Giselle Benatar
January 24, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

In Hollywood, you are your car. In hip-hop circles, however, you are your logo baseball cap. Matty Rich (Straight Out of Brooklyn), for instance, favors a New York Mets cap. ”I wear one because I like blue and orange and I’m proud of my hometown, New York,” says the director. Other coveted caps on the street right now include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago White Sox, L.A. Raiders, and vintage football caps from the New York Jets. ”Baseball hats are to hip-hop what Chanel is to couture,” says Monica Lynch, president of leading rap label Tommy Boy Records. ”They immediately identify who you’re down with.”

Although gang members and rappers have worn Raiders caps for years, politics now play a key role in the popularity of certain hats. ”Everybody wears the Raiders because they were the first team to have a black (head) coach,” says hat collector Albee Ragusa, a Tommy Boy rap promoter. When choosing a cap, however, color is crucial. ”If the colors aren’t good, people won’t wear them,” says rapper Nikki D. Also at issue is how the cap is worn: frontward with the bill down (indicating a ”low-profile person,” according to Ragusa), ”B-boy” style with the cap turned sideways (showing a studied lack of conventionality), or ”ninth inning style” with the bill sticking straight up on the head (the mark of a ”deeply attitudinal” hipster).

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