Remember When Oversized White T-Shirts Were the Go-To Hip-Hop ’Fit?

Written by on February 11, 2020

Long before hip-hop’s pivot to extravagant designer drip, the plain white tee was often the centerpiece of rap superstar ’fits.

People have rocked white tees forever, but the idea of the shirts as fashion staples reached its peak in 2004. That’s when the So So Def, Atlanta-based group Dem Franchize Boyz embroidered that notion into pop culture with “White Tee,” a song that acted as the crew’s claim to fame and a snapshot of accessible rap fashion.

Just about everything about the song was simple, but the hook echoes the many applications of a clean white tee.

“I slang in my white tee, I bang in my white tee/All in the club spittin’ game in my white tee
I bling in my white tee, serve fiends in my white tee/Fuck a throwback I look clean in my white tee,” Dem Franchize Boyz rap on the hook for the song, which reads as much like a to-do list as one of the more emblematic hits of the early aughts.

With the song peaking at No. 79 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the message, for those who didn’t already get it, was loud and clear: a frosty white tee was appropriate whether you were in the trap, the club or really anywhere else in between.

Whether it was Jay-Z andPusha-T, or Dirty South icons like Gucci Mane and Lil Jon, artists in the early-to-mid-2000s helped turn the white T-shirt—once a fashion afterthought—into an example of style and hip-hop pragmatism. With varying ways to rock them—a tall white tee could work as well as a regular fit, and both options pop when crowned with a flossy gold or platinum chain—frosty white tees were basically the Air Force 1s of shirts.

While hip-hop has since shifted to more elaborate, designer fits, the era where white T-shirts were many times the stylistic glue that binds a fit isn’t forgotten. White T-Shirt Day is celebrated on Feb. 11 and what a better time than now to pay homage to this hip-hop ’fit.

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