It’s pretty obvious that these days the majority of Hip-Hop is geared towards the middle class. Case in point; Kendrick Lamar. Search for Lamar’s latest album online and you’ll get results from pompous mags and papers like GQ, The Guardian, Time, NME, and of course everybody’s favourite interlopers; Rolling Stone. Flashback to the early nineties and publications such as these used to frown upon Hip-Hop albums across the board, but thanks to the commercialisation of the genre, it now fits nice and neatly into their mainstream Capitalist agenda.
Since the biggest disposable income belongs to the middle class, the majority of modern entertainment focuses solely on this particular section of society, and this has led to the ruination of many musical genres including Hip-Hop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that different classes can’t listen to Hip-Hop and Rap; but the entire genre shouldn’t pander to this demographic simply because that’s where the money is. That’s not to say that this kind of commercialised corruption didn’t happen back in the day; remember the likes of PM Dawn and Arrested Development? They weren’t fake, but with their R’N’B infused Hip-Hop, groups like these were obviously created to appeal to the widest demographic possible. In 1991 for example, most white middle class people recognised the song “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” with its Spandau Ballet sample, and yet the same people looked dumbfounded if you played Pete Rock And CL Smooth, Main Source, or even Gang Starr. So back to the present day, if GQ and The Guardian know who Kendrick Lamar is, but they don’t recognise Rappers like Cyrus Malachi or M9; what does that say about Lamar?
Thanks to the appropriation of Hip-Hop by the mainstream media, these days we either have outright caricatures like Riff Raff and Chief Keef, we have born-and-raised middle class fakes like Drake and Childish Gambino, or we have people with real skill, allegedly from the streets, but who create music that caters to the tastes of upper middle class Hipsters… Kendrick Lamar definitely fits into the latter category.
This social targeting has been systematically destroying Hip-Hop from the mid-to-late nineties onward; it was the main reason for P Diddy‘s shiny suits, it was the reason that The Neptunes, Timbaland, Lil’ Jon, and Kanye West became popular, and it was the main reason we had all that “In The Club” garbage in the noughties. So these days, savvy to a “bling” culture backlash and the rise of consciousness, out comes Interscope with a revamped Kendrick Lamar; and look he’s really in tune with black culture, just take a listen to his new Spotify record-breaking, enlightened album. And when you’re listening to it, please forget about “Swimming Pools” and “Alien Girl”, because Dre’s latest protégé is here to appeal to all those fake Pro-Black people out there. Those who watched the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protests safely on TV, those who only care about black culture one month a year, and those who think crying at Common and John Legend at The Oscars is enough to right all the wrongs of the past and bring racial harmony to the world. If that’s you, then it must be a shock to discover that this fake pop-culture trend to appear sympathetic to minority plight is in fact offensive. And for your information, Kendrick Lamar and anything else you listen to isn’t Hip-Hop; it’s Hipster-Hop.
So let’s face facts, if Lamar existed during the Golden Era would he be heralded as one of the greats? With his Gift Of Gab-ish flow, alongside Rappers in their prime like KRS One, Nas, Ras Kass, The Smith Bros., GZA, Ruck and Rock (to name a few) everyone in their heart of hearts knows that Kendrick most definitely wouldn’t. Plus it’s safe to say that anything that has passed through the money-grabbing hands of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine is a carefully created product intended to appeal to the widest section of the paying public. These so-called “Greatest Of All Time” Rappers created by Dre and Jimmy pop up every now and again, and they’re cleverly packaged as “geniuses” or “credible” even though they’re obviously not. The annoying thing about this is, that every godforsaken time the brainwashed middle class buy into this charade both figuratively and literally, and a swath of real underground Rappers get overlooked.
With the unanimous praise that Kendrick’s latest album has received, it feels almost as if the mainstream press is colluding to promote anything that comes out of Aftermath’s stable in order to further a consumerist-led takeover. Hey, it worked with Eminem a decade and a half ago, so why not with Kendrick Lamar? The public never seem to recognise the fakery, be it Eminem’s bleach blonde hair and cartoonish videos, and now Lamar’s overrated, faux pro-black, Jazzy Hipster-Hop release.
Kendrick Lamar’s latest album “To Pimp A Butterfly”, according to the aforementioned publications is an infallible classic. So don’t look anywhere else, this is the album to legally purchase with your office-job pay cheque. Even though this West Coast Funk-infused, faux-Jazz, R’N’B-filled album is in reality below average, just keep telling yourself it’s something special. When these magazines tell you that Lamar’s free-spoken-word, off-beat rap flow is something to be admired, I guess it’s best to ignore Killah Priest’s “Heavy Mental” or anything by Blackalicious. It’s also best to ignore Public Enemy, Paris, and dead prez, because if you compare Lamar to actual protest Rap it might become apparent that he’s a mainstream, middle-class-suck-up, Hipster-enticing, lightweight.
To anybody who has encountered prejudice, gung-ho, militarised Police, we all know “Black Lives Matter”, in fact we knew all minority and working class lives mattered way before Ferguson. But back when Kendrick Lamar was rapping “First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it”, real social commentary was displayed by Rappers like Dynamic Certified with their track “187 (Cop Killa)”. But oh no, Police brutality and institutional racism only exists right now during this album’s release; back in 2012 the world was a big, prejudice-free utopia. I guess only when social unrest and anti-authority protest gets approved by the mainstream media machine does Aftermath’s boy wonder abandon his “Control” verse, forget about his lame Spider-Man 2 track, and become conscious. How convenient.
To Rape A Black Butterfly.