Kendrick Lamar Breathes New Life Into Hip-Hop
Not in recent memory has an artist stepped onto the scene as convincingly as Kendrick Lamar. Sure, many rappers have swagger, but Lamar’s is more than just a persona, it stems from a supreme confidence in his talent. In our Picture of the Week, he gets into a zone, looks up, and basks in the lights, fog, and adoration that surround him. If only for this very moment, he knows no other rapper can compete.
With the release of his debut, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, Kendrick Lamar has revitalized the West Coast hip-hop scene. He’s steadily built his Black Hippy entourage with fellow Californian rappers Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab Soul, because what’s a rapper without a crew?
Now, Lamar sets his sights on hip-hop immortality. In a genre where business savvy is almost as important as musical talent, he’s made some cunning moves. First, his tour with Kanye West is about as formidable a partnership as there is in hip-hop right now. The two are taking on arenas together (want tickets? we’re giving them away!), much in the same way that West and Jay Z did in the past. Kendrick proves more than just a protegee, though; his billing is nearly as much of an attraction as Yeezus himself.
Next, Kendrick targets Drake in a calculated move to dethrone the Toronto rapper. It’s East v. West all over again (or maybe northeast?), and it’s becoming one of the most compelling hip-hop feuds in years. “And nothing been the same since they cut ‘Control’ and tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes,” Lamar rapped in a recent BET cypher. Drake has been holding back, but we wait patiently for his rebuttal, as the two continue to exchange blows in a heavyweight bout.
In reality, the two rappers have more in common than one would think. Lamar and Drake both create affecting music because, first and foremost, it comes from a genuine place. While Drake has been criticized for being “sensitive,” the emotion in his music is what makes it original, and quite frankly, great. The same can be said for Kendrick, who also deals with introspective topics (“The Art of Peer Pressure” is a great example).
Although rappers appear reluctant to embrace this “sensitivity” in hip-hop, it’s proving to go a much longer way than the overwrought bravado of money and materialism. Hip-hop needed a wake-up call. It needed someone to breathe some new air into it. Kendrick Lamar has done exactly that, and need I remind you, he’s only released one album. Don’t look now, but after years of stagnation, hip-hop is back.
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Article by Nicolas White