Tony Yayo And The History Of The Bucket Hat

By Alexandra Phanor-Faury

As we wait for Busta Rhymes to hit "RapFix Live" today (October 7), we couldn't help but recall our last show with Tony Yayo. The G-Unit soldier stopped by to talk about his new music with Danny Brown and other, but it was Yayo’s throwback bucket hat that had us talking days after he left the studio. This casual hat has endured a slew of re-incarnations from fishermen hat to hip-hop fashion staple, but just how did this evolution take place? Inspired by Yayo’s love of bucket hats, we set out to trace the historical time line of this retro headpiece.

1948: In an attempt to shield themselves from the scorching sun during the Israeli War of Independence (or as many Arabs call it "the Catastrophe"), the Israeli Defense Force invent the wide and downwards brim head gear we know as the bucket hat. The IDF continues to use this style of hat today.

early 1960s: The Israeli military bucket hat makes its appearance in the United States as a must fishing accessory that not only protects fishermen’s eyes from the sun, but the crown also doubles as a holding place for easy access to fishing lures.

1964: A comedy TV sitcom about seven castaways desperately trying to find a way off a deserted island, "Gilligan’s Island," debuts on CBS. Gilligan, the clumsy and clownish crewman, dons a bucket hat for the entirety of the show's three seasons. This style of hat becomes synonymous with the iconic character.

1972: The bucket hat returns to prime time television in the dark comedy, "M*A*S*H," which was centered around a team of doctors stationed in South Korea during the Korean War. Col. Henry Blake’s wardrobe included a bucket hat decorated with fishing lures.

1974: "Good Times" premieres with Jimmy Walker’s character J.J. wearing a bucket hat. Along with J.J.’s “dy-no-mite” catchphrase, the bucket hat becomes his trademark.

1979: The Sugar Hill Gang make music history with "Rapper’s Delight." Group member Big Bank Hank is credited with being the first to turn the bucket hat into a hip-hop fashion statement in the video for the first hip-hop single to go gold.

1983: Big Bank Hank may have planted the sartorial seeds for bucket hats, but it was a cocky 16-year-old Queens MC by the name of LL Cool J who would be responsible for blowing up the bucket hat style. LL’s radio wasn’t the only thing he couldn’t live without, the legendary rapper’s penchant for Bermuda Casual bucket hats designed by U.K. brand Kangol was evident throughout the 80s. What Run DMC did for Adidas, LL did for bucket hats: made them an integral part of hip-hop fashion.

1986: LL is the first hip-hop act to perform on the classic American Bandstand music television show. He rocks a Bermuda Casual bucket hat and a track suit for the historical performance.

1987: LL’s sophomore album, Bigger And Deffer, features him wearing a red version. Following the release of this album, Kangol becomes the go to brand for bucket hats. After Gilligan, LL is by far the most recognizable bucket hat stan.

1987: Kool Moe Dee’s immortalizes his long standing feud with LL on the cover of his sophomore album, How You Like Me Now, with a red Bermuda Casual Kangol being run over by a white jeep.

1988: Run D.M.C. may favor fedoras but Run and D.M.C., on occasion, wore the Bermuda Casual bucket hat. Rumor has it that Jam Master Jay wasn’t feeling the bucket hat style.

1989: On the cover of their sophomore album, Unfinished Business, EPMD’s Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith bring back the old-school Gilligan fishermen inspired bucket hat. Instead of reaching for the ubiquitous Bermuda Casual, the Long Island duo opts for a classic khaki number with a wider brim.

1990s: Rakim of Eric B and Rakim wears a bucket style hat on the cover image for their single, “Mahogany." Rappers like Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog and music execs like Damon Dash take to wearing the bucket hat. The style even goes international with French rapper MC Solar wearing a bucket hat (Bob in French) throughout the 90s.

2005: G-Unit’s Tony Yayo releases his highly-anticipated solo debut, Thoughts of a Predicate Felon. In the video for “Curious” featuring Joe, the Haitian rapper wears a crisp white bucket hat.

2010: An avid bucket hat collector, Tony Yayo re-introduces the hat to a new generation of hip-hop fans.

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