Rap is camp and has been ever since its birth. Rappers have always challenged the accepted elements of high taste, riding the borderline between tacky and tasteful with their outrageous looks, from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes right up to modern-day standouts like Migos and Kid Cudi. Hip-hop demands exaggeration, but it also requires cool to pull it off, leaning into sillier elements with so much verve and seriousness that it makes the ridiculous aspirational.
So, it’s only right that hip-hop showed out at last night’s Met Gala, where the theme for the evening was “camp.” While the entertainment and fashion worlds’ biggest stars put high-concept couture on display, there is no one better at “making fun out of… artifice and elegance,” in the words of English novelist Christopher Isherwood, than rappers. In fact, it’s almost disappointing that more rappers weren’t invited — Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, and Busta Rhymes could have all given a clinic on how to turn up their fashion choices to eleven. Even without them, though, hip-hop represented and showed the Met’s attendees how it’s done. These are the hits and misses, the highs and lows of hip-hop at the 2019 Met Gala.