Hip-Hop’s Cultural Comebacks: When Everything Old is New Again


They say there’s nothing new under the sun. That definitely seems to be true when it comes to cultural trends. Remember Dwayne Wayne’s glasses? Well, if not, just take a ride past your nearest high school. Many of the trends you remember from skinny jeans to jean skirts, from oversized sweatshirts to combat boots, are back in style and in a major way.

There are some cultural trends that are making a welcome comeback, like around-the-way girls with extensions in their hair, and bamboo earrings (at least two pair). Janet Jackson’s “dookie” braids from Poetic Justice are back. Colored Levi’s and Converse are reemerging on the scene as well. Still, there are also some trends that we hope never return – like Cross Colours, Starter Jackets, and pump sneakers.

All this week, AllHipHop.com ponders the “Age Effect” on Hip-Hop, both then and now. As we reflect on the youth of our culture, we take a look at some of the cultural trends that were once old, but are now brand new again.

High Top Fades
In high school, all the boys I loved rocked high top fades. The high top was one of the most original and unique haircuts black culture had seen since the Afro. Popularized in the late 1980s, Big Daddy Kane rocked it best, Kwame rocked it most creatively, and Kid, well… Kid rocked it the highest and flyest. Once the high top fade phenomenon fizzed in the mid ’90s, I was sure that it would never be seen nor heard from again.

But in recent years, high school boys all across the country have been rocking the high top again. From plain black to accented with streaks of blond or red, the high top is making a triumphant return in classrooms and prom pictures by young men who may have had a father with the same hairstyle. Of all the cultural comebacks, this one probably brings back some of the best memories.

Skinny Jeans
In the 1950s, jeans had no choice but to be skinny. When Elvis shimmied in his Levi’s, they were cut to fit. The cut remained the same for almost 20 years, when the disco era rocked them funky and flared. The ’80s saw the skinny cut come back in for a brief moment, until the ’90s when what some would call the influence of “jail culture” saw young people rocking their jeans baggier with no belts. Now, skinny jeans are back again in a big way. As hipsters create their own cool culture, and urban style icons include eclectic personalities like Lil Wayne, Pharrell and Kanye West, skinny jeans have made their way from the punk rock underground back to the streets.

Asymmetric Haircuts
The young ladies are also rocking throwback haircuts. There was no hairstyle more definitive of the ’80s for urban teen girls than “The Asymmetric.” Named so because it was short on one side and long on the other, this hairstyle was taken mainstream by Salt N’ Pepa who were as known for their hairstyle as they were for their rhymes.

The asymmetric haircut has been rocked recently by Rihanna, Megan Good, and young women all around the country. In fact, Alicia Keys recently cut her long locks into an asymmetric and debuted it on Instagram.

These are just a few of the cultural trends that we are happy to see returning again. What were some of your favorite trends from your youth? And if you’re on the younger end of the Hip-Hop spectrum, which ones do you hope make a comeback, and which ones will you never, ever rock?