Pass The Mic: Johnnie Walker celebrates female hip-hop talent


Diageo‘s Johnnie Walker Black Label has worked with WE ARE Pi on a new campaign, “Pass The Mic,” that celebrates female game-changers in the world of hip-hop.

The campaign kicked off with a unique interactive event held in Amsterdam’s Tobacco Theatre, dedicated to honouring the diverse female voices that are redefining Dutch hip-hop.

Following the initial event, Diageo is looking at a wider rollout of the campaign in the year to come in the Netherlands.

‘Pass The Mic’

The Dutch event featured two groundbreaking female artists: Latifah and Pink Oculus, both influential Dutch hip-hop names.

Latifah stands out for her energetic rap style and sharp, socially conscious lyrics while Pink Oculus, aka Esperanza Denswil, is known for her eclectic mix of hip-hop, soul and electronic music.

Both artists have built a loyal fan base through their authentic and innovative approach to hip-hop and continue to play an important role in the growth and evolution of the Dutch hip-hop scene.

At the event, the artists performed in a “cypher” ring ( an iconic element of hip-hop culture where artists take turns freestyling over a beat),in front of a select group of 60 invitees including style and music influencers.

They performed an iconic Dutch hip-hop track, “Hele Meneer,” (translated as “A Real Pro Sir”/ Real King) reimagining it as “Hele Madame” (translated as “A Real Pro Madame/Real Queen”).. Everyone gathered, as is customary in a cypher, in a circle around the host who announced the MCs one by one, starting with Pink Oculus and Latifah, who then “passed the mic” to other female MCs such as Crystal Channay and Lauwtje.

Attendees were then invited to join them in the cypher, taking the mic and performing their own lyrics

The idea of the event was to celebrate hip-hop’s past and look to the future. The evening was hosted by Nina, an old-school legend who released her debut album “De Lastigste” in 2007 and was one of the first women on the Top Notch label.

Adje, a big name in the Dutch hip hop scene, was also present, and especially for this campaign, gave his approval to interpret his iconic song “Hele Meneer” into “Hele Madame”.

The cypher was closed by Adje, who performed his song and gave a shout-out to female hip-hop artists – symbolising that the established (male) order in hip hop is also making room for the (new) female voices in hip hop.

Invitees were invited to create their own content both prior to and following the event, and content from the event, including a film made on the night, will be shared on social platforms. The campaign has also involved paid media before and after the event.

Johnnie Walker Black Label and WE ARE Pi partnered with production partner Scoville to bring the campaign to life, working with director Luka Boerrigter and photographer Ashley Röttjers.

The campaign has also partnered with ‘She Said So’, a non-profit organisation committed to gender equality within the music industry, encouraging 1:1 relationships between established and emerging music industry professionals.

WE ARE Pi also worked with local PR partner L’Agency on outreach for the event. The planned expansion of the campaign will focus on the Summer Mentorship program with She Said So and a continuation of the campaign in 2024-2025.

“Pass The Mic” marks the first new culture and entertainment platform for the Johnnie Walker Black Label brand in several years. It comes as the brand seeks to celebrate those who are “passing the mic” in hip hop by blending, reinforcing the message that Johnnie Walker Black label is perfectly blended for any event or occasion. It also marks a milestone in music history: the celebration of 50 years of hip-hop.

Daan van Dam, Group Creative Director at WE ARE Pi, explained: “Blending diverse backgrounds, influences & experiences is what moves Dutch hip hop forward. But to move forward, it must step up and truly celebrate the game-changers who are pushing the genre to the next level: Women.

“That’s what ‘Pass The Mic’ is all about.”

“We are pleased that together with Johnnie Walker we have been able to provide a stage for female hip hop artists to discuss the topic of inclusion and inspire a new generation to Keep Walking and taking bold steps in a male-dominated genre,” added van Dam.

Patrick Garvey, Founding Partner & Managing Director, WE ARE Pi, said: “Partnering with Johnnie Walker, a brand as iconic as it is forward-thinking, perfectly aligns with WE ARE Pi’s ‘Never Settle’ mantra”.

“This collaboration isn’t just about spotlighting talent; it’s about sparking real change. Together, with the precision and authenticity from Scoville’s top production team, we’re turning ‘Pass The Mic’ into a movement that amplifies new voices and shatters barriers.

“It’s not just a campaign—it’s the pulse of progress.”