What’s the Deal with Orange Beanies? Creative Theory 102

Words by Matthew Spence:

[The following article was inspired by a video I saw discussing the idea. This led me to a rabbit hole—think Jim Carrey in “The Number 23,” but with orange beanies and artists. I couldn’t help but want to give my take on it. I wish I could credit the dude who made the video, but he seemed to have taken it down, so… He’s the hero we deserve, but not the one we need right now. He is the Dark Knight.]

In our latest installment of “Mythological Hero Achilles,” the Myth-stery gang will partake in its trickiest episode yet. We’re getting into the thread. The Case of the Orange Beanie. A cheat code to creativity or something to wear when riding your Zero Skate Deck? A musician’s equivalent to Calvin’s sneakers? Should every purchase come with an Uncle Ben or Cam Brady speech?

 

Can it be that the orange beanie can bring an extra ounce of creativity? Can it be- spoiler alert, No. However, it’s a fun and fascinating (the double F’s) pattern to observe.

The class of individuals isn’t notably wide, but those who are part of it have a fucking Harvard 8.0 GPA level of talent and creativity. The alumni include the late Marvin Gaye, André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler, the Creator, and Donald Glover. As well as Kanye West and Anderson .Paak. However, we’re gonna really focus on the first few rather than the latter two for cohesiveness. Worn frequently or with small appearances, the orange beanie is like Arthur discovering the sword in the stone. Their creativity underwent a noticeable metamorphosis during the eras they’ve worn them.

Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, the Creator, implemented the beanie during their respective eras of “To Pimp A Butterfly” and “Scum Fuck Flower Boy.” Both eras see the artists reach creative strides that marked the landscape of Gen Z music by uttering, “We really do this music shit yo.” Both releasing their most introspective and musically rewarding efforts to date (by that point). Kendrick notably wore it in a GQ feature interview with Rick Rubin, both in 2016. Tyler wore his a bit during his Flower Boy era; a notable time was during his Flower Boy Conversation with Jerrod Carmichael in 2017.

 

Photo: GQ

 

Still: FLOWER BOY: a conversation

On the other side of the music sheet, we have André 3000 and Donald Glover. Andre 3K wore it often in the mid-2010s, and Gambino has donned it a couple of times, but the most noteworthy moment is his GQ interview in 2023 (maybe GQ is the cause; maybe they really like the color orange). However, Andre wasn’t releasing music at this point (he was poking his head out for features though), but it’s important to know (like seriously, write it down) around this time, he began to express how his relationship with Hip-Hop and making art was transposing into different entities.

 

Gambino, being the Renaissance man that he is, him wearing it feels a little overdue considering he could’ve rocked the orange beanie in 2013, 2016, and 2018. 2019 and up is where his orange journey begins. With Anderson & Ye. Anderson .Paak wears beanies and hats all the time, and Ye wore them a few times, but, this is where the idea gets muddy. Considering the latter accounts, don’t feel like they correlate to their music or art versus them just wearing a hat.

BUT!!!

Let’s do the mathematics (Microphone or Supreme, your choice):

Orange. Not only Eminem’s favorite word to rhyme, but in color theory, it’s the color of creativity and encourages your imagination. It stands out like a kid with halo braces.

Beanies. Originally predominantly worn by workers in rough environments and people who don’t wanna get hypothermia in harsh winters. It’s still worn by those people, with the addition of hipsters and Eminem in 8 Mile.

So with those two variables, it leads to two hypotheses: <adjusts glasses> The orange beanie is symbolic of creatives working their right brain to a higher standard. When you look at the list of people (and Eminem), who have been spotted with orange beanies, all during pivotal moments (in some form) in their careers and lives if you take consider everything in the grand scheme. It makes you wonder what lies beneath the hat.

The other conclusion. Can it be that it was all so coincidental? Slightly. For sure, it all could be by chance, and they just like the hat. The Flower Boy cover is pretty orange, so, maybe Tyler just wanted to color-coordinate with the aesthetic. For all I know, Kendrick woke up late, high school style, and just put on whatever he wore the night before. Yet, you can’t rule out the idea of these artists being inspired by one another. Adding to the fact, they most likely have some admiration for Marvin Gaye, whom it all traces back to. Overall, they have their individual disclosed reasons, all we can do is just interpret.

 

Switching to our thinking caps: there’s something dope about riding the creative high. It’s cool to find a way to express it in our fashion as well. Subtle or major. Maybe we all should have an orange beanie moment at some point (in essence).

 

 

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