No, this is not a post highlighting the infamous fad of the “Harlem Shake,” yet it is a great segue to highlight the impact the Harlem community has had on pop culture. Since the days of the Black American Renaissance, Harlem has grown to become home to the trendsetters from the streets of 125th to the Heights. Many musicians have put Harlem on the map and this trend has continued to flourish into the new millennium. Let’s take a minute to acknowledge the new school of Harlem by way of paying homage to those who have laid the ground work.
A$AP Rocky - Although his debut to the scene has been fairly new, “The Pretty Muthafxcker” has not only landed a number 1 on the Billboard 200 with his first album, but he has also become a designer favorite of Shane Oliver of HBA and Jeremy Scott of Adidas Originals. Next to Kanye and Theophilus London, Rocky, has become one of the best rappers to mix high fashion in their everyday style. His authentic style may be a bit difficult to duplicate; however, he has made wearing ripped jeans, flannels, and logo printed tees in to an art form.
Azealia Banks – Yung Rapunxel could rule rap and dance music if she wanted to. Luckily her music has given her the chance to make an impact on the fashion world as well. After hearing her hit “212” the creative director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, made sure that she performed at his Japan Pop-up shop. Banks has also become a muse for Alexander Wang. She may be a fashionista, but no one is competing with her when it comes to her hair game. Azealia Banks reminds me of what a love child between Kanye West and M.I.A. would look like!
Teyana Taylor - What better way to rep your hood than to create a shoe tributing its namesake. The Harlem GLC’s have even become the fastest selling Adidas sneaker–they have indeed become her good luck charm. Teyana Taylor has definitely become the girl to make being a tomboy cool ever since her MTV My Super Sweet 16 days. Although she had been compared to Rihanna lately, Taylor does hold it down for the ladies as the first lady of GOOD Music all by herself!
Vinny Cha$e- When it comes to style, Vinny is predominately known for his MCM aesthetics and red leopard prints. This recent EPIC records signee was introduced to rapping through a videographer’s lens, making him a particularly visually conscious. He’s recently been seen out with Erika Bearman of Oscar de la Renta and Ramya of ILS, two crucial members of the Cheer$ Club.
The vets who have paved the way for the rookies above include Dipset, Ma$e, and Kelis. When these three came to the scene they could be compared to no one else and always wore “Harlem World” on their sleeves proudly. Ma$e actually was one of the first to bring Harlem back with his debut album entitled Harlem World back in ’97. Back then, he and the rest of the Bad Boy family were the flyest at the time, making statements with flashy jumpsuits and head to toe matching get-ups.
Speaking of which a young rocker, Kelis, premiered on that same album. Arguably she could have been considered The Neptunes princess then. Before she was informing all how bossy she was, the songstress was drawing everyone’s attention with her bright colored ombre hair and eclectic wardrobe. Kelis was “hipster” before it was given a name and became cool. Her style has even been recognized by Vogue Itlaia–Might I add, she was the first lady out there wearing grills in her videos and on the red carpet.
Dipset has been known for their throwback jerseys, du-rags, furs, and over-sized leather jackets. The gang was definitely one of the most flashy rap groups of all time. Cam’ron set it off with all the pink. He made it cool for heterosexual men to wear the color. Also, their impact on street fashion has made it easier for Jim Jones to transition from rapper to designer with his line Vampire Life. Additionally, Juelz Santana is releasing a clothing line, more information TBA. The best thing about Dipset is that every new school trendsetters from Harlem mention them as legends in the game or fashion icons of rap and the streets.