The 25 Worst Hip-Hop Trends

Rappers are modern day poets. They make us think, love, feel, dance, and shake it like a polaroid picture. But sometimes they also wear shades in the club and call women farm implements. Here are the 25 worst hip-hop trends of all time.

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FREE (Insert Incarcerated Rapper Name) Tees

Pretending that you actually care about a rapper who got busted for smoking weed on the tour bus is so 1998. We don't believe you, you need more people. Besides, no one ever walked out of jail because someone bought a T-shirt with their name on it.

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Yelling all over mixtapes

© Grand Hustle/Atlantic

DJs have managed to render many mixtapes unlistenable by yelling all over the songs. Equally annoying is rewinding the same song 11 times while yelling "BRING THAT SH*T BACK!". If I wanted to hear 10 seconds of the same song over and over, I'll hit the damn rewind button myself. Thank you.

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Groupie confessions

© Amistad

Groupie confessions are typically packaged as female empowerment literature, and that's just a little too confusing, bro. I can't.

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Baby covers

Ever since Nas put his baby picture on the cover of Illmatic, rappers have been adopting the move like it's mandated on their contract. It's gone from novelty to one of the worst hip-hop album cover cliches.

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Flooding blogs with new music

This is a fairly new fad that started with Lil Wayne. Wayne has appeared on more than 200 songs since 2006. Crooked I turned it up a notch with his weekly freestyle series. Both artists were successful in their efforts. Wayne went on to sell a gajillion copies of Tha Carter III, while Crooked established himself as one of the best lyricists alive. That said, new rappers seem to think that the only way to get attention is to make more music. If it's not worth listening to, don't bother. Quality trumps quantity.

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Crashing award shows

Kanye VMA outburst
Kanye VMA rant. © Getty Images

When ODB crashed the Grammys to protest Puff Daddy's win over Wu-Tang, he was stating facts. No sane hip-hop head rates Diddy ahead of the best group in hip-hop history. These days, stage crashing is an excuse to hijack the news cycle and drum up publicity for new projects. It's now more of a gimmick than a "G" move.

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Singing rappers

People always point to Lauryn Hill as an example of an artist who juggled both rap and R&B successfully. So let's start there. The difference between L'Boogie and today's singing rappers is that she does both those things very well. Drake raps well and sings well, but everyone else needs to save us the ear pollutants that pass for songs. Same goes for singers who dabble in rap (looking at you, Chris Brown).

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Sunglasses in the club

Nothing says "I'm a rapper" like sunglasses in a perfectly dim room. It's as lame as they come. Stop it.

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Using "the Migos flow"


Juicy J started it. Drake monetized it. Migos popularized. Now everyone bites it. Let's all agree to retire this flow. Now.

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Starting clothing lines

There are some decent hip-hop clothing lines out there, but many of the new lines are simply knockoffs of staples like Rocawear and Phat Farm. I'll never understand why every rapper with a deal thinks it's necessary to launch a clothing line.

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Corny sex puns


Lollipop. Einstein. Johnny Cochran. Dome. Cookie. Cookie Monster. You could make an entire dictionary out of hip-hop sex puns. It's something of a rap sport to spin puns out of oral sex.

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Oversized tees

© Frazer Harrison

Hip-hop fashion can be edgy without necessarily being lame. Fellas, can we all agree to ban shirts that look like dresses because they go all the way down to your knees? Why wear oversized clothes when you can look a million times better in form-fitting attire?

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Album trailers

© Aftermath/Interscope

Naturally, rappers are avid self-promoters. And part of that self-promotion is making sure your music reaches your audience. Sadly, it also means releasing a 3-minute trailer for a 30-second snippet of an MP3 off an album that may or may not get pushed back indefinitely.

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Lousy crossover products


We get it. CD sales are abysmal and the music industry is on its knees. So, rappers seek out other ways to bring in revenue. But that's no excuse to release a brand of condoms called Magic Stick.

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Jay-Z - Death of Auto-Tune
© Roc Nation

Autotune went from being a vocal enhancement to a fad. Jay Z tried to drill a nail in its coffin via "Death of Autotune (DOA)." Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep rappers away from the device. Jay won't have to look too far to see who's keeping Autotune relevant. His boy Kanye West made an entire album with his voice distorted.

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Faking Jacks

Rick Ross doing it BIG in white at the BET Awards.

The hustler ethos is one of the worst trends in hip-hop. Like Ghostface once asked in a

Fader interview, if these rappers are killing as many people as they claim how come they're still walking free? I leave you with the wise words of OG Ice Cube: "Everybody’s hustling, ain’t nobody rapping."

interview, if these rappers are killing as many people as they claim how come they're still walking free? I leave you with the wise words of OG Ice Cube: "Everybody’s hustling, ain’t nobody rapping."

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Hip-hop reality shows


You're not really a rapper unless you've gone on a reality show. It's a surefire way to make it in rap or revitalize an ailing career. And since TV money is typically larger than CD money, everyone wants a slice of the cake.

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Generic music videos

In the early 2000s, Hype Williams pioneered a new way of shooting music videos. Williams distorted the camera's central focus by employing the fisheye lens and occasionally magnified his actors' frame for unique effects. Hype also featured some beautiful models in many of his videos. Thirsty directors took his style and ran with it like purse snatchers. As the copycats gleefully embraced dime-a-dozen models, they forgot what made Hype's directorial technique so unique: originality.

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Written Freestyles


 I'm with KRS-One on this one. The whole point of a freestyle is that you're, well, freestyling. Maybe, it's time to create a new category for written freestyles. Equally embarrassing: Bringing a notepad to a battle.

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Starting fake beefs

50 Cent vs Kanye. © Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Young Padawans turning on their mentors in drunken fits of rage is one of the most embarrassing hip-hop trends to have emerged in the last 10 years or so. The Game is notorious for this tomfoolery, having gone to war with 50 Cent, Dr. Dre and Jay Z. I doubt he'd take that route if his career didn't depend on it, though.

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Directional dance songs

© Henry Adaso/

Please stop telling me to throw my hands in the air and do the Stanky Legg. If I find the song catchy enough I'll shake my tailfeather. Directional dance songs are so tired and annoying. They need to be permanently retired from hip-hop.

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Bringing New York back

Nas is like...
(Photo © Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

New York hip-hop has suffered more fake deaths than Bill Cosby. Every year, a crestfallen New York head goes on a rant about how New York rap is only but a second banana behind whatever the sound of the day is. Then a young New York rapper announces that he or she is singlehandedly make sure that the Big Apple becomes a top banana again.

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Rappers saying they're starting a movement

You're not really a rapper if you've never started a movement. It's as if the music isn't enough to validate the artist; people will only respect it if you project the entire process as an extension of a larger movement designed to shake up hip-hop.

Women's Rights = Movement
Bugatti Boys = Not a movement

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© Universal Music Group

Hip-hop didn't invent misogyny, but it's doing a helluva lot to keep it alive. And it goes beyond calling women the H word or the B word or any other derogatory terms. Misogyny takes many forms in the culture. Call me hopeless, but I look forward to the day when lines like this Chief Keef special: “You ain’t gonna let me f-ck you and I feel you / But you gone suck my d-ck, or I’ll kill you” are no longer part of hip-hop culture.

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Blaming the new generation

Nothing new here. Every generation thinks the world of itself. And every generation blames the current generation for the Way Things Are Today. Remember KRS-One vs Nelly? Ice T vs Soulja Boy? It's not entirely a hip-hop thing, but it's very much a hip-hop thing.