Kendrick Lamar puts his spin on one of Nike’s most interesting silhouettes of the past two years
By Ray Zhang
It is noticeable that any rapper worth his pots or Grammy awards must have a sneaker collab to his name. Kendrick Lamar does not seem like an obvious choice since his sartorial picks do not stand out the way Lil Pump’s (or, pick your own) does. Yet, Nike sees it worthwhile to team up with the good kid (m.A.A.d City—that kid!) probably because of his considerable influence on the hip-hop scene (Dr Dre’s a mentor) rather than his potential as the next Ronnie Fieg.
The shoe that Nike and Mr Lamar released (out yesterday) is the React Element 55. Dubbed the “Multi-Platinum”, it comes with an upper that seems to mimic marble, forgoing the original’s semi-transparency, and is available in two-tone monochrome: half black and half white. This is possibility one of the subtlest versions of the sneak ever released. Although Nike describes the React Element 55 as an “understated” interpretation of the React Element 87, they must know that, for sneakerheads, understated does not quite cut it, less so when the (older?) 87 sibling has enjoyed one particular designer collaboration in heart-tugging colours. Yes, Undercover, of course.
To be sure, this is no way an attempt to take on that React Element 87, but that it is blander than anything Pharrell Williams has done with Adidas is a little surprising. Fans of rapper-linked kicks would know that this isn’t K-Dot’s (his initial singing name before he dropped it prior to the release of good kid) first fling with the Swoosh. His previous were four Cortezes, with the slip-on Cortez Kenny IV “House Shoe” the strangest, but not uninteresting.
While Mr Lamar has been associated with the Cortez and, now, with React Element, he was once a rather prolific collaborator with Reebok, producing no less than six styles since 2014, with the Ventilator the first. It isn’t clear why he switched camp (they tend to, just as his pal Kanye West did), but the cross-branding will just add more sneakers to the re-sale market, with astonishing four-figure price tags, much to the satisfaction of those who can command them and the thrill of those willing to submit to the commanders.
Nike x Kendrick Lamar React Element 55 KL, SGD229, is available at Nikelab, Dover Street Market Singapore. Photos: Nike