Twenty-something years ago, a pop culture procreation arose offering unfiltered insight into urban culture glossed over in mainstream media. Hallmarked in history by its contribution to fashion and music, the ‘90s was a burst of energy, empowerment, expression and soul that has never been repeated quite in the same way. And as 2Pac, TLC and Notorious B.I.G were forging music history, our infamous 99x series was hitting its stride. Taking cues from its pop culture accomplice - music - the 99x series pushed the limits of fashion to the edge, taking an uncompromising focus on innovation and timeless style. These legendary silhouettes were game-changers for ‘90s fashion, paving the way of the ‘Dad Shoe’ trend. Fast-forward to 2018, it’s no surprise that this legendary design series still forges fashion trends, indicative in the latest X-90 release.
Building off ‘90s music as a key driver inspiring the 99x series, and recent X-90, we presented a challenge to three local artists, each who encapsulate a unique presence in music, today. We asked them to explore the ‘90s in all its complexities, and come out with a track which pays homage to this iconic decade.Watch the video
Creating a masterpiece is a fine art; something that MeloDownz, JessB and Bailey Wiley can all attest to. It involves each of them bringing their unique sounds to the table and exploring how these can interconnect thoughtfully, creating a vibrant story that comes together completely organically. The process holds collaboration at its heart, combined with a collective vision, passion and most importantly, camaraderie - “it’s not about us, it’s about the song”.
Hailing from cosmopolitan Auckland, JessB brings a force of focus and energy indicative in her latest EP Bloom, an update of early-2000s Timbaland-esque rap with global and local undertones. JessB’s unique sound melds ever-so cohesively with the gritty urban notes brought alight by MeloDownz, a proud Avondale-ian and exceptional lyrical storyteller in his own right. Getting on as fellow artists, the project is made even sweeter by the captivating riffs that flow poignantly from Bailey Wiley, an authentic songstress whose art captures a rawness, and a refreshing sense of humility.
'Hip hop is about ultimate expression'. The '90s gave us a lot to digest: It was an era of female empowerment in music, and flossy finesse in fashion with authenticity as a standout theme tying this decade together. From the early days of the male-dominated genre, emerging female rappers like Missy Elliot, MC Lyte and Salt N Pepa, proved that women were fearless and strong, especially when unified. Being '90s babies, JessB and Bailey Wiley have a special connection to this decade, resonating with the powerful women who forged the female beginnings of a male-dominated industry.
'90s fashion was (and still is) a true spectacle of cultural expression so divergent from past trends. Kicks, for instance, began to be classed as an extension of who you were, with a big emphasis on being 'original' and 'fly' (like a white guy) - fashion became an identity piece, where people were able to tell a visual story through the labels they wore. Particularly for MeloDownz, the '90s have a special influence on his style and identity as an artist today, incorporating smaller style cues from the era with a contemporary twist. In similar fashion, the unmistakable design of the X-90 has been inherited from the 99x series, yet every element has been crafted with a modern motif in mind.
Therein lies the creation of a meaningful body of art, inspired by the decade that brought us notable cultural insight, and brought to life by three humble kiwi musicians.
Mad love to MeloDownz, JessB and Bailey Wiley for their dope talent, and amazing spirit; SWISH NZ for bringing to life the story in visuals; and the ‘90s for providing the goods for today’s (and tomorrow’s) creators.
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