A couple of the key pieces that built the foundation of hip-hop, I feel are missing these days (or maybe not getting the shine they deserve is better phrasing). That’s actual deejaying and the art of the remix. Chase N. Cashe who was recently featured on Mass Appeal’s “Rhythm Roulette” is getting set to release his remix album “The Produce Section”. I’m usually weary of remixes because these days cats just slap a trap beat on it and call it a remix. Chase N Cashe brings his own unique sound and flavor and it shines in the first single…a remix to King Kendrick’s “Humble”.
Again, I was weary when I first saw this because that’s a tall task to take such a great song and flip it. But Chase N. Cashe pulls it off flawlessly. Don’t take my word for it, you can peep Chase N Cashe’s “Be Humble” (Kung Fu Kenny Remix) below. “The Produce Section” doesn’t have a release date yet make sure you keep it locked on Dead End Hip Hop for details. Also if you haven’t seen it you can check Chase N. Cashe’s “Rhythm Roulette” episode below too.
Let me start off by saying I have very particular tastes in music and I do not like that about myself. I’m someone who doesn’t always listen to the newest tunes, but my New Year’s Resolution was to give mainstream artists more of my time, so my list is a mix of names both well-known and underground. My favorite album of the year so far would have to be Ears Hear Spears by Insight The Truncator and Damu The Fudgemnuk. This album applies the sample-heavy sounds of early hip-hop while critiquing recent social issues, which have been a problem longer than most people think. It’s “old-school” to say the least. An equally sample-heavy album is Apocalyptic Bastard by Darko The Super. Darko is probably my favorite current artist, and although his music will repel the general population, I deeply admire his honest lyrics and wild manipulation of samples for his own devious purposes. He’s pure punk. Roc Marciano’s Rosebudd’s Revenge illustrative lyrics paint a rough and luxurious picture, like a Mona Lisa made of bullets. And the beats! They’re somehow simultaneously icy and hot. I haven’t heard too much about Oddisee, but The Iceberg was seriously some great music, whether you like hip-hop or not. His is a sound that anyone could be in to. The World Is MIND by KRS-One makes my list, partially due to the beats. I still love KRS-One’s verses, but the production on this album was for lack of a better term “hard.” It was hard, everybody. If I’m allowed to include SZA’s Ctrl, I’ll gladly leave it here. I don’t usually ingest a lot of R&B, but this album ignited some feelings I didn’t know I had. I thought I would feel pressured to include DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar because most people would be expecting it, but I think it’s a deserving album and I enjoyed it. And the videos for “DNA.” and “HUMBLE.” were a bonus! Darko The Super and ialive comprise a duo called The Hell Hole Store, and their recent album Return To The Hell Hole Store is so very solid. The back and forth lyrics of the duo is very natural for a group specializing is atypical and unique wordplay and sound. Another immersive project on my list is No More Favors by Tek.Lun and DrewsThatDude, and it’s a diverse instrumental album that I feel truly has something for everyone, especially if you like to drive at night. Number 10 is ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. I’m not sure why I like this as much as I did, and I think the dollar signs and title are a little korny. I think many artists cover the topics Joey Bada$$ does on this album and they do it well, but something about his delivery was engaging to me. So there are my top 10 favorite hip-hop albums of 2017 so far, and Ctrl, as I guess it’s not really a hip-hop album. This list might be wildly different come the end of the year, but these are currently my 10 favorites.
