Diamonds & Wood: Ranking Rap Shoes

"Diamonds & Wood" is an ongoing series in which music critic Shea Serrano breaks down the 5 hip-hop tracks you need to hear this week.

Let us concede this point: Let us concede that the greatest rapper-to-shoe relationship of all-time is Run DMC to the Adidas Superstar (otherwise known as the Adidas Shelltoe). That seems inarguable. The two have managed to become independently iconic in their fields, but have indirectly done so by being co-dependent to one another. (I'm not 100 percent certain that that sentence makes complete sense, but whatever. A lot of times making vaguely complicated statements is like the beginning of sex: if you just get the parts close enough and then act confidently enough, everything eventually just sort of works itself out. Or, rather, should I say 'works itself in'? Eh, eh? In? Get it? Like, IN the vagina? The penis in the vagina? Because sex. Thank you, thank you. I'll see myself out.) That being the case, let's rate some other rapper/shoe pairings between rappers and shoes. A few boundaries:

-This will all be on a sliding scale, obvs.

-Points (which will be arbitrarily assigned and later entirely forgotten) will be tallied cumulatively, based on (1) the inherent coolness of the rapper; and (2) the inherent coolness of the shoe.

-Extra credit if the shoe has/had some sort of undeniable cultural impact.

-Automatic negative 50 points if you're Nelly.

-If a shoe has ties to a region more than it does to a specific rapper, a specific rapper (generally the most famous of the bunch) will be assigned. Example: Nearly half of the boys in my homeroom class from last year wore Vans. They were that year's shoe. It seemed like everybody at the school had them. But still, anytime someone showed up wearing them, someone would inevitably say, "You got [Y.'s] shoes? You copied him." even though Y. was, like, the third person to actually get them. He was just cooler than everyone else, which is why he became the brand's unofficial spokesperson. Same thing here. 

-There are a ton of relationships between rappers and shoes to be identified. These are not the five greatest, but they are five that would be definitely in the Top 2,500, easy. As such, we're placing them on the list with that in mind. You can fill in the blanks on your own, because fuck you if you think I'm going to draw 2,495 rapper faces and the shoes that they wore.

And we're off.

Shea Serrano is a writer living in Houston, TX. His work has appeared in the Houston Press, LA Weekly, Village Voice, XXL, The Source, Grantland and more. You can follow him on Twitter here.




      You can fuck Shea’s bitch BasedGod!

  • Shea

    hahaha. Aces. The Pack’s “Vans” is good, sure, but it’s not even close to cracking the top five.

  • Claire

    How come it’s wallabee clarks instead of clarks wallabees…

    • lawrences

      Because Shea does whatever he wants.

      • Shea

        Also: I suck. Sorry for sucking, World.

  • wait.

    You think Yeezy isn’t a great rapper?

    • Shea

      I think if you are able to absorb JUST him, he’s very close to being a great rapper but not quite there.

      Did you see that Art Of Rap documentary? If you didn’t, the way it worked was they’d interviewed a rapper about rapping, then he’d rap into the camera for a few bars. There was no background music, no pyrotechnics, no nothing. Kanye West has a part in there about halfway through. Some of the guys that came before were positively blindingly good. In that context though, West was only Better Than Average. After he was done (he did verses from MBDTF, I believe), it was the first time I felt like he wasn’t this technically great rapper.

      If you measure all of the parts of what he offers (which, BTW, obviously you have to do), he is one of the greatest we’ve ever seen. Just straight rapping into a camera though, it’s not that impressive.


  • Tinj

    This dude knows what’s up.

  • Tjay

    This is an outrage. The Pack’s Van’s was like a wave that ear-raped just about every teenager listening to rap at that time. Especially those who happened to watch their music video. It at least deserves to be 5th in the top 5, cuzz.

    • Shea

      I’m always inclined to believe any argument that uses the word “raped” anywhere in its premise, but let me ask you then:

      If The Pack’s “Vans” gets a spot in the top five, who gets kicked out in exchange? Ghost? Not a chance. Eazy? Dude, come on. Snoop? I mean. Run-DMC? Impossible.

      It’s just a matter of not enough space, is all.

  • kraig

    Honourable mentions: Dougie Fresh and Ballys. Krs1 and the air jordans.

    • Shea


  • Sam

    love it

  • JC

    All I gotta say is Soulja Slim- Reebok Classic

  • Turniphead

    I can’t believe nobody brought up Wale and Foamposites yet. Also while they probably weren’t the first to wear em I think you can give Mobb Deep the nod on the Timberland 6″.

  • Femdimes

    That Eazy E AIDS comment was pretty harsh