The Spiritual Rap Legend: Kendrick Lamar
Research Methodology: The information in this paper was collected through thorough research conducted prior to and during the time frame of this course. As a huge fan of the artist, I have spent much time understanding the meaning behind his music as well as his influences. Through information learned in this course, I have been able to further examine his music composition in relation to other genres as well. As far as research, considering Kendrick Lamar can be considered an urban artist, there is not many scholarly sources available on his music however there is a plethora of information, analysis, and research available on the internet. As a result, many of my sources are from reputable websites and publications. A close eye was used to choose the most accurate sources available. Lastly, there is a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research used in this paper as both provides insightful information into his career, life, and music.
Kendrick Lamar is an American musician who has found a name in the music and entertainment industry. He is an award-winning songwriter and rapper. He was born on June 17, 1987 in Compton, California. Lamar was named after musician Kendrick, one factor that is said to have motivated him to venture into music. His parents, Kenny Duckworth and Paula Oliver had moved to Compton from Chicago when he realized Chicago gang culture was a bad influence to his life. It was alleged that he had been part of the notorious Gangster Disciplines, which was associated with myriads of illegal activities. As a child, he grew up tough, and at times he would stay out in the streets where he gained experience in life of hardship. Lamar attended Centennial High School. According to the academic reports, he was an excellent student who scored high grades. It was during his school days that he would write music and keep them for future before venturing into full time music as a career. Kendrick Lamar’s success as a musical artist can be highly attributed to his childhood and adolescence as much of his music stems from the hardships, realizations, and overcoming of obstacles experienced throughout this time of his life. He has managed to transform himself into an advocate of the oppressed in society through his music which focuses strongly on his faith in God as well (thesis).
- Growing Up in Compton
- How his difficult experience growing up changed Kendrick as a person?
- His family was affected by stigmas prevalent in this part of society
- How he allowed this experience to shape him into who he is in a positive way
- Highlighting his hardships
- Taught Kendrick to look at life at a different perspective
- Growing up as a student
- Creating songs and poems as a child for his friends
- His first mixtape: The Youngest Head Nigga in Charge
- Landed him a record deal with Top Dawg Entertainment
- Other New Mixtapes: Training Day, C4
- Earnings of these mixtapes were used to create his 1st rap collective, The Black Hippy
III. Start of his Success in the Rap Industry
- Section 80, was his first full length debut while signed to Top Dawg
- Released on I-tunes, became slightly popular
- Noticed by and worked with popular artists of the time like Dr. Dre, Young Jeezy, Talib Kweli, And Lil Wayne
- Mentored by Dr. Dre, one of his influences
- Kendrick signed to Dr. Dre’s record label, Aftermath Entertainment
- Brought his music to the next level and became pretty mainstream
III. Anticipated and Popular Albums
- Good Kid, m A. A. d City, 2012
- High Sales
- To Pimp a butterfly, 2015
- High Sales
- Won a Grammy Award in 2016 for Best Rap Album, Nominated for 11
- Performance at the Grammy Award Ceremony was extremely popular and successful
- Featured Bilal and Pharrell
- Focused on politics, vulnerability, racism in society
- Began booking mainstream television and radio interviews as his unique style grew and his popularity grew
III. Spiritual Beliefs
- Distinguishes himself from other musicians with his lyrics and style
- Focuses deeply on politics and social issues such as equality and justice
- Focuses deeply on his faith in God
- More spiritual than religious
- Believes faith in God is more important than organized religion which he considers to be insignificant
- Claims no clear religion but belief in God leans towards Christianity
- Spirituality while growing up in Good Kid, m A. A. d City
- Explored in Good Kid, m A. A. d City as he met other sinners
- God’s presence in his life
- Explores his vulnerability and his past struggles with keeping faith
III. Societal and Political Beliefs
- Much of his music also explores politics and society
- Nature of people and how hypocritical people can be within society
- Critiques the government often through metaphors
- Requires deep analysis to understand a lot of his metaphors
- Urges for change within society
- Often observes political events going on in the country and relates them to people in society
In conclusion, Kendrick Lamar is a modern musician that has made a name in the music industry. Beginning with being born to poverty-stricken parents, he has experienced many obstacles throughout his life. However, he changed the perception that history determines the future and become one of the best advocates of the oppressed in society through music. His music career is driven by realities in life, the hardships and the faith in God. As a musician, his role in society cannot be underestimated as he enjoys a huge following in the United States and beyond.
“Kendrick Lamar Revisits Importance of Music in Black Freedom Struggle.” The Odyssey Online, 26 Aug. 2017, www.theodysseyonline.com/kendrick-lamars-single-alright.
Scholarly Source Written by Professor.
Brunben, Aneka . Empowerment and Protest in Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”. Bachelor Thesis.
ListsDesire Thompson@desire_renee | April 16, 2017 – 6:00 am. “10 Biblical Elements From Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’.” Vibe, 17 Apr. 2017, www.vibe.com/2017/04/kendrick-lamardamn-biblical-elements/.
Bassil, Ryan. “Kendrick’s ‘DAMN.’ Is a Spiritual Reawakening.” Noisey, 19 Apr. 2017, noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/jpzppp/kendrick-lamar-damn-spiritual-reawakening-religion.
Reed, Ryan. “Kendrick Lamar Talks Spiritual, ‘Urgent’ New Album.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 1 Mar. 2017, www.rollingstone.com/music/news/kendrick-lamar-talks-spiritual-urgentnew-album-w469883.
Bristout, Ralph. “The Book of K. Dot: Exploring the religious themes tucked in Kendrick Lamar’s catalog.” REVOLT TV, 13 Apr. 2017, revolt.tv/stories/2017/04/13/book-dot-exploringreligious-themes-tucked-kendrick-lamars-catalog-07008acdf9.
Tomxbarnesx. “Kendrick Lamar ‘Damn.’: A glossary of all the spiritual, political and personal references.” Mic, Mic Network Inc., 14 Apr. 2017, mic.com/articles/174230/kendrick-lamardamn-a-glossary-of-all-the-spiritual-political-and-personal-references#.ktb3oAyuu.
LyricsNMotion. Kendrick Lamar talks Jesus and Spirituality in his music, YouTube, 3 Dec. 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhVg8H-OR6I
Lewis, Miles Marshall. “Kendrick Lamar Talks Politics, Spirituality, Music More [INTERVIEW].” Http://Www.ebony.com/, 26 May 2015, www.ebony.com/entertainmentculture/kendrick-talks-politics-spirituality-music-more-333#axzz4x0YUBukc.