From Rakim to A$AP Rocky, whether fitted or snapback, baseball caps have been worn by rappers for generations, and no headwear brand has solidified themselves more with hip hop music and culture than New Era. The company gained popularity among hip hop heads in the mid 1990’s, when the New York Yankees cap became one of the most coveted and popular headwear accessories of the time, often being worn in rap videos alongside army fatigues and Timberland boots. In 1996, Spike Lee first asked New Era to make him a red custom Yankees fitted, which began to usher the New Era brand outside the realm of being just another “sportswear company.” It led them to embrace urban/hip hop culture and, in turn, the culture embraced them back. New Era caps are now a staple in urban fashion and come in a countless number of variations and styles. They are also a common headwear accessory for hip hop artists. You would be hard-pressed to find a rapper that hasn’t rocked a New Era cap at some point in their career.
The brand is also often referenced in the music itself: Random Axe are the “True Terror beneath the New Era;” Lupe Fiasco let peeps know that he wore his “New Era sittin’ sideways;” Talib Kweli boasted that “We the New Era, you just a Starter cap;” and Jay-Z let the world know in “Empire State Of Mind” that “I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can,” and we all know he was talking about a New Era X New York Yankees cap. With New Era fully entrenched in hip hop culture and urban fashion, there have been many hip hop/rap-themed caps. We wanted to take a look at the best of them. So, get in your B-Boy stance and get ready for NECTalk’s Top 10 Hip Hop/Rap New Era Caps Of All Time.
10. Yo! MTV Raps X New Era Caps
Nowadays when you turn on a music video channel, you will usually find teenage mothers crying, the Jersey Shore posse partying, and unsuspecting people getting catfished. Back in the day when I was younger, music video channels actually played, well, music videos, and one of the most influential music video programs of its time was Yo! MTV Raps. Yo! MTV Raps was the first hip hop video show on MTV, premiering in 1988. It was hosted by Doctor Dre (Not the Dr. Dre who makes Beats Headphones, kids, a different Doctor Dre), Ed Lover and Fab 5 Freddy. The show featured music videos, interviews and performances from the hottest rappers of the time. Due to Yo! MTV Raps’ popularity in the late 80’s and early 90’s, it played a major role in the expansion of hip hop music and culture to a wider audience around the world. In 2012, New Era and MTV collaborated for a drop of Yo! MTV Raps and MTV caps in both fitted and snapback styles. You can still find some here. The hats feature a few different incarnations of the Yo! MTV Raps logo. Also included in this release are caps paying homage to the old school MTV emblem, with the hats displaying many different creative versions of it, including the classic MTV “M” in hamburger, camouflage, graffiti wall and cupcake forms. The New Era X MTV collabo was a great way to pay homage to a show and channel that played such an integral part in defining hip hop and pop culture during the 1980s and 1990s, but times have changed. There is now the Internet. So, If these hats make you nostalgic and you long for the days when you used to watch your favorite music videos on MTV and wish they would start playing them again, don’t get too excited; it’s not going to happen any time soon. This MTV Exec explains why. And even if MTV decided to start playing music videos, just remember: they won’t be playing the Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and Naughty by Nature joints that you used to watch on Yo! MTV Raps. They will be playing Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Bruno Mars. It’s 2013, and those days are gone. Just stick to YouTube.
9. A$AP Rocky X Black Scale X New Era Strapback
Raf Simmons, Rick owens is usually what A$ap Rocky is dressed in, but the rapper can also often be seen topping off his outfits with a fresh cap and, in 2012, he collaborated with New Era and Black Scale for his very own. Ever since dropping his “Purple Swag” video, the Harlem rapper has been on a role. His debut album Long. Live. A$AP debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200. He signed a record deal with Sony for $3 Million dollars and he is currently one of the biggest fashion icons in hip hop, with GQ calling him “hip hop’s high-fashion hero.” He has appeared in GQ magazine, collaborated with high-end designer Raf Simmons and even has an exclusive shirt available at H&M! Being the fashion icon he is, it’s only natural his New Era collaboration cap made its way onto our list. The black strapback cap features a green under-visor and a Black Scale American flag displayed on the back. The front is embroidered with “ASAP,” which means “Always Strive and Prosper.” From the moves Lord Flacko and his crew are making, it looks like they will be doing so for a long time to come, and if you don’t like this A$AP Rocky X New Era X Black Scale cap, you got a F***in’ problem!
