Rapper Kendrick Lamar switches to Nike
Nike made public over the weekend that rapper Kendrick Lamar is the newest addition to its roster.
Riding high off of the release of his critically acclaimed album, ‘Damn’ that released in April this year, the 30-year-old rapper took to social media to announce that he is officially a member of Team Nike.
The image Lamar shared, a minimal photograph of himself with a black background and white text that reads “Cortez," is joined by the caption, “Cortez. Since day one.” Hashtags of Team Nike and TDE, the initials of Lamar’s music label Top Dawg Entertainment, follow the caption.
Nike’s signing and Kendrick’s announcement are significant for multiple reasons. For one, Kendrick had been in partnership with Reebok since 2014, which resulted in two special versions of the Ventilator and Classic Leather sneakers that feature the words ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ on the heel as a call to end gang violence. The announcement marks the end of that partnership.
New York-based youth culture magazine Complex penned an article in May 2017 that called to question why sneaker brands do not fuss over their ambassadors not wearing their products. The lead image is a photo of Lamar in concert wearing a pair of Nike Cortez sneakers, which raises the issue of how long the company and the rapper were in conversation.
More important than the secret affair is Nike’s recent push for its Cortez silhouette. The sportswear company this year designed a special Cortez silhouette for Pride Month, partnered with Olivia Kim of Nordstrom on a limited edition Cortez sneaker, and launched on August 25 a Cortez sneaker with Andrea Lieberman’s A.L.C. ready-to-wear label. Kendrick’s cosign of the 45-year-old silhouette could give the sneaker another boost and help the sportswear company sell the numerous Cortez colorways that launched this year.
Finally, the appointment is significant for Nike reasserting itself into the musical arena. Adidas won the battle and changed the game by signing Kanye West, which led to Jordan Brand’s partnership with Drake, Puma joining forces with Rihanna and Under Armour signing its first rap ambassador A$AP Rocky. Kendrick Lamar is arguably the best rapper alive today, and his alignment with the top sportswear company in the world adds more drama to the already highly competitive footwear market.
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