"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.
These last seven or so years, I thought I liked clothes. I really did. Each August, I'd make my yearly trip to Urban Outfitters to get new blank T-shirts (2 for $25, fo' life) and new Levi's and a new man bag, then strut around my teeny-tiny world like a goddamn style peacock afterwards. The only external influence my wardrobe was ever affected by was the weather. In the winter, I'd just add shirts until my chest was insulated. Come May, the heat would convince me fray was in style, so I'd cut the pants into shorts and the T-shirts into sleeveless glory. I really thought I was on it.
But then I accidented my way into this fashion blogging world and holy fuck. These guys are seriously serious about lapels and ascots and whatnot. What's more (or maybe what's more troubling), the stuff they're throwing out there is undeniably slick and unforgivably appealing. (I don't know what an anorak is, but I know that I need one desperately.) So now I wander around their web of sites, aimless and confused and saddened by my apparent futility, clicking on any ol' link, looking at belts that are THE BEST BELTS OF ALL and shoes that are THE END ALL OF SHOES. Everything looks amazing and expensive and amazingly expensive. Nothing I wear is ever featured. Nothing I own is called cool or sartorialistic(?). Nothing I do matters. I mean, I've never even taken a picture of my shoes sitting in the windowsill of a tiny New York efficiency with some buildings in the background. I'm a man without a scarf on an island full of men with scarves, only it's worse because I'm not even sure if that's a good analogy because I don't know how these aliens feel about scarves.
But no more. I am a common man. It's in my bones (which are not made by Michael Kors, I'm certain). I will not dance around these gorgeous manicured men any longer. We unappetizing dressers deserve to be chronicled too. We deserve to commented on, to be represented, to be Tumbled. And maybe most importantly, we deserve some of those wicked fashion style board/outfit breakdowns too that I just found out existed when Four Pins ran a few pages from a style book I hear some people are excited about purchasing.
So that's what this is. I dug through old photos, found three full body shots, then turned them into something we, the disregarded, can pass around proudly. We're coming to this party too now, pretty bitches.
There are three styles types chronicled in the gallery above. There's The Dweller, there's Fancy Pants and there's The Chameleon. Each one serves a unique and primary function and is absolutely essential for the fashionably frivolous. Check those out while listening to this week's five most fashionable rap songs.
1. DJ Khaled, "Hip-Hop," featuring Nas(!) and Scarface(!!)
I'll just never understand how one of rap's most unlikable characters managed to play such a prominent role in putting together such an important song. The Devil is busy.
p.s. Flex, please, PLEASE, stop with all the drops. We get it. You got the song first. Chill.
2. Trae tha Truth, "Bitch, I'm From Texas," featuring Z-Ro, Paul Wall, Bun B, Slim Thug and Kirko Bangz
Drag a "Bitch, I'm from Texas" line through the mud, ask Z-Ro to sing a little around it, let Paul Wall sprinkle a few similes on it, have Slim Thug rattle around, get newcomer Kirko Bangz to wiggle some, then have Bun B spaz out—that's how you make a proper riding song.
3. Mystikal, "Bullshit"
Mystikal just got out of jail. Malibooyah.
4. 2 Chainz, "Yuck," featuring Lil Wayne
It really, really, really feels like English should make new words so we can talk about 2 Chainz adequately. Auty vander yumk bandy fror tomp skiddy yout! (Or something. I don't know. I'm not in charge of Word Creation, dudes.)
Oh, also, Wayne is on here hoping we all forgot that he was doing this same exact voice/cadence/style on The Carter III. It's whatever though, because he was pretty good then.
Oh, another also, this is from 2's new album, which'll be out Tuesday. Some people might say some less than flattering things about it, but that'll mostly be because it's time for him to go through that part of his narrative arc. It's bombastically 2 Chainz, which is maybe the greatest dumb thing of all. (A couple of songs are pretty bad though, for real.)
5. Big Boi, "Mama Told Me," featuring Little Dragon
Big Boi's last album, Sir Lucious…, was gigantic. It was completely invigorating, managing to present itself as a contemporary take on traditional southern rap's ethos without marginalizing even a tiny piece of it. His new one is coming. It's a shark in the water.
Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.