In Sotheby’s historic first auction celebrating the history and cultural impact of hip-hop, acclaimed V-Records recording artist, musician and producer Niko Brim’s custom-painted Juneteenth sneakers will be put to auction. To be staged on September 15, 2020 in New York City, Niko Brim’s unique pair of Nike Air-Force Ones were unveiled on June 19, 2020, designed by renowned sneaker customizer, Sierato, under the creative direction of 93-year social-impact leader and lifelong Juneteenth activist Ms. Opal Lee.
Niko Brim’s Juneteenth sneakers are featured alongside coveted hip-hop memorabilia, including an iconic crown worn by The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Christopher Wallace) during his last portrait session, and love letters penned by a teenage Tupac Shakur.
About Niko Brim’s Juneteenth Nike Air Force 1s
Brim conceptualized the collectible kicks with inspiration drawn from the nation’s foremost Juneteenth ambassador, Ms. Opal Lee. This unique pair, designed by famed sneaker customization artist Sierato, features a red, white, & blue color scheme, incorporating a unifying theme of freedom for all, while honoring the contributions of the African-Americans who helped build the nation.
The bold sneakers feature song lyrics from Brim’s single, “Hard to Believe” and symbolic imagery, which includes the official Juneteenth flag, and the Black Power raised fist emblem, a nod to timeless, silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City when sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos hoisted their clenched fists while accepting their medals. It also features the number “2.23” across the toe box in memory of Ahmad Arbery, the unarmed African-American man pursued and fatally shot while jogging in Georgia.
As the ever-burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow and demand accountability, reflection, and change, Brim and Lee’s shoe hopes to inspire a unity that spans generations, strengthening the nation and memorializing Juneteenth as part of a holistic view of American history.
The proceeds from the Juneteenth sneaker will be split between two organizations—Hip Hop Public Health, led by Doug E. Fresh & Dr. Olajide Williams, and Unity Unlimited, founded by Ms. Opal Lee.
About Ms. Opal Lee
Ms. Opal Lee, who has spent the last four decades campaigning to get congress to mark Juneteenth as a federally observed holiday, also graced the sneaker with her autograph. Niko joined Ms. Opal’s campaign commission in the Spring of 2020 to raise awareness for the cause.
Her history-altering Change.org petition achieved over 1.7 million signatures and was the platform’s most celebrity-supported cause. It ranked Top 5 most active campaign. The petitions to arrest those responsible for the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are two 2.
Since 2016, the tenacious lifelong Texan, Ms. Opal Lee leads a two and a half-mile walk recognizing the two and a half years it took for slaves in Texas to become aware of their freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation. In 2020 her mission gained global attention and support from top luminaries, inspiring Nike to declare Juneteenth as an annual paid company holiday.
About Niko Brim
Niko Brim, is a passionate 23-year old MC-producer and social justice advocate from Mount Vernon, New York, located north of The Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop. His forthcoming album, “King Has No Crown”, drops soon.
He has independently amassed over one million streams, with hits, “FEDS Watching,” and “Woke”, and appearance on VME label mate, Kev Rodger’strack, “It is What It Is”, plus movements with the inspiring hip-hop collective he co-founded, CYN™ (Create Your Now), featuring Kai Ca$h. Members include K. Wales, ShaqNLivin, DJ TizzTheInfluence, and Great Dame.
Over the last year his performance stints on Rapsody’s 2020, ‘A Black Woman Created This’ tour, “Sway in the Morning,” and on LiveXLive further positioned him as a rising star who’s swinging his mic for what’s right.
In addition to joining Ms. Opal Lee’s official Juneteenth holiday commission team, Niko Brim has serviced his community in various ways, from promoting financial literacy, and feeding the hungry, to speaking at peace rallies. He led the ‘Silence is Violence’ rally that canvased his Mount Vernon and New Rochelle hometowns, in honor of the countless lives lost to police brutality in June 2020.
Fueling Niko Brim’s ascension is a combination of his artistry, sophisticated rhyming, uplifting mantras, and fury for civil unity. Bred to use his platform consciously, Niko is the son of two certified life coach parents and influential music industry veterans, fashion icon Misa Hylton and VME CEO, Joseph “JoJo” Brim.
Niko Brim’s conversation series, “Power Hour,” which takes place monthly on his Instagram page, features luminaries from business, education, entertainment, and social impact.
About Sotheby’s Auction to Celebrate the History and Culture of Hip Hop
A celebration of the history and cultural impact of Hip Hop, the sale reflects on the impact the movement has had on art and culture from the late 1970s through the “Golden Age” of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present.
Among the newly announced highlights in the sale include the iconic Salt-N-Pepa “Push It” jackets; visual artist, filmmaker and Hip Hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy’s ‘MTV’ ring made specially for Yo! MTV Raps; a private lyric writing lesson and studio session with the God MC Rakim Allah; a unique art installation by DJ Ross One entitled The Wall of Boom, which is comprised of 32 vintage boomboxes, and much more. The auction also features unique artifacts, contemporary art, one of a kind experiences, photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, important publications, and more.
The full sale will be on view by appointment in Sotheby’s York avenue galleries from 11 – 15 September and their digital catalogue will be live at Sothebys.com/hiphop.
About the Juneteenth Sneaker Beneficiaries
Hip Hop Public Health
Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH) is an internationally recognized organization that creates and implements multimedia public health and education interventions. It is designed to improve health literacy, inspire behavior change, and promote health equity.
On September 22d, Hip Hop Public Health’s “Remixing Public Health” fundraising gala, hosted by co-founder Doug E. Fresh, will feature a conversation between Niko Brim and Ms. Opal Lee. Honoree, Cheryl “Salt” James, and fellow rap pioneers Public Enemy’s Chuck D. and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels will also appear. Learn more: HERE
Unity Unlimited, Inc. is a non-profit organization that is completely volunteer-driven with activities that help communities overcome racial and cultural division. The programs they produce provide educational activities and resources to people to foster unity and harmony regardless of race, culture, or denomination including JuneteenthFTW a community festival that highlights the initiatives of the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee whose mission is to support human dignity through education, culture, and opportunity. Other initiatives of the organization include Opal’s Farm to address food deserts in her community and Your Voice Unleashed a free week-long fine arts workshop for the youth to build bridges of unity. Learn more: HERE
About VME (Virtual Music Entertainment)
VME is a tech-based entertainment group under the ADX Labs, Inc. group of companies. The VMEportfolio, led by industry veteran Joseph “JoJo” Brim, consists of the record music label V-Records, All Music Promo (AMP), video streaming channel VTV, and indie music streaming platform MyMy Music.
About ADX Labs, Inc.
ADX Labs is the core company in a global group of technology, entertainment and services brands and businesses. ADX independently funds the ADX Foundation, a registered non-profit philanthropic organization which has invested in children, communities, and social justice since 2013. Learn more HERE.