Blog post from February 2009.
Without dwelling too much on an argument that’s been e-debated to death, I want my kids and my kid’s kids to be as inspired by hip-hop attire as I was. How much importance should we place on apparel and footwear? A lot. Case study- I lost respect for Guru when I clocked him wearing cropped trousers and adi Goodyear shoes at London’s Jazz Cafe a couple of years back. That and Solar’s beats were the nail in a solo coffin. Yeah, I’m shallow, but it finally split the solo artist from the Gang Starr years in my psyche.
An MC has a duty to look fresh. They’re role models. Making light of tight jeans is a little tired though – things were getting ridiculous – remember a member of State Property (possibly Oschino?) getting clowned during an XXL interview by Beanie and company for wearing denim that wasn’t the requisite looseness? Shit was getting a little too baggy at that point. Timbos were drowning in washed-out blue. Something definitely had to give.
My only concern is the mish-mash of styles, and out-of-place vintage elements that are everywhere at the moment. Just wearing the ‘right’ items isn’t enough. It’s how you rock it. Rappers are in sartorial danger. Especially those without style who lack the vitamins, niacin and requisite funds to hire a stylist. Bright colours certainly aren’t an issue – while some can look a clown, Raekwon in the Snow Beach jacket proved that a half-zipped, boldly-branded, yellow, red, blue and black jacket could look like the holy grail. On me, that item would make me look like a care-in-the-community. Like most, I’m devoid of that necessary swagger. At least I’m aware of it. I suspect many trying too hard probably aren’t aware of their shortcomings.
I learnt early on that had I tried to sport Benetton or Coca Cola rugbys, I would just look like a fool. MTV Raps showed a supporting cast of characters looking inspirationally sharp in a blend of rugged basics and designer outerwear – Nautica, Helly Hansen (especially with the Loud records affiliation) and in that unique transition of once-functional brightness taken from ski slopes to streets, The North Face Heli vests (around the time AG was claiming to have rejected Timbs in favour of TNF footwear). Thank god that Carhartt, camofluage and Champion were an affordable and muted way to emulate MCs without having to risk primary colours.
Then there was Polo. Pieces that I never saw on any form of sportsperson ever – P-Wings and Bears, Cookies, Suicide Skiers, Stadiums – Sticky Fingaz wore a killer Silver Polo Sport windbreaker circa ‘All We Got Iz Us’ that I hunted high and low for. On visiting an outlet in ’95 expecting to walk away clad in boldy-blocked rarities, on looking at an instore mirror with an over-the-head low-rent take on the stadium jacket on, next to my faded Levi’s Silver Tabs and reissue Campus, I could tell I was destined never to wear this kind of gear. Relatively fresh on the shelf, but on me, it just reflected the bland intended audience of the brand, rather than the boosting re-apporpiators who actually made this stuff look incredible. Ah well. You live and learn.
The purpose of this recollection? An excuse to reprint the ‘Love & Loyalty’ Lo Life articles from the Source’s Sept, Oct and Nov 2000 issues (one of the rare high-points as the magazine declined), and link to the superb Vintage Gear Addicts site.
Great VGA North Face interview with Serene Insanity and Cypha from a few years back with sentiments that are as relevant as ever.