RUN DMC “My adidas” 25th Anniversary Pack
- PACK: RUN DMC "MY ADIDAS" 25TH ANNIVERSARY PACK
- MADE ON: --/11
I’m standing on the sidewalk on Wooster St. with my 9-year-old son. I’m intrigued by the cast iron buildings surrounding us and the streets that are, to this day, still paved with stone sett. I’m wondering if my boy, wearing only a t-shirt under a grey hoodie, is going to be warm enough on what has turned out to be a grey, blustery November morning. We’re about 12th in a queue of people waiting outside the adidas Originals store in the SoHo section of Manhattan. When the weather’s much milder, the glass-paneled garage door that comprises the entire facade of the place opens up to let in the warm New York summer. Today, my son cups his hands to his eyes and fogs the glass as he peers inside to see if he can tell what’s happening. It’s Friday, November 11th, 2011. 11-11-11, the release date of the Run-DMC “My adidas” 25th Anniversary Superstar 80’s. This is a US only release with 1,986 pairs being sold at select stores across the country. That’s certainly not a small number of pairs as far as limited releases go but I’m still a bit stressed. Information about the number of pairs that each store received, as well as the number of pairs that will be sold to each customer, has been a bit hard to come by. I need to bag 5 pairs today: one for myself and 4 pairs for my friends in the UK, Germany, and Canada, where the only other way to get these shoes would be to pay the Ebay premium a day later. I also need to purchase several t-shirts and a Superstar-style tracksuit that are all part of the pack being released with the shelltoes. I have more help on the way – my wife, daughter, and even my 68-year-old mother are passing the time shopping in a nearby store. This drop will be a family affair.
So, besides the Garden State Parkway to the Holland Tunnel, how did I get here? Rather, what brought me here? I’m guessing that I’m here for different reasons than the two resellers standing behind me, one of whom just asked the other, “So, what is this shoe, anyway?” Hype didn’t bring me here. Mere kicks didn’t either, though I love them. Run, D, and Jay brought me here.
As white teenagers growing up in rural upstate New York in the mid 80’s my friends and I were anomalies due to our love of hip-hop culture. Most of our classmates were listening to Metallica or Iron Maiden and rocking ripped jeans and beater Nike hightops. For our part, we’d lug around 20 pound boomboxes wearing nylon windsuits, ever on the lookout for a choice piece of cardboard for b-boying and popping. We’d mix and scratch records on cheap, belt driven turntables and write rhymes that we’d spit into the best mics that Radio Shack had to offer. We had the script to Beat Street committed to memory and must have watched the Roxy battle scene from that movie until the VHS tape nearly snapped.
The first Run-DMC song that I remember hearing was Sucker MC’s. I recall thinking how original that stripped down track sounded with practically nothing but a bass drum and that distinct electronic clap. Hell, it still sounds fresh to me now. Sucker MC’s is today seen as a turning point in hip-hop music and it would soon be followed up by a long list of equally pioneering tracks by the group. The seminal Rock Box had a guitar hook that even my head-banging classmates could get down to and it was the first in a series of rock-rap fusions that would prove to be a Run-DMC trademark. My friends and I began to emulate Run and D’s more aggressive rap style trading rapid fire verses using our own rhymes. We transitioned from mimicking Whodini to destroying our voices trying to shout like 3 guys from Hollis, Queens.
We also paid homage by trying to dress like our heroes when our empty wallets could afford it. At our age, a new pair of kicks came only when the pair that you were wearing was on its deathbed and your parents were up for a trip to the mall. When that trip came, we were ready. The shoes had been scoped out long ago, no doubt spotted on a poster, magazine, or a music video. If we couldn’t find the exact pair, we’d find something close.
As it turns out, fashion followed function quite nicely. The Superstar had been sported by b-boys and poppers for years for good reason. This low top hoops shoe seemed purpose-built for this double duty – it’s protective rubber shell toe proving to be damn near indestructible. Whether you were gliding in them or doing a backspin, a pair of white Superstars on your feet highlighted your every move like tracer bullets.
