On TheRoot.com: The Rise of the Black Hipster

Kanye entourage
The trend spotted by the NY Times in 2007 has finally gone mainstream

Remember back when the NY Times published the now (in)famous "blipster" article?  Folks in Black rock circles took it as a pejorative, partially because the tone of Jessica Pressler's article was kinda like, "OMG! Black people like indie rock!".  Fast forward to a few days ago, and this is how writer Dayo Olopade, in focusing on the fashion aspect, describes things:

Simply put: The racial archetypes that had defined the last 15 years of masculine street style have given way to a radically new aesthetic. Gone are the extra-long T-shirts, saggy jeans and Timbs long favored by young black men. They haven’t swapped them for the mopey, emo tees once favored by young whites. Rather, urban youth of all colors now rock snug pants, bright, oversized graphic tees, spotless vanity sneakers and hats with brims flatter than Kansas.

Problem is that the writer misses the larger point by overemphasizing fashion in his analysis.  Moreover, while he references "indie music", many of his prominent music examples tend to be hip hop ones (hipster rap, courtesy of Lupe Fiasco and Kanye), so it feels like the implication is that skaters and rappers got together and spawned this trend.  Maybe that's true.  From a certain perspective.  But you and I know that there was a lot of rock influencing this trend.

The upside of this article is that it shows that this black hipster trend has gone mainstream.  And because TheRoot.com provided a platform to discuss this, even more people will learn about it, as evidenced by some of the feedback on Twitter.  What we're seeing is the way that trends move across the landscape.  As I wrote in a comment to the piece:

Those of us who are digitally savvy and live much closer to the cutting edge of music and fashion culture have surely noted the black hipster trend. It's easy to forget that there's a whole country full of people who aren't really hip to Santigold, TV On The Radio, or Lupe Fiasco and the hundreds of other bands that provide the soundtrack for this cultural shift we're all experiencing. They don't really know what "Afro-punk" is and they have some vague notion that "Black rock" somehow only means Living Colour.

Moving this idea of Black rock forward–and I mean far beyond its current enclaves in NYC, ATL and other cities–requires that many more people start talking and writing about it.  Together, those impressions will add up and we'll get to the point when Black rock and Afro-punk are no longer strange concepts.

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One Response to “On TheRoot.com: The Rise of the Black Hipster” Subscribe

  1. hD May 26, 2009 at 07:22 #

    I’m a tad suspicious whenever NYT or anyone else makes these announcements. Growing up in suburban NJ in the 80′s, I (we) dressed like Kanye 25 years ago. Izod belts, Louis Vuitton wallets, RL oxfords, mixed w/Van Grack(!) and old Pierre Cardin topcoats from Antique Boutique on Broadway. All the while listening to the BarKays, Prince, Golden Earing, Miles, Cheap Trick, Marshall Crenshaw, Ian Hunter, Flash, Curtis Blow, MC Shan/KRS Battles, FISHBONE, Depeche, Echo + the Bunnymen, THE FIXX, UNTOUCHABLES and many other fantastic mixed up eclectic sounds of the day. News Flash,: What’s old is new again, point blank.

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