The Prime 50 Hip-Hop Artists Who Have Influenced Footwear

From language and rhythm to artwork, expertise and politics, hip-hop’s affect on popular culture has been — and continues to be — huge. In some ways, hip-hop tradition is American tradition, an aesthetic that has been exported worldwide within the 5 many years since DJ Kool Herc held his first hip-hop occasion at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. within the Bronx on Aug. 11, 1973.

Its energy is maybe most seen via trend, the place the non-public kinds of hip-hop’s greatest emcees have helped to form trend selections from all walks of life, from the mass market to the hallowed couture homes of Paris.

By way of footwear, extra particularly, hip-hop has discovered an outlet of inventive cultivation, connoisseurship and artistic collaboration. The result’s a shoe (the ever-present sneaker — but in addition the boot, the heel or Cardi B’s notorious “bloody sneakers”) that serves as an objet d’artwork, a standing image or a part of a every day uniform. Generally, it’s all three.

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Over the previous 50 years, many hip-hop artists have had an outsized affect on trend and footwear (together with cowl stars Fats Joe and Remy Ma).

Under is an inventory of fifty energy figures — unranked — which were curated with assist from a particular advisory council together with June Ambrose, Mike “Upscale Vandal” Camargo, Terrell Jones, Set Free Richardson, Dante Ross, Lenny Santiago and April Walker. {Qualifications} for checklist entries embrace: artists with main shoe offers or collaborations; artists whose music/lyrics immediately referenced or influenced footwear and trend; artists who’re main collectors; and artists whose private kinds, shoe selections or proximity to trend and footwear have influenced hip hop and pop cultures at massive.

Studying via the checklist, you would possibly discover a bold-faced identify conspicuously lacking: Kanye West. Whereas the music artist has unquestionably had an enormous affect on footwear and trend (and will simply sit atop this checklist), a celebration of West amidst ongoing fallout from varied hate speech incidents (together with his Paris Trend Week exhibiting final fall) feels inappropriate in the interim. Whether or not the multi-hyphenate will be capable to redeem himself within the eyes of the general public stays to be seen.


 “I used to be 12 or 13 at Madison Sq. Backyard when Run-D.M.C. carried out. Run took off his Adidas sneaker, held it within the air and 15,000 or 16,000 individuals additionally held their Adidas within the air. I promise you, in all probability 90 p.c of the individuals in that place had on Adidas. On the time being younger, I may solely afford so many pairs. Adidas, again then, was a compulsory factor. This tell us what was attainable, like, you could be a non-athlete and be cool, have nice expertise in music, know tips on how to shift tradition and get a sneaker deal. That was an enormous deal to me. Run-D.M.C. had two or three staple outfits. The denim go well with with the Lee denims and denim jacket, fedora hat and Adidas [Superstars]. If it was a tracksuit, it was Adidas. The Adidas [Superstar] was the inspiration, their most popular footwear selection with laces, with out laces. How may you make a sneaker standard with out even placing the laces in them?”— Lenny Santiago, SVP, Roc Nation, on Run-D.M.C.’s lasting affect on footwear and trend, beginning with Adidas Celebrity sneaker.

Jason “Jam Grasp J” Mizell, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Joseph “Run” Simmons of Run-D.M.C. on the WWD Magic Tradeshow occasion in Las Vegas on February 20, 1998.WWD

Pharrell Williams

 “Pharrell Williams is probably the most influential hip-hop artist to ever contain himself in footwear, trend, way of life, tradition. The explanation he’s unmatched is the impression he’s had throughout each sector of way of life tradition. He began with an attire model, then a footwear deal, then his personal model of footwear, then collaborating with footwear manufacturers like Adidas, then being the inventive director of a trend home like Louis Vuitton. His staple footwear second can be introducing Bape and Japanese luxurious to the sneaker market. On the time he had his cope with Rbk [Reebok’s sportswear brand], he was visionary sufficient to herald different creatives. That is one thing that footwear firms weren’t doing on the time. That they had a bunch of brand name ambassadors, together with Jay-Z and 50 Cent, however Pharrell was the one one who had the foresight to herald a inventive director outdoors of his realm, Nigo, and that is the place the Ice Cream sneaker got here from. That was to date forward of its time. That led to Bapes turning into probably the most sought-after factor in streetwear tradition footwear-wise from 2005 to 2010. It’s been an avalanche from there.”— Mike “Upscale Vandal” Camargo, CEO, The Vandal Group

Pharrell Williams, lead artist of <i>Lifetime of Us</i>,  an official number of the New Frontier Artwork program on the 2017 Sundance Movie Pageant. © 2016 Sundance Institute.” class=”wp-image-1203498320″ srcset=” 1200w,,150 101w,,300 202w,,1139 768w,,1024 691w,,1536 1036w,,187 126w,,1160 782w,,95 64w,,40 27w,,240 162w,,480 324w,,960 648w,,225 152w,,450 304w,,900 607w,,600 405w,,1200 809w,,168 113w,,337 227w,,675 455w,,1687 1138w,,200 135w,,400 270w,,800 540w,,1600 1079w,,222 150w,,163 110w,,423 285w,,474 320w,,949 640w,,1186 800w,,768 518w,,1518 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 1200px) 100vw, 1200px”><figcaption class=Pharrell Williams, 2017. Courtesy of 2016 Sundance Institute

Missy Elliott

“The whole lot Missy wore needed to be tied again to a sneaker. Once I first began working together with her, it was all about discovering probably the most nostalgic footwear items. I bear in mind utilizing the Puma California sneaker within the music video for ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).’ Missy is a collector of sneakers, so on the time, to seek out one thing that was tremendous retro however edgy and new and recent — as a result of we had been bringing it again — grew to become a basic once more. It was that one scene the place she is on the hill, on this custom-made leather-based jogging go well with that I designed for her. It was mint inexperienced with the matching California sneakers to go together with it. And I bear in mind after that video individuals began saying ‘Ooh! That retro California Puma! I’m going to carry these again.’ That’s how issues labored in hip-hop tradition. We’d feed off one another. It grew to become sport, to seek out what was not getting used and reimagine it.” —June Ambrose, Costume Designer & Artistic Director, Ladies’s Hoops, Puma

