With sneakerheads giving us heel-holics a run for the title of Most Shoe Obsessed, we’re sitting up and taking notice of what our fellow shoe-loving group is into right now. In a culture driven by hip-hop artists, 12-time Grammy winner Kendrick Lamar seems to be at the steering wheel. The Compton rapper has collaborated with brands like Reebok and Nike, which have given him a wider audience and an even farther-reaching influence.
Here, we take a look at all of Kendrick’s sneaker collaborations, and how his designs are not only fashion statements but are also symbols of ending gang violence.
Kendrick Lamar promoting the Reebok Classic “Club C 85 Tonal Gum” sneakers in the Spring/Summer 2017 campaign shot by music video director Nabil Elderkin.
1. Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Ventilator”
Kendrick kicked off his Reebok “Red and Blue” Capsule Collection with the release of the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Ventilator” in July 2015.
These cream sneakers feature the words “red” and “blue” contrasted with the word “neutral” on the tags on the insides of the tongues. The underlying message? Desired unity between two of LA’s biggest rival gangs, the Bloods and Crips.Other mismatched red-and-blue details include the shoelace stripes, the insoles, and Kendrick’s signature and his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), stitched onto the tongue tags.
Kendrick Lamar wearing his own Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Ventilator” sneakers at the world premiere of Universal Pictures’ “Straight Outta Compton” held at The Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on August 10, 2015.
Details of the “BLUE” and “RED” texts on the back of the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok ‘Ventilator’ sneakers.
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Ventilator” sneakers with mismatched red and blue insoles.
2. Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Classic Leather”, $312.50 at Amazon
Kendrick continued with the theme of uniting rival gangs and ending gang violence with the release of the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Classic Leather” in January 2016.
Done in the Reebok Classic sneaker’s original silhouette, Kendrick’s second design also features the same cream colorway with the same lettering on the heels and the tongues.
Kendrick Lamar wearing his Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Classic Leather” sneakers at a Lakers game, where the Houston Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by the final score of 112-95, at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, California, on January 17, 2016.
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Classic Leather” sneakers.
The “BLUE” and “RED” lettering and corresponding “NEUTRAL” tongue tags on the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Classic Leather” sneakers.
3. Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Deconstructed”
For his third sneaker collab released in July 2016, Kendrick continued with his message of unity but gave it a twist.
His Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Deconstructed” design featured a whipstitch detail that went down the center of the shoe. It also confined the red-and-blue themes to only one color per pair, with the “red” and “blue” texts replaced simply by “ree” and “bok.” The sneaker’s Reebok label was also whitened out save for the letter K and the registered trademark symbol, which is presumably a nod to the rapper’s K. Dot alter ego.
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather
“Deconstructed” for Toddlers, $42 to $51.95 at Amazon
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Deconstructed” for Kids, $32.49 to $142.02 at Amazon
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Deconstructed” for Adults, $284.99 to $285 at Amazon
4. Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic “Perfect Split”, €44.98 at Reebok
Released in the same month as the previous sneaker, the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic “Perfect Split” focuses more on the split aspects of Kendrick’s life. While the suede-and-leather uppers are clearly divided, the sole brings together this separation by having the gum meet with the ice-like outsole in the middle and at the toe bumpers.
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic “Perfect Split” sneakers
Kendrick’s Reebok “Red and Blue” Capsule Collection was finalized with the release of the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Lux” in November 2016.
The last design completely mixes red and blue together to create its own special olive green colorway. The hue represents the desire to reduce gang violence as other designs, and also represents community growth.
Top view of the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Lux” sneakers
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather “Lux” sneakers in Olive/Olive Night/Gum
6. Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Club C”, $74.99 to $110 at Amazon
Kendrick culminated his collaboration with Reebok with the release of the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Club C” in January 2017.
The shoe’s black-and-white acid-washed denim upper symbolizes racial equality while the shocks of red signifies passion. K. Dot is also represented again in the red-filled letter O in the Reebok label.
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok “Club C” sneakers
7. Kendrick Lamar x Nike “Cortez Kenny I”
After he was spotted sporting Nike “Cortez” sneakers at various events including the 2017 MTV VMAs, Kendrick officially confirmed his partnership with the Swoosh brand in August 2017. On January 26, 2018, the rapper dropped the Kendrick Lamar x Nike “Cortez Kenny I” sneaker, which sold out as quickly as it was released.
Kendrick didn’t need to use so many symbolic designs for the Nike collab, considering the “Cortez” design itself is iconic in the rapper’s hometown of Compton. The only change Kendrick made was to print “DAMN.” on the sides and the tongue tags, which is in reference to his fourth studio album that features the same four-letter name.
There have been unofficial leaks of the Kendrick Lamar x Nike “Cortez” sneakers, including an entirely red version and a pair with a “Don’t Trip” label covering the laces.
Kendrick Lamar wearing Nike “Cortez” sneakers at Coachella Weekend 1 Day 2, in Indio, California, on April 17, 2017, at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, on August 28, 2017, and at the 2017 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California, on June 25, 2017.
Kendrick Lamar x Nike “Cortez Kenny I” sneakers
Image shared by @nikesportswear with the caption ‘More than music’
Image shared by @kendricklamar with the caption ‘DON’T TRIP. CORTEZ KENNY’
Credit : Apega / FayesVision / La Niece / WENN / Images supplied by WENN