Rap icon Raekwon the Chef and Diadora have been cooking up something special for sneakerheads, which will land on shelves at Foot Locker Inc. soon.
The Wu-Tang Clan standout, the footwear brand and the retailer have joined forces to launch a new program dubbed “Community Linx,” which will yield product collections that are built with, and linked to, communities. The first launch includes two new iterations of the classic Diadora N9002 silhouette.
“It’s just a comfortable, nice shoe. There’s just something about it, to me, that gives you comfort, style — those things are important to me,” Raekwon told FN. “When you put on a shoe, you want to feel good about it, the way it looks, the way it fits.”
He continued, “The sleekness of them, the way they sat, the suede or the leather, the front had a different shape — there were certain things about Diadora sneakers that made them not your normal shoe that really stood out to us. Back in the day, as a kid, we were always fascinated by that, and these were things that motivated us in the hood to want to be fly.”
The first drop will feature a universal Diadora N9002, executed in black and gray, as well as a New York City-inspired look delivered in blue and orange. Both pairs are made with nylon and suede uppers, which sit atop rubber outsoles, as well as Raekwon’s signature on the heel.
Both Raekwon x Diadora N9002s will come in men’s sizes and be sold exclusively via Foot Locker and Champs Sports starting Jan. 27. The sneakers will retail for $120.
Following the first drop, the Raekwon, Diadora and Foot Locker Inc. will take the project to Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. With these releases, New Era hats inspired by the city’s footwear collection will also be available.
Aside from product, “Community Linx” will offer a component to offer local musicians access to tools and resources aimed at elevating their art.
For the NYC sneaker launch, 16 area musicians were selected for a four-week beat making course hosted by legendary producer Scram Jones. The participants will receive insight into the beat-making process, and will present their beats to Raekwon and Dave East at a private event at Foot Locker’s 181st Street Community Store where they will receive feedback from the rap stars.
“What’s going to come from this is I need beats, so hit me off. Give me some heat. Let’s get it going. Let’s get you going and let’s get me going, because the talent is out there,” Raekwon said. “This is something very important to me not only as an artist, but also as an entrepreneur. They may look at it as they’re helping me by believing in what I’ve got going on, and I’m looking at them like you’re the future, you’re going to be the next Kanye West or the next Dr. Dre or the next Rza or the next Premier. I look forward to saying that I have something to do with that in any way that I could — that’s what this program is designed to do.”
For his longtime fans, there’s even more good news: Raekwon confirmed the wait for new music won’t be long.
“I’ve been working real hard on this next album that I’m about to present you guys, and trust me, the world is going to be like, ‘This kid right here is unstoppable,'” Raekwon said. “We’re looking at a couple of months. And I’ve got some documentaries that I’m working on, some other things that I want to surprise the world with, so the Chef is going to be serving a lot of dishes this year.”