Rapstars Run The Sneaker Game Now! Not Athletes

Mixtape Madness

By Mixtape Madness

Mixtape Madness

10 Mar 2021

A few years ago, when Kanye claimed that Yeezy had jumped over Jumpman, was he really talking about the financial numbers? Did he mean something else? What if the power of the music artist was more influential in the modern-day sneaker game than previously thought? Let me break this one down.

When we think of our creps we usually associate them with a sporting function, whether it’s in the gym or playing 5-a-side. Meaning they help to improve sports performance and have that deep relationship with the ‘athlete’. It’s easy then for brands to create signature athlete shoes like the LeBron, Kobe and Jordans, which have dominated the shoe game for years and have heavily influenced fashion as well! Times have changed though and there has definitely been a shift in influencing power.

When Reebok decided to sign music artists Jay Z & 50 Cent for their own shoe, it was the first time the brand had given a music artist a shoe. It was around this time that the internet as we know it today started to take shape and the world welcomed social media.

Social Media has been an absolute blessing for music artists as they have used it to their advantage somewhat better than athletes. Social platforms have allowed artists to get in front of fans around the world in a click and have no record label red tape. Music artists unlike sports stars are able to openly express how they are feel through their music becoming polarizing and capturing people’s attention. Whereas athletes are part of bigger business machines and sometimes have a wider set of responsibilities (contracts). This is why you see sports stars for the majority of time keeping their emotions to a minimum, well most of them.

It’s this ‘digital emotional connection’ music artists have created that has propelled them past athletes in the world of influencing and major brands realise this. The perfect example is Kanye West. By previously working with brands, being emotional and breaking down barriers for music artists, he and others are now benefiting today. Whether you like it or not, the Yeezy brand is one of the most talked about brands and the sneakers sell out every time.

Look at how closely sports brands are now working with music artists. You only have to see this with collaborations like; Rhianna x PUMA, Drake x Nike and Adidas & Pharrell to work out that music artists are becoming the favoured people to go to. Look at the relationship between Travis Scott and Nike. There have been several Nike releases with the rapper in such a short space of time. In some cases, the rapper has had more trainer releases than some athlete shoe models. This shows that Nike really values music artists and getting their products seen by Travis’s followers.

With several US artists getting collabs it does ask the question when are more UK artists going to get a deal? We’ve seen the likes of Dizzee, Skepta, Stormzy in the mix with brands but there’s definitely a lot more that could happen especially as these artists are seen as the trendsetters.

I guess the question is, why are we not seeing more athlete trainer models becoming the go to pair? It’s because the tastemakers in the sneaker game have changed. Imagine if Dave dropped an Air Max pack with Nike, guaranteed instant sell out. Now ask yourself when was the last time (apart from Jordans) you heard of a pure athlete model sneaker selling out in seconds?…I’ve got time, I’ll wait.

With the lines between fashion and music more connected than ever before, the big sports apparel brands are definitely on board with music artists as they now understand their influential power.

There’s definitely a revolution happening in the trainer game and it’s not athletes we need to be thanking its today’s rapstars!

Words by Blake Timms