The Story of the G.O.A.T:

Table of Contents

Thesis: Who is Kendrick Lamar?

Kendrick Lamar also known as K.Dot, is perhaps the greatest rapper of all time. Kendrick is an award-winning rapper and songwriter best known for portraying his outlook on society and combining it with astounding lyrics to create his unique style of music that is adored by many people across the world.

Artist History: Life Before Fame

     Kendrick Lamar, whose birth name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, was born on June 17th, 1987 in Compton, California. Kendrick Lamar was born to his mother Paula Oliver and his father Kenny Duckworth. He has one sister and three brothers. He is currently engaged/married to his longtime lover Whitney Alford and they have a 1 year old daughter together. Kendrick keeps his life very private so the specific details are pretty ambiguous.

     Since Kendrick Lamar grew up in Compton during the crack epidemic and the rise of West-Coast gang relations, he decided to reflect rather than participate. Starting at a young age, he documented his observations and emotions through poems and later lyrics.

     As a teenager he attended Centennial High School where he was a straight-A student. In addition to school, Kendrick realized he had a gift and began to express his rap interest while attending high school. Using his original lyrics and smooth flow, he attracted many during schoolyard rap battles and cyphers.

“I learned, when I look in the mirror and tell my story, that I should be myself and not peep whatever everybody is doing.” – Kendrick Lamar

Early Professional Career: On the Road to Success

Top Dawg Entertainment also known as TDE was formed by Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith. Kendrick Lamar joined this label in 2004 along with Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Isaiah Rashad, SZA, and Lance Skywalker. Later on, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul formed a supergroup named Black Hippy where they recorded numerous remixes of Kendrick songs such as Money Trees, Don’t Kill My Vibe, and The Recipe. Kendrick Lamar appeared on shows and radio stations to do interviews he also freestyle and perform songs from his albums.

Middle Professional Career/Discography: Start of Album Releases

After Kendrick released multiple mixtapes, in 2010 the EP Overly Dedicated was released which sparked his acknowledgement by Dr.Dre. The hit song “Ignorance is Bliss” caught the attention of Dr. Dre due to the unique lyricism and flow that was different than the rappers at that time. The album also included “R.O.T.C.”, “H.O.C.”, and many others.

In 2011, Section.80 his first debut album was released. The album was written in a way where each individual track was telling a story of the trials and tribulations of black people in inner city Compton during the 1980’s (hence why the title is Section.80). The album included hit songs such as “A.D.H.D.” , “Ronald Reagan Era”, “The Spiteful Chant” and the critically acclaimed “HiiiPoWeR” which caused an uproar in his newly developed fandom.

In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d City was released. This was another story telling album but about Kendrick’s personal coming of age story in Compton. good kid, m.A.A.d City caused a multitude of new Kendrick fans to aspire. The album contained the hit singles “The Recipe featuring Dr. Dre”, “Swimming Pools”, “Backseat Freestyle” and “Poetic Justice featuring Drake” which all topped the charts.

Kendrick Lamar didn’t release his next album until 2015 which was, To Pimp a Butterfly and this is arguably his greatest album and one of the most brilliant to have ever been produced. This is because the album was written about black empowerment and self love. “The Blacker the Berry”, “King Kunta”, “I”, and “Alright” were all on the Billboard Top 100 chart at once. Kendrick received 11 Grammy nominations and won 4 Grammy Awards for this album which include Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for “Alright”.

In 2016, his compilation album Untitled Unmastered was released. The album consisted of various songs where none of them had definite titles. The single from the album was “Untitled 07 -Levitate” which appeared on the Billboard Top 200 charts that year.

In 2017, his latest album DAMN. was released. This was another story telling album but the diversity and brilliance behind it was immaculate. The album was so monumental that it could be played forwards and backwards, and the story would still make sense! The album included the hit singles “HUMBLE.”, “LOYALTY. featuring Rihanna” and “LOVE.”.  DAMN. went Triple Platinum and it was topping the charts for numerous months to come.

