NEW YORK — A quarter century after Run-DMC dedicated a song to their sneaker brand of choice, DMC is still rocking his Adidas for hip-hop.
On Friday morning (November 11), Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of the seminal Queens rap group was in the Harlem USA clothing store on 125th Street signing autographs for fans who purchased a special Adidas Originals Superstar 80s model commemorating the 25th anniversary of Run-DMC’s “My Adidas.”
The song was released in 1986 and appears on Run-DMC’s triple-platinum Raising Hell album. The hit record was inspired by more than just bragging and boasting about their collection of kicks, though.
“It was a song that was about our sneakers, but it was bigger than just talking about how many pairs of sneakers we had,” DMC told MTV News. “It came from the place of people would look at the b-boys, the b-girls and go, ‘Oh, those are the people that cause all the problems in here.’ And, ‘Those young people are nothing but troublemakers and those young people don’t know nothing.’ So they was judging the book by its cover, without seeing what was inside of it.”
DMC continued, “So me, Run and [Jam Master] Jay was like, ‘Yeah, we going to make a record about our Adidas.’ Yeah, we wear Adidas [with] no laces, we got gold chains, we got Cazals and all of that, but I go to St. John’s University. These Adidas stepped onstage at Live Aid. People gave and the poor got paid. It was about taking the image of the b-boy and b-girl and letting the world know we’re a people of vision, we’re inspiration, motivation, we’re educated too. So it’s kind of a kick in the face to the people that was hating on hip-hop.”
Run-DMC’s lyrical certification of “shelltoe” Adidas led to the first-ever endorsement deal between a music act and an athletic company. The limited-edition “My Adidas” Superstar 80s model is the same shoe Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay wore back in the day with special details like the JMJ logo on the heel, “1986″ stitched on the side and a gold lace lock designed to look like a dookie-rope gold chain. Only 1,986 of the shoes will be made for sale to the public.
Back in 1986, Run-DMC said seeing all their fans rock Adidas sneakers and gear on the strength of their co-sign was actually a bit disconcerting. “It was scary,” DMC said. “We was going through Detroit, through Boston, through Chicago, through LA, through Virginia; every city we went to on the Raising Hell Tour, we would look out the back of the tour bus and everybody had the Adidas [track] suits from head to toe. The Cazals, the hats, the Kangols, and they had those Adidas on. You would think we would sit in the back of the bus and go, ‘Yo, we gonna get paid!’ ”
However, the trio were aware of the responsibility their tastemaking influence carried. “Me, Run and Jay, we sat back and said, ‘We gotta watch what we do and we gotta watch what we say,’ ” DMC said. “Because the music, the image, the concepts was so powerful, if they’re going to wear Adidas because we say it’s cool, that means they would drink, abuse, fight because of this. We got nervous. I always remember Jay said, ‘Yo, this hip-hop stuff is really powerful, man. We gotta watch what we say and what we present to the world.’ ”
Share your memories of Run-DMC’s late-’80s heyday in the comments!