When it comes to legendary streetwear brands, A Bathing Ape’s legend precedes it. The label was launched in 1993 amid the maelstrom of creativity that was the backstreets of Tokyo’s Harajuku district. And at the center of that maelstrom was NOWHERE, a store established by BAPE founder NIGO and Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER.
While the Ura-Harajuku scene gave us NEIGHBORHOOD, WTAPS, and Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design, among others, BAPE’s impact arguably traveled furthest within Western pop culture, with hip-hop aficionado NIGO’s label becoming a fixture on the shoulders of US rappers in the '90s and ’00s.
Just before the internet truly boomed, BAPE started appearing in hip-hop videos, transcending its backstreet origins and becoming a big deal half a world away. That might seem quaint in the Instagram era, when new labels are only a scroll away, but it was an early example of hip-hop and streetwear’s power to influence culture globally.
Below is a list of BAPE’s appearances in hip-hop videos from the mid ’00s onwards. We might not see the label in rap videos as much these days, but for a while we got to see a Japanese streetwear label blow up on MTV and YouTube from out of NOWHERE.
1. Cassidy ft. R. Kelly — “Hotel” (2004)
One of the first rappers to stunt the BAPE STA sneaker was battle-rap legend Cassidy in his video for the Swizz Beatz-produced “Hotel.” The 2004 track peaked at No. 4 in the Billboard Hot 100, high enough for it to be seen by a significant number of kids who had no idea what that colorful Air Force 1 doppelganger actually was.
2. Fabolous ft. Pharrell — “Tit 4 Tat” (2004)
Fabolous’ “Tit 4 Tat” featured Pharrell Williams and was produced by The Neptunes. Pharrell’s appearance in the video came just 13 seconds in, when we see his head emerge from inside a zipped-up BAPE shark hoodie. The clip came out the same year as the shark hoodie’s launch, and couldn’t have been better advertising for NIGO and co.
3. Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell — “Let’s Get Blown” (2005)
In the visual for this smooth slice of R&B from Snoop Dogg’s classic R&G (Rhythm & Gangster) album, Pharrell once again leads the BAPE charge, donning a red Ape Head camo hoodie seven seconds into the clip.
4. Chris Brown ft. Juelz Santana — “Run It!” (2005)
The brand makes an appearance in Chris Brown's No. 1 debut hit “Run It!” in the shape of a BAPE x KAWS jersey. As well as Brown rocking the top throughout, the video features a number of BAPE STA sneakers, showing the growth of mid-’00s BAPE-mania.
5. Nelly ft. Paul Wall and Ali & Gipp — “Grillz” (2005)
BAPE also appeared on the shoulders of hip-hop heavyweight Jermaine Dupri in Nelly’s video for “Grillz,” which also featured southern rap impresarios Paul Wall and Ali & Gipp.
6. Lil Wayne — “Fireman” (2005)
Tha Carter II-era Baby Jr. also surfed the BAPE-wave in 2005, with the BAPE STA seen stomping a stack of dead presidents in the video for “Fireman.”
7. Lil Wayne — “Hustler Musik/Money on My Mind” (2006)
In the video for one of Weezy’s most popular jams, the rapper dons red and blue camo hoodies with matching jackets. Ballin’.
8. The Game ft. Kanye West — “Wouldn’t Get Far” (2006)
In the video for The Game’s “Wouldn’t Get Far,” we get to see Kanye West pull a Pharrell and get birthed out of a shark hoodie.
9. Soulja Boy — “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” (2007)
It should have been expected that Soulja Boy’s boisterous video for breakthrough hit “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” would feature BAPE when it came out, with DeAndre Cortez Way name-dropping the brand in his lyrics (“I got me some Bathin’ Ape”).
But while Soulja Boy’s choice of BAPE might have had “haters gettin’ mad,” many were just questioning whether his BAPE STAs were legit or fake.
10. Child Rebel Soldier (Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Pharrell) — “Us Placers” (2007)
The short yet promising existence of Kanye, Pharrell, and Lupe Fiasco’s Child Rebel Soldier supergroup is rarely talked about these days, but Va$htie’s unofficial 2007 music video for their single “Us Placers” at least throws in a BAPE shark hoodie about 36 seconds in.
