Even rock music’s most diligent fountains of ephemera (I’m looking at you Kiss) pale before hip-hop artists when it comes to building the brand. Whether it’s 50 Cent’s dalliances in flavored water or Snoop Dogg’s willingness to lend his name to pretty much anything, rappers tend to diversify frequently and well.
While this habit has resulted in some of the world’s more embarrassing attempts at cross-promotion (again, this), it has also yielded quality expansions of a fascinating aesthetic.
Clothing more often than not plays host to hip-hop’s greater branding successes, of which a few of the more notable examples are listed below.
Trukfit – Lil Wayne
Having done just about everything strange and unhinged that he can think of, Lil Wayne has apparently embarked on an attempt to throw the world yet another screwball by erring on the side of hard work and responsibility. Wayne’s YMCMB label plays host to some of the world biggest pop stars, and his Trukfit line of clothing builds off of his stoned skater image, even as he transitions slowly to the boardroom.
Benjamin Bixby – André 3000
André 3000’s clothing line, much like the work of Outkast, appears at times too dapper a specimen for the world of hip-hop, but then again, it’s that genre-bending sense of style that earned Outkast its reputation in the first place.
Odd Future – Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All
Given the ongoing sartorial catastrophe that is Tyler, the Creator, it stands to reason that an Odd Future clothing line would skew left-of-center and appear to have been made using a pirated copy of Adobe CS4 and a home screen-printing kit.
Kanye West – The Kanye west Collection
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the Odd Future lies Kanye West, who has launched two successive clothing lines at Fashion Week in Paris. Both collections have drawn whimpering guffaws from the ranks of fashion critics, whose basis for criticism is at this point so obscure as to be purely theoretical.
Rocawear – Jay-Z and Damon Dash
Jay-Z may have sold his controlling interest in Rocawear, but the fashion line was yet another successful brainchild for a man who can lay claim to a great many successful brain-children. Whereas Kanye’s clothing endeavors have aimed straight for the super high-end and Weezy’s have trended more towards the skater demographic, Jay-Z’s Rocawear has aimed for the urban clothing market, and hit its mark with remarkable consistency.