Rappers wearing nail polish has become a talking point in hip-hop again. DJ Akademiks revisited the topic last Thursday (March 29) after he made fun of Lil Baby for wearing nail polish in the rapper’s new music video. Baby has since come out and denied Ak’s claim. Regardless, how someone chooses to express themselves in hip-hop, whether it’s having painted nails or not, still seems to make people in the space uncomfortable. Akademiks saying, “I kno his nails not painted .. man wats going on in rap,” continues to perpetuate a stale, dated correlation between colorful nails and homosexuality.

Of course, DJ Akademiks is far from the first person to accost rappers for getting their nails done. Lil Yachty, who has his own nail polish line called Crete, has suffered years of trolling for the act of self-expression. In 2021, Yachty said that he began experimenting with nail polish after A$AP Rocky showed him the ropes, and introducing Lil Boat to clear polish and buffs.

“I started doing it about three or four years ago,” Yachty told GQ back then. “I got compliments instantly. I felt clean. My nails weren’t dirty and nasty. I felt more mature.”

Yachty’s style then rubbed off on Drake, who also has had his sexuality criticized for wearing yellow nail polish despite how pretty it made him feel.

“Get out my comments you told me to paint my nails so I stop biting them and now the world is being homophobic for the 1st time since Rich Flex,” Drake wrote to Yachty on IG at the time. “Which wasn’t that long ago now that I think about it…wait is the world homophobic? Smh.”

Read More: Lil Yachty Responds to Fans Saying He Stole Playboi Carti’s Flow

Even an artist as colossal as Drizzy isn’t safe from homophobic trolls. In 2024, colorful nail polish has become a more common sighting on rappers’ fingers. Tyler, The Creator and Machine Gun Kelly have followed in Yachty’s footsteps by starting their own gender-inclusive nail polish brands, and other rappers like Kid Cudi and Lil Pump have completely incorporated the colorful accessory into their wardrobe. Ski Mask the Slump God and XXXTentacion were wearing nail polish all the way back in 2017, and even braggadocios gangster rappers like YoungBoy Never Broke Again have worn makeup and nail polish over the years.

Rather than outright criticize these rappers, Wack 100 posed a query to the younger generation on his Instagram page last February. He asked why he was seeing more polish on rappers’ hands. The inquiry brought on a response from Trippie Redd, who wears often black nail polish. Trippie said it helps artists be authentic to themselves.

“It’s a way of expressing ur feelings,” Trippie shared. “Being true to yourself and self-care.”

But more than that, nail polish aligns with hip-hop’s ideology. Over 50 years ago, the genre was born out of protest music that pushed back against restrictive norms. Kids took their parents’ music and chopped it up into scraps, and used those beats to communicate their struggles in a raw and unfiltered way.

While rap has maintained a chokehold on toxic masculinity, why can’t nail polish be part of that next big protest? With rappers like Lil Yachty wearing nail polish now and Young Thug wearing a dress in the past, it’s time for the genre that broke social barriers to help break down the gender restrictions consuming the culture.

Read More: Wack 100 Calls Out Meek Mill for Erasing DJ Akademiks Tweets

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Author: Mackenzie Cummings-Grady
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