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Kendrick Lamar is a rapper born on the 17th of June 1987 in Compton, California, USA. Since the release of his mixtape “Overly Dedicated”, and his second album “good kid, m.A.A.d city”, he has proved himself to be one of the most exciting, critically acclaimed rappers of his generation.
If you’re a hip-hop fan, you already know this man. Very few hip-hop artists have caused such a stir for all the right reasons in such comparatively little time. Quite a few of them have been able to piggy-back off some controversy or another and score a hit with a meaningless, sell-out piece of daytime radio fodder. Not Kendrick, however, he did it the old fashioned way, and every piece of attention he’s gotten has been through astonishing music fans with his skill on the mic.This is not to say that it all happened for Kendrick overnight though, Kendrick struggled as much as anyone in hip-hop did.
Hell, he’s struggled as much as anyone born and raised in Compton, California did, but it can’t have helped that his parents moved there from Chicago because his father was directly associated with the notorious Gangster Disciples gang. Unfortunately, Compton wasn’t much better and Kendrick grew up around some legitimately dangerous stuff. However, all of it inspired the young Kendrick, who was a straight A student who loved writing. At first stories, then poems, and then inspired by his love of hip-hop, lyrics. Kendrick still credits watching his idols Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre filming the video for “California Love” as being one of the formative experiences of his life.
By the age of 16, Kendrick had adopted the moniker of K-Dot and released his first mixtape, which was enough to get him a record deal with Top Dawg Entertainment, a respected indie label and training ground for major labels. A couple of other mixtapes followed, along with the formation of Black Hippy, a collective featuring him and fellow West Coast upstarts Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q. However, it wasn’t until 2010, the release of his fourth mixtape “Overly Dedicated”, and the retirement of his stage name that the wider world started taking notice of him.
Specifically, it was Hip-Hop legend Dr. Dre that took notice of him thanks to the track “Ignorance is Bliss”, and it has lead to a series of collaborations that continue to this day. With the head of steam bought on by the success of “Overly Dedicated”, Kendrick released his debut album “Section.80” the following year. An album so acclaimed that it saw no lesser artists than Snoop Dogg, Dre and The Game crown Kendrick the “New King Of the West Coast” live on stage in Los Angeles. The world was suddenly his oyster, and a deal with Interscope and Dre’s own Aftermath Entertainment followed in March 2012.
Since then, the “good kid. m.A.A.d city” album that was released the same year has made him a bona-fide superstar, with slots on Saturday Night Live and The Colbert Report performing genuine hit singles like “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “Poetic Justice”. Lamar’s success is a absolute joy to behold, a victory for intelligence, skill and integrity over an increasingly shallow, trend led pop scene that we have today. Where he goes from here is a truly tantalizing prospect, and any music fan, whether they a fan of hip-hop or not, should keep watching. Highly recommended.