The Roc. Roc-a-Fella. Rock-a-fella. The R-O-C. No matter the name you know them by, you know their prominence in the music world. Their logo? Even more recognized. No matter where it’s been placed, it has always represented greatness and the blood, sweat and tears shed by those who put in the work. One place the logo has been immortalized is the white-on-white Air Force 1. First gifted to Roc-a-Fella Records in 2000, the Air Force 1 was embedded in the crew long before that. It was more than just a shoe before the Roc was even born, becoming the bonding element between the empire’s roots.
The Air Force 1 still serves as a powerful force for Kareem “Biggs” Burke, who was behind the movement from the start. He helped bring together the rest of the crew and pave the way for global domination through words over rhythms and a brand that spanned across countless industries. Before all the world tours, apparel and Nike collaborations, it began with the first-ever Best Out party by Biggs and company at the Cotton Club in Harlem. “The lifestyle and the idea of everything Roc-A-Fella is came from this one party,” says Biggs while reflecting on the early days of Roc-a-Fella. “This is the DNA of Roc-a-Fella. We can do this worldwide. We can do this with music and clothing. We can do this with everything.”
The Cotton Club party would pave the way for all things Roc-a-Fella. Others would come on board and the crew would continue to get fresh, shine bright and gain recognition across the globe. When it came to getting fresh, the white-on-white AF-1 remained front and center. Long-time local spot Tom, Dick & Harry’s became the source for the Air Force 1. Biggs and the crew were said to purchase up to 150 pairs at a time, filling up the Roc-a-Fella Street Team vehicle or a van that had enough space to transport their fresh whites.
The marriage between the Roc and the AF-1 would come full-circle in 2000, when Nike gifted the crew with exclusive white-on-whites. For Biggs, it will forever be a legendary moment. “All these stores around Harlem, you know, you'd see the Air Force 1 and it's like you're a little kid. Like, man, when I get some money I’m gonna get that. So, now that our logo was on the sneaker, I mean, it was one of the most special things for us.” Over a decade since it was originally gifted to the Roc, the iconic white-on-white Air Force 1 sees its first official retail release. Just like the one that started it all, the design returns with the Roc-a-Fella logo on full display, set against the timeless white-on-white color scheme.