As we gear up for our New West Week on Monday — MTV News' must-follow series on the upstarts breathing new life into the Left Coast rap landscape, from Odd Future to Dom Kennedy — we spoke to Chris about why he lays his broad-brimmed snapback in La-La Land.
"I been out in L.A. for a while but I think it's just, with me, my style is just me," he said when we asked how he'd been influenced by the City of Angels.
With the exception of standard-bearer Snoop Dogg, energetic efforts from Game and the enduring influence of super-producer Dr. Dre, the West Coast took a backseat in the last decade after the Chronic-fueled dominance of gangsta rap subsided. But although that indelible sound gave way to a scene that's now varied enough to count groups like Black Hippy and Pac Div, as well as Nipsey Hussle and Tyga among its corps, Brown said he was nostalgic for the Chucks-and-Dickies look of Ruthless Records-era N.W.A.
"I'm just a product of all that; all the hip-hop that I grew up seeing ... I'm inspired by everything," the "Look At Me Now" singer said. "And I think fashion kind of goes with me as a creative artist.
"The L.A. scene now is kinda poppin'," he continued. "We brought the snapbacks back ... me and Tyga," he claimed about the trendsetting head gear. "Nobody was really wearing it, it was a handful of people: It was Omarion, it was Tyga, me and Big Sean wearing snapbacks. And we was just really wearing that as our own kind of swag 'cause we were looking at N.W.A and looking at how back in the day they used to have Kris Kross and the whole nine, and we wanted to bring that back for the kids." He quickly added with a laugh, "We ain't taking credit for it, but you know, everybody's wearing 'em now, so we did something good."
Breezy did share the sartorial credit, citing fellow Virginia native Pharrell Williams as another major influence on his Angeleno-tinged style. The N.E.R.D. frontman put his stamp on the hip-hop-meets-skate-punk look early on, eventually launching the Billionaire Boys Club line (Chris was outfitted in the collection when he visited the MTV newsroom).
"I kind of look at Pharrell as one of the advocates of that [look]. I think a lot of kids, whether it be L.A., whether it be New York, a lot of kids modeled after him when he cut that skater/preppy look, then it was Kanye after and [so on]. Pharell was that guy that really set the tone for us as the kids and the generation now."
Starting Monday, stick with us as MTV News turns the spotlight on the New West, the next wave of hip-hop acts helping to restore faith in the L.A. rap scene. From groups like Odd Future to rising MCs like Dom Kennedy, we'll bring you up close and personal to these artists as they carve their own lanes in the post-gangsta rap era. Keep it locked here for the next week for more on the West Coast up-and-comers!-