MMG’s very own hip-hop creative visionary,Wale, is dishing about gearing up to release his second sneaker named “Champion” with Asics and streetwear retailer Villa, debuting July 21. The D.C. native is also preparing to release his fifth studio album “Shine” this fall. The style icon and shoe connoisseur recently chatted with Footwear News about his passion for music, shoes, what inspires him and where he gets in inspiration from. Peep the excerpts below.
On what inspired his second shoe “Champion”:
The [WWE] Intercontinental Belt, that’s the second biggest belt in the company. It was the one all the cool people had when I was little, like Mr. Perfect and The Ultimate Warrior. It’s known inside the business as the workman’s title, the unsung hero’s title. It has a lot of comparisons to my rap career, being the unsung hero or honorable mention — not the champion but just as good, just never been crowned yet. [And] most of the people who won the IC Championship went on to win heavyweight down the road.
On how he became a huge fan of WWE:
People were like, “Why do you watch it?” I’m like, “Bro, I shut my brain off when I watch it; I don’t have to think about anything.” I think so much in the studio that we’ve got to find things to do when we shut off.
On the difference between Wale the designer and Wale the rapper:
I can create a shoe in a couple minutes; I can’t do that with an album — not at all. When I do a shoe, I’m done with it when I’m done with it. But my music is like a painting — I go back and touch it, put another color here, put more shade on it or whatever.
On the upcoming release of his fifth album “Shine”:
[“Shine”] is a self-reminder because I’m not the best at ignoring negative energy. It’s a brighter sound from me. I wanted to make an album of stuff that every song was a jam. People just put two good songs on their album, but there’s going to be a big debate on what’s the best song on “Shine.”
On how he came up with his style:
Mine is a bit of everything I’ve acquired along the way. Your style is your postcard collection from wherever you’ve been. Where I’m from they might wear their shoes a certain way, and then I might see something in London and mix the two together. I wear DC local brands with upscale stuff. I wear SLP [Saint Laurent Paris] jeans with a local DC street company with [Nike Air Yeezy] Red Octobers or something like that.
On how Kanye West inspires him:
I learned so much from the dude indirectly. He showed me some video from Da Youngstas. I wasn’t privy to the group before, but I saw how he takes things and makes them his own. He was talking about their fashion — their puffy jackets, jeans and silhouettes. I don’t know if I could ever be that detailed [because] I’m so focused on rapping, youknow what I’m saying? But ’Ye, he’s cornered the whole fashion world, so nobody could do it without thinking of him — him and Anna Wintour are BFFs, and she’s like the gatekeeper of all fashion. [And] Travis Scott is another one like that.
On where he gets his fashion inspiration:
When I was a kid, I really liked Iceberg — that was impossible to get. Iceberg and Moschino. When I was in high school, everybody was in Gap and Old Navy, but I was quadrupling my checks to get Iceberg sweaters. I was going for quality over quantity at that point. Faith Connexion is dope, I like their stuff, and I obviously like Rick Owens and Givenchy. Ralph Lauren Purple Label is always classic, and Saint Laurent.
On the DMV being trendsetters:
We started a lot of trends that people don’t necessarily give us credit for — you’ve got to Google those. We started some things like [Nike Foamposites] and bulky shoes. We made our own tapered jeans in high school. I still wear a lot of the local companies, too, like Madness.
On best places to find rare kicks:
All the consignment stores, they’re the only ones with an element of surprise — Flight Club and Kickk Spott in DC. [I have] no favorite; I like all of them.
On his most expensive shoes:
Like $6,000. I wanted Kanye’s Louis Vuitton joints, the chocolate brown with a hint of fuchsia; I got those from a consignment [store]. I had to pay a grip, and they’re way too big for me because I told them to get a size 9, but a size 9 fits like an 11.5.
On his must have shoes:
[Air Jordan] 3s, 4s and 5s. You’re going to see me wearing the 5s a lot in the summer because I go up from the album I’m on; it’s kind of my vibe.
On his peek moment with sneakers:
Sample sales always used to be fun, used to be my vibe, seeing what’s coming out and [having] the chance to find the ill Foamposites and be the first one to have them. That was the original rush. I picked up a lot of samples in college; I was wearing stuff to school that wouldn’t come out for another year. And I remember when Nike used to invite me to the campus and give me stuff to debut. When I debuted the Copper Foams, that was a great time.
On the evolution on the sneaker industry:
It doesn’t make any sense right now. Everybody is just reselling, and Nike’s just putting out a bunch of retros. It’s just a business at the end of the day.