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Artist on the Rise: Kendrick Lamar

Posted by David Porter Callanan on 01/27 at 02:55 PM

Kendrick Lamar is a hard spitting lyrical wordsmith that hails from Compton, California. Although the city is known as the birthplace of “Gangster Rap,” Kendrick’s style is more insightful to everyday life and culture in Compton as opposed to just the gangsta aspect. One fan described him as having the consciousness and lyricism of Lupe Fiasco with the presence and charisma of Pusha T. I couldn’t agree more. Kendrick was signed at the age of 16 by his current record label Top Dog Entertainment (TDE). Along with label mates Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab Soul, they form the group “Black Hippy,” who have called themselves the new “Westside Connection.”

Following years of mixtape releases and EP’s, Kendrick started off 2011 with a bang by receiving a co-sign from Compton legend Dr. Dre and landing a spot on XXL’s freshman ‘11 list. While some artists might let these honors go their head, Kendrick proved he was taking a different approach by spitting lines like, “Everybody heard that I f*** with Dre, and they wanna tell me I made it, N****, I aint make s***, if he give me a handout I’ma take his wrist and break it!

Those ferocious bars came from Kendrick’s 2011 debut album entitled Section.80, which received praise from critics and fans. Kendrick claims that the inspiration for the album came from a dream he had about his favorite rapper, the late great Tupac Shakur. In the dream, Tupac told him to “keep doing what you’re doing, keep my music alive.” The album centers around the generation that was born during the 1980’s in America, which is recognized on the track “Ronald Reagan Era.” Two female characters each are introduced on the debut’s intro track “F*** Your Ethnicity,” before they received their own anthems on “Keisha’s Song,” and “Tammy’s Song.” The album shows diversity in subject matter and instrumentals on spacey tracks like “ADHD,” to classic sounding hip-hop jams like “Hol’ Up.” The album’s first single is the anthem of Kendrick’s movement known as “Hiii Power,” which some considered to be the video and track of 2011. Once again Kendrick shows his hunger and clever wordplay on the J.Cole produced track when he spits bars like “I got finger on the motherf***in pistol, aiming at a pig Charlotte’s web is gonna miss you,” and “Im standin’ on a field full of land mines doing the moonwalk hoping I blow up in time.” The track’s first verse was voted by fans as the verse of the year on XXL.com. The album was one of six hip hop albums to make Pitchfork’s top 50 of 2011, placing at number 45.

After winning over critics and gaining fans across the country, Kendrick hit the studio with hip hop heavyweights like The Game, Tech N9ne and Drake. These verses proved to be a warning shot for future collaborators. His verse/chorus in “The City,” by The Game was voted the verse of 2011 by Rap Genius. Drake took a wiser rout by giving Kendrick his own track on his sophomore album “Take Care” with “Buried Alive.” The track was voted a top five verse of 2011 by MTV.com with verses from hip-hop legends like Kanye West, Nas and Jay-Z. Drake took this collaboration to the next level by inviting Kendrick to open for him on tour this past fall which even made a stop here in Happy Valley at the BJC.

With Kendrick Lamar taking the rap game by storm in 2011 with an incredible album and mind-blowing features, what is next for the prince of the west coast? He currently is putting the final touches on his first major release (Section.80 was sold strictly through iTunes) entitled Good Kid From a Mad City. He also is working on collaborations with “Black Hippy,” and a highly anticipated mixtape with “Hiii Power” producer J.Cole. Until then we will have to live on his diverse and insanely deep catalog of released material.

{name} Author: David Porter Callanan
Bio: David Porter Callanan is currently a senior studying print journalism and English at Penn State. In his free time he enjoys eating peanut butter, watching premium television shows, listening to rad music and being tortured by his beloved Philadelphia sporting teams. He listens to a wide range of music but his favorite genres are grunge rock and hip hop. Some of his favorite artists include Pearl Jam, Kanye West and J. Cole. Following graduation, his dream job is to write for the hip hop magazine XXL.

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