What Went Wrong With… Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly, & The Rise Of Middle Class Hip-Hop?

Image of Kendrick Lamar on TIME, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, & GQ Magazine Covers. By whatwentwrongwith.comIt’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.

48 replies »

  1. Hey
    I would like to know your thoughts on a few matters because I agree with your perspective on many things but also often find myself being the angry person in the room (angry people usually tell the truth that’s why they’re so angry)

    It’s hard to pinpoint who is middle class and who is upper class with hipster hop and the commodification of subculture in general. I think a lot of art has been separated from ritual and lost its inherent value in many respects….while political organization has become even more trivialized because although inequality is at an all time high, the pseudo cultural forces that exist promote equal access to trends, information, lifestyles etc. It’s an illusion of equality and I don’t expect you to know the solution but I am wondering what is your take on it? Maybe a more nuanced perspective would enlighten me to what can be done about this collective frustration with the proliferation of false icons and images.

  2. Just to make a point of reference- I believe it was an ad campaign for chanel that became very popular. The photo shoot included models protesting in the street the way labor strikers in the garment industry once did. It is completely ironic appropriation of a legitimate historical event used as a marketing tool in post occupy era where even protesting has become more of a trend than active political participation. In some way it collapses the disparing ideologies of upper and middle classes at least through image. which allows people to buy the myth that there is no gap in income or access to things etc.
    In a similar way Lamar is utilizing the recent racial uproar to promote himself. Which is rampant in the art world – how many artists have jumped on the environmentally conscious bandwagon to promote their careers?

    • It’s quite a complicated question and my answer raises yet more of them. What you said is true; most sectors of our lives are ruled by the upper class (who profit from our consumption) and the middle and working classes provide all the labour. The insidiousness begins when a “higher” class appropriates aesthetics or iconography of a lower class in order to appeal to the classes they are selling to. But this in turn cheapens the original art-form, sometimes demeans it, and if you look at who benefits; it becomes all the more offensive.

      Take Guy Ritchie for example, a self-confessed upper class Writer/Director (even his production company is called Toff Guy) and yet all his early films concerned only working class people and working class criminals (Lock, Stock & Snatch etc.). The question is; did he do this so that his films would appeal to the majority of cinema goers (working and middle classes), is it because nothing remotely exciting happens to the upper classes, was it to appear as if he was actually working class and therefore “credible”, or was it to control the mainstream perceptions of the working class by the so-called “higher” classes?

      Protest imagery is a little more tricky; yes it feels offensive when music videos by Kanye West, Rihanna, and Jay-Z for example feature “protest chic”, but the majority of protesters in reality are middle class (at least in this century). The anger about the appropriation of protest iconography only applies to the fact that songs like “Run This Town” (and the advert you mentioned) obviously incorporate a meaningless aesthetic in order to appear “hardcore” and “raw” when the true intention and the end result is to sell a product. So what’s the point of stealing the look of a protest when there is no message and no actual protest behind it?

      There is also a definite change in who the entertainment industry hires. The Art and Design world has always (at least from the latter half of the 20th Century onward) consisted of middle class or upper-middle class people. You have to get multiple Degrees to work in Advertising or Mainstream or profitable Art. But music used to encompass many working class people, and now there is a shift in where the Artists originate.

      Just look at Hip-Hop specifically; we used to have a swath of songs concerning a hard upbringing. There was Naughty By Nature’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, Wu-Syndicate’s “Where Was Heaven?”, and Ghostface Killah’s “All That I Got Is You” etc. But now, you’ll never find these types of songs in this genre. Either because the talent is increasingly middle class or they’re trying appeal to the middle classes and so don’t include these kinds of lyrics. Either way music ranging from Rock to Rap has suffered.

