» Published by J.R. Ewing
When this clip entered our office we were all blown away by the rarity of this brand that no one east of Portland, Oregon had really heard about. Mix in the fact that Craig G drops some science as the sponsored rapper in the clip and it started to take on legendary status.
We had only scratched the surface on what, in a hot hip hop minute has restructured our entire thought process behind Michael Jordan, Rob Strasser (Nike VP) and your new favourite vintage sneaker brand, Van Grack. The sneaker conspiracy so juicy we traded both of our unopened copies of Sir Ibu’s, The Piece Maker to bring it to you first.
First off, press the play button and let this amazing commercial, shot during the golden age of rap endorsements play. Craig G, 1989’s version of a Jadakiss or Nature was cold ripping the game. A mean freestyle rapper who parlayed just that into two legendary singles both produced by Marley Marl, Droppin Science and The Symphony. Interestingly enough Craig signed a deal with Van Grack a from the West even though most of his fan support was in the tri state area.
Now to the nitty gritty. Van Grack had been building an empire for years prior to the below seedy series of event in 1988. A huge women’s collection and contemporary shoes program for the ‘yuppy’ had pushed Van Grack to huge selling years. Think Ewing brand from 90-93. Van Grack had one problem – the athletic shoe market. They had not found a way to break Nike’s stronghold on what had become the most lucrative slice of the footwear market, basketball sneakers.
From a far Nike looked like a well oiled machine, with record sales numbers in both there apparel and footwear divisions. Design, Marketing and Athletic scouting were all making the right moves at the right time, but trouble was a brewing in the highest ranks. Rob Strasser – former VP for Nike had become disgruntled with the way Phil Knight was running the show. Behind Knight’s back, Rob struck a deal with Peter Moore – owner of Van Grack to form a new hip hop/basketball division under the Van Grack banner. The two had courted Mike’s agent David Falk for month’s on a possible contract, and as a last bid invited MJ and Falk for a game of 9 hole and number crunching on the day that Mike was to unveil the Jordan III to the world.
What makes this so amazing is the fact that not only was an upstart company trying to steal Mike away from Nike, but during the release of if not the most, one of the most sought after and legendary shoes ever created.
Obviously Mike didn’t take the bait, he walked out on the proposed deal to make him a Van Grack endorsed athlete. Arriving 3 hours late for his press conference in LA for the Jordan III. The video above is probably the clothing and hip hop composite that would have gone along with MJ’s own Van Grack gear. Could there possibly be prototype Jordan Van Grack samples in the back of Rob Strasser or Peter Moore’s garage?
Big ups to House on the footage.