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The Music Video Sartorialist is a new column in which I will review the fashion of various music videos. First up: the 2000 masterpiece “Country Grammar” by Nelly.

Before we even get into this, let me just say that the music video for “Country Grammar” is pure love. There is not one bad thing I can say about it. It’s a celebration of everyday people and it is joyful, which is way better than being cool or weird for the sake of weird. Also, as a nigga from Tallahassee, FL, it absolutely appeals to my heart to see country and ratchet folks taking part in a celebratory occasion. Nelly put on for his city here and, if you from the country or really the south period, you can’t help but see your own home in this video.

Now on to the fashion:

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You’re gonna see Nelly put on a lot for his city through jerseys in the video because throwback jerseys were everything in the 2000s. You got the biggest sizes that were still attuned to your body and you got the matching hat and shoes and you were the dopest nigga at whatever party you went to. One thing about this I don’t want you to lose sight of though is that behind Nelly is a plethora of grade-A, quality birds. I mean the type of birds that are specific to your city and were always dressed in a way that was just trashy enough. It is a true high-wire act pulling off a quality hoefit and these women were scientists. God bless them.

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I mean look at em: Charlie’s Hoodrats ready to save the day. The Hoochie Justice League. The woman up front is especially noteworthy because she’s wearing a dinner napkin as a shirt and it is fantastic. The gold is shimmering against her body and she’s got the shades to go with it because she ain’t checking for you, nigga.

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Nelly is committed to showing out for every St. Louis sport in this video. Here he has an immaculate St. Louis Blues hockey sweater with the matching hat that has his name on the back which, again, so perfect for that time period. The video girl in this scene keeps it simple with the tank and the bandana round her head like she 2pac. She seems to be waring a collar around her neck. The accessories here are pretty great: Nelly’s wrist is covered in an almost irresponsible amount of diamonds and this woman’s collar gives off a hint of danger to her, like she might be down for some wild shit and you will have no say in the manner. Of course that could just be me revealing more about myself than necessary. And don’t think I don’t notice that this is happening in a rims shop, one of my favorite former set pieces of old music videos.

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Everything I could say about these jeans have already been said: https://twitter.com/Sixfever/status/634062109953888256

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The fellas to the left are wearing Vashon jerseys, as in Vashon High School in St. Louis, Missouri. That’s some real deal representing. That’s on some 2015 hypebeast kid at a music festival streetwear moves. “Country Grammar” really is ahead of its time.

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This guy is just everything. This is who I wanna be: the older dude who brings the grill to the block parties and the HBCU tailgates. He’s dressed like a Que that pledged 20 years ago. He’s got the pink apron, the baggy, military-like coat with the “hata blocka” shades on and, my nigga, look at all that damn hot sauce. Everything is lit.

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Speaking of life goals, here are some fatherhood goals. Not only is my mans shining with the Big Daddy Kane jewelry but he got himself a championship belt and a tiny championship belt for his son which is THE GODDAMN CUTEST THING EVER AND I WANT IT. BOTH THE CHILD AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP BELT FOR SAID CHILD. This is incredible parenting; as the bible says, train up a child in the way they should go.

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Here is your introduction to Vokal. If you didn’t know, Vokal was started in 97 by Nelly, his cousin Yomi Martin and Nick Loftis. Like any other fashion brand you and your friends start, they used to sell the shirts around town, particularly at concerts for Nelly’s rap group The St. Lunatics. Vokal had success because Nelly had success, which is good for them since the clothes weren’t that good. Nelly, if nothing else, was a visionary about his career and it really shouldn’t be a surprise that he blew up the way he did.

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More jerseys! Nelly’s gotta be a real sport’s nerd to rock a jersey of offensive lineman Orlando Pace. That’s some serious football fandom. Also I love that he’s wearing the jersey backwards. Football jerseys will be back in style eventually and when they are, I’ll be rocking all of mine backwards I can promise you that. And don’t think I forgot about you bruh with the Kurt Warner joint and the golden durag flyin’ high in the friendly sky, ready to save the world and get ya waves.

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My dog in the back got on picasso on the shirt with the matching durag. Jesus wept.

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Boy, that’s a shiny, shimmy ass jean jacket. That shit might blind me more than the jewelry my guy. Does your durag say “SQUAD” because I might forgive the jacket if it does.

