"Fire burning inside my eyes this the music that saved my life, y'all be callin it hip hop I be callin it hypnotized" (Fuck Your Ethnicity)
In case you’ve been living under a rock in the middle of the desert for the past three years, I’d like to state the obvious. The landscape of hip-hop has changed drastically. In this time period the genre has seen a few tons (literally) of new artists making somewhat of a splash in both underground and mainstream audiences. Out of this group has come the likes of Drake, Wiz Khalifa and Meek Mill, but I would argue that a name that should stick out as much if not more than these names (in the case of Khalifa especially.. no offense) is that of Compton, California native Kendrick Lamar. For some reason, though, he seems to be the underclassmen voted most likely to not be noticed. But for those that have slept, as I did, it is time to wake. Kendrick is the real deal and has put out quality material for about the last four years including but not limited to his critically acclaimed album Section.80.
The answer to the question 'Why has Kendrick been slept on?' is not a simple one. It has a lot to do with accessibility though. Many of the new artists drawing attention hail from either the east coast or south. West coast hip-hop has not been what it used to be, obviously with a few exceptions, and this could have helped keep Kendrick in the background. Another key factor is Kendrick's subject matter. Over the last decade what I would call 'intellectual rappers' have been forced to an extent to dumb their music down to remain relevant. Results have varied, but it seems as though only the elite were able to not succumb to watering down lyrics to stay popular. This complex has slowed down Lamar, but he has the upper hand of retrospect to deal with it, and deal with it he does.
Kendrick Lamar has taken on a visionary role when it comes to his lyrical content. His raps address relevant matters of the human condition from the scope of a kid from Compton. On the track 'Ab-Soul Outro' off of Secton.80 Kendrick addresses this issue. After his Black Hippy associate Ab-Soul tears the track to shreads with two piercing verses about Lamar and his collective's HiiiPower movement, Kendrick speaks and gives what I feel is his manifesto of sorts. He proclaims..
“I wrote this cause I was ordered to, people say I write for generation Y, why lie, I do... See a lot of ya'll don't understand Kendrick Lamar. Because you wonder how I could talk about money, hoes, clothes, god and history all in the same sentence. You know what all the things have in common? Only half of the truth, if you tell it. See I've spent twenty three years on the earth searching for answers Til' one day I realized I had to come up with my own. I'm not the next pop star. I'm not the next socially aware rapper. I am a human motherfucking being, over dope ass instrumentation.”
The relevance and intellegence of his lyrics only make up half of the equation though. The other half is attributed to the fact that Lamar possesses an almost unparallelled flow. If you listen to rap (which I assume is true since you are reading this) you know that speaking in generalities there are two primary components, delivery and subject matter. It's not just what he's saying that makes him special but how he says it. His cadences are always concise and he packs bars with more syllables than your garden variety rapper. He rides what ever beat he is on to a tee and makes it almost as if his voice is an instrument blending with and owning the track at the same (damn) time.
"So get up off that slave ship build your own pyramids write yo own hieroglyphs" (HiiiPower)
A total package like Kendrick Lamar is a rareity. By now, he has gained recognition from hip-hop elite, fans and critics alike. From his signing to Dr. Dre's Aftermath imprint, to his inclusion in Drake's Club Paradise Tour lineup, Kendrick's name is getting out there. Complex Magazine has Lamar listed as the #3 best rapper 25 years old and under, behind only the aforemention Drake and A$AP Rocky. At only 24 years old, it seems as though sky's the limit for the young Compton MC. On October 2, Lamar is set to release his debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city. Be on the look out for that and while you're at it download Section.80 off of iTunes now.
Enjoy these two tracks by Kendrick Lamar, both to be apart of the upcoming good kid, m.A.A.d city