American rapper Missy Elliott in December, 2002 in Miami, Florida.   (Photo by Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Images)
Missy Elliott, 2002. Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Photographs

Slick Rick

 “Rick intercepted the sneaker world. Again within the day, [his record label home] Def Jam was on hearth and that’s when sneaker tradition was simply beginning. Everyone’s carrying Nike, Adidas, Lotto, Le Coq Sportif, Spot Bilt — so many manufacturers. Rick got here with the Clarks Wallabee. This man is from the U.Okay. and he had a fly fashion. I used to be like, ‘What sneakers are these?’ If you happen to wished a break from the sneaker world, Wallys grew to become the go-to. Again within the day, we had Vasque boots, there was Hello-Tec and Timberland, however there weren’t too many sneakers. You both wished sneakers or to be rugged and uncooked in a boot. However Wallys had been this half-sneaker really feel, half-boot really feel. And to see Rick with them and the chains and the furs, I used to be like, ‘I must get these into my repertoire.’”— Set Free Richardson, inventive director, The Compound

A portrait of Slick Rick's colorful collection of mannequins, photographed on July 9, 2018
Slick Rick, 2018.Krista Schleuter for WWD

Travis Scott

 “He’s so keen about music, about manufacturing, about artistry, and that bleeds onto every thing else. That transfers into the Nike/Jordan deal. What an impression that was, turning the verify round [reversing the brand’s swoosh logo]. Such a easy factor that was explosive. When you do one thing that’s so modern, that’s so dope, that’s so inventive, that lasts so lengthy and you are able to do 100 colorways. Whether or not he’s doing an Air Drive 1 or Air Max or a Jordan, he all the time cracks it, he by no means misses. Doing issues like Christian Dior collabs, everyone can’t pull this stuff off. He has an enormous affect on the tradition and on footwear on the whole. I see a Travis sneaker day by day, no less than. That verify circled was one of the crucial easy however modern issues any individual has completed to a sneaker.”— Lenny Santiago

Travis Scott Portrait
Travis Scott for Rolling Stone.Dana Scruggs for Rolling Stone

Cardi B

 “She reminded the tradition that being modern issues. She was so New York and so hip-hop in that sense the place she wasn’t attempting to be in the identical stuff that anybody was carrying. You’ll be able to’t say Cardi and trend with out mentioning Kollin Carter, who’s a visionary behind her fashion, then and now. They might discover these designers, discover these tailors and assist them to get massive breaks of their careers. It’s concerning the {custom} seems to be, even all the way down to the sneakers. When she did her Reebok deal, I bear in mind taking pictures of her at Summer time Jam in 2019 and she or he had the bedazzled yellow Reeboks. That’s only one instance of the sort of {custom}, distinctive, genuine vitality that she’s all the time put out.”—Flo Ngala, photographer

Cardi B Portrait
Cardi B for FN, 2020. Jora Frantzis for Footwear Information

DJ Clark Kent

 “His ardour for kicks tradition has all the time been genuine. Clark Kent is from the early days, and he’s had such endurance. He’s been a tastemaker in terms of kicks. His ardour for sneakers has all the time been constant, his voice has all the time been constant, and you are feeling his authenticity. That vitality creates affirmation within the tradition, within the kick recreation. He has served and consulted firms, and in the event you have a look at his social media recreation, we are able to all see how passionate he’s and lends his voice to what he believes in for sneakers. That authenticity will all the time be the endurance. And the Air Drive 1, it has simply stood the take a look at of time, and I give Clark credit score for amplifying it. There are such a lot of individuals who put on Air Drive 1s, however Clark, it’s a part of his uniform.”— April Walker, founder, Walker Put on

DJ Clark Kent shot for FN. Courtesy of Jonathan Mannion/FN

Pusha T

 “For anyone being attentive to lyrics, Pusha T was the Pablo Picasso of name-dropping manufacturers. He was saying Lanvin earlier than individuals knew what Lanvin was. Bottega, Loewe, Bode — the manufacturers which might be related now — Pusha was the primary rapping about them. However it’s not nearly identify dropping. Once you hear a Pusha file, you perceive the whole way of life. He’s strolling and debuting music at a Louis Vuitton trend present. You don’t see rappers doing that. He’s had an Adidas contract for eight years, dropped six sneakers, styled possibly 9 silhouettes, is about to drop one other division, had a robust hand in creating and pushing the Yeezy and the Humanrace manufacturers. He’s constantly set silhouettes up for Adidas. If you happen to look again on the EQT collection, Pusha introduced that again. There was not a cross-training way of life sector for Adidas at the moment. When he dropped the primary EQT, white Italian cracked leather-based on a luxe leather-wrapped vamp, waxed laces and the Pyrex packaging, the shoe offered out immediately and went for double on the resale market. A whole lot of artists have footwear offers they usually maintain it pushing after a season or two. Pusha has been with Adidas for eight years.” — Mike “Upscale Vandal” Camargo

Portrait of Pusha T photographed by Eric Johnson for Rolling Stone on September 12, 2022 in New York, New York.
Pusha T for Rolling Stone, 2022.Eric Johnson for Rolling Stone

Mary J. Blige

“The ‘Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,’ Mary J. Blige, can also be the queen of excessive boots. Mary reigns in terms of rocking the most effective designer boots created. Mary’s impression each on and off the stage is unmatched as she’s been an enormous affect for a lot of different celebrities and followers worldwide. One in every of my favourite Mary boot moments was her 2022 Tremendous Bowl efficiency, when she rocked a {custom} over-the-knee boot by Dundas as solely Mary may, leaping up and down with ease as if it had the consolation of a basic [Nike] Air Max 95. That was sufficient to encourage each lady watching that. Ladies are superheroes.” — Terrell Jones, stylist

