Hip-hop culture goes way beyond the music. It includes various elements, from footwear choices shaping fashion trends to graffiti and breakdancing. Hip-hop has significantly impacted culture and continues to play a substantial role.

Examples include the popularity of Tommy Hilfiger monograms worn by figures like Aaliyah and the trend of baggy overalls that dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s. Hip-hop artists had a defining influence on the fashion of that era.

“My Adidas”

Footwear has always held a special place in hip-hop culture, and sneaker culture has become closely intertwined with music and style. The Adidas Superstar, introduced in 1970 as a basketball shoe, has experienced various waves of popularity. It was embraced by hip-hop artists, notably highlighted by Run DMC, who incorporated the Superstar into their identity, particularly with their track “My Adidas.”

“Stompin’ in my Air Force Ones”

Air Force 1s have consistently been a staple in hip-hop’s choice of footwear. Similarly to Run DMC’s impact with “My Adidas,” hip-hop artist Nelly contributed to one of the prominent sneaker anthems of the early 2000s with his song “Air Force Ones.” The Air Force 1 remains a classic option for sneaker enthusiasts.

Another iconic sneaker is the Air Jordan 1. It marked the initial collaboration between Michael Jordan and Nike, representing a basketball shoe and a status symbol. Its influence extended beyond the basketball court, becoming an iconic urban fashion sneaker. The story of this show was recently told in the Ben Affleck-directed film, Air.

Sneakers and boots

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Timberland boot became a preferred choice of hip-hop artists. Personalities like Kanye West, the Notorious B.I.G., and Tupac frequently wore the 6″ Timberland boots. Originally designed for laborers, they were adopted by New York City residents for their durability and weather resistance.

K Swiss also found a place within hip-hop culture, highlighted by the documentary “K-Swiss California Love” following Snoop Dogg and Tupac’s involvement with the brand.

Footwear and music merge

People have eagerly lined up outside physical stores for new sneaker releases for decades. This enthusiasm for sneakers remains strong today, with many artists and celebrities collaborating with beloved brands, continuing the evolution of sneaker culture.

Check out some of the top sneaker collaborations.

  • Cardi B x Reebok

    Cardi B’s partnership with Reebok came to an end last year according to reports. To mark the final phase, the rapper introduced the Farewell Collection, titled “Let Me Be…Next Level Energy” Part Two. Cardi had collaborated with the athletic company since 2018, participating in advertising campaigns and venturing into her first design collaboration in 2020. The first part of the collection introduced two footwear silhouettes: the Club C Cardi V2 and Cardi Slide.

  • Kendrick Lamar x Nike

    Kendrick Lamar introduced a version of the Nike Cortez sneakers. Taking the timeless Nike Cortez shoe as its foundation, Lamar’s initial design showcases a white premium leather upper accompanied by red contrast stitching and a black nylon tongue. The “Cortez Kenny” footwear additionally pays homage to the rapper’s album, DAMN., through the utilization of Nike’s Futura typeface on the shoe’s tongue.

  • Travis Scott x Nike

    Nike has collaborated with Travis Scott to infuse his unique style into various shoe models, including Air Force 1s and Air Jordan 6s. A new release from Scott is on the horizon, featuring the “Cactus Jack” logo embroidered on the shoe’s spine in a neutral hue. The woven label and “NIKE” branding maintain the visual continuity with the original design. The Travis Scott x Nike Mac Attack is currently scheduled for a December 2 release.

  • Eminem x Nike

    The collaboration between Eminem’s Shady Records and Nike resulted in a limited-edition pair of Air Max 97 shoes, initially launched in 2006 as part of a charity initiative. According to Hypebeast, only eight pairs were manufactured. The shoe boasts a color combination of brown, orange, and blue, with a message across the toe-box that reads “D-12 and Big Proof 4 ever.” The sneaker is finished off with a Shady Records logo on its lateral side and is accompanied by its original tags.

  • Big Sean x Puma

    As part of Puma’s 50th anniversary collection, in 2018, they teamed up with brand ambassador Big Sean to release an updated version of the Suede model. This collaboration presented the Big Sean x PUMA Suede 50th, featuring a premium “White Whisper” suede upper with perforations. The sides showcase the Detroit rapper’s branding, and a heel tab in green, white, and blue accents. The model also includes matching white laces and a clean white sole with a bootie-style addition.

  • Tyler The Creator x Converse

    Tyler The Creator and his label Golf le Fleur collaborated with Converse. The rapper’s brand shared the collection on July 17 via Instagram, revealing the styles through a series of images. The iconic Chuck Taylor silhouette has been revamped with wider laces and is available in four different color options, all showcasing a leopard camo design.

  • Ye x Adidas

    Kanye West and Adidas had a long partnership and a very public breakup. This split occurred in October due to offensive remarks made by Ye online and in interviews, which left Adidas with unsold Yeezys worth around 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion), according to AP. They are now working on finding a responsible way to deal with these surplus sneakers.

  • Drake x Nike

    Several Air Jordans are designed in OVO’s signature black, white, and gold colors. Some pairs like the pink snakeskin mudguard Air Jordan 11s or the Air Jordan 8s honoring Charles Oakley have not yet been released publicly. Since April, Drake has been teasing a new Nike sneaker influenced by the Air Zoom Flight ’95, which is now known as the Nike NOCTA Glide.

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