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Is that Sean John? I bet that’s Sean John. Sean John used to make them hot ass, living carpet plush track suits like they were bout to kill the game. They did kill the game though, from dehydration from wearing those shits for too long.

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You can’t tell from this picture but if you watch the video you’ll see that dude is hitting a jig while he cuts hair, which, no. You stand perfectly still while you line my fade up fam. I’m not trying to look fucked up just because your giddy ass wanna “bounce to the beat” in front of cameras. I don’t play that shit. Another red flag, he’s get the Ne-yo fedora on. I don’t trust barbers who’s haircut I can’t see, that feels too much like a setup. Look at lil homie’s face –see the stress in his whole demeanor. He know and I’m so sorry it had to be him.

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I want this woman’s shirt on the right. It is dope, It’s colorful but not too gross or busy. So many wigs in the back by the way. I’m pretty certain I can pull off at least 3 of them.

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She got the African print turban and this orange scrambled porn pantsuit. She was tumblr before tumblr was around to appreciate her style. Please retroactively give this woman 500 million reblogs.

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Oh man here to begin. I’m almost certain homie in the middle got a burner on him. That’s the official jacket of niggas holding a piece. Homie on the left fit so big he can’t even fit his left hand through –nigga looking like hood mega man. And my dog got the fitted cap barely holding onto his bandana-covered head. T.I. stole his whole swag and I’m inconsolable. My brother on the right with the heavy jean jacket reppin one time for FUBU. YOUR RE-RENNAISSANCE WILL SOON RETURN FUBU I PROMISE.

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In the black version of “Where’s Waldo”, everybody feels like Waldo can stay wherever the fuck he at :(.

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A fanciful scarf and a Jason hockey mask even though he’s not a deranged psychopathic killer (assumedly), this is our one hipster for this music video. Also, I see you in the back with the ultimate urban fashion marker, the negro cartoon shirt.

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More urban fashion markers: the combination Jeans and Jean skirts. And they’re even ripped to immaculate perfection. We’re so fucking innovative, I can’t stand it.

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I don;t know why I’m so drawn to this woman. Something about her sequin hand towel disguised as a shirt has set off all my internal alarms and I’m turned on by it in a way that makes me ashamed of myself. The hood girl fashions in this video are all wonderful in different ways and I just know I would see this outfit on someone at the local hole in the wall club and I’d probably be drawn to her all night. Something must be matter with me. Something isn’t the matter with this video though. It is perfect and we don’t appreciate it enough.

I am growing exhausted pretending Kanye West is a genius. It is tiring having to pretend that the reason I don’t like the things he’s doing is because I don’t “get” it. I genuinely like Yeezus a lot and just that fact alone is weighs heavy on my spirit because as interesting and purposefully off-putting as it is, it is drenched in bullshit. Most of it is a temper tantrum performed over a noisy, Eyes Wide Shut-style robot orgy and yet I stand by it as better than at least two other Ye albums.

But now this nigga is going too far. You wanna sell Mad Max outfits that cost an entire year’s pay to people that are dumb enough to max out credit cards for it then that’s your right, but let’s not pretend you’re revolutionizing anything in fashion. I get that you feel like the fashion world won’t take you serious because you’re a loudmouth nigga that comes from rap and I can also understand how frustrating it is to be pigeonholed and I know that Yeezus was partially a backlash for people constantly telling you to stick to music, but your campaign to get people on your side is contrived.

You wanna start of revolution only to advance your own interests. You say classism is bigger than racism but, ignoring the fact that that’s wrong, your thesis seems entirely based on the fact that you personally are being kicked out of a club you feel like you deserve to be in. For what it’s worth, I don’t even think your Bane takes over Gotham City fashion line is that bad. I know people are getting their jokes off about it right now and I know that it’s not even that original of an aesthetic but it’s decent. If I had some a couple gold bricks, I’d buy one or two pieces up off you, and if you want to make clothes full-time I would support you –mostly because I don’t think you know what you are even doing anymore outside of the fashion world.

