“I was depressed, and I needed a way to escape,” University of Texas freshman biology and pre-pharmacy student Mostefa Sheikhi says. Sheikhi was a sophomore in high school when he decided to turn his life around and focus on the one thing that felt right: music. Sheikhi, known to his friends by his stage name Musa, is a rapper and music producer from Houston. Style is an extension of his musical persona, and as he grows as a musician, Sheikhi’s clothing style is evolving as well, creating a unique look that adds to his overall presentation.
Story by Ethan Elkins
Photos by Malayna Ellis
Sheikhi says what sets his personal style apart from many mainstream rappers is its “punk or gritty” feel. “My music is a more hardcore and alternative version of typical rap,” he says, which he represents through his use of flannels and torn-up vans.
Sheikhi likes to mix his gritty style with high fashion pieces, like his vintage Christian Dior raincoat. A typical outfit for Sheikhi consists of a T-shirt paired with formal dress pants and old shoes. “Cuffed dress pants are my favorite thing to wear,” he says, referring to his slacks, which he makes sure stop precisely above the ankle.
He credits his style to dealing with the expectations from his parents to become a doctor. “When I was an angsty teenager I would often listen to punk or pop music to help me get that angst out,” he says.
Sheikhi noticed the way performers would dress at shows he went to, which inspired him to develop a look of his own. He is often criticized about his outfit choices by close friends and family members, but for Sheikhi, his unorthodox styling is an extension of who he is. He does not pay attention to adverse comments about his image, and he has even noticed his former critics beginning to wear pieces the way he would.
One of Sheikhi’s biggest inspirations in the rap scene is A$AP Rocky. He appreciates his music, but he is also regularly awed by his outfits. Sheikhi admires A$AP’s indifference to his competitors in the rap game, where typically mainstream artists dress in a similar “flashy” way. “He doesn’t care what is popular and is individualistic with his style,” he says. “Guys like Tyga dress to appeal to a big audience.”
Shopping is essential to a rapper’s proper styling, according to Sheikhi. He gets most of his basics, pants and T-shirts, from affordable stores like H&M and Zara. He then pairs these plain articles of clothing with eclectic pieces from thrift stores to make his outfits stand out.He mostly looks for unique graphic T-shirts and flannels, but occasionally he is lucky enough to find vintage designer clothing. Mostefa also enjoys representing some of his favorite rappers and sports teams, like his “Okaga, CA” shirt inspired by the Tyler, The Creator song and his Astros baseball jersey.
Born to Persian parents, Sheikhi’s ’s heritage also influences the way he accessorizes. Most of his jewelry is Middle Eastern in nature and he finds most of his necklaces in Iran to visit his extended family every other year. The bird-like image on a number of his necklaces is the Faravahar, one of the most recognizable symbols of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion of Iran.
Sheikhi hopes to incorporate fashion more and build his brand through his style. He wants to try get his name out into the industry, book shows and produce more full-length projects and collaborations. He claims he can already envision a live performance, hitting the stage wearing gym shorts with his signature T-shirt, flannel, jewelry, and beat up vans. No matter what profession Sheikhi ends up pursuing, he vows to never quit the hobby that turned life around. “I told myself I’m gonna keep making music even if I’m 89 years old and have a brain aneurysm trying to spit on a mic,” he says.
A link to Mostefa Sheikhi’s most recent album can be found here.