As we all gear up to go H.A.M at the upcoming Watch The Throne concerts, let’s take a trip down memory lane with the kings of hip-hop: Jay-Z and Kanye West. The Throne, the apt nickname for this unstoppable rap duo, is arguably the sole proprietor of modern street style. The recent launch of Kanye’s luxury womenswear line, DW, cemented his presence in the realm of high fashion. Jay-Z’s urban clothing line, Rocawear, has thrived since 1999 and continuously produces items for the street-savvy style set. Their undeniable impact on both urban and mass-market fashion is only outshined by their proverbial chokehold on the music industry, and positions them as rap royalty. Jay–Z sports his New York Yankees cap as a crown while Kanye is adorned with stacked golden chains in a truly regal fashion. The Throne is a tantalizing mingling of gangsta and gentleman, and all we can do is watch and learn.
Preppy in Pink (2004)
Remember this Kanye West? With his signature diamond Jesus piece and long-sleeved button-up underneath a knit sweater? He offered a nice contrast to the overtly gangster rappers with their saggy jeans and hoodies and became a representative for the newly popular backpack rappers. From the outside he looks like a well-groomed middle schooler preparing to take his yearbook pictures, but he’s quick to remind you that Ralph Lauren was boring before he wore it. Around this time, many of us were still trying to figure out how to pronounce his name and he was busy plotting his emergence as a style icon.
Yeezy updated his preppy style with a more modern interpretation of the varsity jacket and sophisticated dark wash jeans. The camel-colored leather belt and gold watch displayed a newfound maturity while the camo accessories stayed true to his fun-loving fashion choices. Who else would buy a camouflage patterned Louis Vuitton duffle? He also made waves as he donned the Air Jordan Aqua 8’s, a priceless shoe for any sneaker head.
Red Hot (2010)
The fashion world usually doesn’t condone monochromatic ensembles, but he’s Yeezy and you can’t tell him nothing anyway, right? Kanye donned this fiery outfit at a 2010 VMA Performance of his single Runaway. This Peter Hidalgo suit was immaculately tailored and the gold chains added a touch of urban swag while the black deep v -neck tee gave a hint of hipster. Still a sneaker fiend, Mr. West sported the red gym shoes that he designed in collaboration with his go-to designer, Louis Vuitton. This is a perfect example of Ye’s eclectic style palette and it serves as an overall cohesive and appealing look. Don’t try this at home though.
Feminine Flair (2011)
Kanye wrapped up this year’s Coachella festival in an unforgettable, well…blouse. Always ahead of the fashion curve, Kanye donned this top from the European womenswear line, Céline. Girls and guys alike were enthralled with this geometric and eye-catching blouse. Yeezy snatched this ensemble straight off of the runway and paired it with relaxed and distressed jeans for a more functional look. His show-stopping top was appropriately accessorized with his signature stack of gold chains and a heap of threaded bracelets. Luckily, he’s man enough to pull off this evidently feminine look with macho man ease.
Rocking Rocawear (2007)
This 2007 Rocawear advertisement perfectly displays Jay-Z’s signature style. The dark color palette, almost-sagging jeans, and sunglasses have become mainstays in Hov’s style repertoire. The gold Roc-A-Fella Records chain and graphic tee add a touch of bling, but Jay–Z isn’t the flashy type. He approaches street style with a keen eye to looking put together and making items that can be easily incorporated into everyday wear. Although you don’t usually see him wearing his own clothing line anymore, he is the king of street style. As a respected fixture in the rap game, Jay doesn’t typically reflect the latest trends, instead sticking to his personal preferences and updating when necessary.
This picture was taken before Jay-Z’s performance at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Although he is still maintaining his usual urban swag, Jay has mastered the art of adding mainstream appeal to his style. He has scaled down the bling and opted for a slimmer fit in his denim. The black jacket and shades add a rock star edge to the all-American white tee and jean look. Unlike other big city businessmen, Jay prefers his black jacket, jeans, and sneaks over a suit and tie. Either way, he’s taking care of business.
Run This Town (2009)
Jay- Z donned this nearly-all-black-everything look while attending a New York Yankee’s victory party that he hosted at his 40/40 Club in 2009. Jay’s classic thermal top, dark wash jeans, and boots exhibit his laidback street style. This self-proclaimed city boy showed his pride with his signature Yankees cap and a championship varsity jacket. What could be better than bringing together America’s favorite pastime and America’s favorite rapper? Jay-Z even teamed up with the Yankees to create limited edition memorabilia and apparel in 2010. And yes, he is cool enough to wear shades inside.
Jay showed that he cleans up quite well with his 2009 performance of Empire State of Mind at the American Music Awards. Channeling another New York gentlemen, Frank Sinatra, Jay wore a strikingly dapper suit. He departed from his typical dark color palette and opted for crisply cream-colored elements. The black bowtie, pants, and shades are a reminder that there’s still a little Hov under that suit. Looking more like a member of The Rat Pack than The Throne, Jay–Z proves that he can pull off both street and formal wear successfully.