Aloe Blacc x adidas Decade Hi
- MODEL: ADIDAS DECADE
- SERIES: ADIDAS CONSORTIUM
- PACK: ADIDAS CONSORTIUM YOUR STORY
- DESIGNED BY: Aloe Blacc
- MADE IN: VIETNAM
- MADE ON: --/12
- ART.NO: G61743
When Aloe Blacc dropped “Good Things” it was definitely true freedom music, bringing back the frequency and vibrations that the slaves involved with Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad conjured up while they were escaping enslavement. Slaves used secret messages in songs to communicate and inform, making it possible to free each other. This core aspect of black music has lost its roots in a large way when it comes to the majority of popular music being promoted to the public. So much of the popular black music that you hear on the radio these days has lost its path, as they’re now encoding the music to hold people down. The reason for black music in America began as a means to uplift its people and help them break free from oppression. Aloe Blacc in “Good Things” has been able to recapture the energy of soul music’s original intention. He’s telling the truth and you can feel it in his words.
Without belittling the black movement and music of America – nor Aloe Blacc’s approach to and inspiration drawn from it – we’d like to propose that parallels can be drawn between the path of the music described above and the adidas Originals Consortium line. Originally created in 2005 to provide a place where design collaborations could unfold, Consortium soon became confusing and sometimes sat synonymous with overpriced and over-hyped releases. 2011 brought the truth, so to speak, by cleaning out the tarry pipes and pushing the all white suede canvases upon which ‘good things’ could take place. And good things certainly took place with 2012′s Consortium Your Story releases, including the Decade Hi from Aloe Blacc himself.
But in order to truly free this reissue from its chaining assumptions and all too usual shoe review opinions we fought to get Aloe Blacc into the eatmoreshoes HQ for a quick rap session to bust out the details on his first sneaker with adidas.
Aloe, it’s great to have you here. We’re dying to know: what’s your favorite sneaker of all time?
adidas shell toes are my favorite of all time. I saved up for my first pair back in middle school because I was a b-boy and it was one of the most important visual and stylistic representations of my love for the hip hop culture. My tastes have changed a lot since then, but for nostalgia’s sake, I am a big fan of this sneaker.
What about adidas: is the Decade Hi your favorite kick from the famous three stripes?
I have other adidas favorites. I like the specialty designs like the Vespa Mid and adi-Rise mid. I think I’ve worn the pairs I have to death. I’ve been saving the maroon adi-Rises for a special occasion, though. They’re still fresh in the box. I couldn’t get black in my size so I’m eager to find a black Vespa Mid, but all I could find was blue. The Decade was the style of shoe that I liked the best of the six selections offered in the Olympics series and I think it fits with my current taste in mid tops.
With such an affinity for the brand, it’s no surprise you’ve come together. But how’d you first hook up with the trefoil crew? Were The Do-Over parties your inital colab with adi?
The relationship with adidas and The Do-Over has been developing for a few years. We started the party in 2005 in Hollywood and built a pretty strong base of fans. Employees from the local Hollywood store would come to the party and I would sometimes host or deejay small in-store events. Eventually, we had the opportunity to bring The Do-Over to Portland, near the adidas headquarters, and further develop the concept of working together to take the party around the world.
Jumping to the topic at hand: what inspired your design for this year’s Consortium release? Why those materials, that colorway, etc…?
My design was inspired by my favorite Olympic story. In 1960, Abebe Bikila ran the marathon barefoot because he wanted to show the world the heroism and determination of Ethiopians. I chose the dark brown leather to mimic the color of Bikila’s foot and the gum sole to match the bottom of his bare foot.
Wow, what an inspirational concept behind a shoe! So who are you trying to reach with this design?
This shoe is made for lovers of history who like to represent more than just style in the apparel they choose to wear. I think Bikila’s story is an amazing tale of triumph over adversity for those who strive to do their best and inspire greatness in others and my fans will appreciate this.
Beyond that, What’s the “story” behind this shoe?
I’m first-generation American. My parents from Panama, so the story of people facing up to the challenges of adversity in foreign lands is personal for me. I remembered hearing about Abebe Bikila years ago and being tempted by a schoolmate’s parents to run barefoot in a sprint. Ultimately, I didn’t run barefoot, but I often think about this moment and if his suggestion was inspired by Bikila or if it was just to improve his child’s chances against my speed.
Now how did music influence your design?
I don’t think music influenced my design at all. I think, generally, I like to keep things simple. When it comes to music, there are simple principles I like to employ and perhaps that is what I did here with my design of the Decade. I kept it really simple by making it all one color.
And you’ve done a great job of that. It’s hard to believe, but is this really the first sneaker you’ve designed / collaborated on?
Yes. This is the first sneaker I have designed but I am eager to continue designing shoes and clothing. Sometimes I envision things that I can’t find elsewhere and now I have the opportunity to make my dreams reality. I’m not sure how soon, but I will definitely develop a line of casual and formal-wear.
Ok big one: how does your spirituality come into play with your creativity (musically and otherwise)?
Being happy is the most important thing to me. I think that the idea of spirituality is related to how happy we are and how happy we can make others. My goal is to do things that make me feel good, and that includes helping others. I believe we’re all connected to one another and that your energy and vibe can effect someone else, so it’s important to be positive so that you can bring positivity to others.
And who inspires you musically?
My musical inspiration comes from many different places. I’m often inspired by really good movies with beautiful cinematography. Sometimes the agitation of traveling helps bring about song ideas. I find that when I’m still but everything around me is moving my mind goes into a creative mode that wants to compete with the activity in the world around me. Driving, walking, cooking, and cleaning have been big inspirations for my music. Stylistically, I’m inspired by classic rock, jazz, hip hop, and soul music among other forms.
What about musical collaborations: any in the pipeline? Or anyone you’d love to work with that you haven’t yet?
It would be an honor for me to work with my heroes like Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Joni Mitchell, Yusuf Islam, and many others. Other than that, I’m working once again with DJ Exile, with whom I established the hip hop duo, EMANON, years ago. We’re redefining hip hop for ourselves now that we are much older and more musically experienced.
Lastly, when is the next album dropping? What can we expect to hear?
The next album should be out by the end of the year. I’ve been traveling so much that there has been no time until now to start recording the ideas that I’ve been developing over the past year. The sound will be soulful but I intend to mix a little bit of my love for hip hop and rock into the new music.
If you’re not already a fan of Aloe’s music then please do yourself a favor and peep game when the new album drops (as well as looking up his past works). He’s got smooth pimped out melodies, very Isaac Hayes / Marvin Gaye / Jacksons reminiscent, mid 70s sounding orchestration with funky vibes. Rhythm guitar, violins, deep bass, and funky drumming.
And of course, if you’re feelin’ his kicks, then don’t forget to hit up No6 in London, No74 in Berlin, or any of the other worldwide adidas Originals Consortium retailers for a pair this Saturday, the 19th of May, 2012. You’ll surely be singing ‘I Need A Dollar’ on your way through each ‘Green Light’ as you rush to grab these full, dark brown leather, ice-soled ‘Good Things’, and when you get ‘em whispering ‘You Make Me Smile’ as you lace ‘em up on your feet.
All things Aloe Blacc:
written by Zach Craft
photography by errol
portrait by Dan Monick
special thanks to Gary and Pam