Portrait of Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige for the Hollywood Reporter. David Needleman for The Hollywoo

Busta Rhymes

 “Once I was engaged on the music video ‘Put Your Palms The place My Eyes Can See,’ I customized every bit he wore, together with the footwear. I did this tradition lamé gown, and I had this concept to do a custom-made matching shoe, like all correct lady would do. I used to be actually taking part in with gender fluidity and I cherished the concept we had been re-designing one thing that was so eccentric with one thing that was so powerful. When you considered what was the hardest shoe you would put on at the moment on the streets, it was the Timberland [boot]. I introduced the shoe to a cobbler and mentioned, ‘I want you to take these boots aside and canopy them on this lamé material.’ As we got here again with extra pairs, the value went up as a result of he realized that this was one thing that was going to catch on. We actually opened a can of worms. After that video, Busta wouldn’t go on stage with out the matching Timberlands to each custom-made look. It was disruptive and horny and provocative and really hip-hop.” — June Ambrose

Busta Rhymes during 1998 MTV European Music Awards in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Busta Rhymes throughout 1998 MTV European Music Awards in Milan, Italy. FilmMagic, Inc

Queen Latifah

“Latifah, she seemed like 1,000,000 bucks. She has a Colgate smile after which some. All of it comes from that, actually. She will gentle up a room. Once I first met her, she had a bob lower, the massive doorknocker earrings, an Afrocentric shirt, some shorts on, floppy socks with some Okay-Swiss. I used to be like, ‘Oh, she’s unwell.’ She simply had the unwell fashion. It was very a lot the have a look at that second in time, however the Afrocentric factor set it off a bit of bit extra from simply trying like Salt-N-Pepa. That was her personal slant on it. However she all the time had fashion and she or he all the time embraced the Afrocentric factor early in her profession. She was a highschool basketball participant and had a really basketball-related swag.” — Dante Ross, producer, A&R veteran

Queen Latifah
Queen LatifahCourtesy of Al Pereira/Getty Photographs

Bobbito Garcia

“Bobbito Garcia, aka Kool Bob Love, he introduced that voice for what was cool and what was actual. He was an enormous basketball head, he cherished hip-hop, and that excellent storm lent his voice to the likes of Nike in an enormous manner — and a whole lot of different manufacturers wished his enter and paid consideration. He’s been so keen about footwear and so instrumental. You’ll be able to see he understands it and he actually is aware of the timeline. That’s one of many causes he nonetheless is an enormous model. He wrote the e book ‘The place’d You Get These?’ on the historical past of the sneaker tradition. Once we discuss impression and the residual results that the business has reaped from his voice by way of {dollars}, we should embrace Bobbito Garcia.” — April Walker 

Model Robert Garcia AKA Bobbito, an original member New York's break and hip hop group the Rock Steady Crew.
Robert Garcia AKA Bobbito in an early modeling second. George Chinsee

MC Lyte

“She had her personal fly swag. She was rocking [Nike] Air Forces, I bear in mind seeing her in Puma Suedes, [Nike] Air Maxes. She had her personal fashion. She used to rock issues that guys had been rocking with a feminine twist. I don’t suppose she will get sufficient credit score for fashion. Within the ‘Paper Skinny’ video, she was fly head-to-toe. She was all the time within the know when it got here to gear, the bamboo earrings, she had the bob, the sweatsuits, she had the chains on. She had Clydes, and I bear in mind her in all totally different flavors of Nikes and a few Adidas. She was taste to me, and I all the time bear in mind her footwear was on level to match. Lyte was undoubtedly one of many pioneers of girls’s trend in hip-hop.” — Set Free Richardson

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK--MAY 24:  Rapper MC Lyte (aka Lana Moorer) appears in a portrait taken on May 24, 1989 at Rhino's Den Studio in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives)
MC Lyte in a portrait taken on Might 24, 1989 at Rhino’s Den Studio in Brooklyn, New York. Al Pereira/Getty Photographs/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

Fats Joe

“Fats Joe has been one of many leaders within the [Nike] Air Drive 1 motion. He championed the Air Drive 1. Joe is the rationale I fell in love with ‘Linen,’ the pink and tan pair. And congrats to him, he received his personal ‘Terror Squad’ Air Drive 1, which was rightly deserved. Even in his shops, there’s a heavy Air Drive 1 presence at Up NYC. It was an awesome accomplishment for Joe to get a retailer as a result of it’s not simple. He has a pair shops now, which is superb, and he launched it within the Bronx, the place he’s from. Now, the children within the Bronx don’t must go to Manhattan and combat to get on line. They’ve a retailer in their very own yard to have the ability to get all the flavour they need.” — Set Free Richardson

fat joe, hip-hop, hip-hop shoes, hip-hop sneakers, hip-hop fashion, fashion, style, sneakers
Fats Joe for FN’s July/August 2023 cowl. Flo Ngala for FN

DJ Khaled

With a set price a reported $8 million, the DJ and producer has one of the crucial well-known shoe closets of all time — much more so after he provided it up as an Airbnb for 2 fortunate followers (at solely $11 an evening, besides). The stunt was a part of Khaled’s new “We the Greatest” Air Jordan 5 assortment. It launched late final yr, however the artist has been working with the model since 2007, when colleague Fats Joe launched him to Reggie Saunders, VP of leisure advertising and marketing at Jordan Model. Since their first encounter, Saunders advised FN he’s been impressed by every thing that Khaled represents.