8. Random Axe X New Era Fitted
Random Axe is a #GrownManRap super group consisting of Sean Price, Guilty Simpson and Black Milk. Their self-titled debut album was released on Duck Down Records in 2011 and features gritty lyrics over Black Mik’s hard-hitting beats. The album was well-received by critics and fans alike. The galaxy’s most famous Wookie, Chewbacca, even made an appearance in one of their videos where he can be seen getting trashed and raising hell. The Random Axe X New Era cap dropped to coincide with the release of their album. It comes in black and is embroidered with “Random Axe” in bold white lettering. The back displays the names of the group’s members. The most awesome thing about this fitted is the under-visor that features Guilty Simpson’s lyrics from “The Hex” that state, “I’m the true terror beneath the New Era.” This cap is still available, so you, too, can be the “true terror beneath the New Era” for $45.00 by copping one of these caps here. Full beard and mean mug are not included.
7. Lil Wayne X Live Nation X New Era Fitted
Whether you love or hate his music, it cannot be denied that Lil Wayne is one of the biggest stars in the rap game. The YMCMB founder has quite an impressive resume in the music industry. He has collaborated with many of the biggest names in hip hop. He is a Grammy Award winner, and a multi-platinum recording artist, even beating out Elvis Presley as the male artist with the most songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Rolling Stone magazine referred to Weezy as “The best emcee.” On top of all these accomplishments, Lil Wayne has also released a rock album. He was the first rapper to perform at the Country Music Association Awards and even the president of the United States, Barack Obama, enjoys bumping Weezy from time to time, on his ipod! Not only is Lil Wayne a household name, but he is also a fashion icon, known for his often over-the-top style, with no fear of taking chances. This is a rapper who even made women’s cheetah print Jeggings cool, after wearing them while performing at the VMAs. So, it’s no surprise that his New Era X Live Nation collaboration fitted that dropped in 2011 would be a head-turner! The cap is black, with a ferocious, red-eyed, blinged-out panther embroidered on the front – a nod to Lil Wayne’s lyrics from his track “Hard Body” that state, “In the game, I’m no cheetah, I’m a tiger, I’m a cougar, I’m a panther.” The under-visor features “LIL’ Wayne” in extra large, yellow bold lettering, a not-so-subtle way of letting everyone know that this is an official Weezy cap. If you own this hat, you are probably a huge Lil Wayne fan. Wear the cap with pride, and want to be just like him, which is fine, but just remember one thing: Lil Wayne is more awesome than you, so, just because he can pull off cheetah print Jeggins doesn’t mean you can.
6. Duck Down X New Era Fitted
Ever since Duck Down Music was founded by Dru-Ha and Buckshot in 1995, the record label, talent management, and consulting company has been dropping classic hip hop music that has been well-respected by fans worldwide. In their 18 years, Duck Down has released over 50 albums and sold more than 3.5 collective copies worldwide. The label even survived an internal takeover by rapper Sean Price, briefly becoming Ruck Down records for a period of time. Artists on Duck Down’s roster encompass many well-known and legendary rappers/groups including Black Moon, Smiff N Wessun, Sean Price, Krs-One, and B-Real of Cypress Hill. The label is also known for expanding, and including a younger generation of artists such as Skyzoo, Rustee Juxx, David Dallas and Kidz in the Hall. In late 2012, Duck Down released a lot of dope projects, keeping their fans happy, including: Sean Price’s Mic Tyson; Skyzoo’s A Dream Deferred; and collaboration albums from Murs & Fashawn,This Generation and Buckshot and 9th Wonder’s third album, The Solution. Duck Down is also a company known for collaborating with popular brands and, in 2009, they made a ‘Powaful Impack’ in streetwear when they teamed up with New Era for their own line of caps. The Duck Down fitted comes in either black or red and features the Duck Down logo embroidered on the front. The Duck Down man logo has been an important symbol and representation of the company which, for almost 20 years, has been keeping independent hip hop alive and in the limelight! This cap is still available via Duck Down’s website so cop one today! While you’re at it, pick up P-Money’s Gratitude album that recently dropped on the label, and pre-order Statik Selektah’s Extended Play LP that will be dropping on June 18th.
