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What Went Wrong With… Kendrick Lamar (And All The Media Hype)?

Caricature of Kendrick Lamar shown as parody of Turin Shroud by What Went Wrong With

Ever since the sun set on the Golden-Age of Hip-Hop, fans and the industry alike have been looking for a Savior to kick-start a new Rap epoch. However, when an entire culture is on a constant lookout for a Hip-Hop Second Coming; they collectively end up lauding someone who is merely above average. Kendrick Lamar, once known as K-Dot, is an example of this. The mainstream media will have you believe he is some sort of infallible Rap genius, but in truth he is only a tad superior to all the other unexceptional Rappers currently out there.

Ignorant mainstream critics are always quick to jump on bandwagons, and upon hearing the buzz surrounding Kendrick a few years back, began to wildly overrate last year’s album “good kid, m.A.A.d city”. Unbeknownst to them, the buzz surrounding Lamar was solely for his lyrical ability in various freestyles, Mixtapes, and a few tracks in his first LP “Section.80”. “good kid, m.A.A.d city” on the other hand was in truth; a lame disappointment.

Kendrick’s downfall began with him signing to Interscope/Aftermath. Dr. Dre with his hunger for cash, has and always will, sound the death knell for a Rapper’s credibility. With Dre’s help, the ex-black hippy, ex-K-Dot began chipping away at what originally brought him underground praise. No more Jazzy production with real drum sounds, no more lyrics and flow like he showed on “Rigamortus”, and no more real Hip-Hop like “Young And Black”. But rappers need to remember that they cannot keep their original fans at the same time as switching their styles.

“good kid, m.A.A.d city” was a schizophrenic and dumbed-down album full of Hip-Pop & R’N’B. It came off as a hipster suck-up, Billboard reaching, Rap ‘N’ Bullshit concoction. Shyne was right; the production was trash. The entire album was filled with contemporary played-out music consisting of contrived bass, bass, snare drum patterns with low pitch vocals, garnished here and there with R’N’B hooks. “Swimming Pools” was one of the most obvious examples of targeting Pop fans with its über-catchy chorus. “Poetic Justice” had a Chart-Friendly Slow-Jam feel complete with a shitty Janet Jackson sampled hook. And somebody needed to tell Pharrell that Smif-N-Wessun interpolated Roy Ayers’ “We Live In Brooklyn, Baby” to better effect in “Home Sweet Home” some eighteen years ago.

Even though some of Kendrick’s previous tracks like “Blow My High” were obvious Pop, the majority of “Section.80” was not aiming for popular culture to the extent of the “good kid” album. In this respect, “good kid, m.A.A.d city” was definitely the “It Was Written” of the present day. A$AP Rocky called Kendrick Lamar “Our generation’s Nas”. If by that he meant he would sell out by his second Album; then he was correct.

Performing the same lyrical delivery with gimmicky syllable tricks on every track, then occasionally rapping off beat and over enunciating the letter “T”, is no way to for Kendrick to stand the test of time. Rocking rolled-up sleeves and a suit with no socks is nowhere near representing real Hip-Hop, and doing tracks with Drake, 50 Cent, and Adam Levine is some obvious Pop-friendly ‘ish. “good kid, m.A.A.d city” was not a work of genius that the media had us believe; “I pray my dick get as big as the Eiffel Tower, so I can fuck the world for seventy two hours” is hardly the lyrics of a genius.

R Dot I Dot P Dot K-Dot.

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14 replies »

  1. this article is trash. kendrick is the greatest ever. re-listen to it start to finish. the backseat freestyle verse was pose to be dumb down to represent kendrick childhood freestyles with his friend.

    • You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m entitled to mine. I get the gist to the “good kid” Album, and the Backseat Freestyle was a reflection of verses he kicked with his friends at 16, but at 16 or 26 Kendrick is no genius. He went from being a wannabe Jay & Biggie on the “Y.H.N.I.C.” mixtape back in ’03 to a Tribe-Called-Quest-dressing-hipster-Rapper on “good kid” in ’12. With all the bullshit Hip-Hop out these days, Kendrick is getting overly over-hyped for being slightly above average, but lyrically he’s doing nothing better than G Rap did 25 years ago or Gift Of Gab from Blackalicious did 15 years ago. His albums and mixtapes are usually all over the place, just look at the “Overly Dedicated” album with Ignorance Is Bliss as the lyrical concept track and then Alien Girl as a Hip-Pop mess. On top of all that, he’s been doing that laid back bullshit for about a year and then suddenly gets raspy on the Big Sean’s Control. But if you fans stop sucking his dick for a minute and listen to his lyrics, he isn’t even really saying anything; “I got love for you all”, then what’s the point in calling out all those names? Who’s the greatest MC? It isn’t Kendrick, Jigga, or Nas. These days I’d rather listen to Joey Bada$$ & Pro Era, at least they kept it consistent through 5 mixtapes, plus I didn’t hear Kendrick call out their names in “Control”.

  2. Is it so bad that there are so many mediocre rappers and mediocre people not seeing through the veil?
    WhatWentWrong, you really know Lamar’s tracks, and I agree that we’re buying a lot into the hype of a rapper who is just above average – but not everything is about the lyrics. Nor is everything about an obvious message. A lot of art out there has no meaning that can be voiced in less than a paragraph. Art is a medium of emotions and feelings. Not meanings. These Hip-Hop artists that you critique are much more vague than you think they are.

