Kendrick Lamar Sends a 'Message of Unity' With New Reebok Collaboration

Kendrick Lamar performs at The Forum
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar performs at The Forum on Nov. 8, 2015 in Inglewood, Calif.

Grammy-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar is known for his ability to tackle politically charged themes with intelligence and artistic deftness in his music. But his capsule collections with Reebok show that the artist is just as capable of doing so in another medium: fashion.

Lamar’s first collaboration with the brand came in the form of the Ventilator shoe in 2015, which was followed by the artist’s take on the iconic Classic Leather sneaker in January of this year. For his third and most recent collaboration with the brand, Lamar teamed up with designer Ian Paley to reinvent the Classic Leather in an even bolder way. A split seam running from toe to heel separates blue on one sneaker from red on the other, adding a level of deconstructed roughness to the otherwise sleek shoe. The seam is intended as a symbolic nod to unity and neutrality between warring gangs, as well as alluding to the crossroads the musician has faced throughout his life.

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Billboard spoke to Damion Presson, director of entertainment marketing at Reebok, about why he’s excited about the new collaboration.

Courtesy of Reebok

Why is Kendrick the right fit for a Reebok collab?

Kendrick represents an authentic voice within today’s pop culture. Similarly, the Reebok brand represents innovation and authenticity in the marketplace. There is a seamless and organic relationship between Reebok and Kendrick Lamar which makes him the right fit for this collaboration.

Courtesy of Reebok

What makes the story of this shoe in particular so powerful?

Kendrick is taking a different approach with his capsule, as he’s building purposeful product that has a message of unity which transcends the Bloods and the Crips. This shoe reflects the sentiment of youth culture globally, and Reebok Classic has stood the test of time and continues to inspire the next generation of consumers who look to be fashion forward while embracing the nostalgia of an iconic shoe. Kendrick’s appreciation for the rich history of Reebok makes him the ideal partner to represent our collective visions.

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Courtesy of Reebok

Why do you think the intersection of music and fashion is so compelling to customers?

Honestly, I don’t believe they are very different mediums. The medium with which we choose to express ourselves isn’t nearly as important as what we express. Music, fashion, literature and art are all integral to our culture. I’m excited that we get to express ourselves across various platforms.