We’re living in the age of digital music. An era when most people have access to vast libraries of classic and current songs, readily available in the palms of their hands. Aux cables and Bluetooth technology have made us all would-be DJs. We can now queue up tracks in real-time and create the soundtracks to our lives — always striking the appropriate musical chord, aptly capturing the mood, and setting the vibe for life’s every moment.
This is all great, but it has its downsides. For one, we pay for access, not ownership, and the prospect of an album slowly growing on you doesn’t really exist anymore. We don’t live with our albums because we’re able to make snap judgments on the latest Kanye or Drake and then move on with our lives. On the bright side, that means we never have to say things like “I can only listen to tracks 1, 4, 10, and 12 of Hollywood’s Bleeding because I dropped my cd on the floor of the Best Buy parking lot.” See, give and take.
What the hell does all of this have to do with hip-hop apparel? Well, everything. Tour merch produces grueling lines at every show, festival, and event for a reason — and it’s not just because people like buying clothes. Merch is popular because we’ve never stopped wanting to hold a tangible representation of the artists we love and support. The reason vinyl sales are still a thing is that people love to flex their creative affiliations with an artifact that doesn’t rely on a digital display or the f*cking cloud. But while album sales don’t account for much cash in the pockets of our favorite artists, merch absolutely does (so long as there isn’t a 360 deal between the label and the artist). So while it’s nice that you stream Rico Nasty’s Anger Management in full 50 times a week, the best way to support her — financially speaking — is to catch her live and buy the merch, plain and simple.
Tour merch is similar to a limited drop from Supreme or any other streetwear label that follows the low-supply high-demand model. For a brief window in time, we’re able to pick up a sweater or shirt that represents a specific tour or album cycle, it’s a way to say “I was there” and like the most coveted streetwear drops, the resale prices on some of these pieces are astronomical. But not all merch hits on the same level. Some of it is downright bad — we’re looking at you 21 Savage — and even the most respected artists have been known to pull through town with weak drops from time to time.
To help you navigate this sprawling subset of the streetwear world, we’ve collected all the best hip-hop tour and album merch from this year to get you repping your favorite artists in style. We’ve omitted any pieces that are currently sold out, so if you’re wondering where the YEEZY Sunday Service collection is or the dope-as-hell Kendrick DAMN Sweater, you’ll have to look to the resale market.
Without further ado, here is all the best hip-hop apparel merch of 2019 that’s still available online.