Frank Ocean has not dropped an album in nearly eight years, Kendrick Lamar took five years to release his fifth studio album and A$AP Rocky fans continue waiting for his next project after six years.
Paul Osmond is a fourth-year combined-degree student studying English. Paul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and Lil’ Kim deconstructed barriers that negated the artistic expression of female rappers in mainstream hip-hop music. In their records, the trifecta explicitly and implicitly subverted patriarchal binaries. Fundamentally, these rappers envisioned liberation through the expression of female sexuality, romance and emotions.
Hip-hop has a problem: unoriginality. Espoused by “oldheads” and hip-hop traditionalists for years, criticism of unoriginality in hip-hop is now an established sentiment within the community. Although some hip-hop artists and groups like JPEGMAFIA, Smino, EARTHGANG and Griselda maintain the experimental and innovative spirit of the genre, mainstream hip-hop is overwhelmed with strikingly stale records.
I just read an article in GQ in which Lil Uzi Vert talked about his newest alter ego, “AstroCat.” I know Uzi has adopted several egos in the past, and I thought it would be interesting to do a quick enumeration of some of my favorite celebrity alternate personalities.
Rest peacefully, Virgil Abloh. I was never his greatest fan, but I certainly could not ignore the impact he had on both hip hop and fashion. Founding Off-White (originally called “PYREX VISION”) and eventually joining Louis Vuitton as its men's artistic director, Abloh was a pure creative — he was an artist as much as a designer. In fact, Abloh designed over a dozen album covers in his career. He was someone whose talents were not confined to one genre. No matter what medium, Abloh was always for the culture.
I have been very inspired recently. I suspect this has to do with the arrival of fall, my favorite season. I wondered whether others shared this inspiration, and I soon discovered this was not necessarily the case. Hardly any of my friends felt as inspired as I was, and I began to wonder where inspiration comes from — is it something that occurs naturally or something that must be brought forth?
So, I just dyed my hair for the fourth time, and in the process, I began to think about how many musicians have dyed hair. Now, as a Black man with locs, I immediately think of rapper Lil Uzi Vert, who is known for his colorful hair. But there are other musicians with all types of hair textures who dye their hair just as frequently — Billie Eilish is known for her green roots and black ends, Bad Bunny has particularly fascinating hairstyles with an often-bleached widows-peak and I think I remember seeing Katy Perry with blue hair a few years ago. So colored hair is nothing new in music, but it also extends far beyond the industry.
Nearly eight months ago, my brother introduced me to a musician who had just signed with Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records: SoFaygo. Although his music has not left my ears since, it is his fashion that has interested me most. Like Jaden Smith and Young Thug, who are other gender-bending fashion influences in rap, SoFaygo is one of the newest artists to bring feminine fashion to an otherwise hypermasculine genre. SoFaygo embodies an uncanny rise of music and fashion that subvert the gender norms of both schools.
Last year, I observed “the arrival of colorful knitwear with intricate patterns, landscapes and famous artwork” and predicted they would be paired with “’70s printed designs” in 2021. Although I have not seen as many Renaissance paintings knitted into clothing as I would have liked, there has blossomed a homely new connection between streetwear and knitwear. While streetwear was never against knitwear, it hardly employed the material — growing from skater culture, streetwear material primarily comprised denim and nylon. However, streetwear’s appreciation (and borderline obsession) with vintage clothing has burgeoned as the formerly “grandma” material has permeated the community.
Ubiquitous in pop culture since the early 2000s, Japanese contemporary artistTakashi Murakami is familiar with co-relating high and low culture. Among other achievements, he founded the “superflat” theory, which draws on traditional “flattened” Japanese printing with anime and pop culture imagery. He is also famed for his strong collaborative relationship with high fashion label Louis Vuitton, with whom he produced several legendary pieces, and he frequently teams up with fellow fashion icon Virgil Abloh. Perhaps most incredibly, he has had his work exhibited at the Palace of Versailles in France. However, Murakami remains legendary in my mind for the special relationship he has formed with modern hip-hop.