As trends come and go, hip-hop culture has always influenced the fashion fads. From oversized pants to jersey dresses and low-rider jeans, these trends have transcended their time and made their way right back into everyone's closets. While we all try to emulate the looks of our favorite raptresses and R&B divas, the stylists who are behind their looks truly set the tone for what the culture comes to expect from a celebrity's signature style. Megan Thee Stallion’s new stylist, E.J. King, is no stranger to the styling game and remains humble, even though he’s most likely styled one of your favs over the years.
Hot Girl Summer has come to a close, but we still can’t get over the impact that Meg Thee Stallion had on our carefree mood and style all season long. Apart from her hot tracks, Meg recently served some seriously hot looks at BeautyCon LA and MTV Video Music Awards that reiterated the fact that we need to work every curve and embrace what we’ve got! There's a nostalgic feeling that comes with Meg sporting similar looks that established Beyoncé, Aaliyah or TLC as the Hot Girls of their time in the early and mid-2000s.
E.J. King was out there styling back in the day, and is continuing his impact in 2019, dressing stars from Chris Brown and Ashanti then to Meg and Karrueche now. But as he told BET, his experience of becoming a stylist to the stars was nowhere near conventional.
A young E.J. got his introduction to the entertainment industry while making pacemakers during the week and living in Orange County. When the weekend rolled around, E.J. and his friends would head to Hollywood to do extra work in films and music videos. Talk about a side hustle! E.J. says his first big break came as an extra in the film Dream Girls in 2006 after being let go from a music video gig for Busta Rhymes at the ripe age of 17.
E.J. decided to make a drastic change in his life and says, “I knew one girl in the industry and her name was Bria Myles. We met on Myspace. Girl, I moved to L.A. I moved that week. I packed everything up and I just told my mom, ‘I'm taking this as a chance, as a sign.’ And I moved in with Bria.”
The rest was history! E.J. made connections with anyone and everyone in the industry, charming people with his infectious personality, dedication to his craft and tenacity to go the extra mile with whatever role or task was presented to him. Along the way, he worked as an assistant and junior publicist for industry titans like celebrity publicist Echo Hattix and fashion editor Seannita Palmer. E.J. was given opportunities to style for the likes of King Magazine and XXL Magazine all through word of mouth!
“L.A. is so small,” E.J. says. “Everything is so hearsay and word of mouth. And I didn't know that getting into this business, because this world seemed so far fetched. It seemed so unbelievable. It seemed like it was on this TV screen and there was no way for me to ever get there. I just seen it. It was the imaginary world. So the fact that I actually started to really live in it, be in it. It was like, ‘Wow. This is closer than I thought. It's more attainable than I thought.’”
“I was in this in between phase of my career,” E.J. says. “And because everything was so new, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. I remember I just sat and prayed one day, and I was like, ‘Lord, I want to work with somebody that's going to elevate my career.’”
In a time when we all anticipated what campaign or magazine cover would feature our favorite video girl or who the next R&B or rap sensation would be, E.J. was truly in the mix, doing editorial work, styling Nelly and Eva Marcille for Apple Bottom campaigns, working with Making The Band groups Day 26 and Danity Kane and styling artists on their tours like girl group Sophia Fresh, as well as Chris Brown. In his early styling days, E.J. was also assisting artists like T-Pain and Kelly Rowland, learning the ins and outs of the entertainment industry. E.J. was even a cast member on the BET reality show About the Business.
“I've learned that in this business, you've gotta be very transparent with people because this social media has created this false illusion of celebrity and fame. People are always like, ‘Oh my God, you’re famous!’ I'm not famous. I don't claim that.”
Speaking with E.J., you learn quickly that he is a man of manifestations and that he's working hard for what he’s got. Hearing his story, I was inspired to learn that no matter what obstacle he's faced throughout his career, he simply waited to see what the universe would throw at him next. While working with superstars and remaining humble, he realized early that this industry is not for the weak of heart, and he was styling at a time where you couldn’t just become a stylist by putting it in your Instagram bio. E.J. was willing to put in the work and was always up for the challenge.
For years, E.J. worked with some of the hottest artists and, of course, dressers in entertainment, growing close to the people he worked with, and clients like Teyana Taylor and Karrueche becoming some of his closest friends. It’s no surprise that he wanted to work with the Meg Thee Stallion, the originator of the Hot Girl movement and the hottest artist this year.
“Working with Megan is a breath of fresh air, because she's such a down-to-earth person,” E.J. boasts about the resident Hot Girl.
E.J. came to style Meg the same way he got his start: through word of mouth. After expressing his interest to Meg’s hairstylist, Alonzo Arnold, and sending a DM to Meg with no reply, E.J. once again put his career in God’s hands and waited for his dreams to come to fruition. After running into her at video shoots, parties and the BET Awards, E.J. finally got a call from Meg and her team asking if he would be her new stylist and go on tour with her.
“I had convinced myself I was not touring. I had toured for the last four-and-a-half years with Chris Brown. I was like, ‘Yo, I'm not going back on the road. I'm not touring.’ But when [Meg] asked me to tour, I was like, ‘Hell to the yeah!’ And me and Meg have clicked and hit it off. And that was another moment that I got exactly what I prayed for.”
Working with Meg not only made E.J. want to stay in the business of styling celebrities, her embracing her body and not being afraid to show it off was something completely different than what he had come to know with his female clients.
“It's actually refreshing, because so much of my career I've worked with petite women. When it comes to Megan, she isn’t my typical petite girl. She has our own Southern way and style, so she has a template of what she's kind of created so far. But Meg was like, ‘I love everything,’ and I love that, because there's no restrictions,” E.J. laughs.
E.J. says he’s up to the challenge of styling someone like Meg, who embraces her every curve: “With Meg, she owns every bit of who she is, which means when she’s dressed, she sells it. It’s not a challenge for me, but in a sense, it's like I've got to make you dope, because for all those women out there who feel like, ‘I can’t wear this ‘cause my titties are too big. I can't do this because I'm tall. I can't do this because this doesn't fit or I'm not petite...’ So it's actually rewarding for me to dress her, because there's so many girls that can relate to her.”
While we all anticipate the release of Meg Thee Stallion’s music video for her hit song, "Hot Girl Summer" featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign, E.J. gave us a little scoop on what we can expect from the music video looks!
“The video was based around his hot girl summer pool party, so it's summer fashion! It’s just great moments between Meg and Nicki and the many people that came on to support, cameo wise,” E.J. says excitedly. “It just made me excited that I was the one to be a part of it! And it’s still true to Meg.”
We all remember these jaw-dropping looks when they dropped on the ‘gram! E.J. admits that these coordinating looks were completely spontaneous and says that Nicki told them she was wearing an all-neon, striped look. With E.J. bringing one constricting, neon look, he cut up the neon, tiger-striped dress he brought for Meg so she could do what she does best: twerk!
We can’t wait to see the music video and what else E.J. King does in his career and with Meg The Stallion’s look! E.J. hopes to do what stylist Kollin Carter did for Cardi B by elevating her red carpet style while separating that from her on-stage persona while also maintaining a close relationship with Meg, like Zendaya has with her stylist, Law Roach. He wants to continue to build and shift the perception of Black women in mainstream media who were typically excluded from the high fashion world despite being the trendsetters in pop culture.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
(Photos From Left To Right: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic, Liliane Lathan/Getty Images for BET)
For the past 10 years, Yusef has been dictating all of the beauty trends we emulate via his most famous client, none other than Rihanna. He started out his career as a performer, but he ended up behind the scenes. In Hairstory, he details his rise in the industry from aspiring singer to creative directing the hair for Fenty x Puma.