Style Liaisons: In Conversation With Rapper Melodownz

Avondale's generous lyricist on intention, his 50-strong hat collection, and being his truest self


Melodownz in an Etro sunflower shirt. Photo / Oli Spencer

An artist whose music blends into a heady blend of hip-hop, reggae and soul, with an electric crowd presence that’s matched by a calm, mindful charisma.

Just a few years into his solo career, Avondale’s Bronson Price has mastered his own unique approach to rap and to connecting to his ever-growing community.

Describe your personal style.

It’s quite casual and comfortable. At times it can be eclectic and unapologetic. I find pieces from the most bizarre places and wear whatever I feel is cool even if it’s not in fashion or trending.

What’s one of your earliest fashion memories?

Back when I was about 14, I wore an XXXL Pro Club T-shirt. I had a big-ass afro with an afro comb sitting in my hair and a pair of Locs glasses from the Avondale markets, Dickies pants and black Chucks with the fat white laces. I also found this carved wooden walking stick. I walked through the mall like I was some kind of pimp, someone should have jumped me. No wonder my mum was embarrassed to take me grocery shopping back then.

A white Pro Club T-shirt. Photo / Oli Spencer

Was there someone growing up that inspired your approach to fashion?

Back in the day all the kids in Avondale cut their denim jeans to make shorts with the strings hanging, so that was a thing. Also, Bootsy Collins and that whole era of funk was inspirational to me. The way grown men could wear star sequin two-pieces, silk material star-eyed glasses.

I don’t dress that loud but from time to time you might see me in gold or blue silk or trippy, unique pieces. That’s where the inspiration stems from. Also, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and the whole 90s hip-hop R’n’B era. Braids, white tees, Chucks, and Hot Sauce from AND1 streetball. IYKYK.

STYLE LIAISONS: In Conversation With Fashion Designer Havilah Arendse

What have you been wearing lately?

A lot of comfortable clothing like tracksuits, hoods, basketball shorts, socks and slides. Puma suedes, Nike Cortez, plain white tees. I have a big sock game, no doubt. Designer bags, a couple gold chains, vintage Versace sunglasses.

How were you raised to express yourself?

In whatever form or way I wanted to as long as it was coming from a compassionate, respectful and loving place. Now that I’m older I think about the narrative and intentions behind my creative expressions and the impact it will have on someone for the better.

A Gucci bag. Photo / Oli Spencer

How important is imagery to you, as a poet? Because in many ways that’s what a poet or a writer does, create imagery out of words.

I think it’s important to an extent because I feel how you dress or present yourself can be a visual representation of your creative expression. But then there are some people who dress basic as f*** but they are the most creative, intelligent, deep people. Like, I might write a dictionary in track pants and sweats.

How big a role do you think presentation plays in being a musical artist?

I don’t think it’s everything, I think character and energy/personality can outweigh presentation, but in saying that presentation can add to the character or the aesthetic of an expression you’re trying to showcase publicly.

When do you feel that you’re your truest self? How does that factor into the way you make your music?

I’m my truest self when I’m my most vulnerable self, willing to pour those emotions into my music without the feeling of being judged or looked at a certain way, no matter how raw my art can be.

What’s the process like dressing Melodownz, the rapper, versus Bronson Price? Is there a difference?

I guess I put more thought and effort into what I might wear to a festival or headline show, apart from that there’s not really a difference. You’re not gonna see me outside of my music life and be like, ‘Ohhh he’s being Bronson today.’ That’s me every day just as much as my stage name, Melodownz.

Poet and artist Melodownz, aka Bronson Price, wearing a hoodie from The North Face and a Gucci Messenger bag, Levi’s 501s and Jordan 1 Lows. Photo / Oli Spencer

What songs are a must-listen-to when you are getting ready to go out?

Isaiah Rashad — What U See; Yussef Dayes — For My Ladies; Sheff G — We Getting Money; Dave East ft. Gunna — Everyday; Joyce Wrice ft. Freddie Gibbs — On One; Freddie Gibbs — Gang Signs; Brent Faiyaz — Been Away.

You carry yourself like someone who has found their voice. Where does your confidence, in style and as a performer, come from?

My mother always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be as long as it came from a real, compassionate and loving place, and not to worry what other people think of what you do, as long as you love doing it then do it. And that’s been the mantra that’s opened a lot of doors for me. Self-belief when no one sees your vision or when the odds are stacked up against you, the resilience to overcome those hurdles.

One of our earliest introductions to you as someone who uses fashion to make a statement was in 2017 when you wore a cap that read ‘Make Ponsonby Brown Again’. Can fashion be political?

I definitely think fashion is political and people have and continue to use it as an outlet to make a statement, spread awareness or get a message across, including myself at times.

A Yoyoso bucket hat, Evisu shorts, Puma x Butter Goods shoes and vintage Versace sunglasses. Photo / Oli Spencer

How many hats do you think you own and what does a hat mean to you in terms of completing a look?

I probably have more than 50 hats all up, from beanies to bucket hats, kangols to berets to fishing hats. The list goes on but my all-time favourite hat would be this blue camo Shimano fishing hat I got from the Salvation Army five years ago
for $2. Still rock it to this day and haven’t been able to find another one brand new.

STYLE LIAISONS: In Conversation With Fashion Stylist & Editor Chloe Hill

Our hair plays a major part in our identity — particularly in Pacific Island cultures. How do you maintain your dreadlocks?

My hair is very sacred to me. I always get asked where I get my locks done but I’ve always just let it grow naturally and then I part it and use either coconut oil or argan and Moroccan oil. I braid it often as well and when I tape them it keeps them tidy.

Melodownz’ summer style essential: A side bag, a fishing/bucket hat and my Versace shades are essential for me during summer.

This story was originally published in Viva Magazine – Volume Six

Share this:
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

Subscribe to E-Newsletter