90's Fashion: Why Did LL Cool J Roll Up His Pant Leg?
The exact reason why LL Cool J rolled up one pant leg is unknown, however, there are several theories on the matter. The first is a phenomena known as “ghetto leg” which involves rolling up your pant leg while riding a bike to avoid getting your pants greasy or stuck in between the chain. The second revolves around drug dealing in which it can either signify that you are a dealer or a buyer, depending on if you roll up the left or right pant leg. The third explanation is that some gangs use either the left or right side of their bodies to signify which gang one belongs to.
Of the above explanations it seems like the first example is the only rational explanation, but when looking more closely one sees that LL does not roll up the “correct” pant leg. He rolls up the left leg, whereas someone with “ghetto leg” would roll up his right leg as that’s the side of most bicycle chains. The second two theories are out of the question, which points toward the simplest answer which is that’s simply because it looks cool.
Like many other hip-hop fashion trends, they start in the street (often among a criminal element) and it spreads to the general public like RUN-DMC’s laceless sneakers. That trend started in prison when the inmates had their laces taken away from them so they wouldn’t hang themselves. Then when the inmates returned to the streets, the style spread. The rolled up pant leg is likely to have originated from the drug dealing world and then spread to observers like LL Cool J and others.