Nas is one of the greatest rappers of all time. This goes without argument. Is he the greatest? Well that's debatable, but his impact on the landscape of music is undeniable. And now, Nas is looking to have the same impact on sneakers.
Last year, Nas announced plans for opening a boutique in Las Vegas called 12AM RUN. While the rapper isn't a stranger to sneakers (see FILA), he is new to running a shop. So Esco partnered up with Vegas business mogul Nick Sakai to get things going. Here, Nas and Nick share the details on their new venture and talk about sneakers in hip-hop.
As a kid, were there any sneakers that you really wanted?
Nas: Yeah. We can go back to Pumas, shelltoe adidas, FILAs, Jordans, and Air Max. Once Jordan came into play, all the sneakers from Nike seemed to turn to Air this and Air that. Air Max was like the Air Jordan's cousin. So you wanted all the Air Jordans. I just started racking up on sneakers. Whatever was new. Avias and Ellesse. You remember those? My list went on with pieces that just weren’t the usual suspects that people talk about today.
Speaking of some of those old-school sneakers, British Knights is coming back. Did you rock those?
Nas: I had British Knights. I had Playboys. I didn’t get Clark’s for a while, but British Knights, I had those early. They had Bally sneakers as well. I had a pair of those. The Lottos.
So one of the biggest sneaker hip-hop songs was "My Adidas" by RUN D.M.C. Do you remember how that song affected you?
Nas: We was already buying shelltoes. That was the hottest shoe, hands-down. When they made that song, it was right on time. It just went crazy. You had to have shelltoes. If you just got up on shelltoes when RUN-D.M.C. did it, then you were blown away, like what is this?
They had the blue stripes, red stripes, black stripes, you know. RUN-D.M.C.’s name should be on every pair of shelltoes right now. That may be my number-one sneaker. My favorite sneaker of all-time.
RUN-D.M.C.’s name should be on every pair of shelltoes right now. That may be my favorite sneaker of all-time. - Nas
Could you name your top five sneakers?Nas: Number one would be shelltoe adidas. Two would be the Air Jordan 1. Three, I would say is the Air Max 1. Four is the FILA with the one stripe and the one “F” on it. The all red with the blue stripe. It don’t say FILA on it. Those are just classic, I'll always love ‘em.
I noticed you have on the Jordan III. Would they make your top five?
Nas: No. These are not in my top five, but I would say the Air Jordan IV.
How long would you say you were into sneakers? How big is your collection?
Nas: Since I was a kid. My collection's too big. It needs its own house. I have storage for my sneakers.
So 12AM RUN, why Las Vegas?
Nick Sakai: It’s a great place to open a shop because we have everyone coming to us. It’s fun taking things that we are both passionate about, which is sneakers, and putting it on a big stage. It is very rare to open a store in a city where you have people from all walks of life— East coast, West coast, and overseas coming here every day.
What does the name 12AM RUN mean?
Nas: To me, 12 a.m. sounds like go time in Las Vegas. Run, that's athletics, feet, sneakers, movement. You hit the ground running here in Vegas.
This should be a Mecca for everything to happen in sneaker culture. I want Michael Jordan to throw his next party there. - Nas
Nas, why sneakers? Why not headphones or energy drinks or something like that?
Everybody was already doing all those other things and those things have those guys' signatures on them. We can all open sneaker stores, but who is going to care enough to do it? Everybody in the country, outside the country, loves sneakers. For me, it was something I wanted to do a long time ago; even before I met Nick. Nick was already doing his thing in the business, so the timing was just perfect.
Rappers are starting to actually design sneakers now. What are your thoughts on deals like Kanye/adidas or Drake/Jordan?
Nas: That's what we do. That is what we are all about. If those sneakers come out and kill, it just shows how much hip-hop guys love their shoes. Hip-hop guys should be behind the design of sneakers.
NS: I think its also hip-hop guys not doing it for hip-hop guys anymore. This is mainstream. I think that is pretty dope too. These guys are doing their signature shoes and it creates a bigger buzz than anything. For all of last year people talked about the red Yeezy. And it wasn’t just the hip-hop crowd, it was everybody. It shows the power of sneakers.
With Nas being attached to the store, it seems like it opens a lot of opportunities for music-based projects?
Nas: I’m really a background guy, believe it or not. That's how I play everything that I do. Of course I’m all about the store and representing. I want everyone involved. I want the Yeezys, the Snoop Lion sneakers. We need collaborations. This should be a Mecca for everything to happen in sneaker culture. I want Michael Jordan to throw his next party there.