1. “Ears Hear Spears” by Insight The Truncator and Damu The Fudgemunk
2. “Apocalyptic Bastard” by Darko The Super
3. “Rosebudd’s Revenge” by Roc Marciano
4. “The Iceberg” by Oddisee
5. “The World Is MIND” by KRS-One
6. “Ctrl” by SZA
7. DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar
8. “Return To The Hell Hole Store” by The Hell Hole Store
9. “No More Favors” by Tek.Lun and DrewsThatDude
10. “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” by Joey Bada$$
It has been an interesting 1st half of 2017 I tell you. A slew of incredible projects already dropped and the rest of the year is looking solid from what I can see here. My pick is a mix bag of rap/RnB/Funk. Some of the names here are pretty obvious and shouldn’t surprise anyone. Lupe’s DROGAS light-despite not being as consistent as Tetsuo it still hits the mark because Lupe can rap his ass off regardless. Thunder Cat is highly recommended-I cant say much but just go cop it. Rick Ross’ RYTM got me surprised- it is actually DOPE regardless of what you think of Rozay. Oddisee’s is pretty much critically acclaimed at press time so check it out if you haven’t. In usual fashion I had to pick 3 from my underground stash. Westside Gunn comes through with the heavy “Hitler On Steroids“, Saga & Thelonious Monk flip things up with their collabo project “Molotov” while Wille The Kid (he is so underrated, it makes me cry) hits the 3 point shot with the grainy “Deutsche Marks“. Obvious ones are SZA’s sensual CTRL and K Dot’s “DAMN”
1 Oddisee – The Iceberg
2 Thundercat Drunk
3 WestSide Gunn – Hitler On Steroids
4 SZA – CTRL
5 Kendrick Lamar- DAMN
6 Rick Ross – Rather You Than Me
7 Saga & Thelonious Monk: Molotov
8 Joey Bada$$$ – All american badass
9 Lupe- DROGAS Light
10 Willie The Kid – Deutsche Marks
Honorable Mentions: Raekwon “The Wild”, Syd “Fin”
2017 for music so far has been STACKED with projects. I had to go back and listen to everything to see what I forgot about and what I missed. One of my favorite rappers King Kendrick Lamar gave us a surprise hit with DAMN. GoldLink gave the DMV even more reason to stand up and get the rest of us hip to issues and their way of life with At What Cost. 2 Chainz proved he’s still got it and takes us on a journey with Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (I even reviewed it!) and we saw Joey Bada$$ release a politically charged album that’s exactly what 2017 needed called All-Amerikkkan Badass. Steve Lacy, SZA, and Khalid all had me feeling some kind of way on the emotional spectrum with their releases…ranging from sadness, cool, non-existential relationship woes and wanting to go on a road trip with friends and forgetting about life for a second. The three biggest more polarizing releases this year would fall to Vince Staple’s Big Fish Theory, Thundercat’s Drunk, and Young Thug’s Easy Breezy Beautiful Thugger Girls. These three albums play with what your use to from the rapper and producer and while they may turn people off, I found the two albums confident approaches and evolutions of their discography. These are some of the best albums of 2017, so far in a nutshell to me.
1. Kendrick Lamar- DAMN
2. 2 Chainz- Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
3. GoldLink- At What Cost
4. Joey Bada$$- All-Amerikkkan Badass
5. SZA- CTRL
6. Khalid- American Teen
7. Vince Staples- Big Fish Theory
8. Young Thug- EBBTG
9. Thundercat- Drunk
10. Steve Lacy- Steve Lacy’s Demo
The first 6 months of 2017 has been crazy for hip hop and R&B. It’s usually a hard hitting year for one or the other but rarely both. Somehow 2017 has managed to allow both genres to flourish and let me just say that we have truly been blessed. Kehlani and Jidenna finally released their debut albums and it was everything we never knew we needed. Kehlani’s album SweetSexySavage in particular definitely lived up to all the hype it was getting. Mixing in soulful 90’s R&B with a smooth millennial twist SweetSexySavage is easily my favorite body of work so far this year and the most played album in my lineup. I even have mini solo karaoke parties where I specifically sing this album at the top of my lungs but that’s unimportant. What is important is that this album deserves to be on everyone’s top list. Along with Kehlani we received another debut R&B album coming from Khalid with American Teen that was equally as impressive as it was enjoyable. Location is the biggest hit off the record currently but I foresee many more tracks being highlighted as the year progresses.
