Compton and Kendrick Lamar on: July 11, 2011, 13:56
It has been a long while since the CPT has been put back onto the center stage. For a short while however, Compton was seemingly the mecca of West Coast Hip-Hop. From the World Class Wreckin' Cru and Yella dropping "Juice" in '84, to then the formation of N.W.A. during the late 80's, to Gangsta Rap, Ice Cube, Snoop, 2pac, Eric Wright, and DJ Quik. If you were growing up in Southern California, listening to albums like, "'Straight Outta Compton", "The Chronic", and "Doggystyle" were almost rites of passage. Listening to classics like "Lethal Injection" and "All Eyez On Me" became almost ritual practices. Then Dre dropped "2001" and between the Doctor and Snoop, it seemed as if they had a stranglehold over the entire rap game. Smaller acts like Coolio and Compton's Most Wanted put their stamps on the scene as well, but the success of their music never made the colossal impact that their counterparts created.
After Dr. Dre's "2001", the collapse of Death Row, and the death of Gangsta Rap, it seemed that Compton as well as some of the larger West Coast acts went to sleep and fell off the map. Let's face it, the only thing worth listening to out of the CPT these days are Beats by Dre. Ice Cube started making bad movies, Dre's "Detox" never really came out, and the "West Side's" greatest advocate (Tupac Shakur) was dead. It seemed that the West couldn't keep up with the myriad of artists that the South and East Coast were pumping out. And it wasn't until The Game and Compton put out "The Documentary" did the West seem to have any sort of active voice again. For a short while Jayceon Taylor (former prodigy of Dre) and 50 Cent's G-Unit were able to appeal to the streets as well as mass culture the way the way that Dre, Pac, Snoop, and Suge had done a decade before. "Put You On the Game" became the Compton anthem and the Game had answered the question on his self proclaimed track, "Is Compton in the house?"--"Without a doubt!" The "Documentary" became a classic and was the debut album that shot The Game into utter superstardom, going 2 time platinum and selling over 5 million copies world wide. The album was considered the re-emergence of the West Coast scene for a short while until Game lost his appeal and has since fallen off himself. After reviving the West Coast and putting Compton back on the map, somewhere along the line, the crown that The Game proceeded to place on his head fell off and his sound became stale. He burned too many bridges, called too many people out, and broke ties with many of the people who gave him his start. But with every end, comes new beginnings and the opportunity for others to rise up and answer the call.
After the rise and seemingly fall of Game, artists like Nipsey Hussle, Jay Rock, Dom Kennedy, and now Kendrick Lamar have been jostling and grinding to make their mark on the "Left Coast", that has seemingly fallen off. All of these artists have been doing their thing now for the past couple years and have finally started to get the recognition they deserve. However, one in particular has stood out to me above the rest in the past couple weeks after the recent release and success of his third solo project, "Section.80" on July 2nd: the young prodigy Kendrick Lamar.
After gracing the cover of XXL Mag's Fourth Annual "Freshman Issue", Lamar was dubbed as the most lyrical of the 2011 class and at 23 years old, he has all the potential in the world to become the West's next big come up. He is Dre's current prodigy and let's just say the Doctor has a knack for picking winners, i.e. (Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game, Snoop Dogg). Lamar first broke out onto the scene back in 2003 under the stage name K. Dot, with his debut mixtape titled, "Youngest Head Nigga In Charge". This got him the hype and recognition he needed, to get him signed to his current record deal at the "Top Dawg Entertainment" owned by Jay Rock. His next two mixtapes "Training Day" and "C4" received positive feedback, but the real buzz around Lamar's name didn't start to compile until his independent debut, "Overly Dedicated", released on September 14th, 2010. Since, Lamar has remained one of the top unsigned rappers in the game (by major record label standards), but has strategically aligned himself with artists like Snoop, Dre, and Tech N9ne. He received public endorsement from Snoop for his latest release on Snoop's Twitter page.
