Hip Hop: The Big Question, Where is Kendrick Lamar?

One of the greatest young lyricists of all time, Kendrick Lamar, released his last album, DAMN, in 2017. Since then, his consistency with studio album releases has become nonexistent.

Digging through Interscope Records, Aftermath Entertainment, and Top Dawg Entertainment will lead you to the heart and soul of TDE’s All-Star roster. Throughout the 2010s, rap music became less substance-induced. Young Money slowly began to disband and a plethora of talented musicians made their way onto the mainstream scene.

TDE started with a 15-year-old Kendrick and has now gained many other artists, most notably Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, ScHoolboy Q and SZA. Now that the label is diversified through each individual artists’ preference of style of performing, it can be hard to tell which artist would be considered “team captain” due to personal opinion.

Any rap fan who pays attention to lyricism and other important aspects of the rap universe in front of them would vouch for K-Dot.

GOOD Kid, M.A.A.D City could be thrown into a toss-up sorting out the greatest rap albums of all time. This album provided Kendrick the recognition that he very well deserved after 8 years in the industry, on a global scale.

A masterpiece in itself, this project contained all the right words at a culturally critical point in time. For some unknown reason, this was a time for African-Americans that brought back suppressed fears and memories of the Civil Rights-era conflicts within communities between police officers and African-American citizens, and this rebirth is still in effect today.

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 14: Kendrick Lamar on the rock stage day one of Gandoozy Music Festival at Overland Park Golf Course on September 14, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 14: Kendrick Lamar on the rock stage day one of Gandoozy Music Festival at Overland Park Golf Course on September 14, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images)

400 years of pure bread hatred and dehumanization will require exoneration of the oppressors, to fully relieve racism from society. Unfortunately, it will most likely always be a never-ending cycle of disregard for personal perspective, nurtured hate, neglect for cultural differences, and non-understanding of longevity in oppression aftermath.

The reason Kendrick Lamar is such a compelling artist is that his listeners can become educated while analyzing what he is saying in his songs. GOOD Kid, M.A.A.D City was an incredible follow-up to Kendrick’s first studio album Section.80  and both albums reflect on the state of the black community, specifically in Compton, California, Kenrick’s home.

While Kendrick is such an educated artist, his main agenda is to make music that sounds good, for him and the people who like good music. This agenda is the main reason he isn’t just a bump in the road, annoyingly wordy conscious rapper who you’d see on an Instagram feed.

Kendrick still raps with fun in him and he can’t shake from having some sort of comical gesture or reference in a song. “The Art of Story Telling” has been reinvented by Kendrick Lamar.

His traumatic experiences while in his adolescence fill parts of the album, as he tells the story of teens who just wanted to run the streets, and own the streets, of “Compton, USA” (m.A.A.d city). No sugar-coating will be tolerated in Kendrick Lamar’s bars.

On his next album, To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick becomes even more in tune with his surroundings, as well as racism on a national television scale. He decided to insert news comments, historical melodic samples, and an underlying message for young black kids all over the country.

Kendrick made sure to restate his morale and contest all predators in charge of the disadvantage of these young black kids.

The extremely political messages delivered with this project were critical in shaping what Kendrick wanted to tell the world by releasing it. He has always been an artist who reminds the world that history repeats itself. Kendrick challenges his audience to take in all of his words and picture how they fit into one’s own reality.

He has made each of his projects from a universal standpoint, making sure that there is at least one song all of them on, for anybody to fall in love with.

Being an MC can never be easy, sometimes boundaries that are sensitive end up becoming the most relative subjects, but thanks to MC’s like Kendrick and Tupac Shakur for broadening scenarios and being real with substance, freedom on the microphone is limitless.

The Mount Rushmore of 2010s rap would probably look something like Kendrick, Drake, J. Cole, and Mac Miller, not just because of their rap ability, but more so their influence on the culture and great amounts of discussion about societal issues.

As those four rappers may have been the best lyricists on a mainstream scale for the decade, no one can take away their credit for always keeping their songs real and relatable.

Most recent Kendrick Lamar citing…

Following To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick moved on to arguably his most creative piece of work. DAMN (2017) was the title of this last album, which debuted at #1 on multiple industry charts and sold over 5 million copies worldwide, making it eligible for a triple-platinum certification. This is the same certification that he received for GOOD Kid, M.A.A.D City in 2012.

DAMN was a time for Kendrick to be more personal about his music than ever before. Each song held some sort of root meaning or connection to his upbringing, along with his usual mentioning of worldwide conflict within different types of communities. There were multiple hit singles on the project and his fans were overall a happy group of observers for months after its release.

Just 9 months after the release of the magnificent album DAMN, Kendrick led a group of performers for the collaborative Black Panther Soundtrack album, which assorted the talents of artists from many different cities and backgrounds, as well as multiple fellow TDE artists.

One project that Kendrick made for his fans never really held the spotlight for as long as it should have though. Untitled Unmastered is the name of this album. It was produced a long time before its release because of its composition of cut-outs from To Pimp a Butterfly. 

Kendrick Lamar has not released new music by himself since DAMN, but he is working on a creative platform called pgLang. This contribution to creative persons’ could turn out to be another selfless act from Kendrick Lamar in trying to educate and benefit others.

So where has Kendrick been? It’s safe to say that he has hopefully bee working on some heat for every rap fan to enjoy. He definitely has some stuff in the bag, as every great artist always does at all times. As for this very moment, Kendrick Lamar is undoubtedly working on something productive for the people!