Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco is a multifaceted artist with a strong social conscience and a sharp eye for dope sneakers. Not just a Grammy winning rapper, Lupe is also a record producer, shoe collaborator, clothes designer, entrepreneur and (somewhat) proud Ferrari owner. From the mean streets of the Windy City to the sandy shores Down Under, SNKR FRKR managed to catch ten with Lupe to get an insight into the true breadth of his sneaker obsession.
It's an honour and a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fiasco. Let's not waste any time, let’s talk sneakers – walk us through the first shoe you remember that set off your sneaker obsession…
You mean when I was poor, or when I started getting money and could afford shoes?
Give us both? How about this; the first sneaker you remember sporting as a kid, and the first sneaker you copped when you got that paper?
The first sneaks that I got that I consider to be a big deal was some hand-me-down Fila. Red and white Fila with big F-I-L-A letters down the side. We were use to wearing Pro-Wings and Payless – really cheap sneakers! Then after that it was the Concord 11s – I got those handed down from my brother in law, I think in the eighth grade. At that stage, I couldn’t really afford shoes and wasn’t really into it like that. I remember the first shoe that I actively went and got was a pair of AF1s –when they started doing lasering. From there, the sky was the limit!
So we take it the sneaker closet at home is still very big?
It’s changed. I had a big collection early on but it wasn’t crazy, just a lot of nice sought-out pieces – lots of the lasered pieces. I missed out on all the SBs, though.
What do you mean by 'early on?'
When I used to tour I would return home from my travels and find sneakers missing, find my friends wearing my shit – stuff like that. Then we had a huge flood in the basement where the sneaker room was located and the whole collection was gone. More or less the whole collection was rolled off! Things changed when I started getting sneakers deals. I started getting sent a lot of product and it became less about hunting for shoes, and more simply about making a phone call and I could get what I wanted.
Luxuries of the lifestyle?
Yeah, but when I had my sneaker deals it meant I couldn't wear my Jordans, or my Nikes or Reeboks – I could only wear the shoes of the company endorsing me at the time. So it was hard for me. When you had to go a whole year wearing the same brand you sort of lose the sneaker love a bit, not being able to express yourself freely to a true extent. Now I’m finally just getting back to wearing what I want to wear – and sitting on somewhere between 600 and 700 shoes.
We've noticed your style has a strong Japanese influence. That being said, are there any countries around the globe you have found the sneaking hunting to be particularly worthwhile, or just Japan?
It’s really Japan. There is something about that country – no one has been able to emulate how they style. Places like Flight Club make it easy to access that style, like you’re looking for a shoe and you can just call, but in Japan, there is still like a mystery to it, it still feels like a hunt is there. And you never know what you will find there, like SBTG Air Force 1s or some shit – real collectors stuff, rare shit.
We are all for rare shit! Speaking of rarity, we have seen Jordan Brand's collectable status skyrocket in recent years. What are your thoughts on this new Jordan Remastered series – are you against the do-over or is this a positive push forward for flight fans?
It’s funny, 'cos we have seen the generation cycle before – especially for me coming from Chicago and living just up the street when it was still Chicago Stadium, then turned into United stadium. We actually watched Michael Jordan play in these shoes growing up! It’s now kids that weren’t even alive when MJ was playing who are standing in mad lines for days for shoes. We've seen him at work, what they were meant for – for Michael Jordan to play basketball in – so it's different seeing kids going crazy. Nike had to reteach the hype, reteach the legacy to a new generation, which is cool, it's not a bad thing, it is what it is. It just feels different when you grew up with it. When I first heard the word ‘retro’, i flipped out.
Like a foreign term?
I think a real sneakerhead will see through it. Like Ferraris; Ferraris are a terrible car before a certain year. I don’t want to ruin my relationship with Nike but Ferraris are horrible – I have four of them. Mechanically something might break, or a peddle might fall off, all sorts of shit, and then it's gonna cost you a fat stack to fix it – it feels like a racket almost!
You still sound like you have the eye of the sneaker-tiger – and some horse'd-out wheels to keep you entertained – but we want to know, is there still that one ultimate sneaker that you're trying to track down for the collection?
Oh yezh – Futura x P-Rod! I need those!
We definitely did not see that answer coming! What’s the connection there?
Yo, those are crazy! I’m not a huge fan of the P-Rod or SBs totally, but those P-Rods are just crazy! If someone has got a pair in size US10.5, I got some things I’m willing to part ways with…
We will keep our eyes open for you – thank you for your time, Mr. Fiasco!!