This weekend rapper and fashion influencer Theophilus London performed at the Prospect Park Bandshell. It was an aesthetic clusterfuck. At peak heat advisory hours, the crowd looked unnaturally chic and danced so hard it became a health risk (really!). It was glorious.
London is a 25-year-old Trinidad-born, Brooklyn-raised rapper that pulls from an impressive array of sounds including new-wave pop, jazz and rock with some lo-fi distortion and trap beats in there too. With an extremely well-received major label debut, "Timez Are Weird These Days" (Reprise) and a following that loves his positive, feel-good performances (he chanted "good vibes" and cracked jokes on stage Saturday), London is already breaking the mold for a rapper, but his most striking feature is arguably his style.
London rocked his trademark round sunglasses, Air Jordans and snapback hat, this one reading "sade", while a slew of fashion look-alikes poured over the barricades sporting hats from London's LVRS label, worn with vintage hawaiian shirts over graphic tees. It looked like a street wear interpretation of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. And speaking of mixed influences, check out the getups sported by super talented openers Les Nubians. We dig it-
London has crossover influence in the music and fashion industries in ways unknown to new artists, and this attention is no accident. London has been deliberate in cultivating his personal aesthetic, admitting “it’s not only about the rap lyric,” explained London. “Today people are buying you as a person” (Forbes). He went on to tell Hunger TV, "I like to keep a uniform – wear a blazer, try to keep the same color pants, very tailored, very fitted but still edgy. I like vintage shopping but I also like to mix in high-end… I want to wear something that’s not perfectly matching, there has to be something unorthodox about it. I want to create this mystery".
Clearly it's working. He has already landing several high-profile campaigns and collaborations for Bushmills, Bing, Cole Hann, Del Toro and Stussy and has appeared in a number of fashion spreads. London's sound is as unorthodox as is his style, and his trend maker status has informed the way his music is received. Through cultivating a style that can't really be categorized, London set the stage for listeners to embrace his unusual sound as a glimpse of what's to come. He explains, “what I sell is the higher knowledge of knowing what’s next and not following the trend of what’s now” (Forbes). In an industry that simultaneously demands artist consistency and reinvention, London has created an aesthetic that can't be reduced to categorization.
Photos by Andrew Newton
Quotes via Forbes