Yes, it's true. In 1985, the Air Jordan I dropped and quickly became the shoe that revolutionized the sneaker industry along with hip hop culture. Since its released, it's become the #1 selling sneaker worldwide. The Jordan Brand generated over $9.5 billion in sales the last two years. We get it. It's a dope shoe brand, homies. You know what else the 1980's brought? A hip hop group from Queens, NYC that put another shoe brand on the map. The Adidas Superstar... aka "Shell Toes."
Adidas Superstar: The Basketball Shoe.
In 1969, The Adidas Superstar was released, becoming the 1st low top basketball sneaker with a completely leather upper. Throughout the 70's and early 80's, the high top found itself in direct competition with the Converse Pro Leather. It was worn and represented by some of the most prominent ABA/NBA players including Jerry West, John Havlicek, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and "Pistol" Pete Maravich. Even today, Adidas is representing some of the top NBA athletes such as Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Derrick Rose and more. In layman's terms, Adidas & basketball are synonymously known and have been for quite some time.
Adidas & the Hip Hop Culture.
The Adidas brand has always been a pivotal part of the basketball culture. We all know how closely intertwined hip hop culture and basketball are, right? There's a saying that states "All basketball players wanna be rappers and all rappers dream to be hoopers." Truthfully, a great deal of us do (or have done) both. They're very closely related, homies. So, let's take it back to the 1986 when the hip hop trio "Run-DMC" took the world by storm.
The evolution of hip hop dates back to 1973. The new wave style blended funk with disco drops, artistic wordplay, and DJ scratches to revolutionize & empower a group of young people ready to rebel. In the late 1970's into early 80's, The Adidas Superstars were being worn by breakdancers, DJ's, graffiti artists and influential partygoers. Run-DMC, the hip hop trio (consisting of rappers Run and DMC along with their DJ, Jam Master Jay) from NYC (the birthplace of hip hop) catapulted them into hip hop infamy with a song entitled "My Adidas."
Run-DMC was an in your face, unapologetic hip hop group. Their brash deliveries, hardcore drum production and New York "swagger" made them the perfect storm for the radical times of the mid 80's and early 90's. At the time, artists such as NWA, Ice T and more were ingratiating their way into the fabric of our modern society with hardcore, gangster rap.
Although Run-DMC was aggressive, they were far from profane or gangsta. They were a mainstream crossover band, making songs with the likes of Aerosmith. With that said they weren't afraid to be confrontational and their style (often consisting of black leather pants & jackets, black hats and Shell Toes) along with their heavy beats & bars gave them intangible "street cred."
Run-DMC's love for Adidas Superstars
What most people don't know is Run-DMC grew up rockin' the Adidas brand. As teenagers, you could find them in a jump suit with the three stripes and the shoes to match; of course with no laces. When they released the record "My Adidas" in 1986, it was an ode paying respect to a brand they always loved and represented. Of course the (footwear and apparel) endorsement deal helped their love grow for the brand, but it came way after they'd been rockin' the Adidas brand.
Run-DMC's "My Adidas" single handedly assisted in establishing Adidas as a top-tier streetwear brand. As previously mentioned, they were mostly known as a basketball shoe until the mid to late 70's. By the late 80's into the early 90's, they were almost more known for their Track Suits & Bucket Hats than their hoop shoes.
Adidas, Run-DMC & hip hop are linked forever.
In conclusion, the simple fact is you can't mention hip hop culture without givin' props to Adidas and Run-DMC. They'll forever been interwoven into the fabric of hip hop's evolution. The Adidas Superstar (aka The Shell Toes) are just as popular today as ever. More hip hop artists such as Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Pharrell Williams and others have ingratiated the Adidas brand into their style, continuing to keep it prominent within the culture. As the growth of hip hop continues, so will the representation of the Adidas brand and for that, we're eternally grateful.
"My Adidas." (Run-DMC)