10 of Hip Hop’s Most Iconic Sneaker Moments
September 5, 2019
Without hip-hop music, we probably wouldn’t be talking about sneakers right now. Sure, sports like basketball (and a few others) helped create buzz for the sneaker culture, and they still do. But ask any professional NBA athlete what they’d want to do if they weren’t a hooper, and I’d bet that a huge majority of them say they’d be a rapper. Some have even found some success in it as a side hustle to their basketball career. Shaq, for instance, dropped 4 studio albums and one of them even went platinum!
That said, it’s the hip-hop artists that drive the culture of sneakers, and often times, fashion as a whole. Let’s take a look back at Hip Hop’s 10 Most Iconic Sneaker Moments in no particular order.
Run DMC – My Adidas
By most accounts, the first time that sneakers and hip-hop together went “mainstream” was in 1985 when Run DMC released My Adidas. Run DMC not only flipped the status quo on wearing shoes with no laces, but they also created one of the very first sneaker sponsorship deals between a hip-hop group and a sneaker brand.
Jay-Z Joins Reebok
It’s been a while since Reebok was at the top of the sneaker game, but when they were, they partnered with one of the best business minds in hip-hop, Jay Z. Jay reinvented the iconic Gucci Tennis sneaker with a Reebok remix that is still sought after to this day. 50 Cent joined Reebok around the same time and the two hip-hop moguls dropped a collab track to let the world know.
MJ vs. MJ
Back in 1992, Michael Jordan faced off with Michael Jackson in the music video for The King Of Pop’s, Jam. The legend, Heavy D, contributed a verse to the New Jack Swing vibes of the track, but it was the Bordeaux Air Jordan 7 on Michael Jordan’s feet that made the song legendary for sneakerheads.
Tupac Wears the Fila Grant Hill 2
It may seem strange now, but Fila was once one of the most popular brands for basketball shoes. Tupac laced up the pair of Grant Hill’s sent to him for a photoshoot that would end up in his All Eyez On Me album that released in 1996.
Wale’s Nike Boots
Setting the tone for his entire career, Wale’s Nike Boots might not have found as much commercial success as some of the others on this list but his deep connection to sneaker culture is undeniable. Wale spent his free time on the legendary NikeTalk forums under the name, ilovehiphop43 back in the day, and he continues to name drop his favorite sneakers in his music to this day.
Nelly Stomps In His Air Force 1s
Nelly took the hip-hop scene by surprise in 2000 with his debut album, Country Grammar. Two years later, he dropped the biggest sneaker anthem of all time with Air Force Ones. Give me two pair…
Kanye West Collabs with Louis Vuitton
In 2009, Kanye West released his collaborative collection with Louis Vuitton. It was one of those moments that made it seem like he had become bigger than his “big brother,” Jay Z. While Jay had essentially made tribute sneakers to his favorite Gucci kicks, ‘Ye worked with Marc Jacobs to launch his own line of Louis Vuitton sneakers.
Allen Iverson and Jadakiss
Hip-hop fanatic and one of the best pound-for-pound players basketball has ever seen, Allen Iverson brought in Jadakiss to create an entire track to launch the commercials for his fifth signature sneaker, the Reebok Answer 5.
Nike Takes It Next Level
For most sneakerheads, the Nike Freestyle commercial from 2001 is one of their favorite advertisements of all time. Nike brought in nearly every athlete from their roster and the results were the most creative combination of hip-hop and sneakers ever.
Kanye West’s 2008 Grammy Performance
We’ve talked about Kanye West’s sneakers in the past, but one of the most game-changing moments in his career was when he took the stage at the Grammy Awards in 2008. After performing his song Stronger with Daft Punk, he transitioned into an emotional performance of Hey Mama, a song about his late mother who had recently passed away. In addition to an incredible performance, Kanye was wearing the Nike Air Yeezy 1. For many sneakerheads, this was the first look at the shoe that had been rumored for months.