Rappers competed with one another for number 1 albums, single charts, and diss tracks. Another arms race erupted in 2020 as musicians tried to keep the best brand partnerships in stock. Kanye has signed a 10-year contract to make clothing with the void. J. Balvin has teamed up with McDonalds and Jordan. Travis Scott did the same – and then threw Playstation, a Cologne-based company, and alcohol conglomerate into the mix for a good measure. Meanwhile, Drake was filming the video for “Laugh Now Cry Later,” the lead single of his upcoming album Certified Lover Boy, on the Nike campus – and ditching a collection with the Swoosh for CLB before he even released the music. (Who needs an album when you can have a heart-quilted pink buffer instead?) Now, a Jordan employee since 2013, Drake is taking his relationship with Nike to the next level with the release of a new sub-label called Nocta.
Nocta, named after the “nocturnal creative process” of Champagne Papi, is an unparalleled partnership for Nike. The sportswear giant has given Drake, who is next to none of the elite athlete Nike outfits, something similar to MJ’s Jordan brand: his own label with his own name and everything. (It’s Nocta, not Nike x Drake, not Nocta by Nike, just: Nocta.) For Drake, of course, the idea was to reach the same climax as the greatest basketball player of all time. “I always felt that Nike had the opportunity to hug an entertainer as much as an athlete,” he wrote in a note about the collection on the Nike website. “I thought about how crazy it would have been and what it would have meant for an artist to have a Nike flagship deal.”
Nocta is inspired by a uniform that Drake used in Toronto, Paris and New York: “Nike Tech Fleece, the gloves, the hat,” says the rapper. The three photos published by Nocta so far come very close to this uniform look: Each photo shows a yellow, orange or black buffer over a matching tracksuit. On the back edge of the yellow buffer are the initials CL – “Certified Lover” – “Cry Later”? – while the black jacket has a puffed up swoosh and the brand name Nocta on the chest of the orange version. “NOCTA is about creating something for people on the move. People who want functional, comfortable fits that can be adapted from one environment to the next,” he writes, making his best impression of Your Friend With a New Streetwear brand.[It’s] characterized by the guy who travels all day, all night – the grinders, the hard workers – trying to achieve their goals and not taking short cuts. “