by Chris O’Leary

It’s official: Cali-based emcee Damani is living damn near every dream he’s conjured up when it comes to the two loves of his life—hip-hop and sneakers. When adidas approached him on designing a super-limited run of the EQT B-Ball Low (a meager 100 pairs, people), Damani jumped all over the opportunity.

Not only did he design the shoe with the help of UNDRCRWN, the Inglewood native had a hip-hop epiphany and put a new spin on a sneaker/rap classic. His version of Run DMC’s My Adidas headlines the mixtape he made for the shoe’s official release, which goes Saturday at Millennium Shoes in Inglewood from 4–6 p.m.

Some info on the shoe from adidas:

adidas Basketball is returning to a performance classic with the relaunch of the EQT B-Ball. Alongside West Coast rapper Damani, the self-titled EQT B-Ball Low x Damani marks a reintroduction of an iconic adidas silhouette with design cues that blend court, street and luxe styles.

ABOUT THE DESIGN:
* Maintains the minimalism and lightweight design that was first introduced in 1991.
* Black, red and gold upper shell with visible cutouts for performance purposes.
* Two interchangeable and removable sockliners provide customizing options.
* “Congratulations Player,” the title of Damani’s first record in 2007 is applied to the sockliners.

Damani’s EQT low is featured as our Kick of the Day today. Click on the link to put your name in for a chance to win a pair of these sneaks (size 11.5), an XL commemorative UNDRCRWN t-shirt and a Damani mix CD.

I had a chance to talk sneakers, hoops and hip-hop with Damani yesterday. Check out our conversation.

damani_x_uc_teeSLAM: You’ve got your own sneaker. What’s that like? It’s got to feel pretty cool.
Damani: Yeah, I mean now me, Jordan and Kobe finally got something in common (laughs).

SLAM: What was your involvement in designing this thing?
Damani: Me and Dustin (Canalin) from UNDRCRWN designed it. I wanted to get the red, black and green because of the timing that it was going to come out, for Black History Month, and we knew Obama was going to be president so I went with that.

SLAM: How long did it take you to design the shoe?
Damani: It started last year, in the summer sometime. It was more back and forth with the details, how to incorporate my name without it being so blatant. We went back and forth about three or four times and we got it right.

SLAM: Are you a big sneaker guy?
Damani: Yeah, I have like 200 pairs, something like that.

SLAM: Does the UQT have a significance to you?
Damani: I had a pair of those back in the day. Back when I was in high school that was my shoe. It’s kind of ironic that I get a chance to get involved with them now.

SLAM: So the shoe launch is on Saturday, what’s happening with it, exactly?
Damani: It’s going to be Saturday in Inglewood at Millenium Shoe Store.

SLAM: Having it in Inglewood must make it extra special for you.
Damani: It’s crazy because I got a nice following with my rap career at home, and Millenium Shoe Store is literally walking distance from my high school. It’s gonna be a crazy mix between celebrities, athletes, and just regular kids in the community. It’s going to be a good look for the community.

SLAM: What are you going to be doing there?
Damani Mixtape CoverDamani: I’m going to perform the remake I did for Run DMC’s My Adidas, I’ve got a couple other groups coming in to perform. I’m doing a giveaway, a raffle. Everyone there gets a free mixtape that was made especially for the shoe, that I put together. It’s going to be a day, a shoe day.

SLAM: How’d your version of My Adidas come about?
Damani: I think of course we all know Run DMC and what they did, so I just wanted to be able to be a part of the history. I wanted to write myself in and now I had the lane to do it. I couldn’t just do it (without an adidas shoe), but now I can so I went out and did it.

SLAM: Do you play ball?
Damani: I play recreationally. I might cross somebody over every now and then. A couple of close friends of mine, Tyron Lue, Chauncey Billups, I might cross them over, I might back them down a little…(laughs)

SLAM: I assume you’re a big Lakers fan being out in LA.
Damani: You assumed right, you assumed right. Kobe Bryant, number one.

SLAM: Can they actually do it this year?
Damani: Actually? They’re going to do it. There’s no actually to it.

SLAM: For people reading this who don’t know about you, can you describe your style. What are you like, musically?
Damani: Musically, I’m very honest. My style is like a mix between…LL Cool J meets Big Daddy kane meets Snoop. (Laughs). That’s what I hear people describe it as. I’m just going by what people say. It’s me rapping, but that’s what I hear. It’s smooth, lyrical, always got something in there about women. Good or bad, I just keep it real. I don’t make up shit, I just say what I feel is right at the time. I say what I feel. If you listen to my record, you’ll feel like you know me.

SLAM: I see you wearing the shoes on your Myspace page, and I assume that adidas has given you a few pairs. What have you done with the shoes so far?
Damani: I’ve been giving them to a lot of my rap buddies, I just gave Chauncey a pair. He would have wore them, but the colors weren’t right (for his Nuggets jersey). I gave Tyronn Lue a pair, I gave Snoop a pair. I actually put it on YouTube of me giving Snoop a pair. (Watch the video to see Snoop say he’ll wear the inner-sock as a slipper around the house—O’Leary).

SLAM: Anything else you want tell people about yourself?
Damani: If they’re interested in checking out more of me, they can go to Youtube and check out Damani television, they can to go my Myspace, or congratulationsplayer.com And shout out to adidas for making this all possible. We gonna take it to the top.