When Danny Brown arrived for our video interview during CMJ last fall, he had a woman with him wearing a cropped leather jacket and a sheer white dress. You could see her butt very clearly. She was very nice and said she once knew someone who worked at FADER, but we couldn’t figure out who it was.
For his performance that night, Brown wore a hooded, tiger-striped dinner jacket. He looked nuts, as he often does. Over the past year, his outfits have become increasingly absurd. Why? He might ask, Why not? For someone who really relishes his downtime, Brown likes to dress up when he goes out. As his wardrobe got more outlandish his language got more exact, his rapping more precise and his songs more whole. Right now, he is unparalleled, which makes his clothing all the more curious. There’s no shame in vanity, but Brown’s penchant for flair feels more like a threat. When you’re the (self-proclaimed) greatest rapper ever, who cares if you dress like Carmen Miranda?
Years ago, I worked for a small company that shared its office with another business. During lunch, they were discussing the day’s interviews for an administrative position. I mentioned that it irked me that a candidate had come in wearing jeans and a T-shirt, an unprofessional look. The boss, a spacey, creative type, easily swayed, agreed and he wasn’t hired. The rest of the staff side-eyed me with chagrin as they went back to the drawing board. I felt bad. I heard that, years later, they hired him and he was a great employee. Even though I was clearly wrong, I still stand by the sentiment that the clothes make the man. Everyone cares what everyone wears—especially in rap and especially on the internet. So much of the digital chatter about Brown is about his hairdo, not his music. That is frustratingly understandable, because his hair is out of control. But so are his songs.
Maybe I still need to learn to not judge a book by its cover. With our Spring Style issue—featuring stories on Kendrick Lamar and his Black Hippy crew, the legendary Jamaican group The Congos and space alien designer Gerlan Marcel—we’re just aiming to give you some good reading material. Wear whatever you’d like.