Ever heard of a hype-man? If you know your hip-hop and have attended or even watched rap concert videos, you would have often seen a back-up rapper/singer with a mic that supports the primary singer/rapper by interacting with the audience. Designated to do ad-libs and introductions on a studio record, on a live show he would often ask you to chant something, respond to a question in yes/no, encourage you to break into a mosh-pit or sing along. Their sole job is to add to the audience’s excitement and keep them engaged. In other words, their job is to generate hype before and during the headlining performance.
Flavor Flav was a hype-man for Public Enemy, Memphis Bleek for Jay-Z, Tony Yayo for 50 Cent, Proof for Eminem, and so on. While these folks are known as the unsung heroes of hip-hop for their contributions to the hype behind a famous headliner as well as being half-decent rappers themselves, a Hypebeast on the other hand is actually a derogatory term.
Hypebeast is a slang for someone, who follows fashion trends for the purpose of impressing other people and making a social statement. They may or may not know a brand’s core philosophy and the history behind everything they do, but that’s perfectly acceptable in the hypebeast world. The consumerism takes precedence. You may think this is outright ignorant but the IDGAF attitude actually completes the package. Considering how a lot of these hypebeasts and their entire crews have been banned from entering certain malls where they either caused a stampede or a full blown riot, their beef has often spilled out onto the road on a number of occasions.
There are rich folks who buy everything just because it’s hot right now and because they can. However, they also want to let the world know not only do they have it, they got it before you. And then there are the ones living outside of their means who are competing with these haves for the same kind of fleeting acceptance. The insecurity of being an inadequate person without an equally or more shiny material possession and the want to fit into the bracket where acceptance is handed as a birth right is quite the temptation. This acceptance is the key to open every other door and so, these lost fickle vulnerable souls go all in for it only to be chewed up by the marketing + sales machinery to cough up big profit margins in annual reports. While the former type has no shortage of money, the latter is spending just to keep up appearances. Somewhere dead in the middle is the Hypebeast who is sustaining himself by reselling, thereby making the addiction pay for itself and stacking bread on the side. But he is still a hypebeast and just like his idols, who are no different, he is still always busy projecting a certain lifestyle.
In a way, these usually young fickle consumers are the hype-men to the headlining act – the brand, that is getting all the marketing as well as whopping revenue at their expense. But the hypebeasts seem to be happy within their little crews assaulting other crews over brand allegiances, robbing display pieces off of mannequins, and getting banned from stores for using any means necessary. They do not get any royalties for shouting out the brand. In fact, a lot of them do get kicked out of the line by the same brand’s stores for acting entitled. Money may not be able to buy taste but, as long as it can buy some popular kicks, the hypebeast has nothing to complain about.