At this point it’s almost become tradition that the biggest rap artists release their own shoe or join efforts with brands to create new silhouettes and release to the marketplace. Throughout the years we have witnessed some rappers shoes do great while some fall on deaf ears. Our editorial aims to shed light on some of the best and worst rappers shoes, their time of release and how it impacted pop culture.
Here are Rappers Shoes Throughout the years
50 Cent – G Unit Sneaker
Brand – Reebok
50 cent may be the best example of an artist leveraging their fame and notoriety to create brand extension deals. He got his hands in everything from video games to vitamin water, it was however his Hip Hop clothing Brand & G Unit Sneaker that caught the attention of the world!
Originally released in 2003, Reebok and 50 Cent teamed up to release the sneaker due to his music success amassing a large audience. This was 50 Cent’s first major foray into the world of sneakers and to ensure the success of the brand he used his music videos as a marketing vehicle to promote the sneaker.
The collaboration was a huge success and led to the creation of several other silhouettes. The G Unit sneaker was a low-top sneaker that came in both leather and suede variations.
Years later 50 revealed he made over 80 million dollars during his time at reebok. Successful shoe? We think so!
RUN DMC – Superstars
Brand – Adidas
The Superstar sneaker was originally released in 1969, but it wasn’t until the collaboration with Run-DMC that it became popular. The new version of the sneaker was designed by the group and featured their logo on the side. It was released in three colors: black, white, and red.
The Superstar sneaker became so popular that it is still in production today. It is one of the best-selling shoes in history. What’s even more interesting about this is that RUN DMC are the first rap group to collaborate with a corporation to create a sneaker! They laid the foundation for rappers shoes being a thing! Pay your respect!
Jay Z – S. Carter
Brand – Reebok
Paul Fireman (Former Business Lead at Reebok) decided to create deals with 50, Daddy Yankee and Jay-z, in response to reebok losing the bidding war to Nike for Lebron James.
Jay-z’s creation at Reebok would materialise into the S.Carter sneaker also released in 2003 alongside the g unit shoes. Jay told the New York Post in 2003. “It’s for a guy on the sidelines that can’t jump, but still wants to look cool.”
Evident by the silhouettes athletic look and style. Today the sneaker is a collector’s item with prices online varying from $100 to $500.
50 and Jay used the opportunity to create a freestyle to promote both their shoes! Take a trip down memory lane
Snoop Dog – LA Stories
Brand – Adidas
Snoop has been an Adidas brand ambassador for years always supporting the brand and ensuring he incorporates apparel in his videos and lifestyles. The relationship between Snoop and Adidas led to the corporation commissioning Snoop to design his own sneaker, LA Stories.
“It doesn’t have to say my name, it just has to have my thought process, like when we do collaborations”
This statement is evident as snoop focused on creating the best footwear without using the hype of his name. The collaboration came to life with the work of skateboarding legend Mark “Gonz” Gonzales.
Skepta – SK Air
Brand – Nike
Skepta has collaborated with Nike since 2017 creating his own version of the Air Max 97 Ultra, 2018’s Air Max 97 BW and Air Max Deluxe, and 2019’s Shox TL.
In an interview with The Evening Standard, Skepta explained the inspiration behind each sneaker design: “I’m really proud of the product, it’s a great representation of what I do and who I am. I think my fans will understand that and love it.”
The project’s actual inspiration is the concept of creative talent from London, the city he’s from. The latest instalment from his ongoing partnership with Nike were the Skepta x Nike Shox TL. We wouldn’t be surprised to see more collaboration from Nike and Skepta in the future.
Pharrell Williams – HU SHOES
Brand – Adidas
Pharrell Williams has had a long-standing partnership with Adidas, and in 2017 they teamed up to create the Hu Shoes. The shoes were designed to represent all of humanity, hence the name Hu.
According to an interview with Pharrell, “the Hu sneaker represents all of humanity. It celebrates equality and unity. We designed it to be more than just a shoe. It’s a movement.”
The shoes were released in several different colours, and each colourway is meant to represent a different race or ethnicity. The idea behind the shoes is to promote diversity and unity among all people. This can be seen with the shoes promotion of east African culture
Drake – OVO x Air Jordan 12
If there’s one thing we know about Nike it’s there constant strive to remain the best sports wear apparel in the industry. Outside of innovation, quality garments and creative marketing campaigns Nike makes an effort to align themselves with the biggest names in sports and entertainment. On the entertainment side that would be Drizzy.
Drake who is arguably the biggest musician today shared posts on his social media platform taking meetings with the Nike CEO Mark Parker, Vice President for Design and Special Projects Tinker Hatfield & Jordan Brand President Larry Miller.
