10 years is plenty of time for tastes to change and styles to evolve, especially in the world of hip-hop where image and branding are just as important as flow, technique, and lyrical content. Check out the wardrobe evolution of some of the game’s biggest, most successful players between 2002 and now.
Take a look at the change below.
Jay-Z – From Rags-to-Riches-to-More-Riches
Hova is no stranger to the world of fashion having founded his own label, Rocawear, in 1999. Starting from the streets of Brooklyn and its associated staples like baggy jeans and football jerseys, Jay now rocks some of the highest of high fashion like at Carnegie Hall earlier this year where he wore a dapper Dolce & Gabbana suit. Of course the Jigga man can pull off anything at anytime like at Barclays Center where he presented the new Brooklyn Nets jersey.
Eminem – Tired of Wearing the Same Damn Nike Air Hat
Even after becoming the best selling artist of the 2000s and having the ability to afford a nation’s worth of Nike Air hats, Eminem’s clothing choices changed rather stubbornly. During the greater part of his monumental rise through the beginning of the millennium, Marshall could be seen almost exclusively wearing sweatpants and do-rags underneath curved-brim caps. The wordsmith has since cleaned out his closet in pursuit of a cleaner look with more form-fitting pieces from some of the world’s biggest designers.
Kanye West – The Louis Vuitton Don
It’s strange to say this about any grown man, let alone one of the world’s most successful rappers, but Kanye West used to look, well, adorable. Although Mr. West hadn’t come to the forefront of hip-hop yet, he was behind some of the decade’s biggest hits including Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “Takeover.” Vintage Ralph Lauren is always experiencing some comeback or another but Kanye has remained faithful to the classic American brand while branching off into the fashion-forward world of high-end designers like Givenchy. He even introduced his own luxury line, Dw by Kanye West, at Paris Fashion Week 2011. The label was curiously absent at this year’s show but rumors have been circulating about a joint clothing line between him and his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.
OutKast – Still ATLiens
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Andre 3000 and Big Boi get their fashion cues from but that point must lie somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and the edge of the universe. While Big Boi has remained more conservative in style, at least with respect to his counterpart, Andre 3k has managed to constantly look innovative, fresh, and most importantly, original. Although they’ve been up to their own thing lately, both artists have stayed on top for the better part of 20 years and they show no signs of slowing down.
Lil’ Wayne – YMCMB
Weezy’s stylistic choices are as varied and far-out as the tattoos covering his body. In a career spanning over 20 years, the southern rapper has always remained true to his personal style with loose bottoms scrunching up above high-tops, priceless chains hanging low from his neck, and colors flying out from every direction. The New Orleans native recently launched his own clothing line, TRUKFIT, joining the ranks of other label-owning rappers.
Diddy – aka Puff Daddy aka P. Diddy aka Sean John
Although he’s been on and off the hip-hop radar for a number of years, Diddy is the wealthiest figure in hip-hop with a combined fortune of around $550 million. His dominance of the urban market for the past 30 years is reflected in his clothing choices which he describes as “swagger, timeless, diverse.” His varied business ventures, from signing The Notorious B.I.G. to Bad Boy Records to his annual “White Party,” where guests are required to wear all white, have helped the New York native reach a legendary status not seen since the likes of Jay Gatsby. Diddy’s preeminence in the hip-hop world as both hit-maker and business mogul allows him to wear whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
Over the past 10 years, hip-hop has gone above and beyond the mainstream with its most influential contenders mingling amongst the elite in high-fashion circles. It’s hard to say what hip-hop fashion will consist of in another 10 years but the current trend of wearing only the most expensive brands seems to be stronger than ever. What do you think hip-hop’s best will be wearing 10 years from now? Will we see a return to streetwear or will high-fashion reign supreme?