That VMA speech you gave was entertaining and, at some points, even truly captivating, but it was also mostly nonsense. You hate the idea behind award shows yet your entire career has been based around promoting yourself and those you deem worthy as the only true winner of every award? You built your brand off of being the vocal supporter of yourself when you felt like he didn’t get the awards you deserved; that is, until you decided to bring your services over to the Beygency™. Now you wanna back away from that and instead argue a pseudo-existential diatribe against awards and the point of these shows. First of all, the point of award shows is to celebrate mediocrity and gather a large number of stars together in order to bring in a large audience of people who are willing to sit through liquor and acne scrub ads just for the sake of firing off tweets. Secondly, this again feels like you thinking about how something affects you and then reacting. Only when you’re at the point of your career where MTV can give you a mostly meaningless honor for everything you’ve done that you can decide “eh, I don’t really get the point”.

Acceptance has never worked for Kanye West. He thrives most when he’s being dismissed or unacknowledged. Being treated like he belongs or like the genius he considers himself in his brain gets boring to him; he wants to be in those areas where he’s hated or ignored. It’s his best quality and also something that is aggravating to witness. It’s clear that he’s been bored with music for a long time: this was obvious on Yeezus when he tried to give himself the challenge of making purposefully alienating music (easily his most Lou Reed move), it’s apparent in how dismissive he’s grown of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy despite it being his most praised work to date and it’s especially apparent in the manner with which this new album cycle is going.

And that gets us to what’s really bugging me about Kanye lately. I honestly believe SWISH is a false flag operation; something to keep his brand afloat while he goes deeper into realizing his dream of being Steve Jobs. There is no album and honestly it’s better that way because what we’ve heard so far is mostly bullshit. The whole working with Paul McCartney thing was interesting and when “Only One” dropped, I thought: fine, I can get with The Freewheelin’ Kanye West if that’s what he wants. Then he performed “Wolves” in full on SNL with SIA and Vic Mensa who now looks like one of Akasha’s slaves from Queen Of The Damned since he linked with Ye, which was fine I guess but we never got the CDQ and it took forever to get the CDQ of “All Day” and now it’s been out so long that the people who were excited about it don’t even bother pretending to still like it anymore.

This brings us to today where during Kanye’s latest show at New York Fashion Week where, in the midst of the remake of Dawn Of The Dead that seemed to be happening on the runway, Kanye premiered a new song titled “Fade” featuring Ty dolla $ign and Post Malone. That’s right, Lyor Cohen’s latest lab experiment indistinguishable soundcloud rapper, Post Malone is the latest to get the Kanye co-sign. A co-sign which, let’s be honest, doesn’t mean anything anymore –not in a world where Travi$ Scott gets to thrive; a co-sign nonetheless, which is annoying mostly because we were all doing so well at not pretending Post Malone was a real thing and allowing his 15 minutes to expire.

This reeks of a desperation to keep up with whatever you think the kids are into. The only silver lining is that maybe when Kanye sticks his fangs in his neck to drain him of everything he’s got, we’ll never hear from him again like Mr. Hudson. It shouldn’t be too hard since he’s not actually talented –just like, well, Mr. Hudson. More than this egregiousness is just the fact that this song isn’t very good. I get that it was part of a show and maybe that’s not the best context to judge it in but this is really bad Abercrombie & Fitch store music put over a slightly better drum kit. It’s also a boilerplate 2015 Kanye record and it feels like he’s not even trying anymore, and I mean if you don’t wanna make music, you shouldn’t feel like you have to and if you do, you could try a little harder than this.

I genuinely want you to be happy Kanye and if fashion does that great; and if you wanna lure Vic and Travi$ out of their doghouses or caves with Hood By Air clothes in order to get them to make the music you don’t feel like doing yourself, then you know what, go for it. Just do what makes you happy Kanye or really do anything that will spare us from making more industry plant white dudes a thing.

(photo courtesy of elitedcmag.com)

So here’s the thing: Modeling is hard. I’m not being facetious, I genuinely mean that. Well ok, maybe hard isn’t the right word–it’s tough I guess one could say. At any rate, the point is it’s not easy. There’s pressure in the air, tension afoot and it’s essentially one big, fancy endurance test of sorts. I should start from the beginning, I worked backstage for a fashion show last weekend–Fashionably Loud DC to be specific–using it as an opportunity to entertain my interests in fashion and to dabble in something I’m only partially experienced for. I was not ready for this at all, but I think I handled it like a champ.

Given what we (we being the other backstage helpers, the models and the designers) had to work with it well better than one would expect. The biggest trial I had to deal with was the models getting in and out of their clothes. Some payed me no mind, some felt a little uncomfortable. Both reactions are valid: I wasn’t about to be THAT guy at this time, yet at the same time, there really is no way for me to argue that I should be in there–it’s more than professionalism or trust, it’s about comfort. I think I handled it well all things considered, but then again, I can’t see my own face.

