Whats up Fly people of the world?!
Its me again, the one they call The Fly Guy. Im here representing for Black
Music Month 2008.
As you know, Black music has had
a huge impact on style in pop culture through the trends that have erupted from
its artists’ wardrobes, verses and videos. From Kwame’s polkadot craze back in the day to the ever-popular adidas obsession forged by Run DMC, Hip-Hop heads have been responsible for affecting the world at large with their style.
Lets take a glimpse through Hip-Hop
history to review some of the artists and trends that have had the most impact
on pop culture.
Yall all tucked in?
Heeeeerrrreee we go…
Enemy – The Neck Clock/ The Africa pendant (1988- 1991)
Recently, Flavor Flav has blown
up pretty major again, and his offering to the world of Hip-Hop style has blown
up again, right along with him…The Neck Clock!
On his hit show Flavor of Love, Flav gives the young
ladies competing for his love a neck clock to symbolize them having more time
to spend with him. If they dont receive a clock Sorry, Baby your time is up.
Genius thinking, yes, but thats how much Flav branded himself with the clock.
Honestly though, I dont know if
it was just a Flavor Flav thing. He was just the most outlandish with it. You
might catch him one day, just chillin’, with the small clock, and then you
might catch him flossin with the wall clock size joint. Back in the day, Chuck
D could also be seen rocking the neck clock too from time to time.
I just saw an old N.W.A. album cover that had Ice Cube and like three other people rocking clocks around their necks too. That was kinda hot.
Another neck piece that PE helped
to jump off was the Africa pendant. In my hood (Philly!), we used to call them
Peace signs. My favorite of all time has to be the one with Africa and the gold
lion head riveted onto it. Yall remember those?
Anyway, I cant mention the
Africa pendants without mentioning other artists who could arguably get credit
for helping to jump off that trend, like X-Clan, KRS-1, A Tribe Called Quest
and De La Soul.
At this point in Hip-Hop, late
’80s to early ’90s, there was a huge Black Power/Consciousness movement, so a lot
of artists wore the Africa pendants, but who really got it popping? Its kind of
a toss up, but Public Enemy was definitely a big part of it. And the clock is
forever…you know what time it is!
I also have to mention that
Public Enemy has one of the hottest logos of all time. They just
licensed the rights for their logos to be used on apparel and accessories, so
we’ll see some PE clothing and accessories coming soon. [See the AHH Side Hustle column featuring PE’s new line with Obey] I need one of those
Puba – Tommy Hilfiger Brand
In the opening verse of Mary J
Blige’s What’s the 411?” the featured artist, Grand Puba of Brand Nubian,
could be heard saying, “Well, I be
Puba on this here/the n**** from last year/Girbaud’s hangin baggy/ Tommy
Hilfiger top gear.”
Although he never reached worldwide superstar status, Grand Puba was larger than life on the East coast in the early 90s. Remember that Sprite commercial – the freestyle session in the studio about obeying your thirst? “I give a pound to my man with the right hand/and I keep the sprite in my left hand“. Yeah…thats how large he was.
After being introduced to Tommy
Hilfiger at JFK Airport in the early 90s, Grand Puba, who already rapped about
Hilfiger in his songs, was treated to an extensive shopping spree in Mr.
Hilfiger’s showroom. Tommy was said to be inspired by how Grand Puba and his
crew wore his brands clothing. He noticed that most of the crews Tommy Gear
had oversized logos, and was worn with a baggy fit.
The designer then created a line
with more in-your-face Tommy Hilfiger logos and flags, and adjusted the fit to
more of a baggy cut. He realized that someone had to create clothing to
represent the Hip-Hoppers aspiration to be successful. At the time, the Tommy
Hilfiger brand had not yet found its niche or carved out its spot in the
crowded fashion marketplace.
With the help of Grand Puba, and
his, at that time, newfound relationships with Russell Simmons and Quincy
Jones, Tommy Hilfiger was able to leverage his access to Hip-Hop to become a
contender for the top spot in contemporary fashion.
It was said that the Hilfiger
brand really took off after Snoop Dogg wore the brand on Saturday Night Live.
Remember those Hilfiger duffel bags from like 93? The white ones
with the big Hilfiger flag on the side? How about the Hilfiger jacket that
folded up and zipped itself into a bag? Those were so hot! Hilfiger had the dope label tags too, with
the seersucker stripes inside the V on the back. Thats how you knew it was a real
Of course we all know that Hilfiger and Hip-Hop eventually fell out, but it was what it was back then. Im taking myself back down
memory lane. Thanks Puba.
B.I.G./Puff Daddy – Versace sunglasses/Versace Silk Shirts (1994-1997)
tell ya friends poppa hit it, then split it/In two, as I roll with the Junior
M.A.F.I.A./I dont know what the hell’s stoppin’ ya/ Im clockin’ ya, Versace
shades watchin’ ya
and the rest is history. With
the second single from his Ready to Die
album, “One More Chance (remix), the Notorious B.I.G. single-handedly put
Versace shades – and the brand, period – on the map with the Hip-Hop listener.
