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Megan Moore, Brandon Latimore, Nina Price

How Fashion In Hip Hop Influenced Popular Culture

North Carolina A&T

Introduction

Hip hop is more than a genre of music, it is a way of life. a style of popular music of US black

and Hispanic origin, featuring rap with an electronic backing. It originated in Brox, New York

City.

Its influence has spread across the world making an impact through fashion. Clothing, hairstyles

and other styles have been a big part of the hip hop culture since its start in the 1970s. Since the

beginning of hip hop music, the lyrics didn’t just change the way African American people could

express themselves but the fashion gives them another outlet to their art.

Hip hop Rappers or big names in hip hop have redefined the social norms for what is deemed

acceptable in society. When they wear certain clothing or express themselves creatively that

transcends cultural and social boundaries.

The more hip-hop music became popular so did the fashion. Brand names like; Ralph Lauran,

Versace and Adidas have been heavily marketed and promoted by hip hop artist. After the

promotion of popular brands through hip hop music sales skyrocketed.


Literature Review

In 1986 a hip hop group named Run DMC released their first single from their 3rd album called

“My Adidas” since then the classic Adidas shoe has been the top shoes in the fashion

world. “sales hit close to half a million pairs in that same year, Adidas rolled out an entire

Run-DMC line, complete with sponsored tours. There were sweatshirts and tees dedicated to the

Kings from Queens, plus leather tracksuits with eye-watering price tags”(MR GARY

WARNETT, 2016)

Adidas took over the sneaker world with just a name and design that is more than 10 years

years old. “Angelo Anastasio, a senior Adidas employee, was attending a 1986 Madison Square

Gardens performance of the Raising Hell tour when he was struck by the sight of tens of

thousands of fans lifting their Adidas sneakers into the air, answering the call of those on stage.

Inspired, Anastasio reportedly ran back to Adidas New York headquarters and within days, Run-

D.M.C. became the first hip hop group to receive a million-dollar endorsement deal” (Robin

Mellery-Pratt, 2014) Today According to Ebay.com the 25th anniversary of the Run DMC

Adidas shoe is worth $110.10 to $350.00.

Rapper Tupac Shakur influenced a whole decade before he was fatally shot in a drive-by

shooting in 1996. Some of his styles are still used for some fashion designers collection today.

Alexander Wang used many of paid homage to many of Shakur’s styles for his menswear

lines. “Shakur created a style that has stood the test of time. The hallmarks of his look—a

backward bandana tied around the head, the baggy Karl Kani sweatsuit, bucket hats, hoodies,
workman’s boots, and sports jerseys—could all be pulled out today and still be on-trend.” (

Janelle okwodu, 2016)”

Since then, African American men and women started wearing bright colors and different

styles. Rapper and actress Queen Latifah starting wearing African style clothing and jewelry and

many artists and African American woman soon followed after her. After African American

people influenced the industry they began to run the industry.

Today many big names in hip hop are collaborating with major clothing companies to express

their unique style. It has become popular over the last decade for celebrities to venture off into

many other avenues with fashion being number one. Many of the popular artist today such as

Nicki Minaj, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, Cardi B, and Kanye West just to name a few have all

collaborated with brands like Fendi, Forever 21, Reebox, Fashion Nova and Versace.

Collaborating with brands has become so popular and beneficial to both the company and the

artist who is choosing to collaborate because hip hop influence has had such a big presence since

it first originated.

Hip hop artist often names drop brands or companies in their songs which results in

increased sales for the company and also a way for the artist to make extra money. “Consulting

firm PQ media says product placement across all media was worth about $8.25 billion

worldwide in 2012. The study said singer CeeLo Green had revenue of more than $20 million in

2011 with the smallest amount of that coming from music sales. The rest were derived from

marketing and branding opportunities” (Trevor Hughes, 2015). Name dropping is a strong

marketing tool that shows really how influential hip hop music is. A major artist in hop saying

the name of a brand in a song can increase sales and give the brand more exposure.
“Cultivation theory examines the long-term effects of television. The primary proposition

of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend 'living' in the television world, the

more likely they are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed on television. The

images and ideological messages transmitted through popular television media heavily influence

perceptions of the real world” (Cyntiha Vinney, 2019).

Cultivation theory is a great example of how hip hop has been influential on the black

community especially the current and upcoming generation of African Americans. This

generation is very technology based and rely on it for almost everything. The constant watching

music videos, movies and anything hip hop related can start to alter our minds and persuade us

people to like things that we may have not paid much attention to before. Cultivation theory

plays a major part in the influence of hip hop on the African American community. The more

exposure hip hop artist get the more influential they become.

For example when Beyonce wore her African style braids in her short film Lemonade the

whole world especially African American girls became inspired to duplicate her style.The braids

that we once knew as tribal braids are now Lemonade braids named after Beyonce’s album. The

influence hip hop had on fashion does not stop at hair and clothes it extends all the way into

jewelry as well. Hip Hop artists such as Raheem the Dream and Kilo Ali started wearing grills in

the early 1980s. Grills or what are more commonly known now as fronts are decorative teeth

covers that are usually made of silver, or gold jewel-encrusted metals. A trend that started in

New York blew up in the South due to the rise of the Dirty South rappers in the 2000s which

really started the nationwide grill fad. During the 2000s grills were heavily shown off in hip hop

music videos and mentioned in the songs. The most notably song would be the 2005 number one

single Grillz by Nelly, Paul Wall, Ali, and Big Gipp. “we about to start an epidemic with this
one” is what jermaine Dupri (a writer of the 2005 hit song) says at the beginning of the song

Grillz and that it did. “Nelly's impact and relevance might have faded over the past decade, but

this Billboard Hot 100–topping hit was prophetic. The video, which featured more than 70 close-

up grill shots, introduced mainstream America to lavish dental ornamentation. It captured the

moment when bejeweled dental prostheses entered the American zeitgeist.” (Lauren

Schwartzberg, 2014) although many years have passed, there is still a lasting impact Nelly has

had on grills not only to the fans and listeners but also to other artists. Beyonce has been known

to “rock” a grill. The trend even ventured into the pop culture where Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry,

and Madonna started wearing them. Since the 2005 hit songs grills have even been featured in

fashion runways, during Paris and New York fashion week. The influence that these hip hop

artists have does not go unknown to them, they are fully aware.

To the point were some of them have started their own fashion line. Staring in 1998 when

music mogul Diddy aka Puff Daddy released his first collection of Sean John consisting of only

eleven pieces. Which led to March of 1999 when Sean John made its debut in retail stores.

Another Big hip hop legend that started their own clothing line would be JAY-Z. Him alongside

Damon “Dame” Dash released the clothing line Rocawear. Where they would have annual sales

of 700 million, sold affordable clothes, socks sunglasses, sandals, furs, and handbags. The reason

that Hip Hop influences fashion so much is because both are forever evolving, Both change with

the times. It's also the impact that they have on the listeners. As a young adult or an adult if you

idolize a person and or group and they have a positive impact on your life you tend to do what

you fesibley can to imitate them. You go out and buy or beg your mother or father for that new

pair of adidas that Run DMC rap about. Or you go and find that old durag and tie it around your
head exactly like tupac, or save all your money to buy a grill. Whatever trend you decide to

copy, from whichever artist you do it because they impact your life in a positive way.