“It was only right that I wore the Reebok Classic then. I still remain that classic guy.
That’s why I’m wearing their shoes now” – Kendrick Lamar
Apart for the odd festival appearance, Kendrick Lamar is yet to do an official UK tour for his remarkable album To Pimp A Butterfly (released March 2015) – an album I think will go down in history. I managed to get tickets for his UK tour in January 2013, but had an exam the next day so devastatingly had to sell my ticket. Nearly 4 years on and I’m still yet to see him grace the stage live.
Imagine my surprise when in March 2016 a tweet appeared on my timeline to win tickets to see Kendrick Lamar perform in Manchester that evening. My newsfeed filled with fans somewhat confused about the whole situation – what was Kendrick doing in Manchester on such short notice? After some quick digging, it became clear that he was there for an appearance in conjunction with the sports brand Reebok. So far this relationship has birthed four collaborations over the past two years.
The first release in July 2015 was a twist on the Reebok Ventilator featuring red and blue as symbols of unity between California gangs Blood and Crips, similarly to the imagery on the cover art for the TPAB single ‘i’. The Ventilator was followed by the Classic Leather in February 2016 and Classic Leather ‘Deconstructed’ in July 2016. The most recent release in mid-July this year titled ‘Perfect Split’ contrasts fabrics and colours for a diverse collection. In a commercial for this release, Kendrick describes how when he first started writing, the Reebok Classic was the must-have shoe (Click here for the video). In Complex, Damion Presson, Reebok’s Director of Entertainment Marketing expressed that the unifying message behind the red and blue designs puts this footwear above the other collaborations currently gracing the market. We can see why when it retails at £65-£75 and is not a limited edition. In the wake of the highly criticized Yeezy Season 4 show at New York Fashion Week, it will be interesting to see the conversation the price list generates.
The brand founded in Bolton, now an Adidas subsidiary has a long history of artist partnerships, from Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson to newest addition Future. In 2013 Reebok famously dropped Rick Ross from an endorsement deal after his lyrics in the song U.O.E.N.O described drugging and raping a woman. The song was later remixed by Black Hippy (a collective featuring Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock) where several references to the Rick Ross incident were made.
With Kendrick Lamar continuing to push conscious hip-hip to the mainstream and being arguably the best rap artist right now, I can’t wait to see what his future with Reebok holds.
Mac Miller featuring Kendrick Lamar ‘God Is Fair, Sexy, Nasty’ from The Divine Feminine. This is not the first time these two have collaborated; Kendrick was also featured on Macadelic back in 2012 for the song ‘Fight The Feeling’.