Kendrick Lamar, an intro to one of the greatest

Kendrick Lamar was born June 17, 1987, in Compton, California. Kendrick grew up around gangs but never was involved with one himself. As a boy, he idolized popular rappers like Tupac and Dr. Dre who he would later pay tribute to with his music. Throughout high school, Kendrick was a quiet student who managed to get great grades despite the troubled environment he lived in.   

Kendrick went on to release several rap mixtapes and catch the attention of record label Top Dawg Entertainment. On September 14, 2010, Kendrick released his first major mixtape under TDE titled Overly Dedicated. This mixtape features one of my personal favorite songs, “Barbed Wire”. In this track, Kendrick raps about the idea that there will always be struggles as you progress through your life. Even as he feels he has “overcome the odds”, he is reminded that there are still barbed wires in his future. Kendrick put time and effort into making it out of his dangerous environment, instead of submitting to his demise by joining a gang. This track has a powerful meaning with the lingering thought of hope or dread, depending on how you look at it. Although he made it out, he knows he will have to deal with more obstacles down the road, such as survivor’s guilt which becomes a prominent theme in later albums.  

With the success of his mixtape, Overly Dedicated, Kendrick would go on to release his first and only independent album, Section.80 on July 2, 2011. The album title Section.80 is a combination of Section 8 Housing and the 1980’s, the decade Kendrick was born in. In the grand scheme, Section.80, is not one of Kendrick’s most popular or critically acclaimed albums, but still offers some great songs like “A.D.H.D” and “Ronald Reagan Era” that I highly recommend. 

Kendrick’s next album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”, was released October 22, 2012. The narrative of this album is focused on Kendrick’s experiences as a teenager growing up in Compton. Kendrick raps about peer pressure and how he ended up being a completely different person around his friends in the track, “The Art of Peer Pressure”. Kendrick’s environment changed his good character and tried to bring him down. Yet, it ended up giving him the ability to transform into a real adult. Songs leading up to the end of the album are focused on money, respect, and power. In the end, the track, “Real”, reveals how Kendrick wants to be a better person and make his family proud. The album is Kendrick’s reflection and understanding of his life growing up in Compton. He doesn’t want to be a trapped teenager who is lost in worldly desires, but instead someone with a direction in life. GKMC has no misses and is surely a contender for Kendrick’s best album ever.  

These albums are the origin and start for Kendrick to which he ascended super stardom in his next four releases.