How Sneaker Culture Influenced Hip-Hop

The evolution of hip-hop and footwear has inspired us all. Read on to see how sneaks and beats changed our entire culture.

Have you ever heard a fire rap record mentioning your favorite sneaker? Time after time, MC’s referenced their favorite shoe selections to paint a vivid picture for their fans. This ever-so-popular trend has not only graced bars and verses, but artists have created full-length anthems that became hip-hop hits. Each decade had a few memorable shoe and song classics that have stood the test of time.

1980’s: adidas 

The 3-stripe tycoon made its claim to fame by deciding to stand out in the crowd. Every sneaker during that time had a basic midsole with their company logo’s stitched on the side. adidas changed the game by adding a durable plastic shell toe on the front of each midsole design. This refreshing shoe style inspired RUN-DMC to drop the hip-hop smash “My adidas”. 

1990’s: Jordan

With MJ dominating the NBA with his athletic ability, commercial appeal, and 6 championships, everybody wanted to be like Mike. During the 90’s, everybody wore Jordans over everything else. Surprisingly, it was a remix that reinforced the influence sneakers have on rap culture. R&B sensation Mya released the record, “The Best of Me Part 2” where Jay-Z said, “Carolina blue kicks….” This one bar commemorated, not only MJ’s college career at UNC, but also showed love to the Carolina =blue retro Jordan’s that had the streets on fire. 

2000’s: Nike

This may sound crazy, but there was a time when everybody (guys and girls) wore a sports jersey with kicks to match. The shoe of choice was Air Force 1’s because of its universal appeal and various colorways to choose from. With this throwback epidemic taking the world by storm, Nelly and the St. Lunatics made the Nike banger “Air Force Ones.” 

The 2010s are coming to an end, and things are looking bright in retrospect. Only time will tell how sneaker culture will influence hip-hop next. 


Writing is a craft that LaMon "Noy" Byrams developed at a young age, but never used it on a professional level. After interning at DTLR/VILLA, the company decided to acquire his literary talents to write compelling articles focused on their latest shoes and sneakers.

April 4, 2019


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