Chief Joseph Olaitan Adenuga Jr. or Skepta as we all know him, has won numerous awards including the Ivor Novello for Songwriter of the Year, a year after he won the Mercury prize for his album Konnichiwa but that wasn’t enough.
Over the years we have seen an increase of big-name rappers taking a keen interest in the art and fashion world and expanding their brand. With fashion having a massive influence on rap, it is easy to see how these two categories complement each other as time goes by. We have seen artists try and succeed, notably when legendary rapper and producer Kanye West initially collaborated with Nike, then followed that up with this masterful move to join Adidas, creating the acclaimed – Yeezy collection. In the UK we have often wondered which artist from the nation can have a major impact on the fashion world and become an icon within the rapidly changing industry.
That’s where Skepta comes in. The North London star has really taken fashion by the scruff of the neck and has put London on the map with his own style. From tracksuits to suits, Skepta does it all and looks good doing it. Let’s dive into the art behind the artist and see how this UK rap legend has shown how he has become the leading light for rap, fashion and art in England and worldwide.
Skepta Performing 'Energy' Over The Instrumental For Tekno's Pana Might Be Something You Know 🤔 🔥🔥💥 pic.twitter.com/Xg9ydP5kVr— 9bills.co.uk (@9bills) August 26, 2018
Skepta – The Artist
The British-Nigerian rapper took centre stage at the Sotheby’s auction house in 2021 with a special curation and debut painting ‘Mama Goes to Market’.
The piece sold at auction for £81,900 GBP (approximately $94,656 USD). Skepta produced Mama Goes to Market in 2020, during the first lockdown. He describes the piece, which was inspired by childhood memories of Nigeria, as having come “from a real frustration”, as well as concern that his daughter would never be able to go to an African market. “I thought, ‘She will always have to buy everything online, she’s never going to experience this,’” he said, “so I tried to portray it in paint.”
Throughout his career it sometimes seemed The Microphone Champion had Insomnia trying to “find his lane” turns out he was going round collecting rings in each lane and he’s probably doing it again.
Appearances at global fashion weeks
Paris and Milan fashion shows are not new arenas to Skepta. Turning up in a diverse array of fits that catch everyone’s attention. From turning up in a tracksuit to wearing more elegant pieces created by great designers such as Virgil Abloh (RIP), Bottega Vanetta, Prada, Dior and more. His huge presence at global Fashion Weeks have been an iconic moment for the rapper – pushing forward the UK rap culture’s presence within the fashion industry. He recently appeared in London for Burberry’s SS23 show sporting black leather dungarees, a short sleeved black tee and blacked out trainers. A simple yet elegant look for the rapper who was spotted rubbing shoulders with rap king and style icon Kanye West. His more elegant look for Bottega Veneta is a big signal towards the elegance that Skepta strives for within his fashion catalogue. Working with Daniel Lee a prestigious fashion designer and creative director for Bottega Veneta from 2018 to 2021. We can see how serious Skepta takes the fashion industry – only working with the best of the best.
MAINS – Skepta’s debut clothing line
Skepta has always had a keen eye for fashion and this was seen by the creation of his own clothing line branded Mains in 2017. Described as a premium contemporary unisex brand, the collection includes full tracksuits, t-shirts, caps, bags and underwear which was sold exclusively on the Mains website and in Selfridges. The launch of this clothing line in 2017 was deemed as a success, selling out shortly after the drop. Successful pop ups took place in Tokyo, giving the brand more exposure across the globe. Mains was brought into the fashion limelight in 2018 with the GQ photoshoot with both Skepta and supermodel Naomi Campbell modelling the underwear range – sending the fashion industry and social media into a frenzy.
Skepta x Havana Club collab
Skepta has further improved his brand by branching out into the rum industry with his successful partnership with Havana Club. The two powerhouses initially collaborated in 2020 when Skepta first visited Cuba. An artist that is true to his Nigerian heritage, he ensured that the collaboration with the Cuban infused rum included elements of his Yoruba heritage. This was seen with the redesign of the Havana Club 7 Rum bottles which featured traditional Nigerian symbols. Skepta wanted to capture the essence of elegance, achievement and luxury within this collaboration with the infusion of symbolic emblems of growth. This collaboration worked so well that the two decided to come together again in 2021 to create the next chapter of their fusion with a limited-edition rum. Titled as “Skepta 2.0”, this second edition was inspired by Skepta’s chieftaincy and his own journey that paved his way to greatness. “It celebrates inner strength and the journeys that make us great.”
Diesel x Skepta – “Sound of the Brave” aftershave
“I said when you’re looking at Skepta, you’re looking at sexy in the flesh” bars from Skepta ‘Tour Bus Massacre’. The rapper has never been shy of confidence and has shown this in his bars and the way he brands himself. This is evident in his career moves as he was announced as the new face of Diesel’s mens aftershave Sound Of the Brave campaign in 2021. At this point, Skepta’s’ influence is monumental – crafting his way into the perfume industry. Featuring on GQ, Skepta stated that he always wanted to do a fragrance, but he wanted to wait for the right opportunity and this one came at the right time. The fragrance has been described as aromatic bison grass accord and lavandin essence, seen as a harmonious combination of fragrances that fit each other perfectly. Another example of Skepta really paying attention to detail to anything he puts his hands on. Along with his music, he creates classics no matter what the project is.
Skepta x Nike footwear collab
In September 2017, Skepta collaborated with leading sportswear brand Nike and released the SKAir Max 97, designed by the Nigerian artist himself. They came in a multi-colour, black, vivid copper and rose gold colour way which was heavily inspired by his trip to Morocco and 1999’s Air Tuned Max. In saying this, Skepta has had more collaborations with Nike. He gave us: Nike Air Max 97/BW in 2008 (an ode to his love for Paris), Nike Air Max Deluxe 2018 inspired by his debut single ‘That’s Not Me’ and NYC, Nike Shox TL (2019) driven by his chieftaincy and he wore them in the ‘bullet from a gun’ video. Last but not least we have the Air Max Tailwind 5 ‘Bright Blue’ 2021. You can read more about Skepta’s sneaker collabs here.
With all the above on top of his various awards for music you can’t really go beyond putting Skepta top of your UK rap GOATs list.
2010’s UK Hip Hop Mount Rushmore:— 9bills (@9bills) September 24, 2022
Who’s the fourth? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/uAKrQD19yy