DJ Khaled for FN, 2015.FN


“Fabolous, for New York, was our media darling. That matching aesthetic that New York is well-known for, the place we match each single colour of element again to our shoe? Fabolous was the reigning champ of that. He was the godfather of ‘early launch’ tradition. At a time when getting Jordans forward of launch was a mystical energy, he made his movies go viral pre-social media by carrying a colorway no one knew was releasing — and he would have it a superb eight months forward.” — Mike “Upscale Vandal” Camargo

Rapper Fabolous in September, 2002 in Hoboken, New Jersey.   (Photo by Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Images)
Fabolous in Hoboken, New Jersey, 2002.Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Photographs


 “’Mo’ Cash Mo’ Issues’ was certainly one of my favourite movies to design. On the time, Black music and video was solely being performed on BET, and our objective was to get MTV and VH1 to play the music. The one manner we may do this was to create imagery that was provocative and business and felt like us. I feel [Diddy] acknowledged how necessary it was for us to not be so predictable, that it was going to take some fearlessness. Hip-hop on the time was darkish, edgy, it was very particular. And there was no social media then, so there was no level of reference. There have been no trolls or peanut gallery to say ‘that is good’ or ‘that is unhealthy,’ you simply went for it. You adopted your inventive intuition, and I knew on the time that it was price combating for. However I needed to meet them midway. The sock was a Nike Air — I known as it the sock, the Nike Air — sure footwear items had been Bible. That is the inspiration. It mentioned Harlem, it mentioned road, it was the house boot of the longer term. Each artist from each borough associated to this sneaker. — June Ambrose

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--MAY 15: Rapper/Producer Sean
Sean “Puffy Combs seems in a portrait taken within the recording studio on Might 15, 1995 in New York Metropolis. Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs


“Wale is probably the most underrated and impactful. He was a pop rapper first as a result of his first massive single was with Girl Gaga, doing Billboard covers carrying early-color [Nike] Foamposites with Gucci jackets and issues like that. This was within the early weblog period of hip-hop, the place rappers had been creating a freedom to be themselves, to make their very own look. By the point he was signed, he already had 2,000 pairs of sneakers. Individuals had been what Wale was carrying in D.C. earlier than his music was hitting. I additionally love how he’s been in a position to pull in different notable figures. For instance, he did an album with Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry is an avid sneaker man and there’s a bizarre synergy between [them].”— Mike “Upscale Vandal” Camargo

NEW YORK - JULY 28:  Rapper Wale appears at BET's Rising Icons, presented by Grey Goose at BET Studios on July 28, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Rapper Wale seems at BET’s Rising Icons, introduced by Gray Goose at BET Studios on July 28, 2009 in New York Metropolis. Michael Loccisano/Getty Photographs

Lil’ Kim

“Louis Vuitton sneakers and a complete lot of booze” is maybe the tamest rhyme within the rap legend’s X-rated anthology of footwear and trend mentions, and the 49-year-old artist has usually backed up her lyrics with head-to-toe seems to be in Chanel, Fendi and Louis Vuitton — lengthy earlier than different celebs had been gorging on the labels. From palling round with Marc Jacobs to her notorious second on the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards in a one-breasted purple jumpsuit with matching pasty and platform sandals (and Diana Ross’s hand), Kim’s connections to trend and affect on tendencies span nearly as many many years as hip-hop’s. Within the ‘90s, the artist’s boot assortment was rivaled solely by good friend and colleague Mary J. Blige. 

Lil Kim (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Lil’ Kim.Ron Galella Assortment by way of Getty

A Tribe Referred to as Quest

The group, led by Q-Tip and the late Phife Dawg on the mic — with occasional appearances by Jarobi — have all the time shared their love of sneakers with followers. As for Q-Tip, the emcee has been noticed in some gems over time, together with the Nike Air Foamposite Professional sneakers on the New York cease for the Rock the Bells competition in 2010, the Supreme x Nike Dunk Excessive Professional SB on the 2007 VH1 Hip-Hop Honors and varied Timberland kinds and lug-sole fight boots over time. With Phife — who in 1992 proclaimed to “sport New Steadiness sneakers to keep away from a slender path” on “Buggin’ Out” — he earned his place early as certainly one of rap’s most beloved sneakerheads. Phife, whose favourite sneakers included the Adidas Discussion board Mid, New Steadiness 574 and the Nike Air Max 90, was fast to drop bars with references solely sneakerheads with a discerning ear may catch (“You couldn’t Converse in the event you had f–king React Juice”). After his passing in 2016, Vans and A Tribe Referred to as Quest launched a set of footwear in 2018 (together with one that includes his lyrics from “Verify the Rhime” on the higher). 

NEW YORK - JULY 1991:   (L-R) Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Phife Dawg of the hip hop group 'A Tribe Called Quest' pose for a portrait session in July 1991 in New York . (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

From left: Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Phife Dawg of the hip hop group ‘A Tribe Referred to as Quest’ pose for a portrait session in July 1991 in New York.Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

Nicki Minaj

Barbiecore could also be trending, however Nicki Minaj has arguably constructed her complete stage persona across the doll from the very starting. Her 2010 debut album “Pink Friday” depicted the rapper in a doll-like pose, pink hair and a pair of gigantic pink Pleaser platforms (greater than a decade earlier than Valentino’s) that lent themselves to the Barbie funhouse proportions of the shot (whoa, legs!). Minaj constantly raps about luxurious manufacturers (the standard Vuitton, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel, however loyal “Barbz” followers will bear in mind just a few key strains about Alexander McQueen and Balmain in “Anaconda”). A footwear drama ensued on social media in 2017, when the rapper accused Giuseppe Zanotti of naming a pair of heels after her however refusing to accomplice together with her — or take her calls. Minaj’s partnership with Crocs in 2021 induced the model’s web site to crash after the rapper posted a photograph of herself on Instagram decked out in nothing however her Barbie-pink rubber clogs and sparkly Chanel jibbitz.  

