Puma Suede – Hip Hop Sneakers 101
Puma has been in competition with Adidas since way before breakdancing and fat laces. Both brands were created by 2 German brothers who (like most brothers) competed for the crown of best athletic shoe. Fast forward to 1973 and the introduction of the Puma Clyde suede inspired by NBA All-Star Walt Frazier, started a Hip Hop fashion trend that would go wild in the early 1980’s.
Puma suede low tops were the popular and trendy shoes breakdancers would gravitate to and it was most apparent in the movie Beat Street. Almost all the breakdancers (New York City Breakers and Rock Steady Crew) and graffiti artist either wore Puma suedes or leather baskets. I would not be surprised if Puma actually sponsored the movie. So what did I do as soon as the movie was over? That’s right! I got a fresh pair of Puma all white baskets, grey fat laces and a grey and black Puma jogging suit. I was ready for the cardboard wars!
The comfort that Pumas had plus the ability to add fat laces (of various colors) that made them more “slip-on” accessible, made Pumas the perfect shoe for not only the breakdancing b-boy but the average Hip Hop fan. Rappers soon started talking about their favorite brand of sneakers in their songs and even sported them in their album covers, and no one loved their Pumas more than MC Shan. On his debut album “Down By Law” he showed us just how much he loved the brand.
The Beastie Boys did the same on their greatest hits album cover.
While Run DMC were rocking their Adidas and Doug E Fresh was sporting their Bally’s, MC Shan was representing old school b-boyism with his suede Pumas of 2 different colors (as seen on his album covers). But Mc Shan was not the only rapper to brag about his suede shoes. Other rappers have paid homage to the shoe in their lyrics.
MC Shan – I Pioneered This
“Puma’s the brand ‘cause the Klan makes Troop’s”
Digable Planets – Rebirth of Slick
“When Butterfly rocked his light blue suede Pumas”
Westside Connection – 3 Time Felons
“Suede Puma’s as I walk down Florence”
Ice Cube – You Don’t Want To F With These Lyrics
“Bailin’ through your hood in my fresh suede Pumas”
Ghostface Killah – Triumph
“Yo, fuck that/Look at all these crab niggas laid back/Lampin’ like them gray and black Pumas on my man’s rack”
Boot Camp Clik – Think Back
“Suede Pumas and rumors of rap not lastin”
CNN – LA LA (Remix)
“lay down my towel slide off my suede Pumas”
Ras Kas – It Is What It Is
“Back in the days, all a nigga needed was suede pumas and a beeper”
Tyler The Creator – Back For Another One
“I’m undefeated, but the suede shoes is Puma”
The Game – Scream On Em
“So I had to take ’em back, to toothbrush on the Pumas
Clean… mean… rappin machine”
I loved Pumas. As a wannabe b-boy, I always had the fresh Puma gear! No 80’s Hip Hop kid was complete with a fresh pair of Pumas Clydes and matching joggin suit! That Puma jumping over the logo will be always be associated with Hip Hop. Not only was it the brand that all New York based Hip Hop B-Boys endorsed, but MC’s, DJ’s and graffiti artist also sported! To this day, you can catch ids wearing these classic sneaks, the only difference is that it’s the skater kids that are wearing them. It is still one of the Top 3 greatest Hip Hop shoes of all time! Which other 2? Adidas for sure…you be the judge of the other brand!
– Al E.