Over the past few decades, hip hop has gone from what many people assumed would just be a flash in the pan novelty music genre to what is now one of the most powerful influences in pop culture. But as celebrated as hip hop may be in today’s fashion, it’s important to stop every once in awhile to take a look back at some of the less fortunate hip hop trends that have come and gone. For, if they go unmocked for too long, Kanye West will just bring them roaring back into the spotlight. Hey, that sounds like a good place to start!
Kanye West’s Afro Mullet
See? For decades now, the afro mullet has been lying dormant in the deepest corners of the American conscience. Not since the days when Levert’s “Cassanova” topped the charts has this monstrosity been seen as an acceptable means of styling one’s soulful hair. And even then, it was generally confined to the R&B world. But that absence led to complacency on our part. Sure, we’ve been making fun of the mullet for years, but this variation never really got the scornful attention it so rightfully deserved. Sensing an opportunity, Kanye West jumped into action. And now, we find ourselves face to face with a potential resurgence of the ironic mullet. Let’s see if we can’t keep that from happening with the rest of the stuff on this list, yeah?
Kris Kross’s Backwards Clothes
The teenage years can be difficult, especially if you’re a novelty kiddie rap duo destined for one hit wonder status before your first album is even released. At a time like this, the desire to make yourself stand out amongst your peers is probably overwhelming. But that’s no excuse to go putting your clothes on backward. Seriously, is resigning yourself to an existence completely devoid of the ability to use a urinal without dropping your pants around your ankles worth the brief amount of attention you get by dressing like a clown? I submit that it definitely is not.
Flavor Flav’s Viking Helmet
Sure, Flavor Flav’s clock seems like the more obvious choice here, but really, what would Flavor Flav be without his clock? You know, besides completely fucking awesome. That clock got Flav through some lean years. When he was getting arrested for shooting at neighbors and smoking crack, you still loved him because of that damn clock. It’s iconic. But the viking helmet? That’s pushing it a bit too far. Flavor Flav knows he’s ridiculous, but part of his charm has always been that he seems to be more in on the joke than actually being a joke. But once he put that helmet on, the joke wasn’t on anyone but him. With that said, the helmet is still less embarrassing than having everyone know you banged Brigitte Nielsen.
Paul Wall’s Grill
The absolute worst kind of horrific fashion statement is the one that, somehow, inspires untold thousands to accept it as awesome and turn it into a trend. That is exactly what happened with Paul Wall’s platinum and diamond and whatever the hell else will fit grill. That’s not a surprise, considering he actually owns the company that makes the obnoxious dental contraptions. And, you know, it would be one thing if the trend confined itself to southern rappers and whatnot, but when people like Brooke Hogan start sporting them, shit has gotten out of control.
On the bright side, when hip hop trends reach that level of whiteness, it usually means they’ll be dying out soon. You know, kind of like how only soccer moms still say shit like “bling, bling” and “it’s all good.” Soon enough, one of the chicks from The View will show up with a grill on and people will realize it’s time to put this trend to rest for good.
Kid’s High Top Fade
During rap’s “golden age” the high top fade was the go to hairstyle of choice for discerning wordsmiths everywhere. Well, not exactly everywhere, N.W.A. certainly loved their jheri curls. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that it was quite popular and, when used in moderation, only slightly stupid looking. Christopher “Kid” Reid, one half of the happy go lucky kickstepping rap duo Kid ‘N Play, did not grasp this need for moderation. When their first album was released, his hair was already the largest in the game. Although nobody else really seemed attention hungry enough to challenge his throne, he decided to keep it growing anyway. The insanity continued well into the years when nobody cared anymore, as this screenshot from the movie Class Act clearly shows.
Eventually, common sense prevailed and he cut his hair. And you know, he kind of looks even weirder now.
MC Hammer’s Crazy Pants
Really, MC Hammer deserves a list all his own. The glasses, the hair, that banana hammock he wore in the “Pumps and a Bump” video…the man should be a fashion disaster lifetime achievement award winner. But, with the possible exceptions of that crazy typewriter dance and unintentionally hilarious bankruptcy, nothing is more closely associated with MC Hammer than those crazy genie pants he wore. You would think a piece of clothing that bat-shit insane wouldn’t go over well with the masses, but that definitely was not the case with the “Hammer pants.” For that year or so when the country was officially on Hammertime, those damn pants were everywhere. I even had a pair, they were all sorts of comfortable! Thankfully, no pictures of me wearing them exist, as far as I know. Hammer probably wishes he could say the same for himself.
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Thanks for reading, StyleCravers, Diggers, Stumblers and Redditers! Tell us– what is your favorite fashion failure in hip hop history? Would you consider any of these mistakes a guilty pleasure, secretly admiring them? Are we crazy for including these in our list of the worst? Get the conversation started in the comments. Oh, and while you’re here, would you mind sharing us a vote in your favorite social media site? Thanks for the love, money grip!