He has a soft voice, that has been described as a hybrid between a Q-Tip and a young 2pac. Lamar has said openly that 2pac is his greatest inspiration for the music he makes today. Although his sound is uniquely different from Pac's, the universality and the artistic integrity that he puts behind his message while approaching his craft is eerie when comparing the two artists. Especially on this album, "Section.80", the worldly conscious lyrics that he strings together, bar by bar, are unparalleled in many ways to the artists making music coming out of the West Coast right now. And it is in this regard that he is most similar to 2pac, Lamar speaks the honest truth, whether you like it or hate it. He claim's on the album's outro, "I'm not the next pop star, I'm not the next socially aware rapper...I am a human motherf**cking being over dope a** instrumentation". Lamar doesn't want to just be the industry's next pop rapper, but rather the next muckraker on the country we live in and the social injustices that still hurt America today.
The growth and the sophistication that he has developed on "Section.80" is vivid and is not missed. Lamar makes it known that he is just coming into himself and it is his mission to become one of the game's greatest. What makes "Section.80" so special is its ability to reach and connect to people from all backgrounds, walks of life, and ethnicities. Black, white, brown, yellow, or green, Lamar's message is universal and adheres to creating a more unified society. He acknowledges that despite America having a bi-racial president, that we still do not live in a post racial society.
Lamar speaks about how America is still seeing the effects that the crack epidemic had on the Black communities at large and how the Reagan Presidency neglected many of these communities as a whole. The song, "F*ck Your Ethnicity", on which he opens with, sets the stage for the rest of the album and the lyrically conscious narrative that he delivers on the 16 track release. It is a song that discusses not just the current issues between African Americans and the rest of our society, but the generational struggle that they have endured and overcome. Lamar from the onset is bold, unapologetic, and daring with the message he is trying to send to his audience. He doesn't proclaim himself or assume the identity of a Malcolm X or a Martin Luther King Jr., however, he humbly pays respects to their monumental lives and urges us to finish the jobs that they started. He speaks on everything from the crack epidemic and the civil rights movement ("F*ck Your Ethnicity", "Poe Mans Dreams", "Ronald Reagan Era") to rape and sexism on "No Makeup (Her Vice)", to the effects of Marijuana and the epidemic of "self medication" on "A.D.H.D". He does a remarkably sensitive and thoughtful rendition of "Brenda's Got A Baby", on his version: "Keisha's Song (Her Pain)", in which he pays homage to Shakur and his poetic masterpiece from the 90's. Lastly, he collaborates with J. Cole on "HiiiPower", which is already considered one of the best recorded Hip-Hop tracks of the year.
The album is very tightly produced and doesn't even cross the 60 minute mark. However, within these 16 tracks and 59 minutes, Kendrick puts out perhaps the most controversial, brave, witty, and thought provoking albums of the year. In this, it is nearly impossible to skip a track while listening. It is a straight play through. Lamar doesn't overstep his boundaries, nor does he shy away from confrontation. He takes pride in spitting the truth and doesn't mind losing friends doing it. Aside from rappers like Nas, Common, and 2pac, I can't remember the last time hearing an artist interweave so many diverse issues and problems into his/her lyrics and rhymes. The album had almost no other featured artists on it, with the exception of the RZA, GLC, and a short list of others. It is truly remarkable that such an album was mostly independently produced, but because of this, it holds his integrity and creativity of his inner artist.
If you don't already have it, get it. If you haven't already heard about it, here it is. "Section.80" by Kendrick Lamar is a must listen and should stay on your favorite iPod playlist for the remainder of the summer. He is currently working on an untitled, independent album with J. Cole, recording tracks for Dr. Dre's Detox, and collaborating/building Top Dawg Entertainment as well as "Black Hippy", the rap group he and Jay Rock started under Top Dawg's label. Here are a couple links to the album and to Kendrick Lamar. Enjoy...
Re: Compton and Kendrick Lamar on: July 26, 2011, 15:36
Jay Rock talks shop with Karmaloop T.V. about his new album "Follow Me Home" which was released today as well as working with fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar, LA, family, and Steven Segall...check it out