This past weekend it was announced that Dr. Dre will release new music for the first time in over 15 years on Saturday, August 8. Dre’s new album was inspired by the upcoming film Straight Outta Compton. The story of N.W.A. is a well documented one but the combination of new music from Dr. Dre, the film being directed by legendary filmmaker F. Gary Gray, and the buzz of a possible reunited tour for “The World’s Most Dangerous Group” has sparked a level of interest in gangster rap that hasn’t been seen in quite some time.
In fact, with the exception of Kendrick Lamar (and his new Reeboks) and a few others, there really hasn’t been this kind of attention on on west coast hip hop at all in at least a decade. Being from California and an age where N.W.A. was one of my early experiences of hip hop, I couldn’t be more excited for the movie and potential new energy surrounding the music I loved growing up. There is one thing that has long gone overlooked and that’s NWA’s sneaker legacy.
While N.W.A. is known for their game-changing music and the legacy that has unfolded over the last 30 years, something became apparent to me from the comments on a recent Instagram post about my only pair of Air Force 1s. Many people in the hip hop and sneaker community outside of California don’t really understand that back in the day, on the west coast, it wasn’t about Air Force 1s. In fact, one of the things I always admired about the Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and Yella, the members of NWA, is that they always rocked an extremely diverse group of brands and styles when it came to footwear.
Take a stroll down memory lane with Straight Outta Compton: NWA’s Sneaker Legacy
Eazy-E rockin’ the Nike Cortez is what most people would remember from NWA and rightfully so. The Cortez was one of the most important sneakers growing up and if you had the leather joints, you were the man. The Nike Air Force STS, seen on Ice Cube and Dr Dre, is a classic basketball shoe that surprisingly hasn’t been retroed very often. DJ Yella is in the original “Military Blue” Air Jordan 4, another true classic.
Yella was clearly a Jordan fan back in the day. What’s dope about this pic is the Nike shirts on Yella and Eazy, and the timeless scripted “Flight” Jordan shirt on Ice Cube.
Clearly the Nike Cortez and Air Force STS were the shoes to have back in 1990. Wait, are those joggers on Dre? Let’s take a closer look…
So Dr Dre was also a pioneer on the cuffed pants, not just on the sound boards? Who knew!
Eazy-E, RIP, is a legend. Not sure about that stop watch around his neck but the adidas Forum Hi is an iconic footwear choice.
MC Ren steals the shine in this photo wearing the original Air Max 90, in white leather with “NWA colored” accents. Andre Young is in the back right rockin’ the 3 Stripes.
K-Swiss, being a California brand, was a natural fit for the late 80s and early 90s. Dr Dre opted for the K-Swiss Gstaad, one of the classic designs from the brand.
It’s good to see the guys getting along with law enforcement. Yella, on the right, is straight up stuntin’ on fools with the car alarm remote controls hangin’ out the pocket. Of course those Reebok Reverse Jams are also fire.
With the Raiders as the (un)official team for NWA, it makes sense that we’d see someone from the group rockin’ Bo Jackson’s. In this case, MC Ren opts for a pair of white, black, and silver Air Cross Trainer IIIs from 1991.
Despite the storytelling that has NWA in all black all the time, back in 1987, the group was still trying to find its own. Some old school footwear gems can be seen on this Macola Records cover but we gotta call out Ren for rocking those Converse. Especially considering those were the “Larry Bird” versions in the Magic versus Bird era.
1988’s Express Yourself single featuring Dr. Dre wearing the original Nike Delta Force in white and grey.
Eazy-E in the head-to-toe Nike Air Jordan 3 outfit.
Another shot of the group with Ice Cube in the Nike Air Force STS and Eazy-E in Cortez.
Whether it was Cortez or Reebok Classics, nylons were the standard issue if you were from Cali back in the day. Eazy duz it.
There is nothing like a fresh pair of white sneakers. They’re the status symbol for an entire generation. However, if you had the money to get something like the Air Flight 90s that MC Ren is wearing…man, the dudes with the visible Air units got all the glory back in the day.
Eazy-E Wearing the Nike Cortez, Dre in Delta Force
Sh*t Happens shirts. Real.
As NWA began to come apart, each of the artists seemed to go their own way. But the influence of each member and the group as a whole carried on through the years. Eazy-E wearing the adidas Campus in front of his 1963 Chevy Impala lowrider.
Ice Cube in the Nike Air Flight 90 High. All white leather of course.
Who didn’t want a convertible Suzuki Sidekick at some point in 1989…with some True Blue 3s, of course.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, StockX, and Stadium Goods better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.