In music, every other form is sung. But here in hip hop, we preach. The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), presented “Fresh Dressed Jam Fashion Show: 360 of Hip-Hop” to close out the Landmark exhibit, “The Legacy of Seattle Hip Hop,” which ran from September to May. The Showcase marks the museum’s first ever runway fashion show, highlighting the Seattle hip-hop scene and Black culture, as a collective.
The event, which was held April 30, featured four decades of hip hop fashion, from the furs and chains of the 1980s to the futuristic tones of the 2010s. Margo Jones — CEO of Natural Child Talent and Modeling Agency, a Seattle icon who has been at the forefront of entertainment and fashion in our area for the past 15 years — spearheaded the event, which featured music, dance performances, a center house DJ and white-gloved refreshments.
Hosted by DJ Nasty Nes and The Shockmaster Glen Boyd, The Fresh Dressed Jam organizing team enlisted Seattle’s own Kutt’n Up crew to perform and choreograph three different dance sets throughout the show. As for the musical performance, MOHAI and the 360 organizing team were very proud to announce for the pre-show entertainment, two of Seattle’s rising stars, Raven Matthews and DoNormaal. Seattle gets ready for a treat.
MOHAI’s “Fresh Dressed Jam” is a particular staple of the Black community. Representation is powerful; it makes us know we are here. In an increasing gentrified, Amazon-led, yuppie revolution, Seattle’s African American community faces a once vibrant, disappearing Central District and consequently less space to foster community. It’s a rare chance to see Black culture and hip hop highlighted in a positive view. So often hip hop culture is portrayed as the means to negativity and the example of failure in mainstream media and in the ignorant fears of American suburban ideology.
But hip hop is more than passion, artfully plotted together. Beyond its lyrical, poetic caliber, it is fervent strength of heart and genius fabrication, with the wit and mind-prophesying craft and skill to rival, if not best, that of those we read about in colonizer-endorsing American academia.
Hip hop is an attitude, a confidence. Not just a lifestyle but a way of life. A lens through which life is lived. A set of respects and codes that honor and protect the craft, the family and those strangers who chose to be part of it. It’s a persona, a bold stance of existence adamantly opposed to the suggested norms of respected presentation, respected choice of words, annunciation, expression and definition of achieved success.
At its heart, its determination, drive and a burning will to make it, and hope for the chance to stand at the altar of prosperity and dignity with Mom and those who rode all this way with us. Look at us, feel us, vibe with the beat. As it bangs, know that it’s the heartbeat of focused struggle, humming for justice, promise for another day.
To catch a few of the looks from the event, MOHAI and the organizing team have posted photos on their Instagram page (360degreesofhiphop).