For the longest time, Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free's company pgLang has been shrouded in mystery. Is it a label? Is it a brand? Is it a production company? The rapper and his longtime collaborator kicked off the project last year with little more than a website and a logo – no frills. Teasers featuring K. Dot himself, Baby Keem, Jorja Smith, and Yara Shahidi hinted that something big was coming. And then nothing. Now, after 10 months of radio silence, pgLang is finally making its debut with a campaign for Calvin Klein.
Across a series of eight short films written and directed by Dave Free, pgLang flips the traditional fashion campaign into raw storytelling by some of LA's most compelling creative voices. From artist Mecca Allah, to music star Baby Keem, actors Travis Bennett, Ryan Destiny, and Keith Powers, through to positivity influencer Amber Wagner, R&B singer Brent Faiyaz, and comedian vlogger Exavier.
The clips range from funny to intriguing, snappy and brooding. While the fashion industry usually markets itself by being outrageous, pgLang opts for relatable. Whether it's Keem on the phone with his sister trying to define the difference between a homegirl and a girlfriend, or Keith Powers freezing his jeans because he "read an article" about how it helps kill bacteria, Free's one-minute clips never take themselves or the clothes they're promoting too seriously.
In one especially comical video, Travis Bennet promotes his favorite CK jeans – sans said jeans. It's an oddball approach, we've seen Calvin Klein ads push many boundaries, but never quite like this. “Dave called me and has the idea, we bounced back and forth," Bennet tells us. "pgLang to me is creating with no boundaries as cliche as it may sound."
With the campaign, we are able to get a better grasp of what pgLang entails. Lamar and Free's vision is about getting stories across. We've become so inundated with ads everywhere and creators just being used as accessories for targeted marketing that it does feel refreshing to see a campaign roll out like an anticipated music video or thoughtful comedy sketch. I guess that's what it means to be a "service company for creators."
I could explain to you why a Black-owned creative service like this is so sorely needed, or why it's so disruptive. But pgLang explained it best in their mission statement: "Only a few contemporary creators have figured out how to speak the evolving language of this generation without fading into the white noise or pre-assigned market share. pgLang is designed to be artist-friendly above all else and embrace both quality and unconventional concepts. This ethos will be applied to an array of creators who will join pgLang, including authors, film and television directors, fine artists, producers, musicians, and blah, blah, blah… you have all heard this shit before."
You can watch the full Calvin Klein campaign on YouTube.