The actual clothes themselves were interesting: from simple sets of evening wear to more experimental showcases. Much like most fashion shows geared to the black audience,  the sets seemed almost trade-like. Not so much worried about being provocative or abstract but mainly geared toward showing off things ready to be bought already–which is fine. Sometimes, simple is the way to go. A worthwhile activity for sure and one that served to better get me out of the trappings of my comfort zone. Also, I fell in love. I don’t know her name but I know she looked like Whitley Gilbert and when she did her walk in a full out wedding dress, I never wanted to recreate this more than at that moment.

There’s a scene pretty early in the film Looper where a futuristic mobster, played by Jeff Daniels, has a chat with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. In this conversation, Daniels spends the beginning of it making fun of Levitt’s fashion—his outdated tie especially; I’m paraphrasing but he essentially makes the comment, “Even in this advanced world, you’re still dressing like those old movies.” It’s an interesting moment—both in the film and for me personally—because it points to the fact that with all the advancements made in modern society, high fashion still emulates the Hollywood of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. As someone who’s obsessed over every kind of film I could get my hands on and watch, it’s not without good reason. People still wanna dress like James Dean because James Dean is still the coolest guy in any room and that suit you think you look so dapper in, I’ll bet money on the fact that you wish you could wear it like Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.
I grew up loving movies, especially ones from the 60s and 70s. Saturday mornings were spent by the TV watching weekend double features on the local channels—a time in life that introduced me to Burt Reynolds, Bill Cosby (before The Cosby Show), Robert Deniro and a cavalcade of Kung-fu and Blaxploitation films that helped to warp my young growing mind. I loved these movies and the characters in them like they were close friends and all I wanted in life was to grow up to be like them. They owned their style, 100 percent. Everyone owns a white shirt, but Dean made it his and nobody I’ve seen has worn a fedora and turtleneck sweater as good as Cosby—hell, I don’t even smoke but I still think about smoking a cigar just because of that guy. I know these guys were stars and they had stylists and make-up artists and all types of people who made them the gods they seemed to be on-screen, but that’s a moot point. At the end of the day you can where whatever you want, if you don’t have the flair to pull it off then you just don’t have it. It’s a lesson I learned early on as I started buying my own clothes trying to look like them. I may have bought the right things but I couldn’t make it work for me. (Not at that time at least.) It was especially rough considering that I was trying to dress like actors in the 70s while being a teenager during “the baggy era” in black culture.
Other than the fact that my parents found it deplorable, I never got into that phase because frankly, I just didn’t find it cool. Shirts as long as evening gowns, shorts sagged to the point where you might as well just be wearing pants; it was a dark time for everyone. Meanwhile, I’m still stuck on nostalgia for a time that I never even experienced, watching films like Lady Sings The Blues and Mean Streets, wondering why my own generation couldn’t embrace the essence of cool that Hollywood still obsesses over to this day—and also wishing that I could have just an ounce of the swagger that Deniro had in his younger days. Nonetheless, despite ridicule about the slimness of my jeans or shirts, I carried on (and thankfully enough people got out of that “all baggy everything” phase) and as I transitioned to college and adulthood, I started to discover myself more and more when it came to fashion. I became focused on finding my identity within the clothes I wore and began to deviate from wearing things just because they were popular. This was probably the moment that I realized just how influential those movies were on me; I would go shopping thinking about scenes in Easy Rider or 8 ½ or hell, even The Mack, trying my best to figure out how to take what I liked about characters there and how I could adapt it to my own sense of style—and my budget especially. I may not have it all together but it’s definitely coming together nicely, merging the past with the present and putting my own personal stamp on what I wear. Contrary to popular belief, style is not effortless—it involves trial and error but most of all maturation. Anyone can wear clothes and look good but what makes it yours. I can look at the same exact outfit on 5 different people and it will look different on each of them; clothes don’t make you stylish they only make you trendy. So at this stage of my life, I find myself trying to express who I am through what I wear; and as I still figure out who exactly I am in this post-grad life of mine, I’m also figuring out what to wear. That’s the one thing I think learned most from those movies I spent every weekend watching, you do what’s for you and make your own path.

