek Mill and Dave East display a level of confidence that is unforeseen. They embrace their lives and symbolize their emotions in their lyrics, but their outfits say it all.

Lil Baby will flash a Rolex watch, while participating in multiple interviews about his immense jewelry collection. In impoverished Black communities, the dream of getting out is prominent, and hip-hop artists touch on this subject in one way or another. Yes, it seems as though this is a simple-minded opinion, but think of their lyrics.

Dave East was explaining a night at a hotel, rapping that he had “$15,000 in my Balmain’s, I’m lackin’/I put my Rollie in the dresser with like four chains,” in his song “Keisha,” showcasing his luxury and lack of care. In a Youtube video featuring Lil Baby choosing a new chain, his crew is hyping him up, saying “this is how people want to see you! This may not be how you like walkin’ out but when people see you, they want to see you drip like this bro.”

The glorification of fame and the promotion of money has led to a shifted mindset of listeners, mixing popular trends with ’90s swag and the brand-saturated market of 2019.

It’s clear, the confidence stemming from the increase in hip-hop culture has infiltrated popular media and therefore created a trend shift. Camo pants, Adidas sneakers or a Nike hat. If you are a hip-hop listener, whether you admit that you are following the change or not, check your closet for the brands that hip-hop put there.

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