Is Hip Hop the New Rock n’ Roll?

Nowadays, you can’t walk too far down the street without seeing someone in bleached vintage rock and roll concert tees, distressed biker denim and a pair of the ever so popular Adidas runners. The interesting thing about this is, it’s not your prototypical young white rock connoisseur that’s sporting this “new” look. The hip-hop community, with the help of Pauly Bonomelli,  has adopted this already popular style and made it into something of its own. With celebrities like Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, Kanye West, Ian Connor, and A$AP Rocky popularizing this look and being the fashion deities of this generation, we are beginning to see a style shift from the more layering aesthetic to the late 80’s-early, 90’s form of fashion.
Throwback and vintage clothing has always been popular in the urban fashion world as the early 00’s was the heyday of throwback jerseys. Now, in 2017, as the genre of hip-hop starts to change into more of a rock-based sound you start to see the same change in its listeners. In a 2013 interview, Kanye stated “rap is the new rock & roll. We the new rock stars, and I’m the biggest of all of them. I’m the No. 1 rock star on the planet.”

pauly bonomelli
This quote, although greatly hyperbolic, may not be that far from the truth. Since the Led Zeppelin’s and the Nirvana’s of the world has come and gone, rock and roll is becoming a thing of the past. Like boxing rock and roll was immensely popular during the 70’s-90’s but as the millennium turned its popularity dwindled and the emergence of hip-hop began. Hip-hop was birthed in the 1980’s and, contrary to some beliefs, it is at its most popular point ever in history. When Rock and Roll came on the scene in the late 1960’s, it acted as a counter culture to the conformities of society and was an instant hit among the youth. Now, hip-hop has assumed the role of its predecessor and serves as the voice of the youth and the representation of society’s counterculture.

As it pertains to fashion, it is becoming the rock and roll renaissance as artists and celebrities are now rocking the same type of clothes the ideal rock and roll fanatic of the mid 1980’s would have. Australian based fashion designer Pauly Bonomelli is quietly making his pieces the face of this movement. Similar to the skateboard/jerking movement (2009-2011), many big names within the hip-hop community have adopted this predominantly white culture, despite Rock and Roll being performed by black musicians initially, and incorporated it into their music and style.

Kanye West has always been known to push the boundaries and set the standard when it came to streetwear, whether it be pink Polos or Yeezy Boosts. As of late, he seems to be supporting this rock fad as he’s recently been seen with distressed rock tees and even one of Pauly Bonomelli ’s custom pieces.
Travis Scott is immensely popular for his rock star persona and in his concert tour “Rodeo.” His merchandise is very punk rap oriented and his music is the same.

Lil Uzi Vert, a self-proclaimed rockstar, is continuing this trend with younger up and coming hip hop fans. With his gender neutral style and room capturing charisma, he embodies everything that 80’s rock culture represents.

Pauly Bonomelli
Russell Westbrook is often called the most stylish man in the NBA and on a nightly basis he can be seen coming into the arena in a distressed rock band tee layered over a striped shirt and skinny jeans.

Ian Connor and Travis Scott are some of the idols of streetwear fashion as they are revered for their high sense of fashion and pushing the boundaries on the urban fashion norm. Ian was gifted by Kanye West with reviving the brand Pastelle and A$AP Rocky is just coming off a collaboration with Guess Jeans. The two are often called the King and Prince of the Youth and it is rightfully so.

As previously stated, one of the more famous designers for punk rock style is Australian based designer Pauly Bonomelli, who specializes in custom denim and tees with some of his customers including Kanye West and A$AP Rocky. His pieces greatly resemble the punk rock era of the 80’s and with this newfound craze there is a high demand for his products. Kanye was even spotted wearing a custom denim jacket at one of his YEEZY season 2 launches.

What is different about this period in time is that artists and personalities of the hip-hop community today are more diverse and are able to be cultured in different aspects of life. In doing so, it allows them to be more versatile in their work and their ability to delve into different aspects of society easier. Tyler the Creator said that he doesn’t want to be compared to any rap artists; he wants to be compared to movie directors like Quentin Tarantino as he sees himself more than just a rapper. All of these celebrities, along with a few others, are all riding the rock and roll wave and it is interesting to see what form this style will take in a couple of months.

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Jelani Arthur Williamson

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