Here’s a few facts about Hip Hop:

The genre turned the big 5–0 this year. It’s the most pop­u­lar form of music in North Amer­ica today. And it’s also pop­ping big-time in every oth­er con­tin­ent on the plan­et.

These Hip Hop facts are wild, to say the least. Espe­cially when con­sid­er­ing  impov­er­ished young Black Amer­ic­ans cre­ated the genre in the South Bronx, in the early ‘70s. Regard­less, the genre’s glob­al reach is impress­ive — no doubt. But Hip Hop’s most val­id attrib­ute may be its impact on com­merce.

Every­one knows rap music moves product. It’s a bon­afide fact. Like Amazon, it sells everything from A to Z. When McDonald’s paid Cardi B and Off­set to pro­mote cheese­bur­gers, no one bat­ted an eye. When 50 Cent signed a $78 mil­lion under­wear deal with FRIGO Revolu­tion Wear, biz mags like For­bes described the part­ner­ship as Hip Hop busi­ness as usu­al.

As you can see, the mar­riage between big busi­ness and Hip Hop cul­ture is a match made in Heav­en — highly luc­rat­ive match made in Heav­en. But this unlikely part­ner­ship wasn’t always a thing. In fact, it wasn’t even an idea until the mid-‘80s, when a rap group from Hol­lis, Queens, New York dropped a record about their favor­ite kicks.

On May 29, 1986, Run-DMC dropped the first single from their third album, Rais­ing Hell. That single was called “My Adi­das.” Not sur­pris­ingly, “My Adi­das” was about Run-DMC’s love for the Ger­man sneak­er brand, spe­cific­ally the company’s low-top ath­let­ic shoe, the Super­star. The record was fire. And by the end of ’86, “My Adi­das” reached the No. 5 spot on Bill­board’s Hot Black Singles chart, and peaked at No. 10 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles chart.

The record sold a ton of records (obvi­ously). More import­antly, it sold a ton of Adi­das foot­wear. The first folks to fig­ure out the lat­ter was Run-DMC and Lyor Cohen who, at the time, was the group’s road man­ager. As far as they could tell, every time the group per­formed “My Adi­das” in con­cert, most — if not all — of their fans were rock­ing the kicks they were rap­ping about. Real­iz­ing their record was essen­tially free promo for Adi­das, Run-DMC decided the Ger­man sneak­er com­pany needed to pay them for all the free work they’ve done thus far. And guessed who was tasked with mak­ing that hap­pen:


Mean­while, back at Adi­das headquar­ters in L.A., exec­ut­ives had no clue the com­pany was the sub­ject of the most pop­u­lar rap song in the coun­try. All they knew was this: one minute, rev­en­ue was trend­ing down­ward — before sud­denly shoot­ing up like a rock­et, on the east coast. As one would guess, the Adi­das execs scrambled to fig­ure out the reas­on for the sud­den spike in sales. For a minute, the cause of the sud­den influx of cash was a riddle, one that needed to be solved non­ethe­less.

Around this time, Cohen was already play­ing offense. He reached out to an Adi­das exec named Angelo Ana­sta­s­io, and pretty much told him the answer to the riddle: Run-DMC is the reas­on why your company’s bank account was sud­denly fat AF. Nat­ur­ally, Ana­sta­s­io was skep­tic­al of Cohen’s claim. But, in the same breath, the claim, as out­land­ish as it seemed, also sparked Anastasio’s curi­os­ity. Clock­ing this, Cohen made a sug­ges­tion, one that involved Ana­sta­s­io fly­ing out to New York to watch Run-DMC’s upcom­ing con­cert at Madis­on Square Garden. The next thing the sneak­er exec knew, he was hanging out back­stage at the Garden, watch­ing Run-DMC per­form their latest hit — “My Adi­das” — to 40,000 scream­ing fans.

Ana­sta­s­io was sur­prised when he saw all those people rap­ping along to the Adi­das-themed record. But his biggest rev­el­a­tion came dur­ing the middle of the song when, sud­denly, Run-DMC went on a tan­gent and com­manded the sold-out crowd to hold up their Adi­das. After wit­ness­ing 40,000 strong raise his company’s product in the air sim­ul­tan­eously, Ana­sta­s­io only had one thought in mind:

Money. Lots and lots of money.

After the con­cert, Ana­sta­s­io hopped on the first flight back to L.A. As soon as he touched down, he held an emer­gency meet­ing at Adi­das headquar­ters. Dur­ing the impromptu meet­ing, Ana­sta­s­io told his fel­low execs exactly what he wit­nessed the oth­er night at the Garden. He also told them that if they wanted to sell more sneak­ers, then they bet­ter get ready to throw some ser­i­ous money at this Hip Hop group called Run-DMC. As the story goes, Anastasio’s fel­low execs didn’t just take his advice — they ran with it. So much so that the next time Adi­das reps met with Joseph “Run” Sim­mons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Mas­ter Jay” Mizell, they came bear­ing a $1 mil­lion spon­sor­ship deal.

38 years after this land­mark deal, Com­plex magazine pub­lished an art­icle titled “Run-DMC, Adi­das, and the Super­star as Hip-Hop Icons.” The art­icle re-examined the events lead­ing up to the his­tor­ic sneak­er deal, while sim­ul­tan­eously cel­eb­rat­ing Hip Hop’s 50th year of exist­ence. Coin­cid­ent­ally, the art­icle also made a point that bil­lion-dol­lar products like Yeezys wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for a rap record that came out way back in 1986.

Happy 50th Birth­day, Hip Hop.

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@mister_factz is a digit­al con­tent cre­at­or for vari­ous digit­al media plat­forms. Ever since he first star­ted writ­ing about the music, film and TV industry in 2012, he has con­stantly pur­sued cre­at­ive ways to bring cur­rent news to vari­ous audi­ences. He is cur­rently work­ing on a nov­el and is also an accom­plished screen­writer. You can con­nect with him on Ins­tagram at @mister_factz

About @mister_factz

@mister_factz is a digital content creator for various digital media platforms. Ever since he first started writing about the music, film and TV industry in 2012, he has constantly pursued creative ways to bring current news to various audiences. He is currently working on a novel and is also an accomplished screenwriter. You can connect with him on Instagram at @mister_factz