Outside of rap, Kanye West’s most revered moves and moments have revolved around debuting sneakers, bogarting Taylor Swift’s Grammy Awards moment, and making some very odd political MAGA maneuvers.
Keeping things on sneakers, Kanye West’s panache for having the sneaker community on tilt dates back more than a decade when Kanye began collaborating with the likes of A Bathing Ape, New Balance, then of course, Nike. Having debuted and rocked many samples, prototypes and then unreleased sneakers, Yeezy loves the attention that a simple pair of kicks garners him and with that being the case he even uses them to send messages to the powers that be regardless of their feelings.
So on his 44th Born Day, we at HipHopWired have compiled a quick list of Kanye West’s most talked about sneaker moments over the years and why they stood out when they happened. From debuting his classic Air Yeezy’s to the time he wore a pair of Air Jordan 1’s even though he was signed to adidas, Kanye West has proven that his knack for rocking sneakers is never just accidental or a fashion choice, it’s basically a statement.
The Nike Air Yeezy (2008) – During the Grammy Awards, Kanye West stepped out rocking a pair of kicks that no one had ever seen before. Having already had a history of wearing limited edition sneakers, heads were immediately curious as to what silhouette Kanye had gotten his hands on this time. Turns out it was a sample pair of the soon to be grails, Nike Air Yeezy’s. The prototype he wore that night eventually went on to sell for $1.8 million at an auction held earlier this year, proving that the hype for OG Air Yeezy’s will forever be strong.
The Nike Air Yeezy II (2011) – The Air Yeezy was already a few years old and just as sought-after as ever, but during 2011’s Watch The Throne tour with Jay-Z, Kanye introduced us to the new classic and things were never the same. The Air Yeezy II “Solar Red” silhouettes immediately caught the attention of the sneakerheads around the world, and even though the hype around them were next level, the sneakers literally took minutes to sell out online when they dropped later on that year. This was before bots and whatnot so heads were blessed back then.
Air Yeezy II “Red October” (2013) – The all-red version of the classic Air Yeezy II’s were all the rage when they surprised dropped in 2013. But before heads could get their hands on them, Kanye West debuted the pair during a performance on Saturday Night Live when he performed “Black Skinhead” in front of a packed house in New York City. The sneakers now go for around $20,000.
The adidas Yeezy Boost 750 (2015) – Much to the dismay of many sneakerheads, Kanye West had bolted from Nike and joined adidas in what many thought was a suicide maneuver. It. Was Not. Taking to the Grammys alongside his then ride-or-die, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West officially unveiled the Yeezy Boost 750 which seemed similar to the Air Yeezy’s, but with a more casual tone to them. Whether or not he purposely modeled them after his Nike predecessor to send the Swoosh brand an “F-U” or just because that was his steez is anyone’s guess, but the move has helped propel him to billionaire status.
The Air Jordan 1 “Court Purple 2.0” – This past 2020, Kanye West got let adidas know that he was coveting a seat at the board of the company and to show them he meant business, Yeezy decided to pull out a pair of Air Jordan 1’s in the “Court Purple 2.0” colorway. Even though he was under contract with adidas, Kanye knew the move would garner attention (it did) and possibly sway adidas to give Kanye a promotion to the top of the food chain (it did not). Still, for some reason it was good to see Kanye West in a pair of Air Jordans once again. Maybe it was the hope that Kanye would go back to Nike and retro the Air Yeezy’s for the heads one time.
The Nike Vandal High “Terminator” – Earlier this week, Ye once again reverted back to wearing Nike’s even though he’s still very much a part of the adidas brand, and we have no idea why. Stepping out in LA with a pair of limited edition “Terminator” Nike Vandals, Kanye seems to just like to give people hope that a return to Nike is as imminent as LeBron’s return to Cleveland after leading Miami to a few NBA championships. As successful as Ye’s been with adidas, heads would love nothing more than to see Kanye and Nike give it another go and possibly bring back the Air Yeezy’s I and II. Ugh, we can only hope.
What sneaker moments from Kanye West’s illustrious history stands out the most for y’all? Let us know in the comments section.