I don’t mean to be dramatic or anything, but I will not hesitate to unfollow your Twitter and Instagram accounts, unfriend you on Facebook, unlink with you on LinkedIn, not send you any carrier pigeons, and drop all personal ties to you if you deny that Kendrick Lamar is UNARGUABLY the greatest rapper alive. And so here it is: my very non-biased music review of Kendrick Lamar’s music.
Just kidding (at least the second part).
While I initially intended pimp a blog to be hip hop reviews for my favorite artists’ albums, I decided to pivot. I will be still be dedicating this blog to highlight my favorite artists, but instead of utilizing only point-blank reviews to do this, I will be discussing my personal links to the artist’s music and what I personally find admirable or interesting about that artist’s music.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Kendrick Lamar is one of my favorite artists and so it only makes sense to devote this first blog post to the first modern hip hop artist that I was introduced to that ended up becoming a strong favorite and led me to discover other modern hip hop artists.
I was introduced to Lamar and his music actually pretty recently, sometime in the fall of last year, by my older cousin, Ruhee, during a visit to her house. At this point, I had already been listening to Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G, Nas, and other old school hip hop icons for a some years now, but I was looking for something more modern and new and I concluded that Kendrick Lamar was just that after listening to Ruhee’s favorite Lamar album good kid m.A.A.d city.
The reason I hold Kendrick Lamar’s music to the highest regards is because it reminds me why I got into hip hop in the first place; I was attracted to the raw, but creative portrayals of life’s high and low points, the striking addresses of current issues, and at the core, an artistic presentation of African-American culture in my favorite old school artists’ music and Lamar does the same with a contemporary twist. However, the creative genius in Kendrick Lamar doesn’t only lie in his music’s personal and relevant topics, rather, it mainly lies in how he makes each of his albums into sharply unique, moving artistic experiences that give insight into his life’s struggles, that provide social commentary on race, class, and ethical issues, and that make a thematic statement.
Starting with Kendrick Lamar’s debut album Section .80, released in 2011, Lamar finds his voice, establishing himself as a flamboyant storyteller with this concept album that revolves around issues such as race, love and sexuality, the 1980’s crack epidemic, and prescription drug abuse through the stories of two seemingly real characters: Tammy and Keisha. The next year, Kendrick Lamar released good kid m.A.A.d city, continuing to showcase his skill in writing lyrics and revolutionize concept albums, but this time, focusing on his teenage years in Compton.
I think the other aspect of Kendrick Lamar that really proves his creative genius is his ability to evolve by experimentation. Lamar’s two most recent albums, To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) and DAMN (2017) have completely shattered any and all previous molds of rap; To Pimp a Butterfly was not an album but rather a jazz, spoken word, and soul infused political statement and in DAMN, Kendrick truly broke from his favored beginning to end story-telling format to deliver a powerful command of his abilities in lyrics, juxtaposition, and rhythm where each track consciously explored opposing themes such as love and lust.
While I’ve only been listening to Kendrick Lamar for about a year, I’ve become a life-long of his sophisticated rap. And so I implore you: If you’re a hip hop fan, listen to Kendrick Lamar and if you’re not a hip hop fan, listen to Kendrick Lamar.