Of all the traits that are valued in hip-hop, the one that truly sets artists apart is originality. While charisma, lyricism, and wit all play a part in a rapper’s persona, that persona won’t amount to much if the rapper doesn’t distinguish him- or herself from the hundreds of competitors and imitators that will inevitably crop up.
One of the ways rappers try to do so is through their unique style of dress, from their embracing of one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry to the latest designer “drip.” Bronx rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, best known for his hits “Drowning” and “Look Back At It,” works especially hard to display his personality through both. His custom chain is designed to celebrate the Highbridge neighborhood of his hometown, from which he also takes the name of his own record label distributed by Atlantic. Encrusted with a dazzling array of multicolored diamonds, the unique piece also pays tribute to one of the Bronx’s most iconic landmarks: Yankee Stadium, represented here in three-dimensional relief.
Meanwhile, burgeoning Los Angeles brand Amiri adorns A Boogie’s legs, giving something as simple as a pair of jeans a bespoke look. No two pairs of Amiri jeans are alike, and A Boogie’s represent the custom tailor’s rip-and-repair aesthetic, just as his music reflects a similar approach to repurposing established hits like Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World” and “Remember The Time” to craft the inescapably catchy “Look Back At It.”
Uproxx caught up with A Boogie while he was working in an Atlanta studio to check out his custom gear, and discuss how his choices in clothing and jewelry reflect his personality. Check out an edited and condensed version of the conversation below.
Can you tell me what makes this chain a one-of-one?
This chain isn’t just a piece of gold and diamonds. This chain is like a trophy. I come from a place where nobody makes it out. It’s right across the bridge from Harlem — everybody is familiar with the place. This right here is a stamp.
Who made the chain for you?
Eliantte made the chain for me.
How did you hook up with him?
My man Bubba put me onto him, but Bubba got put onto him by other rappers. This was before we was even rappers. We used to go to the club just to flex and all that.
When did you get this chain?
I don’t even remember, but since I got it, I ain’t been tapping out on jewelry a lot because it made me really realize jewelry… I got my trophies already. Ain’t nothing to be happy about with jewelry. It’s nothing but a waste of money if you think about it. I’m saving it.
You want property and stuff that appreciates, right?
What design elements did you have input on with this piece?
It’s crazy because it’s 3D, right? The part where there’s the most diamonds in the chain in the part you barely see, behind the Yankee Stadium. It’s like just for me — I don’t got to show nobody I have those diamonds.
It’s that how you approach music or business? Like it’s better to move in silence and let the work speak for itself?
Tell me about these jeans.
These jeans are one-of-one. I was in Paris when Mike Amiri gave these to me. We went to the Fashion Week, we went to the Balmain show, then Amiri’s show. He ended up giving me this nice gift to go home with.
What are some of the custom elements of these?
You know how everybody nowadays is into the patches. There’s some fire patches on these ones. I like ’em because nobody got ’em.
What significance do the patches have? What do they say?
I like the one with the sword on it and the patch that says “Airborne” with the eagle. I don’t even know. I just like the way it looks, that’s all. The art of it is just amazing to the eye.
That’s an interesting point. Art doesn’t necessarily have to “mean” something to move you. What are some of the other things that do move you?
I feel like when I get it, it motivates me, and when I lose it, it motivates me even more. I wanna get to the point where losing doesn’t hurt me.
It’s funny that you mention the patches coming back. When I was younger, we had the NBA patches on the jeans. It’s a joke now, but that was the height of cool back then. What are some trends that you’d like to see come back?
I would love to see the day… You remember how rappers had clothing lines back in the day? Now, when rappers have clothing lines, it doesn’t make it that big. I feel like people don’t respect it, coming from people that aren’t perfectionists. It’s like a rapper trying to be a basketball player or a basketball player trying to be a rapper.
There are a lot of rappers trying to do so many things outside of rap now, how do you set yourself apart? What makes you a one-of-one?
I make myself different. I separate myself. It comes automatically. It’s just that spark that you need that keeps you going. Without that, you ain’t gonna have the energy for it no more.
What’s next for you musically?
When it comes to music, it’s always gonna be a trilogy for me. I started off a story for the people and I’m not gonna stop until I tell it. I have a lot of stories and creative ideas and I just wanna let people hear what they wanna hear in the way that they wanna hear it.
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.