      Is all this because the middle class is growing in size? Maybe, but it feels much more corrupt than that. It seems that nepotism and networking has replaced “finding” talent. Now Hollywood Studios and Music Labels just hire already famous people’s children, friends, and acquaintances; just look at Berry Gorgy’s lame descendants LMFAO getting signed and becoming famous without really showing any talent. Of course there are many middle class people with talent out there, this grooming of the middle class is also fuelled by an inferior choice of entertainers; and they just happen to be middle class and so muddy the water for the rest of the demographic.

      So what to do? The A&R’s and the Executives in charge need to get their asses up and do some actual work. Maybe the greatest Rapper or the greatest Actor has zero qualifications and has never attended some prestigious School or University. It’s corny to say, but sometimes the School Of Hard Knocks sometimes churns out better talent than those who have attended RADA, The BRIT School, or Goldsmiths. These days if you’re parents have money, you go to the best Art Colleges, the Entertainment industry connections are built from there, and you get hired as a songwriter or performer. Nobody bothers to check if the kid who lives in poverty has better non-academic qualifications for the same position. When is the last time you heard a real “Rags To Riches” story these days? All we have is the middle class buying products created by the middle class, the working class trying to become the middle class, and the upper class making the big money from all the exploitation and appropriation.

  3. pimp a butterfly sucks. how can anybody take a rapper who says ^boo boo^ seriously???

  4. The music industry is DEAD. It’s deader than dead. Been dead since the early 2000’s because Internet killed it. Something Napster that seemingly happened over night in 1999 single handedly dealt a large death blow to the music industry. The days of getting a big record contract and “making it” by doing clubs and gigs, oh man those days are long gone and they’re never coming back. That’s why you don’t see the music industry promoting new rock artists anymore. They hate rock, they hate rock musicians. All that is left of music today is over produced shitty dance music or corporate rap music.

    Key note – record sales. Gone are the days of really making money by selling records. No one pays for music anymore. Now you can’t entirely blame this on the internet, cause remember before Napster, the average price of a CD was 21 dollars. You had to pay 21 bucks for a brand new CD in 1999. The 90’s were not happy days for any music fan. CD’s were overpriced to a large extent, and concert venue tickets also were insanely overpriced to the point, bands started complaining to Ticket Master themselves, since no one could really afford to see shows without costing a lot.

    This is what has killed rock music, and sadly for rock music in America, our rock scene is a bunch of washed up middle aged bands of old men that gig in bars and play hits from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. For them, the clock just stopped, and these bands are terrible. They’re bad, they don’t even try to be entertaining on stage (if you want it enough, you’ll do crazy stuff to get notoriety). If you are a rock oriented musician, you know just what I am referring to and it fucking sucks. I feel the pain, this is what we have to put up with. And if it’s not that, you have guitar shredder kids on the internet stuck in the 80’s. It sucks to be a rock musician in America these days cause the idea of being a rock star is dead, and most people don’t want to realize this truth. The 90’s was the last era of the rock star. The rock musicians today that are all about money, they go country when they realize that’s where the money is at.

    This has even effected the rap side of the equation too, cause like this article and most of your site goes through; what are the biggest rappers today? They are plastic products spit out by the corporate music machine. Iggy Azalea and Nikki Minajah are nothing without the corporate music industry there to turn them into a product marketable through capitalist consumerism. Music critics for years have ignored and ignored great music that sells from all genres to promote big name stuff by big music labels. Sadly, that’s just how it has always worked. This was the reason great Jazz musicians in the 60’s often went unnoticed if they weren’t on a big time label. (same with any other genre)

    You notice this more with rap music than anything I believe. So many of these big name rappers today that the industry pushes, what are they doing? They often are marketing something. That is how you make money these days in music since album sales aren’t what they used to be.

    Hip Hop consumerism is a very sad thing to see. But it has been the music industry from day 1 pushing the corporate rap image that promotes the capitalist idea of consumerism. Corporate rap is a creation of the music industry. They got that when the music industry began to heavily promote Dr. Dre (and NWA) and after that, rap music changed forever. It became mandatory for rap albums to have a Parental Advisory label on their covers.

