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FASHION IN EARLY 2000s MUSIC VIDEOS

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A TIMELINE OF LEGACY AND INFLUENCE

The early 2000s were a glorious celebration of Hip Hop and R&B, the airways dominated by crunk and masterfully-crafted R&B albums. The effects of such an influential epoch of music can still be felt in modern music videos, particularly in the wardrobe. A musical landscape dominated by handsome R&B crooners, dulcet-voiced beauties in alluring attire, and boastful rappers draped in gold appeals to today’s artists, and as such, they are inspired to replicate that aesthetic. Reflection upon the looks in music videos of the early 2000s is inherent proof of why they continue to be remembered fondly in current times.

The prevalence of Pop and R&B divas during the beginning of the decade contributed to the abundance of bold fashion statements displayed in their music videos. Beyoncé and Britney Spears were the most prominent style icons, a status that was especially impressive in the former’s nascent solo career. The girls of Destiny’s Child were already trendsetters in their matching camouflage ensembles for their 2001 video “Survivor”. In her breakout single two years later, Beyoncé’s most memorable outfit in “Crazy In Love” was, ironically, simple and minimal. She wore a vibrant Versace SS 2003 Color Block Dress during a dance break, but her more seductive combination of a shimmering silver tank top, denim shorts, and a pair of red pumps remained more tenaciously in the minds of her captivated audience. Britney Spears began the decade in her red catsuit in the video for her 2000 hit “Oops!… I Did It Again.” The following year, she adopted a more provocative look of a pink crop top and an exposed thong of the same color for “I’m a Slave 4 U.” Her most risqué look came in 2004’s “Toxic” when, contrary to the widespread belief that she was wearing a glittering bodysuit, she had actually bedazzled her nude body with diamonds.

Other individual music videos for female artists have each been defined by the trendy looks flaunted by the performers themselves. Aaliyah’s renowned tomboyish fashionability was upgraded in her 2000 hit “Try Again” with the addition of a bejeweled bikini and black leather cargo pants, an ensemble so adored by Keke Palmer and Kim Kardashian that it inspired their Halloween costumes. During the same year, Lil’ Kim’s “No Matter What They Say” was full of costume and hair changes for the many female performers that made guest appearances. Lil’ Kim herself was particularly dazzling in her Dorothy Dandridge metallic dress and “I Love New York” bustier. Jennifer Lopez still cherishes her Juicy Couture tracksuit from 2001’s “I’m Real (Remix),” evidenced by a 2018 Instagram post detailing how she became enamored with the piece. 

Ultimately, the most extravagant of these videos was the 2001 rendition of “Lady Marmalade,” which paid homage to the movie musical Moulin Rouge. Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink were delightfully flashy in burlesque costumes adorned with crystals and cohered with tantalizing corsets.

The influence of fashions in the early 2000s music videos on those of the present-day is most apparent in hip hop. Cam’ron challenged the stigma of pink being solely a feminine color, encouraging modern rappers like A$AP Rocky to incorporate the hue into their style. Gleaming grills originated from southern rappers and have become a mainstay in the genre ever since. Hip hop was born out of inner-city life and therefore it incorporates such urban aspects as basketball and street gangs. Inspired by Allen Iverson’s sweatband, Nelly was among other rappers of the early 2000s who wore basketball garb off the court. The sweatband made a brief comeback in 2012 when Frank Ocean and a member of Odd Future wore matching red ones. Blue and red paisley prints have always been associated with Crips and Bloods, respectively, so featuring them in music videos denoted dangerousness and machismo. A prime example of such bravado is the 2003 music video for “Dipset Anthem,” in which Jim Jones hung a red paisley bandana from his back pocket. A decade of gang-related bandanas then evolved into bandana-print T-shirts by the streetwear label Rhude, worn famously by Kendrick Lamar. In contrast to hip hop’s more humble roots, however, the glorification of luxury items is rampant throughout rap videos. As demonstrated by Jennifer Lopez’s aforementioned “I’m Real (Remix),” hip hop transformed tracksuits from loungewear to high fashion. Nas wore a bright orange velour tracksuit on the cover of his 2001 “Stilmatic” album, and Drake revived the trend in 2011 with a black Versace tracksuit of his own. Busta Rhymes indulged in a sumptuous fur jacket in 2000, so, fittingly, the self-assured Kanye expanded upon this look in 2011 with an even heftier fur jacket.

The effects of 2000s music video fashion on the attire of modern artists demonstrably varies, with some trends making brief reappearances after years of obsolescence and others evolving over time.