As important as the ‘Jheri Curl’ or the ‘Zipper’ jacket Michael Jackson wore in the “Beat It” video. Bigger than an Andre 3000 bow tie or Throw-back jersey with some S. Carter Reeboks and dookie gold rope chains, the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has lasted longer than the careers and lives of rappers. 20 years ago rappers started dressing like they were going to rob their fans. NWA came on the scene and even though they looked tough, nobody could remember seeing their local gang member walking down the street in a black Raiders hat with matching $200 Starters jacket. That changed after an arrest and eventual release from jail of Tupac Shakur. Tupac emerged from a precinct after making bail, spitting on camera men and cussing… acting like a real G! From that point on, people wanted to dress like they were ‘real’.
In 1994, a group out of Cleveland, Ohio emerged and changed not only the sound of rap for a brief period, but changed fashion… for a really long time. When people became fascinated by the sound from the song “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”, they ached to see who these guys were. When the video “Foe the Love of Money” appeared on BET (where else), people finally saw what a ‘thug’ wore. Looking like they were in the same clothes they rode the Greyhound bus to Los Angeles wearing, young men began to dress like they couldn’t afford anything else, on purpose. Bones Thugs and Harmony not only made Eazy E relevant again; they put iron and ironing board manufacturers out of business. They also saved a lot of money on the wardrobe budget… MO WEED MO WEED MO WEED!
Schools across the country had to issue uniforms to offset a student body looking as if they would shoot you for getting a Master’s in Education. This did not stop the thug ‘as a fashion’ statement, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is intelligent in his ignorance; “you want me to wear a uniform? I won’t put on the belt”. The thug ‘as a fashion’ statement never grew out of (or into) their choice of clothes. They became 35-year-olds with a closet full of oversized jeans, 40 pairs of Nikes but not a pair of slacks or dress shoes for a job interview. The thug ‘as a fashion statement’ helped society in one major way… it let companies know who not to hire. The unemployment rate has been tied to trends in the economy, bad decisions by the Federal government, even the greed of Wall Street. High unemployment rates can also be tied directly to a large number of people in the ‘hiring pool’ that don’t own a tie and think their whitest T-shirt is appropriate interview attire.
The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has a hard time making connections. He questions why the police are always stopping him when walking down the street. He fails to make the connection that REAL thugs only wear hooded sweatshirts, in 90 degree heat, when they have something to hide… like when they are trying to hide their gun or their face, after they have used their gun. Police are trained to stop people who look like they are hiding a gun, they learned this in class they took while in the police academy called “Characteristics of Individuals Carrying Guns” which has been retitled “What Thugs Wear”. Those characteristics happen to be the style of choice for the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, oversized clothes to hide the bulk of a weapon, pants sagging from the bulk of a weapon, walking slow as if the they are being slowed down from the weight from the bulk of a weapon. The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, thinks that looks cool… because the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is stupid.
Real thugs have learned that when a cop stops you, talk to him. If you act like you have nothing to hide and not give a police officer a reason to arrest you, the cop probably won’t arrest you… cops do not like writing ‘arrest reports’. The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ always runs and he is always caught. Because he is not wearing a belt, so his pants fall to his ankles, causing him to trip and fall, allowing the fat cop to slowly walk over to him and place him in handcuffs.
Real thugs dress like this out of necessity or lack of money to afford better. The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ can actually afford to buy proper and better fitting clothing. Instead they shop at “Thugs Iz Us” and pay 200 percent more for a style a real thug gets from the Dickies section at Wal-Mart or from his older brother after he grows out of it.
The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, believes that the world is against them and that everybody hates them because they are constantly being jumped and attacked by large groups of teenagers. When in reality, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ fails to realize that real thugs beat up anyone in a ‘thug uniform’ they do not recognize. It is a defense mechanism for real thugs; they have come to learn that people they do not recognize that look like they are carrying guns are probably carrying guns.
What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, about the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not the embarrassment they feel when they see men from their community looking ignorant. Not even the initial fear that comes across them when they see the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ until they realize they are not real thugs. What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, is that at least 3 times a week because the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not wearing a belt they look at another man’s ass to realize they have on the same pair of draws!
Because you are not going anywhere, reluctantly we honor you the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’. Even though the rappers that influenced your style opted for $3,000 suits as soon as they could afford them (have you seen T.I. in a crooked hat and sagging jeans since his third album? Nope), even though we tried our best to forget about you for some reason you held on until we had to embrace you. Kind of like Betty White, you out lived everyone in your generation until we had no choice but to give you a Life Time Achievement Award… The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ the “Betty White” of Black History Month. Please accept this award, this job application, and this belt. You can either put it on and wear it at an appropriate level or we can whup your ass with it, the choice is yours.