From the Screen to my Closet
Words: Caiza Andresen
I grew up in the 90ies and for most people growing up then and getting into Hip Hop and fashion one of the main sources of inspiration besides music videos are Hood Movies. You can debate about whether a movie belongs to this genre, because not every movie about a rapper is a hood movie (Sorry, 8Mile…) and not every movie with a rapper in it is either (sorry to 85% of all the stuff Ice Cube ever did). So what defines this genre? The aspects of urban African-American or Hispanic-American culture just as Hip Hop music, streetlife, racism, drug use, … »The problems of young people coming of age or struggling amid the relative poverty and violent gang activity within such neighborhoods.« Alright. Thanks, Wikipedia. Of course not every Hood Movie has to follow those rules and I would definitely include movies such as LA HAINE (France), TSOTSI (South Africa), KIDULTHOOD (UK), KANACK ATTACK (Germany) and the unbelievably awesome CITY OF GOD (Brazil). At a time when German TV did not play any of our Gangsta Rap heroes you could browse through any fleamarket and find movies like HOT BOYZ (starring Silkk the Shocker, Snoop Dogg and Mystikal), TALES FROM THE HOOD with a soundtrack including Born 2 Die, one of Spice 1’s best songs, ORIGINAL GANGSTAS with a cast ranging from Pam Grier and Fred Williamson to Shyheim.
I think that most people can remember what an impact seeing MENACE II SOCIETY and BOYZ N THE HOOD for he first time had on them. Don’t tell me you didn’t instantly want to wear the outfits O-Dog and Doughboy wore. I even wanted to dress like Ice Cube in TRESPASS and started wearing all black outfits and a ridiculous balloon hat my sister once bought. I can’t imagine anyone more stylish than the Cash Money Bros, who laced up not just the Carter building but the whole Big Apple until Mario van Peebles and Ice-T stopped them. Of course with a little help from Pookie, the crackhead who wore an incredibly fresh all over US flag shirt in his now iconic crack smoking scene. I recently bought a Ralph Lauren cardigan in the same style. Everytime I put it on I think about this scene. These movies, even though most of us picked up the VHS just because of the rappers’ or actors’ names on it, often told great stories. Stories nobody here had experienced. I never had a dead man who had just been shot in a drive by shooting laying in my front yard, but it felt real and kicked in the door that rap already had opened. Now I could see it.
Have you ever seen NEW JERSEY DRIVE? Those Carhartt Outfits? I could fill books just romanticizing about the aesthetics of hood movies, especially the clothing style, but instead of doing so I filtered out six movies that really stand out and will definitely give you some outfit inspirations:
NEW JACK CITY
© Warner Bros. Entertainment
Come on. Silk shirts and Kangol Hats. Tracksuits and beepers. The most intimidating way to eat a banana showcased by Wesley Snipes. NEW JACK CITY not just made Ice-T a star, but also showed that Chris Rock is more than just a funny dude. I have to deduct some points for all the New Jack Swing songs though. That shit is even too soft for me and I listen to Pretty Ricky.
CITY OF GOD
»I’ve become a playboy.« This sentence by the charming Bené, when he starts spending his hard earned drug money for color heavy clothes, especially Hawaiian shirts and very short shorts is too iconic. Whenever somebody gives you shit about your outfit just tell him that you’ve become a playboy. Set in the 70ies in Brazil, CITY OF GOD shows you how a certain aesthetic from over the pond gave Brazilian hood rats something to strive for. Even though they accomplished their goals through violence. The scene at the dancehall with Kung Fu Fighting playing is pure gold.
© Artisan Entertainment
This Hype Williams flick starring DMX and Nas is just the shiny suit era of Hip Hop in feature length. Hype Williams basically delivers a visual vacation to the Rotten Apple, when NY was dominated by shiny leather suits, black light and gunshots.
NEW JERSEY DRIVE
© Gramercy Pictures
This underrated gem can easily be called »Cars and Carhartt – The Movie«. This downward spiral of a group of friends killing time by stealing cars has an aesthetic that can be best described as a visual Nas song circa 1994. Carhartt beanies, boots and sheepskin coats galore.
© Orion Pictures Corporation
Tommy Hilfiger, headbands, colorful windbreakers, Kangol. That’s the way to go. Gun wielding psychopaths take it one step too far by killing an innocent boy. Time for some old school cats, namely the lovely Pam Grier (I met her once. Jealous? Yes, you are.), Jim Brown, Ron O’Neal, Richard Roundtree and Fred Williamson to step in and just shoot them all. Please check out the outfits by Da Luniz’ Dru Down and Shyheim.
PAID IN FULL
PAID IN FULL takes place in Harlem in the 1980s during the rise of crack cocaine and Hip Hop. Ace, the main protagonist, does not use his well earned crack money to buy the flyest clothes (a trucker cap is never cool), but his friends Mitch and Rico… Just look at the scene of Mitch coming home at night and taking off his jewelry. Damn, son. Oh, that drug dealer Ace’s sister is dating? Please check his Cazal glasses.
Now it’s time for the big guns, the GOATS: MENACE II SOCIETY and BOYZ N THE HOOD. The first one released in 1993 and the second one in 1991. They are very different, which might come from the fact that BOYZ N THE HOOD opened up the door for MENACE to be a much more rougher version of this tragic story. The story of growing up in the hood. While BOYZ N THE HOOD has a certain 80ies vibe to it regarding the clothes, MENACE embraces full on mid 90s Gangsta Rap aesthetics. Wifebeaters, Dickies, Carhartt, Ben Davis, Locs (for everybody who isn’t that much into the Gangster-Lifestyle, those are sunglasses.). That’s what it is.
© New Line Cinema
© Columbia Pictures
The logos and stills from those two movies were later found on shirts by brands raging from Starter to Supreme. They are a massive influence not only on the film industry but on Hip Hop and on how a lot of people perceive Hip Hop.
Oh, my fellow HHV Journal writer Sebastian Nicu and me recently started a podcast which is supposed to be about fashion, but well… It’s mostly about everything. And also fashion. We sat down and talked about how Hood Movies had an impact on us. Wanna hear some guys namedropping dozens of movies you should watch? Listen to the newest episode of DRESS RELIEF, the podcast with @kicksinthehall and @schwaboswissenwerderbaboist. And follow us on IG: @dressrelief.podcast.