Hip hop has gone hand-in-hand with high fashion since its inception 50 years ago. As a genre born out of aspiration and imagination, its braggadocious and competitive spirit demanded the best of everything – clothes included.
Even in its beginning stages, hip hop always knew how to subvert fashion and make it its own. Whether it was through name-dropping lyrics, custom clothes from Dapper Dan bearing the logos of high fashion brands or taking something as average as Adidas and elevating it to a luxury level like Run-D.M.C. did, the culture defined fashion on its own terms.
As its influence grew and money started flowing endlessly, rappers began to interact with high fashion in new ways, leveraging their influence to start clothing brands and impact every aspect of the industry. For many, these songs about luxury brands introduced a new way of life. Here are 11 songs about high fashion to inspire you to rock the flyest gear possible.
1. Fashion Killa by ASAP Rocky
No list about fashion would be complete without ASAP Rocky. By the time he dropped “Fashion Killa” from his debut album, Long. Live. ASAP in 2013, he was already on the fast track to fashion icon status. By name dropping brands like Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Versace, Rocky was letting it be known that he and his lady were the best dressed. The lady in question happened to be Rihanna, who stars in the video with him and is mentioned by name in the song. Talk about manifestation!
2. Drip by Cardi B ft. Migos
The Bronx rapper hit the scene like a tidal wave on “Drip” and she spared no feelings. Cardi made it known that diamonds, Dior and Birkin bags all come with her new lifestyle and that she will stunt on anybody in her way. Aided by the signature triple-stacked cadence of Migos, the quartet sonically hype you up to make a lasting impression for a night out. Her raw flow and exuberance make it the perfect song to get dressed to when you want to make a statement.
3. High Fashion by Roddy Ricch ft. Mustard
The melodic “High Fashion” by Roddy Ricch is more of a gentleman-like love song than a boastful bar-dropping track, but it serves its purpose with a catchy hook featuring lyrics like “High fashion like Goyard / G-Wagon or the Rover,” where he lets his fashionable lady know he’s got options for her.
The idea of the song is to upgrade his lady’s life to a point of extravagance and ease. Produced by popular hip hop producer Mustard, “High Fashion” was the fifth and final single from Roddy Ricch’s very successful debut album and the perfect vibe for getting ready for a date night.
4. Phresh Out The Runway by Rihanna
Years before starting her beauty and fashion empire, Rihanna was a major pop star who dropped new albums yearly. After transitioning from the island girl next door persona from her debut album, she sought to take control of her sound and image. Fashion was one of the ways that Riri displayed her new-found confidence.
By the time she released “Phresh Out The Runway,” a fan-favorite album cut from her seventh studio album Unapologetic, she was already the good girl gone bad. Over a hip hop rave beat with heavy bass, the star boasted of taking the lead and strutting around in Givenchy heels. A hypnotizing chorus repeating the phrase “Fresh off the runway” sets the tone for anyone getting dressed.
5. Endless Fashion by Lil Uzi Vert ft. Nicki Minaj
Lil Uzi Vert is one of the few rappers who might be as well known for their fashion choices as they are for their music, so a song titled “Endless Fashion” isn’t unexpected from them. They started the song by proclaiming their love for brands like Chrome Hearts and Carhartt before proceeding to drop double entendres interchanging brands like Junya Watanabe with the word wannabe.
After that, they call out the lack of fashion competition from other rappers with lyrics like “These rappers can’t dress, yeah, they just be hatin’,” before bragging about having no more closet space. Nicki Minaj held her own with the fashion talk too, going bar for bar with Uzi with a few references of her own, shouting out legends like Dapper Dan and Virgil Abloh.
6. Change Clothes by JAY-Z ft. Pharrell
Years before people were debating whether to take $500,000 or have dinner with him, JAY-Z made us all “Change Clothes” in 2003. At a time when everything clothing-wise was loose and oversized, Hov wanted to flip the script and dress it up a little. This was also right around the time when a lot of rappers, Hov included, began to have their own clothing lines.
So, not only did he have a new inspiration, he also had gear to sell. The rap game followed suit and the public wasn’t far behind, trading their baggy white tees for button-ups and blazers. A star-studded music video for the track featuring stylish figures like Naomi Campbell, Pharrell Williams and Kimora Lee Simmons helped push the narrative further. To this day, “Change Clothes” is still one of those tracks for the “grown and sexy.”
7. Flashy by City Girls ft. Kim Petras
The City Girls are known for talking their ‘ish, and on “Flashy,” featuring Kim Petras, from their latest album, RAW, the chat is quite expensive. The rap duo are in the big leagues now, and listeners know it with lyrics like “Big bags, price tags / You know all I wear is name brands / I’m flashy.”
Only the best of the best will do for the duo as they trade bars on a pop-style beat while reminiscing about trips to Milan, private jets to private islands, Egyptian fabrics and all the finer things – a modern-day rap Cinderella story if you will. Whether you’re a City Girl or not, with “Flashy,” Yung Miami and JT provide the backdrop for a fashion-filled night out.
8. N**gas in Paris by JAY-Z & Kanye West
Braggadocious rap at its highest form is how one could describe “N**gas in Paris,” the bold fifth single from JAY-Z and Kanye West’s explosive collaborative album, Watch The Throne. The two rappers were in rare form going bar for bar over a menacing beat where modesty never came into question.
As far as what inspired the song, Kanye previously said, “I am where art meets commercial. Having a conversation with Karl Lagerfeld and JAY-Z within the same hour. When we’re in Paris dressing all crazy at fashion shows. We were listening to JAY-Z; Jeezy in Paris. That’s what it is.” With that energy, what more inspo does one need to get dressed?
9. Drip Too Hard by Lil Baby and Gunna
Representing the new class of Atlanta artists, Lil Baby and Gunna teamed up for “Drip Too Hard,” an infectious club banger off their collab mixtape, Drip Harder. The fashion talk starts immediately with Baby declaring, “You can get the biggest Chanel bag in the store if you want it” before cautioning not to get too close to his Drip because you might drown. Gunna backs him up with a few luxury bars of his own, boasting about private planes and diamond-encrusted watches. All of that talk must have resonated because “Drip Too Hard” was certified diamond in just four years.
10. Still Fly by Big Tymers
“Still Fly” by the Big Tymers will always be a hip hop anthem. While the lyrics may not be the best financial or lifestyle advice, many relate to their circumstances. Over an infectious beat, Birdman, then known as Baby, and Mannie Fresh boast about living in the moment without regard for consequences. Gator boots, pimped-out Gucci suits and luxury cars with no gas set the tone of a catchy rap song that feels good at any moment. You only live once, right? So get fly, enjoy your life and worry about the bill later.
11. Throw It In The Bag (Remix) by Fabolous ft. Drake and The-Dream
“You know we had to go shopping, right?” is how Fabolous starts off the “Throw It In The Bag (Remix)” before proceeding to rap about endorsing his lady of choice. Bags, restaurants and the lifestyle — Fab knows it’s going to cost him, but he was up to the challenge and warned other suitors that they can’t compete. Drake followed up on the drip talk with lyrics like, “We up in Barneys going dumb again” while The-Dream sang about Fendi shoes and Bentley coupes.