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Drake is now a bonafide sneaker designer. The superstar rapper just released his first signature shoe today, the NOCTA x Nike Hot Step Air Terra.
While Drake has collaborated with brands in the past, the NOCTA marks the rapper’s first official shoe of his own. The sneaker comes from NOCTA, Drake’s Nike sub-label, and features a retro-inspired silhouette that’s been overhauled with premium leather, iridescent accents, and beefy G-Tek soles. Available in either black or white, the Hot Steps launched on several online retailers at $180, but have already sold out. Those trying to secure a pair will need to hit up resale platforms like StockX.
As part of the launch, Drake enlisted longtime collaborator Popcaan for the campaign’s soundtrack, which takes the form of a brand-new single from the Unruly Boss. Dubbed “Skeleton Cartier,” the new single also gives fans a teaser of Popcaan’s upcoming album, due out this summer.
Popcaan also starred in the NOCTA x Nike campaign images, which see the singer motorcycling and lounging in his native Jamaica alongside fellow dancehall artist Skillibeng. “Drake make a lot of rappers want to be more involved in Jamaica,” Popcaan tells Rolling Stone. “When he goes there, it’s a proof, it’s a stamp.”
Drake’s relationship with Popcaan dates back to 2016 when the singer was featured on a leaked version of “Controlla.” Though the Unruly Boss didn’t appear on the song’s final cut, he later signed to Drake’s OVO Sound label in 2018.
Still, Drake was certainly influenced by Popcaan’s Jamaican dancehall music. Some of the rapper’s biggest hits — such as “One Dance,” “Passionfruit,” and “Take Care” — all showcase a dancehall-inspired sound. To Popcaan, this influence makes sense: “Dancehall and hip-hop is the same thing. It’s just a different country, different timezone. We spread the same message.”
As one might expect, working with Drake is an inspiring experience, according to Popcaan. “He’s a visionary,” says the singer, whose real name is Andrae Hugh Sutherland. “When I’m on the road with Drake, it’s a totally different experience […] It motivates me just to be in the stadium and watch a performance by Drizzy. He’s just inspiring.”
Since collaborating with Drake, Sutherland has enjoyed success on a worldwide scale with fanbases in the UK, the US, and Drizzy’s own Canada. His new single, “Skeleton Cartier,” celebrates that success. Buying the track’s namesake watch, he says, was a reminder of how far he’d come: “Where I’m from, a lot of youths can’t even afford a bicycle, much less a Cartier.”
But Popcaan’s music isn’t all celebration. “When I was making [Forever] I was going through a lot of things personally,” he says. As he works on his upcoming album, Popcaan is again bringing hardship to the studio, saying “this time around it’s the same thing. And you’ve got the pandemic too, which is a whole different madness, so all those things is in the music as well.”
While we wait for Popcaan’s new project, we can get some Unruly Boss-approved style in the form of Drizzy’s new sneaker (Popcaan says “the shoes is mad.”)
For Drake, meantime, the NOCTA sneakers mark a big step for the rapper’s fashion endeavors. The NOCTA label is the only Nike sub-brand created for a musician — akin to Nike’s Jordan brand or Adidas’ Yeezy label with Kanye West (the latter gets a direct competitor as NOCTA launches its first sneaker). Drake has done numerous collaborations with the Jordan brand in the past, but the NOCTA launch marks a new chapter.