Over the course of his career, he
continuously rapped about the Italian powerhouse brand, now headed up by
Donatella Versace, after its legendary founder Gianni Versace was murdered in
1997 – ironically the same year as the Notorious B.I.G. was killed.
Because of his lyrics about
rocking the expensive brand, The Notorious B.I.G. was a big part of Versace and
other Italian brands becoming status symbols to the younger generation. In his
Hypnotize” video, B.I.G. and Puff were also seen rockin Versace all-over
printed silk shirts, in addition to the shades that they made popular years
Its hard to mention the
Notorious B.I.G without mentioning him trailblazing the Coogi trend as well. I
remember not knowing what he meant when he said, I stay Coogi down to the socks.
Back to the topic though, it
seems like the perfect time for the Versace shades/silk shirt trend to come
back around. I caught a video about a month ago that had Fat Joe driving a
speedboat in Miami, while rocking what looked like a vintage Versace silk
shirt. Puff was in the video driving a boat too. To rock one of them, you
almost gotta be driving a boat you definitely shouldn’t be rockin one of them
joints on the subway.
Versace as a brand is also making
some pretty big moves, including a new hotel in Dubai, the Palazzo Versace
Resort, which will be furnished completely with the Versace Home Collection.
The original Palazzo Versace is in Queensland, Australia.
Anyway, Thanks B.I.G., Puff and
Mr. Versace. May Mr. Wallace and Mr. Versace rest in Peace! Its all good Baby,
– Platinum Jewelry
Gold Jewelry has finally come
back into style over the past year and a half or so. Where did it go, you ask?
Just ask Jay-Z! The following line was like a deathblow for Gold jewelry: “Baby, I dont play/All my jewelry is light
grey/ Platinum, Spend ya whole life in a day/ Whats down is a bet, roll the
Its funny, because before that, all we knew was either gold or silver. Gold always wins over silver, so if you had paper, you would always grab a gold chain and medallion. Mr. Carter even used that fact to further cement his platinum jewelry’s rise to dominance. In Blackstreet’s “Call Me (Hip-Hop mix), he said, “Jigga murder tracks, let the rap flow kill ya/Rock platinum
jewelry/Young ladies think its silver.”
Crazy!! A lot of people were
rocking silver or stainless steel chains saying that they were platinum, too.
Needless to say, platinum kicked gold to the curb, and had a hell of a run on
the precious metals throne. Slick Rick even came back out and exchanged all his
gold jewelry for platinum in his first video after his release from prison.
It took damn near 10 years and an
80s retro craze for gold to make a comeback. Im not saying that gold jewelry
was ever played out, but its popularity did take a dive for a minute. Recently,
we have seen gold jewelry, especially 80s style dookie ropes, make a return to
the spotlight. This time it looks as if it could be here to stay for a while.
Rose gold actually had a nice run too. Thanks Jay-Z!
– Throwback jerseys
Not too long ago, it was
impossible to walk down the street anywhere in America and not see jerseys
everywhere. First it was all about regular jerseys, but it had to be an
official NBA or NFL version. Not the one with the Champion logo or the Nike
swoosh underneath the NBA logo…haha. They were like $160 a piece. Then all of
a sudden, people started talking about throwback jerseys.
I remember thinking, “What
the hell is a throwback jersey?” I’ve heard it defined as the jersey of an
old school player, or a jersey from a team that no longer exists. In my
opinion, Fabolous gets the credit for trailblazing the trend and making it his
own. It seemed as if his collection was never-ending (and he used to have the
crazy fitteds and custom AF1’s to match). I dont remember anyone that had a
comparable throwback game.
In the same breath as I say Fabolous gets the credit for wearing them, Jay-Z gets the credit for bringing the phrase “throwback jersey” into popular vocabulary. On “That N**** Jigga” from The Blueprint album, he could be heard in the opening lines saying, “Come on the track like Dent Dent Dented, with a throwback jersey and a fitted.”
Fabolous also celebrated his
extensive throwback collection in his 2003 song, Throwback. The hook says it
all: “Throwback this, Throwback
that/They even look better with the matching hat/All you gotta do is check a
player’s stats/It ain’t where you from, it’s where you wear your throwback at!” In the verses, he cleverly spits about how he
rocks a different throwback, depending on the city he’s in.
As throwbacks were proudly
enjoying their moment in the spotlight, time passed and gave way to the release
of Jay-Zs The Black Album. Lets
just say that his taste in clothing must change quickly because, this time
around, Mr. Z spit a line that single-handedly destroyed the trend that he
helped to establish not too long before that.
On “What More Can I Say” he sarcastically said, “I dont wear jerseys, Im 30 plus/gimme a
crisp pair of jeans n****, button up.”
