Nov 12, 2023

Kendrick Lamar Is Really Getting Some Fits off Lately

By Eileen Cartter

"I’m best-dressed moving forward," Kendrick Lamar declares on "The Hillbillies," his new track with Baby Keem. A rapper boasting about being stylish wouldn't normally be news—but it is in the case of Kendrick, who's remained a relatively modest dresser (at least in comparison to his fashion-plate contemporaries like Future, A$AP Rocky, and Tyler, the Creator) throughout his decade-plus career, primarily sticking to a very laid-back, West Coast wardrobe of hoodies, plaid shirts, and Nike Cortezes. In 2023, though? The Pulitzer-winning MC might now truly have the menswear bonafides to back up that bold best-dressed claim.

On "The Hillbillies," which dropped on streaming this week, Kendrick supplements his proclamation with a whole host of insider references: He likens himself to Taz Arnold, the producer and fellow LA native known for his steezy "Compton cowboy" style who once appeared in the famed Tommy Ton photo of Ye, Virgil, and crew at Paris Fashion Week in 2009; on Twitter, Kendrick called Taz "my mount rushmore of style." He namechecks designers Grace Wales Bonner ("I ain't even gotta fact check, all I’m wearing is Wales Bonner") and Martine Rose ("Wear Martine when I board jets"). Kendrick fans know he's been on a real Martine kick lately, having worn the London-based label throughout his most recent tour.

In the last year or so—or ever since he emerged at the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show wearing a custom flared Louis Vuitton suit—Kendrick's been on a full fashion tear, enlisting celebrity stylist Taylor McNeill to help him pull out big fits at every turn. Just after releasing his long-awaited fifth album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers last year, he debuted a few tracks while sitting front row at the Spring 2023 Louis Vuitton show as a tribute to the house's late designer Virgil Abloh; he wore a Tiffany & Co. diamond-encrusted crown of thorns, the same one he donned for the album's artwork. When he collected a Best Rap Album Grammy for Mr. Morale a year later, he gave his acceptance speech dressed in—who else?—head-to-toe Martine Rose.

At last month's Met Gala, Kendrick Lamar skipped posing on the iconic museum steps despite wearing one of the evening's coolest looks: Dressed by Chanel, he wore a quilted black leather car coat over a white T-shirt, loose black trousers, and a Chanel scarf tied around his waist like a belt. He sported Chanel double-Cs in unorthodox places: iced out on one of his central incisors, embroidered onto a backwards Starter cap that also featured the logo of his beloved LA Dodgers. At the most-photographed celebrity red carpet of the year, the only pictures of Kendrick that evening were taken inside.

But the lo-fi, pleasantly silly video for "The Hillbillies" is a fit check bonanza. Kendrick wears snakeskin boots, crochet knits, shredded Japanese denim, even a Rick Owens puffer, in addition to loads of Martine Rose and a whole host of other deep-cut brands. (He also sports a cheeky pair of Adidas Sambas, possibly designed by Wales Bonner, which incidentally puts him in a hotspot within the general best-dressed discourse.) There's even a cameo from a fellow Big Style Stepper—Tyler, the Creator—who stays true to his usual gold teeth and penny loafers vibe.

Tyler, Future, Rocky and Kendrick all came up in the late 2000s and early 2010s, as hip-hop style was reshaped via the pioneering fashion instincts of Ye and Pharrell—the latter of whom will debut his first collection for Louis Vuitton in Paris later this month. New generations of style-minded artists have proliferated in their wake, making the best-dressed pool so well-populated these days that it's hard to keep up. Thankfully, Kendrick isn't taking up the gauntlet lightly.

Kendrick performed alongside Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem during the halftime show wearing a custom flared suit from the late designer Virgil Abloh's final Louis Vuitton menswear collection. It marked the first Big Step in his fashion journey.

Some months later, Kendrick surprised the crowd at the Vuitton show by performing a medley of songs off his then-new album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers while seated next to Naomi Campbell in the front row. He closed things out with an echoed mantra of "Long live Virgil."

Kendrick kept his fashion streak alive in Cannes, bringing a dash of moody casual to the French Riviera.

The Tiffany crown of thrones returned at Glasto, which Kendrick headlined in loose gray slacks and a jagged-hemmed white shirt by Louis Vuitton that got doused with fake blood during his set's finale.

Kendrick was rolling loud in Rick Owens at Rolling Loud.

Kendrick was the musical guest during a Miles Teller-hosted episode of SNL, which he previewed in this cropped Spencer Badu jacket and his usual LA Dodgers cap customized for his creative company pgLang. (pgLang…get it?)

To perform "Rich Spirit" and "N95" on SNL, Kendrick donned a bright-pink velour hoodie and a multitude of high-octane belts.

By The Editors of GQ

By Michella Oré

By Tyler Chin

Normal-looking clothes were the biggest menswear trend at the 2023 Grammys, with the catch being that they were, of course, not all that normal: Kendrick's shell jacket, slacks, and Nike Shox are all Martine Rose.

Not pictured: Kendrick's Chanel double-C diamond tooth cap.

Now those are what I call some Big Steppers!

By The Editors of GQ

By Michella Oré

By Tyler Chin

By The Editors of GQ

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