I'm going to begin this post by simply stating, so that there's no confusion, that I do NOT care if a man wears a skirt. Especially if it is worn the way Kanye West wears it.
This morning news broke that Kanye West requested that all of his pictures from the Hurricane Sandy 12.12.12. concert be removed from Getty images. Many people speculated it was because he was wearing a "skirt," however those people should be aware that Getty still has all the pictures of Kanye wearing a very similar skirt on the Watch The Throne tour. If his issue was the skirt, he would have removed all of them, and not one isolated set of pictures. With that said, others speculated that it was in response to Brand Nubian’s Lord Jamar, who dissed Kanye for feminizing hip-hop, in a track titled, “Lift Up Your Skirt.”
In the rhyme, Lord Jamar raps:
Instagram, Black man lookin’ half a f*g/ With a blazer and vest, I’m just amazed at the mess/Pioneer of this q*eer sh*t is Kanye West/He introduced the skinny jeans to the rap scene/Then he wore a f*cking skirt on the video screen/Then he wore it again at a memorial/I can’t pretend that this sh*t ain’t deplorable/I bet this n*gga thinkin’ he lookin’ adorable/Your music’s good but your ego is horrible…
There's a famous saying that goes: "A tiger doesn't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep."
While I'm pretty sure Kanye has no reason to care about the opinion of someone who hasn't been relevant for the last 20 years, Lord Jamar explained his rhyme:
First of all, it’s not just jabs at Kanye West. It’s anybody promoting the feminization — of the Black man in hip-hop culture. Anybody that I see out there, rocking dresses and all of that type of sh*t, I might shoot a jab at. But Kanye is one of the ones right now that’s representing that movement. He’s one of the first ones that you see in a skirt. Now you got other people following suit and rocking full-out dresses or they’re trying to rock kilts. We’re not Irish. We’re not Europeans. Rocking kilts and all that is just another excuse to introduce that skirt style. You understand what I’m saying? And I’m not with it. This has nothing to do with sexuality, who they choose to be with and all that, I’m not even talking about that. I’m talking specifically about, what is hip-hop? And that’s not hip-hop. Rocking dresses with mean faces, that’s not hip-hop.”
There are so many things wrong with this statement that I am not sure where to begin.
Let me start by saying that fashion has never been a black or white thing. It is BEYOND ignorant to think that just because I listen to hip-hop and I consider myself a part of the hip-hop community, that I cannot appreciate what certain designers do in fashion. If Riccardo Tisci can use black models in his Givenchy fashion shows and ad campaign, what makes a black person wearing something that he designed out of the ordinary? Because you don't understand it? That's ridiculous.
I completely understand that reservation about wearing a skirt or kilt or whatever you want to call it, but let's be completely honest - Kanye did not purchase his skirt from the women's section. It was made for a man and because Kanye saw it and liked it - are we now saying that he cannot wear it because he is black and makes hip-hop music? The level of ignorance behind that statement is incomprehensible. Furthermore, he is wearing a pair of jeans under it.
Had he gone bare-legged we may have more of an argument here - but he didn't.
Also, while we are on the topic of jeans, are we still really having the "skinny jean" discussion? Everyone from Russell Brand to Russell Simmons has worn a fitted jean in the last year or two. Are we now only putting black men in the box of not being able to take part in the evolution of fashion? You can call it "feminizing" if you want, but how do you explain bell bottoms and platform shoes in the '70s, crop-top shirts in the '80s, or most recently - the tall tees that may have been hip-hop's first introduction to the man-worn dress, in my opinion. Fashion in general has ALWAYS had a feminine influence whether you like it or not. Had it not, we would have never been introduced to florals, spring colors, or even the boot cut jean.
We can't put ourselves in a box and then complain about inequality. Black people have always been responsible for innovations in so many fields and fashion is one of them. Designers constantly look to the African-American community for influence and we should commend someone for stepping out of the box and keeping the gears turning on an industry that doesn't always cater to our community.
I'm not saying that wearing a skirt is for everyone. I'm not even endorsing it, but what I am saying is that if it came down the runway on a man, it has been featured by several designers, and was placed in the men's section that all types of people shop in, then there should be no reservation for a black man to buy it.
As much as Lord Jamar is fighting for black men in the hip-hop community, I seriously think that he is out of touch with that very community. Had he been in touch, he would know that it is gravitating to a more fashion forward genre. From Chief Keef going on shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus, to Kanye West designing his own collection of clothing, we have all gotten to a place where it is okay to be a man and still express your own individual style. It's sad when it becomes clear that an old head can't recognize that.
If you want to wear a skirt, skinny jeans, whatever else that might be considered a little left field, go for it, but if you don't, just try not to judge the guy that did.
Chances are the ladies might like him more for it anyway, so who really came out on top?
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