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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What was hot? what was not?.......why?

What's New

It's hard to believe that I've completely turned the corner onto "Adult St". Of course, I'm more seasoned, mature, wise, experienced and enlightened in areas which previously confused me, but I feel as young as ever; I still got swag, and I'm getting better looking by the minute. I'm just afraid that my evolution has come at the expense of being "au courant", you know, hip, trendy, in the loop.

In New York, it usually takes a ten minute stroll down any city street to spot what's hot and if you're still unclear, a quick glance around your local bodega or Chinese variety store will do. You could bet, as soon as the fashion world leaders announce the new seasonal fad, it will land on a five dollar rack in this town, that is, as I recall.

I don't know if there is a communication breech between Parisian designers and Taiwanese sweatshop managers or I've lost the ability to sense style, but I see nothing, no acid wash, two-tone, black hats with your borough written in red, Frankie say shirts, Fat Laces, Lee and LeTigre, Camoflauge, ear-muffs, timberlands, jams, Kangaroos, eight-ball jackets, Kamakaze shorts.........or maybe, I've reached that time in life when it's more fun to just reminisce over the past. Is that it?

The period that would be considered "my time", starting when I first began to give a crap about such things and ending when I stopped caring and settled down with the fashion de Target(tar-zha'). That would be around 1985-2000, an era which was marked, for me, by Hip Hop music, a fad machine in it's own rite. Hip Hop originated many symbols of the times; It was a culture, and still is, only today it is fully commercial. It's basically a brand name, and naturally, it is marked by expensive brand name clothing like Ecko or Fubu. It's so lucrative, a successful rap artist's natural progression seems to include a clothing line; look at Russell Simmons' Phat Farm, Roca-Wear by Jay Z, Wu-Wear and all of that.

It's all a byproduct of "Bling" Hip Hop which is associated with the southern, Cash-Money record label for their invention of the word. duh. Master P, Little Wayne and the rest of the crew loved platinum jewelry and gold teeth(grills). It's not necessarily their influence alone that sent the price of fashion soaring. It's the other "them", you know, the money makers behind the scenes. The corporations have marketed hip-hop to the point where they decide what's hot. Then Ecko, Fubu, and the rest, can supply insanely over-priced products and the public will have no choice but to pay for it. They don't even have to worry about being creative. As bad as that sounds, you could still say rap is a sign of the times. So today,for a pretty coin, we've got pre-selected styles. We are also taught how to dance and act "hip-hop". I honestly believe you could walk into a barber-shop and ask for a "hip-hop cut" without receiving a second look; that's how it is.

In my time(oh, boy, here we go, "old man"), styles were born in the street, often out of necessity before style, then mass produced halfway around the world and distributed like the penny press. There was something cooler about that.

Look at simple long hair, the classic statement, which manifested as the afro and turned into braids or the infamous gerrycurl. These styles needed to be maintained by wearing a stocking cap over them while you slept, which became the famous du-rag. To this day, you couldn't find a NYC bodega that doesn't have a few in stock.

Another widespread symbol, style, or whatever you'd call it, is saggy pants. Everybody wears jeans which hang obnoxiously low, off the back, much to the chagrin of parents. This lovely tradition, as they say, began in prison where the belts are immediately confiscated and the clothing is over-sized.

Some other beauties, the origins of which I do not know, are: Kazels (those big, gaudy glasses that The FatBoys made famous), name buckles, multi-finger rings, and Ferrari glasses. All of these items, as I said, were found for a fin on every corner.

Sneakers, namely Puma and Adidas, early on, are the one constant, and for some reason, it's always been somewhat important to go name brand in that arena, unless you care to be ridiculed, or as they say, "snapped on".

And, on that note, since we're having such a great time, let's talk about speech. Feel free to add to the list. This is no fun alone, but remember, this is before the country went crazy, so in that spirit, don't just copy from an "Ebonics" dictionary. These are just the words that were/are cool to say because we said so. OK, let's compare notes; This is what I got:

  • Words meaning "cool"(ex. "I like cars. They are "cool") -- let's see, there's Fresh, Fly, Dope, Hot, Fat(I mean, Phat), Def, Ill, Nice, Cold, Bananas, Nasty
  • Words meaning "very"(adverb) (ex. " They are "very" cool)-- Mad( like Mad Fly ), crazy--, wild--, stupid--, dumb--, funky--
  • Words meaning "money" (ex. I make a lot of "money")-- Bank, Bread, cake, cheese, dough, donuts, cheddar, guac, green, loot, lucci, coin, benjamins, dead presidents, coupons, paper, toast, knot, grip, stacks, slips, funds, pocket, debit
  • Words meaning "hang out" ( ex. I'm just "hanging out" at the park)-- Lounge, chill(out), cool (out), ill, earl, flex, mack, bug(out),
  • Words meaning "car" --- whip, ride, carriage, "house"--- crib, pad "girl" -- chicken(head), bird, mommy, shortie, girlie, female, hottie, dime, caramel "cannabis" -- herb, bud, broccoli, lettuce, cheeba, trees, salad, piff, skunk, herb, smoke, weed, babaze, el, elbow, blunt, j, twist, blaze.

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