25 years ago Nike launched the Air Force One, the first basketball shoe to feature Nike Air technology. The shoe has been an integral part of both basketball and hip hop culture ever since. To commemorate the anniversary Nike commissioned a Rick Rubin-produced track featuring Kanye West, Nas and KRS-One on the mic.
Though this tribute track, “Better Than I’ve Ever Been,” sounds like an ad on paper, it’s actually less absurd and commercialized than most of the mainstream hip hop that gets a big push these days. Nike’s never mentioned and Air Force One’s are only cited once (by Nas), which is far less than Nelly shouted out the product on 2002’s “Air Force Ones.” Kanye and Nas even drop decent verses (unfortunately KRS-One’s is pretty tired) and Rick Rubin constructs a street-ready, anthemic beat that will lodge itself in your head.
“Better Than I’ve Ever Been” and the “Better Than I’ve Ever Been DJ Premier Remix” (featuring Rakim, in addition to the MCs on the original track) will be available on iTunes starting February 20th. All proceeds from the sale of the tracks will be donated to the Nike Youth Sport For Change Fund, which supports youth programs that use sport as a catalyst for change.
Listen to streaming audio of “Better Than I’ve Ever Been”
Listen to streaming audio of “Better Than I’ve Ever Been DJ Premier Remix”