Top 10 Rapper Sneakers That We Forgot About


Kanye west, Travis Scott, Pharell, if you're under the age of 25 or so you may think these guys pioneered the rapper endorsed/hyped sneaker craze. Though you have to admit, these 3 among a few others have taken the trend to the next level, but they are far from the 1st ro do it.

Ever since Run DMC popularized and staned for the shell toe adidas, as we touched on in our history of hip hop fashion video. Fans have flocked to stores to mimic and replicate the head to toe ascetic of their fav rapper. Over time, a select few rappers began to wisen up, not only wearing and marketing the hottest new sneakers, but creating them, undoubtably netting a larger slice of the profit pie.


Between Jay-Z’s S.Carter collection with Reebok in the early 2000s to the Tyler the Creators of today—rappers’ influence in the world of footwear has only gotten bigger over the years.

Now, it seems as if every notable rapper has some sort of endorsement deal or collaboration with a major sneaker company. The aforementioned Tyler, The Creator has worked with both Vans and Converse, Drake has released multiple pairs of Air Jordans under his OVO brand, and Pharrell has helped push Adidas’ NMD sneakers to new heights with his Human Race collaboration.


But these are the notable cases, now lets jump into the list and run down a few you may not have known about.


10. Public Enemy

Supreme released a highly obscure PE logo Vans pack, getting in long before the current wave of rapper sneakers. Word has it the design just may return in some form for a forthcoming collab with the iconic rap group.


9. Nas

Back in 2007 Nas joined forces with 310 Motoring for a selection of footwear known as the Disciple Collection. Nas's Disciple shoe borrowed design cues from several classic models, and was released in a number of designs featuring reptile skin, and all-over prints. The shoe hard as it is to believe is remained available on a number of online outlet stores well through out 2014.


8. De La Soul

Though the Nike SB Dunk has been attempting a comeback with the recent news of the "Walk the Dog" colorway, they had fallen off for a while. But there was a time when they were probably the 2nd most popular sneaker to Jordans. At the height of the hype they teamed up with retro Long Island greats, De La Soul. Which resulted in crazy mash up resembling a mixture of ninja turtle Michelangelo and old school NYC Subway graffiti. The high top versions featured a white colorway and images from the group on the good ol days.

7. MF Doom

Keeping it going with the SB Dunk, in 2007 Nike entered a colab with enigmatic masked rapper MF Doom. During the hay day of the Dunk they dropped tons of colorways, and the MF Doom edition has long been a personal fav of mine. MF Doom himself was never really big on sneakers or materialism as a whole for that matter, but for whatever reason they decided to work together it resulted in a nice shoe.


6. Swizz Beats

This one is a bit sketchy, though Swizz Beats does not and has never had a signature shoe, he did sign on with Reebok on 2010. So What exactly does he do for Reebok? Who knows, but there's no doubt that their Classics division has been cranking out heat since bringing him aboard.


5. Snoop Dog

These days we see Uncle Snoop's face everywhere, so much so that it sometimes seems a bit like no matter what is being haucked, if they have the check they have Snoop. But, but there's an authentic feel to his partnership with adidas Originals. Not only does he rep hard for the 3 stripes, Perhaps not as hard as Kanye but still.


He's also taking on new roles within the company , recently he was named adidas' new Director of Football Development. Which if you've seen the Coach Snoop Netflix show, you know Snoop gets pretty serious about his football.


4. Jay Z

Setting the tone for the modern rapper / sneaker brand partnership, Jay Z signed a multi-year deal to endorse Reebok in 2003. The deal was centered around the launch of his own signature line, S. Carter. Upon release, they were Hugely hyped breaking sales records on opening day.


They reframed how brands looked at partnerships with rappers, they also taught another valuble lesson, oversaturation is no good. Since the public originally recived the S. Carters so well, Reebok released a shit load of them. Hey you want Carters, we got Carters.


So then no one wanted carters anymore. This thought brands that A. working with rappers harbored vast potential, and B. losing a little on the front end by releasing fewer pairs, gains more on the back end with increased longevity.


