The concept of fashion in Hip-Hop can be a slippery slope. The culture is based so much on staying current with every new trend, and a lot of rappers fall into the trap of blindly chasing fashion. As we all know, this doesn’t turn out so well all the time. However, there are a handful of rappers who have mastered the art of pitch-perfect style. Here they are below:
Mos Def aka Yasiin Bey:
When it comes to unique and flawless style, Mos Def might just be the top pick of the crop. The Brooklyn rapper has a neo-bohemian approach to his style that’s a mix between an Oxford scholar and a well-suited Beatnik poet. No matter what he wears – whether it’s a suit jacket, blazer or denim jacket, his individual style and personality always shines through. No doubt about it, Mos Def can probably out-style most professional Hollywood stylists.
Chicago rapper Common is one of the good guys in the Hip-Hop industry. He’s always well-mannered, perfectly groomed and his music usually has some positive and uplifting themes. There was a time when he was dating Erykah Badu that his style got a little wacky, but he evolved again and soon got back on track. Now you can always count on him being in a slick, well-fitted suit, with a necktie or bowtie intact – and his bald head and beard are always expertly maintained and red-carpet ready.
As the protégé of Kanye West, it’s almost impossible to not be “really” into fashion. Big Sean, the Detroit rapper signed to Mr. West’s label has developed a nuanced and well-composed approach to style in just a few, short years. The thing that sets Sean apart is how adept he is at pulling off both formal and casual outfits. You could see him on the street wearing well-fitted jeans and a dapper Fedora or you can catch him at an event in a flawless tux that fits like a glove. Some people have a sixth sense about fashion and Big Sean is definitely one of them.
Nasir jones aka Nas can be described as the golden child of Rap music. He emerged on the scene in 1994 with a classic album called Illmatic, and in the two decades that have passed, his music and fashion style continues to evolve and become more refined. During the first years of his career, all he wore were baggy jeans and army fatigue jackets. But now, when he dresses up, it’s usually in the finest suits, an exquisitely executed haircut and more often than not, an expensive Cuban cigar as an accessory. Style definitely makes a man, and Nas has tons of it.
Hailing from DC, the rapper Oddisee is a little bit of a mercurial fellow in the landscape of rap. Even though he has developed a cult musical following over the years, he prefers to eschew the loud, bling’d out highways of Hip-Hop in favor of a more independent and understated approach. Oddisee’s style emulates his approach to music. He has a knack for putting unique combinations together that make him resemble a serene and introspective Jazz player from the Harlem renaissance era. He’s living proof that winning fashion doesn’t always have to be loud and in your face.
With the boatloads of money that Jay-Z has, it would have been a sad situation if he had bad taste in style. But we all know that’s not the case. As he said on his Magna Carta album: “I don’t wear Gucci, I wear Tom Ford.” As a sometimes rapper and fulltime business tycoon, it’s important to look the part, and Jay always shows up looking like a million bucks – whether it’s to the Met Gala, an award show or a charity gathering. Money doesn’t always buy class and style, but Mr. Carter constantly proves that his level of elegance matches his super-stacked bank accounts.
A$AP Rocky is very much one of the new breed of rappers on the scene. Fashion has become an amalgam of influences – outdoors brands like Timberland, designer brands like Hermes & Rick Owens, and streetwear/skatewear brands like Supreme & Black Scale. When it comes to fusing all these style angles into an appealing and fashion-forward look, there’s no one better at the moment than A$AP Rocky. It’s no wonder he was able to scoop up the top fashion model Chanel Iman as his main squeeze – the pair probably has a ball shopping for the finest threads together.
Steve Stoute is one of those behind the scenes moguls in Hip-Hop that most people don’t know about. He has managed the careers of artists like Nas, partnered on huge deals with Jay-Z, and he also has a media agency called Translation that helps huge blue chip companies market their product to Urban America. Mr. Stoute is a business man through and through, and there is perhaps no one in the Hip-Hop space that pulls of a no-nonsense power suit that way he can. Gordon Gekko of Wall Street would be proud.
Sean “Diddy” Combs:
Sean Combs could be facetiously described as the energizer bunny of Hip-Hop. This man just keeps going from one project to another; music to acting to launching a fashion brand to owning restaurants and even operating a cable music channel. To be that successful, you must be able to show up and impress people right when you walk through the door. It was actually his dapper and never-sloppy style that played a major role in him becoming the face for Ciroc vodka. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and Diddy always dresses for success.
We have written on this site before about Kanye West’s Rich People problems. One of those problems was how he is so obsessed with fashion and clothing but no one wants to give him a real chance with his own brand. But even with all the whining, we must admit that when he wants to, Mr. West can pull off a casual/formal outfit with much aplomb and swagger. And of course, there are the questionable times when he chooses to coordinate outfits with his fiancée Kim Kardashian, but we’ll leave our comments about that for another day.