Nicki Minaj
Nicki MinajCourtesy of Common Music Group


Drake and Jordan Model delivered a number of notable collaborations in the course of the rap star’s time as a collaborator, a partnership that dates again to 2013, together with the Air Jordan 10 “White OVO” and the Air Jordan 8 “OVOs.” Then got here his “Licensed Lover Boy” merch, which was made in partnership with Nike and included the Air Drive 1 “CLB.” Plus, in 2020, Nike introduced its new sub-label with Drake, known as Nocta. Since then, they’ve dropped a spread of merchandise, together with jackets, vests and the Scorching Step and Glide sneakers. Though Drake’s historical past is Swoosh-heavy, Adidas made a push to signal the rapper in 2018. Drake’s OVO imprint has additionally been featured on footwear from manufacturers together with Clarks Originals, Timberland and Bape.

NEW YORK - MAY 26:  Drake performs at Hot 97's Who's Next Series Featuring Drake at S.O.B.'s on May 26, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
Drake performs at Scorching 97’s Who’s Subsequent Sequence That includes Drake at S.O.B.’s on Might 26, 2009 in New York Metropolis. Johnny Nunez/WireImage


Jay-Z was named Puma Basketball’s inventive director in 2018, but it surely was not his first foray into the world of sneakers. In 2003, the Brooklyn-born rap icon teamed up with Reebok to launch his S. Carter Assortment by Rbk line. On the time, Jay-Z grew to become the primary non-athlete to attain a signature shoe line from an athletic shoe firm. His affect on sneakers has additionally included moments carrying Nike, together with the basic Blaze journal picture within the Marcy Tasks that he as soon as known as dwelling, carrying the Air Drive 1 Mid Jewel “NYC.” Additionally, his Air Drive 1 “All Black The whole lot” sneaker went up for public sale in 2010, with one hundred pc of the proceeds benefiting the Shawn Carter Basis’s Scholarship Fund.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--JUNE 10: Jay-Z appears in a portrait taken at the Roc-A-Fella Records offices on June 10, 1996 in New York City. (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Jay-Z seems in a portrait taken on the Roc-A-Fella Data places of work on June 10, 1996 in New York Metropolis. Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

Wu-Tang Clan

From his debut album, Ghostface Killah made his love of footwear identified. The self-proclaimed “Wallabee Champ” appeared on the quilt of his basic debut album “Ironman” in 1995 with numerous pairs of his favourite Clarks Originals silhouette. Years later, the Wu-Tang Clan veteran would collaborate with sneakerhead favourite manufacturers Asics (together with Further Butter) and Ewing Athletics. As for fellow Wu-Tang member Raekwon, certainly one of rap’s most beloved sneakerheads has delivered a number of Diadora collaborations, together with a number of in partnership with Foot Locker and the “Purple Tape” N.9000 with boutique Packer Sneakers in 2015, which was a nod to the colour of the cassette for his debut album, “Solely Constructed 4 Cuban Lynx.” In 2020, Packer and Raekwon would launch the “Cuban Lynx” Diadora N.9000. 

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL, 1997: (L-R) GZA, Method Man, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Masta Killa, RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard of the American rap group Wu-Tang Clan pose for a portrait circa April, 1997 in New York, New York. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images)
GZA, Methodology Man, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Masta Killa, RZA and Ol’ Soiled Bastard of the American rap group Wu-Tang Clan pose for a portrait circa April, 1997 in New York, New York.Bob Berg/Getty Photographs

De La Soul

A number of the most beloved Nike SB Dunks of all time had been completed in collaboration with rap royalty. De La Soul’s arrived in 2005, consisting of a high-top sneaker and a low, adorned with graphics from the group’s basic “3 Toes Excessive and Rising” album. Ten years later, Nike SB would launch new De La Soul sneakers, this time switching the unique excessive and low colour palette. 

NEW YORK CITY - SEPTEMBER 1993: David Jude Jolicoeur aka Trugoy the Dove aka Dave aka Plug Two (wearing gray), Kevin Mercer aka Posdnuos aka Mercenary aka Plug Wonder Why aka Plug One (wearing black vest) and Vincent Mason aka P.A. Pasemaster Mase aka Maseo aka Plug Three (wearing pattern shirt and shorts) of the hip hop trio De La Soul pose for a portrait outside the Apollo Theater in Harlem in September 1993 in New York City, New York. (Photo by David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
David Jude Jolicoeur, Kevin Mercer and Vincent Mason of hip hop trio De La Soul pose for a portrait outdoors the Apollo Theater in Harlem in September 1993 in New York Metropolis, New York. David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

Grandmaster Flash and the Livid 5

Early album covers and group pictures put the hip-hop pioneers in seems to be that positioned them someplace between the Village Individuals and Earth Wind & Hearth, with leather-based seems to be and studded boots that had been extra punk than anything. However to supply true sartorial authenticity to the 2016 Netflix collection “The Get Down,” Baz Luhrman and costume designer Jeriana San Juan tapped Grandmaster Flash to pinpoint the precise sneakers that he and his crew would have been carrying within the late ’70s: Puma Suedes, Converse and Professional-Keds, the final of which relaunched across the time of the present’s filming.

Portrait of Grandmaster Flash (seated in center) and the Furious Five, New York, December 1980. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
Grandmaster Flash and the Livid 5, New York, December 1980.Anthony Barboza/Getty Photographs


The leather-based jackets, the Kente kufi hats, the rope jewellery. The non-public fashion of members Cheryl James and Sandra Denton (plus DJ Spinderella, aka Diedre Roper) helped form how a complete era dressed within the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Their equipment additionally included Air Jordans (seemingly the ladies’s Courtroom Drive high-tops) and an array of coordinating {custom} seems to be that matched the textiles of clothes to {custom} footwear. However Salt-N-Pepa’s greatest footwear contribution is the purple leather-based boot, which they sported of their signature purple, yellow and white group look, in a scrunchy flat fashion — although in addition they confirmed up on purple carpets in pairs of completely ’80s purple cowgirl boots. 

