Hip-hop isn’t just about the music, not anymore. In fact, anyone who has even a passing familiarity with rap will know that fashion plays a vital role in hip-hop too, helping artists to forge a cultural identity that’s completely unique and separate from other forms of expression.
It’s no wonder then that plenty of rappers have taken that extra step and released their own coveted fashion lines in conjunction with the music. From the early 90s up until the late '00s, the marketplace was flooded with artists pushing their brands via streetwear in an attempt to be fresh and make money too.
These investments sometimes paid off in a big way. After all, it’s safe to say that the Rocawear clothing line definitely helped Jay-Z run this town and become rap’s first billionaire, but for every success story there are plenty more that followed the blueprint for failure. Join us as we take a closer look at some of the many rappers who tried and failed to emulate the success of lines like Rocawear before their clothes eventually faded into obscurity.
Outkast - Outkast Clothing Co
Although they’re both wildly different from each other in character, Big Boi and André 3000 always made sweet music whenever they came together. Unfortunately though, their cosmic chemistry didn’t translate so well when it came to their clothing line. Unrepresentative of their brand’s funky energy, the clothes failed to resonate with fans and it didn’t help that the group themselves had no interest in wearing them either. By the time that Outkast retired to Stankonia, their clothing line was nowhere to be seen.
Bow Wow - Shago
Inspired by menswear lines such as P. Diddy's Sean John, Bow Wow released his own clothing lines for boys called Shago, which drew its name from the young star’s real name, Shad Gregory Moss. Unfortunately, it looked like Mr. Moss was barking up the wrong tree with this one and after just three years, Shago went the way of Bow Wow’s “Lil” moniker.
Fat Joe - FJ560
When Kanye West famously said that "Being fresh is more important than having money," he didn’t mention that releasing fresh clothing lines of your own can help you gain more money too. For many rappers, this seems to be the driving force behind their forays into fashion, but when Fat Joe kick started FJ560 in 1997, he did so for a far more admirable purpose; to support local designers from the Bronx. While his line didn’t last for long, Fat Joe himself is gearing up for a big comeback with the release of his long awaited album Family Ties later this year.
Busta Rhymes - Bushi
Busta Rhymes was one of the biggest rappers alive at the turn of the century and during the height of his success, the Flipmode star released his own clothing line called Bushi. Described as "couture meets street," Busta’s fashion label unfortunately turned out to be a huge Extinction Level Event of its very own. Fans weren’t saying “Gimme Some More” to Busta when it came to Bushi and after a while, no one would even Touch It.
DMX - DMX Signature Clothing
Back in 2006, Ruff Ryder DMX launched a clothing line that was pretty ruff too. Touted as the kind of “no frills clothing that active and rugged men want,” it wasn’t long before DMX Signature Clothing started “Slippin,’” failing to measure up to the heights that DMX reached with his music.
Young Buck - David Brown
Young Buck hasn’t had it easy. After he survived multiple gun wounds and was later ousted from G-Unit, 50 Cent also rubbed salt in the wound by recently making a GoFundMe campaign that mercilessly mocks Young Buck too. When you take all of that into consideration, the fact that his clothing line also failed soon after launch isn’t such a big deal – although it’s likely that this was one of the reasons why he filed for bankruptcy just one year later. Straight Outta Cashville, indeed.
Common - Soji
Randomly named after his next door neighbor, the Soji hat line had some potential given that Common had already found success across a wide range of fields. Unfortunately, his collaboration with the Italian hat company La Coppola Storta didn’t match the heights of his other collaborations with artists like Kanye West or John Legend.
LL Cool J - The LL Cool J Collection
LL Cool J likes to think he’s the G.O.A.T., and his career certainly numbers among the most impressive in hip-hop history, but one thing he’s definitely not the greatest at is starting his own clothing labels. It’s unclear why he thought partnering with Sears would be a good idea given how much the retailer was struggling back in 2008, but that’s exactly what he did, creating affordable streetwear that no one seemed to want.
Snoop Dogg - Snoop Dogg Clothing
Fans might think that there’s “No Limit” to what Snoop Dogg can accomplish, but the fashion world once said otherwise. Long before he launched his Rich & Infamous clothing line, The Doggfather dropped a rather generic line of re-branded t-shirts, jeans and sweatshirts that were far from hot. It’s a dogg eats dogg world out there and even the most successful rappers can’t hit it out of the park every time, no matter how much weed they might smoke for inspiration.
Kevin Federline - ???
While he’s most famous for marrying Britney Spears back in the mid '00s, Kevin Federline has since dabbled in everything from wrestling to reality TV while also releasing his very own rap album. Unsurprisingly, Playing with Fire didn’t exactly set the charts alight and so a few years later, K-Fed decided to launch his own baby clothing label, but that never really took off either.