Now, what would a top ten list be without anyone mentioning Kendrick Lamar and DAMN though? Basically a terrible top ten list. Everything Kendrick drops is gold and DAMN is no different. It’s the highest selling album so far this year and that honestly shouldn’t be surprising. Storytelling has always been Kendrick Lamar’s greatest gift to hip hop and the imagery that DAMN paints through each track is worth a listen over and over again.
One of my favorite and most surprising guilty pleasures so far has been Queen Elizabitch by CupcakKe and if I didn’t list her in my top 10I wouldn’t forgive myself. Reminiscent of an old Lil Kim or Nicki Minaj (back when she used to really spit) CupcakKe definitely laced her tracks with sensuality and a lyrical prowess that will continue to keep her name in your mouth especially if she isn’t in it yet. If you don’t believe me just listen to “Cumshot” and you’ll understand why she deserves every bit of recognition I’m giving her.
This list was not easy to make (which it never really is). Each one of the albums I have listed has a crazy amount of replay value. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to Thundercat’s Drunk or Pretty Girls Like Trap Music by 2 Chainz. If the first 6 months are any indication for how the rest of the year is going to go than it’s going to be LIT!
1. Kehlani – SweetSexySavage
2. Thundercat – Drunk
3. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
4. Dj Khaled – Grateful
5. 2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music
6. Kintaro – Universal EP
7. Jonwayne – Rap Album Two
8. CupcakKe – Queen Elizabitch
9. Jidenna – The Chief
10.Khalid – American Teen
SZA – CTRL
Murs – Captain California
2017 felt like the year of sleeper hits. At the tail end of my top 10 is Vince Staples with BIG FISH THEORY. The young rapper who has been fed a diet of R&B, Soul, Funk, and other fusions of music to bring us his sophomore album. Much like the title suggests, the album allows its listeners to peer into a fishbowl lense of the rap game: the toxic behavior it can breed while also celebrating the new life rap stardom can give an emerging artist. At 9, we have Raekwon with THE WILD. The seasoned Wu-Tang member returns to us again with a packed house of 808 synths, high-hats, & that classic boom bap with a spin all his own. Syd makes perfect sex music, and that’s not up for debate. In her breakout album, Fin, Syd the Kid bring us a confident, cool new voice to R&B. Even from the first track, “Shake Em Off”, Syd establishes herself as the boss, “Young star in the making/Swear they sleeping on me”. What I love about this album is Syd knows exactly who she is. Now she is waiting for you to recognize game or get left behind. I couldn’t be any more grateful to for Joey Bada$$ sophomore album “ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$”. While many artists can come off as heavy-handed with overtly political content, The Badmon’s approach is more earnest, only further compliment by a solid production, which pulls both 80’s and 90’s flavored beats, smooth bass guitars, and disjointed piano riffs. Thundercat’s DRUNK speaks to the weird black kid in me before I became a hip-hop head. Thundercat is as much weird as he is soulful, an oddball with strange but powerful command of the lyrical. As a cool falsetto, and artist whose work has looked death in the eye time and time again, Drunk is not only a return to live but how to negotiate the normalcy of it. I was surprised Jay-Z’s 4:44 made the list. At this point in his career, and several alleged retirements from the game, I didn’t think Jay-Z had anything left to rap about. I was right. This isn’t a Jay-Z album, but rather Sean Carter’s first album. From the beginning the rapper kills his ego and lays down that ego which has driven much of his career. I didn’t expect these startling turns in this album, especially the knock-out cameo from his mother Gloria Carter. I knew DAMN had to make my list. At number 4, DAMN is the first of its kind, a palindrome album— an album that is two different albums played back and forth. DAMN is currently the highest selling and streaming album of 2017 . In my top 3, all women and all newcomers to music take their rightful places. Sabrina Claudio’s CONFIDENTLY LOST is sexy, vulnerable, and honest. Claudio’s sound is a miasma of nostalgia while still looking forward. Kelhani’s “SweetSexySavage” is the “The Bad Bitch Gospel” album. Kelhani effortlessly blend irreverent youth and confidence with vulnerability and sensuality to address all the personal and professional hurdles Kelhani has endured to make it here. Kelhani just isnt’t here to play games and god bless. At number 1, is CTRL by SZA.
