50 Years of Hip-Hop: The Kicks That Impacted the Rap Sport


This story is featured in KICKS 26. Store now.

In the course of the 50 years since hip-hop was born, there have been extra kicks within the sport than a child in a mom’s abdomen. Take a quick take a look at the sneakers which have impacted the soundtrack to our lives.

Seventies: PUMA Suede 

The Suede fashioned its first relationship with hip-hop as a breakdancing sneaker. Breakdancing was created when DJ Kool Herc—extensively thought of the creator of hip-hop—elongated his instrumentals permitting for folks to bounce longer. Breakdancing, and the PUMA Suede, took over the Bronx scene. The 1984 film Beat Road featured the B-Boy teams Rock Regular Crew and the New York Metropolis Breakers, the place they may very well be seen breakdancing within the beloved silhouette. The movie gave the PUMA Suede a world viewers that perpetually related the shoe with hip-hop tradition.

Nineteen Eighties: Nike Cortez 

N.W.A. was some of the internationally recognized rap teams of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Regardless of their reasonably quick stint, the group wore some extraordinarily memorable footwear, most notably the Nike Cortez, which was and nonetheless is a West Coast staple. The members of N.W.A., particularly Eazy-E, have been typically noticed carrying the timeless silhouette for the reason that launch of their debut album N.W.A. and the Posse. The Cortez was one of many first Nike fashions produced and served as the muse for a lot of of their subsequent kinds. 

Air Jordan I 

LL Cool J has his personal in depth sneaker historical past to coincide along with his practically 30-year rap profession. From Jordans to Reeboks to Filas, he rocked a ton. LL graced the again of his debut album Radio within the unique Jordan I ’85 “Bred.” 

Nineties: Fila 

Tupac Shakur offered Fila with a timeless sneaker second when he wore the Fila Grant Hill 2 on the inside album sleeve of his critically acclaimed album All Eyez on Me. Seated subsequent to his Jaguar XK and between the picturesque California palm bushes, Pac sported the identical Hill 2s that Grant was rocking on his method to 4 consecutive All-Star appearances. 

In accordance with Grant himself, he gave Pac the very pair seen within the image and was shocked to see that he really wore them. 

Wu-Tang Clan 

One shoe that’s synonymous with the Wu-Tang Clan is the Clarks Wallabee. Initially launched in 1967, the Wallabee has been a staple within the hip-hop scene for the reason that ’80s however didn’t hit the height of its notoriety till it was co-signed by the Staten Island group. One other shoe that created instantaneous bedlam was the “Wu-Tang” Nike Dunk Hello, launched in 1999. The Wu-Tang image on the lateral ankle made the Dunks a collector’s merchandise with a resale worth within the many 1000’s.


As some of the infamous New York rappers to ever do it, Nas had a duty to come back appropriate with the perfect kicks always and was typically seen within the Nike Air Power 1, a New York staple. In his music “Halftime” from his 1994 debut album Illmatic, Nas raps “And I’m a Nike head/I put on chains that excite the feds.”

2000s: Nike Air Power 1 

Whereas the ’90s have been dominated by Jordans and Nike Air Maxes, the Air Power 1 had a critical resurgence throughout the hip-hop neighborhood in the course of the ’00s. Nelly is extensively thought to be the king of the Air Power 1, largely as a consequence of his hit (yeah, you guessed it) “Air Power Ones.” Jay-Z was granted two pairs of Air Power 1s, one for his report label, Roc-A-Fella, and the opposite for the discharge of The Black Album. The rap group Terror Squad was additionally gifted with an Air Power 1 that was made solely for the boys from the Bronx.


Synonymous with the early 2000s, The Bapesta was the primary shoe created by Japanese designer Nigo and his model, A Bathing Ape (Bape for brief). Bapes have been one of many hottest and most worn manufacturers amongst rappers as a consequence of a lot of them having a private relationship with Nigo. Pharrell Williams, a detailed pal of the designer, obtained three colorways of his personal Bape Roadsta whereas Kanye West obtained a Bapesta impressed by his album The School Dropout. Soulja Boy dropped a music, “Bapes,” about his love of the sneaker. 

Reebok: G-Unit and S. Carter 

In the course of the early 2000s, Reebok reclaimed the hip-hop scene with some memorable initiatives, partnering with rappers to launch the S. Carter and G-Unit G-6 in 2003. Additionally they collaborated with Pharrell Williams in 2004 to launch a skateboarding sneaker, The Reebok Flavour, below his line ICECREAM, a subsidiary of his model Billionaire Boys Membership. 

2010s: Travis Scott 

In the event you use resale worth and the media frenzy surrounding sneakers as a measurement of success, then Travis Scott has seemingly had essentially the most profitable collaborative sneaker releases ever. Practically each Travis Scott Jordan has offered out in mere seconds and has an outrageous resale worth that has solely continued to ascend. His Air Jordan Is particularly, each lows and highs, have been among the many hottest sneakers of the final 20 years and worn by virtually each athlete and superstar possible. Nike granted Travis unprecedented freedoms like manipulating the Nike Swoosh and inserting pockets into sock liners. 


Beginning in 2015, Drake and his model OVO partnered with Jordan and launched white and black pairs of Air Jordan Xs, XIIs and VIIIs. Most just lately, OVO and Jordan produced an Air Jordan IV outfitted within the Toronto Raptors group colours. There are numerous OVO PEs and samples, just like the OVO Air Jordan XI with snakeskin changing the patent leather-based and the “Charles Oakley” Air Jordan VIII that Jordan used to conjure a buzz across the launched pairs. Drake additionally had two pairs of Air Jordan VIIIs made devoted to Kentucky’s basketball coach John Calipari.

A complete situation devoted to sneakers. Get your copy of KICKS 26.

Pictures by way of Getty Pictures.

Graphic designed by Damon Bomar II. Observe him on Instagram, @itsdamegotvisuals and for design work, @damonbomarmedia



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here