In 2019, Kendrick recorded and wrote most of the songs on the iconic Black Panther Soundtrack. This soundtrack earned a lot of recognition and was adored by many. Song like “All of The Stars featuring SZA” and “King’s Dead featuring Future and Jay Rock” topped the charts and won numerous awards.

Late Professional Career

Currently in Kendrick Lamar’s career, he is “dormant”. It is assumed that he is spending time with his fiancé and his one year old daughter. He has not released much music lately and has been very discreet about his personal life and potential album drops. In fact, there are rumors that Kendrick Lamar may have an album coming out soon because of sightings in the beginning of the year of him recording music videos out in California. In addition to that, a few months ago, there were song leaks of Kendrick’s potential new works in the making. To this day nothing is definite and his fans are awaiting his musical return.

Contemporaries

Some of Kendrick Lamar’s contemporaries include(but not limited to):

  • J. Cole
  • Drake
  • Lil Wayne
  • Kanye
  • Big Sean
  • Vince Staples
  • Meek Mill

Influences

Kendrick Lamar acknowledged the fact that Jay Z, Nas, Dr.Dre, Eminem, Biggie Smalls, DMX, Eazy-E, Tupac, Ice Cube, and many others influenced his diversified style. His biggest influence was Tupac because of their similar upbringings in the West Coast and the way that Tupac spoke conscientiously. He also mentioned that he used to listen to Mos Def and Snoop Dogg and their lifestyles somewhat influenced his own at the time.

 

“I’m trying to learn something new. I’m trying to surround myself with people that inspire me, or at least inquire similar desire.” – Kendrick Lamar

Social Involvement

Kendrick Lamar was an artist known for very minimal social involvement. He was the type to drop his music, do a few interviews, leave his mark, and allow everyone to sit there and reflect on the gems that Kendrick dropped. That was the unique thing about him. He did not seek validation from the public so he oftentimes refrained from being in the public eye, but that did not stop him from being in the spotlight for his amazing masterpieces that spoke so much volume and influenced many people all over.

Awards and Impact

Kendrick Lamar won a total of 160 awards that included, Grammy Awards, BET Awards, Billboard Awards, and the notable Pulitzer Prize for Music. Kendrick Lamar was the first ever musician to receive this award that was not a jazz or classical musician. The lyricism and diction of his records cause people to love them simply because of his unique sound and approach. His songs carry meaning and are something that many people can enjoy and relate to. Also, in 2016, Kendrick Lamar earned the key to the city of his hometown Compton, CA.

Brief Conclusion

Kendrick Lamar’s flow, voice, and lyrics are distinctive to him and can never be duplicated. His music is not only something to blast when you are bored but it is something with depth and meaning that leads to people loving his work. Ultimately, Kendrick has a huge impact on the black community, America, and the entire world.

“My whole thing is to inspire, to better people, to better myself forever in this thing that we call rap, this thing that we call hip hop.” – Kendrick Lamar

Sources

Coscarelli, Joe. “Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer in ‘Big Moment for Hip-Hop’.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/arts/music/kendrick-lamar-pulitzer-prize-damn.html.

 

Eells, Josh. “The Trials of Kendrick Lamar.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 25 June 2018, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/the-trials-of-kendrick-lamar-33057/.

 

Kellman, Andy. “Kendrick Lamar: Album Discography.” AllMusic, www.allmusic.com/artist/kendrick-lamar-mn0002709646/discography.

 

“Kendrick Lamar.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 17 Dec. 2019, www.biography.com/musician/kendrick-lamar.

 

Scarano, Ross. “Ranking Kendrick Lamar’s Albums From Worst to Best.” Complex, Complex, 1 June 2018, www.complex.com/music/kendrick-lamars-best-albums/.

 

“Who Is Kendrick Lamar? Everything You Need to Know.” Facts, Childhood, Family Life & Achievements of Rapper, www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/kendrick-lamar-30747.php.

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