16-22-year-old me waited a very long time for CTRL to come into the world. I have never listened to an album in which I felt so seen and understood. From starling confessions (“I’ve been secretly banging your homeboy”) more tender remarks (“I can’t be that easy to forget like that”) and even these brief churches of lyrics (“Lie to me and tell me my booty gettin’ bigger even if it ain’t”), SZA maturity, foresight, and ability to reflect back to the girls she has been—the girl who revenge fucks her ex’s friends, the “side-chick”, the girl who validates herself by how much attention she gets— is a testament to how much the young artist has grown and how much she still has to offer.
1. CTRL: SZA
2. Kelhani: SweetSexy Savage
3. Sabrina Claudio: Confidently Lost
4. DAMN: Kendrick Lamar
5. 4:44: Jay-Z
6. Drunk: Thundercat
7. ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$: Joey Bada$$
8. Fin: Syd
9. Raekwon: The Wild
10. Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory
Lamar’s most recent visual treatment directed by Jonas Lindstroem and the Lil Homies, who are Kendrick and Dave Free respectively, brought us to discuss real questions around poverty, violence and the black image. In Lamar’s most recent visual for his track ELEMENT off his latest album DAMN, he brings you into his world, the world full of physicality, resurrection, and violence that brings Kendrick out of himself.Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN is a look at what happens when the self is torn in different directions as you realize God may not be as merciful as you thought. ELEMENT as a video is a direct homage to a few photojournalists but mainly Gordon Parks, the first black photographer to have his work featured in Vogue and LIFE. He spent much of his career documenting the realities of black life and social justice movements of the 60’s. He later became the godfather of Malcolm X’s daughter because of his long and trusted friendship with X.
The song itself brings us to a Kendrick Lamar that is over it. In this rendition of ELEMENT, Kendrick is coming out of himself. D.O.T is the paranoid, egotistic and at times violent Kendrick that we all have to access at times. We all have to come outside of ourselves at times to remind folks of our worth and triumph. D.O.T is doing just that, he’s putting the religious analysis to the side and wants to remind his fans that he is STILL the greatest. D.O.T is also a very paranoid side of Kendrick, a young man always discussing having to defend his fame and skill. A paranoia that we see throughout the album but this song specifically we see that paranoia met with a violent tone. D.O.T is ready to call out any fake rapper that may pass by him. In ELEMENT we see Kendrick Lamar have an interpersonal dialogue with himself as he weaves a violent disposition into a gorgeous sequence of images. He turns violence into a dance of beauty and physicality that you can almost feel.
My biggest question watching the music video was why would Kendrick choose artists such as Parks, Elliott Erwitt, and Bill Viola to depict these black images? What does it mean to depict your reality through specific images? What is he trying to say? I realized by the end of the video the importance of altering narratives, of turning what has been deemed violent into a space of beauty. To speak on the cycles of taught violence that most black men need in order to survive. To turn the ugly parts of blackness that we try to hide as spaces of strength. To recreate images that now speak to a current day struggle. To give respect to Parks and how important the documentation of black life is to be able to discuss nuance. We never see black boys in images that aren’t derogatory but in ELEMENT we see how black boys are taught to fight for survival and how they have to let go of their innocence in order to live in a world that doesn’t want them to survive. I felt as if Kendrick’s use of silhouettes were focused on displaying a life that is riddled with a masculinity that has no space for vulnerability. Throughout Kendrick’s career, we have seen him go back and forth with his own ideas around masculinity and faith, we see how those two ideas can get complicated quickly. In ELEMENT we are seeing the return of D.O.T the unhinged side of Kendrick that is full of rage, anxiety, and paranoia around losing a notoriety that he was rightfully earned. More importantly in the recreated fight scenes, we see Kendrick give a physicality and beauty to violence, specifically black violence that is normally ignored.In recreating these Parks images we see a current adoption of reality that shows us that masculinity even the toxic kind isn’t as cut and dry as normally portrayed. The last few scenes reminded of when I was a kid and my cousins and I would get together and go beat up the kids we didn’t like from down the street. It reminded me of how you can find pride in the things that have been used to castigate you. We would walk with our chests high ready to protect what little area of the playground we could. We were indoctrinated into a world that wasn’t easy and we had to learn quickly how to defend ourselves. Kendrick and his crew felt familiar, like my older male cousins, whose lives are riddled with self-doubt with having to always protect a masculinity that constantly feels under attack.
