This weekend saw the official release of the first shoe from Kendrick Lamar’s capsule collection with Reebok. The Reebok x Kendrick Lamar Ventilator is a version of the brand’s Ventilator sneaker, in a neutral colour palette. It features ‘paperwhite’ pigskin nubuck uppers, perforated detailing, and pigskin leather lining. The sneaker is cut low around the ankles, has an EVA foam sole with a gum outer, and woven rope laces.
The left and right feet are highlighted alternately in blue and red, with debossed heels, coloured sockliners, and embroidered tongues bearing Kendrick’s signature and the logo of his record label, Top Dawg Entertainment. The word ‘neutral’ covers the sneakers’ tags. The neutral palette accented by blue and red is conceived as a gesture towards Los Angeles’ rival gangs, the Crips and the Bloods.
This reciprocal imagery has been used by Kendrick before, notably on the cover to ‘i’, the song released last September as the lead single from To Pimp a Butterfly. To coincide with the release of the Kendrick Lamar Ventilator, yesterday evening Top Dawg published a video in which two gang members, a Crip and a Piru, discuss the sneakers and the theme of unity which runs across Kendrick’s creative output.
The collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and Reebok was announced last December. It came with a video showing Lamar in locations around his hometown of Compton, California, incorporating students from his old Centennial High School as he rapped a lyric entitled ‘I AM’. Lamar commented on the collaboration:
‘Reebok has a history of helping kids in the community realize their potential is limitless. I saw what the brand was doing, and I wanted to be a part of it and make it even stronger. It’s as simple as that. Kids that listen to my music are looking for inspiration. It’s important that I continue that message in anything I represent.’
The video was directed by Anthony Mandler: a noted music video director whose most frequent collaborator has been Rihanna. Mandler is scheduled to begin shooting this year on his first feature film, an adaptation of Jake Adelstein’s memoir Tokyo Vice.
Lamar has since appeared in two adverts for Reebok: performing a mobile concert around LA; and ‘Be Ventilated’, where he models an updated Ventilator Day Glo. His next sneaker for Reebok is being touted as a neutral take on the Reebok Club C, a classic court shoe with soft leather uppers. The Reebok x Kendrick Lamar Ventilator is on sale for £95 in the UK and £124.99 in the US.
In other music news this weekend – after Friday’s surprise album release by Wilco, titled Star Wars and adorned with a painting of a cat – on their Beats 1 radio show Run The Jewels previewed the first track from Meow The Jewels: a remix of Run The Jewels 2 utilising cat sounds. Chance The Rapper posited an upcoming album with Lil B. Thom Yorke joined Portishead on stage at the climax of the Latitude Festival in Suffolk.
And today was the final day of the Manchester International Festival 2015. Running from 2 July, the festival saw Björk’s first UK performance of songs from Vulnicura; sets by Arca & Jesse Kanda and Four Tet; a residency ahead of a new audio-visual piece by FKA twigs; and a suite of four new works by Gerhard Richter, Birkenau (2015) and Double Grey (2014), presented accompanied by Arvo Pärt’s Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima in the renovated Whitworth gallery.
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On this day in 1848, the first recognised convention on women’s rights was held, at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, organised by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.