by Elizabeth Cutler
“And I don’t wear jerseys, I’m thirty plus /Give me a crisp pair of jeans, N***a button up” — Jay-Z
Silence is for The Suburbs. The Streets are loud: the bass bumps, the pavement vibrates, and you can feel the beat. Reverberating through the soles of your Tims, riding the bus line of your nervous system straight to your heart, the beat reminds you that you’re alive. So before the culture and the style, hip hop started with the music.
Hip hop may have started there, but it’s so much more than that now. For Marco Negron, 19, attending the Wu-Tang concert at the Palladium, “Hip hop is everything…the way we walk, the way we talk.” DJ Nino Carta, who has DJed shows with Wu-Tang fam artists, said that hip hop is “…the environment, where [the people are] livin’, the way they are caring themself, and their ethnicity.” For J.Saki, DJ for Wu-Tang Member Cappadonna, “Rap is something you do. Hip hop is something you live.” Hip hop fashion accompanies that lifestyle.
In the past, hip hop fashion meant pulling your oversized baggy pants down six inches and wearing Tshirts size 3-4XL. Trina Celularo, owner of Jimmy C’s Sneakers and Urban Wear at 1086 Main Street in Worcester, an authorized dealer of hard-hitting hip hop lines like Akademiks and Sean John, explained that the “old style” is changing. Celularo says that the sizes are getting smaller and more tailored and that the look is getting “cleaner,” punctuated with more button-down shirts. Celularo would know, considering she takes regular trips to Harlem to see what is new and fresh. She says that hip hop fashion is all about “the hook up,” meaning that it is about having a whole ensemble where the colors flow together as seamlessly as Talib Kweli’s lyrics. And of course, polishing it off with a pair of “Tims” (Timberland boots), a trademark of hip hop fashion, is what really pulls the whole thing together.
While the hip hop look is shifting, some people choose to switch between being more “street” and being more “clean.” Trife da God, boys with Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah, explained, “One day you might have a button-up and a pea coat and the next day you’re rollin’ around with your hoodies on.” And in fact, that’s the way he rolls.
For women, it is about “…keepin’ it towards the man’s [hip hop style] but makin’ it feminine,” Jillian Powers, 19, told me. She said that it is about knowing how to “cover yourself and still show the right things.” She laughed, rolled her eyes, and nodded when I asked jokingly if she were referring to “lovely lady lumps.” Female style, which emulates the male fashion, is much tighter and hugs beautifully curved bodies. Kimora Lee, wife to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, designs the line Baby Phat. Graffiti-like logos and delicate bling adorn her asymmetrically-cut tops and dresses. They are so fine no man will ever say you need to “Change Clothes and Go!”
While hip hop fashion can “…seem almost overbearing and intimidating” at times, according to Showtime, a member of Bazarre Royale, the opener for the Wu-Tang Clan, there is something “exciting” about it. “You want to be part of it. It’s magnetic.” And what more can I say? I’ve been magnetized!