As with blues and rock ’n’ roll before it, hip-hop has increasingly become the preferred artistic expression of privileged white people, particularly those who hail from celebrity backgrounds, and thus already have the sort of wealth and fame—and thus, the “haters”—so crucial to formulating effective rap lyrics. And while Chet Haze reps the mean streets of West Hollywood, and Bob Dylan’s grandson Pablo carries the torch for the Jay-Z of the ’60s, finally, Tommy Hilfiger’s son "Rich Hil" has arrived to hold it down for Greenwich, Connecticut—or as he calls it, “The Cut.” He is, in fact, the self-proclaimed “best rapper that was born in Connecticut, ever,” way better than all three of them.
Anyway, although Hilfiger scored a Warner Bros. Records deal and has an upcoming fall tour, it’s likely you’ve never heard of him outside of a story about his drug bust last year, as so far he’s only produced a couple of mix tapes. So allow this extensive New York Observer profile to reintroduce you to him. You’ll be swept along as Hilfiger just stays on his grind in his suite at The Plaza that his dad bought for him (Is it any wonder Hilfiger has the words, “I love you, Dad” tattooed on his neck?), meet his model/DJ fiancee (whose photos Hilfiger proudly proclaims he “used to jerk off to as a kid”), and learn about how he came up studying the hip-hop game, mostly through weekend trips to Philadelphia “with the family bodyguard.”
Naturally, some might assume that Hilfiger’s life of leisure, considerable means, and need to bring bodyguards with him to rap shows might make him, I don’t know, some kind of prep school guy in a pink sport coat, whose recent adoption of body-covering tattoos and thug posturing is all just a desperate appropriation of clichéd signifiers in an attempt to distance himself from his cushy reality. But as you’ll see in the story, that is exactly what Hilfiger is not! Perhaps you need only listen to a few of his songs, which often include the refrain “NO LIMOS”—a mindset that is as equally inspirational to his work as Lil Wayne and the verse of 18th-century Scottish national poet Robert Burns, who just happens to be his dad’s great-great-great-uncle. “He talks about the same shit that I talk about,” Hilfiger says at one point of Burns. “Girls, love, loss, being high, and that’s about it.” Of course, Burns also wrote the famous “To A Louse,” which could also be applicable to this situation: “And would some Power the small gift give us / To see ourselves as others see us! / It would from many a blunder free us / And foolish notion.”
But fuck that—and fuck all the other haters! “Fuck those people, you know?” Hilfiger says when asked about sites like Gawker who write articles questioning his rap cred. “Fuck y’all, like, suck my dick. Literally. They know who they are.” There’s even more tough talk to convince you—his stance on how “alcohol and coke is kind of for faggots,” a wild day in the studio that culminates in his tossing a fruit platter off the balcony, narrowly distracting a woman with an orange—but as always, the best way to know what Rich Hil is all about is through his music.