Drake first previewed the Nocta Hot Step, the first signature sneaker from his own Nike sub-line, in his “Laugh Now, Cry Later” music video way back in August 2020. In hindsight, the general mood at the tail end of that year turned out to be much more cry now, cry later, and so too has been the case with the Hot Step’s rollout. Early on, its bulky design and toothy soles garnered bad-vibes comparisons to K-Swiss mid-tops and Fila Disruptors. Fans made made their promo fatigue clear on Nike and Drizzy’s respective comment sections whenever @champagnepapi teased a new colorway on Instagram, even as the shoe failed to materialize on the market. But now, nearly 18 months later, he may finally get that laugh: Nike announced that the Hot Step will be dropping on March 3.
First, a little primer on Drake’s history with Nike. He first signed with Jordan Brand in 2013, releasing a handful of Jordans in collaboration with his own brand OVO, which still keep a solid pulse on the resale market. There were rumors of a jump-ship dalliance with Adidas back in 2018, but in our post-“The Story of Adidon” world, Drizzy’s made it clear that he is staunchly checks over stripes. The aforementioned “Laugh Now, Cry Later” video, which was filmed inside Nike’s massive headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, precluded Nocta’s relatively quiet official launch in December 2020. (The brand is named for Drake’s proclaimed “nocturnal creative process.”) So far , with the exception of some very Drakecore merch for the Certified Lover Boy rollout, Nocta’s output has centered on (one might say uncharacteristically) minimalist techwear, including a sleek golf collection last fall.
Fans have been waiting on the Hot Step, a sneaker being the crown jewel in any respectable sportswear collab. While every industry has experienced countless snags in the last 18 months, sneakerheads have little patience for a sloggy rollout that often felt like a long line of Instagram breadcrumbs leading to nowhere; on Nocta’s latest promo post, a fan joked that its release date would be “Feb 30th mark your calendars!!!”
Then, suddenly, we had a burst of shoe-related news. More clues appeared last week when Drake and company rolled up to Super Bowl LVI in matching wolf gray Nocta sweatsuits, which the man himself wore with a pair in the Triple White colorway, same as the “Laugh Now, Cry Later” video. Last Wednesday, the rapper posted a 27-second clip, filmed in Jamaica and featuring dancehall stars Popcaan and Skillibeng, of a motorcycle crew riding around in full Nocta gear, including a close-up shot of the Triple Black Hot Step. The Nike brand account commented “Better late than never 😅” on Drake’s post, forecasting that the end was in sight.
(Curiously, 1017 ALYX 9SM founder, Givenchy creative director, and friend to Drake Matthew Williams also commented a speaker emoji, “🔊,” though there’s been no executive word on whether or not he was involved in the creative process. Williams is already a Nike collaborator, it should also be noted.)
The Hot Step, Nike detailed in its announcement, features premium pebbled leather, 3M accents, and G-Tek traction, and will debut in the Triple White and Triple Black colorways. (Elsewhere on the internet, sneakerheads are hopeful they’ll become available in other colorways Drake has previewed on the ‘gram, including black/yellow gold and snakeskin.) The shoe takes inspiration from the Air Terra Humara, a craggy-soled trail running 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, understandably curtailing the Air Terra’s legacy). In turn, the sneaker has been known as the Hot Step Air Terra throughout the rollout, though now Nike has clarified that its name is simply the Nocta Hot Step.
Come 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’ll retail for $180. In the meantime, you can amp yourself up by way of DJ Khaled’s empathic endorsement.