On Friday 18th September, Nike Sportswear and Mercury Music Prize winning recording artist Dizzee Rascal will release the very special, and strictly limited, Nike Air Max 90 ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’ sneaker. Created in a special partnership between Dizzee, Nike Design and long-time Dizzee collaborator and creative director, Ben Drury, Dizzee describes his Nike Air Max 90 as “Stylish but simple. The Air Max 90 is pretty much THE street shoe, ‘innit? It’s quite sporty, but when you get the right colours you can wear it with anything. But with this one we tried to keep it quite plain so it could complete any outfit. It’s functional and there was a pretty deep design process involved”.
Drury, who has designed the artwork for three of Dizzee’s albums, including his new record ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’, said, “We’ve had a long standing creative relationship dating back to Dizzee’s first album, ‘Boy In Da Corner’. Independently, we’ve also both had close links with Nike and it just made perfect sense to come together on this project and join the dots. It was an organic, almost unconscious process.”
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Dizzee and Drury collaborative works to date are compelling because there’s a duality. With this design, the almost obvious literal titular graphics are countered by subtle execution. Drury explains, “The tongue—it’s pink. Like a tongue. The ‘u’ in the embroidery takes the form of a tongue. All this is countered by the subtlety and quality of the materials used. Premium leathers complimented with transparent details. With Dizzee, it’s all upfront – he’s straight up, clear. He is in the world’s spotlight. That’s why this shoe is super bright and fresh. Brushed suede may not be most practical material for London, but that reflects Dizzee’s life right now—he gets dropped off on the red carpet, no fronting! We all set out to make a shoe which could take a bit of punishment and still look fresh, which we think we have achieved here” said Drury.
The Air Max 90 ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’ is constructed from a subtle combination of chalk white premium grade soft leather and high knap premium suede. The toe box features an additional perforated detailing in the leather which is carried through the heel wrap. The tongue is contrasting pink premium leather with suede back detail (“the pink tongue was almost an afterthought—looks like a tongue doesn’t it?” —Ben Drury) and features Tongue [right foot] and Cheek [left foot] special red embroidery detail.
The Air Max is further personalised with a reflective Dizzee man heel tab logo, a transparent Swoosh (“My idea for extending the whole transparent thing from the Air mid-sole to make anything I could transparent was partially a response to what I know about Diz. I’ve been working with him for years, and I’ve always found him to be totally transparent in his dealings. He’s honest and all those details, in another way, reflect personality traits ”—Ben Drury) and a special two piece outsole comprised of white and clear rubber revealing Dizzee’s Dirty Stank Recordings logo (“I love the logo graphic on the bottom. The big fly makes it official. No one really sees the bottom but it’s one of them little touches that a sneaker pimp would like—Dizzee Rascal) and two tone laces with reflective stitch details (“the little things, they add nice. Personally, it’s for when I’m onstage, with the lights. Or in a rave, I still like to go out and party, so I’ve got little effects. The way they’ve speckled it into the laces, it’s just subtle. But it’s enough. You don’t see many laces like that either. Some people go mad with the laces. To have laces that reflect like that will be a big deal for some people. I like it that they’re breathable as well. It’s a nice mix.”—Dizzee Rascal)
The sneaker launches just days before Dizzee releases his fourth album ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’. Coming out on Dirtee Stank, it features the huge Number One singles ‘Dance Wiv Me’ and ‘Bonkers’ and new single ‘Holiday’ which sees Dizzee teaming up with Calvin Harris and Chrome, the same duo that Dizzee worked with on ‘Dance Wiv Me.’ The Nike Air Max 90 ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’ will be available exclusively from Nike Sportswear at 1948, London on Friday, 18th September, 2009. 1948, Arches 477-478, Bateman’s Row, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3HH.