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LL Cool J Wasn’t the First to Roll Up One of His Pant Legs

Hip-Hop Media Training

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Rapper and actor LL Cool J’s fashion sense has earned him nearly as much notoriety as his music.

The hip-hop legend that releases his 13th album, "Authentic," Tuesday, was influential in popularizing a curious 1990s style trend; he used to roll up the left leg of his pants.

LL’s impact in the rolled-up-pant-leg movement earned him top-20 ranking on Complex magazine’s "The 50 Greatest Fashion Moments in Rap Video History" countdown, which spotlights his video for “Hey Lover.”

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Though some online rumors suggested that the “Mama Said Knock You Out” rapper began altering the length of his left pant leg as a means to bring attention to his shoes -- at the time, he was a spokesperson for clothier FUBU -- he offered a more humble explanation during a 2010 interview with the Guardian.

“You know what? I have huge left calf muscles,” he said. “They need room to breathe. I haven’t done that for years though. It’s just a style from New York.”

During a recent interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight," LL revealed that the late Whitney Houston used to tease him about the way he wore his pants. “I remember one time she saw me backstage at an event. She said, ‘Oh, LL, you got that from my husband,’” he recalled Houston saying, comparing him to R&B singer Bobby Brown, her husband at the time. “I said, ‘No, Whitney, your husband got that from me.' And that was a fun moment.”

Well, according to a 1996 New York Times article, "A Leg Up: Messengers Were the Medium," neither entertainer deserves the credit for starting the craze.

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The masterminds behind the fad were New York bike messengers from the late 1970s and early 1980s. “One of the messengers' signatures was to roll up a pant leg to avoid getting their trousers caught in their bicycle chains,” Lynette Holloway wrote.

I guess necessity is the mother of invention, even when it comes to hip-hop fashion.

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