5. New Era X Fames X “King” Notorious B.I.G & “Legend” Tupac Shakur Tribute Caps
Who is the greatest rapper of all time – The Notorious B.I.G or Tupac? This debate has been going on for ages amongst hip hop fans of all generations, many believing that one of these rappers should be at the top of the list. In 2009 and 2010, Japanese cap shop Fames released fitteds paying homage to both B.I.G and Pac, honoring the memories of the late rappers, who were both tragically murdered at the height of their careers. The Notorious B.I.G cap features “King” embroidered on the front in large, bold lettering, with an image of a gold crown – a crown that Biggie wore proudly as the King of New York. The side features a logo of the Brooklyn Bridge, paying homage to the Brooklyn Bed-Stuy neighborhood where B.I.G was born, grew up and rose to fame. The under-visor displays the message “Miss You.” The Tupac fitted features “Legend” on the front, also in large bold lettering, with a red “Thug Life” bandana that Pac was well-known for wearing. The under-visor displays the message “Don’t Forget.” The back displays an image of the cross Tupac had tatted on his back, while the side is embroidered with “CA Love,” the state that Pac represented to the fullest, which is evident in the lyrics of one of his most well-known songs, “California Love.” With these two fitteds, Fames showed their respect and admiration for two of the greatest emcees of all time. Whether you are a Biggie or Tupac fan, most hip hop heads can agree that both The Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur were “Kings” and “Legends” in hip hop music and popular culture, and that they will forever be missed, and will never be forgotten.
4. Wu-Tang X Ghostface Killah X New Era X Frank 151 X Swagger Fitted
“From the slums of Shaolin the Wu-Tang Clan strikes again,” with one of their New Era caps making its way onto our list. The Wu-Tang Clan are arguably the greatest rap group of all time. Ever since they dropped their first single “Protect Ya Neck,” followed by their classic debut album “Enter the 36 Chambers” in 1993, they not only revolutionized hip hop, but they still remain relevant to a younger generation of fans, twenty years later – an amazing achievement in any genre of music. The group encompasses members The Rza, The Gza, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon The Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah and Method Man. They have all had successful solo careers, many dropping albums considered as classics by critics and fans. A big part of the Wu-Tang Clan’s enduring legacy is the Wu-Tang “W” logo, that is probably the most recognizable symbol in hip hop and any genre of music. It has been featured on countless clothing collaborations, including many cap drops with brands such as Applebum, Rocksmith, and Alife. In 2006, one of the Clan’s most successful members, Ghostface Killah, teamed up with Swagger and Frank 151 for this fitted. It comes in the Killah Bee colors, black and yellow, and features the iconic Wu-Tang “W” embroidered on the front, with the New Era logo on the side and “Ghostface Killah” displayed on the back. This cap is not easy to find, as it was an exclusive, sold only at Frank’s Chop Shop. If you are lucky enough, you may be able to find it when it pops up on Ebay. With this fitted, the Wu-Tang Clan and New Era proved that C.R.E.A.M meant to them what it has always meant to us at NECTalk: Caps Rule Everything Around Me. C.R.E.A.M. and we hope that both of these brands continue to “get the dolla dolla bill y’all!”
3. Hieroglyphics X New Era Caps
Hieroglyphics are an Oakland based hip-hop crew founded by Del The Funky Homosapien. They are made up of rappers Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Casual, Souls of Mischief (Phesto, Opio, A-Plus and Tajai), Pep Love, Domino and DJ Toure. The Hieroglyphics crew has been making original music since the early 1990’s, staying true to themselves and never following trends. They are also pioneers in using the internet to promote their music/brand and staying connected to their fans. They have released countless numbers of projects over the years, some of which are held in high esteem by hip hop fans, such as Del The Funky Homosapien’s collaboration with Dan The Automator, Deltron 3030, as well as Souls of Mischief’s iconic track ’93’Till Infinity’, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. In 2010, Hieroglyphics teamed up with New Era to release their own line of caps, even putting out a commercial for the collaboration. The initial drop featured fitteds in two different colorways: Oakland A’s green & yellow and San Francisco Giants’ black and orange. These caps were a nod to the crew’s bay area roots. Hiero later expanded their line of caps to another two popular MLB colorways: the New York Yankees’ navy blue and white, and the LA Dodgers’ royal blue and white, showing love to both the East and the West coast! All of these caps feature the Hieroglyphics’ Third Eye logo, one of the most iconic and enduring images in hip hop. Over twenty years since the crew was founded, all Hieroglyphics members are still releasing projects – which is quite an accomplishment in an era where artists’ careers come and go in the blink of an eye. Souls of Mischief really meant it when they said that it was going to be “’93’Till Infinity.”
