While most people have heard of Hip Hop music, less seem to know about Hip Hop fashion or Hip Hop models, even though the two go hand-in-hand. Originating in the U.S., Hip Hop fashion finds its roots in African American and Latinx style, often echoing the same sentiments and attitude as the music does. While it’s known for being more informal than haute couture, it doesn’t make it any less aspirational, especially for those looking for a career in Instagram modeling.
In fact, quite a few women have made names for themselves as Hip Hop models, especially through tools like social media. One of the most well-known one of our time, Jena Frumes, started her career on Instagram, slowly growing her following online and eventually taking her career down different avenues, including music videos appearances. Surprisingly, this isn’t an uncommon origin story for some of the most popular Hip Hop models today — social media has changed the game, giving women who may not otherwise have a shot at modeling a chance to create their own paths toward stardom.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Hip Hop models — ones who are changing the modeling industry through social media, who are proving that haute couture isn’t the only kind of fashion worth paying attention to. If nothing else, these women will inspire you to up your style and give into the Hip Hop movement.
Here are some of the leading Hip Hop models in today’s fashion industry:
Jena Frumes rose to fame when she was featured on Nick Cannon’s “Wild N’ Out” comedy show, though she certainly made a name for herself as an Instagram model. She uses the platform to collaborate with different clothing and lifestyle brands, using her whopping 3.4 million followers to bring in advertisers who want to work with the Hip Hop model. Though Jena tends to stick to her social media accounts when it comes to modeling, she was featured in the music video for Jacob Latimore’s single “Ah Yeah” and uses YouTube vlogs to connect with her friends and fans.
Aliayah Lee started her career as a Hip Hop model on Instagram in February of 2018, and though she may have joined the game late, she’s far from being behind. She’s best known for showing off her curves in body suits, bikinis, and form-fitting outfits, and within months she’s amassed 118k Instagram followers. Even outside of Instagram, her pictures have circulated web forums and other social sites like Reddit and Pinterest.
Chanel Uzi is a Hip Hop model who prefers to use her Instagram to show off her street-style, often photographing herself in outfits that fusions of lingerie and athletic wear. She began posting to Instagram back in 2014, starting with a photo of herself as a baby, and made the switch to using the platform for modeling in late 2015, quickly racking up fans and followers. She currently boasts 235k Instagram followers.
Jessica Sunok is perhaps best known for winning the Turner Evo Philly Bikini competition, so it’s no surprise that she uses her career as an Instagram and Hip Hop model to pose for a variety of swimwear brands. She first began posting pictures to her Instagram in September of 2016 and has since then grown her following to 194k. Jessica has also won several modeling competitions, including the Miss Spocom in Anaheim and the Miss Spocom in Hawaii, both in 2017.
Daphne Joy stated she’d been approached by talent agents as early as elementary school, but she didn’t begin her modeling career until she was 17 years old. She appeared in ads and on the cover of various men’s magazines and eventually made her small-screen debut in 2007 when she appeared on MTV’s “Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out.” Since then she has appeared in several small roles in TV and film, including “CSI: Las Vegas,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Daphne continues to enjoy her popularity as a Hip Hop model on Instagram, where she has amassed 1.2 million followers.
Sasha Del Valle
Sasha Del Valle is a Hip Hop model that’s already enjoyed plenty of celebrity — she’s worked with the likes of Charlamagne tha God and 6ix9ine. She began using Instagram in 2011 but didn’t begin to use it seriously for modeling until 2012. She found fame through her 189k followers, not only as an Instagram model but also as a producer for music videos and short films.
Bernice Burgos started her career as a model when she began appearing in commercials and music videos for various hip hop and rap songs, working with the likes of Rick Ross and J. Cole. She also grew in popularity after several high-profile relationships with musicians Drake and T.I., gaining her 4.3 million Instagram followers. She went on to create her own clothing like, Bold & Beautiful, where Bernice models her own products as a world renown Hip Hop model.
Da’Raja Superstar got her start as a Hip Hop model using Instagram, which she originally created in 2013 to share clips of herself performing. She began using the platform more seriously for modeling purposes in 2016, sharing photos of herself posing in a variety of outfits and swimwear, though she continued to upload clips of her music as well. Outside of Instagram, Da’Raja also has a YouTube channel where she shares her original songs.
When Meg Kylie started her Instagram in late 2013 to post a happy birthday message to her younger sister, she probably had no idea that, years later, she would become a well-known Hip Hop model, thanks to the medium. Meg now has 471k followers that she shares pictures of her posing in a variety of clothing and swimwear, which led her to become a model for Freedom Couture and an ambassador for Icon Swim. In her free time, Meg vlogs about her life on YouTube.
Pamela Alexandra has made a name for herself as a Plus Size and Hip Hop model online, specifically on Instagram. She currently boasts 1.2 million followers, and her popularity led her to to a hosting gig at a fashion show in Lucerne, Switzerland. She has also created her own clothing line, named after herself.
Val Mercado originally began using social media as a way to cope with her mental health, but little did she know that within years her Instagram would blow up, amassing 1.1 million followers. She began working for Seventeen Magazine as a fashion blogger and reporter for red carpet events, and this, along with the alter ego she created through selfies, was what kickstarted her career as an Instagram and Hip Hop model.
Jade Ramey picked up fitness as a way to deal with the negative side affects of partying and somehow turned it into a lifestyle. Using Instagram, she became a fitness and Hip Hop model, using the platform to post activewear, swimwear, and lingerie photos of herself. She has amassed 544k followers on Instagram, but her success doesn’t solely lie in social media — she also competed in the Maxim’s Finest contest in 2017.