When Reebok decided to link up with rap artist Kelvyn Colt, the intention was deeper than a run-off-the-mill collab. Doing a couple of promo shots to promote a random sneaker? That’s definitely not the way to go for one of the faces of the „Respect The Icons“ campaign. As a summit of tastemakers that take pride in going their own way, Reebok’s initiative celebrates those that choose individuality over hype – to become icons in their own right.
Dubbed “the new face of German rap” by Forbes, Kelvyn Colt is an icon in the making. Born and raised in Germany, he moved to London after finishing school to study Entepreneurship. But luckily, the son of a Nigerian father and a German mother didn’t pursue a tedious desk job. Aptly named after the one-way flight he took to the British capital, Kelvyn released his debut EP “LH914” in 2017 to rave reviews. And while acclaim increased from all sides, the young artist identified the role of someone who’s always between two cultures as his x-factor.
Embracing ambiguity, Kelvyn carries the flag for those who already are way past pigeonhole thinking. He created his own lane rather than following in footsteps. And he characterizes the spirit of a generation that thrives on a mix of cultural identities. Similar to Reebok’s celebrated Club C Revenge, the artist placed instinct and passion over cold calculation. Because to achieve icon status, authenticity is key.
For their joint campaign, Reebok captured the contrasts that define the reality of Kelvyn Colt. Whether it’s the typical Berlin corner pub, a bourgeois suburbia or the local afro shop, the musician crosses superficial boundaries with the Club C Revenge on his feet. To pick his brain and talk anything from art to style and music, we recently sat down with Kelvyn after an exclusive Reebok gig in Berlin.
Inside the mind of Kelvyn Colt
Hi Kelvyn, nice to meet you for this interview. We’re here to speak about your music but also about your collaboration with Reebok. The claim for the shoe is “simplicity is iconic”. How do you relate to simplicity? Is that a concept you can apply to your music or even personal style?
Hi, nice to meet you too! Well you know what they say, less is more. For my personal style, I tend to keep it simple, I don’t like to take it too far or to experimental. I do take risks, especially when I am performing but being comfortable is the key. What I mean to say is, style is very personal, and it makes sense to build on personal taste rather then imitate trends or buying into stuff just because it is what’s poppin – that would be a waste of money and we all work too hard for our bread to do that. After all, your personal style and taste are quite often timeless if you go for quality and try to figure out what you really like and can see yourself still wearing in a few years time. Reebok has many classics in their collection as well as newer items & designs, such as the Club C and Revenge Plus, and these are timeless too.
I personally tend to be a fan of the classic items or when the OG shit gets reinvented, merging things that have proven their relevance and timeless beauty over many years with a rebellious, youthful spirit – it’s the best of both worlds and that ability makes something iconic to me. It’s the same with music; being able to bring old values to the table and paying homage to the classics and those who’ve achieved greatness before you whilst including your own twist and modern DNA/sound – being able to balance that is confidence, which makes it/you sexy – and that’s iconic to me. So yes, simplicity can be iconic, in its own unique way, if you manage to pull it off well. An icon is just an icon, it proves it’s status through just being itself and present throughout the times, irrespective of trends coming in & out.
What does the Revenge Plus represent to you as a sneaker? How does it figure for you as an item of style?
I mean, as I said earlier, the Revenge Plus is a classic! It is one of those timeless sneakers, one everyone can wear in their own way. They go with every style and almost every outfit. Not to forget, they are super comfortable too. Also, as it has so much ‘blank white space’ the shoe is a great canvas to customise, which is something I am personally looking into. I love the whole customisation scene and I follow and speak with some of the artists doing it online via IG.
You’ve already mentioned in other interviews how the fact that you grew up between cultures has shaped you and is probably the one thing you stand for. At what point did you first realize that this is a gift and not a disadvantage?
When I was younger it was pretty tough, because you wear literally torn between cultures, trying to fit in a box and meet certain standards. When I got older and started to get more into music, I started seeing it as an advantage. I have more heritage to build on, more culture to grasp inspiration from and I am bilingual. I mean, if look you at the pros and cons, there are definitely more pro’s. We should all be proud of our heritage, it is part of who you are.
The visual side of you as an artist is very much based on your long-standing collaboration with Max Gold, who you met in Wiesbaden. Is collaborating on different levels something you believe in as a concept?
Ayy, Shout Out to Max Gold!! Max and I have been friends for a real long time, we are both on a journey in our own fields. Just like I have grown with music, Max has been growing with his camera. I am not the only one he works with, and as good friends you must support each other. That is what TBHG is also about, supporting each other, positive vibes. #TBHG.
One of the things that sets you apart in Germany is the fact that you rap in English. Do you listen to German hip hop at all and feel part of the scene? Or do you simply have a different set of references based on the language?
Well I am also German and spend a lot of my (free) time in Germany too. So, I definitely get exposed to it. Personally I just feel more comfortable making music in English and on an artistic level I feel a stronger connection with my British and American peers. But for sure, there is some great German talent out here as well, I guess the sound & narrative that is currently trending in Germany is just something that I can’t necessarily relate to too much. But There is a reason German hip-hop is the biggest genre of music in Germany.
I usually cross path with other artists in Germany at festivals or with those I am friends with on a personal level when we hang – and although there are a bunch I get along with, I luckily don’t come up in discussions about ‘the scene’, as I like to be more lowkey about my affiliations – which is amazing as German hiphop is super cliquey. So being considered a ‘loner’ definitely has its liberating advantages.
Style obviously plays a major role in your life as well. Is there a certain era, movement or even particular artists that have inspired you style-wise?
That is a tricky question, I do think you draft inspiration from everyone and everything around you. Now, with Instagram for instance, a lot of people are exposed to the same things. So it is hard to be original, as style is often influenced by the same people nowadays. I do think it is important to open up to new experiences, travel, get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, talk to a stranger, go to a museum, get inspired.
How does the feedback you got for your most recent EP “Mind of Colt Pt. 1” influence your current work? Does feedback influence you at all?
That is a tricky question, with the internet nowadays, not all you get is feedback. So you need to develop a pretty good filter. To me, feedback is a point of improvement, a learning curve. You listen to it and then it is up to you, what you are going to do with it. Sometimes you think, it is nothing, sometimes it takes some time to click and other times you hear exactly what you needed to hear. Feedback is a great thing, but you have to be able to filter it for yourself and it most certainly does influence my work. I have had some great feedback from my fans, but also from some heavyweights in the music industry.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Ayy, all I can say is stay tuned, there is a lot coming up. I will be diving more into my Nigerian heritage and sharing this with the world. So definitely, keep an eye out on my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, wherever you follow me!
Release Details – Reebok Club C Revenge
The Reebok Club C Revenge is now available via reebok.de as well as at select retailers. Depending on your colorway of choice, the shoe retails for 80 to 100 €.