Hip-hop legend Nas’ résumé features platinum-selling albums, world tours and 12 Grammy nominations, so why would he choose Las Vegas for his next venture? That’s the question Vegas/Rated asked him during our exclusive interview before the grand opening of 12A.M. Run, a sneaker store owned by Nas and business partner Nick Sakai, inside the Linq. “I’m just a fan of Vegas and I’m a fan of sneakers,” Nas says. “The history here is amazing. You [have] Steve Wynn, the movie Casino, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.; it’s an honor for me to be a part of this amazing place.”
While Las Vegas’ storied past may have appealed to the history buff, Sakai says the city’s future also played a role in their decision to set up shop here. “The Linq is new, and it’s exciting to be a part of something different in Las Vegas,” he says. “I think that shopping on the Strip has gotten stale and tired. You walk into a hotel or casino and it’s essentially the same shopping experience with a different roof over your head, a lot of amazing high-end shops that not everyone can afford. That’s what makes The Linq really dope—you get the outdoor casual shopping environment that, most importantly, is unique to the Strip and affordable.”
Inside 12A.M. Run, shoppers will find 30-foot ceilings and a giant wall (larger than a billboard) framed with old Vegas light bulbs, which will showcase rotating art installations. A DJ booth will hover 12 feet above the floor. There is a winding staircase to an upstairs VIP lounge that will feature a bar and living room, as well as lockers where celebrity customers can have limited-edition shoes waiting for them when they arrive in Las Vegas.
If you’re a Nas fan—he recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut LP, Illmatic—you know his passion for shoes runs deep. (Recall the rhymes “I’m a Nike-head, I wear chains that excite the feds,” or “Suede Timbs on my feet, make my cypher complete.”) Both he and Sakai want to make sure that all sneakerheads feel welcome at 12A.M. Run, from casual browsers to hype beasts chasing the latest trend. The store will feature brands and styles exclusive to Las Vegas, along with limited-edition, hand-numbered, co-branded pieces with labels such as The Hundreds, Mitchell & Ness, Stance Socks and the NBA.
“Someone once said your clothes are your wings, so when you look at people they’re expressing themselves with what they wear,” Nas says. “I’ve always been into sneakers, because [each step] represents freshness.”