Jay-Z has become a legend over the years as one of the best selling hip hop artists of all time. And of course his portfolio has diversified over the years to husband of Beyonce, Live Nation, part owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Tidal, etc. But before there was a Jay-Z the iconic superstar celebrity, there was the street hustler Shawn Carter who made a name for himself through his music and landed himself a deal with Reebok back in the early 2000s.
While today brands are mocked for taking any type of design cues or similarities from another sneaker, things were different back then; Jay-Z knew exactly what sneaker he wanted his signature S.Carter line to look like.
“It’s a casual shoe,” Jay told the New York Post in 2003. “It’s for a guy on the sidelines that can’t jump, but still wants to look cool.”
The Gucci Tennis sneaker originally released in 1984. Although the rich kids in the ‘burbs back then may have been able to get a pair, if you didn’t come from a silver spoon you would have only seen the Gucci Tennis shoe on the feet of your neighborhood dealer. The true legend status of a shoe in the 80s came from the hood (or occasionally the blacktop), not from the suburbs, which explains why Jay-Z chose to design his shoe as an “inspired by design” of the Gucci Tennis shoe.
It’s been nearly a decade since a retro version of the original street hustler silhouette has retroed but you can grab the Gucci Tennis 84 now at Nordstrom.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with nearly 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, and StockX better connect with their consumers. He’s an avid San Francisco Giants fan, Allen Iverson fan, and owns way too many sneakers for his own good.