Hip-Hop and Sneakers, an Intertwined History


The rap group Run DMC poses at the 31st annual Grammy Awards in New York City on March 2, 1988. From left, Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and Jason Mizell "Jam Master Jay." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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Taking it back to 1973, in the Bronx, New York – one of the greatest genres and cultural movements -Hip-Hop – was born. So this year, we celebrate 50 years of Hip-Hop, 50 years of setting the standard and inspiring others for decades.

Now when you think of Hip-Hop, your first thought may be to jump right to rap music, but Hip-Hop is so much more than busting rhymes over a beat!

From the art of graffiti and breakdancing to the swag and shoe game, Hip-Hop changed the culture and continues to play such an instrumental role in our lives.

So let’s take a look at another element of Hip-Hop that have been inspiring people for years: sneakers.

Name one legendary rapper that didn’t have shoe game? Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Can’t name one? Exactly.

RUN DMC – Adidas

The demand first started to rise with b-boys and b-girls who would break dance in sneakers and continued to gain momentum when rappers began wearing the newest sneakers religiously. We saw this trend climb when rappers like RUN DMC, a rap trio, rocked Adidas. Run DMC was actually one of the first groups to be sponsored by a sportswear company.

RUN-DMC – My Adidas

Nearly 35 years ago, Nike released one of its most profitable shoes to date – the Nike Air Force One. To this day, it is still one of the most sought after shoes and is a staple for anybody’s wardrobe, male or female.

Nelly – Air Force Ones

Nelly dedicated a song to the shoe, making it one of the hottest anthems of the 2000s.

Nelly – Air Force Ones ft. Kyjuan, Ali, Murphy Lee (Official Music Video)

Today, there are tons of artists who have their own sneaker collaborations:

Travis Scott – Jordan

Travis Scott arrives at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Credited with the creation of the Backwards Nike Swoosh, rapper Travis Scott has certainly made a name for himself in the sneaker industry. His relationship with Nike dates back to 2017 and since then he has created about 18 different pairs of shoes, some selling for thousands.

© NIKE Image: Nike x Travis Scott Air Max 270 “Cactus Trails

Kendrick Lamar – Nike

FILE – In this Aug. 27, 2017 file photo, Kendrick Lamar arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Lamar and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman are among the celebrities, athletes and business leaders heading to Boston for Forbes’ Under 30 Summit. The four-day event focused on technology and business starts Sunday, Oct. 1 and runs through Wednesday. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Back in 2017 after ending his deal with Reebok, the Compton rapper announced that he was joining the Nike family and out came five pairs of shoes, four of which were his staple tennis shoe, Nike Cortez and the most popular one being Kenny IV “House Shoe,” which as he explained in a press release, was an ode to L.A. culture.

Kanye West – Yeezy

Kanye West answers questions from Sr. pastor Joel Osteen during the 11 am service at Lakewood Church Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Starting the brand back in 2015, his sneaker line has reached monumental amounts of success having earned about $1.7 billion in revenue in 2020. Yeezy was described as “one of the greatest retail stories of the century,” by Forbes as it was in direct competition with Nike Air Jordan who had the sneaker game on lock for years.

A sign advertises Yeezy shoes made by Adidas at Kickclusive, a sneaker resale store, in Paramus, N.J., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. Adidas has ended its partnership with the rapper formerly known as Kanye West over his offensive and antisemitic remarks, the latest company to cut ties with Ye and a decision that the German sportswear company said would hit its bottom line. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The list could go on but from 1973 in New York till 2023 around the world, it is evident that Hip-Hop culture and sneakers have had a long, intertwined history; they quite simply go hand and hand.

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