Hip Hop’s Most Iconic Kicks
While shoes may only be shoes to some cultures, in the hip hop world, what you wear on your feet says a lot about who you are. They’ve become status symbols and sources of awe. It’s no wonder that plenty of rappers have made iconic footwear the inspiration for some of their hottest hits, including the game-changing sneakers below:
Air Force Ones
“I need two pairs, give me two pairs”
The Air Force One’s were first released in 1982. As hip hop grew, the AF1 skyrocketed and became increasingly associated with the culture. For decades, if you had a fresh pair of white on white uptowns, you could rock anything.
The shoe only got more traction after Nelly released his single “Air Force Ones” during the time he was still riding spinners, sporting a band-aide on his face and was seemingly on top of the world.
Years later, Kanye, Nas, KRS-One, and Rakim collaborated to release the Grammy nominated “Classic”, which paid homage to the iconic pair of kicks.
“…stay Krispy Kreme clean. Blue Jeans, Jordans Number 3’s, that’s important”
The hip hop culture is a naturally competitive environment, so it is no wonder that everyone wanted to be like Mike. After all, Michael Jordan is revered as the best basketball player to exist, an incredibly rich guy, and is said to be a mean, trash talking SOB on the court. Who wouldn’t want that notoriety?
Whereas the Air Force One’s have always been simple, classic, and clean, Jordans are the opposite. Unique colorways and limited releases represent something different—flashiness and exclusiveness. And when you got it, why wouldn’t you want to flaunt it? These shoes are still extremely relevant and sought after by hip hop heads and sneaker fiends alike. Check out the Jordans section at Sneaker News and other sneaker-centered sites for the newest limited releases.
“me and my Adidas do the illest things”
Just before the Beastie Boys released their breakthrough Licensed to Ill album, Run DMC released their highly acclaimed Raising Hell record. While their Aerosmith collaboration “Walk This Way” showed record companies that hip hop could sell a hell of a lot of records, their song “My Adidas” demonstrated their love for the Adidas Superstar.
The Superstar (aka the Shelltop) was a favorite of breakers and would be forever immortalized by Run DMC. Even though the group had been wearing their shoes and clothes across the world, Adidas was late to realize how much of an impact the song had on its brand. Years later, the brand finally signed an endorsement deal with the group for $1 million. This would mark the first collaborative effort between hip hop artists and a major corporation.
These shoes may be old school, but they are still going strong. Check out these special edition Adidas Superstars.
”U.G. rock the sweet daddy long fox mink/chicken and broccoli Wally’s look stink.”
Who would have thought a shoe designed for middle-aged suburbanites would make its way into hip hop? If anyone were to do it, of course it was Ghostface Killah. After Wu-Tang’s classic Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album, it was clear Ghost wasn’t about following trends. Amongst others, ODB, RZA, Wycleff Jean, and Fat Joe were known to rock cream Wallys.
On why they were popular, Slick Rick commented ”It’s a way to be casual but not look like a scrub. The ladies like that.” It’s always about the ladies, right?
“Suede Timbs on my feets make my cypher complete”
Besides the chain, there hasn’t been an article of clothing as closely related to hip hop as a pair of Timberlands. Even though they were made primarily to trek through the wilderness, Timberland found a new market during the in the early 1990’s within the inner-cities. In a time when people were getting killed for their shoes, it was more important to look tough than to look cool. They were even outselling Jordans.
When it comes down to it, Timberland Boots were the perfect representation of hip hop during this particular time: rough, rugged, and ready to take a rapper anywhere—whether it was urban sidewalks or mainstream America via the top 40 charts.
Since the mid-1980’s, rappers and those in the hip hop culture have made what they don on their feet a matter utmost importance. While many fads have come and gone through the years, these styles stayed around long enough to make a lasting impression.