    Rap artists today are straight up products of the music industry, and they are all the same for that reason. Gone are the days of real deal rap artists, like old rock bands who started from being dirt poor and worked their way up. Like I said; those days of getting a big record contract are totally gone.

    Except with rock music on the other hand; the only rock bands today are ones that were established acts prior to the year 2000. Same with Heavy Metal; oh man Metal is DEAD DEAD DEAD. Been dead. You just can’t tell metal heads that cause they are stuck in the 80’s. They think it SHOULD be underground, but how the hell do you make money that way? I know. I’ve been there. It’s very hard to get a metal gig today in America playing bars, and if you do you’re getting paid dirt cheap and it’s not even worth it (now out door big festivals, are where metal bands still make money, but you have to be established to get a good outdoor gig)

    Country has replaced rock as far as the music industry is concerned. And Country, much like Heavy Metal from the past, is marketed exclusively towards white people, in the same regard they try to sell rap music to the black community.

    Unlike rock music too, this is a good decade to be a rap artist. Especially now that the industry tries desperately to sell more Eminem white rapper types. The music industry LOVES it when they can market a white guy playing black music. They absolutely love this. They always have. There is a reason back in the 60’s that white guys playing “rock and roll” got all the fame, where the black Blues players that influenced them 100% were left out in the dust.

    Which BTW, the only difference between “Rock” and “R&B” in the 60’s is skin color. Cause in capitalist America, we have to market and sell a race (and gender) on everything. There are many, many great artists both white and black, and both called R&B and Rock and Roll, from the 60’s and 70’s, and you really can’t tell a difference between their genre, especially the white rockers, since they were all so heavily influenced by black music.

    Genres in music are fucking a joke. Just a capitalist invention of marketing. I figured this out as a teenager when I went through my metal phase, and sadly metal fans are so fucking brainwashed, they think they have to listen to Metal ONLY. They end up missing out on so much cool music due to that stupid rule with them.

    As of 2015, the music scene is a depressing place no matter where you live in America.

    I feel for you! I really do! I’m not a huge rap fan, but I have a lot of respect for the music genre and it’s foundations. I respect rappers for being simple. Just when you thought punk rock was as simple as it got, hip hop made it even simpler 😉 . Simple music rocks, anything that gives the finger to music theory snobs, go for it!

    • I completely agree. I used to be a fan of Dance music (back when Raves were genuine) and it was taken over by the mainstream and destroyed in the mid-nineties, I was a fan of Hip-Hop and Reggae Dancehall and it was destroyed in the late nineties, then I was a fan of Grime and it was ruined in the noughties. It seems that everything real that originates in the underground is appropriated by corporations and destroyed; and they’re getting more and more efficient at it. I also agree with what you said about Rock, I watched the Sonisphere Festival one year and it was filled with ageing 70’s/80’s/90’s bands. There were a few underground bands I never heard of, but I’ve never heard them plugged on mainstream channels like Kerrang. I don’t know of a genre that hasn’t been stolen and raped by the mainstream labels, and it’s fucked up that the “Big Three” control almost everything we hear (from all genres) these days.

  5. To Pimp a Butterfly is a album for racist ass white hipsters that’s trying to be “Down” with the black struggle and gullible black people that fall for any so-called “Pro Black” person that the white supremacist media wants black people to follow.

  6. To Pimp a Butterfly is a decent album (I would give it 7/10), but it is not a classic nor a great album. I agree with you that TPAB is wildly overrated (the needledrop gave this album 10/10). The critics don’t know shit about hip hop. Joey Badass’ album B4 Da $$ was the best album of the year so far.
    However I don’t agree that TPAB is a fake pro-black album. The album may be overrated, but at least Kendrick is having an opinion. When do you say from the likes of Rihanna, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne? Lil Wayne even used the brutal killing of Emmett Till as a sex metaphor a while back.
    In fact, mainstream media paying attention to racial issues is a good thing because these issues have been ignored for years. There might be a serious debate sorrounding the issue. It may not solve the problems, but there was a discussion nonetheless.

