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Kendrick Lamar: The Young Prince of Hip-Hop

In an age of nihilism, superficiality, hypersexuality, and faux masculinity; Kendrick Lamar bucks the trends more than Dennis Rodman’s hairstyles. The 24 yeard old Compton emcee builds on the tradition of Tupac before Death Row Records, and tells stories of Generation Y drug addiction, overthrowing unjust government systems, and trying to stay neutral in a gang-infested neighborhood. Kendrick is one of the least ostentatious rappers I’ve seen in a while. No gold chains, no women gyrating in front of cameras; just pure unadulterated socially conscious rhymes is all he adorns.

 This past summer my friend from New Jersey  introduced me to K.L. and I was initially underwhelmed, mainly because I only listened to the track “Michael Jordan” in which he lazily pays homage to his favorite basketball player. However, after I began exploring his extensive repertoire I not only came to like it, but I felt inspired. I had not felt so moved by a music album since the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill until I heard K.L.’s album Section 80.


Section.80 is a concept album which revolves around the life of Tammy and Keisha and it explains their personal hardships in their lives. Tammy’s song revolves around her killing her boyfriend after being unfaithful. This explains the anger she had that she had no one else to trust. Keisha’s Pain is where Keisha grew up a Life being tormented and abused by a crooked cop to a sexually abusive stepfather. Lamar explains that Section 80. is for people born in the 80s until now. Lamar discusses  a wide variety of subjects such as drugs and Ronald Reagan. He also explains and the Crack Epidemic occurred in the 80s and why it is part of the reason drugs are so popular for his generation; and this means drug dealing and drug addiction.

It’s not just his content that’s so impressive. It also his delivery. His rapid fire delivery coupled with his very distinct West Coast cadence combines to make an unforgettable voice. This is very evident in his new track “Rigamortis” where he starts off at a fairly rapid pace, and eventually picks up to a Bone Thugs N Harmony type speed that shows his extensive range and breathing ability.

He’s not just popular in “conscious” circles; In August 2011 Snoop, The Game, and Dr. Dre crowned Kendrick the New Prince of the West Coast. This means alot, mainly because the West Coast has a tradition of producing emcees who created music littered with self-masturbatory riddles that pat themselves on the back. I believe K.L.’s legitimacy in many communities comes from his willingness to speak candidly about being “an average joe” just focused on making it out Compton while staying true to himself and being positive. He’s the Bruce Springstein of hip-hop because his message can be very blue-collar at times; yet he still has enough fire and angst to also be the Fred Hampton of hip-hop too. If Kendrick Lamar continues to stay true to what he believes in and manages to avoid the often times inevitable commericialization dilution of his message, he has the potential to be one of the greates rapper of all time.

Follow me on Twitter @edwardelliot