With the recent explosion of electronic music rocking nightclubs worldwide, many mainstream artists have moved to incorporating the same types of themes into their music in order to stay popular.
Rising stars such as Avicii, David Guetta, Skrillex, and many others have even recently began collaborating with pop and hip-hop artists to add catchy verses and hooks to the exciting beats that they produce to capture the largest audience possible. Mainstream mainstays such as Britney Spears, Usher, Lil Wayne, and countless others have been prominently featured on major electronic, dance and dub step tracks that have become global sensations. While these collaborations provide for exciting, larger than life club anthems, impressing audiences with well thought out and meaningful lyrics has become a lost art.
In hip-hop, many veteran MC’s have expressed their concern over the direction of the industry and the new generation of artists. Many wonder what has happened to the quality of lyricism, wordplay, and thematic elements of hardship and struggle that have been so important to the game. On the ironically relatively unheard track Syllables, Eminem, along with Jay-Z, Dr. Dre and others echo this concern and direct criticism at the new generation for straying from their roots by succumbing to the catchy hooks and beat driven tracks meant for mass appeal.
Despite this, there is still hope for hip-hop to live on in it’s intended form. A relatively unknown MC named Kendrick Lamar has stayed true to the old school hip-hop style, while impressing many with his incredibly heartfelt messages. Lamar is poised to become the new leader of quality hip-hop and inspiration to the new generation that real music can still be made.
Born Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Lamar was raised in the notoriously tough streets of Compton, where he found the inspiration for most of his music. Drawing on the harsh environment he was forced to survive and rise above the influence in, Kendrick Lamar’s music has drawn rave reviews from todays old school hip-hop veterans.
Dr. Dre, arguably hip-hop’s most influential and respected producer, has even gone so far as to take the young rapper under his wing as a mentor. Dre signed Lamar to his Aftermath Entertainment label, which includes established stars like Eminem and 50 Cent. Aside from growing up in the same city, Lamar caught Dre’s attention with his soulful lyrics and true rhythm.
Kendrick, formerly known as K Dot, has already released the 2010 mixtape Overly Dedicated and the 2011 album Section.80. Both were greeted with impressive reviews, but that didn’t result in much radio recognition. This hasn’t deterred Lamar, as Kendrick is adamant that the possibility of becoming a superstar is not important enough to him to dumb down his raps as many other have.
In 2011, Lamar was featured on the cover of the number one selling music magazine, XXL. XXL dubbed his lead single off of Section.80, HiiiPower, as the second best track of the year. XXL said the track “began to bring the Compton MC to a larger audience, without compromising any of his ferocious lyrical chops” and that Lamar “merges revolutionary political messages with brief verbal attacks on the police and lyrical assaults on any possible rap foes, managing to craft a verse that remained dense and intricate without becoming incomprehensible.” As a coronation of sorts, Lamar was dubbed the “New King of the West Coast” by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the Game while onstage at a west LA concert.
Lamar is flipping the script on those that said true hip-hop is dead. Kendrick’s unrelenting concentration on lyrical quality over dollar aiming quantity has landed him on the cusp of mainstream success. Lamar has constantly refused to sacrifice the integrity of his tracks, and on April 3rd 2012, Kendrick’s lead single “The Recipe” from his upcoming album Good Kid in a Mad City debuted as an instant hit on iTunes.
This young MC has yet to hit the mainstream, but he is rising fast and is ready to impress the entire world without stooping to the level of many before him. His first studio album with Interscope Records is due out later this year. It seems that hip-hop’s pioneers’ prayers have been answered in the form of Kendrick Lamar. He just may be the future of hip-hop.
Update: Kendrick has released some hot new tracks, as well as some cover art to his new album. Kendrick Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’, his Interscope record debut, is dropping on October 22nd. Here’s Westside: Right on Time Feat. Young Jeezy.
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