Hip-Hop Minimalism: Less About Flash, More About Substance

Hip-Hop Minimalism: Less About Flash, More About Substance

Bringing music back to the basics

When Kanye West debuted his fashion line it was met with an abundance of animosity. “I don’t want to pay to look like a hobo,” I remember reading in the YouTube comments of the video of his premiere. His line incorporates simple designs with neutral tans and blacks, a minimalist style that received backlash for “not being enough.” But since its premiere, its influence can be seen across the board in the mainstream and underground hip-hop scene.

Take Kendrick Lamar, for example. He has made a memorable name for himself in the world of hip-hop for being a lyricist that produces incredible albums, and has even gained renowned recognition for his latest project, "To Pimp A Butterfly," which received 11 Grammy nominations. Yet, when he makes television appearances, he is seen wearing a humble jacket or shirt-and-jeans combo, which causes his audience to do nothing but focus on what he brings to the table with his music.

Even consider Drake in his infamous “Hotline Bling” video. He is wearing a simple outfit including a sweater, jeans, and Timberlands — a look that forces his viewers to pay close attention to his catchy tune and dance moves.

The list of rappers practicing this minimalist style goes on and on: Childish Gambino’s adoption of a simple T-shirt-and-shorts combo; Mick Jenkins dressed in a low-key, Wicker Park-influenced attire; The Internet’s Syd Tha Kyd holding her own with her vocals while rocking T-shirts.

This is a huge shift from the trend that prevailed among hip hop artists in the early 2000s that consisted of flashiness: music videos where viewers could take a glimpse at the plethora of material goods rappers could afford.

Some music fiends can be unaware of what their favorite rappers look like in some cases. Take MF Doom, a rapper who gained notoriety in the late '90s and early 2000s for spitting behind a mask reminiscent of something Achilles might have worn during the Trojan War. For his fans, his physical appearance does not matter — they are more interested in the quality of his lyrics and production.

It feels as if we are becoming subject to the effects of Kanye’s modest fashion designs and are moving towards an era of hip-hop that is focusing on content over extravagance. To some extent, maybe life really is more about substance and not so much about all of the minute details, such as how many expensive articles of clothing one can fit on their person in a day.

Cover Image Credit: Pitchfork

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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