A couple days ago, we celebrated the birthday of Tupac Shakur, one of the greatest hip hop artists of all-time. Today, we celebrate the birthday of a (relative) up-and-comer Kendrick Lamar, who turned 27 today.
Lamar is one of the very small number of modern-day rappers who have been able to consistently garner the respect of young hip hop fans that are new to the genre, the mainstream music audience, the indie music crowd, and the “I only listen to old school hip hop” crowd. With the exception of maybe J. Cole and a couple others, there aren’t too many who fit that description and appeal to that many demographics.
Kendrick Lamar’s first big mixtape came in the year 2010, when he released the critically acclaimed O.verly D.edicated. It was a great way to start off what’s been a historically great start to a career.
Not long after came what may be his best work to date (editor’s note: this is more my opinion than the public’s, and I find it to be a top 3 hip hop album of the past decade). Section .80 was the first full-fledged album that Lamar put together, and is the album that really got him noticed. Hits like “Hol’ Up”, “No Makeup”, and a ridiculous number of other great songs.
The one song that really made people stand up was “Rigamortis”, the final verse particularly. In short, he kills it. Check it:
The album that took him from a hip hop head’s favorite to a mainstream superstar and Dr. Dre’s apprentice (he was already, but people found out about in masses through this) was good kid, m.A.A.d city. As far as major label debuts are concerned, this has to be considered a classic.
Many artists make the jump, not many make it look as easy as Lamar managed to make it appear. There aren’t enough major label albums like this, in any genre. It takes serious talent and work from both the production team (he had a huge team on this album, including Dre, Anthony Griffith, Pharrell Williams, and numerous others) and the artist himself. They pull it off.
That’s three albums, sort of. He’s a big star now, and watching his climb should be fun. It could also be a rough fall. It’s tough to say when an artist is this young and new, and the mainstream rap culture is as manufactured as ever.
So far, so good.