The characteristic that often distinguishes great artists from mediocre ones is the capacity to create from a place of authenticity. Houston-based musician Shun keeps it real in whatever he does, whether it be through his songs or Instagram feed.
Born in Memphis, the 26-year-old first emerged onto the scene with a remix of Mac Miller’s “Nikes On My Feet,” followed by his first project, The Rough Draft. Cultivating an audience through his unique rhymes that refreshingly depart from the current mainstream, the rapper continues to build a noteworthy catalog. 2017 saw the release of Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here, which helmed songs like “’09 Jams” and “Conversate” among others. Each song offers an in-depth perspective of Shun and the multitude of relatable experiences he’s gone through.
Fast forward to 2021, the musician dropped off his four-track EP Reign Man & The Glove, which introduced surefire singles such as “Scattered Thoughts” and “Wedding Cake.” It’s a huge step forward in the right direction and a taste of what’s to come from his forthcoming releases. This year’s The Most High is the latest checkpoint in Shun’s career, serving as some of the rapper’s best material to date. But beyond music, he’s a huge sneakerhead who constantly experiments with new clothing and footwear that catches his eye. Having over 100 pairs in his rotation, Shun is your go-to for streetwear inspiration and styling tips.
For our latest installment of Kickin’ It With, we chopped it up with ShunGawd to discuss his favorite sneakers, where he draws inspiration for his outfits, how music collides with sneakers, and more. Keep scrolling to read our conversation.
Tell me about your relationship with sneakers growing up, what silhouettes and brands did you gravitate to?
Growing up, of course you know the brands were Jordan’s and Nikes. I’ve always really been a Jordanhead, even more so than the old-school Nikes. I dibbled and dabbled with a couple of Foamposites, Penny Ones, and Bo Jacksons, but for the most part, it was just J’s. Early on, the silhouettes that I gravitated to first were the 13s. Those are in my top five. Also 4s, I remember I had the Bred 4s back when I was playing basketball. I didn’t even want to tie them mugs up tight, and I’m like, now I’m gonna get my swag them out on the court.
If you had to estimate, how many sneakers do you own and which ones are your favorite?
Man, I’d probably say 110 or 120. At one point, I was selling a lot of shoes because I felt like the J’s from my generation of, you know, I’m saying I was in high school around ’08 to 2011, and I feel like the quality of them was just trash compared to what they were before that. So I started selling off a lot so at one point, I had like 160. That’s a little bit over 100, which is cool. There are a lot of people with a lot more kicks than me.
What do you consider when copping a new pair—is it price, comfort, material, or hype?
Oh, really just if I f**k with them. That’s really the main thing to me. I don’t really care too much about the hype or price. You know both can be all over the place these days. I always just buy what I like. Even though I have some hype kicks, I don’t just dabble into sneakers because I need them. If I like them, I like them. If not, you know I ain’t picking them up.
Talk to me about your style, how would you describe it and where do you draw inspiration for your looks?
I got two brothers. I’m flyer than my older brother and flyer than my younger brother. You know he takes it from me so it couldn’t have been from my brothers. I really think it’s just something that’s just me, bro. I’ve always been very particular about my clothing. Even when I was little and even with my sneakers, I was always one of those people where you can’t just have the kicks. You got to know how to wear the kicks and how to lace your kicks because you can be choking your kicks.
I would even experiment when I was little. Just certain things like how to lace shoes in different ways, how to put the tongue beneath your jeans when that was a thing. When that became a thing, it’s like, okay, how do I swag out putting the jeans over the tongue to make it make the jeans sit right? So I think I was just always into sneakers, and then with the sneakers, you’re always into streetwear, and that shit is all hip-hop to me.
With that being said, what advice can you give to men when it comes to figuring out what works for them?
Find different influences. Going back to the last question, some of my influences were Wale and Curren$y. I love Curren$y’s style just because he’s just 100% himself. He doesn’t give a f**k about what’s trending, you know? I remember that he was wearing jerseys during a period of time when it wasn’t hot, and he was wearing them with shirts underneath. You gotta be your own self to wear a throwback jersey when jerseys are not popping.
So you know, Curren$y, Wale, Fat Joe, different n**gas that’s in the sneaker industry, and shit like that. In order to find your own style, you got to try different shit and find influences. It’s just really trying different stuff, different swag, different jean types, different shirts, you know what I’m saying? And making it your own, don’t even just go with what’s trendy.
As an artist, where do the world of music and sneaker culture collide for you?
It was always one. I feel like streetwear and sneakers are both an extension of hip-hop at the end of the day. We’ve been pushing that s**t for years. We’re the culture. So that shit is all one to me because whatever we infiltrate as black people, that shit is hip-hop now. We push sneakers. We’re the reason that the world wants sneakers. Michael Jordan and all the other rappers that have been wearing it so it’s always one.
Does Houston inspire you at all, whether it be musically or fashion-wise?
That was probably one of the reasons why I just started to become fly because in high school when I first moved out here to Houston, I moved out here in ninth grade, I was fresh off coming from a spot where I was wearing uniforms. All these n**gas, they come to school fly as hell on the first day. So I’m like, I gotta step my shit up. You know, I always had the kicks. My partners coming to school fly and I’m hanging with these n**gas like, “Yo, I gotta get fly too.”
Regarding some of the major releases this past year, what shoes have you been eying as of late?
I know I just got the J Balvin 2s. I just picked up the LeBron 2 Maccabi’s. Gonna pick up a lot of shit this year.
I picked up the Travis Scott “Reverse Mochas.” You already know I’m looking forward to these “Lost and Found” Jordan 1s even already got three pairs of the Chicago’s. I’ll take a fourth though, why not. I need a pair of those A Ma Maniere x Air Jordan 4’s. I need the “Chicago” 2’s. It’s a lot of good shit too! Those “Midnight Navy” Jordan 4’s. It’s simple shit like that goes crazy. I love him like them simple little colorways that just speak volumes.
Is there a sneaker that everyone loved with the exception of yourself?
The A Ma Maniere x Jordan 1s. I love A Ma Maniere, but the 1s, and I probably will still end up getting them just because I got the 3s and 2s. And then I want the 4s; I’m a collector, so I want to get the whole pack, but I just think they’re a little bland. They’re alright!
In terms of the future of footwear, where do you see the industry going now?
I honestly think that the resale market is going to take a nice little hit. I feel like Nike is at that point where it’s not even just about hype anymore. The hype is through the f**king roof, so it’s like back in the days when people were getting killed over kicks. It was like Nike was taking a marketing approach of like, “Yo we have to not send out sin we can’t send stores to many of these pairs just because we have to build the brand. We have to raise the value of these shoes.”
Jordan is so iconic. These shoes are so iconic. Now you can see them mass producing Chicago 1s that way on the resale market, these are probably gonna go for like $220, and that’s really killing the resale market. I really think they’re getting to that point where it’s like we’ve seen “Bred” Jordan 1s five times over. Just give us a lot give us a large stock, so we’re not paying $700 for the resale, and I really think they’re about to do that with everything.