Kendrick Lamar is always coming home. In every album, song or feature Kendrick finds a way to bring his hometown into his person or his lyrics. Whether it be his voice, visuals or movement Kendrick is always looking to remind us where he grew up. Compton is a constant inspiration and guilt for Kendrick, he’s discussed his struggle to now stay stuck in his own guilt of leaving the place that raised him. I think with creating a visual of contrasts and recreation I think Kendrick wanted to create more than a music video, the TDE team is amazing at creating visuals but this time around Kendrick created a work that was a personal look at the humble beginnings he never wants to forget.
NEW KUNG FU KENNY! Yes. Kendrick Lamar has released a new music video for the track “ELEMENT.” off of his recent album, DAMN. This may be one of Kendrick’s most cryptic videos yet. Several situations and images are presented, including Lamar himself beating someone up. There are also images of nuns, a burning house, and police confrontations. It’s certainly a very provocative video, and matches the aesthetic of Lamar’s last two videos for “HUMBLE.” and “DNA.” The video will likely take multiple viewings to completely understand. Check it out below.
In case you’ve been under a rock…anime has been a very prevalent part of hip-hop culture, especially in the past few years. No other anime has been more popular amongst most hip-hop artists than Dragon Ball Z. Now, Dragon Ball Z may not be your favorite anime, but no one can deny how seamlessly it has integrated itself into some of our favorite rappers punchlines. For example, Lupe Fiasco said “I push Ki like Dragon Ball Z, know what I’m sayin’?”, Joey Bada$$ said “Got Dragon Balls (draggin’ balls) like my name was Vegeta”, and Robb Bank$ said “I’m Babidi, you Majin Vegeta I’ll put some M’s on ya head”. My point is, anime and hip-hop will always mix.
Anyway, I happened to scroll down my Twitter timeline, minding my business and then BAM…
Enter 15 year old artist @TheWrightAr. This is the coolest art I’ve seen in a while. This Dragon Ball Z inspired piece of art includes a lot of my favorites, such as Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Future, DJ Khaled (!!!!!), 2 Chainz and Thugger. This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while! Y’all go show the young man some love with a retweet and a favorite. Ask him nicely and he’ll let you use it as a header too. Go through the picture and see if you can spot your favorite rappers.
As if “Mask Off” wasn’t popular enough, Future has given fans a remixed version to generate even more buzz. Adding Kendrick Lamar to the mix provides a literally fresh addition to Future’s February release. Kendrick mentions the speedy platinum status of DAMN., which means this verse was recorded very recently this month. Kendrick’s contribution to “Mask Off” is much quicker than Future’s verse, but he still flows well over the tranquil Metro Boomin flutes. Kendrick is enjoying continued success from his latest releases and there’s no sign of him dropping off any time soon. The same can be said for Future.
For some reason I’m very interested as to who proposed this collaboration. It’s beneficial for both Future and Kendrick and it’s always kind of weird when two artists who sound fairly different work together. Two of the most popular players in the game, while they have different styles, seem oddly fitting teaming up here.
