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This is a seminal body of work that explores the intersections of race, socio-economics, music subcultures and fashion. Despite is 1979 publication, most of the theoretical analysis is applicable today. I thank my undergrad professor from “Sociology of Popular Music” course for introducing me to this text that I still refer to today.
(Photo by Rachel Francois)
Hebdige, Dick. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Routledge.
XXL Magazine did an extensive feature on the representation of the Polo Ralph Lauren brand in Hip Hop, which includes exclusive interviews from some notable ‘Lo heads.
It’s never simply about brand shout-outs, so get into the two part series here and here to learn more about Hip Hop’s adoption and redefinition of this preppy lifestyle brand to a symbol of street culture and style.
It makes me long for my Polo Bear T-Shirt from 6th grade. Yeah, I’ve been fresh.
My private home will regularly stream this short film…on mute.
The visuals suffice. The lyrics are a bonus.
These weekly posts will feature books I’ve come across in my regular musings of Hip Hop culture and fashion that might edify the cerebellum.
(Photo by Rachel Francois)
Buckholz, William. 2010. Understand Rap: Explanations of Confusing Rap Lyrics You and Your Grandma Can Understand. New York: Abrams Image
Chicago rapper, Common poetically sums up the cultural impact of Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers in his song “Sweet” off his 2011 LP The Dreamer/The Believer.
The six-time NBA champion and undeniably one of the best to grace NBA’s parquet floors, Michael Jordan’s contributions are not limited to the rafters but extend into Hip Hop fashion. The frenzy that circulates an impending release of Retro Air Jordans (more affectionately referred to as Js) have been the reason for early morning rises, seemingly endless ques amidst inclement weather, (unless you are one of those fortunate to have a “connect” or wear a size 4 in Big Kids), and even reports of violence. Such attention has elicited harsh critiques questioning “why are these kids killing each other over a pair of sneakers?” Well, to answer this loaded and insultingly basic question it’s because Air Jordans are not simply a pair of sneakers. Js are symbolic. Not only do they represent the literal and metaphorical heights Jordan reached in the professional game of basketball, they also represent the urban culture this young man arose from to beat societal odds, not unlike the Black youth who spectate and participate. To own a pair of Jordans was to have your slice of aspiration, a version of luxury. The popularity of Air Jordans prevails the actual man and stands as an emblem of style, street and success.
Although, MJ played in his signature sneakers most of his career, the legions of Air Jordan consumers aren’t investing so they can “be like Mike” on the court, but rather to align with the cultural sensibility attributed to the shoe. Let’s be honest, I’d be hard pressed to find someone willing to scuff their Concord XI‘s for a quick game of 21. Therefore, it’s only right that Hip Hop is the closet that keeps them stocked. A quick word search for “Jordans” on Rap Genius generates 403 songs results, evidencing its sartorial status as a Hip Hop classic. Maybe your level of enthusiasm doesn’t rate the same as Mars Blackmon but Pres. Obama seems to rock with them.
(Photo by Spike Lee.)