Reebok x Kendrick Lamar

“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

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-18-16-39
Image: Digital Booklet – To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) by 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.

Check out:

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’.

We’re Jamii’n: An initiative in support of UK Black owned businesses

Jamii is Swahili for ‘community’, and 22-year-old founder Khalia Ismain started this entrepreneurial venture in the hopes of uniting and expanding support for UK Black owned businesses. The concept of Jamii is that customers get access to exclusive discounts on fashion, food, hair, skincare/beauty and art through their Jamii membership – this can be applied in-store and online. I was lucky enough to ask Khalia a few questions about her exciting journey and the future of the company.

71579a_1990b6c648ef4fca8c773d1970cbef66mv2

On your website you say that Jamii grew out of frustration for not being able to find the products and services you required. Can you explain this further and also what motivated you to turn this irritation into a reality?

Being a woman of colour, I’ve always found it difficult to find things that work properly for me, be it hair products that are suited to my hair texture, greetings cards that reflect what my family actually looks like, or even just restaurants that authentically represent my culture. I always had to compromise, and I got to a point where I was like ‘this is a joke’. I started looking into African- and Caribbean-owned businesses because I realised that they were much more likely to provide me with what I needed – and I was right. 

So I thought I’d try to make it easier for both people of colour and people who are interested in authenticity to find those businesses. If you want something that actually works for you, or if you want something that genuinely represents the African and Caribbean cultures, Jamii is the place for that. You’re simultaneously saving money and supporting the community – you can’t get better than that!

How do you see Jamii developing in the distant future, and what will be your next step toward that vision?

Jamii as it is now, as a hub for savings and authenticity – this is just the beginning. I want a Jamii store, so you can get all the wonderful products on the high street too; a Jamii fund to support budding entrepreneurs; Jamii in Europe and America… There’s so much I want to do – but I have to build the foundation first! My next step is all about getting the word out, making sure as many people know about us as possible, and partnering with more cool companies. 

As a start-up company what challenges do you think you’re likely to face and how do you plan to overcome them?

Most start ups struggle with a lack of resources – in terms of money, time and people. It means we’ve got to be more laser focused, but it also gives us more space to be creative with what we’ve got. I’m not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

You’ve done so well in gaining social media attention, especially with your official launch at the Dark Sugars Cocoa House in Brick Lane. What are your main tips for women of colour who wish to become entrepreneurs?

Thanks! My main tip, is to be yourself. With entrepreneurship, you have to be true to yourself – if you’re not, you will lose your way very quickly. There’s no set formula to follow, and so do things how you want them done. You will certainly have to adapt yourself to some situations, but that’s a fact of life and that doesn’t mean compromising who you are. 

You strike me as a strong, independent and motivated individual. Who are you inspirations?

Haha thank you! My top two inspirations are quite cliché if I’m honest! My mum, for being the most selfless and caring individual I’ve ever known; and Zendaya because (although she’s younger than me) she embodies what it is to be a highly successful woman of colour who doesn’t compromise on her values – and doesn’t let them compromise her!

Head over to the Jamii website where you can learn more and sign up for exclusive discounts. Also follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

ee01e97d-7968-4a6c-a6d1-87e3ba10d037

Quick questions

Which music artist/group right now? I’m so bad at keeping up to date with new music, but I’m really feeling NAO at the moment. I discovered her last year and fell in love with ‘Adore You’ instantly – it will be my wedding song!

What series? Narcos!

Tommy Hilfiger x Aaliyah

enhanced-21234-1393364482-22
Photo: http://wheretoget.it/look/1183874

A fortnight ago marked the 15th anniversary of the death of 90s R&B singer and actress Aaliyah. Prompted by the social media tributes about the legacy and untimely death of the songstress, a conversation arose in my friendship group of whether we are fans of Aaliyah. Although ¼ of the group exclaimed yes, we could all agree that her music was something we looked into later on; we were 7 or 8 years old when she sadly passed away.

Looking at her Back and Forth video from 1994, a 15-year-old Aaliyah wore baggy clothing, crop tops, various headgear, Timbaland boots and her signature Locs sunglasses. This was the style of that era and can be seen on several other R&B stars from Janet Jackson to TLC. This 90s style of laid-back, effortless sex appeal has done a complete 360 and has become extremely popular over the past few years.

One image that was continually shared on social media features Aaliyah wearing a 3-piece Tommy Hilfiger outfit whist shooting an advert for the brand (click here for the video). In an article on ‘18 Epically ‘90s Tommy Hilfiger Moments’, Buzzfeed said ‘Aaliyah will forever be the face of the label’.

Some claim her legacy lies because she was a true embodiment of the 90s woman, whilst others claim her success could have amounted to that of Beyoncé if given the chance.

Check out: Aaliyah – 4 page letter (1996) = Kendrick Lamar – Blow My High (Members Only) (2011)

Skirting Around the Issue

serenaskirt-500x375
Serena Williams, Wimbledon 2012. Photo: giz-img.blogspot.com

The This Girl Can ad campaign by Sport England aims to show that all types of women can participate in sports, and is a celebration of active females all across the UK. Interestingly, this example of empowerment in sport features a glimpse of a netball match in which a small minority of players are wearing netball skirts. The debate about women in sports is ongoing, but what part does dress code have to play?

Female athletes on the world stage such as Venus and Serena Williams have been seen wearing some fabulous (and very out there) outfits on court over the years, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that they are extremely talented tennis players. Although there is no overarching rule in tennis regarding skirts, a lot of players choose to wear skirts or dresses—and get plenty of endorsements for doing so. However, when female boxing was finally declared an Olympic sport in 2009, it was proposed that female boxers wear skirts to allow the spectators to distinguish them from men. Although this campaign gained a lot of support, after receiving criticism from boxers and the wider public it was scrapped. There are many other ways to distinguish a boxer than by a skirt—their face, their team colours, or simply by looking at the names of the players competing.

Years ago, women had to wear corsets whilst playing tennis; this was later abandoned because of the obvious restriction on physical activity. I personally believe that if the outfit allows you to be comfortable then go for it, but when it is unnecessarily forced then it becomes a tad ridiculous. Aimée Grant Cumberbatch reminisces about P.E. in secondary school, lamenting the stupidity of dress code rules, saying: “We used to be made to wear netball skirts over our tracksuit bottoms.” Seem a bit pointless to you?

This was an article written by me for The Mancunion student newspaper in February 2015.

_DSC0501
University of Manchester, July 2015

Deciding my hair for graduation was anything but a simple task.

At this point (July 2015) I had been transitioning to natural hair for about 6 months. Considering my hair was just reaching shoulder length, the transition was in full swing 6 months in. I knew for a fact that constantly straightening my leave-out for weave was bound to cause damage, so that’s an option I steered clear of. Although I had a 20″ Peruvian hair, middle-part weave with leave out just a few months later…Don’t ask. Those straggly straightened bits left the middle section of my hair limp and lifeless for quite a while afterwards,

In the end practicality was my main concern. Graduation was only a few days before backpacking through parts of Southeast Asia so I had to weigh up my options and decided I would rather spend the days leading up to my trip packing and running last minute errands rather that getting my braids done then.

As displayed in the picture above – I don’t regret my decision.