2. Jay-Z X New Era X New York Yankees Fitted
“Woo! Guess who’s back? Since this is a New Era, got a fresh New Hat” – Jay-Z. No rapper from any ‘era’ can claim to have remained as relevant, on top of the rap game, and a fashion icon for as long as Jay-Z has – from Reasonable Doubt to The Blue Print 3, from Hawaiian Shirts to ‘All Black Everything.’ No matter how many albums Jay-Z has released, or how many times he has switched up his style and ‘changed clothes,’ one fashion accessory has always remained constant with Jay-Z as a representation of who he is and where he is from: The New Era X New York Yankees Cap. So, it was only fitting that in 2010, Jay-Z collaborated with the New York Yankees and New Era to release his own limited edition fitted. The ever-ambitious Jay-Z even had these hats available to buy at Yankee Stadium! The cap comes in an all-black colorway, with the Yankees logo embroidered on the front. The side features the three red stripes image that is also on the cover of the Jay-Z’s The Blue Print 3 album. The back of the cap displays the motto “All Black Everything,” as well as the MLB logo. Also, in 2010, Jay-Z was spotted wearing another exclusive all-black Yankees cap, so exclusive it may be the only one in existence. The under-visor features Jay-Z’s lyrics from his New York anthem, Empire State of Mind: “I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can.” From this official collaboration cap with the New Era and the Yankees, it looks like these brands are getting behind Jay’s statement. They even printed it on a hat! Think about it. The only Yankees to ever have an official cap collaboration with New Era are legendary players such as: Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, and Babe Ruth. Jay-Z got his cap in much less time! He has also never been on the team and doesn’t even play baseball! I guess Hov really is the God MC.
1. Run-D.M.C X New Era Fitted
The King of Caps. There is non higher (on this list), so all you other sucker caps better call this Run-D.M.C X New Era cap sire! Run-D.M.C is one of the most influential music groups of all time, founded in the early 80’s by Run, D.M.C and the late Jam Master Jay (RIP), who all grew up in Hollis, Queens. Run-D.M.C were pioneers in the rap game. They were the first rap group to go gold, platinum and multi-platinum, and also the first rap group to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. MTV named them the “greatest hip hop group of all time”, and they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their collaboration track, “Walk This Way,” with Aerosmith helped introduce rap music to mainstream America. Run-D.M.C also were responsible for popularizing hip hop style and fashion. Shunning the rock/disco styles of rap artists such as Africa Bambaataa and Melle Mel, Run-D.M.C ignored the trends of tight leather and rhinestones for more ‘street’ clothing such as leather jackets, track suits, fedoras, rope chains and, of course, Adidas sneakers. So, it’s no surprise that in 2009, the group who helped bring hip hop style and fashion from the streets to mainstream America were featured on one of the most popular accessories in urban fashion and streetwear today: the New Era cap. First popping up in Japan, and later at many New Era accounts, and even flagship stores, the hat comes in black and features the iconic white and red “Run-D.M.C” logo, embroidered on the front in large lettering. It is also displayed on the back in a smaller version. The Run-D.M.C logo is one of the most recognizable logos in music, often being referenced in many aspects of pop culture. It even has its own Name Generator! In 2002, Run-D.M.C brokeup after the still unsolved murder of the group’s DJ, Jam Master Jay. Most hip hop fans can agree that there will never be another group as influential as Run-D.M.C in music or fashion, and when you ‘Walk This Way’ with this cap on, people will never forget the Hell Run-D.M.C raised in the 1980’s, and if they’re too young to remember, let ’em know!