Rapper Locksmith Gets Candid About Kanye West, Sneaker Deals & the Influence of Hip-Hop

California rap veteran Locksmith has earned the respect of fans worldwide for his thoughtful and insightful lyrics. He also has a reputation for calling people out and holding them accountable for their actions.

The Bay Area emcee made mention of Kanye West’s recent string of antics on his latest album, “Ali,” including the rapper-turned-designer’s rant on TMZ where he stated 400 years of slavery sounded “like a choice.”

“Kanye said slavery was an amalgam, and two weeks later you n****s still bought his album,” Locksmith rapped on the song “Prison.”

“What I was pointing out in that lyric is that people were in an uproar on social media, like ‘Kanye, we’re getting rid of him, we’re kicking him out of the culture, the community,’ but when the album comes, you’re talking about it, you’re listening to it,” Locksmith explained to FN. “You don’t really care, it’s just a thing to be in an uproar.”

Despite his ill feelings toward the consumption of West’s recent music, he harbors no resentment for people who wear his line of sneakers with Adidas.

“I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘I’m never going to wear Yeezys because of what Kanye said.’ [And] I wouldn’t look at somebody crazy if they’re wearing Yeezy sneakers,” Locksmith said. “That’s different than the music to me. Music is so much about message, and if somebody is saying, ‘I support this kind of message,’ it’s going to be reflected in their music. I can’t rock with that.”

Personally, though, Locksmith says it’s unlikely he’ll ever wear a pair of Yeezys, but he’s a fan of brands partnering with rappers on sneaker collabs.

“I think it’s dope. It’s showing how much hip-hop culture has grown. It’s just another way to monetize and broaden your brand,” he said. “And when you’re talking about mainstream artists and mainstream lines, if they’re able to capitalize off that, it’s awesome.”

While he admitted he doesn’t own any sneakers that a fellow rapper has worked on, he said he’s impressed with what Travis Scott has done with Jordan Brand and what Pusha T has accomplished with Adidas. He’s also a fan of Reebok’s work with Jay-Z and 50 Cent in the early 2000s.

And Locksmith isn’t surprised top labels are looking to rap stars to create buzz and new product.

“Hip-hop is the most influential culture, the most influential genre, the most influential form of artistic expression in modern civilization. It drives culture. It’s the driving force behind urban fashion and now you see it in high fashion,” Locksmith said. “It’s awesome to see because of where hip-hop comes from — struggle, from the disenfranchised, from African and Latino culture. Strife and struggle and hardships created a genre that wasn’t supposed to exist; black culture has always done that. The fashion that comes from [hip-hop culture], it only makes sense.”

Locksmith’s fourth album, “Ali,” arrived on Dec. 7. He is scheduled to walk World Boxing Organization middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade to the ring for his fight tonight at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

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