    • I agree, B4.Da.$$ was the better album.

      To Pimp A Butterfly never really had a Pro-Black message anyway (Blacker The Berry blamed black people for violence), the album isn’t in the same league as Public Enemy for example. A real political album will feel like it’s inciting a riot, it doesn’t talk about them in a safe way. And real Political Rappers like Dead Prez and Immortal Technique never stop making social or political songs. Plus calling himself shit like “King Kunta” (referencing Roots) when Kendrick is loved by the white mainstream made no sense at all.

      Anything approved or put out on Aftermath/by Dre is usually just a money-grabbing exercise, and TPAB just rode the wave of anti-Police/pro-black sentiments to make some cash. The motivation seemed fake to me, like I said Police Brutality has always existed, but Lamar was too busy diving into a pool a few years back to comment… now he’s got an opinion.

    • I listened to To Pimp A Butterfly a few more times and my opinion on the album has changed. Just like Dr Dre’s The Chronic, it got worse over time. This album is painfully mediocre. The production is inconsistent and all over the place. Kendrick Lamar is putting on weird accents. The lyrics about racism and black empowerment are downright pretentious. The “concept” songs are basic as hell. I liked a few tracks like The Blacker The Berry and i, but a few good tracks doesn’t make a great album. King Kunta was hot garbage. The old Tupac interview at the end is completely unnecessary. I’m concerned that people think it’s ok to exploit Tupac’s legacy for profit. Dr Dre decided to bring out a hologram of Tupac at Coachella a few years ago. Eminem executively produced one of Tupac’s posthumous albums despite making the racist track Foolish Pride. It’s strange that many people associate Tupac with Eminem. If Tupac was still alive, he would have been pissed when you take into account that he was so aggressively against racism, was a son of a Black Panther, and made songs like Keep Ya Head Up. There is even a Tupac movie called All Eyez On Me that will be released later this year or early next year. I will not be seeing that. Can people just let Tupac rest in peace and stop exploiting a dead person for a quick buck?

  7. Lol, keep hating man. I swear you dust heads always got shit to bitch about. Why do you elitists always have to over-anlize music why can’t you just enjoy it? You don’t have to take it this seriously. Plus why you gotta force your OPINION down peoples throats? Remember music is SUBJECTIVE.

    How can you take something about hope and positivity and turn it into hatred?
    -Kendrick Lamar to Fox News

    • Who the fuck is forcing this opinion down your sore-throat? You had to navigate to this site, nobody kicked your fucking door down and made you read this shit.

      Only a hypocritical clown would highlight the fact that music is SUBJECTIVE and then dismiss someone else’s opinion. You really are confused, no wonder you think Kendrick Lamar represents “hope and positivity”.

      And who connected Lamar to Fox News? Instead of using out of date slang like “hating”, misspelling “over-analyse”, and capitalising random words, maybe you should have read this shit properly before commenting?

      I love me some angel dust son, but what the fuck were you smoking when you typed that fucked up contradicting shite?

  8. Kendrick Lamar dick riders really need to learn how to read…

    How the fuck do you get “KKK” from a comment exposing “white hipsters? Surely someone anti-white supremacist can’t be KKK?

    A Troll strays off topic and causes disruption on message boards, so how the fuck can an entire site or an entire article with an apt title be trolling since you have to go out of your way to read about this topic? Get a fucking clue before typing this kind of idiotic bullshit.

  9. where the fuck is this shit from? i swear anyone not agreeing with something automatically labels it ‘trolling” smh

    • It’s from a Rap Genius topic “192071-Dont-read-this-if”.

      People have the right to their point of view but to link to an article called “What Went Wrong With… Kendrick Lamar” and then call it “trolling” is the dumbest shit I’ve heard. What do you expect, praise for Kendrick? The shit isn’t titled “What Went Right With…?”.

    • that shit is hilarious!!!!!

