Report: Hip Hop Merch’s Banner Year

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By Luke Vogel

Hip hop has had an aesthetic grip on American culture for some years now. The personal style of rappers and rap collectives has long been crucial in measuring the impact that their brand has on the larger hip hop landscape. We live in an age where rappers are increasingly aware of this and many attempt to translate their music’s ethos into garments with more than just a graphic and tour dates on the back. There are definitely artists whose tastes, styles, and fan bases make them better suited to a foray into clothes. Here are our four favorite pieces of Hip Hop merch.

Whether or not you were ever a fan of the ever more distant “sad boys” movement, you must admit that this piece of tour merch by Swedish sad boy king Yung Lean, is extremely clean and somber. The sad emojis and “2002” typography are a salute to the nostalgic, graphically emotional nature of Leany’s bars, (see lyrics like “I’m War ho, I’m Warhol, I’m Wario when I’m in Mario Kart” or “Been locked up, in my own mind, my thoughts will never be shallow”). The japanese characters, (god knows what they actually mean), play on the far eastern streetwear motifs featured in songs like “Tokyo Drift”. Lean draws influence from many places and his style is tough, silly, worldly, and cosmopolitan all at once.


After they leaked this summer, images of potential Frank Ocean garb have created even bigger hype for his feverishly anticipated sophomore album, “Boys Don’t Cry.” Frank’s style has always lead the Odd Future pack as it’s equally versed in the streetwear context as on the red carpet award circuit. The pieces are titled “Stripe Box Tee” and “Stripe Box Hoodie,” and seem to play off of the NASCAR logo and color scheme. Although he’s for sure more into modified imports than stock cars, Ocean is a certified gearhead, as evidenced by his famous BMW M3 collection or his lust-worth Acura NSX featured in the video for “Acura Integurl”. Never hurts to have a good new colorway of the Sk8-Hi either. Fresh.


Rapper Bones and his squad, Sesh Hollow Waterboyz, have been quietly popping off in the internet cult rap scene for years. This hoodie, titled, “Deadboy Hoodie,” perfectly encapsulates their cynical, agonized rebel vibe. Vertically printed down the sleeves are the phrases, “I’ve got no blood in my veins,” and, “I’m just so stuck in my ways.” The graphics add an intentionally unsettling dimension, but it’s the idiosyncratic gothic typography and skeleton graphic that really do the hoodie justice. Check out Bones’ his music videos if you aren’t convinced on the style, you may come away surprised at how potent it is.

Drake has some hits from his “October’s Very Own” clothing imprint that are making waves where they didn’t necessarily have too. OVO has evolved from making simple logo-centric tees into a bonafide line replete with some quality cut-and-sew presented in stylish, savvy lookbooks for the insta-age. Our favorite piece from OVO is the pink “Hotline Bling” sport cap, which dropped just a few weeks ago and sold out almost immediately. The pastel pink color, reminiscent of a “Harlem Streets” era Cam’ron, married with the repeated hotline graphic motif make for a fresh piece. Want to get your hands on this jawn? Try eBay: they’re being resold for just $140.00 plus shipping and handling! The hype is real.


Image Sources:, HipHopHotspot,, octobersveryown, hiphopdx

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