There was once a time when headphones were merely a tool for people to listen to electrical audio signals prior to the invention of the amplifier. They served a purpose with minimal fuss with regard to there aesthetics and appearance. Fast-forward around 100 years and we are met with a multi-million dollar industry showered with celebrity endorsements. Athletes, musicians, and actors are constantly being photographed with a branded pair of headphones which inevitably manifests itself among the fashion conscious public.
Yo! Raps have spoke exclusively to some of your favourite artists as well as the headphone manufacturers to see what their rocking and what they think of this latest fashion trend.
Former Roc-A-Fella Records artist and Hip-Hop heavyweight Freeway told Yo! Raps that Dr. Dre endorsed Monster Beats are perfect for him due to Dre's prowess and experience within a studio environment. "My headphones of choice are 'Beats by Dre' because they were created from a producer’s standpoint. This is especially useful for me since I'm always listening to beats. I'm also a fan of the aesthetic, the design is sleek and simple."
When we spoke to super producer/rapper Mannie Fresh, he explained the dramatic rise in headphones amongst popular culture. "When I'm travelling you see everyone wearing Beats and they have the different colours to match their outfits. It's great that artist can get deals for headphones because they are so popular. You see people rocking the headphones sometimes even if they aren't on. It's changed a lot they have really become part of everyone's outfit."
With regards to his preference of headphone, Mannie said it mostly depends on the situation whilst stressing he uses headphones for music and not fashion. "When I'm in the airport or just listening to my music I have a pair of headphones by Skullcandy. I really like those. I also have a pair of Beats that Dre gave to me personally. These aren't even out yet and every time I go some place people ask me about those. I will never make the mistake of taking those out in a studio again. I'm not that kind of guy, if I wanted to I would just have those on all the time but I don't see headphones as an accessory for me."
This evident huge rise in popularity has not only affected the music industry as an increasing number of differing industries attempt to adopt the headphone into there product range. Fashion designers to phone companies have all began offering headphones as an accessory whilst tailoring them to meet their consumer’s needs. Oscar De La Renta, a successful fashion, designer created a pair of Beats by Dre headphones draped in fox fur for the runway whilst phone company www.phones4u.co.uk have been highlighting the benefit of a good pair of headphones for use with your mobile phone.
"You get quick-access music playback control, like volume, play/pause and tracking, without having to dig for your iPhone. The high-grade mic and high-resolution, sound-isolating headphones all combine to let you hear and be heard much more clearly and conveniently than you ever could with your iPhone to your ear."
Bricksquad Monopoly artist Frenchie told Yo! Raps that when choosing his headphones he considers sound and looks. "My headphones are Beats by Dre. The sound is crazy in the studio especially when I hear my songs. You hear certain beats of a song more just because of the Beats headphones. It's also a crazy fashion statement in the hood with all the sizes and colours it carries."
As well as the undoubted fashion prowess associated with modern day headphones it is worth noting the huge technological advances within the headphone to bring the best possible sound to the consumer.
These developments have begun to transmit to other devices such as laptops and Yo! Raps were lucky enough to try out the new Dell Special Edition 15r which uses Skullcandy Speakers. The sound on this laptop is no different to that from a large CD player and Dells Executive Marketing Director Charlie Tebbs explained the importance of high quality sound within personal computers.
"Today, laptops are no longer used just for word processing and surfing the internet, with many people using them as their primary device for entertainment -- for which amazing sound quality is a must. To respond to this, we’ve incorporated WavesMaxx Audio 4 technology and Skullcandy integrated speakers into our Inspiron R Special Edition laptops, which join forces to deliver professional quality sound for watching movies and listening to music in the way that they were meant to be heard."
After speaking to the artists, Beats by Dre certainly seem to be the headphones of choice but possess a price tag to match this evident desirability. There are numerous other brands available and we tried out a pair of Philips Downtown headphones which at half the price still offer a sleek-look without compromising on sound quality.
Don't expect the extravagant marketing campaigns to cease any time soon as headphones continue to become more and more sought after and an essential for any fashion conscious Hip-Hop fan.
- By J David