Action Bronson recruits a couple fellow New Yorkers to make "Strictly For My Jeeps" even bigger. LL & LB flank him with new verses on this one. LL actually really kills it on the first verse. And this song now has an even more complete NY feel. (Clean/tags for now. UPDATE: CDQ above!)
A new year brings new change and as the latest NFL Black Monday came and went, a total of 12 Coaches and General Managers found themselves standing when the music stopped. Necessary change, some might say, as all the teams including my Chicago Bears underachieved and failed to live up to lofty sized expectations. Something had to give.
Lovie Lee Smith spent 9 years as the Chicago Bears head coach before being dismissed on Black Monday, and had some huge successes and memorable let downs. When analyzing Lovie’s coaching career here in Chicago, I couldn’t help but think of LL Cool J, James Todd Smith, who is as synonymous with the Def Jam logo as, Rick and Russell. No other coach since Mike Ditka was as likeable and respected than Lovie, and no artist on the Def Jam roster has really developed the Grammy hosting iconic status as LL has.
Both sports and the record business operate on the same wavelength: it’s not what you did for me in the past, it’s what are you doing now? Both are results driven businesses that feed off results, regardless of your stature or popularity. If you’re not winning or selling, your time may be up.
LL burst out the gates with huge records, while Lovie in his second year as Coach went 11-5, and took the Bears to their first Super Bowl in 21 years. These types of accomplishments warrant everlasting loyalty, or so you would think. LL remained strong, piling up platinum albums, ending his pristine run with 1995′s Mr. Smith. Lovie on the other hand basked in the Super Bowl afterglow, despite losinng to the Indianapolis Colts and missing the playoffs the following 3 seasons. Unfortunely when you hit your peak, there’s only one way to go. Down.
Mr. Smith was quite possibly the last great album from the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. Several lackluster albums followed that never quite equaled that album’s success. Lovie Smith never would bounce back from the loss to the Green Bay Packers that left the Bears one game short of their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in 4 years.
For both men, something had to give. Def Jam had to decide to reup for more years and albums with LL, and the Bears would need to find the heart and solace to keep Lovie around for one more year. LL is still good for the occasional hit, and Lovie Smith still produced top tier defenses in Chicago, but at this stage of theri prospective careers, it’s just not enough. Without a title, or consistent susccess Lovie had to move on, and so the Bears pulled the trigger on the team’s first Black head coach in its storied history. Will Lovie end up with another job? I, like many others, hope so. He did well, but this is Chicago, and doing well sometimes just isn’t enough.
LL also ran his course with Def Jam several years back after his last obligatory album, Exit 13 bricked harder than a Dwight Howard free throw. LL is said to be releasing a new album this year, Authentic Hip-Hop, but there’s no word on whether Def Jam will be backing the project from the 44 year old rapper. After a stellar year of releases including Nas, Rick Ross and Frank Ocean, and as unfair as it might be to say, LL doesn’t fit in to the scope of where the label is heading towards.
Gone are the pioneers that started Def Jam, and it may be time for LL to push on and go independent. His music is still wanted, but whether it’s on a minor or major league scale, well only Hot 97 can really tell you that. I hope Lovie and LL both end up in better positions, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s always better to have had a nice run and be unceremoniously dumped than to hold on in one place for way too long. Ask Andy Reid.
When the genre of hip hop first began to get notice in the 70s and 80s, a certain street style became characteristic of the culture. Artists from Run DMC to LL Cool J could likely be seen rocking Adidas and Kangol. In the 90s, it shifted to jerseys and Jordans. In the early 2000s, it was baggy jeans, Air Force Ones and tall tees. This was about as involved as hip hop artists had gotten with the fashion industry, but as of late, the two industries have become more and more interwoven. Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Chris Brown all have found ways to incorporate the classic hip hop street style with higher fashion. Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Baleciaga--they're wearing it all.
In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Big Sean described where things are going for him fashion-wise. He touched on topics such as his collaboration with Adidas as well as how his fascination with higher end fashion has developed. The Detroit native also noted how much of an influence the very man who discovered and signed him to his G.O.O.D. Music label, a fashion icon in his own right, Kanye West, has had on his fashion sense. When asked about Mr. West, Sean explained:
"Being around Kanye, he really takes fashion seriously and just being around him and soaking up the information that he has and talking about it and being around him when we meet up with the editors of the top fashion magazines like Complex and shooting with the top fashion photographers and having that conversation—it does affect your style. And you take what you get from situations like that and you incorporate it into your own."
When Kanye West began to really gain notice as a musician in the early 2000s, he stood out as someone different, not just for his lyricsm and production, but for his unique fashion sense as well. Crowning himself the Louis Vuitton Don, he rocked items that you wouldn't typically see other artists wearing. He continued to expand this persona as a pioneer for fashion in the hip hop world when he started what he called, the Rosewood Movement. He and his G.O.O.D. Music signees were often seen wearing tailored suits and loafers. But he didn't stop there. More recently, West launched his first fashion line, DW, which he debuted during Paris fashion week 2011.
A young artist who is making a name in the music biz, A$AP Rocky, has become known for his classic New York sound and equally so for his unique fashion sense. This past summer, the 24-year-old was featured in GQ. He described, "With clothes, I like mixing what different designers do until it becomes a personal expression of how I'm feeling that day."
Another young artist, known as an R&B crooner who more recently transitioned into the hip hop scene, Chris Brown, too has become known for his unique fashion sense. He's heard a lot of criticism for some of his choices, but Wilhelmina Modeling Agency saw something in Brown, having recently signed him to their artist management division. Taylor Hendrich, director of Wilhelmina's men's division, describes, “Chris Brown is a… multifaceted artist with a unique take on style, and we are excited to translate and extend his brand.”
In the interview with Complex this week, Big Sean further commented on the influence he and Kanye have on each other's fashion sense.
"I'll take fashion tips from Ye, and Ye will take fashion tips from me too. And you'll see it. You can see it in videos, you can see it in what we wear, what he wears, what I wear, and we all influence each other. Everybody."
I think that sums it all up. Hip hop influences fashion. Fashion influences hip hop. We all influence each other. I'm interested to see how far artists will continue to take their fashions and how accepting the fierce fashion world will be of these artists.
In your opinion, what hip hop artist has the best fashion sense? Comment below!
1. Something About U (FTW)
2. Where Ya At (BOSS)
3. Take It (feat. Joe)
4. Closer (feat. Monica)
5. Too Late
6. New Love
7. Dream With Me
8. Girl So Bad
10. Bartender Please
11. Bath Salt
12. Getting Paper
13. Jump On It
14. Hell Yeah
LL Cool J is prepping a new album, entitled Authentic Hip Hop. I'm curious to know what he means with that title. And in the meantime, here's a look at the tracklist above. There are no hip hop features - also a decision I'm curious about. Would have been more interested in the project if he worked with some of the new cats in the game. The album drops February 12th.