20 Shoes Rappers Love

Fair warning: You won’t be able to find many of these at retail value

shoes rappers love mobile
Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images

Since the formal introduction of sneaker culture into hip-hop with Run DMC’s famous 1986 track “My Adidas,” the rap game and sneakers have been a match made in heaven. Many rappers have dabbled in footwear design and some have even made it a part of their living—here’s looking at you, Kanye West.

For many of these heavy spitters, sneakers are a way to get a leg up on their competition. They’re social currency—the more expensive, the better. The influence of the sneaker world can be heard in music as some of hip-hop's most prolific artists have expressed their love and addiction for fashionable footwear. There's Drake’s “Pound Cake/Paris Morton 2,” which featured an insane Jay-Z feature when Hov raps, “A pair of Jordan 3’s tryna chase this cash.” Then there’s Nelly’s classic sneaker anthem, “Air Force Ones.” Nobody can’t forget the subliminal shot Ye threw at Michael Jordan on the track “New God Flow,” when Yeezy started it off by saying, “Hold up, I ain't trying to stunt man/But these Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman.” The trend continues and it’s looking like there’s no stopping it now.

Here are the sneakers your favorite rappers can’t get enough of. Fair warning: Be prepared to buck up—you won’t be able to find many of these at retail value.

1. Yeezy 700 Wave Runner

yeezy wave runner
Adidas Yeezy 700 Wave Runner / Courtesy of Adidas

The Wave Runner isn’t one of Ye’s signature models, but it’s certainly one of his most popular. Making its debut to the public in August of 2017, this Yeezy exclusive features a mesh upper sole combination of gray and black suede with premium leather and blue mesh underlays. Adidas was able to provide new-age, enhanced technology of comfort and stability to the base of the shoes by adding their signature Boost technology on the midsole. This sneaker is the ultimate combination of high-brow fashion blended with casual dad vibes.


2. Nike x Off-White Jordan 1 UNC

carolina off white 1s
Nike x Off White Jordan 1 UNC / Courtesy of Nike

This iteration of the Jordan 1 might be Virgil Abloh’s flashiest creation yet. Carolina Blue is a classic Jordan colorway, harkening back to his college roots. That, along with the orange Off-White tag on the Nike swoosh and the classic text label on the shoe make this an instant hit. Most recently, Logic was spotted wearing them on the red carpet at this year’s VMAs.


3. Jordan 3 Katrina

katrina 3
Air Jordan 3, Katrina / Courtesy of Jordan

The Katrina was first sold by Jordan Brand in an effort to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims but was retroed earlier this summer. The classic white, red and gray colorway is simple but can work with most any outfit, so it’s become a celeb favorite. For example, Travis Scott hooped in them in this year’s H-Town Classic put on by James Harden.


4. Yeezy 500 Blush

yeezy blush 500 0
Adidas Yeezy Blush 500 / Courtesy of Adidas

The 500 is quickly climbing the ladder in the Yeezy rankings with the shoes appearing on the feet of NBA World Champion Nick Young, Fabolous and Drake before he decided to sign with Nike. This monochromatic colorway is one of the cleanest the Yeezy line has to offer, which makes it an easy choice for every outfit.


5. Nike x Off-White Converse Chuck Taylor

off white converse
Nike x Off White Converse Chuck Taylor / Courtesy of Nike

This is a unique spin on a classic shoe, doubling down on the trend of the transparent upper in a sneaker. This is a Wiz Khalifa favorite—he’s even been spotted performing in them.


6. Travis Scott Cactus Jordan 4

cactus jack 4s
Travis Scott Cactus Jack Jordan Retro 4 / Courtesy of Jordan

This might be one of the best sneaker releases of the year. Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Jordan 4 turns heads, not just because of the contrast between its red lining and Carolina blue upper, but the Cactus logo on the heel. The multi-platinum rapper did a great job of paying tribute to his Houston roots with this vintage montage of the ex-NFL Oilers team’s colorway. Travis outdid himself with this one.


7. Nike x Off-White Air Presto

off white prestos
Nike x Off White Prestos / Courtesy of Nike

The Off-White Air Presto is one of Abloh’s hardest-hitting releases, and hip-hop’s heaviest hitters have responded in kind, with this sneaker worn by Chance the Rapper, A$AP Rocky and Drake. The distressed nature of the shoe along with the colorful lace combinations make it versatile.


8. Nike Cortez Kenny 3

nike cortez
Nike Cortez Kenny 3 / Courtesy of Nike

The Cortez Kenny is a simple shoe with its mostly black upper, but the red tab on the heel and down the tongue make this shoe pop. It’s been sported by Kendrick Lamar along with a host of other celebrities throughout the summer.


9. Homage Jordan 1s

homage jordan 1s
Jordan 1 Home 2 Homage / Courtesy of Jordan

This odd combination on the Jordan 1 is abstract enough to make anyone’s heads turn. It’s a combination of the home and away OG Chicago Jordan 1’s sneakers all in one and is pretty slick. Famous Dex was seen walking around in these.