While I sit here, listening to Weeknd songs and wishing I could go on a syrup-filled bender instead of searching for shit on the internet to write about, I find that I have something I must get off my chest. Most of these lookbooks that seem to come out everyday suck. Maybe it wasn’t for the fact that tumblr exists I would be more interested in them, but the fact remains that none of theme step out of the box or stand out enough to separate themselves from these street style shots menswear bros get their photographer friends to do for them in order to get their likes and reblogs up. Also I could be wrong but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve taken photos in every wooded area on this damn planet, and maybe this is just from the overload of these things but man are they all starting to look the same (oh check out the paisley or safari pattern on the pocket of that pocket tee, I haven’t seen that in almost two minutes). Seriously bros, something must be done to make these tings interesting again, I mean I get it it’s about selling clothes at the end of the day but dammit make the shit fun, I have too short of an attention span for the bullshit.

The new Raised By Wolves lookbook for Fall/Winter 2012 has arrived and I’d just like to take a moment to say goodbye to having money.

“Listen, it’s been a good run and we’ve had a lot of fun together but I think it’s time that we part ways. It’s not you… or me… I mean just look at these things–the crisp 5 panel hats, that pocket tee with the pendleton wool, the muttonhead crewneck–oh money, you never stood a chance. Now before you start crying understand that this hurts me to and… look stop yelling… listen you would’ve been spent on things like food and bills anyways so don’t get in my face alright. I didn’t want it to be like this but this is how it has to be, so goodbye”

That wasn’t so bad. At any rate, make sure to check out the entire lookbook on the Raised By Wolves site. All the items are officially on sale now, so head to the shop and prepare to break up with your money to.

After spending the past weekend totally legitimately sampling the soon-to-be released G.O.O.D music album “Cruel Summer”, (review of which will be up soon) I realized a few things. Other than the fact that I’m still not entirely sure what Cyphi Da Prince’s role in G.O.O.D is and the constant hope that ‘Ye fooled us all and the real album hasn’t been leaked yet, I have to admit that I just don’t particularly care for luxury rap.
For those of you not in the know, luxury rap is like a good deal of other rap records; in that they rap about having and buying things, only this time it’s about elegance with your decadence. So instead of laying down a 16 about white tees and fitted caps, you would rap about the fine wines, french designers and that hermes bag you just had to get. To quote Mr. West, it’s “sophisticated ignorance”; which is fine enough, I’m sure my high school self would approve of this. (Anything to get the other black kids to stop being assholes to him for not wearing baggy clothes.)
For me though, I’m not particularly enthralled by the whole thing. It’s essentially a sequel to the “shiny suit” era-only a helluva lot more expensive-which was fun at times and undermined the violence in the hip-hop scene, which was pertinent but it was all so empty and crass and was all about selling shit and turning yourself into a billboard.
I guess this is where my real issue with most popular rap music lies (well one of the problems): the constant brand abuse.
Rap music, more than any other, is pretty damn guilty of brand abuse. The abuse that shit like it’s nothing; to the point where brands should get their own Sarah Mcgloughlin-scored commercial. Chances are if your product holds any water, a rapper has rapped about having it. Now, for a lot of brands this isn’t a big deal, most of them welcome the attention. The thing about luxury rap is that it’s all about bragging about things that pride itself on exclusivity. When you brag about having polo sock, polo shirts and polo draws it devalues the brand because it inspires everyone to get the same thing and erases the exclusivity you wanted from it in the first place. (Mind you we could also discuss the bullshit in things being exclusive, but that’s a whole other issue.) By extension, too much branding also devalues yourself. When you walk along the streets of your city whereing that Givenchy shirt you saw Rick Ross where and decided to spend your whole paycheck on, are people who see it on you reacting to you or the shirt? Thus getting back to you just being a billboard instead of being stylish. I’ve often said that the hip-hop scene is full of kids who are trendy but not necessarily stylish. Anyone can wear what’s popular so where’s your identity? I do my best to dress in a way that let’s someone know that my style is my own–as best you can with only so many things to wear and ways to wear them. (No humblebrag.) But even I fall for the occasional Maison Martin Margiela shoes or HUF panel hat when I see someone rocking it well. I’m not about judging, I’m just about suggesting–suggesting that maybe we can cool it on turning ourselves into ad space and rapping about extravagant items purely for the sake of doing it. Then again, if I wasn’t a broke engineer-by-day, writer-by-night, I’d probably be all for it.

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