9. Native Tongues
Years Active: 1988-1993
Key Members: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Leaders of the New School, Black Sheep, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Chi Ali, The Beatnuts, Brand Nubian
Elements of Style: Floral prints, African patterns, Awesome hair
The number of rappers, groups and affiliates that comprise Native Tongues alone is staggering, not to mention their audible influence on socially conscious, Afrocentric hip-hop. They were free spirits both on the microphone and in their individual styles. Imagine getting Tribe, De La, the LONS, and Brand Nubian in one room—each group had their own dope look.
Style-wise, they absolutely owned it. The floral prints, varsities, rugby shirts, round sunglasses, Africa medallions and hoodies became pretty ubiquitous among '90s cool guys, and definitely seeped into mainstream pop culture on guys like Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but perhaps most notably on pretty much the entire cast of A Different World. Native Tongues style became the new uniform of conscious youth everywhere.