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Top 5 Sneaker Lyrics Of All Time
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The Top 5 Sneaker Lyrics of All Time

Date: February 01 2019

By: Gabe Filippa

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From RUN-DMC’s mythical ‘My adidas’ to Kanye West’s ‘All Falls Down’, kicks continue to elevate the narrative of hip-hop; so rewind that cassette and track down your old Walkman — these are the top five sneaker lyrics of all time.

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5. BEASTIE BOYS — ‘SHADRACH’

The Beastie Boys’ 1989 tour de force Paul’s Boutique included one of the greatest hip-hop singles of all time: ‘Shadrach’. The track belonged to a kind of psychosphere, a burst of eclectic references and samples, before dipping down to the feet for an ode to the Beastie Boys' Three Stripes collection: ‘More adidas sneakers than a plumbers got pliers’. Check out the music video (where each frame was hand-painted by the legendary animation studio ), and suss why the Paul’s Boutique LP was later dubbed the ‘Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop’.

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Photo by Danny Clinch via Getty

4. 2PAC — ‘CALIFORNIA LOVE’

‘California Love’ was Tupac’s first drop after being released from prison back in ‘95. Fresh from inking a deal with Death Row Records, Tupac linked up with Dr. Dre to illuminate the Californian lifestyle whilst throwing shade at those with more bourgeois dispositions. During the second verse, Dr. Dre and Tupac praise the Chuck Taylor ‘not Ballys’ (a Swiss-based luxury label): ‘Only in Cali where we riot, not rally, to live and die / In L.A. we wearin’ Chucks, not Ballys (yeah that’s right) / dressed in Locs and Khaki suits, and ride is what we do.’

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Angel Laws

3. KANYE WEST — ‘ALL FALLS DOWN’

The fourth track from Kanye West’s debut album, ‘All Falls Down’, paints a portrait of Ye’s equivocal relationship to American consumerism. Using Nike’s Air Max catalogue as an allegory for materialism, Kanye introduces the ‘single black female addicted to retail’ who passed on college to feed her Swoosh addiction: ‘Sophomore, three years, ain’t picked a career / she like “fuck it, I’ll just stay down here and do hair” / cause that’s enough money to buy her a few pairs of new Airs, ‘cause her baby daddy don’t really care’. Someone tell ‘Ye walls are still built to come down...

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2. NAS — ‘HALFTIME’

Nas’ Odyssean hip-hop was there from the very beginning. Spitting rhymes under the pseudonym Nasty Nas, the Brooklyn-born 20-year-old dropped his debut single, ‘Halftime’, back in ‘92. The track contained some legendary lines (‘You couldn’t catch me in the streets without a ton of reefer / That’s like Malcolm X, catchin’ the Jungle Fever’), but it was one of the baddest double-entendres in hip-hop history that caught our ears: ‘I drop jewels, wear jewels, hope to never run it / With more kicks than a baby in a mother’s stomach’.

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1. RUN-DMC — MY ADIDAS

Legend has it that Run-DMC’s manager Russell Simmons pitched ‘My adidas’ while smoking PCP on 205th Street. Whether the track was cooked up in a shroud of Phencyclidine or not, ‘My adidas’ still emerged as the greatest sneaker tune of all time. Appearing as the opening single on Run-DMC’s third LP Raising Hell, Russell Simmons made sure this bombshell didn’t slip through the cracks, inviting adidas reps to check out Run-DMC’s performance at Madison Square Garden. No, there was no ambiguity in this two and a half minute track, Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell laying it all down in the opening line: ‘My adidas, walk through concert doors / and roam all over the coliseum floors’.

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