3. 50 Cent

50 walked through the door Jay Z opened in 2003, and according to reports, did better long-term business than his old rival, with a show that looked pretty dam similar. In 2012, 50 stated that he sold more than 5 million pairs of Reebok G-Unit sneakers and walked away having made $80 million. We can't confirm those numbers, but make of that what you will.

With 2 rap titans of the day under the belt, it's a wonder why their footing in the game is not more cemented than it is. But somewhere along the line they began getting beat at the game they had a jump on by the larger Nikes and adidas of the world.


2. Birdman

The following year in 2004 Lugz, yes Lugz how many of us remember that brand? Decided to try their hand and partnered with Bryan "Baby" Williams. The press release announcing Birdman's deal with Lugz read, "A special "bling bling" Cash Money Stack Clip will be included with every Birdman shoe."


So Yes, this was obviously during the dreaded bling bling era, I'm willing to bet that a larg portion of you guys watching this video have never heard of Lugz, nor knew Birdman had a shoe. But dispite the fact that Lugz really nothing more than a flash in the pan attempt to cash in on the then Timberland boot craze of the late 90s early 2000s. Baby did help the company do decent business for the 4 years he worked with them.


1. Lil Wayne

Like father like son, well not so much now but at that time... u get the pitcher. By the time 2012 rolled around Lil Wayne was in full skater swing. he had ditched his Girbaud and solja rags in favor of sknnies and skater sneakers.


Supra was happy to see this and decide to reach out, the 2 agreed to a deal that brought us SPECTRE by Supra. Long before inking the deal however, Wayne had been repping for Supra, as he brought the Skytop silhouette to the attention of many non skaters.

Lil Wayne rocked with Supra for quite a while, and even progressed his new found skater style into another brand in which he was a partner, Truckfit.


Rappers and sneaker endorsements have been around since Run DMC and have taken off ever since Jay z back in 03. Before the internet athletes wore their own sneakers during games, kinda like an early concept of the influencer. You could consistently see the MJs, Magic Johnson’s and Larry Bird’s of the NBA in their shoes throughout the season. And in Other sports, too. Ken Griffey Jr. played 162 games in a season. Sneaker consumers had consistent exposure to athletes and their shoes.


But in 03 the game changed, and suddenly you didn't have to play a sport professinally to get a sneaker deal. In 2015, Complex magazine argued that athletes will always be more valuable to sneaker companies than rappers. This was also at a time when Steph Curry’s deal with Under Armour increased sales 754%. And though that is impressive, it’s easy to see that kind of progress when Under Armour barely had any weight in the space before.


On the other hand, sneaker resellers’ numbers tell a very clear story of the total opposite. In a year slated to be the biggest in an already $1 billion industry, recording artists’ sneakers are vastly more valuable than those of athletes.


According to numbers from the sneaker and streetwear marketplace, Stadium Goods, Kanye West sells 70.9% more sneakers than NBA MVP Steph Curry, and he makes 9.4% more overall sales than LeBron James. Pharrell Williams makes double the amount of celebrity sales than James. West and Williams sell 80% more celebrity sneakers than Paul George, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry combined, and Rihanna, Travis Scott, and Drake sell 3.3% more sneakers than Paul George, Damian Lillard, and Steph Curry combined.


When you think about it, it's not hard to figure out why this is, While there is more tactal function in a James or Curry sneaker, the fanbase of a Rihanna or Pharrell is objectively greater spanning consumers interested in their musical talent, established place in fashion, and all of their other endeavors. A sneaker from James or Curry caters more to basketball fans, athletes themselves, or sneakerheads with a level of interest in each player.

“Artists influence on culture is only becoming more impactful in today’s style landscape with larger social media followings and media attention in general. Also, where athletes signature shoes are more designed for performance, artists can focus more on aesthetic and truly embody their point of view and taste in the product. It ultimately leads to flexibility in creating "cooler" styles that consumers tend to embrace mixed with the perfect storm of marketing via the artists' following.


So the verdict seems to be, though athlete endorsed sneakers don't seem to be going away any time soon, but artist sneakers is def the new wave and with social media becoming more and more apart of our everyday lives influncer endorsements will become a bigger thing.



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