Fashion has always been an integral part of hip-hop culture. Hip hop emerged in the late 1970s in New York, and looks of that time such as tracksuits, different types of gold chains, and beret- like hats became synonymous with Hip Hop culture.
Hip hop fashion, in turn, has been highly influential on fashion in general, with rappers leading the charge as fashion moguls. Think Run-DMC rocking Adidas tracksuits for a street look, Public Enemy’s militaristic, black nationalist inspired vibe complete with dreadlocks, or the thug look that became popular in the 90’s. Think Tupac’s more street style (like Durags) or Biggie’s throwback gangster style with double-breasted designer suits and bowler hats.
In 2023, the tradition continues, with rappers still on the forefront of fashion as industry icons. Here’s a list of today’s most stylish rappers – tell us if there’s someone else you think should be on the list.
- A$AP Rocky: Exploring the Avant-Garde
Let’s start with A$AP Rocky, widely acknowledged as the “best dressed man in hip-hop” – not to mention the current king of hip hop as partner to queen Rihanna. A$AP Rocky rocks any style with ease and truly pushes the boundaries of style, whether it’s an avant garage shorts-suit or denims paired with a skirt. Or for example, his oversized statement jewelry, including some interesting necklaces. For example, the rapper recently posted a certainly eye-catching piece – an ostentatious emerald-and-diamond gold necklace that wouldn’t look out of place in the Edwardian era – or even on the former King Edward himself! A$AP is rap royalty indeed.
- Kendrick Lamar: Style with a Powerful Message
Speaking of royalty and outsized jewelry, this list deserves a special mention of Kendrick Lamar’s custom made Tiffany’s titanium and diamond crown, a statement look that continues to redefine stylish rapper’s choice of jewelry. Apart from his statement jewelry, and sleek daily street looks, one of the main reasons that Lamar makes this list is that his style often serves as a medium for a larger message. For example, he has rocked a Louis Vuitton piece designed by the late Virgil Abloh. Virgil was the brand’s first black director and a key icon in hip hop fashion history who helped elevate streetwear to luxury status.
- Cardi B: Streetwear and Sweatpants to Fairytale-Feminine, Cardi can rock it all
Another rapper who constantly pays tribute to her roots is Cardi-B, who helped bring iconic Bronx streetwear to the trend setting world of high fashion. Cardi loves her statement looks which include bold, often fluorescent or neon colors that reflect her bubbly personality. Not to mention, she always highlights her stunning curves whether it’s with crop tops, dramatic necklines,or cut-outs. But the truly amazing thing about Cardi’s style is her versatility – whether its streetwear as casual as sweatpants that harks back to her Bronx roots, elegant fairytale-like, feminine dresses, or powerful pantsuits with a plunging neckline. And as an added bonus, Cardi absolutely rocked maternity wear. Never one to shy away, Cardi confirmed her pregnancy in a highly visual way at SNL in a form-fitting white Christian Sirano gown that fully showed off her baby bump. Her entire pregnancy was featured with equally jaw dropping outfits, including body hugging dresses, tailored jumpers, cropped looks, and mesh ensembles all serving to accent her baby bump as a proud mama.
- Lil Nas X: Style as a Medium of an Exuberant Identity
Lil Nas X is without a doubt, one of the most stylish rappers today as he redefines the genre, and its style. Lil Nas X’s style is a broad mix: elements of classic 90s hip-hop trends, straight off the runway high fashion pieces, and more unconventional elements. For example, consider his rhinestone studded cowboy hats, bedazzled suits, or even gender non-confirming, fashion forward attire like suit and dress combos. Not to mention that Lil Nas X is always experimenting with incredibly fun elements: neon colors, bold mixed prints, and over the top accessories. And the man never misses an opportunity to show off his style: including 3 costume changes at his Met Gala debut ! For Lil Nas X, style is a key way of sharing his unconventional identity – and he always delivers.
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