In 1986, clad in tracksuits and lace-less shells, Run-DMC were thrust into the mainstream with the groundbreaking release of their third album, Raising Hell. It left any doubt as to whether rap was a fad or not promptly in the dust. Its single, My adidas, gave new life to the marque that was slowly being overshadowed by Nike and its newest star, Michael Jordan. For me, it’s an album that has the power of a time machine in the way that each song can transport me to a specific moment in my own history. Suffice it to say, it was life-changing, not only for its musical content but how the tour that supported the album allowed me to see my heroes live and in the flesh.
In the summer of 1986, 3 friends and I piled into a subcompact and drove 4 hours to the War Memorial venue in Rochester, New York. The bill was pretty remarkable, especially in hindsight: Run-DMC, Whodini, a kid named LL Cool J, a one hit wonder called Whistle, and this new trio of white kids called The Beastie Boys. We were some of the first through the doors of the 13,000 seat arena and were standing right up front when the Beastie Boys exploded on stage as the stunning opener. As the show went on, the vibe in the crowd reached a frenzy and things started to get a bit dicey near the stage. We eventually moved higher up and closer to the back so we could see Run, D, and Jay bring down the house unobstructed. The drive home was almost completely silent, not due to exhaustion but because we were rewinding and replaying what we had just seen over and over in our heads. Just like we had done with our VHS copy of Beat Street.
Everything that happened in 1986 remains with me. That’s the year that I graduated high school and it’s the year that I was thrown, like it or not, into adulthood. As people’s lives change, so, too, do their priorities and interests. I was no different. I even fell out of love with hip-hop for a time during the “gangsta” years. Run-DMC changed, too. They tried to adapt to trends that probably didn’t suit them. They fell into some of the same traps that many successful artists do. Substance abuse. Legal troubles. They found God. They broke up. Still, none of that changes 1986. In ’86 they were kings. They didn’t change the game so much as they took a flamethrower to the rule book. The advent of the new school was proven in 1986 and nothing in hip-hop would ever be the same. It was the year that would lead to an endorsement deal with adidas for the trio for $1.6 million, the very first of its kind for a hip-hop artist with a major corporation. In short, ’86 was when hip-hop was finally welcomed into the world of music to which it knew it had always belonged.
One day, at my job, not too long ago, I was preparing to direct a television program. I was looking at the guest list for that day’s show and I saw the name “Darryl McDaniels” on the list. I laughed at first thinking that this guy had the same given name as DMC. After a call to the producer that laughing turned to stunned silence when I found out that it was indeed the man himself. He was to be on that day’s program promoting his charity for adopted children. He, himself, was adopted as an infant. I was barely able to direct his segment because my excitement made it difficult to concentrate. Since he was our final guest on the show I went directly to the studio after we wrapped so that I might try to say hello to him before he left. Much to my surprise, not only was he not rushing to leave the studio, he was happily chatting with the host and the crew. I nervously approached him with a slightly cracking voice and said, “Hey, D. I’m Michael, the director of the show. I just wanted to say thanks. You’ve been one of my heroes since high school.” After that, he stayed and talked with us for about 15 minutes, taking pictures and signing autographs. He remains one of the kindest, most down-to earth and approachable celebrities that I have ever met.
Back in SoHo, the rest of my family has shown up at the OG store and we’re next in the queue to be called in. I’m relieved to hear that the limit is not one but two pairs of ‘Supes per customer. That means I’ll be able to get a pair for every one of my friends overseas. When we would finally arrive home later that day, my daughter would ask me what was different about these Superstars compared to the dozens and dozens of other pairs that I already own. I take one out of its black box and point to the heel where it’s embroidered with the numbers, “1986″. “That. That’s what’s different,” I said.
written by Michael Sterling
photography by errol
shoes, shirt, and tracksuit contributed by Chris SoleconneXion Leal