Drake first showcased the Nocta Hot Step, the first signature sneaker from his own Nike sub-line, in his “Laugh Now, Cry Later” music video in August 2020. Looking back, the overall vibe at the end of this year turned out to be much more cry now, cry later, and that was also the case with the Hot Step rollout. From the start, its chunky design and toothy soles drew bad-vibe comparisons to K-Swiss and Fila Disruptors mid-tops. Fans have made their promotional fatigue clear in Nike’s and Drizzy’s respective comment sections whenever @champagnepapi has teased a new colorway on Instagram, even though the shoe hasn’t materialized in the marketplace. But now, nearly 18 months later, he might finally have that laugh: Nike has announced that the Hot Step will be released on March 3rd.
First, a little insight into Drake’s history with Nike. He first signed with Jordan Brand in 2013, releasing a handful of Jordans in collaboration with his own OVO brand, which still maintains a strong momentum in the resale market. There were rumors of an Adidas alliance in 2018, but in our post-“Adidon’s Story” world, Drizzy has made it clear that he’s checking the stripes firmly. The aforementioned “Laugh Now, Cry Later” video, which was filmed inside Nike’s massive headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, prevented Nocta’s relatively silent official launch in December 2020. (The brand bears the name of Drake’s proclaimed “night creation process”.) So far, with the exception of some very Drakecore products for the Certified Lover rollout, Nocta’s output has centered on (one might say unusually) minimalist technical apparel, including a sleek golf collection last fall.
Fans have been waiting for the Hot Step, a sneaker being the crown jewel of any respectable sportswear collaboration. While every industry has seen countless problems over the past 18 months, sneakerheads have little patience for a slow rollout that often felt like a long line of Instagram breadcrumbs leading to nowhere; on Nocta’s latest promotional post, one fan joked that its release date would be “February 30 mark your calendars!!!”
Then, suddenly, we had a flurry of shoe-related news. Further clues emerged last week when Drake and company headed out to Super Bowl LVI in matching wolf gray Nocta tracksuits, which the man himself wore with a pair in the Triple White colorway, identical to the video. “Laugh Now, Cry Later”. Last Wednesday, the rapper posted a 27-second clip, filmed in Jamaica and featuring dancehall stars Popcaan and Skillibeng, of a motorcycle crew riding in full Nocta gear, including a close-up of the Triple Black Hot Step . The Nike brand account commented “Better late than never 😅” on Drake’s post, predicting the end was in sight.
(Curiously, 1017 ALYX 9SM founder, creative director of Givenchy and friend of Drake Matthew Williams also commented on a speaker emoji, “🔊”, although there was no executive word on whether he was whether or not involved in the creative process. Williams is already a Nike Collaborator, it’s also worth noting.)
The Hot Step, detailed by Nike in its announcement, features premium grained leather, 3M accents and G-Tek traction, and will debut in Triple White and Triple Black colorways. (Elsewhere on the internet, sneakerheads are hoping they’ll come in other colorways Drake previewed on the ‘gram, including black/yellow gold and snakeskin.) The shoe draws inspiration from the Air Terra Humara, a steep-soled trail shoe that Nike first released in 1997 (which, as the brand points out on its website, was also the same debut year for blockbusters like the Air Max 97 and the Air Foamposite One, naturally reducing the Air Terra legacy). In turn, the sneaker has been known as the Hot Step Air Terra throughout the rollout, although Nike has now clarified that its name is simply the Nocta Hot Step.
Next Thursday, the Nocta Hot Step will be available on Nocta’s website and at select retailers listed on Nike’s SNKRS platform, where they will retail for $180. In the meantime, you can amplify yourself with the empathetic endorsement of DJ Khaled.