Hip-hop is still running sneaker culture, and the latest proof lies in an artist who has taken the game by storm in recent years: Future.
Over the weekend, Future announced his partnership with Reebok in an Instagram post, which shows him wearing a special edition of the Reebok Instapump Fury. Todd Glinksy, vice president of Reebok Classic and Entertainment Global, believes Future embodies the message that the company is looking to deliver.
“Future exudes the type of fearlessness and authenticity that Reebok Classic stands for,” he said in a statement. “This partnership not only continues our brand’s longstanding legacy of working with the world’s best hip-hop artists, but also solidifies Reebok Classic’s commitment to never back down from pushing boundaries. I’ve had a preview of what’s to come from Future and Reebok and I can’t wait for everyone to see!“
Hip-hop still plays a big role in the sneaker and fashion industries; Reebok would likely be foolish to not take their stake. They already have a partnership with Swizz Beatz, where the GRAMMY-winning producer has the flashy “creative director” title and helps design the company’s co-branded Basquiat sneakers and apparel. Kendrick Lamar has released multiple sneakers with Reebok, as well. And despite initially cutting ties with Rick Ross after controversy over a lyric that seemed to condone date rape, their relationship with the MMG head honcho appears to have been mended.
Kanye West’s Yeezy Boosts and YZY SZN clothing have arguably helped adidas usher in a new era of the brand; so much that they’ve collaborated for a new project, “adidas + KANYE WEST,” that will reportedly include new retail stores, a production line and accessories. The three stripes also trusted Pharrell to help them resuscitate their Superstar sneakers with 50 different colorways, and Pusha T’s cocaine-white and black EQT kicks had sneakerheads fiending all over the ‘Net.
Jordan is still the top dog, being the go-to brand for many sneakerheads and rappers while they’re on stage or strutting for cameras. Both colorways of Drake’s luxurious OVO Jordan 10’s are some of the most coveted sneakers available, and Eminem’s Carhartt Jordans sold for five-figure amounts on eBay earlier this year.
It isn’t just the heavyweight brands, either. Puma has dropped sneakers with Meek Mill and Rihanna over the past year and change, and they pegged Lil Yachty and Rae Sremmurd for ads in recent months. Even New Balance hit up Metro Boomin to help spread the word about their customizable 998 sneaker; their web site coyly said, “Young Metro Trusts Us.”
Rappers have been dropping their own sneakers and endorsing them for years now, so none of this is new. But it’s interesting to see that the endorsements and collabs are actually keeping up with the sneaker boom of recent years. Superstars can get opportunities, but so can up-and-coming artists, or acts like Future who are on the cusp of pop stardom while still satisfying a niche market.
The actual impact of these sneaker collaborations depends on who you ask. The adidas collaborations have all done well, but the Puma and Reebok collabs seem to do more for getting blog posts than they do in blowing away sneakerheads. Artist names are ultimately just a tool to raise visibility, credibility, and retail prices. But hip-hop defines what’s cool, and Reebok’s new collab with Future is further evidence. "Rapper" may still be a four-letter word in some parts of America, but when it comes to moving culture, and dollars, hip-hop's king.
By William Ketchum III, aka @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Instagram