What: Upwardly mobile urbanites conflicted by the challenges of keepin’ it real
Habitat: Conference rooms, ‘hoods
Pet peeves: Hackneyed Diddy-esque excess
I had to laugh at this piece in Radar Magazine. Every issue they feature a new “species” and this month it’s the Neo Buppie. According to writer Brian Marsh,
New York’s young black urban professionals are definitely upping their game. Rejecting the ghettoizing BET stereotype of the bling-flossing, Cristal-drinking playa, a subtler breed of brothers (and sisters) are deftly navigating their way between outer-borough neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene and the minimalist conference rooms of Mahattan’s creative professions. Meet the Neo-Buppies. More Kanye than Ghostface Killah, they combine pedigreed educations, lefty politics and ‘hood savvy to infiltrate mainstream ad agencies and publicity firms but still go out of their way to retain the respect of the gully crowd back on the old block. Pulling off their tricky style – a cake-and-eat-it-too mélange of young Hollywood labels, crossover brands, and slyly understated ghetto flourishes – isn’t easy (you try keeping 4,000 fashion codifiers straight!), but it’s paying off. With Barack Obama poised to become America’s new baller-in-chief, dapper rapper-turned-actor Common dropping a new CD, and clean-cut crooner John Legend embarking on a new tour, this brownstone-dwelling, socially conscious crew is taking the nation by storm.
Funny and eerily accurate, save the repeated references to “ghetto” which I find annoying and simple. Not to mention how Marsh gets too hyphy with the hyphen. Whatever. Get your Neo-Bup on by copying Jazmin’s and Neville’s steeze.
Natural Hair. Jazmin, who’s totally fast-tracking in the P.R. world, keeps it follicularly real to reassure herself that she has a soul – unlike those straight hair weave bitches at the bottle clubs!
Bluetooth headset. A scenester who experiences a high call volume, Jaz habitually walks down streets blabbering as if to herself. Luckily, the people in the ‘hood see this as a sign of success, not mental illness.
Door-knocker earrings. Jazmin insists on honoring the girls in the projects who save their Popeyes Chicken wages to buy iconic ’80s hip hop throwback hoops. These $190 versions are customized with Jaz’s name.
Yoana Baraschi top. Sometimes Jaz wonders if she owns too many cute tops – like this one she spotted on Nicky Hilton in Us Weekly – but her coworker Heidi (Vassar ’05) reassures her that’s almost scientifically impossible.
Radiohead’s In Rainbows on vinyl. Universally regarded as inoffensive (unlike, say, the new Coldplay), this album is the ideal choice to spin in interracial situations – or as her man Nev puts it, “mixed company.”
Dwele CD. When it comes to fitting back in the ‘hood, though, neo-soul like Dwele (“think Common, but not, ya know, so common“) is a more tactical musical passion.
Strategically chosen jewelry. After Nicole Richie flashed this Noir enamel cocktail ring in Life & Style, Heidi and Jazmin had to get their own – but Jaz pairs hers with a Salt N Pepa-ish rope bangle that speaks more soberly to her roots.
Of-the-moment footwear (not in pic). Though Jazmin gets tons of clothing free, she actually paid for these granny boots from black design team Shane&Shawn. You gotta support the brothers. Besides, the P.R. discount was insane!
Conspicuously discreet earring. Jaz bought this stud for Neville after the suits at his Tribeca ad agency, Ditson & Boyle, finally promoted him to VP creative group director. ‘Bout time. He was nearly 27!
Neo Hip Hop rope chain (fake). Nev started popping this chain when the ’80s thing got hip. Unlike the ‘hood kids, he doesn’t have to watch a YouTube video of LL Cool J to get it right. He lived it. Sort of.
Basketball themed Tshirt. Any hoops reference has cultural value, but a Nike tee is way too plebe for Neville. This agile skeleton (brand check: Staple) gets him props from both his Asian skater boy assistant and the Bed-Stuy crew.
Stussy sweater. Preppy. Except not. Nev wore this while shooting a new ad campaign based on Jamel Shabazz’s photos of Brooklyn gangs cold chillin’, circa 1982. Kool-Aid was thrilled with the results!
Mercedes-Benz key chain. Nev doesn’t go around telling people about his new CLK550. But if anyone happens to check his crotch, who knows what she’ll notice?
Evidence of politically informed faith. Last Sunday, Jaz dragged him all the way up to that interracial, activist Riverside Church near Columbia Univ so she could study Erykah Badu’s head wrap “up close.” Turns out Erykah doesn’t even worship there!
Sylvia’s Family Soul Food Cookbook. But at least they got to stop in at Sylvia’s in Harlem for some waffles and smothered chicken. Nev bought Jaz the cookbook to decorate her new office.
Creative Recreation sneakers (not in pic). For the sneaker-heads in the neighborhood who grew up obsessing over the nuances of Jordans, this rising indie brand is sure to prompt an “Ooh, son, where’d you get those sneakers?”