NEW YORK — A new generation of rappers has grown up with the hoodies on.
But as the world’s newest fashion trend of the 21st century begins to hit mainstream, there’s a new kind of rite of birth for those born with them: a young rapper’s welcome to the hood.
“It’s just an exciting thing to get in the hood and wear these hoodies,” said Joey Santiago, 19, a freshman at Loyola University Chicago who’s been playing in the Brooklyn-based hip-hop collective Brooklyn Roots since 2013.
“You can’t help but feel like you’re part of a community.
You feel like it’s something you’ve been doing your whole life.”
A year ago, the Brooklyn Roots, a collection of streetwear and hip-hoppers from the city’s hip-to-the-ground community, opened their doors to the public.
Since then, the group has grown to include many artists who have gone on to be recognized as part of hip- to-the game, including J. Cole, Future, T.I., Young Thug and Lil Wayne.
It’s not just young rappers who are embracing hoodies.
There are also legions of people who grew up with them as kids who now wear them, some of whom now wear hoodies themselves.
“I grew up in a hood,” said 23-year-old Aaliyah, whose own line of street-wear, Nude, debuted this year.
“I used to have my hoodies in my bag.
Now, I wear them with my hair in pigtails.”
And if you’re a newbie, you’ll probably have no idea you’re an expert at hoodie fashion.
It’s so much fun to wear them!
“People are like, ‘Oh, it’s so cool, you should wear them,'” said Santiago, who was born in South Florida and is from Brooklyn.
“But you really need to learn how to get into the hood, because they’re really important.
It can make you look different.”
And unlike traditional hoodies, these are not just for women, said Santiago.
It was a common fashion trend among African Americans during the 1960s and ’70s to wear white, flannel or wool jackets over their hoodies to blend in with their white-collar, working-class roots.
That trend, said one historian, “is one of the first moments that black Americans really started to get their own identity, their own sense of self.
It really helped them to feel like part of society.”
Aaliyah wore her hoodie to the BET Hip Hop Awards in April, as well as in New York City to promote her new album.
She said she was not surprised that she got attention for her style.
“A lot of rappers are so insecure.
It wasn’t the first time I ever wore my hoodie.
It just made me want to wear it more,” she said.
“And the more I wore it, the more it just made people think, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.'”
In addition to being part of the hip-hippy culture, Santiago said his experience as a street-style artist also helped shape his fashion aesthetic.
“The hoodie is something I’ve always wanted to wear.
I was like, I wanna be a fashion designer, I want to do this, I’m just gonna go and do it.
And I think that’s kind of what it feels like to be a street artist, is to do it,” Santiago said.”
People will tell you that I’ve been wearing hoodies my whole life.
And people will also tell you I’m a really good dancer and I’m really good at acting.
But I don’t wear them very often.
And so I thought, what if I’m like, really serious about it and I want people to see what I can do?”
The answer was I put my clothes on.
And you know, I feel like I did something really cool when I wore them,” he added.