Damn. Kendrick Lamar continues to bask in success, this time in the form of mining a retroactive gold rush. Kendrick’s “A.D.H.D” has officially achieved gold status as it hit 500,000 in sales on May 8th, the first single to hit gold off of his 2011 album “Section.80.” “Section.80” itself was confirmed gold by the RIAA on April 14, 2017, creating even more of a stir when “DAMN.” was unleashed on the same day. How did we all survive this maelstrom? This news might seem like no surprise because “DAMN.” went platinum in less than a month, but it’s further evidence of the artist’s sealed appeal. Congratulations, Kendrick!
I’m not sure how “A.D.H.D” is just now receiving gold certification. I figured it would’ve happened a couple years ago. We’ve had ample time to see him evolve as an artist, but this recent gold means Kendrick’s music is finally inescapable. People must be going back and listening to his whole discography, or they’re at least paying for it this time around. Yeah, I’m talking about you. In case you forgot what “A.D.H.D” looks and sounds like, the video is posted below.
Covers in hip-hop are bit of a rarity and we see it more on the production side of things, just because “covering” lines would be biting. However California artist Ill Poetic has done something rather unique with covering music in hip-hop.
In his newest joint “Mermaid” Ill Poetic cleverly mashes up Kendrick Lamar’s “Lust” & the hook to Andre 3000’s “She Lives In My Lap”. Ill Poetic re-produced the beat, added his own instrumentation to it, along with vocals AND went on to engineer the track. Ill Poetic is probably one of the only producers who could pull this off as his versatility & range is second to none.
“Mermaid” is the opener to Ill Poetic’s upcoming full-length album which is set to drop this fall. For now peep “Mermaid” below and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
April 7th is steady approaching, and hip-hop fans are still mentally preparing themselves for the fiasco it may very well turn out to be. With the release of his single “The Heart Part 4”, acclaimed hip-hop artist, Kendrick Lamar, announced what seems to be the release date of his 4th album. In honor of this presumed release date, we writers here at Dead End Hip-Hop decided to get together and reminisce on some of our favorite Kendrick projects, and why we held them so near and dear to our hearts. Check out our thoughts below.
Jake Milgate: My all-time favorite Kendrick Lamar project has to be Section.80. As a whole, the album is excellent, in my opinion, from front to back. It’s a great mixture of different sounds, while at the same time, sounds very cohesive. There’s a constant theme throughout the project (80’s generation of kids, vices, crack epidemic, etc.), and Kendrick strengthens this by using the stories of Keisha and Tammy. “ADHD” is arguably my favorite hip-hop song of all time. With a beautiful, nocturnal beat along with the lyrics discussing the many vices of his generation, it makes for an excellent song.
I would also consider untitled unmastered to be a personal favorite of mine. Although it’s simply B-sides from To Pimp a Butterfly, the project comes off as an experience, rather than a concept or story. The way it begins with the ominous bass-line from “untitled 01” will forever be one of my favorite intros to a project. “untitled 02” is easily one of my favorite Kendrick songs along with “ADHD”. Kendrick’s perspective of hip-hop and his current state are clear, and are further enforced with an eerie, bass-booming beat by Cardo. Each song is a representation of several ideas and concepts covered on To Pimp a Butterfly, which is why, to me, untitled unmastered is much more than just a B-side project.
While Section.80 is my FAVORITE Kendrick project, I don’t necessarily think that it’s his BEST project. That title, I believe, has to go to To Pimp a Butterfly, which I think is a modern day hip-hop masterpiece.
