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A Detailed History of Kendrick Lamar's Sneakers

Kendrick Lamar's Sneaker History
Kendrick Lamar's Sneaker History

Kendrick Lamar has carved a niche in the music world and made significant strides in sneaker culture. His collaborations with major brands like Reebok and Nike have gone beyond mere fashion statements, embedding his socio-political ethos within each design. These partnerships have been instrumental in showcasing his unique artistic vision, blending streetwise aesthetics with thoughtful narratives.

Amidst his artistic endeavors, Kendrick's current beef with Drake adds a riveting chapter to his career. Initially collaborators on tracks like Poetic Justice, the relationship between these two titans of hip-hop has devolved into one of the genre's most public feuds. It recently reignited with escalating diss tracks, from subtle jabs to outright lyrical confrontations involving accusations and personal digs.

As we delve into the history of Kendrick Lamar’s shoes, we also explore how his personal and professional dynamics, including his rivalry with Drake, influence his creative output. Each sneaker release tells a story, not just of artistic collaboration but of Kendrick's journey and the footprints he intends to leave in the music and fashion industries.

Kendrick Lamar's Reebok Sneakers

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Ventilator

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Ventilator
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Ventilator

The Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Ventilator began Kung Fu Kenny’s foray into the sneaker world. This collaboration, launched in 2015, featured a neutral palette with a significant message. It highlighted red and blue themes as a nod to gang unity in his native Compton. The "neutral" colors symbolized peace, encouraging an end to violence among rival gangs. Each shoe bore the labels "red" and "blue" on the heels, visually advocating for reconciliation.

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Deconstructed

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Deconstructed
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Deconstructed

Continuing his partnership with Reebok, Kendrick Lamar’s Classic Leather Split, released in 2016, also tackled the themes of gang unity. These sneakers divided their color scheme directly down the middle, one side blue and the other red, mirroring the duality of his earlier Ventilator design but with a more subtle integration. The design also featured a seam that binds the two halves, symbolizing the possibility of unity and strength.

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Perfect Split Pack

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Perfect Split Pack
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Perfect Split Pack

The Perfect Split Pack took the concept of duality even further, offering a range of sneakers that combined contrasting textures and colors, reflecting the complexity of Kendrick's artistic identity. The pack featured mesh and leather materials to emphasize contrast, accompanied by gum soles that provided a retro feel. The photography for this campaign, shot in black and white, added a classic touch, aligning with the timeless nature of the shoe itself. Included in the pack were multiple sneakers, ranging from the Blue, Red, White, and Black colorways.

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Lux

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Lux
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Lux

Released in 2016, the Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Classic Leather Lux took a more luxurious approach. This model featured a full-grain leather upper in olive green, giving the shoe a premium look and feel. The design subtly incorporated the red and blue theme with minimal accents, emphasizing sophistication and high-quality materials. This pair was a nod to Kendrick’s maturation as an artist and cultural influencer.

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Club C

Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Club C
Kendrick Lamar x Reebok Club C

In 2017, Kendrick shifted his focus to the Reebok Club C, bringing forward a design inspired by his artistic and personal evolution. The shoe featured acid-washed denim materials inspired by the iconic American fabric and Kendrick’s style. The letters "K" and "O" were emphasized on the sides to represent his nickname K-Dot and to symbolize the notion of Knockout- hitting hard in music and fashion.

Kendrick Lamar's Nike Sneakers

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 1

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 1
Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 1

Transitioning his collaboration to Nike, Kendrick launched the Cortez Kenny 1 in 2018. This sneaker celebrated the 45th Anniversary of the Nike Cortez model, a staple in Los Angeles streetwear. The shoe featured a crisp white leather upper with a DAMN. inscription in place of the Swoosh, referencing his critically acclaimed album. This model was an instant hit, resonating deeply with sneakerheads and fans of his music.

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 2

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 2
Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 2

The sequel to his Nike debut, the Cortez Kenny 2, was unveiled during his performance at the 2018 Grammy Awards. This version boasted a red upper, black accents, and a white DAMN. logo on the tongue, maintaining the strong visual identity associated with his music. The choice of vibrant red symbolized energy, passion, and danger, elements often present in Kendrick's artistic narrative.

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 3

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 3
Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez Kenny 3

Following the success of the previous models, the Cortez Kenny 3 featured a more straightforward, more understated design. It was predominantly black, with white detailing and the words BET IT BACK printed on the ribbon running down the tongue, capturing the essence of risk and reward. This model was a limited release, available first through a SNKRS Stash drop at the LA Forum during TDE’s The Championship Tour in 2018, with a proper release about a month later.

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez House Shoes Pack

Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez House Shoes Pack
Kendrick Lamar x Nike Cortez House Shoes Pack

The Cortez Kenny 4 deviated from previous designs by adopting a slip-on style, enhancing the shoe’s street appeal and wearability. The upper was constructed from a basic canvas, adorned with a Chinese script that translates to House Shoes. This design emphasized comfort and laid-back West Coast vibes, paying homage to Kendrick's Los Angeles roots. Three different versions of the House Shoe variant were created, including the Black White, Bianco, and White Ale Brown.

Kendrick Lamar x Nike React Element 55

Kendrick Lamar x Nike React Element 55
Kendrick Lamar x Nike React Element 55

In 2019, Kendrick explored new territory with the Nike React Element 55. This sneaker diverged from the retro style of the Cortez, featuring a more modern and technical design. It used reflective materials and a translucent upper, creating a futuristic look. The shoe maintained a subtle nod to his previous designs with its split marble graphic on the midsole, representing his works' ongoing theme of duality.

Kendrick Lamar's Converse Sneakers

pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi White

pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi White
pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi White

As part of his creative company, pgLang, Kendrick Lamar collaborated with Converse to release the Chuck 70 Hi in white. This design focused on simplicity and versatility, embodying pgLang's mission to speak in new ways. The sneaker featured minimal branding, with special attention to detail and quality that supported the storytelling ethos through fashion.

pgLang x Converse Pro Leather

pgLang x Converse Pro Leather
pgLang x Converse Pro Leather

The pgLang x Converse Pro Leather presented a sleek, minimalist look, continuing the functional and meaningful design narrative. It featured a clean, monochromatic design that prioritized comfort and style, reflecting the modern aesthetic of pgLang. This collaboration showcased the evolution of Kendrick’s vision from a musician to a broader cultural influencer.

pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi Black

pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi Black
pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi Black

Complementing its White counterpart, the pgLang x Converse Chuck 70 Hi in Black offered an alternative that was just as refined. This sneaker maintained the ethos of simplicity and quality, ideal for those who appreciate subtle details in their footwear. What made this pair special was that you had no idea which version of the sneaker you would get until you unboxed it. The two versions included Converse Navy-shaded piping on the midsole, while the other came with Converse Red.

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