Rap lyrics that sound like they're rattling off the Fashion Month schedule are pretty much par for the course. And this is nothing new--the trend can be traced all the way back to the beginnings of the genre. Lately, though, the caliber of the designers mentioned--and the frequency with which they’re mentioned--seems to be at an all-time high.
Names that were scarcely known outside of the fashion circles, like Raf Simons, Martin Margiela, and Ann Demeulemeester, are now dropped in songs that top the national charts. Late last month, a song called "Fashion Killa" from A$AP Rocky's upcoming album leaked, and it calls out a whopping 27 designers, most of which are lesser known or avant-garde. Many of the brands listed in the song are strictly womenswear labels, which rappers have had a growing obsession with over the past couple of years. (Who could forget when Kanye West wore that Céline top to perform at Coachella in 2011?)
Mahbod Moghadam, co-founder of the website Rap Genius, gave us a quick analysis of the most popular labels mentioned in the lyrics on his site. Gucci tops the list, followed closely by Prada, Versace, and Louis Vuitton. These famed brands have been featured in hip-hop songs for decades, but we love how some of our favorite "insidery" names in high fashion (hello, Damir Doma!) are beginning to get thrown into the mix.
Though we've scratched the surface before, we decided to take a more thorough look back at some of rap's most well known fashion name-drops over the years, from the requisite Versace shout-outs of the past, to the more recent inclusion of greats like Alexander McQueen and Isabel Marant. Read on to see the evolution--we bet that we'll have you singing along by the end.
Grandmaster Flash - "Them Jeans" (1987)
It started out innocently enough: The early pioneers of hip-hop, including Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash, made sure to show some love to their favorite denim brands — and the ladies who wore them — in their lyrics.
Jordache, Sasson or, huh, Calvin Klein
I gotta put on my shades cause you're makin' me blind
Don't even know her name, but still I can't get enough
I'll call her earthquake, cause I'm all shook-up
LL Cool J - "Around the Way Girl" (1990)
Years before Carrie Bradshaw made the Fendi Baguette bag famous, LL gave the label a huge shout-out. We wonder if he ended up finding that stylish neighborhood cutie he was looking for.
I want a girl with extensions in her hair
Bamboo earrings, at least two pair
A Fendi bag and a bad attitude
That's all I need to get me in a good mood
Notorious B.I.G. - "Hypnotize" (1996)
A true classic, this mid-'90s verse from Biggie Smalls speaks for itself.
I put hoes in NY onto DKNY
Miami, D.C. prefer Versace
All Philly hoes, dough and Moschino
Every cutie wit a booty bought a Coogi
2Pac - "Hit 'Em Up" (1996)
Fashion wasn't a common theme in 2Pac's lyrics, but in this infamous diss track, he calls out Notorious B.I.G. for copying his style. We all know this doesn't end well.
Biggie remember when I use to let you sleep on the couch
And beg the bitch to let you sleep in the house
Now it's all about Versace
You copied my style
Five shots couldn't drop me
I took it and smiled
Cam'Ron - "Whatever" (2000)
This verse was suggested by Mahbod of Rap Genius, who says it's his favorite fashion lyric of all time. It involves Dame Viv and the Kaiser, so we're obviously into it.
I'm Viv Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld,
Salvatore Ferragamo, John Galliano
And my girls they be blessin' me first
Took 'em out of Foot Locker and that referee shirt
Jay-Z - "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)" (2000)
Jay is a pretty fashionable dude, so we're not surprised that he dropped the name of fancy french label Chloé and the cult favorite vintage shop Filth Mart in the same verse, with some Prada and Gucci in between.
What do you say, me, you, and your Chloé glasses
Go somewhere private where we can discuss fashion
Like, Prada blouse, Gucci bra
Filth Mart jeans, take that off
Big Tymers - "Still Fly" (2002)
The New Orleans-based Big Tymers showed Christopher Bailey some love in their anthem about being "hood rich."
Prowler, Gucci, full-grain leather
Burberry's cool, Coogi sweater
Twenty inches, pop my feather
The Birdman daddy, I fly in any weather
DJ Khaled feat. T.I., Akon, Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Birdman, and Lil' Wayne - "We Takin' Over" (2007)
In recent years, many rappers — including 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, and Rick Ross — have dropped the YSL name, but this is our favorite verse of the bunch. Too bad it's technically outdated now. SL doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
I'ma tell you like a G told me
They'll come back quick if a n***a O.D
Cash Rule Everything Around Me
I'm YSL, Versace
Drake feat. Swizz Beatz and T.I. - "Fancy" (2010)
Mentioning eight (sorry, we aren't counting Bebe) of the world's top designers in one breath? You fancy, huh?
Champagne Range, triple white Jag
Closet full of brand new clothes and handbags
Alexander McQueen, Prada, Gucci, Chanel
D&G, BCBG, Versace, Louis and Bebe
Jay-Z and Kanye West - "N***as in Paris" (2011)
Kanye West — he of the couture-level flow and Givenchy leather kilts — seems to mention high-fashion designers in all of his songs, but this verse is destined to become a classic. Plus, we think he deserves some credit for turning Margiela into a household name.
What’s Gucci, my n***a? What’s Louis, my killa?
What’s drugs, my dealer? What’s that jacket, Margiela?
Meek Mill feat. Rick Ross, Jay-Z & Trey Songz - “Lay Up (Remix)” (2012)
We've reached the part in the timeline when lyrics really start to resemble Vogue credits. Also, Donatella must be doing something right, since Versace is still getting so much love after all these years!
I know Versace, know Givenchy, know Guiseppe
Emilio Pucci introduce you if you let me
I know Stella, Margiela, Marc Jacobs
Micheal Kors fuck 'em all, custom made stuff
A$AP Rocky - "Fashion Killa" (2013)
This new track off of A$AP Rocky's forthcoming album "LongLiveASAP" features the most fashion name-drops we've ever heard in one song, and he even manages to rhyme Ann Demeulemeester and Oliver Peoples without making it sound like too much of a stretch. Now that's impressive.
I love your Linda Farrow, I adore your Dior
Your Damir Doma, Vena Cava from the store
I crush down with that top down, boys see how I ride 'round
Mami in that Tom Ford, Papi in that Thom Browne