Rap and tennis releases share a common thread: storytelling. Artist IDK – short for Ignorantly Delivering Knowledge – resonates with this, as he has made a name for himself by inserting deeply personal themes into his records, which include songs made alongside artists such as Pharrell, T-Pain, Offset and Young Thug. As much as he appreciates the science behind combining strong beats and emotional lyrics to create the perfect song, he realizes that the message and marketing combined with the perfect color palette and design is what really makes a song stand out. shoe.
Growing up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, he found himself recognizing the impact of regional staples like New Balance joggers and retro Nike silhouettes like Foamposites and ACG Goadomes. However, when it comes to the myriad of sneakers in his collection, there is no other offering that he holds on a pedestal as high as the Air Jordan 4.
Hot off the heels of his newly released single “Radioactive,” Hypebeast had the opportunity to catch up with IDK to discuss how he was introduced to the Air Jordan 4, his experience as part of the Nike family, and the nuances of the DMV style.
Who or what made you like tennis?
One of my best childhood friends. I remember liking clothes and sneakers growing up, but he was the one who really guided me into getting on sites like Flight Club and understanding different silhouettes, the difference between Dunks and Nike SB Dunks, stuff like that. Also, I was always made fun of at school for ruining my sneakers or not having the newest ones, and that also led to wanting to dress better.
What exactly were you being made fun of for wearing?
I had nice Jordans and Nikes but I only had a pair or two at the time so I was just hitting them while my friends around me were always getting the latest.
“Eventually I was able to wear (my Air Jordan 4s) to school and I just remember everyone’s reaction when I arrived at school in those sneakers, it was a feeling I’ve never had before. I clearly got the best kicks in school that day.
What was the tennis culture like for you growing up in PG County?
Shoes were huge in the (greater) DC area. Silhouettes like Foamposites and ACG Goadome have had a stranglehold on the crop. It was mandatory that you own a pair of New Balances and ACG Boots, but if you really had the cash, you’d be flexing Jordan and Foamposite’s newest releases.
You chose to single out the Air Jordan 4 for this feature. Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on the AJ4 and what your reaction was?
My love for the Air Jordan 4 came organically. I remember being in seventh grade, coming home from school one day and seeing a silver Jordan box in my mom’s room that had the color “White Cement.” It had an orange Nike Air tag, and at the time, I didn’t even know Nike made Jordans. Hee was going to give them to me but I kept getting into trouble and my mom hid them from me for a while. Eventually, I started wearing them to school and I just remember everyone’s reaction when I arrived at school in those shoes, it was a feeling I’ve never had before. I clearly got the best kicks in school that day.
Would you say you’re more of a fan of the design, the classic colors, your association with Jordan, or a mix of everything?
I would say the design. The cage and net are nice, but I’m more drawn to the “wings” on the sides. Honestly, I think it’s one of the most innovative silhouettes in Jordan’s lineup. What they’ve done with the shape is crazy because it’s not too bulky and it’s really easy to style, especially compared to other models like the Air Jordan 5 and Air Jordan 6.
What are your favorite Air Jordan 4 colors?
The “White Cement” will always be my favorite for nostalgia, and they go with everything. Other colors I love include the KAWS Gray Collaboration, the “Lightning” 4s, and the Doernbecher Collaboration.
Many collaborators have played the Air Jordan 4 in recent years, such as Travis Scott, A Ma Maniere, Union and Off-White. Are you a fan of the new wave of the model?
I am. I love all the new Air Jordan 4 collabs and colorways that have come out recently. The colorways have caught my attention, but it’s the stories that are most important to me and what really interests me. It’s like dating a girl. She can be mean, but you won’t settle down with her if the story isn’t right.
What does IDK look for in a shoe when performing? Do you believe in the “look good, feel good, play good” mantra?
It’s a question of appearance, but also of functionality and comfort. When I’m onstage, I want to put on the best show possible. I’m not an artist who just picks up a mic and raps. I want to create an experience and for that I need to feel free. So whatever I’m using in terms of performance, it also needs to have a certain level of functionality. I prefer a lighter shoe, so on the last tour, I was always rocking the Stüssy x Nike Air Max 2013.
Last year you signed a contract with Nike. How did this partnership come to life and what has the experience been like so far?
When I was in prison I used to draw concepts of Dunks and other silhouettes that I liked all the time, so I feel like I’ve manifested my deal with Nike. I don’t have a deal with Nike. So seeing that come full circle is great, and we definitely have something even bigger with another partner that is set to come out very soon. I remain loyal to Nike, but organically that’s exactly what I do anyway, and that partnership lasted four to five years during my rise and I’ve always supported and shown them love.
You’ve had the opportunity to work on a clean Nike Blazer and Nike AF1 in the past, can we expect to see more collaborations in the future?
Something is definitely in the works. I have my eye on the Air Max lineup, so we’ll see how that plays out.
“Aesthetics are one thing, but the story is what solidifies why I do anything, because I put something into my body.”
Would you say rappers are the new jocks when it comes to the tennis business?
Artists are definitely the new athletes because we perform and our performance is often physical. And if you just look at the influence we’ve had on tennis culture, the impact is just as high, if not greater.
Why are sneakers and their stories important to you personally?
I think sneakers are pieces of art, and every great piece of art has a story. Aesthetics are one thing, but the story is what solidifies why I do anything, because I put something into my body.