Nelly believes his 2002 single “Air Force Ones” led the way for collaborations between Nike and hip hop artists 20 years later.
“Everybody that got Nike shoe deals need to be thanking us right now,” declared the 47-year-old St. Louis native on Complex’s Sneaker Shopping. “We opened Nike’s eyes to a lot of that. At that time, they weren’t doing it. They were basically on some ‘they’re gon’ win regardless.’”
The uptempo single paid tribute to the Nike classic and later became the rapper’s signature choice of footwear, as the brand sponsored part of The Nellyville Tour and gave him a “limited” ambassador-esque deal.
As the single grew in prominence — peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and being featured in the 2003 film, Love Don’t Cost A Thing — Nike’s relationship with hip-hop evolved
“When we first started rocking Air Force Ones, they were $59.99. We did the song. Eight months later, they were $100 […] and we ain’t get no residuals,” shared the 2021 BET “I Am Hip-Hop” honoree.
Currently, classic white Air Force Ones retail for $110.
Later, the Country Grammar artist spoke on making the sneakers popular in a regional aspect and his time on Dancing On The Stars.
Watch Nelly’s full Sneaker Shopping episode below.