      NondescriptWhiteRapFan1 says:

      “Faux pro-black”

      this is why riots happen

      a white fan of faux pro-black music proves its faux pro-black music by commenting


  11. Wow! I agree with you! People never see the bigger picture. You have all of these people saying this album is so great, but I don’t hear it playing in peoples cars, I don’t hear anything on the radio. No one is talking about this album but critics. This “true” hip-hop head is doing songs with Taylor Swift though?! Come on!

  12. agreed i recently got into an argument with a coworker that he wouldnt drop even when other people agreed that i was right and any normal person would agree

    i simply said “i dont believe in blindly loving everything your favorite artist or musician produce” (we were talking about kendrick specifically) at that point i said case and point was him collabing with taylor swift if that isnt panhandiling i dont know what is in the music business

    i actually dont remember how he responded but i remember he was rather angry and defiant (hes one of the weirdo quiet types so it was a strange incident)

    i stand by that statement i can think of countless favorites of mine where i listen to some stuff and just ya this is wack but im also at a point that unless its country, a ballad (i hate slow songs of any kind), kendrick mac miller, or miley cyrus i try to find fun in any and all music depending on this situation IE work ill jam out even if it sucks at home or in the car that shit gets turned

    but i will say this if you dont like kendrick people think your trapped in a musical box thats what i remember the guy telling me because i didnt like kendrick im in a musical box i should add outside of kendrick we both like basically the same music(doom dilla lib etc) but because i dislike kendrick a fan of his (oooh so ashamed he scorned me /sarcasm) believes i am trapped in a box (oh noes quiet weirdos opinion means so much to me)

    this is why for me kendrick is overrated hot garbage i cant stand listening to, his fans truly believe he is a revolutionary and making a difference when to me personally is quite boring outside of mad city and thats because i am a huge fan of mc eiht and i like the beat

    in the end realistically i like 5-6 of his songs (and i dont even remember any of them) thats about it at this point i have no opinion on lamar anymore idc about him at all hes very meh to me and i just felt like wasting time sharing a story about how delusional his fans can be

  13. his fans are metrosexual militant hipsters. you cant say anything bad about him or theyll go ape. tpab was trash

  14. Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Key to Compton, and he was awarded with best rap album/song of the year. Watch all the haters on this site get mad lol. Oh ya, he also won awards for one of his music videos.

    • How original, calling people with a different opinion “haters”. What’s it like being a walking, talking cliché?

      For your information, nobody here gives a fuck what Kendrick won or didn’t win, the fact that he won anything at all at the Grammys confirms he’s a middle-class-approved fake. The Grammys only give awards to overground Hip-Pop artists that appeal to people like you, so what does that say about Lamar?

      P.S. If you don’t agree with this article then maybe quit visiting it day in and day out.

  15. What a piece of shit!!! It’s very obvious that middle class people buy hip-hop albums and records for whatever reason. But to question Kendrick’s street credibility, talent, and intentions based on it not measuring up Public Enemy, The Coup, or any politically inclined rap protest album/record that the mainstream may not be aware of is of no consequence. It’s funny how it was the critics who labeled this album A “Pro-Black” album, NOT KENDRICK….or how it was the industry tastemakers and critics who labeled the album CLASSIC, NOT KENDRICK!!! The comparisons to the greats in rap is up for debate, but this subtle undercurrent of hate for an artist should be said for what it is!!! YOU DON’T LIKE KENDRICK LAMAR’S MUSIC!!! Instead of calling to task the critics, people rather make this a discussion about hip-hop.

    • That shit makes no sense – obviously I don’t like a post-Dre Kendrick Lamar, but instead of simply saying “I don’t like him” I’m explaining why – that’s the essence of CRITICISM and DEBATE. Surely a 1050 word article elevates this from simple “hate” to a justified and thought-out argument.

      For your information an artist never calls their own work a classic, the media and the public do. By and large the media and the public have labelled this (incorrectly in my opinion) a classic album. This IN MY OPINION is undeserved.