The day after that song dropped,
the throwback trend was a wrap. Goodbye jerseys, hello grown and sexy! I feel
bad for the people that got their first throwback like a week before that. They
used to cost a grip. You could pay $300 easy. Some of the more exclusive ones
were damn near a stack ($1000, if ya didnt know).
After all is said and done
though, throwback jerseys had a nice run. Shout to Big Rube. Shout to Remix the
Kicks too. The jersey trend actually gave birth to the custom sneaker craze.
West – The resurgence of Preppy (2004-2007)
In 2004, Kanye West bumrushed the
Hip-Hop scene with his debut album College
Dropout. With the release, he also bumrushed the world of Hip-Hop style
with his preppy meets Hip-Hop look that further pushed the grown and sexy trend
forward. Instead of jerseys, baggy clothing, or any of the other looks that
were expected of rappers at the time, Kanye stuck to his own script.
It was actually kinda ironic that
Kanye came into the game with College
Dropout, because his style had a very academic feel to it. Polo by Ralph Lauren always represented that Ivy League collegiate energy with its collections, and he wore the brand faithfully. He rocked
polos and rugby shirts with the collar flipped up, blazers, proper sized jeans,
and made it Hip-Hop with the Roc chain, hot footwear, the LV backpack and
Since then, the blazer and jeans
combination has experienced an iconic following. When I saw dopeboys on the
corner rocking jeans, blazers and button-ups, I knew the trend was out of
As for the polos, Kanye also used to rock his own brand, with the bear
logo embroidered on the chest. Who didn’t want one of those? I think they
started out as a promotional tool for the College
I actually had a track jacket
with the bear on the chest in like ’05, from one of the first production runs
of Mr. West’s still unreleased line, Pastelle. (I gotta find that
thing…Thanks Rocawear). Two albums
later, Mr. West seems to keep reinventing his style and staying a couple steps
ahead of the competition.
He just started another crazy
trend with the shutter shades from the Stronger video.
He said it best, “If yall fresh to death, then I’m
deceased.” Call the coroner. Thanks Kanye
Williams – Fitted clothing, skatewear, streetwear (2005-present)
Ever since Mystical’s “Shake
Ya Ass” video, we have seen Pharrell rocking the fitted jeans and t-shirt
look. On the low, people were kinda clowning him for it. The funny thing is,
some of the same people that were clowning his “tight jeans” in 02
are the same people that are rocking True Religions, Earnest Sewns, or even
Levi’s more slim fitting looks these days.
The whole urban fashion game has
moved into more fitted or tailored looks over the past few seasons. Thats a
perfect example of just doing your thing and the times just coming around to
you. Of course hes stepped it up a few notches since then, but Pharrell still
kinda dresses the same as he always has. Its just that now everybody dresses
He has also been a huge influence
to skate/streetwear style. After teaming up with Japanese streetwear legend
Nigo (founder of A Bathing Ape) to create his brands Ice Cream and Billionaire
Boys Club, his fashion sense helped make Pharrell one of the posterboys for the booming skatewear/streetwear culture. He is also largely responsible for the crossover success of
Nigo’s brand, A Bathing Ape.
Before he had his own sneaker
deal, Pharrell was seen religiously rocking Nigos BAPEsta sneakers. BAPEstas
actually revolutionized the footwear game, because they were the first sneakers
to gain popularity that totally knocked off another sneakers pattern and
replaced the original logo with its own. Did I mention they cost like $300 a
pair? The hefty price tag was partly due to the limited amount of pairs
available in each colorway.
After that, everybody figured
they could come out with their own sneaker too. Just knock off the air force 1
and put their own logo on the side. So they are also largely responsible for
the recent I have my own sneaker line trend (by the way, check for my new footwear brand, Etiquette, comin’
atcha soon haha).
Pharrell also helped to jump off
the all-over print hoody trend, when he rocked the diamonds and dollar signs in Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like Its Hot” video.
He was also seen previously, rocking A Bathing Apes colorful all-over ape print hoodies. The printed hoody seems to be the single item that got the whole streetwear scene popping (outside of jeans of course).
Pharrell and Nigo have even
designed for high end powerhouse, Louis Vuitton. Millionare frames, anyone? Please believe
that Nigo is a rockstar too! Anybody ever seen this guy’s teeth? Ridiculo!
Yo, I forgot to talk about the
trucker hats! Pharrell was wearing them since the Shake Ya Ass video too! Remember
how big that trend got? The Von Dutch hat?! Everybody was wearing them. Did you
know that the designer behind Von Dutch is the same guy behind Ed Hardy and
Christian Audigier? Anyway, Im rambling. Thanks Pha-real!
Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I
hope you enjoyed the show. The Fly Guy is officially outta here. Dont worry
though, Ill be back before you know it. Have a memorable rest of the Black Music
Month celebration. Make sure you to advantage of all of the free music laying
Thanks for rockin with the flyest. Peace!