Perhaps no form of music associates itself with the fashion industry, specifically shoes, more than hip-hop/rap. As a result, there is a history of rappers collaborating with sneaker companies to design their own unique shoes. However, there are plenty of artists out there who have yet to tackle such a project, so we created a list of the top ten rappers, who we think would create something interesting, and paired them with a shoe, we think they could really do incredible work with.
Waka Flocka Flame x Nike Phantom Venom Elite (10)
Waka is the elder statesman of the list having been in the public conscious for the longest amount of time, and he is still one of the most recognizable artists. He has strong connection to sports, frequently showing up to his hometown of Atlanta’s professional soccer team and is regularly seen balling with other rappers. I’d personally like to request that every time someone takes a step, the shoe screams “WAKA”, “FLEX”, or “BRICK SQUAD.” Let’s take his love of soccer and pair him with a soccer cleat. The Nike Venom Phantom Elite is one of the premier cleats available, and letting Waka bring the taste of Atlanta, home of one of the premier soccer teams, to the cleat seems guaranteed to be fire.
6LACK x Vans Slip On (9)
One of Rolling Stones “Ten New Artists You Need To Know” in 2016, 6LACK is one of the newest up and coming artists. He’s already made an impression having been nominated for several Grammy’s. He was most recently nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance for his song “Pretty Little Fears” which featured J. Cole. His style isn’t the flashiest. You’ll never read anything about an extravagant outfit he wore, and his music often focuses on serious emotional issues. Though he brings a completely different vibe I think it would be interesting to see what he would do with a pair of shoes-specifically the Slip On’s-which can feature a simple monotone color or extravagant patterns. Would 6LACK go in a direction that resembles his music, or might he change it up and give us something loud and boisterous.
French Montana x Timberland (8)
We’re getting a little foreign flavor up in here with French Montana. The Moroccan-born artist has carved out a successful rap career since immigrating to New York City with his family when he was 13. A lover of oversized fur coats and brash beats, French has displayed some interesting fashion choices in several of his music videos. He also has adopted several exotic pets including two tigers and a monkey. Since French hails from NYC, we thought it would be best to pair him with the classic Timberland boots. The hope being that with his background, he could bring a little foreign flavor to the project while remaining true to some of the elements that make Timberlands iconic.
Migos x adidas Originals Stan Smith (7)
Is there a bigger act in music right now than Migos? I’d accept Drake and possibly Travis Scott, other than that I’m not sure anyone has a stronger hold on pop culture at the moment. It’s probably more likely that one of either Quavo or Offset gets a deal to do some collaboration, but I would love to see the entire group work together with a brand. They embody the south better than anybody else on this list, and there is no doubt they would bring a flair to any project they work on. I mean have you seen the “T-Shirt” music video? What more do you need? Let’s give these guys a pair of Stan Smith’s from the adidas Originals collection. This is the perfect group to bring some southern flavor to one of the most popular shoes around. There is sure to be plenty of odes to Atlanta’s long and storied rap history, and some nods to the well-known southern football culture.
Logic x adidas Originals NMD R1 (6)
Logic has been churning out a ton of new music over the past year releasing, the mixtape Bobby Tarantino II and his fourth studio YSIV. His albums and mixtapes are always an interesting experience and often feature snippets of conversation dealing with popular culture or philosophical elements. He’s featured Neil Degrasse Tyson, characters from Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, and worked with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to create his hit song 1-800-273-8255. Even his album covers are unique with their hand-colored feel. Logic’s interests go beyond music, though, as he has been featured in Netflix’s Rapture, Rick and Morty, and has his own YouTube channel dedicated to discussing his favorite video games. Logic’s eclectic tastes in certain pop culture elements would serve him well with a pair of the adidas Originals NMD R1. He could experiment with different types of prints on the upper as well as a mixture of colorways along the outsole. If he could find a way to imprint his playful personality onto the shoes, they could be a real hit.
