24-year-old Hamburg-based wordsmith Estikay has not followed the standard blueprint for success. While other rappers have ingratiated themselves into the fashion world only after finding their way as musicians, Estikay had already owned and shuttered a streetwear store by the time his breakout EP, Exactly Here, was released in 2015. “I was always into fashion. Before music started taking off for me I had a clothing store with my two best friends. We imported all the American streetwear brands we liked because it was hard to get them here. We also started making our own shirts and hats and so many people would ask us if they could buy it we just started selling our own products,” he told COLORS.
These days, Estikay still channels this ethos in his approach to fashion, allowing curiosity and an admiration for clothing with an overt identity to drive his choices. “I don’t go for the most hyped items because I like brands with a certain identity and feeling. With clothes, they have a certain emotion attached to them, just like music does. For instance, I really like what Virgil did with OFF-WHITE. Supreme has also been doing great work for years, and of course Nike has always been a ubiquitous brand,” he explained.
The rapper’s lively, oft-celebratory approach to rap intuitively captures the natural intersection of style, identity and hip-hop, which has, in the last decade become a bastion of hedonism, and an avenue to toast material excess. With a seemingly effortless flow informed by verbosity and pithy observations, Estikay darts between highlighting this enamourment with the good life – including luxe garms – and much more grounded topics. The insightful combination of bacchanalian rhythms and personal vulnerability is exactly what drew the attention of Berlin rap luminary Sido, who reached out to the “Mac & Cheese” rapper after hearing Genau hier for the first time.
That year, the duo went on to collaborate on the single “Eier,” on which Estikay’s blistering guest feature led to an invitation to join Sido on a sold out tour. Upon returning to Hamburg, the elder statesmen signed the young upstart to his independent imprint, Goldzweig, where the two continue to collaborate. This year Estikay released “Die Jungs dabei,” which sees a feature from both Sido and Adesse.
Though many of Estikay’s collaboration have hinged on the talent of his fellow German rappers, he cites Eminem as the original catalyst for his foray into rap music. “From an early age I was always hanging out with older people who were into rap,” he said. “Some of them were graffiti writers, some made beats and few would rap. We were hanging out every day and at some point I just tried to rap. A lot of artists had impacted me by then but Eminem was the one who made me want to try it out myself.”
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Fashion Editor: Odessa Legemah