3 Jul 2014

The return of the rudeboy: style and swagger

The iconic figure of the rudeboy is well and truly back in the 21st century – and it isnt going anywhere any time soon, writes rapper Boya Dee.

As the curators of the Return of the Rudeboy exhibition in Somerset House have let me know, this is far from a fad.

The people who embody this rudy swagger do so because it really is how they are, and they do not intend on dressing any different.

As the criminal and negative connotations of the original Jamaican rudeboy have been stripped back over the years, the aesthetics still remain.

Originating from the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, in the late 1950s, rudeboy came to represent the young rebels who wore distinctively sharp sartorial styles such as mohair suits, thin ties and pork pie hats.

The style was closely connected to the music movements of the time; their initial inspiration derived from American jazz and R&B musicians, as well as some notorious gangsters.

As is prevalent in the rudeboy culture, the origins were appropriated and then twisted. The rudeboy has travelled through time since then and evolved in the 1980s.

Today’s young men and women have adopted the swagger and adapted the essence of the original rudeboy – but for a 21st century generation.

The sartorial nature of the rudeboy swagger may not be practical attire for everybody – but I strongly believe this is something we can all learn from.

And that is it’s best to be yourself and express your individuality, whichever way you dress.

Return of the Rudeboy is running at Somerset House until 25 August 2014