10. Balenciaga Triple S

balenciega shoes
Balenciaga Triple S / Courtesy of Balenciaga

These shoes are… something else. Designed by Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia, they’re chunky and come in a ton of different colorways to play with. They’ve outfitted Migos, and been worn by a ton of other rappers who have the money to cop.


11. Yeezy 350 V2 Butter

yeezy butter
Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 / Courtesy of GOAT

This is a simple and smooth Yeezy colorway that West himself has copied in wide-scale releases for the Yeezy line. They’re not easy to track down, but one of the more accessible Yeezys and also one of the easiest to wear.


12. Nike x Off-White Jordan 1 Chicago

off whitre jordans 1s
Nike x Off White Jordan 1 Chicago / Courtesy of Jordan

This shoe was 2017’s sneaker of the year at the coveted Footwear News Achievement Awards and has been spotted on countless celebrities from rappers such as Playboi Carti, Drake, Chance The Rapper and Travis Scott, to athletes such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Roger Federer and social media stars like Luka Sabbat. It was the sneaker that started the Off-White craze with Nike and has remained a sneaker culture mainstay.


13. Air Force 1

air force 1
Air Force 1 / StockX

Through the years there have been many different variations of the Air Force 1s, but for some reason, these sneakers have been super popular in hip-hop and rap culture. Nelly famously made a hit song about them in 2002, and that record led to future sneaker collaborations with rappers (Jay-Z later had an Air Force 1 Roc-A-Fella collaboration with Nike). As many sneakerheads know, not all basketball shoes are actually good for hooping. The Forces, however, are the real deal. Not only can you ball out in them, but stylistically they provide a fresh clean look that can be paired with anything in your closet.


14. Jordan 3 Retro 88

jordan retro 88
Jordan 3 Retro 88 / Stock X

Ladies and gentlemen—Jay-Z's favorite sneaker. Not only is Hov one of the music industry's most iconic figures, but over the decades he has been heavily recognized for his fashion sense and street style. The Jordan 3's aren't just Jay's favorite sneaker, but many other celebrities love them as well. This version is a fan favorite inspired from the sneakers Michael Jordan wore during his legendary 1988 Dunk Contest showdown with Dominique Wilkins (you know the one where he dunked from the free-throw line). The 88s remain one of the most popular shoes in hip-hop.


15. Jordan 4 Off-White Sail

off white sail
Jordan 4 Off-White Sail / StockX

When the Off-White Sail Jordan 4s were released this past summer, they caused quite the stir. Just about every female celebrity and influencer rushed to get them, and these shoes remain one of the most desirable newer sneakers on the market. This colorway is truly beautiful, and the sneakers look like they could fit quite nicely with some of the paintings and decorations that you have in your house. The mesh upper and translucent panels complete the design, while the cushioning provides extra support and comfort.


16. Jordan 4 Retro Red

jordan 4 retro red
Jordan 4 Retro Red / StockX

Speaking of Jordan 4s, these Retro Reds have also been causing some commotion. Released towards the end of November, many celebs have already been seen rocking these bad boys. Rapper Saweetie was recently seen wearing these kicks the week of Christmas, and had them on when boyfriend Quavo gifted her a Bentley. If that is any indication, then wearing the Retro Reds might be good luck for getting everything you have ever wished for.


17. Louis Vuitton Trainer Sneakers

louis v
Louis Vuitton Trainer Sneakers / StockX

The same way luxury clothing has completely taken over in the music industry, luxury shoes have also become a thing. There are many variations of the Louis Vuitton sneakers, but the Trainers remain among the most popular. The design of the shoe takes high-top sneakers to another level, and aesthetically the shoes are vivid and rich in quality. The Louis Vs are also rich in price, so you will need at least $1500 if you want a pair (which is probably why we only see them on celebs). 


18. Burberry Mesh Nubuck Union

burberry mesh nubuck union black
Burberry Mesh / StockX

Through the years, Burberry has been referenced in many different rap songs, so it should come as no surprise that rappers are now wearing Burberry sneakers. While there are colorways that have the Burberry design that we are familiar with, these particular ones seem to be more popular due to the neutral black color and basketball shoe design. Despite not being as popular, the Burberry design kicks are still in-demand, and rapper CupcakKe rocked a pair last summer causing quite a frenzy on social media.


19. Vans


Rappers love Vans. In fact, just about every celebrity loves Vans. In the last couple of years, Future, ASAP Rocky, Lil Wayne, and even Kanye has been snapped by the paparazzi rocking them, and honestly, Vans are back 'in' again. Vans will forever be one of those legendary shoes that can be paired with anything in your closet, and you can definitely 'swag' them out as well. For that reason, we will always see rappers donning them. 



J. Cole Puma / StockX

For a while, Puma sneakers were not considered  'popular' in the hip-hop world. Over the last several years, the tide has slowly changed, and we have even seen many rappers collaborate with the brand. Jay-Z has a deal with Puma as a creative director, Big Sean also has collab with a brand, and even J. Cole has gotten in on the action. The revival of Puma has sparked new partnerships (Nipsey Hustle's deal for example), and we imagine that there will be plenty more in the future. So yes, it is 'cool' to wear Pumas again.

20. Puma Sneakers
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