Swag’s Not Dead: Hip-Hop Style Returning to Fame

Hip hop has always been a genre that has represented the marginalized and minority groups, most notably the African American community. It became a way for artists and activists to raise their voice and call attention to the issues important to their families and communities that were largely ignored by mainstream media and entertainment. Due to widespread unemployment, incarceration, gangs, and poverty in embattled cities, hip hop was the only thing that gave people hope. Throughout the decades as hip hop became more and more popular, it crossed over into the mainstream and it started to become infamous for the way it objectified women and glorified consumerism and violence. Today we see artists reclaiming the original foundation hip hop was built on and helping new audiences understand its powerful roots. One aspect of the hip hop world that has remained constant in its popularity is the fashion.

It all started with the pioneers. From Tupac Shakur, to the Notorious B.I.G., Lil Kim, Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, DR Dre, and contemporary artists like Nicki Minaj and Eminem. They all had and still have a unique swag that has for ages been emulated by hip hop fans across the globe. Fans have been buying clothing to emulate the fashion of their favorite hip hop artists for decades, and these are a few of the reasons why their style has remained popular and continues to have influence even today:

1. The Advent of the Internet Age

Fans don’t need to watch TV, wait for the latest magazine issue or head to a live show to see the latest fashion or hip hop culture. You can find it all online. Decades back, this wasn’t the case. It was all about peer influence and being in the know about the latest trends. Today, information spreads faster than wildfire. Social media has significantly played a pivotal role in how fashion statements spread, and with the popularity of platforms like Tik Tok, Instagram stories and more, fans can tune in and nerd out on the latest fashion from anywhere. 

2. The Love for Jewelry

Big and outlandish accessories have always played a role in hip hop culture, featured prominently on both male and female artists in music videos and live performances. Hip hop artists will not leave their closets without the emblematic gold and silver chains on their necks. You’ve probably seen Jay-Z with his 5-kilo yellow Cuban link chains. These quality Cuban link chains are synonymous with a lot of hip hop artists. It was originally a symbolic way of the underground hip hop community adorning themselves with a kind of wealth that has now become a signature calling-card for artists in the genre.

3. Digital Influencers

In the fashion industry, digital influencers make a huge impact on fashion trends. Today more than ever before, major players in the fashion industry will look to bloggers, vloggers and influencers to become the new normal in terms of marketing. Gone are the days of a TV ad buy or forking money out for a huge billboard. It’s all about the clicks. And yes, even celebrities who have their own brands and clothing lines work with influencers, which is how older trends are slowly creep back into contemporary conversations. It’s no wonder why hip hop styles have returned with a boom. No longer will fashionistas rely on magazines to tell them the latest fashion trends, or even major fashion houses and brands to dictate what is hot and what is not. It’s all about the influencer.

4. Timelessness

Hip hop is timeless and here to stay. No doubt if the Notorious B.I.G was to pay the modern society a visit, he’d appreciate how popular his own style still is (Coogee sweater, anyone?). Of course advancements in technology have played a role in the designs, appearances, and authenticity of modern hip hop styles. As the fashion world adopted hip hop fashion as its own trend, the genre and movement has become a timeless culture in and of itself in a way that is transcending time.


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