The general rule at Kendrick Lamar’s foundation-shaking “The Pop Out: Ken & Friends” event in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening was to expect the unexpected. Dr. Dre asking the arena for a moment of silence, so he can whisper the intro of nightmares? A cadre of rappers, NBA stars, and alleged gang members dancing in harmony on stage? KDot playing his Drake diss “Not Like Us” five—six, if you count instrumental!—times in a row? Each new revelation hit like a five out of five booms.

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The Kendrick Lamar/Drake Beef, Explained

Kendrick and Drake diss each other multiple times in one weekend, A.I. shenanigans, shots fired at and from Future, Metro Boomin, Rick Ross, Weeknd and more in a new chapter in rap geopolitics.

Kendrick Lamar

But the most shocking detail of all may well have been Kendrick’s shoe of choice for the evening: the divisive Nike Shox R4, in its original circa-2000 “white and comet red” colorway.

A year after declaring himself “best-dressed moving forward” (a claim he bolstered by filling his closet with Martine Rose and Wales Bonner), KDot kept his attire simple for his one-night-only victory lap in LA. Aside from his red hat and hoodie, light-wash jeans, and his usual black-rimmed eyeglasses, the choice to wear the long-discontinued (and categorically dunked-on) sneakers was his slyest provocation. As one tweet put it, “If you see me in these just know I came to hate.”

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Previously Kendrick Lamar wore a pair of designer Martine Rose's Nike Shox mules to the 2023 Grammys.

Previously, Kendrick Lamar wore a pair of designer Martine Rose’s Nike Shox mules to the 2023 Grammys.

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Given Lamar’s affinity for Martine Rose, some fans speculated that last night’s Shox may be an exclusive pair by way of the British designer’s ongoing Shox revisionism in her official partnership with Nike. (Kendrick did wear a pair of Martine Rose’s heeled Shox mules, in vibrant purple and “Scuba blue,” to the Grammys in 2023.) But if KDot was wearing just the regular ol’ original R4s, his resounding success ought to give Nike reason enough to put them back into production.

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