At the impressionable age of 8, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth saw his idol, 2Pac Shakur, arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time, perform his hit record ‘California Love’ in K-Dot’s city of Compton.
We now know this moment as one of the most critical moments in the history of hip-hop music, because this was when Kendrick decided to pick up a pen. In the following year, 2Pac was shot dead, a case that remains unsolved, but Kendrick Lamar had made up his mind that he’d never let his hero’s legacy die.
“Billboard list need 2Pac damn, but number 9 makes sure he lives on, yeah”.
The above line was a result of 2Pac’s exclusion from Billboard’s list of ‘Top 10 Rappers of All Time’; K-Dot was placed 9th on the same list.
Whether or not you consider 2Pac to be one of the greatest MCs of all time is a matter of choice but what’s interesting here is the fact that Lamar has already cemented his legacy as one of the best rappers to have ever picked up a mic. Even though Kendrick might not care about being on any list, made evident by his lyrics, he’s widely regarded to be the greatest rapper alive, and that’d be a bold assumption to make if not for the facts that supported this theory.
Five of Lamar’s solo LPs are listed on Pitchfork. Four of them come under the ‘Best New Music’ category, 3 of which have earned a rating of 9.0+/10. Two of K-Dot’s albums (‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ & ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’) are certified classics, whereas DAMN., is considered to be a classic by some and a little too mainstream by others, but that doesn’t change the fact that every song on DAMN., is an instant hit.
However, what separates Kendrick from most other MCs is his storytelling skill, coupled with his ability to stay relevant. While ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ told an incredibly complex story about K-Dot’s life in Compton, ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ would probably go down in the history of music as one of the most important albums of all time, not just because it was a brave attempt to uplift the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, but because it was a successful one. DAMN. gave the listeners an alternate ending when the order of songs was reversed while making perfect sense.
Kendrick Lamar is creativity, personified
In fact, it can be argued that no other rapper has a better discography than Kung-Fu Kenny himself. But it’s not just his albums that highlight his musical genius. Kendrick absolutely murders any beat he hops on, any song that he features on becomes his own. He killed Eminem on his track (‘Love Game’), and that is a feat not too many can boast of.
He hopped on J Cole’s ‘A Tale of 2 Cities’ beat and delivered a remix, much better than the original. But the featured that shook hip-hop to its core was his infamous ‘Control’ verse, where he issued an open challenge while the name was dropping 11 rappers, such as J. Cole, Drake, Pusha T, and many others. The verse triggered a series of responses from various rappers, including the ones K-Dot didn’t even mention, doing exactly what he said, ‘putting the rap game on a crutch’.
Kendrick Lamar is not just a good rapper; he’s a conscious one too. At the 2016 Grammys, K-Dot delivered one of the greatest Grammy performances of all time, highlighting the injustice done towards the Blacks. To follow that up, at Grammys 2018, he dedicated his entire performance to bring up the gun violence crisis in the USA. He turned down the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, in order to extend his support to Colin Kaepernick.
K-Dot doesn’t just deliver hits; he delivers them with a message, which is why his projects are considered to be classics. Kendrick also enjoys massive commercial success. He has won more Grammys than any other artist since 2010 (13) and is the 4th highest selling rapper of the past decade as well. Hip-hop legend and one of the greatest rappers of all time, Eminem once said in his interview that Kendrick has studied the genre beyond his years and to be as good as him, rappers need to go back and study it all over again. ( Click here to watch the interview)
Kendrick Lamar is also the first rapper in the history of music to have won a Pulitzer prize for his album DAMN. and that is a milestone no other rapper has ever achieved.
The point is very simple, Kendrick Lamar has contributed more to the rap game in the last ten years than most people manage to do throughout their entire career, and while people may or may not consider him to be the ‘Greatest of All Time’, he’s certainly in the conversation.
– Written by Shubhang Yadav
Image Courtesy: Google Images