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“…and oh yeah, Yeezy!”. Nike Air Yeezy, that is.

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[Photo courtesy of]

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[Photo courtesy of]

Snaps of Kanye West’s new signature sneak from Nike, the Air Yeezy, have been floating around the ‘net since May, and I’m still leaning on my fat, white, proverbial picket fence about them. The blurry picture up top is purported to be the “Olympics” colorway, while the bottom are the pair that ‘Ye is currently wearing on tour. I don’t love them, but I don’t hate them – which is usually one of the two reactions you’ll get from people about how they feel about Kanye himself, as well as his music. The fact that I am not polarized one way or the other tells me that something is wrong.

Goodness knows that I’ve no clue what ‘Ye’s done to deserve a sneaker. Oh, right – million-selling hid-hop prince, heir to the Rocafella throne, and unabashed conspicuous couture consumer. When everyone and their mothers (yes, my mom likes Kanye) has their eyes and ears on his every move, I suppose it made perfect sense for Nike to give him some namesake curb stompers.

Hell, Reebok did the same thing a few years ago. They gave the biggest rapper in the game a signature sneaker for no particular reason. Not too long thereafter, the faux-Gucci “S. Carters” were the best-selling athletic shoe endorsed by a non-athlete. Sean Carter, alias Jay-Z, probably made a few bucks off of those.

But considering the theme of West’s current nationwide arena tour – the Glow in the Dark tour – and the shutter shaded, neon drenched, otherworldly vibe of his videos for “Stronger” and “Flashing Lights”, I can dig the Marty McFly feel of the Yeezys. As far as hip-hop fashionista superproducers go, he’s pretty much untouchable, with the sole exceptions being, perhaps, Pharrell Williams and Andre 3000. These sneakers, like the tour itself, are an embodiment of the idea that no one else can touch him.

The sky-high, oversized tongue is just begging to do peek-a-boo from behind the hems of expensive selvage, and the chunky midsoles ripped right off of Tinker Hatfield’s first Jordans complete the old-is-new-again styling. To a life-long sneakerphile like myself, I can see the appeal.

So what’s my malfunction? Like I said, I can’t quite figure it out yet. Maybe it’s the itty-bitty swoosh looking so far out of place on such an outlandish sneaker. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s got all the delicious details from older sneakers without really having too much of the magic that those sneakers had (Air Force 180s, Jordan III/IV/V, Air Flight 89). Maybe it’s the fact that we’re finding awesome new ways to give rich guys more money. I don’t know. I want to like them, I do – but there’s just something…off about them.

I think that the right materials and colorways will do a lot to sway me. Show me suede, show me good use of patent leather, off-the-wall colorways with some vintage flavor (and for the love of god, NO MORE CEMENT / ELEPHANT PRINT), and I think these could be a fabulous addition to your box game if you don’t already have a pair of obnoxious high-tops. Or maybe they can tone them down a notch, but keep the “my shits are more expensive than yours” aura with colors a la Clae or Reebok 5411s, but with buttery suedes, tumbled leathers, and ice white mid/outsoles. The design is one thing, but the color palette choices and quality of materials can go a long way in making these shoes look every bit as expensive and exclusive as they probably will be (if you like them, I hope you’ve got your Colemans and Thermoses handy – you’re probably gonna be doing some camping for ‘em).

But I haven’t seen any of that yet – right now, they’re still just another sneaker. Say what you will about Kanye, but he’s got a killer eye for details that inject new fashion sensibilities into the cookie-cutter hip-hop landscape, and conversely, shows us looks that re-appropriate so-called “high fashion” for the folks who like to stay a little grimy. The Yeezys cut across both lines, and I can see everyone from the hyphy/crunk kids to the American Apparel skinnies flaunting a pair of these. I know that he’s capable of putting his signature flair on these, but the question is, will those tidbits make it to production?

Price, and release date, are still TBA.

– Alexander Worthington iii


  1. Posted July 8, 2008 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    Meh, I know what you mean, they’re alright but nothing special. I wouldnn’t buy them personally, but I think if someone did they could rock em pretty well.

  2. Posted July 8, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Those shoes definitely give off the either love them or hate them vibe. Personally, I’d look the other way in sporting them, but I have to give Kanye a nod, they could be pretty stylish on the right person.

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