Rapper Cam’ron’s Baby Phat appearance made pink a power look for guys
A look at some of the notable fashion items in the history of hip-hop and their legacy in the culture.
In February 2003, rapper Cam’ron attended the Baby Phat fashion show during New York Fashion Week wearing a custom pink fur and matching hat. Killa Cam’s pink period started the year before in August 2002 when he released the video for “Hey Ma,” wearing a white short-sleeved velour suit with pale pink trim, pink bandanna under his white fitted cap with its pink New York Yankees logo, and rapped in front of a tufted hot pink velour background.
His stylist at the time, Monica Morrow, who’s worked with Dipset, Ghostface Killah, Noreaga, and now mostly works with LL Cool J and on commercial projects, knew him socially for nearly a decade before he joined Roc-A-Fella Records and they were working together professionally by the time the music video for “Hey Ma” debuted.
“I was already working with him on ‘Horse and Carriage,’ doing some personal shopping and dressing him for appearances,” Morrow said. “Cam’ron has always had an excellent sense of style. He’s Harlem bred and born, so he was already a fly dude.”
The two had been talking about wanting to do something different while staying true to his Harlem roots. Morrow decided pink would be that something. “At that time men weren’t doing that. But, you know, nobody was ever going to question Cam’ron’s masculinity, even though now it’s like nothing [for a man to wear pink],” she said.
“People just started going crazy,” Morrow said of the response. “It made me feel good when [brands like] Pelle Pelle and Guess started introducing pink into their lines. It changed the culture.” In 2004, The New York Daily News even reported the hue was the latest trendy color for men to wear.
“Combining pink and fur — his 2003 ensemble that he wore to the Baby Phat fashion show — became one of hip hop’s most classic fashionable moments for men,” said Elena Romero, assistant chair, marketing communications, at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and the author of Free Stylin’: How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry.
“Brands like Phat Farm had always embraced pink for men: Two of Russell Simmons iconic looks are Phat Farm’s pink argyle sweater and polo shirt,” Romero said. “Pink was also a staple, and a popular color found in the Baby Phat collection. Urban brands as they were called at the time, promoted pink for men including leather outerwear company Pelle Pelle while Ralph Lauren’s pink polo became a wardrobe staple for hip-hop fans and lovers alike. But we must thank Cam’ron for fueling pink’s takeoff.”
Rapper Kanye West noted Morrow’s influence on “Touch the Sky” in 2005 when he rapped “back when they thought pink polos would hurt the Roc / Before Cam got the s— to pop,” alluding to how unheard of it was B.C. — before Cam’ron — for hypermasculine rappers to wear pink.
And again in 2016, on “No More Parties in LA,” when he rapped “pink fur got Nori dressing like Cam,” a nod to a photo of his then-2 1⁄2-year-old daughter North West in head-to-toe pink, including a fur coat.
“You can have a rapper wear a dress now, but that was unheard of when Cam was wearing pink,” Morrow said of her impact on men’s fashion in hip-hop. “What’s so exciting about that is we were just trying to do something different and represent, we didn’t expect for it to take off the way that it did.”
Morrow said she just laughs when she’s out shopping and sees a reference to a look she created over 20 years ago.
“I’m like we did this two decades ago. You know, something we [created in] the basement with the tailor. Now it’s $2,700 on the floor in the store. But I say that to say that they were just like, ahead of their time and it’s just so refreshing to be able to work with especially young men back then that were willing to take chances to set trends.”
Channing Hargrove is a senior writer at Andscape covering fashion. That’s easier than admitting how strongly she identifies with the lyrics “Single Black female addicted to retail.”