The strange inspiration behind Run-DMC hit ‘My Adidas’ revealed
(Credits: Ian Dryden, Los Angeles Times)


The strange inspiration behind Run-DMC hit 'My Adidas' revealed

The hip-hop collective Run-DMC is famous for its appealing beats and unrivalled fashion sense. In 1986, they released the classic single ‘My Adidas’, which led to the group signing a $1.6million endorsement deal with the athletic apparel brand. The deal brought the sportswear brand much closer to the wider hip-hop community and remains a prominent choice of apparel among rappers to this day. 

The 1986 hit was positively littered with endorsements for Adidas: “My Adidas, only bring good news / And they are not used as felon shoes / They’re black and white, white with black stripe / The ones I like to wear when I rock the mic.” Elsewhere, the song examines the expectation for performers to dress in smart clothing for high-profile events, but these rebels were much more comfortable in their “sneakers”. 

According to Darryl Matthews McDaniels – otherwise known as DMC – ‘My Adidas’ actually originated in an anecdote about Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons and the street drug PCP – also known colloquially as angel dust and pharmaceutically as Phencyclidine. 

Last week, McDaniels shared a snippet from a conversation he had with rapper and actor Will Smith earlier in 2024 on the Class of ’88 Podcast. “It started ’cause Russell was smoking dust,” McDaniels told Smith in reference to ‘My Adidas’. “He was going, ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait — you got to make a record about your sneakers.'” 

Continuing, the rapper recalled how Simmons’s drug-addled enthusiasm inspired the eruptive nature of the song, especially the opening line and, of course, the comically ardent endorsement thereafter. “He would raise his foot real high and stomp,” McDaniels added. 

Back in February, a three-part documentary titled Kings From Queens: The Run-DMC Story premiered, giving fans some intriguing insight into the early hip-hop group’s history. Speaking to HipHopDX at the time, McDaniels elaborated on ‘My Adidas’, noting how, when Run-DMC set out, pop stars never dressed like them. 

He asserted that the group wasn’t trying to sell a product. “We was selling a spirit,” he said. “Yes, the wealth fucked it up […] When you look at kids from this generation, they holding their watch up and pointing at it; they holding their chain up; they holding their money up like that; they pointing at the car, they taking a picture by the car.”

McDaniels recognised how their attitude had a knock-on effect. “We wore what everybody else in the places we came from was wearing, so it created a sense of value universally,” he added. “Now, because we came as we were in those $40 sneakers and the sneakers started selling off the hook, the other high-end companies stole our look, style and presence, and the only thing that they’re selling right now is product, but they’re not selling spirit.”

On a concluding note, he seemed to take issue with modern rappers who are out of touch with the hip-hop spirit. “So now, these kids will lie, cheat, steal just to look like something that’s really not worth anything,” McDaniels said. “Run-DMC’s relationship with Adidas is way bigger than Run-DMC and Adidas.”