Originally published in KICKS 14

by Tzvi Twersky | Photos courtesy of Reebok

No matter what creative project he’s working on, super-producer Swizz Beatz always approaches it with the same goal: to make history. He’s bringing that mindset to his new role as Creative Director of Reebok Classics.

As a child growing up in the South Bronx, Swizzy thought the only way he’d ever have a signature sneaker of his own was if he spray painted a store-bought one. Now, though, he’s eschewing that very opportunity in hopes of accomplishing something even bigger—for himself and Reebok.

“I’m putting my hand in and influencing the brand, influencing the culture and influencing everybody to be a part of something that’s new and fresh,” says Swizz, who states that what he’s doing is far afield of what celebrity endorsers have done with Reebok in the past. “They were on stage saying [their own names]. They wasn’t saying nothing about Reebok.”

Swizzy is, though, and all it takes is a quick glimpse at popular culture to see he has a whole gang of tastemakers saying it with him. Early this past summer at Hot 97’s Summer Jam at the New Meadowlands Stadium, artists ranging from Chris Brown to Lil Wayne took to the stage in an array of Reebok apparel. Right around that time, Meek Mill and Rick Ross released a “Reebok Back” remix of their hit song “Tupac Back.” They filmed a video for it, too, in which the two could be seen clad in Capital R apparel.

Not lacking for high-profile support, Swizz has already guided the design of the Kamikaze IIIs, the I Am Basquiat apparel and kicks line and the global Reethym of Life campaign. And it would be an understatement to say that Swizzy’s taken a hands-on approach to every aspect of his new job. “Anything I’m involved with I have to be passionate about, otherwise it’s a waste of my time,” says Swizz, who has had a voice in everything from selecting the Kamikazes’ colorways to envisioning the Reethym of Life advertorial (where he literally lends his voice, as his single “International Party” is featured). “I’m happy with the response,” he continues. “People come up to me to ask if they can get a pair, and 90 percent of these people are with other brands already. So we must be doing something right.”

With Beatz’ efforts pushing the brand forward, Reebok is indeed back.