Respect The Sole: A New Collection Of Hip-Hop Sneakers Is Genius (Video)

Sneakers and Hip-Hop have been hand-in-hand for more than 30 years. In 1986 Run-D.M.C. screamed “My Adidas” so loud that the German apparel brand responded with a check. That relationship has evolved to JAY-Z, 50 Cent, and Kanye West signing off on shoe lines, and some equally great Rap lines by Ice Cube, KRS-One, Ghostface Killah, and many others endorsing their sneakers of choice.

One piece of footwear that’s been timeless throughout the lifetime of Hip-Hop is the straightforward high-top sneaker. Starting with the pioneering Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star, this type of shoe is celebrated for its durability, fit, and literal canvas for artists. Like records, aerosol paint, or rhyming words, they also have long beckoned the custom touch. TRPL is a company that has seamlessly blended the culture of Hip-Hop music with sneakers, by way of their custom hi-top kicks (and matching boxes). “Respect the sole” is not only the company’s tagline, it appears to be a deeper philosophy.


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Business partners Steven Mann (a former Hip-Hop journalist) and Danny Shaw relaunched TRPL. The company also boasts Grammy Award-winning MC/producer Vin Rock of Naughty By Nature as its Product Ambassador.

Custom series focus on Tupac Shakur, Brand Nubian, GZA, ONYX, Public Enemy, Naughty, and others. Currently, the designs are available for online purchase. Brick and mortar retail partners are coming in the very near future, according to Mann. “We are a boutique shoe company that caters to the ‘real heads.’ We are also working on more artist licenses however our recent acquisition of Pac was huge, and we have five [Tupac Shakur] styles.” He stresses that he and Shaw each “love and respect Hip-Hop” at a time when some branded Hip-Hop apparel motives have come into question.


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At the most recent SoleXchange Convention in New Jersey last September, TRPL set up shop. At the event, Buckshot, Sadat X, Lord Jamar, and others showed support as documented on an internal, promotional video. Vin, who joined Treach and Kaygee in a successful merchandise campaign with N.B.N. in the 1990s and 2000s, stressed that it’s “licensed product. We got a custom toe-bumper that spells ‘Hip-Hop’ on the toe, a custom out-sole…this is for Hip-Hop by Hip-Hop, y’all.”

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TRPL sneakers are available now.