10 Most Iconic Hip-Hop Sneakers
It’s no secret that hip-hop influences fashion. The same way we made due with what we had to make music we’ve also put a very distinct spin on ordinary items turning them into status symbols. This explains how an affordable piece of footwear became cultural capital once the companies began to pay attention to the hood.
The “Red October” was still a glimmer in the Tupac of Product Design‘s eye when he got his first pair of Nike Air Tech Challenges and surely an ambitious young Shawn Carter may have imagined his own Gucci influenced Reebok sneaker but calling Dapper Dan was way easier than Reebok’s corporate offices. Back in those days we co-opted culture in the same way samples were chopped to make fashion that didn’t necessarily represent us “represent”.
So without further adieu lets get into it as The Boombox takes you on a walk through Hip Hop history and lists the10 most iconic sneakers in hip-hop history (in no particular order).
Air Jordan 3
What “Top Sneaker List” have you ever seen without the Air Jordan 3 on it? Whether you are a “Black Cement” kinda guy or a die hard “True Blue” fan it’s hard to imagine a world where this model isn’t all out royalty. Personal preference aside this may be the best Air Jordan silhouette ever designed but when you factor in the Mars Blackmon connection it’s ties to hip hop become as impactful as the the Bronx intersection of Sedgwick and Cedar.
adidas Superstar 80s
You haven’t made it big until somebody can dress up as you for Halloween and as that rule applies Run DMC made the Adidas Superstar 80s into an official part of Hip Hop’s uniform. Extra points if you leave the tongue wagging but even adidas knows what time it is as they sell them stocked with wider than usual laces to acknowledge the silhouettes tie’s to the ubiquitous culture. The adidas Superstar 80s always gets the reissue treatment and will forever stand as a tribute to the fallen soldier Jam Master Jay.
Nike Air Revolution
We can split hairs all day about the intentions of corporate rap or “conscience hip-hop’s absence from the radio but the pulse of Hip-Hop has always been revolution. It’s mere coincidence that the Nike Air Revolution bears such a heavy name but the shot of Radio Raheem’s dangling feet losing life at the hands of a police officer in ‘Do The Right Thing’ cements this silhouette into the collective conscience of hip-hop archivists. The revolution won’t be televised however it will probably be released again this year to Nike retailers if you missed it’s 2013 round of retros.
The Puma Suede has been around since the inception of hip-hop so it’s intrinsic association with the B-Boy community shouldn’t be shocking at all. Supreme comfort combined with style probably granted this one access to the breaker’s circle while fat laces made DIY customization super simple. The Puma Suede may not receive all the hype of its contemporaries but it’s a hip hop landmark nonetheless that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
K-Swiss Tennis Classic
Ain’t no future in yo frontin’ on the fact that the K-Swiss Classic was a summertime smash. Back when cool hunters scoured stores for silhouettes to help them stand out they came across this pair and never looked back. There was something to be said for spotting a fly chick rocking the K-Swiss Classic and topping it off with a tennis skirt to match. Guess back then it was less about rackets than ratchet.
Ewing 33 Hi
Before the Yeezy jumped over the Jumpman aspiring to have your own line of sneakers was crazy talk, enter Patrick Ewing. If you were only recently introduced to the Ewing 33 Hi you may have missed that historic moment when Run DMC invited you to check out “The Avenue” or that time that Gang Starr asked you to ‘Step Into The Arena.’ Either way these are wedged firmly into the minds of anyone who was in the mix in the early ’90s.
Nike Air Force 1
Before Nike’s luxury DIY Bespoke program rolled around it seemed like the Nike Air Force 1has been standard issue when it came to collaborations for a while. From Questlove to Bobbito to Roc-A-Fella records it seems that anyone who’s anyone has a personalized pair. Without even making mention of Nelly’s love letter to the silhouette its easy to see how the “Uptown” stomped its way onto this list.
Converse Chuck Taylor
If we are talking about how silhouettes relate to musical genre’s it would be easy to pass the Converse Chuck Taylor off to rock music but that would be overlooking the entire west coast. The canvas kick is considered a classic by our homies out west and wether you reppin sets or not it’s a part of the official left coast uniform.
The Nike Cortez may have caught a bit of burn courtesy of Kendrick’s ‘Control’ verse but the silhouette has been laying in the cut for years. While they have graced the feet of several icons Eazy E immediately comes to mind as one of the first people to bring them to our TV screens. The runner may be globally respected but when it comes to hip hop the West really gave the Nike Cortez it’s props.
It can be argued that the Nike Dunk took sneaker collecting mainstream and helped create the culture of Hypebeasts but it’s status as a classic sneaker is not up for debate. Long before it was reintroduced as a skate shoe it was already being worn in hoods around the world and even immortalized by Grandmaster Flash on his ‘Ba-Dop-Boom-Bang’ cover art.