Hip-hop is now the most influential genre of music on the planet, and it all started here - in The Bronx. Being the birthplace of hip-hop, it’s also the breeding ground of fashion trends that aligned with hip-hop and that bond remains strong right down to this day. With that said, today’s streetwear fashion designers make apparel that speaks to rap culture. This piece will take a look at various apparel and accessories that capture the spirit of some of The Bronx’s finest hip-hop artists and their lyrics.
1. Terror Squad (Fat Joe)
THE BRONX BRAND BOROUGH SNAPBACK
Song: “Lean Back”
Artist: Terror Squad (Fat Joe, Remy Ma,
Lyric: “I don't give a f*** about your faults or mishappens n****/ We from the Bronx, New York, s*** happens
There’s not a single youngin’ or old head even who wasn’t doing the “rockaway” back in 04. Heck, Lean Back was huge outside of New York, America even. When Fat Joe spat those opening lines, he wasn’t depicting Bronx kids as cold and callous. He was merely highlighting the fact that anyone who grew up and survived life in the BX, was someone with strength and character.
That’s why this “The X” snapback pairs well with this lyric, for the fact that it symbolizes the resilience that Bronx natives possess from having to beat the odds. It’s as BX as it gets.
2. Remy Ma
QUEENS T-SHIRT BY DEATHQUEST
Song: “All the Way Up”
Artist: Fat Joe & Remy Ma
Lyric: “I'm talkin' color money, purple yen and blue dirham / I got brown lira, I ain't talkin' 'bout Ross b****”
Remy Ma resuscitated her career with “All the Way Up”, and put the spirit of the Bronx on the record too. This lyric is actually shrouded in wordplay, which we’ll let the good folks at RapGenius unravel for you. But the mentions of international currencies - the Japanese yen, the U.A.E’s dirham, and the Turkish Lira - exemplifies the ambitious heights so many women from the Bronx aspire to. These lyrics symbolize that desire to go beyond your neighbourhood because there’s so much to see. For all you ladies in the Bronx (or anywhere) with global aspirations, treat yourself like the queen you are with this “Queen” t-shirt (or the others that match your look/skin tone).
3. Big Pun
CONCRETE JUNGLE HOODIE
Song: “Twinz (Deep Cover 98)”
Artist: Big Pun
Lyric: “Dead in the middle of Little Italy/ Little did we know that we riddled some middlemen who didn't do diddly”
R.I.P to Big Pun. He truly had the gift of gab as a lyricist. Pun could stack syllables and rhymes in a way that made your ears perk up, while planting vivid imagery in your brain. The “Dead in the middle of Little Italy” line was just that - a tongue-twister that depicted gang violence at the Arthur Ave & 187th street corner. Some might call it glorification, but we see it as documentation - the brutal truth about crime-infested neighbourhoods in the Bronx. This camo hoodie symbolizes the sometimes war-like environment of the Bronx, and the soldier-like mentality required to survive here.
BOOK OF FACTS HOODIE
Song: “Sound of Da Police”
Lyric: “Watch out! We run New York / Policeman come, we bust him out the park / I know this for a fact, you don't like how I act / You claim I'm sellin' crack”
KRS-One is a hip-hop heavyweight and legend who had plenty to say during the Golden Age of Rap. In fact, almost 30 years later, the words he uttered on Sound of Da Police remain true today (unfortunately). The lyrics quoted above highlight police brutality and system racism that still runs deep in America today, as we’ve seen far too much during the George Floyd protests. So many kids from the Bronx can relate to this. For that, we matched this Book of Facts sweater to the song because of this disappointing truth: what KRS-One said way back in the 1990s is still a daily reality in the 2020s.
5. French Montana
Artist: French Montana ft. Swae Lee
Lyric: “Ship the whole crew to the cruise ship / Doin' s*** you don't even see in movies / Ride with me / Ride with me, boss”
Yes, French Montana has songs that are more “Bronx” than Unforgettable. But Unforgettable took the essence of the Bronx and turned it into an infectious, danceable hit that had the whole globe jamming. No matter how tough life gets in the BX, most people keep their hopes high, aiming for more and escaping through music and dance. With a lyric above that alludes to reaching unreachable heights rapped over such an addictive beat, Unforgettable shows off the Bronx mentality of chasing dreams while still having fun. As for the T-shirt, it’s just a vibe but it looks like it could be an alternate cover art for the single.
6. Jim Jones
THE BRONX BRAND COAT OF ARMS ANORAK
Song: “We Fly High ”
Artist: Jim Jones
Lyric: “Slow down, tonight may be gone tomorrow (one chance) / So I speed through life like there's no tomorrow (speedin'!)
For a track that’s all about flexes and...BALLIN!, you probably wouldn’t expect to find any philosophical insight, especially something existential. But the opening couplet of the second verse embeds a well-understood yet essential truth that anyone from the BX can relate to. You never know what the next day brings, so you gotta make the most of the present, especially in a tough inner-city lifestyle. As a member of the Diplomats, he repped the famous eagle logo that all hip-hop heads are familiar with. This Anorak jacket has two eagles to match The Diplomats aesthetic as well as the mindset of “flying high”.
7. Cardi B
OR WHATEVA CROP TOP
Song: “Bodak Yellow”
Artist: Cardi B
Lyric: “They see pictures, they say, "Goals/B****, I'm who they tryna be”
Cardi has had bigger hits than her debut single, but it’s her debut single that we feel is the most Bronx out of her current catalogue. These two lines were a straightforward yet powerful statement about her as a woman from the Bronx. She wasn’t just bragging about her newfound fame and riches - she triumphantly declared herself as a go-getter, a woman who manifests her “goals” by hard work, unlike others who live vicariously through IG captions. And that relentless, browbeating delivery? All of that says “whateva”, just like this aptly-matched crop top.
8. Lil Tjay
SUBWAY STARE TEE BY ANDREW PEÑA
Artist: Lil Tjay
Lyric: “They be watching me, clocking my movements / They be plotting on catching me snoozing”
Lil Tjay is a relative newcomer in the rap world but he’s a star on a meteoric rise. His song Brothers highlights that in many ways, but the lyrics shown above stand out. They speak to all the youth and young adults dealing with trauma and lifestyles or circumstances that can negatively affect mental health. Those lyrics are an everyday reality for some who live in the BX, but strangely enough, serve as a reminder to watch your surroundings and take care of one’s self. The mean mug on this subway stare T-shirt might just seem, well, mean, but to us, it’s a symbol of setting boundaries for yourself.
Hip-Hop’s Stamp on Bronx Clothing
The BX means so much to so many, including yourself. The hip-hop and fashion that this borough has given birth to can speak to you no matter what you’ve lived or looked forward to. Whether it’s a T-shirt, a hoodie or a cap, our line of Bronx clothing can be an extension of who you are and what this city means to you. And no matter what you choose to express yourself with, remember these lyrics they match with too. They might be what you need to grind through the day or simply get lit too.