Since the dawn of time—or at least since hip-hop’s inception in the late ‘70s—adidas Originals and its iconic three stripes have gone hand-in-hand with rap music. Run-DMC are most likely the first rap-affiliated adi-wearers that spring to mind, but beyond that there’s a long and storied history that connects the art of rhyming with crisp white Stan Smiths.
According to rapper Kojey Radical, “seeing Wretch 32 rap about Stan Smiths reminded me of how much adidas Originals is connected with the culture. It’s about those little items that we adopt that help us create an identity within our culture.” And we all know of Stormzy’s proud love affair with the sportswear giant.
On February 6, exclusively with Foot Locker, adidas Originals will release 500 pieces only of their new OG Chile 62 white and silver edition. The OG Chile 62 was, and continues to be, a bold and iconic tracksuit whose satin, white and silver details remain one of adidas Originals’ most memorable looks to this day.
We caught up with East London rapper Kojey Radical and Parisian rhymer Oboy about their respective rap scenes, the records that raised them and their personal relationships with the OG Chile 62. The artistic identities of both rappers are intrinsically linked with the cities they grew up in. Kojey’s cocktail of hip-hop, spoken word, poetry, soul and visual art holds a mirror up to the countless cultures that converge in London. On a personal level, he sees this as an evolving snapshot of himself and the city that raised him.
“I started making music because I love the art form,” he says. “It feels like I’m creating these bespoke pieces of art that people get to enjoy and listen to every day. I think about it in terms of collections rather than projects. So if there’s a version of me that somebody likes from a specific year or whatever, that doesn’t go away. You can always come back and listen to that. Growth and where we go next is always at the forefront of my mind.”
Similarly, French rapper Oboy’s music is something grown solely from his own experiences and therefore entirely unique to him. For both artists, hip-hop, style and identity are inextricably linked and even inform each other. “The English rap scene has its own identity,” Oboy explains. “It is more recognisable than the French rap scene. If a guy raps in French, apart from the ones from Marseille—they’re usually easy to recognise—you might not be able to tell if he comes from France, Belgium or from Switzerland. However, if an Englishman raps, you know he is English—even though there are 30 times more English-speaking countries.”
It’s a recurring theme in both of our conversations. Hip-hop, in all its forms, is about communication. It’s about documenting the world around you, making sense of it and finding your place in it. The same, perhaps on a more subconscious level, can be said of fashion.
“At the end of the day, your style is your own personal identity,” Kojey makes clear. “One thing about identity is that the person you are on the inside doesn’t change—the way that you feel changes. So it becomes an extension of the way you feel and how you want to be presented or perceived. It has to evolve with your personality. It has to to help bring forward things that you want to say to the world before you’ve even opened your mouth. Whether you just want to be left alone in your hoodie and tracksuit or you’re suited up and you want everyone to treat you like a peacock. When you do that, you’ve communicated something before you’ve even spoken.”
Ultimately, adidas Originals and its contribution to hip-hop heritage is impossible to deny, but it’s also about looking forward. In that sense, returning to the OG Chile 62 tracksuit and updating it for 2020 is the perfect example of that.
Kojey adds that “adidas Originals has always been about heritage and how it manages to embed itself in the culture year after year, decade after decade. That’s why it can bring back such popular styles and have them still be effective. The appreciation for what the brand represents outlasts any trend. You can’t remember hip-hop without specifically remembering adidas’ role. You needed those shoes, the trackies and the bucket hat. You had to adopt the uniform of the culture and adidas Originals actually ended up becoming the uniform of hip-hop culture to a certain degree. It’s part of the heritage.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.