    • Granted, but in Kendrick’s case, he went from being an above-average Jazzy Poet to an above-average Featured Artist for below-average Pop acts like Chris Brown & 2 Chainz. His lyrical content has always been second to his delivery, and I’m not critising him for that. My main problem is him venturing into Pop Music; I assume for fame and money.

  3. In my honest opinion, i liked good kid m.A.A.d city. Sure it wasnt the best album (definitely not great despite what the critics tell us), but it was still a good album (no way better than Section.80 which was a dope album). Kendrick may be overrated, but I can understand the hype. Mainstream hip hop is a joke filled with fake rappers like drake, lil wayne, and 2chainz. So when compared to these rappers, kendrick may appear to be the best. But when compared to underground rappers, kendrick wouldn’t last. My point is that the media seems to jump on the bandwagon whenever someone gains some buzz. Just look at Bobby Shmurda. He ended up getting a record deal thanks to the viral hit “Hot Nigga” despite it being one of the worst songs of 2014. The media will never look what the buzz is all about. They will simply look at the numbers etc. youtube views. So this shouldn’t be a surprise when the media call him the greatest of all time despite kendrick lamar only being a good rapper at best.

  4. I keep telling people this,but they think its hate
    K.dot is good,but not a king,most people only suck his dick because of his delivery

  5. To be honest, I feel like Kendrick Lamar is the exact same thing as Tupac back in the 1990’s. Tupac was hailed as a credible rapper back in the day because he spoke out on political and social issues, such as police brutality, corrupt government, and community problems. But, the subject matter overshadowed his rapping ability, while, although he is a credible rapper and much better then Kendrick, his flow was a off in his later albums, and his albums weren’t as hardcore altogether in syllabic rhyming, delivery,lyrics and beats as for say, KMD. Kendrick Lamar is the same. TPAB is being hailed as a classic, and although I think it’s ok, it is NOWHERE as good as the media and fanbase proclaim. The construction is very confusing, and his flow,lyrics, and rythem is off-beat. How come when this overhyped rapper creates an album filled with jazz and other classical samples it’s being hailed as a flawless classic, but when MF Doom and Madlib grouped together to create Madvillain, an album that is infinitely better in production, lyrics, and flow and is one of the best albums in rap history,it received NO MAINSTREAM EXPOSURE?

    BTW, very nice article, as are a lot of your others. I have been following your website for a couple months, and you have taught me a lot about rap I have never known before. You have introduced me to amazing artists(Tonedeff, Black Moon, Bishop Nehru). Since I haven’t been born in the golden age of rap, I have to search for it online since I can’t stand what people at school listen to. You should review more albums on your sister site, and it would be cool if you could respond to this comment since I’m curious on what you think on my observations. From a loyal fan.

    • I agree, there’s always better albums and artists out there that never get praised by the mainstream, and for me there’s always an agenda to it.

      Like I said in the review, To Pimp A Butterfly wasn’t sincere, it just fitted into the anti-establishment zeitgeist and it was great for profit and fame. Tupac was the opposite, he started out political and conscious, he made three great albums, but as soon as he was on Death Row, politics took a back seat for chart friendly, G-Funk stuff like California Love and How Do U Want It. So when the bling era was coming round, they turned Tupac from the guy in Juice…
      Tupac Shakur early days
      to the guy in the tub…
      Tupac gold chains in bathtub Death Row photoshoot
      Intersope will always ride the wave of popularity, and they’re very good at it, plus everybody they sign gets overrated… Tupac, Eminem, Kendrick… not to speak ill of the dead, but I never thought Tupac was the greatest rapper. I think when someone dies people rush to say they’re geniuses or infallible but they forget what they truly felt when the person was alive. That being said, I’d much prefer if Tupac was remembered for his early work.

      Nice to hear from a fan, keep listening to underground music and keep looking out for the good shit. Peace.

    • Firstly, I’m not sure why you’ve left that comment here, I assume it’s because you think that’s an example of crossing-over or selling-out. But unlike Kendrick Lamar doing an obvious Pop song with Taylor Swift, the examples you give are far from selling out.

      I’ve never seen the Rakim/Nike ad but the Sprite commercial with KRS-One and MC Shan referenced the Bridge Wars and despite it being a money-making commercial it respected Hip-Hop history…

      Shan and KRS even continued their battle recently, and if you listen to the diss/reply to MC Shan below, you can’t really say KRS-One is similar to Kendrick – KRS has ever changed his style to get popular, he’s been rapping for over thirty years and he’s never watered down his style for money. That’s more than I can say about Lamar.

      On your other point, obviously when a new genre is starting out it evolves and forms out of other genres just like Grime did with Garage, therefore a lot of the aesthetics will be borrowed. As Hip-Hop was emerging during the latter part of the 70’s of course it utilised Disco and R’N’B, but the 80’s brought the rapping element to the forefront and permanently made Hip-Hop about lyricism – bragging, battling, and political opinions.

      Waiting 30-odd years and then trying to “Disco-fy” the genre in the present day is the exact opposite to what occurred during the genre’s inception. Hip-Hop is today a popular and well established genre, so whenever contemporary rappers collaborate with mediocre Pop singers and adopt their musical style, it’s selling-out plain and simple.

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