The Nae Nae is a hip-hop dance that involves planting one’s feet, swaying with shoulder movement, placing one hand in the air and one hand down, and incorporating personal creativity. The move typically follows another move called "Whip (dance)" . The Whip involves lifting one foot off the ground and planting it with a stomp; simultaneously, the dancer twists and extends their opposite arm forward.
It is a mondegreen of the first name of NBA player Nene Hilario
The Atlanta hip hop group We Are Toonz is credited for inventing the phrase with their hit song "Drop That NaeNae" in 2013.
The dance was based on a character from the 1990s sitcom Martin.
In the series, Martin Lawrence cross-dressed to play Sheneneh Jenkins, an exaggerated, sassy “ghetto girl”. The group member CalLamar stated in an interview with Billboard, “It’s really just based on a ratchet girl in the club dancing kind of funny and the best girl to describe it is Sheneneh from Martin.”In one interview, Martin Lawrence stated he was “flattered” by the dance.
Throughout 2014, the song achieved widespread popularity on social media such as Vine, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. It has also been performed as a celebratory dance at collegiate and professional sporting events.
In 2015, American rapper Silentó released his debut single "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" which also included the Nae Nae along with other dance moves, appearing in viral videos and mainstream media.
Then-President of the United States Barack Obama publicly praised a Washington, D.C. police officer who danced the dance with a teenager in October 2015.
Numerous celebrities have been covered by the social and mainstream media when they performed the dance, including Jeremy Lin and Stephen Curry, Dwight Howard, Lance Moore,TLC, John Wall, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, and J. J. Watt. The video game NBA 2K16 allows players to dance the Nae Nae.
The dance became especially mainstream and popular with artist Silento's song "Watch me whip". The song is primarily a repetition of the phrase "Watch me whip" and "Watch me nae nae," though there are variations like "do the stanky leg," and the lyrics are in the impersonal "you" command form, as Silento is encouraging the viewers to dance with him. This song peaked in popularity mid 2015, with mainstream companies like Nickelodeon making commericals intregrating the dance. The video is one of the most watched videos on Youtube.