11. Teriyaki Boyz ft. Pharrell and Busta Rhymes — “Zock On!” (2009)
Of course, BAPE wasn’t only making waves in the US. Back home, NIGO’s own hip-hop outfit Teriyaki Boyz also repped the brand.
“Zock On!” from their second album Serious Japanese (the cover of which had a crowd shot of zipped-up shark hoodies) featured supporting turns by Busta Rhymes and Pharrell, who signed the Boyz to his Star Trak Entertainment label. The BAPE pieces in the video include Verbal’s jacket and NIGO himself in a panda hoodie.
12. Big Sean — “Getcha Some” (2009)
Big Sean repped BAPE big in his Hype Williams-directed video for breakthrough hit “Getcha Some.” Shot at the Mecca of all things BAPE, the BAPEXCLUSIVE store in Aoyama, Tokyo, Sean’s clip takes the pennant for most BAPE’d-out video in this list.
13. Odd Future — “Oldie” (2012)
After a couple of quiet years on the BAPE front, members of Odd Future donned the brand in the photoshoot-based clip for “Oldie.” The OG gray hoodie is worn by Domo Genesis and a shark piece is flexed by Jasper Dolphin.
14. A$AP Rocky ft. ScHoolboy Q — “Brand New Guy” (2012)
A$AP Rocky also helped put BAPE back on our screens in 2012 with his coast-to-coast collaboration with Top Dawg Entertainment’s ScHoolboy Q. In the video for “Brand New Guy,” Rocky dons a yellow camo snowboard down jacket over what appears to be a BAPE zip-up hoodie.
This banger contributed to both artists’ come-up and paved the way for further collaborations between TDE and the A$AP Mob.
15. A$AP Mob ft. A$AP Nast and Method Man — “Trillmatic” (2013)
This video takes place in The Bronx’s Castle Hill housing projects, former stomping ground of A$AP Twelvyy. The setting offers major ’90s hip-hop throwback vibes, only with field camo replaced by BAPE camo, as rocked by A$AP Ferg.
16. Keith Ape — “잊지마 (It G Ma)” (2015)
South Korean rapper and 88rising signee Keith Ape dropped “잊지마 (It G Ma)” (“don’t forget” in English) on New Year’s Day 2015 before a star-studded remix later in the summer. With a name like Keith Ape, it’s no surprise the Seoul rapper is heavily influenced by the brand, with the BAPE logo becoming the unofficial symbol of his Underwater Squad.
Keith can be seen wilding out in the 1st camo down jacket with the 1st camo mountain jacket peeking out of it, while compadre JayAllDay rocks the shark gingham check ox hoodie shirt around one minute in.
17. Juicy J — “O’s to Oscars” (2015)
One of the hardest-working veterans in the game, Juicy J can be seen dripping sauce in the intro to “O’s to Oscars.” The Memphis rapper wears the classic 1st camo shark hoodie with a BAPE cap, complemented with heavy amounts of iced-out jewelry. Swish.
18. Section Boyz — “Section Music 2” (2016)
BAPE touched down in the UK for Section Boyz’ (now Smoke Boyz) video for “Section Music 2.” A Bathing Ape garments can be seen in abundance throughout the clip, with the South London mob sporting BAPE x PUMA parkas among other garms.
19. Kid Cudi ft. Pharrell — “Surfin’” (2016)
Cudder fired up the wayback machine in his self-directed video for 2016’s “Surfin’,” bringing back two mid-’00s staples: BAPE camo and Pharrell. The clip is chock full of hip-hop’s most stylish, notably A$AP Mob’s Rocky and Nast, and Jaden and Willow Smith, with Cudi rocking out in a pair of BAPE camo shorts.
20. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin ft. Future — "X" (2016)
ATL rapper 21 Savage whipped out BAPE's ABC dot tiger full zip hoodie just so he can stunt on his ex in the video for “X” in collaboration with Metro Boomin and Future.