How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything

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Corrado Manenti
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Remember when dressing like a metalhead was considered lame? When ripped jeans, oversized black sweatshirts, band t-shirts and studded belts were a clear sign of rebellion?

From the 1990s onwards, the metal aesthetic was the typical form of expression of a very specific subculture, reserved for a fairly small niche of people. Today, for the sake of that niche, it is to all intents and purposes a mainstream phenomenon

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 1

Metal has always influenced other musical genres in various ways, often for example by giving more character to the sugary pop star of the day, but it was the encounter with hip hop that brought it into the realm of the mainstream, with all the consequences (positive and negative) that follow.

Suddenly, metal clothes and accessories had become very cool, and even the best-selling items for many brands.

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 2

When he posted this selfie on his Instagram profile (May 2017), Italian rapper Marracash made it clear that he, unlike others, really liked Metallica

No one expected this trend to take off so quickly: in no time at all, the t-shirt you would previously have found on a squatter's stall outside the Forum in Assago had been revamped by a designer and cost 500 euros.

Today, references to the 1990s are rampant on the catwalks and in everyone's collections, and this long series of 'tributes to' now seems out of control.

Who do we have to thank for all this? As with most millennial trends, it all seems to have started with Kanye West's first Yeezy collection. 

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 3

The font of Yeezus: doesn't it remind you of something?

Three years ago Kanye West debuted his new tour: Yeezus. It didn't escape the hawk eyes of true metalheads that the logo was a hybrid between that of Metallica and Judas Priest, and although Kanye and Kim and various members of the Kardashian clan had been photographed wearing Metallica and Megadeath t-shirts, the 'tribute to' theory didn't seem very defensible.

Despite this, the tour went very well and the first Yeezy collection too. Everything Mr West touched turned to gold. Even now, in a decidedly less rosy period, a low-cost streetwear brand in Los Angeles has been raided by fans who have bought any item just because they saw one on Kanye West.

In short, Yeezy was the Trojan horse that brought the metal aesthetic into the rap world. 

 
- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 4

The Vetements explosion

Demna Gvasalia is a kind of pagan streetwear deity. With Vetements, the designer apparently subverted the entire industry with ironic, oversized sweatshirts and unusual collaborations. Later, this mischief would even lead him to direct Balenciaga.

Vetements' speciality is appropriating everythingfrom romantic 90s movies to grunge, from courier uniforms to black metal. The piece that most reflects this characteristic of the brand is the sweatshirt in the picture above, with the words 'Drink from me and live forever' on the sleeve and the pentacle on the back.

It is surely no coincidence that Demna Gvasalia was one of the designers behind the first Yeezy collection and that Kanye West is always front row at its shows.

The Vetements explosion

Demna Gvasalia is a kind of pagan streetwear deity. With Vetements, the designer apparently subverted the entire industry with ironic, oversized sweatshirts and unusual collaborations. Later, this mischief would even lead him to direct Balenciaga.

Vetements' speciality is appropriating everythingfrom romantic 90s movies to grunge, from courier uniforms to black metal. The piece that most reflects this characteristic of the brand is the sweatshirt in the picture above, with the words 'Drink from me and live forever' on the sleeve and the pentacle on the back.

It is surely no coincidence that Demna Gvasalia was one of the designers behind the first Yeezy collection and that Kanye West is always front row at its shows.

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 5
- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 6

Fear of God and Justin Bieber merchandising

Even though metalheads are commonly associated with the colour black, skulls and gothic lettering, one must not forget the flannel shirts with cut-off sleeves and threadbare denim that until recently were exclusive characteristics of trash metal addicts, those we used to call 'the trasheroni' in high school.

By spring 2016, the metal aesthetic had been fully assimilated by the fashion world and was beginning to become a mainstream trend. And today, it no longer seems strange to anyone that Justin Bieber is seen walking around in a T-shirt that has Marilyn Manson's face printed on it.

The man responsible this time is Jerry Lorenzo, acclaimed designer behind the luxury denim brand Fear of God. Having already branded the merchandising of several bands with the FOG logo, Lorenzo could only draw inspiration from classic metal imagery for the merchandising of Justin Bieber's Purpose Tour.

Justin, formerly the well-combed kid of pop music, has now grown up and has a look reminiscent of the Axl Rose of the good old days, complete with flannel shirts and band t-shirts. In his merchandising, the atricles Jerry Lorenzo has put his hand to (for example, the T-shirt with Bieber's name written in a font reminiscent of Metallica and the trucker caps) have been among the best sellers of the entire collection.

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 7

Black Sabbath x Supreme (?)

This collaboration between Supreme and Black Sabbath seemed completely meaningless even to those who buy something every time the brand makes a drop, and we all know how frequent Supreme's drops are and the items unjustifiably expensive.

After all, Supreme is famous for being closely connected to the rap world and street culture, and although there have already been collaborations with The Clash and The Misfits, this time it all seemed a little forced.

If we consider that the drop of the collection coincided with the middle of a decidedly disappointing Black Sabbath tour, one has to wonder which side benefited less from this marketing choice. Best to forget the whole thing as soon as possible.

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 8
- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 9

Dee Snider (Twisted Sisters) doesn't like it at all

that Chiara Ferragni is wearing a Metallica T-shirt. And she wants everyone to know it

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 10

Chiara Ferragni's Metallica t-shirt

Last October, Chiara Ferragni posted a photo on her Instagram profile in which she was wearing a t-shirt with the print of And Justice for all by Metallica. Outraged comments immediately flowed in that the fashion blogger had no right to wear it.

Aside from the fact that she'll sleep soundly anyway, the lividity of the metalheads is almost tender: it's infuriating to see that something that used to be part of a subculture's uniform on the most pop character of the moment, it's as if what you feel very special about has suddenly become a little less so.

Yet, band merchandise is now sold by all the major fast fashion chains, which I 'who actually listened to Metallica' am quite happy about, because they have a better fit and softer cotton than the Fruit of the Loom I found on the stalls as a teenager. Besides the fact that if retailers sell a band's merchandise, they definitely do so with the band's consent.

I don't know what music Chiara Ferragni likes, and I don't think Dee Snider does either. Why should it be assumed that she has never listened to Metallica? Because she is a fashion blogger? Because she's blonde, beautiful and very rich? And even if she wore metal band T-shirts just for aesthetic reasons, what would be the harm?

As a former rebellious teenager, all this lividity makes me want to claiming everyone's right to dress as they likewhich was once so dear to metalheads, and maybe buy another t-shirt online to add to my collection. Because pissing off Dee Snider sounds so rockin' to me.

- How hip hop took metal and pop ruined everything - 12

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