Back in 1986 when Run DMC stepped on stage at Madison Square Garden told fans to wave their Adidas high in the air, hip hop and the sneaker industry officially began a beautiful relationship that continues to drive the culture today.
Ever since Run-DMC opened the door by becoming the first rap group to get an official sneaker endorsement deal—shouting “GIVE US A MILLION DOLLARS!” in a video to Adidas execs—many players in the hip hop game have gotten their feet wet in sneaker design.
With all the inspiration that fashion takes from hip hop, it just naturally makes sense that rappers can design fresher sneakers than some high-end fashion house or the Tinker Hatfields of the world. Why? Because hip hop started sneaker culture.
Having a fresh pair of kicks is almost just as important as being able to spit a hot 16 or flaunt a nasty handstyle. You just can’t get caught lacking. With 1000 bodies on a crowded subway train, one is always forced to look down because ain’t no one making eye contact with one another. And those eyeballs better fall upon a fresh-ass pair of kicks.
As with all high-profile sneaker collaborations, shoes designed by rappers are usually limited releases. Coveted by sneaker collectors, they become nearly impossible to find or purchase at a reasonable price once they sell out. Today Nike just rereleased the Roc-A-Fella, all white, Air Force Ones. It sold out in minutes.
In short, rapper sneaker collabs are now big business. Which can be a good thing—sometimes. Other times things go a little bit to the left. But that’s OK because MASS APPEAL is here to keep it 100 as we separate the hype from the heat. To commemorate the return of one of that iconic AF1, we put together this list of the 45 biggest, rap-sneaker collaborations of all time, ranked. Can we kick it? Unlace the list by scrolling down.