/  05.26.2022

Hip hop has evolved and transcended so many cultural boundaries over the years. We see it in music, videos, charts, in the way it has converged across the art world, fashion and entertainment businesses, tech and beyond. Most importantly, we see the change in how women in hip hop are not only portrayed today versus the past, but also the influence women have in the music industry on a mainstream level and how women play a huge role in establishing what hip hop culture is. While the music industry still needs to do more work to highlight and better uplift the women that are dominating in the genre — predominantly Black women — there is so much to be said about the work that women are doing to empower each other instead of allowing the industry to pit artists against one another. Also worth noting is the fact that women have been championing the freeness of self-expression, desire to be unapologetic in their artistry, and the conviction that is characteristic of today’s music. Just like hip hop, sportswear brand Nike has become an authority in creating a space for women to be themselves, empowering creatives to feel confident and remain inspired in the body they are in. The brand has been a staple in intersecting culture and community in their mission — including fashion, sneaker culture and music. In honor of Nike’s 50th anniversary on May 30, we will be exploring the symbiotic connection between Nike and hip hop and how women have played pivotal roles in the culture. 

Artists like Queen Latifah, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, Da Brat, Lauryn Hill — just to name a few — have paved the way for those in music today by being some of the first to exude confidence, flow-switching in raps, sex positivity, and other key topics that defy the notion that women in music are a monolith. In 2017, Queen Latifah told HuffPost, “The music suffers without [women]. We can’t keep this going with one person. We need a bunch of us” in reference to there being room for more than one woman rapper in the industry. In 2014, Missy Elliot said something in an interview that still resonates today: “Music is a male-dominanted field. Women are not always taken as seriously as we should be, so sometimes we have to put our foot down.” Today, we have a new generation of women that are pushing forward, persevering and building space for more women in hip hop.    

Nike references in music have been occurring for decades, not only through male rappers but with women, too. Foxy Brown in “Ill Na Na”: If he don’t do the right thing like Spike Lee/Bye bye, wifey, make him lose his Nikes. Lil’ Kim in “Woah”: Can’t reach me on the phone, then send a bitch a kite/Man I dos it in heels or a pair of crisp Nikes. Nicki Minaj in “Barbie Tingz”: I don’t wanna check b****, tell ‘em wear their Nikes.” That’s to only name a few references. Another component to Nike playing a part in adding visibility to women in music is having collaborations with influential artists like Nicki Minaj, Teyana Taylor and more. In 2019, Nike also partnered with Nordstrom’s Vice President Olivia Kim for a capsule collection that honors the 1990s fashion and hip hop scene in New York City.

Megan Thee Stallion

Houston, Texas rapper Megan Thee Stallion is a multi-faceted artist. Aside from rapping and dancing, she is a workout enthusiast who is encouraging her fan base to enjoy the art of fitness. She partnered with Nike on exclusive workouts for the Nike Training app featuring trainer Tara Nicolas in 2021 and even gives tips and best practices of her own. “Real Hotties put other Hotties on. You’re supposed to spray positivity, even to yourself,” she told Nike. “Wake up, look in the mirror: ‘I am bad. I am a bad B. I am a Hot Girl. I, too, am a Hot Girl Coach.’” Megan exudes confidence and positivity in her personal life, in her music, and has always been an advocate for women empowerment.

Cardi B

Grammy award-winning rapper Cardi B is another influential artist who has always advocated for all-women music collaborations. The Bronx native isn’t one to stray away from working with other women artists. Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, Normani, Lizzo, and Kehlani are a few who she’s done music with. “If I like you, I’m gonna endorse you. If I like your music, I’m gonna tell you that I like your music,” she told XXL in 2021 on cosigning new female rappers. Her polarizing single “WAP” with Megan The Stallion exuded girl power and the beauty of women’s autonomy. “When I met her, you know, it was just dope, and it was a very natural, smooth [meeting],” she said. “Sometimes I get on social media, and I do good, and she randomly congratulates me. And, I will congratulate her as well. I’m gonna always show her love. Like, it’s just a super respect thing.”

Parris Goebel

Celebrity choreographer and dancer Parris Goebel’s influence has been integral in some of the biggest moments in culture. She’s worked with top artists like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez. She’s been dancing since the age of three and has choreographed music videos, movies and events. Goebel has even worked on Super Bowl halftime show choreography. Towards the end of 2021, the Melbourne native worked with Nike  to bring dance to life with a “Force is Female” workshop that she led. She was also the face of a Nike “Dance Declaration” campaign in November 2021 where the concept was to showcase dancers in a different light. “Taking up space as a woman and unapologetically doing it is a constant fight for women,” she tells Hypebae. “Being a woman is what makes me great at what I do, and it also makes me compassionate and creative,” she states. “Nike has always been so great at celebrating women athletes and women in general.” 

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