These days, it’s becoming tougher and tougher for fashion brands catering to the youth demographic to remain relevant. Trends come and go very fast, and it has become quite common for a brand to just fall off the radar and lose all its customers, clientele and revenue. Because of this, a lot of the bigger companies often depend on people who influence youth culture to maintain the cool factor of their brands.
Rappers have often been called upon and given sneaker deals because of how much influence they have on young people. In the following article, we list 10 rappers who have been tapped for sneaker deals by some of the biggest sports companies in the world.
10. 2 Chainz
2 Chainz is a perfect example of what it means to stay committed to your career. For so many years he was struggling in the industry to make a name for himself as part of the duo, Playaz Circle. There was even a time when he was signed with platinum-selling rapper Ludacris. But he blew up on the solo tip with a single titled “Spend It” in 2010 and he hasn’t looked back since.
Early last year, 2 Chainz hooked up with Adidas to release a pair of all-black sneakers called Top Ten Hi “2 Good To Be T.R.U.” The sneakers retailed for $130 but they didn’t cause as much excitement as sneakers released by some of his more popular rap counterparts.
30-yr-old rapper J.Cole is considered as one of the new elite rappers in the Hip-Hop game. He’s originally from North Carolina and he’s currently signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation management agency. If there is anyone out there doubting that J.Cole is a giant in the music industry, try this on for size: earlier this month, he brought his Dreamville tour to NYC with guest stars Big Sean and YG, and he completely sold out Madison Square Garden!
He also recently released a pair of very cool hiking boots with the Swiss luxury brand Bally. J.Cole always does his own thing —while other rappers are putting out sneakers, he decides to release his own high-quality, leather boots.
8. Nicki Minaj
At this stage in her career, Nicki Minaj is a one woman empire. Not only does she have a successful rapping career, she has her own perfume, her own clothing line at Walmart and she’s been a judge on American Idol. And yes, she also has her own pair of Air Jordan sneakers.
Similar to her Young Money label mate Drake, Nicki debuted her own pink-colored edition of basketball sneakers in collaboration with Nike. The sneakers were boldly designed with a very distinct pink and gold color scheme. If you are familiar with how Nicki Minaj likes to dress, then you already know that these special sneakers are just perfect for her.
7. Big Sean
Detroit rapper Big Sean seems to be an artist destined for greatness, but somehow, it doesn’t seem that all the pieces have fallen into place just yet. He is signed to Kanye West’s label, he has dated high-profile celebs like Naya Rivera and Ariana Grande, but he still hasn’t had that colossal breakthrough hit to catapult him into elite status.
No one, however, will ever argue about Big Sean’s cool fashion sense. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see that he’s already had three different sneaker releases with Adidas. If he finally decides to go into fashion full time, this is one rapper who might have a very bright future.
Rapper Drake is certainly at the top of his game right now. The album he released this year, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, has already gone platinum. In the recent rap battle between himself and Meek Mill that dominated the Hip-Hop air waves, Drake was officially deemed as the hands-down winner.
In addition to that, this year also marked the release of the limited edition collaboration sneaker between Drake’s OVO crew and Air Jordan. It was officially called the OVO Jordan 10, and it retailed for $225. Needless to say, the sneakers quickly sold out as soon as they dropped.
5. Wiz Khalifa
There are some artists who get one-off deals with brands that involve just one style of a sneaker. Then there are artists like Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa who takes it to an entirely different level. In 2013, Converse hooked up with Wiz to release 12 new styles of their classic Chuck Taylor sneaker.
The collaboration made sense on many different levels. First of all, Converse matches perfectly with Wiz’s laid back yet funky style. Secondly, the rapper’s crew is called the Taylor Gang which matches perfectly with the name of the iconic sneaker. All in all, it was a cool union of two popular urban entities.
Pharrell Williams exists in his own stratosphere when it comes to the worlds of music and fashion. He is a true icon who walks his own path and his forays into fashion have been extremely successful. His Billionaire Boys Club brand is still highly sought after and he also has another brand of sneakers and clothing called Ice Cream.
On top of that, he regularly puts out colorful sneakers with Adidas and he works with Timberland and NYC designer Mark McNairy on a line of boots called Bee Line. Like we said earlier, Pharrell exists in a league of his own.
3. Kendrick Lamar
Reebok is one of the top fitness and athletic brands in the world, and one of their bestselling styles is the Ventilator running shoe. Earlier this year, Reebok started releasing ads featuring the wunderkind West Coast rapper known as Kendrick Lamar.
This summer, Kendrick and Reebok came together to release a special edition of the Ventilator sneaker which featured the words “Red” and “Blue” on the heels of the shoes. The symbolism of this is to represent the need for unity between the notorious Blood and Crip gangs of Los Angeles. Kendrick is a highly cerebral rapper who cares about his community; it’s great to see him shed a light on gang violence with his sneaker release.
2. Meek Mill
So far in 2015, Meek Mill has had a year with some big ups and downs. On the upside, his sophomore major label effort debuted on the charts at #1. This was also the year when the world came to know that he was dating the reigning queen of Hip-Hop, Nicki Minaj.
On the downside, he recently lost a very public rap beef with Drake. It may not have destroyed his career, but it put some serious dents in the future potential of his rap stardom.
This year, Meek also released a sneaker with sports brand Puma. It’s the second time the two entities have worked together. The new release features an all-black patent leather upper with a metallic silver midsole. The slick shoes were priced at $120.
1. Kanye West
When it comes to rappers who have really become famous for putting out their own sneakers, no one is more successful in the Hip-Hop game than Kanye West. To date, he has put out sneakers with the biggest athletic and luxury brands in the world, including Nike and Louis Vuitton.
His collaboration sneakers with Nike dubbed “The Air Yeezys” are still huge hits on EBay, and some of them go for thousands of dollars. He recently left Nike and affiliated himself with Adidas, and this year, he released his Adidas Boost sneakers that caught on like wild fire.
Kanye has made no secret about his passion for becoming a major designer in the fashion game – he has already made some serious inroads into this industry with his extremely successful footwear projects, so perhaps the best is yet to come.
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