Andre Nickatina’s new line of Italian-made sneakers dubbed ‘Killer Whales’ is a collaboration with local clothing designer Magdy Kotb, also known as Deezoe the Clothing Coach. Kotb is the grandson of a master tailor and runs The Clothing Coach, a black-owned business at Sutter and Powell, about one block from Union Square.

For those of you who don’t know, Andre Nickatina grew up in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, a place where many great blues & rap musicians have not only played, but grown themselves. His career in hip-hop started back in the early ‘90s under the stage name Dre Dog, where he gained notoriety for hits like Ayo for Yayo, Jungle, and Killa Whale – the song upon which his new sneaker line draws inspiration.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a rich history when it comes to rap music. Over the years, this region has played a major roll in the lives of some of the industry’s superstars, like Tupac who attending Tamalpais High School while living in Marin City with members of the Black Panther Party or the infamous Mac Dre who sparked a movement in hip-hop culture, only to suffer a tragic and untimely death. Then there’s MC Hammer, E-40, Keak Da Sneak, Rappin’ 4-Tay, Zion I, and Too $hort, each of whom should be considered among any legitimate list of the greats. Andre Nickatina is not only in that list (literally, according to Culture Trip), he has songs with most of them.

Though Andre Nickatina is on tracks with many members of the Hyphy Movement, an offshoot of the greater hip-hop world that finds its origins here in the Bay Area in the early 2000s, Nickatina himself remained steadfast in his approach to more lyrical rap music. (If you are not familiar with the Hyphy Movement, check out this article from Complex and know that you have just had your “I’m a San Franciscan” cards revoked if you were a youth in the 1990s or early 2000s.)

When it is not the times of coronavirus, Nickatina is still active in the rap community with shows across the country. His new sneaker line joins a number of other ventures with which Nickatina is involved, largely in apparel.