Hello readers. Happy New Year and my sincere apologies for the hiatus. A dude's gotta work you know. I am blogging to you till March from sunny Los Angeles. Now on with my rant:
Who else remember's the crazy album covers from Dr. Dre in his 'World Class Wreckin' Cru' days? Crazy then? Not really? Crazy now? Well kinda, but only after seeing his more popular associations with NWA, gangsta rap and producing hardcore hip hop tracks for 50 Cent and Eminem. However, didn't a lot of artists who wound up in hip hop start out looking not so hip hop-esque. My mind draws to the outlandish skintight pants of Whodini, the motherland infused garbs of Afrika Bambaataa and the non-baggy downtown threads of hip hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy. Why it didn't strike us as bizarre then was that our psyches had just come out of the OD'ed psychedelic disco era and hi-lo 70's which contained a mash of cultures and people coming together celebrating the common thread of a 'hypnotic' 'thumping' 'move your body' kinda vibe that celebrated no race, color or even gender. It just celebrated the noise, the moment, the time.
And that noise was more unifying than anything. The music pulled from the mesmerizing dashes of funk, the eclecticism of soul, the dawn of the funky synthesizer and the undertone of rock n roll. So from the tumultuously economically draining 70's came a unifying voice for black and white, punk and pimp, gay and straight, uptown and downtown.
This little example makes me think of the current state of fashion. What's going on? Well quite frankly, it's a remixed and rehashed melange of trends and creativity that instead of being invigorated by finding glimmers of light in a downtrodden decade, stems from the liberation of a fast-moving technologically in-tuned generation. The public is still being dictated to but now realizes their power in doing the dictation as well. They want to be seen and heard and with so many with that power at their fingertips, there's a fight to hit that high note.
I look at artists like Gaga, Li'l Wayne, Pharrell, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Kanye as modern individuals that refuse to be pigeonholed. They are the modern subscribers to the zeitgeist that existed at the crossroads of disco, funk, hip hop and rock in that they pull from all genres to give you a sound that is captivating and visuals that speak to lovers of all genres (and not necessarily at different times). The evident influence of rap, pop, rock, disco and R&B are not only apparent in the catchy sounds from these artists but also in the ways in which they adorn themselves. Kanye wearing Givenchy with hip hop swagger, Li'l Wayne donning skater and punk with infuses of anime, Nicki Minaj channeling the creative funk era with a japanimation bug and Gaga mixing futurism with the expressionism of disco. It's all creating a scene in fashion that says "self-expression is now and a welcomed trend". In a recent interview of A$AP Rocky on BET's 106 & Park, he sauntered out wearing a Balmain raccoon fur jacket and Givenchy shirt and credited rap styles from all the various regions of the US as shaping his sound. To me this says that the modern evolving involves realizing that good taste is always subjective and influence can most definitely lie outside of your genre or region. Sure there are those that will cram to understand the ensembles of today's pedestal-standers but like it or not, the visually memorable don't have to necessarily work hard at it anymore, they just have to be open to finding a loud, all-encompassing, unapologetic, self-liberating voice.
Lastly, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine a couple weeks ago. She seemed a bit put off to going further with her brilliantly discernible eye in fashion due to all the 'unseasoned' newbies stealing shine for less than stahlwart fashionable endeavors. The unfathomable idea to understanding fashion today is the same thing that stumped many trying to understand the eighties excess and ripped acid wash, the sixties mini and skintight bell-bottoms, the nineties baggy influx or the seventies synthetic fabric revolution. Fashion mirrors the time. To understand it is to understand the time in which you live. Now that's not to say that the Chanel suit or the tailor-made Harris tweed nipped blazer is any less relevant, they're just sharing the stage with a generation may just say "I'll wear my Harris tweed with a bit less stately pomp and bit more circumstantial bling."
*A$AP Rocky photo courtesy of UpscaleHype.com