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1988:  Photo of Salt-N-Pepa  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Salt-N-Pepa, 1988.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photographs

Will Smith

Will Smith immortalized the Air Jordan 5 within the intro to “The Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air” and all of its six seasons — but it surely didn’t come with out approval from the person himself. Smith confirmed in a 2022 interview within the “All of the Smoke” podcast that he needed to beg Michael Jordan to let him put on the shoe within the collection: “I used to be actually calling Jordan, I used to be like, ‘Mike, please simply let me be the primary individual to put on them.’ He was like ‘Man, I don’t run that,’” Smith mentioned. It was the Black/Metallic 5 fashion that Smith wore within the well-known present intro, whereas the actor sported “Hearth Purple” 5s within the pilot episode. In 2013, Jordan Model returned the favor by releasing Air Jordan 5 Bel-Air. 

THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR -- Season 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Will Smith as William 'Will' Smith, Joseph Marcell	 as Geoffrey -- Photo by: Chris Cuffaio/NBCU Photo Bank
Will Smith as William ‘Will’ Smith and Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey in a season 1 promo photograph for “The Contemporary Prince of Bel-Air”NBCUniversal by way of Getty Photographs


“Give me two purrs.” Whereas loads of hip-hop artists have name-checked a shoe of their rhymes, Nelly went forward with a complete music devoted to Nike’s Air Drive 1s. The lyrics element preferences on totally different kinds, from all-white high-top straps and gum soles to numerous sports activities staff colour methods. Prime-tier sneakerheads could smirk on the music, however its pop success launched the lots to the intricacies of amassing — and why precisely you need to be shopping for two pairs at a time. 

Nelly during Release Party for Universal Music Recording Artist Nelly's Latest Album,
Nelly throughout Launch Get together for Common Music Recording Artist Nelly’s Newest Album, “Nellyville” at Common Metropolis Plaza in Common Metropolis, California.WireImage


Following within the footsteps of Salt-N-Pepa, the Atlanta-bred trio of T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli knew the facility of a coordinating look — but in addition spoke the sartorial language of a youthful viewers within the Nickelodeon period. The group’s 1992 album “Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip” confirmed the trio bouncing round in sideways caps, outsized clothes, knee pads and Dr. Martens — a boy-meets-girl that will carry them via the mid-’90s till their “Loopy Horny Cool” period led to an attractive futuristic fashion that centered on bra tops and parachute pants — with males’s boxers peeking out the highest. 

NEW YOIRK, NEW YORK--OCTOBER 10:  R & B group TLC (Tionne Watkins aka T-Boz; Lisa Lopes aka Left Eye; Rozanda Thomas aka Chilli) appear in a portrait taken on October 10, 1992 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
TLC (Tionne Watkins aka T-Boz; Lisa Lopes aka Left Eye; Rozanda Thomas aka Chilli) in a portrait taken in 1992 in New York Metropolis. Getty Photographs

LL Cool J

The rap pioneer’s ascent to hip-hop royalty runs completely parallel in historical past to the creation and rise of the Air Jordan. The rapper signed to Def Jam Recordings in 1984, and when he put out his first album “Radio” the next yr, he sported a pair of Air Jordan 1s (within the banned colour manner) on the again of the file. He wore them once more on the quilt of “Greater and Deffer, his sophomore observe up in 1987. “I wore the very first pair of Jordan’s on my very first album,” LL Cool J tweeted in 2018. “I’m talkin’ when Jordan was a rookie. I’m not hating on sneaker heads.”

LL Cool J (photographed by Janette Beckman)
LL Cool J.Courtesy of Janette Beckman

Megan Thee Stallion

The rapper can and can rock a hip-hop boot simply as laborious as her friends, however most of Megan Thee Stallion’s shoe closet consists of a extra glam, red-carpet-ready stiletto sandal, which she’ll pair with something from thigh-slit robes to mini clothes. The “Savage” artist nabbed the first-ever Depop movie star partnership in 2020 for a set that included mentioned stilettos, plus just a few assless chaps — all of which offered out instantly. In 2021, Nike jumped on Meg’s “Actual Scorching Woman”momentum by signing with the artist, specializing in health and efficiency. The deal continues via to 2024. 

Megan Thee Stallion Portrait
Megan Thee Stallion, for Selection.Orin Fleurimont for Selection

Beastie Boys

It could be simple to put in writing off the Decrease East Aspect trio’s penchant for Adidas when their early friendship and shared tour run with Run-D.M.C. However a better have a look at the non-public kinds of Mike “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Advert-Rock” Horovitz proves that the Beastie Boys cemented their very own footwear legacy. Their mentors received them into Superstars, but it surely was the Adidas Campus that grew to become the Beastie shoe via the years. Within the early ’90s, Mike D helped to develop L.A. streetwear pioneer X-Giant (just some years previous to the opening of Supreme in New York). The store’s essential focus was t-shirts, but it surely additionally offered useless inventory Adidas, Puma and Keds — lengthy earlier than StockX got here round.

The Beastie Boys performing in 1987.Redferns


Since breaking via in 2013 with mixtape sleeper hit “Versace,” members Quavo, Offset and the late Takeoff have constantly been within the trend dialog. In 2017, the group was tapped by retailer Champs Sports activities and Beneath Armour — a model they’ve publicly acknowledged they love — to create a video for the music “11 Birds,” which served as a tribute to NFL star Julio Jones. Additionally in 2017, Migos teamed up with End Line as inventive administrators for the retailer. Individually, all have been vocal about their love of sneaker tradition. Quavo, as an example, has mentioned he has a $3 million shoe assortment, whereas Offset revealed greater than 3,000 pairs of sneakers throughout a tour of his closet.

