King Kendrick is one for the history books. There’s no one like him. He changes all the time, as a listener it can be hard to catch up, but at the same time you always can tell when it’s him. When his album Damn won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2018 it was the first for a non-jazz or classic artist to win the award. The jury called it ”a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life”. Kendrick Lamar is the Compton poet, storyteller and life compass whose work is archived in the library at Harvard. Over the years he’s collaborated with everyone from Rihanna and Taylor Swift to Beyoncé and U2, but mostly we recognize his genius from his own catalogue, where at least Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) and Damn (2017) are stone cold classics, not only in hip hop but in popular music as we know it.
Eminem once said about Kendrick Lamar: ”He brings you into his world with his lyrics in a way that really paints a clear picture.” In the same Vanity Fair piece Rick Rubin added: ”He exists on another plane.” Kendrick, named after Eddie Kendricks from The Temptations, started his career in music as K-Dot (his friends still call him Dot). His first full-length mixtape Youngest Head Nigga in Charge (Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year) from 2004 gave him a recording contract with Top Dawg Entertainment. The first release under his birth name was a self-titled EP in 2009. Two years later he dropped his debut studio album Section.80. The rest? That’s for the history books.