Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Is Kendrick Lamar Having Fun Yet?

“Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, but also one of the saddest. Running about 12 minutes long and nestled in Kendrick Lamar’s remarkable album good kid, M.a.a.d City, the song bounces from the perspectives of various tragic figures of the ghetto, features poignant silences, switches the beat drastically, and basically encompasses the myriad emotions that come with growing up in a place like Compton, California.

This song, and the GKMC album, informed me of who Kendrick was, or who I thought he was––an observant poet, a true storyteller, someone who could tackle heavy topics with honesty and tremendous lyrics. These are all tremendous things, paint Kendrick as a serious artist, very capable of putting out work that is fun for the audience. This element of fun is what makes Kendrick Lamar’s latest work so exciting.

An unreleased Big Sean song called “Control” leaked a couple months ago, which in itself is not big news because Big Sean is the worst. However, Kendrick’s guest verse on the song was the equivalent of punching every rapper in their collective face. While most rappers resort to subliminal taunts, Kendrick straight up lists nearly every relevant rapper today, expressing how he loves them all but he’s trying to destroy them.  Kendrick suppresses his storyteller impulses, instead going for the jugular and rapping just for the sake of showing how he’s really good at rapping.

Hip-hop has always been about bravado and competition, which is not surprising given the youthful, masculine culture. This is why hip-hop websites put out a preposterous amount of rapper rankings––someone has to be the best. While Kendrick’s debut album was tremendous art and very well-received, it did not take up this competitive spirit. However, Kendrick’s new show of competitive fire shows he’s gunning for the throne, and he has a clear target.

The consensus “hottest rapper in the game” right now is Drake. Regardless of how you feel about our melodramatic, former child-actor, Canadian friend, he is the most popular rapper today with a strong amount of critical pedigree to go with his work.

However, his work has never received the critical praise of Kendrick Lamar’s album, and it has never been as fun as the moments when Kendrick decides to drop the heavy subject matter and just rap circles around people. If Kendrick wants Drake’s throne, he has the tools to take it, something that should probably make Drake a bit nervous.

Drake dismissed Kendrick’s “Control” verse, which was followed by Kendrick taking veiled shots at Drake during his performance on BET, a performance that set social media on fire. Drake puts out well-crafted songs and he deserves his popularity, but Kendrick is on an entirely different level.  Hearing Kendrick Lamar rap right now is like watching Stephen Curry heat up from the three-point line; he is a savant at work, lost in the euphoria of mastering his craft. He’s just having fun with it. It’s convenient that King Kendrick is a catchy, alliterative phrase, because I think hip-hop fans will be calling him that for a long, long time.

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