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Migos attends The BET Hip Hop awards at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on September 20, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Prince Williams/WireImage)
Migos attends The BET Hip Hop awards at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Heart on September 20, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.WireImage

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X is Crocs’ newest model ambassador. The rapper presently stars in an accompanying marketing campaign highlighting the label’s new Top Assortment and is seen carrying a pair of heeled Clogs. It’s not his first time donning controversial sneakers. His MSCHF {custom} Nike Air Max 97 “Devil Sneakers” induced a stir in 2021, which resulted in a trademark infringement lawsuit from the athletic big.

Lil Nas X poses for a portrait.
Lil Nas X for Selection.Heather Hazzan for Selection

Tyler, the Creator

Though Tyler, the Creator is usually noticed in loafers, the celebrity rapper has completely made his mark on footwear by way of collaborations. After delivering a number of acclaimed seems to be with Vans, he moved on to Converse. With Converse, he has each reimagined classics (just like the One Star and the Chuck 70) and created a brand new silhouette with the model, the Gianno, which was impressed by his love of BMX and path climbing. What’s extra, the rapper has additionally launched a number of coveted sandals with Japanese label Suicoke.

Tyler the Creator at the Louis Vuitton Spring 2024 Menswear Collection Runway Show on June 20, 2023 in Paris, France.
Tyler the Creator on the Louis Vuitton Spring 2024 Menswear Assortment Runway Present on June 20, 2023 in Paris, France.Swan Gallet for WWD

Massive Sean

Detroit rapper Massive Sean has had a number of sneaker offers all through his profession, together with a partnership with Adidas that kicked off in 2012. Throughout his time with the model, he dropped two iterations of the Professional Mannequin 2 — “Detroit Participant” and an all-black look — and delivered his tackle the Metro Perspective Hello sneaker. In 2017, Massive Sean then signed on with Puma, collaborating on the Suede and Clyde classics. Puma additionally sponsored the rapper’s “I Determined” Tour on the time.

Big Sean
Massive Sean for Selection.John Salangsang for Selection


Throughout his run with Reebok, rapper Future made his mark along with his Reebok Furikaze sneaker. The shoe was a reinterpretation of the Reebok Kamikaze 2, a basketball shoe from 1995, blended with one other model basic: the InstaPump Fury. Other than his Reebok deal, which was introduced in 2016, Future has turned heads along with his footwear selections, just like the time he wore MSCHF-custom Birkenstock sandals in 2021 that reportedly price $36,000 and had been created from an Hermès Birken bag. Future has additionally had many trend references in his raps, together with in his music with Drake, titled “Jumpman.”

Portrait of Future photographed by David Needleman for Billboard on October 4, 2022 at Ace Studios in Miami, Florida.
Future for Billboard, 2022.David Needleman for Billboard

Child Cudi

Child Cudi has had his fair proportion of sneaker collabs, most lately with the upcoming MSCHF SuperNormal 2 that may launch this yr. The “Day ‘n’ Nite” rapper additionally labored with Giuseppe Zanotti on a one-off Velcro-strap fashion sneaker in 2015. His greatest partnership, nevertheless, was with Adidas, which produced a number of iterations of the Torsion Artillery Hello sneakers and the Vadawam 326.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 05: Kid Cudi attends the world premiere of Netflix's
Child Cudi attends the world premiere of Netflix’s “Don’t Look Up” on December 05, 2021 in New York Metropolis.WireImage,

Kendrick Lamar

Earlier than his Nike deal, Kendrick Lamar labored with Reebok from 2014 to 2017, which included a number of collaborations on the Traditional Leather-based and Membership C fashions. Notably, Lamar was the face of its marketing campaign for the basic Ventilator shoe, which served because the canvas for his ultimate sneaker with Reebok, the “Purple and Blue” assortment, which was a name for gang neutrality. With Nike, Lamar launched the memorable “Cortez Kenny” kicks, a reference to the rapper’s acclaimed album “Rattling,” amongst others. Most lately, Lamar proclaimed “I’m the best-dressed transferring ahead” on “The Hillbillies” monitor with Child Keem and wore the Adidas Samba within the corresponding video.

Kendrick Lamar

A$AP Rocky

It could be simple to level to A$AP Rocky’s shoe closet for proof of footwear cred. His rotation of Air Jordan 1s and 4s amongst a completely avant-garde wardrobe (do not forget that Met Gala blanket?), plus a gentle stream of Gucci boots, have stored him within the trend stream (there was additionally a short-lived Beneath Armour deal.) It’s really within the girls’s shoe class that Rocky has cemented his footwear imprint. Working with Amina Muaddi (who has additionally beforehand partnered with the rapper’s higher half for her Fenty label) Rocky’s AWGE inventive label collaborated on a collection of severely sparkly crystal-encrusted wrap heels that proceed to be a collector’s merchandise for high-heel devotees.  

Asap Rocky in the front row
A$AP Rocky.Swan Gallet/WWD

J. Cole

In 2020, J. Cole signed a multiyear partnership with Puma. By way of it got here the RS-Dreamer, J. Cole’s debut signature basketball sneaker. All through the deal, the pair launched a number of colorways, plus a second iteration of the Dreamer — the Puma Dreamer 2 — in “The White Jointz.” The rapper has additionally collaborated with luxurious model Bally, and most lately, his Dreamville File label has teamed up with Crocs on a clog and sandal collab.

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 11: J Cole performs during Rolling Loud at NOS Events Center on December 11, 2021 in San Bernardino, California. (Photo by Timothy Norris/WireImage)
J Cole performs throughout Rolling Loud at NOS Occasions Heart on December 11, 2021 in San Bernardino, California.WireImage

50 Cent

Within the early 2000s, 50 Cent linked with Reebok to ship the wildly standard G-Unit sneakers. The kicks had been such a success, Reebok CEO Todd Krinsky hinted they nearly rivaled Air Jordans by way of reputation. The exec advised “The Advanced Sneakers Podcast” in November 2022 that one colorway offered “nearly as many pairs because the Jordan launch for that interval.” As a part of a five-year partnership that was introduced in 2003, 50 Cent dropped sneakers together with the G-Unit G-6, the GXT cross-trainer sneaker and the G-Unit boot. The rapper claimed to have made $80 million off of the deal.

MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 12:  Rapper 50 Cent performs during a taping for
Rapper 50 Cent performs throughout a taping for “MTV Spring Break 2003” on the Surfcomber Lodge March 12, 2003 in Miami Seashore, Florida. Getty Photographs


The Yonkers, N.Y. emcee lately hit the stage in a quintessential Massive Apple outfit: camo shorts paired with a pair of unlaced wheat Timberland 6-inch boots. However his footwear bonafides started a lot earlier in his rap profession. Most notably, he rapped alongside NBA icon Allen Iverson within the commercials selling the baller’s Reebok Reply 4 and Reply 5 signature sneakers. And in 2016, the athletic label tapped Jadakiss to collaborate on Iverson’s first-ever look, the Query. 

Jadakiss during Jadakiss Video Shoot - May 5, 2004 at Harlem in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic)
Jadakiss throughout Jadakiss Video Shoot – Might 5, 2004 in Harlem.FilmMagic

Mac Miller

The late Mac Miller was an avid sneaker lover, most telling from his breakout mixtape “Okay.I.D.S.” and the hit music “Nikes on My Toes.” Within the video for the aforementioned music, he famously wore the Nike Blazer Mid “Selvedge Denim” sneakers. Earlier than his premature loss of life in September 2018, the rapper usually carried out in coveted sneaker releases, such because the Nike Air Foamposite One “Galaxy,” Nike Air Yeezy 1, Air Jordan 11 “Bred” and extra.

Mac Miller photographed July 31st at his home in Los Angeles, CA.
Mac Miller for Rolling Stone.Clarke Tolton for RollingStone.c

Nipsey Hussle

Previous to his premature loss of life in March 2019, Nipsey Hussle introduced he had signed an endorsement cope with Puma, a transfer vastly celebrated by longtime followers of certainly one of hip-hop’s hardest-working artists. Within the time since, the German sportswear big has delivered a number of seems to be as a part of its partnership with the Los Angeles rap icon, together with new-look iterations of the RS-X, Ralph Sampson and Suede sneakers. The “Grinding All My Life” rapper was additionally fast to diffuse potential controversy in terms of sneakers, calling out Reebok in 2018 for what he known as an “unauthorized” shoe that featured nods to his All Cash In file label, L.A. gang tradition and extra. 

Nipsey Hussle.Courtesy The Marathon Agency
Nipsey Hussle.Courtesy of The Marathon Company

Rick Ross

Though Reebok terminated its cope with Rick Ross in 2013 over problematic lyrics, which he publicly apologized for, the rapper has gone on to work with a number of footwear manufacturers within the years since. His efforts embrace collaborations with Ewing Athletics and Approach of Wade, the Li-Ning-backed imprint of NBA icon Dwyane Wade. The Miami native is a fan of all sneakers, together with cowboy boots, and in April he wore a pair on Instagram at his Texas dwelling whereas sipping on Deacon Whiskey, calling himself “Rodeo Rick.”

MIAMI BEACH, FL - MARCH 10: Rick Ross is seen at the Reebok Classic gifting suite at Rick Ross' white party at Fontainebleau Hotel on March 10, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Reebok)
Rick Ross on the Reebok Traditional gifting suite at Rick Ross’ white occasion at Fontainebleau Lodge on March 10, 2013 in Miami Seashore, Florida.Getty Photographs for Reebok

A$AP Ferg

After rapping “It’s about to get uglier than Balenciagas” in his 2019 music “Pups” (alongside fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Rocky), the Harlem artist referenced neighborhood legend Dapper Dan. That’s not his first time paying homage to the designer, who served as inspiration for his 2015 Adidas Skateboarding collab on the AdiEase sneaker. For his second collab with the model, he dropped the “Entice Lord” Matchcourt sneakers, which featured lyrics from “Hood Pope” on its laces.

ASAP Ferg.Stephen Lovekin/WWD


The three frontmen of Dipset — Cam’Ron, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana — hail from Harlem, however their affect on footwear has been felt worldwide. Juelz Santana has had numerous stellar footwear-focused moments, together with starring within the marketing campaign for the American flag-adorned Supreme x Timberland 6-inch boot collab. Jim Jones, certainly one of rap’s most famous sneakerheads, has constantly proven off his assortment by way of social media and was tapped this yr by retailer SNS and Adidas to reintroduce the basic Harlem silhouette. And Cam’Ron has delivered a number of collaborations with Reebok. 

Rapper Cam'ron of Roc-A-Fella Records in June, 2002 in Fort Lee, New Jersey.   (Photo by Gregory Bojorquez/Getty Images)
Rapper Cam’ron of Roc-A-Fella Data in June, 2002 in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Gregory Bojorquez/ Getty Photographs

Funk Flex

The Scorching 97 radio legend has lengthy been tapped into sneaker tradition. Other than internet hosting a number of celebrity-driven sneaker battles and expos over time, Funk Flex was early to the footwear endorsement recreation, signing with Lugz within the early aughts. He would launch sneakers of his personal with the model, together with the Lugz FMF-1 driving shoe, a becoming fashion for the DJ, who can also be an avid automotive fanatic. 

MTV DJ Funk Master Flex during 'Carmen Electra's Dance Party' during MTV's Spring Break 2001 in Cancun, Mexico, which airs March 23-25.  3/14/01 Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect.*** Exclusive ***
MTV DJ Funk Grasp Flex throughout ‘Carmen Electra’s Dance Get together’ throughout MTV’s Spring Break 2001 in Cancun, Mexico.Getty Photographs