Chance The Rapper x Vans Old Skool (5)
Chance hasn’t really been heard from in a minute, but he is well deserving of being here. One of the most respected and influential artists, Chance is synonymous with his hometown of Chicago. His penchant for mixing jazz and gospel elements into his songs helps give his music an uplifting tone. He has been active in the fashion industry working with several major brands including Nike and adidas originals. He also has gained experience in design although that is mostly with hats. Despite his work with top brands, his style has been consistently unique and has clashed with what is considered traditional hip-hop fashion. We thought pairing Chance with the Vans Old Skool was the best match. While they are very popular, they are still a relatively uncommon shoe among mainstream rappers. We could possibly see Chance bring a nostalgic vibe featuring plenty of bright, vibrant colors. He could also try and tie some of those jazz and gospel flavors into the shoe.
Young Thug x adidas Originals Superstar (4)
There is perhaps no rapper with a more eccentric fashion taste than Young Thug. Known for his unique music style that breaks from any sense of traditional rap, Thug might be the most interesting rapper around. He is frequently seen with his fingernails painted, has stated most of his wardrobe consists of women’s clothing, and rocked a dress on an album cover. If you can find another rapper with a more unique than him, more power to you. Thugger’s varied fashion interests and past work with adidas inspired us to give him the Superstar. Seemingly any design he imagines is likely to be loud and over-the-top, and adidas, as evidenced by their partnership with Kanye, are a good bet to give him a long runway to be as creative as he wants.
Rae Sremmurd x Reebok Classic Leather Ripple (3)
Our second rap group makes the list. Maybe unsurprisingly, the two brothers from Mississippi have developed staying power since coming onto the scene in 2015 with No Flex Zone and their debut album Sremmlife. They have an endearing sound that appeals to a large swath of people, a willingness to experiment (Swae Lee dropped a Christmas song), and perhaps most importantly, an interesting fashion sense. Slim Jxmmi is out here rocking a pink fur coat and ski goggles like he’s prepared to hit the slopes at any moment, and Swae Lee looks like a mix of Romeo and a matador on the cover of SR3MM. Imagine if they brought that energy to a pair of the Reebok Classic Leather. The brothers signed with Reebok back in 2017 but haven’t turned out a signature shoe yet. Allow them to bring a new, different vibe to a classic sneaker to create a cultural hit.
21 Savage x Dame 5 (2)
The Saint Laurent Don gets the number three spot. The nickname kind of spells out why he’s up here. Saint Laurent was a famous French fashion designer, and his line of high-end fashion is quite popular. (If you have a couple grand lying around, I would suggest checking it out. If not, there is this place called Eastbay where you can find a lot of great stuff for much less.) It would be interesting if Savage tried to bring his love for top-class fashion and blend it with a more athletic or casual shoe. I will say, if he were to do a shoe and he didn’t put a dagger on the tongue of the shoe, I might shed a tear. How about pairing 21 with someone who can be an absolute savage on the court, and musically talented off it? Someone like Damian Lillard and the Dame 5. The Dame’s are designed first and foremost for performance on the basketball court. However, if 21 could incorporate some high-end fashion elements it could really take the shoe to the next level.
Childish Gambino x adidas Ultraboost (1)
This is your friendly neighborhood reminder that pretty much anything Gambino does turns out pretty well. Acting? Yep, pretty good at that. Directing? Gives us one of the best shows on television. Comedy? Pretty funny. Rapping? Easy money for him. He is not only one of the most creative artists around, but one of the most creative people around. Watch the This is America music video and tell me different. However, he almost didn’t make the list though since he signed a deal to partner with adidas Originals back in September. Since he has yet to release his own signature shoe, we decided it would be acceptable for him to be on the list.
Gambino is a revolutionary creator, so he gets a revolutionary sneaker, the adidas Ultraboost. The Boost was born out of a desire by shoe designers to break boundaries and outdo themselves. It would be in excellent hands with Gambino who pushes every project he works on to the next level. Another positive aspect of this hypothetical partnership is that given the Boost is still a relatively young shoe, there won’t really be any traditional design elements that he will have to adhere to. Leaving him free to get radical.