Style Icon: Joey Bada$$


It is hard to confine Joey Bada$$, rapper and founder of the group Pro-Era, into a box, and impossible to categorize him under one specific type of artist. While the style Joey adopts in his music has been called 90s-esque due to his named influences--Tupac, Nas, Jay-Z--the whole point of the thing, this art thing, he says, is to remain unpredictable. The man himself says that his personality and everything he stands for can never be retained by the boundaries of a category, a type, a single definition... seeing the word "style" next to Joey Bada$$'s name is an oxymoron, simply because he is never standing in just one place, or making music in just one way. He is everywhere, and that's pretty damn special.

For a month I was obsessed with Joey Bada$$'s songs, and that obsession lasted from the moment I first listened to him to the moment I was ready to live unpredictably without his example. His rejection of a fixed identity spoke to me in particular because I believed that I had until the end of my ~youth~ to find myself. But such thinking only implies that "myself" does not change at age thirty, or forty: a statement that is supremely untrue. There's always room for growth, and evolution, and these things--this constant state of dynamism--is what Joey Bada$$ stands for. His beats jump and start and stop in the most unimaginable (the most RIGHT) places, but the song remains conscious of itself. Everything that surrounds the voice asserts the lyrics' message further.

This is only further reflected in his fashion sense. What you'll notice is that he pairs a lot of colorful items with equally colorful everything-else, and something within that mix will match up in this really satisfying way. Different, almost-clashing patterns throw you off enough to hold your attention, and then you'll begin to see how the pink and red tones of his hat and shirt kind of work together. Then you'll think Wow, I kind of dig this, until the outfit continues to grow on you and you'll start thinking, Wow, I kind of dig this A LOT. 

What's especially unique about Joey Bada$$'s style is how every statement piece lives on its own, even when matched with something. One look at his clothes is enough to see the entire fit: shoes, hat, accessories, shirt, jacket. You take it all in because everything stands out, living and grabbing at you all at once. And what's amazing is that each piece--so unique and full of personality--probably took all of 3 seconds for the dude to put on in the first place. 

Joey Bada$$ is not reinventing the wheel; he's recycling it, and there's a lot of truth in what he does as an artist and how he dresses. I'd like to think of him as That One Guy Who Finds The Best Things At The Thrift Store 2.0, the one guy who knows what he's doing when he enters a Goodwill, a store with clothing that is arbitrarily, thoughtlessly curated, conscious of the world's unpredictability.

Here are some of his most iconic looks.