      And by the way, tracks like “King Kunta” and “The Blacker The Berry” makes Kendrick a wannabe conscious or political rapper, as soon as he makes these songs, I have the right to compare him to better political rappers such as The Coup, Ras Kass, and dead prez (to name but a few). Plus, as soon as you approve an album cover like this, you’re labelling yourself as both political and pro-black…

      To Pimp A Butterfly album cover

      …but like I said under your second comment below, by showing black people as money-loving, alcohol-sipping thugs, you are demeaning or selling-out your own race. Stereotyping + self-hatred + appealing to white people makes Kendrick an overrated, middle-class pandering, fake left-wing, sell-out. Plain and simple.

  16. I take it that you don’t like Kendrick Lamar and that’s FINE!!! But what about other rappers (legends even!!) who come from middle class backgrounds who partake in a street style and appeal to white folk!!! RUN-DMC, LL COOL J, DE LA SOUL, even PUBLIC ENEMY come from middle class backgrounds that allude to street sensibilities!!! Even Wu Tang Clan for all it’s street perspective has a huge white fanbase!!!

    • There’s a difference between having a middle-class background, having white fans, and staying respectful to your race and what Kendrick Lamar does/has done. When was the last time you heard De La Soul or Wu-Tang use self-hating slang knowing it will influence their white fan-base? When Lamar raps “monkey-mouth motherfuckers” it demeans black people and that gets consumed by a predominantly white audience. I’ve never heard these legends you mention degrade their own race in front of white people – hence their deserved standing in Hip-Hop.

      Understand that it doesn’t matter how many white fans you have, but as a person of colour it matters what you say and do in front of them.

    • Also Kendrick is highly overrated . His lyrical ability is average at best . As a hip hop head the hype and overexposure that he , J. Cole , A$AP Rocky and Macklemore received back in 2012 and 2013 sickened me . Of all those guys Macklemore is the best lyricist . And that in of itself says a lot about the caliber of all of them . Kendrick got lucky and Dre signed him . He was signed because Dre thought that he is a good looking guy and can be marketed to the mainstream as a pop star . Dre did the same thing with Eminem . Although , it was a different time back in late 1997 and Eminem was a much more proficient lyricist than Kendrick is now . There are probably a hundred thousand or more African American rappers with the same level of talent as Kendrick that will never get signed .

      De La Soul and Chuck D didn’t sell out to egregious levels . Flavor Flav tried to with VH1 reality T.V. but failed in the end to maintain pop culture celebrity status . LL Cool J is a huge sell out . Run-DMC market their merchandise but that doesn’t make them sell outs .

      Certain members of The Wu-Tang Clan are egregious sell outs . RZA , GZA , Method Man , Ghostface Killah , Inspectah Deck and Raekwon have worked with Kanye West , Rick Ross , Drake , Meek Mill , Lil’ Wayne , Odd Future , Kid Cudi , Mark Ronson , Action Bronson , Childish Gambino , Ne-Yo , The Cool Kids , Game , Justin Bieber , Big Sean , J. Cole , Schoolboy Q , Tyrese , Snoop Dogg , The Black Keys , Beyonce , Mariah Carey and various other huge mainstream artists . Not to mention that The Wu-Tang’s fan base nowadays is mostly white middle class to upper middle class hipsters . That Wall Street pharmaceutical executive douchebag who jacked up the price of Daraprim even bought that album The Wu made a single pressing of ….. for $ 2.5 million dollars American .

  17. Kendrick is a good example of how hip hop has devolved in the mainstream . You go from the likes of Boogie Down Productions , Public Enemy and The Juice Crew to Black Hippy , Odd Future and A$AP Mob in the space of 25 years . That says it all right there .

    The Wu-Tang Clan have collaborated with many more mainstream artists than those that I’ve mentioned . I only listed the ones I could think of off the top my head .