Paul Dickerson: I agree with my colleague Jake here that To Pimp a Butterfly has got to be Kendrick’s magnum opus, but it is also not my favorite Kendrick album. That title goes to good kid, m.A.A.d city (GKMC). I remember it coming out my freshman year of college and my mind just being blown at rap that could be so good. GKMC is more than an amazing concept album–it’s essentially a coming-of-age movie. Kendrick tells such a complete empathetic story in a way that no one in hip hop or maybe music in general ever has. And I just can’t stop thinking about all of the perfect moments on this album that made it one of the greatest hip hop albums of my generation. Songs like “The Art of Peer Pressure” and “Swimming Pools (Drank)” are genius looks at the human condition. “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Backseat Freestyle” are bangers to end all bangers. Think about the chaos and geniune fear Kendrick expresses on “m.A.A.d city” and then compare it to the heartbreaking, haunting epic “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”. And how about Jay Rock’s unbelievable verse on “Money Trees”? Even the skits don’t annoy me! Easily in my top five favorite hip hop albums of all-time. To Pimp a Butterfly is close behind though. Section.80 is probably top 20-25 ever.
Terrence Sage: To Pimp a Butterfly might have been the album that brought together and put on a united front for Kendrick fans and aligned everything under one banner but it’s not as hard hitting as good kid, m.A.A.d city, my personal favorite. I forget when exactly I got the album heavy into what I was listening to on a daily basis, but it stuck with me. From the grim introduction, “Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter” that clearly lays out the story from beginning to voice mail, the album captures highs and lows of an ill-fated night masterfully. He just takes you on the ride with himself and the homies that puts you right in the action with him. You get the hits with calm and sensual Poetic Justice and the exhilarating feeling of rapping all the verses of “m.A.A.d city” while you play it in the car. GKMC is just a work of slamming realistic of a kid from Compton and things changed and stayed the same. The songs and story on this album make it a complete package. “Swimming Pools”, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”, and “Real” are a trilogy of songs that embody what I loved about the album. I was put into someone else’s shoes and felt what he was trying to get at. The pain, hurt, and coming to terms with death. I can relate to that testament. I have Section.80 in league with GKMC with how they cover topics and how Kendrick conveys heavy material and is able to make you sit and think about what’s happening over a beat. Hail the good kid from the m.A.A.d city. It’s King Kendrick Season.
I.S. Jones: Similar to my colleagues, I too thought To Pimp a Butterfly would have been my favorite Kendrick album, for its sonically rich & funky instrumentals, as noted in favorite tracks such as “Institutionalized”. Even as a poem to the late rap legend Tupac, I truly thought that this would be my favorite album of Kendrick, but in the end it was good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Before the release date of GKMC, I had all but given up on mainstream hip-hop and any hope of originality…then a 5 foot, something miracle happened. GKMC was a concept album, complimented with connecting skits and samples from pivotal figures such as the late Maya Angelou. It follows the story of a young Kendrick borrowing his mom’s van to engage in sex with a young woman named Sherane. Through a non-linear narrative, and the assistance of well-placed interludes, the song’s content addresses retributive gang violence, economic disparity, unfortunate women, and even some humor is sprinkled with his father smoking weed and going on about his “motherfuckin’ Dominos”.
Some of my favorite tracks on the album are “The Art of Peer Pressure”, “Poetic Justice”, “m.A.A.d city”, and “Swimming Pools”. I found the bonus track “The Recipe” to be one of the most innovative tracks for its heavily, yet clever, sampling of “Meet the Frownies” by Twin Sister. Maya Angelou recording at the end of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” already added to such a sobering track. “Why are you young men so angry?” she demands in the only way an older black woman can. I felt that deeply as someone who is angry often. Angry seeing Black men gunned down in the street. Angry seeing black women disrespected and exploited by mainstream media. Angry at white feminism. Angry at everything that wishes to see my people fail. While she may not address me, I find myself in these words “Why are you so angry?”. Kendrick on this album is a reflective person as much as he is spiritual, hence the ‘m.A.A.d’ part of the project’s title is both “My Angry Adolescence Divided” and “My Angels on Angel Dust”.
The conclusion of the album is very satisfying as the young Kendrick promises he’ll be back with the van in 15 minutes. While To Pimp a Butterfly is undoubtedly a masterpiece and will be the center of discussion of literary discussions of hip-hop generations to come, GKMC is a more lighter, easier project to bump, to laugh to, to lose it with, and to meditate over in solitude.