Be humble, sit down: Kendrick Lamar and his new album
April 27, 2017
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, better known by his stage name, Kendrick Lamar, is a singer-songwriter who was born and raised in an impoverished home of Compton, CA. In the classroom, he was always a superior student who frequently excelled in English. Passionate about the subject, young Kendrick spent much of his free time writing stories and poems to escape the violence that would eventually influence him. It wasn’t until years later that he began “writing rhymes at fourteen years old”. He released his first mixtape in 2003 under the stage name “K-Dot,” which went viral in Southern California, gaining the attention of successful music industry companies. He eventually signed with Top Dawg Entertainment Records (TDE) and gained success after releasing two more mixtapes the following few years. In 2010, Kendrick met Dr. Dre and began performing under his real name, Kendrick Lamar. In 2012, he released his first album and made a few appearances on national TV, gaining a national audience that would be loyal.
“Y’all got until April seven to get y’all s*** together.”
-Kendrick Lamar in “The Heart Part IV”
The anticipated release of Kendrick Lamar’s “D***” was further enhanced by a seven day delay, but it was well worth the wait. The span between his first album, Section.80 (2011), and D*** (2017) is a literal blueprint of Kendrick Lamar’s progression as an artist. Established by the streets of his youth and his struggle up the ladder of the modern music industry, he has truly risen to a statute that is rarely seen. A modest existence and an upbringing in the cold, industrial city of Compton gave rise to the album’s hit track, and currently the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, “HUMBLE.” The storytelling of this album gave me a real sense of what life was like for this guy. For example, Kendrick grew up without much food in his house, often resorting to unorthodox meals.
“I remember syrup sandwiches and crime allowances,”
-Kendrick Lamar in “HUMBLE”
Kendrick is very generous with this album, lending features to guest artists such as Rihanna and legendary, political rockers, U2. The album also features sounds and lyrics from newcomer and key producer, Zacari. In track six, “LOYALTY,” Kendrick pays tribute to icon Jay-Z. Yes, he directly borrows the lyrics of Jay-Z, but in a way that showcases his talent while also praising a role model of his childhood.
“It’s a secret society/All we ask is trust.”
-JAY Z in “Get Your Mind Right Miami”
“FEAR” is a funky, blues, gospel track that quickly devolves lyrically into a profanity-laced rant that tarnishes any chance of commercial appeal. Yes, his lyrics contain profanity, but they’re an explanation of his life and he uses them to convey his emotions. For those who want to avoid hearing explicit language, I would recommend staying away from this album.
“DUCKWORTH,” a mildly-paced, Motown tribute, is Kendrick’s last chance to drive home the message of his impoverished youth and family struggle – a painful reminder of the attempted murder of his father in the unglamorous setting of a fried chicken establishment.
As a fan of Kendrick, I’ve attempted to remain unbiased in this review, but I continue to appreciate his willingness to share the innermost, deepest aspects of his life. I applaud his resistance to his detractors, which he cleverly incorporates into the very record itself in the album’s first track, “BLOOD,” with audio samples from Fox News.
“Lamar stated his views on police brutality with that line in the song, quote: “And we hate the popo, wanna kill us in the street fo’ sho’…”
“Oh please, ugh, I don’t like it.”
-Fox News anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle in response
We still don’t know the reason for the delay of the release… Was it simply hype? Is the release of a record not good enough anymore? Does it require marketing tricks? We may never know the answer. But, I can assure you that this is a well-crafted record that will earn Kendrick multiple Grammy Awards. While I highly recommend it, the frequent profanity may not attract a wider audience, therefore “D***” comes in at a 9.5/10.