Sister Love Earrings Honor 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop

In celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, Sister Love partners Simone I. Smith and Mary J. Blige debuted a special capsule collection centered on an iconic piece of hip-hop style: the door-knocker earring.

As the original Around the Way Girl, longtime jewelry designer Smith says hoop earrings show where she is from, and she’s created some to honor hip-hop’s legacy and impact on culture around the world. The limited-edition collection features classic rope and bamboo-style door-knocker earrings with nameplates saying “Fly Girl” and “Hip-Hop.”

“It’s about storytelling,” Smith says. “It’s like R&B, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll. Hip-hop tells the story of what’s going on in the world. It’s about a singer who writes a song about love or hardship—these are universal themes. And for the hood, hip-hop was a way to tell our story and have people relate to it.”

Simone I Smith hip hop
Simone I. Smith and Mary J. Blige added a “hip-hop” nameplate to their signature earrings for the limited-edition collection ($399).

On Aug. 11, 1973, a back-to-school party in the Bronx organized by DJ Kool Herc (Clive Campbell) and his sister Cindy turned into a historical musical moment. The DJ spun records on two turntables during that rec-room gathering, creating rhythms that are now known as a breakbeat. Soon, DJs all around the city were emulating his style. The rest, as they say, is music history.

Smith’s husband, rapper LL Cool J—she calls him Todd (his real middle name)—just kicked off his 50th anniversary of hip-hop tour. Years ago, a pair of door-knocker hoops was one of the first gifts he ever gave her. They became the earrings of choice for female rappers and Around the Way Girls of all kinds.

Simone I Smith fly girl
Sister Love has created a special “fly girl” version ($399) of its signature tri-bam earrings in honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.

“My fly girl name was Shorty Love. I’m still a fly girl,” Smith says with a laugh, noting that she had to pause in helping her husband pack for his tour to do this interview. “I was one of the flyest girls in school.”

Hip-hop style was copied and co-opted across the fashion and accessory industries, Smith says. Women can incorporate that style into their wardrobes with her Simone I. Smith and Sister Love jewelry designs, she says.

“When it comes to hip-hop, or Black people in general, our fashion sense is just so amazing,” Smith says. “You look at the Dapper Dans of the world—years later, Gucci started doing the puffed sleeves like he did. They took his designs to the point where they wanted to do a deal with him, and Dapper Dan did it for the hood—to help Black communities.”

Simone I Smith LL Cool J
Smith and her husband, Todd, aka LL Cool J, are celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary this year.

On Nov. 16, the Black in Jewelry Coalition will present Smith as a special guest during its Rock the Jewels event—a celebration of diversity and creativity in the industry—during NYC Jewelry Week. Smith will commemorate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary and its influence on the world of gems and jewelry during the Elsie Rooftop event. Tickets are now available.

Top: Simone I. Smith, along with her Sister Love partner Mary J. Blige, has debuted a limited-edition earring collection for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. (Photos by Elevvvvvated/courtesy of Simone I. Smith)

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