  18. Coming from a middle-class background I can only agree with you. Growing up (I’m 20) I was forced into believing that Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Whiz Khalifa and all of those fake ass bulllshiters were in fact Hip-Hop. I was told so by media, friends and people from the industry. The funny thing was I could never stand this shit so Hip-Hop was a no-go for me. In fact, mainstream media fucked up Hip-Hop for me, not my own perception. If anyone told me to go listen to Blaq Poet, Tragedy Khadafi or or.. I would have had a single fucking clue of what this culture has to offer and would have cherished it..

    When everyone was dickriding Kendrick for WHATEVER FUCKING REASON (I don’t get it lol) I had enough and started digging into real Hip-Hop which, MAN, was really hard at the beginning (Where I live there is no real Hip-Hop community) but probably the biggest revelation of my life. How can this be so fucked up these days? I had some help from older heads who shared this opinion but I must say these “mentors” are scarce and often not willing to help “the kids who messed this shit up in the first place” so to speak..

    Repeating my introduction I have to say that i come from a middle-class background, I’m 20 years old so I haven’t seen shite of Hip-Hop but still I’m deeply sorry for what (Especially) my generation has done to this culture. Funnily you can repeat the scheme of great artists not gaining any recognition and bullshit media hypes getting all the attention in other, smaller countries or basically on a national level. Here in Austria Hip-Hop is very fucked up, finding good stuff gets really hard. With the mainstream media still feeding us bullshit like Yung Hurn (basically an imitation of Lil B with a lot more Migos shit on the side; i dare you to listen to his track called “Nein”; you find it on YT) and small artists being unrecognised.

    What disturbs me is talking to Hip-Hop artists who, in my opinion do really great music and don’t fuck with the mainstream brainwashed bullshit, but on the other hand are celebrating the fake shite too! How come? lol

    PS: Keep it up with the great articles, something on those douchy Migos faggot shit would be nice. lol

  19. I disagree with you. Nobody’s comparing Kendrick to KRS, PE, Dead Pres etc songs and albums have to be commercially viable these days. I’ve given up waiting for another Public Enemy or NWA that’s never gonna happen. It’s not the 90s anymore so get used to it. No Kendrick isn’t Nas or Tupac or Ras Kas but he’s making music that the people like. Where’s the harm in that? And also Middle class is what everyone wants to be right?? So what if that’s his fan based.

    • I wasn’t aware that we were now ignoring history.

      I don’t know how old you are but back in the 90s when skilled rappers came out (Nas, Ras Kass, Smoothe Da Hustler, Big Punisher, Canibus etc.) we compared them to the greats from the 80s (Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS etc) and the comparison held up. But now, according to people like you, we’re supposed to say Kendrick Lamar is better than Drake and Migos but ignore the fact that he doesn’t come close to rappers from the past. Why?

      And by the way, to all of you Kendrick door-mats out there, this is also how you judge whether an album is worthy of acclaim or not. Apparently you don’t want me to compare Kendrick’s wannabe political album to Public Enemy, dead prez, Immortal Technique, Paris etc. – you say that fans and the media don’t compare TPAB with Let’s Get Free for example – but that’s very selective. I’ll point out that when The Guardian newspaper (the same Guardian that overrated Lamar) reviewed Joey Bada$$’ B4.Da.$$ they compared the album to almost everything from the golden era and underrated the LP (they gave it a paltry 2 stars!)…

      …but when it came to Kendrick we’re supposed to ignore the better political music from the past and overrate him? Double standards for Aftermath’s wonder boy I guess.

      This goes much wider than just Hip-Hop music. For example if you claim to be a composer I’m going to compare you to Beethoven and Mozart, that’s how we know how good someone is, by comparing them to the all time greats – that’s the benchmark. You don’t get to pick and choose comparisons just to inflate the worth of an average artist.

      On your point about the middle classes, yes everybody from a working class background aspires to be middle class, but when you get there you’ll know that it’s a bland place to be. Nothing avant garde comes from the middle classes because there’s no struggle. That’s not to say that the middle classes can’t consume working class targeted products, but you don’t pander to them.

