(Credits: Alamy)

Features

When Kendrick Lamar tried to unite L.A. gangs with sneakers

Kendrick Lamar is often considered the saviour of the new school. Among a generation of mumble rappers, Lamar has consistently released seriously good quality hip hop. Since his emergence on the Compton underground hip hop scene in the late early 2010s, Lamar has gone on to work with all the greats in the business and is known as a skilled lyricist.

Coming up in Compton under the independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, Lamar first garnered attention with his 2010 debut mixtape release Overly Dedicated. In 2011, Lamar released his first full-length studio album, Section.80, which caught the attention of Compton native Dr Dre, and already with a cult following, the rapper landed a record deal with Dr Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment.

Since then, Lamar has gone on to flourish, releasing multiple albums to critical acclaim. Having already achieved so much within music, Lamar has used his platform and name to give back to his community of Compton. A notorious neighbourhood in South Central L.A., Compton is infamous for the gang violence ingrained in the area.

In an attempt to change this and help make his community safer for young African-Americans, Lamar once tried to utilise his partnership with Reebok to curtail violence in Compton by entering a plea with the area’s most prominent gang leaders.

In the 2015 collaboration with Reebok, Lamar designed a special edition of the Ventilator shoe model in a bid to unite the gangs with their respective colours. For the pair of sneakers, Lamar designed the left shoe to include blue on the tongue and inner lining, while the right shoe was red.

In gang culture, blue is representative of the “Crips”. On the other hand, red represents the “Bloods”. The limited-edition sneakers didn’t completely end the West Coast’s gang warfare. However, some older ex-gang members joined Lamar’s appeal for unity. Specifically G Weed (a Crip) and Jigga (a Blood).

Below you can view Lamar’s 2015 promotional video for the limited edition sneakers.