Written by Matt Welty (@matthewjwelty)

Kendrick Lamar shook the rap world with the verse he spit on Big Sean's "Control." Besides taking shots at rappers that he viewed as his competition—J. Cole, Wale, Drake, A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Big Sean, etc.—Kendrick made a vow to only wear Nike Cortez, the sneaker that's a cultural staple of his hometown, Los Angeles.

His lyrics, "And I ain't rocking no more designer shit/White Ts and Nike Cortez," had rap fans and sneaker enthusiasts on notice that the kicks, which first debuted at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, would make a big return in 2013.

But Kendrick hasn't kept true to his promise of only wearing the Cortez. He's worn black and wheat Timberlands throughout his run as the opening act for Kanye West's "Yeezus Tour," and gravitated towards new Nike releases. He wore the Air Foamposite One "Safari" and Air Jordan V "Fire Red" during performances at Powerhouse 2013, the Flight '13 while taking the stage for the Budweiser Made in American Festival, and the Air Max 1 to get crowds live in both Boston and Ottawa. Kendrick also wore the Air Jordan IV from the "Fear Pack" for a performance at Ditch Fridays in Las Vegas, and the Air DT Max '96 to casually roll up to the Global Spin Awards.


No one should be held to only wearing one pair of sneakers. The Cortez is a huge part of L.A. history, but it's not the only sneaker that's worn in the city.


Kendrick, in fact, has only worn the Cortez on a few occasions since his controversial verse first aired on radio on August 14, 2013. He wore Cortez to the BET Hip Hop Awards and the MTV Video Music Awards, both which were situations that all of hip-hop's collective eyeballs would be on Kendrick's footwear.

But, we shouldn't hold him to his promise of only wearing one sneaker until the end of time. Kendrick's reference to only wearing the Cortez is better viewed as a metaphor to represent L.A.

He's long told the stories of people from his city who don't have a voice—"Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" and "Tammy's Song". Saying "he's only going to wear the Cortez" is Kendrick's nod to his city and a way to shed some national attention on the kids living in Compton's gang-infested neighborhood.

People always make up mantras that they're going to keep things simple. It's commonplace to hear people say they're only going to wear Vans Authentics and New Balance 574s, and then rush to buy a new pair of Flyknits. And that's fine.

No one should be held to only wearing one pair of sneakers. The Cortez is a huge part of L.A. history, but it's not the only sneaker that's worn in the city. 

And have you ever worn a pair of Cortez? They're not the most comfortable sneaker, either.

Kendrick wearing a bomber jacket with a pair Air Jordan Vs or Timberlands is just as authentic to hip-hop as the look of Dickies, high socks, and Cortez. There's no point in pigeonholing a person to one sneaker just because they mentioned it on a rap song.

People are always going to want the newest product, it's innate in our desires as consumers.

He's also the most renowned emcee to come out of the West Coast in a long time. With this comes the weight of holding down an entire city. Just putting the Cortez in the spotlight is enough to legitimize Kendrick as L.A.'s premier emcee, even if it's not on his feet at all times. His verse on "Control," even in today's disposable society, will have a much longer shelf life than paparazzi photo of Kendrick that will proliferate the Internet for a week or so. And people will remember his endorsement, not what's currently on his feet.

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