      For example when N.W.A. came out with FTP or Public Enemy’s logo showed a cop in the cross hairs or reticle of a gun sight, that was an unpopular thing to do, but it still sold to the working and middle classes because it was the “inconvenient” truth and was credible. When Kendrick came out with this album the topics were already middle class staples, they weren’t “dangerous” or “controversial” hence the LP was obviously trying to appeal to the middle classes (the biggest consumers). The unpopular opinion was when The Game said “all lives matter”, even though I don’t agree with him, that took more balls to say than going with the typical liberal stance. Back when 9/11 happened it was unpopular to say anything against the American government (for the following few years) but dead prez and Immortal Technique spoke their mind – that’s what made them credible. To say anything when it might fuck up your career is when a real rapper says it – Rap/Rock’N’Roll is supposed to go against the grain, not wait for an opinion to become acceptable and then conform.

      By the way, that’s a very defeatist attitude to say that we shouldn’t expect another “Public Enemy”. Why not? Fans and rappers had better get their fucking game up.

  20. “And when you’re listening to it, please forget about “Swimming Pools” and “Alien Girl” ”

    But what was wrong with these songs? Maybe they were “Hip Pop”, but Swimming Pools did not promote drinking… It was Kendrick detailing his experience with it:
    On this lead single from good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick addresses the psychological connection between peer pressure and alcoholism. What sounds like a club anthem is actually an introspective take on the social pressure and self-defeating attitudes that drive people to drink.

    K Dot spoke to Complex about the inspiration behind this song:

    What better way to make something universal than to speak about drinking? I’m coming from a household where you had to make a decision—you were either a casual drinker or you were a drunk. That’s what that record is really about, me experiencing that as a kid and making my own decisions.
    …and Alien Girl, I believe, is about him pining for a girl, or even talking about his girlfriend.

  21. “First you get a swimming pool full of liquor, then you dive in it”

    Kendrick said that this line was about buying so much liquor that you could fill a swimming pool with it.

    The person speaking to Kendrick was telling him to get loads of alcohol and drink it quickly, or “dive in it.” Peer pressure can drive someone to drink more than they physically can.

    He uses hyperbole to highlight the ridiculousness of some people’s consumption of alcohol.

    • You can copy and paste whatever you want from, it doesn’t change the fact that Lamar has always yearned for Pop success hence the constant crossing over and selling out.

      Credibility comes from sticking with something even when it’s not popular and persisting until people accept it, if that’s how Kendrick Lamar had “gone mainstream” I’d have no problem with him. But going from Jazzy production to Pop production and inserting overtly catchy Pop-style hooks means you just want everybody to like you plus you have no real conviction when it comes to your art.

      Lamar knows there’s a big market out there, if he can sell to middle-class or upper-middle-class white people he’ll make more money so he puts some Hip-Pop on his album, but Lamar’s gone much further than that…

      Inserting a radio-friendly sound to appeal to the mainstream takes away from an artist’s credibility but doing guest spots with mediocre groups/singers is just sucking-up to the mainstream, it’s blatant selling out. These singers never liked Kendrick back in the mid-to-late 00s, they didn’t want to collaborate with him during the Section.80 days that wouldn’t have benefited them. These Pop acts want credibility so they enlist a rapper, a rapper wants some overground success to he accepts, nowhere in this food-chain is actual credibility. A credible Pop singer would support a rapper when they’re still unsigned releasing mixtapes, a credible rapper would crossover to the mainstream without pandering to Pop fans. This is not what’s been happening with Kendrick Lamar.

    • If you’re admitting that it’s a “compromise” (i.e. a concession or lowering of standards) then once again, by definition, “compromising” takes away the credibility from a piece of art.

      Public Enemy in the height of their career didn’t start doing featured tracks with Madonna (or whoever the equivalent was back then) and yet white middle class fans came running. Make real, undiluted music and let people slowly wake up and discover it, don’t go and pander to the mainstream; that’s not credible, yes it’s a compromise and therefore it’s selling out.