Hip-Hop Fashion 101: Military Minded Clothing For The War Going On Outside

Hip-Hop is a hardcore musical form, or at least it has been since the late '80s when artists like N.W.A., Ice-T, & Kool G Rap came around. But what does hardcore imply? It implies toughness, discipline and "hardness". However, in fashion, the camouflage look simply looks cool but most importantly tough. Many artists with different kinds of images have sported camo because as they say, it's not the clothes but the person who makes the outfit. 

Here's one of our favorite 80s and 90s style icons, the fierce and powerful LL Cool J. His style is tough but generally he doesn't have the "military" side to his music. He is a boxer (hobby) and he lifts a lot of weights so LL doesn't need a gun to defend himself. He's a real tough guy with a sense of humor and lots of charm. If you want to know why LL always used to roll up one pant leg during the late 90s & early 2000s? Was it because he sold drugs, or that he belonged to a specific gang. If you want to know then click here... 

Missy Elliot is a more modern "old school rapper" whose style also includes camouflage, in fact, she wears it very prominently and boldly. This makes for an interesting case study. In Missy's case, it seems to play into two characteristics which on their own seem contradictory. The first thing that may come to mind is that Missy Elliot is rumored to be lesbian. The camouflage gives her a tougher more tomboyish appeal although she is quite feminine looking. The other effect that she achieves which we believe is the main purpose of the look is that it looks patriotic. The jackets she wears are usually either official marine corps or military jackets. Otherwise, she might rock a camouflage basketball jersey or camo sports jacket.

Camouflage was a huge part of Destiny Child's look. They wore it to give the illusion that they were "around the way girls" when in fact Beyonce grew up in a mansion. It also suited their "Independent Women" ideals of being strong, independent-minded and successful. A sort of 1990s/2000s hip-hop feminism if you will. Lately, the style has come back in a strong manner with stars such as Kim Kardashian (international style queen) rocking camo cargo pants in 2018/19. For us at RHHS, it was a welcome return...

 This collage shows the full gambit of rappers with widely different positions in the game. Jay-Z, for example, is "military-minded" in the business world where he strikes up deals and does press conferences and interviews to position himself as a legitimate ghetto billionaire. Nas is another version of Jay-Z due to his business mind but he has more of a "regular dude" aspect to him that endears him to a lot of fans. On the opposite side of that "regular dude" specter, we have fashion extraordinaire and businessman Kanye West. Although 'Ye has a massive ego he does have a keen sense of creating beauty and making it accessible and ordinary (earthy) to everybody. Next, we have Kendrick Lamar, who like unlike the previous three, is not really a businessman, although he knows how to market himself very well. Kendrick is an "artist's artist", meaning he is a perfector of the craft. Part of his image is of a spiritual "revolutionary" which suits the camo look. While Rakim (last image clockwise) also fits that bill of a spiritual and highly skilled craftsman. Those who know him, know that Rakim is one the most legendary MC's to ever touch a microphone...

Other camo wearing rappers we haven't mentioned are Mobb Deep (the inspiration for the article's title), Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie, 2Pac, and the list just goes on, and on, and on.....

Until next time...keep it Retro!


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