“The day I decided to pursue art full-time was when I was in my sixth year of being a health insurance broker, and my job was being questioned. At the time I was already playing shows and generating buzz, so it seemed like the time to take it to the next level.”
Ta-ku grew up in Perth, and has always had a passion for art embedded in his soul. As a child of hip-hop, his love of music comes from the sounds of J.Dilla and the early 2000s period of NY hip-hop, culminating in the infamous Jay Z and Nas beef. It’s that desire for the top spot that explains why hard-work is implanted in his brain. Far removed from the capitalistic motivation of New York rappers though, his is not a thought process of getting to the next cheque, or adding another zero to his savings account, it’s about exploring the elements of life that he loves.
“For me it’s about personal growth. I’ve always been passionate about art in general. I’ve always wanted to grow and progress as a person. I find that the creative side of me is something that makes me really happy. It’s doing what I love that drives me.”
With Ta-ku’s undeniable passion for art and hip-hop background, it’s inevitable that the AF1 serves as the blank canvas as he paints the picture of a mogul. The sneaker is almost symbolistic of Ta-ku’s transcendence, as he expands into other avenues of art and business the same way that the AF1 became a force in hip-hop and streetwear. Ta-ku is more than a producer the same way the AF1 is more than a sports shoe. They are brands, tastemakers and cultural movements.
It’s unsurprising that Ta-ku classifies Jay-Z as an influence, as they both share common thread in weaving entrepreneurial opportunities in the culture they love. Although he initially rallied for team Nas, Ta-ku’s infatuation with Jay-Z as not only an artist, but a mogul developed throughout years of personal growth. The more he explored art, whether it be musical collaborations, work with brands, or even the opening of his barbershop in Perth, Ta-ku’s strive for innovation seems to mirror that of Hov.
“Jay-Z has definitely been an influence on me throughout the years. The way he moves throughout the culture, and his transition from music to completely unrelated avenues whilst using his platform and brand to elevate that is amazing to me.”
And as Hov once said, “ The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I’m feeling at the time.” That same quote applies to Ta-ku, as every opportunity he gets, he expands his knowledge, and diversifies the avenues he uses to approach art. He wears those words on his sleeves, as he traverses throughout these different hobbies, and transforms them into occupations. However, in order to stay humble, you have to walk into the shoes of a hustler. The AF1 embodies the act of staying true to yourself. It’s a heirloom to street culture and hard work, and symbolises people like Ta-ku who stay on the grind, but always stay grounded.
“The best advice I can give to people, as corny as it may sound, is to stay true to yourself. As you explore all these different elements in art, and life, it’s easy to lose yourself. As long as you stick to doing what you love, and can still love yourself, you’re going to find happiness.”
It’s no wonder as he makes his footprints on the way art in Australia is not only consumed, but treated, he does it in his AF1s. Wearing 35 years of history on your feet as you make history is only fitting. The legacy that Nike holds not only in streetwear, but music and art in general is similar to the one that Ta-ku, as both an advocate and innovator in street culture, is crafting as we speak. Ta-ku has worked with Nike in the past on various photography and streetwear campaigns, only emphasising on his love for the brand. Ta-ku and the AF1 are a duo, with Ta-ku providing soul, and Nike providing the sole.
“Coming from a hip-hop and streetwear background, Nike to me has always showcased hard work and a pure sense of identity.”
But at the end of the day, the legacy that Ta-ku is creating, is one of his own, and is one that represents his love for the art, and this culture we all exist in. Ta-ku’s love of this path he chose in life comes from the intrinsic rewards it provides, and the lives it changes along the way. Works like “Songs To Break Up To”, “50 Days of Dilla” and the “Hear What You See” project are all reflections of a man that is passionate about resonation, not revenue. Ta-ku and Nike both hold a strong grip on their respective communities , and intertwined they represent the passion and dedication that goes into art culture. It’s not about the money, it’s about the movement, and artists like Ta-ku and Nike continue to break the divide, and bring people together as one.
“My fans, and the way they support me throughout all I do and the projects I explore, is what keeps me grounded. Especially considering I don’t tour much, and I like to stay with my family in Perth, their constant love only shows me that what I’m doing means something. I think as humans we should diversify, and pursue things we are passionate about. They say you can be a jack of all trades and a master of none, but I think they put a negative spin on that. If I’m exploring all these different things and expanding my horizons, I’m quite happy being average at a lot of things.”
Complex have linked with Nike to celebrate 35 years of the AF1. Take a look at the current range of Air Force 1s available now at nike.com