Following these meetings with the heads of Nike we have seen Drake release multiple ovo sneaker collaboration, one of these being the OVO & Air Jordan 12 sneaker.
The Air Jordan 12 is one of the most iconic Jordan’s that MJ ever played in. For that history alone we can see why Drake wanted a rendition of this. Check out Drakes Sneaker collaboration history.
Kanye West – Yeezy
Brand – Adidas
Kanye West has single handily taken the idea of rappers shoes being viewed as simply one of merchandise or short term collaboration into an industry leading brand.
Kanye’s relationship with Adidas started in 2006, designing a shoe which didn’t receive an actual release. In 2013 after releasing the infamous Red Octobers Kanye left Nike for lack of creative control. This led to his partnership with Adidas and bringing Yeezy to the brand.
Today the brand generates over 1 billion in revenue and has become a cultural favourite.
The success and demand of the brand has often left people wondering, why are yeezy so expensive. Resale culture continues to drive the prices up.
To quote our Yeezy editorial
“Hype culture certainly surrounds the Yeezy which means majority of the time it selling out in a couple of minutes online and massive lines of people patiently waiting in front of physical stores around the world to buy only to be resold online on platforms such as stock x or eBay etc.”
Travis Scott – Air Jordan 1 High OG
Travis Scott’s fan base can be compared to a cult like following. His fans are ready to purchase product from the rapper at any given second. This is all due to his mainstream success over the past few years with projects such as Astroworld setting him apart from the competition.
Today artists such as Travis have the ability to garner the attention of the masses similarly to athletes years ago, which becomes evident as to why Nike commissions Travis to put his spin on various silhouettes ranging from Air Force 1s to Air Jordans.
For sneaker enthusiasts the Jordan 1 heritage is engraved in culture. It’s the shoe Michael Jordan wore at his game-winning shot that brought championship glory to North Carolina. Any artist remaking this shoe should count themselves lucky.
Nike were right to trust Travis to put his own spin on it as this is a shoe that can’t stay in stock.
A selection of apparel went alongside the Air Jordan 1 collab, marking Scott’s debut clothing capsule for Nike.
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN Cortez
Brand – Nike
The first release from Kendrick and Nike’s partnership were the Nike Cortez Damn sneaker which were inspired by his studio album of the same title.
Kendrick chose to go for a clean minimalistic look with the particular silhouette. The sneaker debuted during Lamar’s halftime show performance at the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship and has been a go to for sneaker heads.
Tyler the Creator – Golf Le Fleur
Brand – Converse
Outside of Tyler’s musical talent his flamboyant colourful taste in fashion has been the focus of his brand. Tylers fashion can be described as unique, colourful and outside of the traditional hip hop norms.
These personal fashion choices have been reflected in his collaborative sneakers with converse, for example his chuck sneakers features pink, purple and blue flames running across cream-colored silhouettes, inspired by the signature flames featured on his 2015 album cover “Cherry Bomb.” An album cover which perfectly represents the style of shirt Tyler would wear.
Having built a strong audience throughout the year’s results in his sneaker selling out at each drop. If were talking rappers shoes, then Tyler represents creating footwear that’s unique, quality and innovative.
Brand – Moneyatti
While Master P’s first attempt to enter the sneaker business back in the 2000s was met with harsh critic and ultimately failure this didn’t stop the mogul from entering the market with new product and designs.
Initially Master P teamed up with converse to create the No Limit sneaker (named after his record label) it was clear not much appeal surrounded the sneakers design and look, with Lloyd banks going on to diss the shoe which is referenced as a memorable hip hop lyric “Shit can uglier than a Master P Sneaker”
Today however Master P’s efforts can be seen with the creation of Moneyatti. During an interview with Yahoo he empathized wanting to make it popular for artists to have ownership of the sneaker as opposed to collaborating.
“The brand is about the next generation and how to start thinking about business now,” he said. “Let’s be owners, not just workers.”
Birdman & Funkmaster Flex – Boots
Brand – Lugz
Lugz first made its debut in the marketplace back in 1993 which branded and posited itself an athletic boot company.
Soon after launch Lugz wasted no time in partnering with multiple Hip Hop artists and DJ’s throughout the 90s and early 200s. These collabs included Birdman and Funkmaster Flex.
“One such collaboration led Lugz to breathe life to a whole new category of footwear with the introduction of the first ever celebrity-endorsed “Funk Master Flex” urban driving shoe. This was only the beginning as support then lead to a collaborative line with hip-hop superstar Bryan “Baby” Williams, aka “Birdman” with his own series of sneakers and boots.”
Other Notable Rappers Shoes Mentions
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