Born and raised in Compton, California, Kendrick Lamar has made more than just a mark in the rap music scene. His is a long-lasting legacy. After releasing his debut studio album Section 80, his music started gaining more exposure, giving him a broader fan base worldwide. I can best describe his music as thought provoking and more poetic, compared to the other clichéd ‘girls and money’ rappers. To hail him King, is another debate every rap fan has an opinion on. My definition for King is simple; it consists of the acronym ‘RAP’ which Rhythm and Poetry.
Poetry is art, a platform of expression, a voice for the voiceless, an artist’s view of the socio-economic issues, politics and issues influencing the self. Listening to Kendrick’s music, you realise that his music touches on those very basic elements of poetry. In this era we live in, not many artists can be dubbed as influential and motivational when a lot of them talk about having sex with different girls and how much money they spend in night clubs; repeating the same thing over and over again. It seems like rhyming and coming up with a cool hook qualifies you to be a rapper without deeper consideration about your lyrics, the meaning behind your lyrics, the message conveyed and the influence it has on the audience. In my opinion, only a select few can bring realism into their craft. From a rap fan’s perspective, Kendrick Lamar achieves that realism; that makes Kendrick stand alone, and without much competition to deal with. This is not to say he is either a god or some deity of rap. However, with no one matching his calibre, he can be dubbed the king of rap.
One might look at it from a different perspective. We cannot deny that over the years, the hip hop industry has evolved and become broader; we are no longer stuck on that old boom bap sound. We are now in what one can call this new movement the ‘trap era’. We have seen artists fuse the hip hop sound with other music genres, creating new unique sounds coming from the likes of Future, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert to name a few. Most importantly, and the reception from the audience to this new sound has been positive. For someone to stay with that poetic element in his music, and still be able to reach the people, that’s something else.
Looking at how Kendrick uses poetic devices in his music, and for you to get the message you first have to decode or analyse his verses, that has made people more active and participatory instead of just listening to the same thing from different people with no need to apply your mind. With some controversy over his lyrics now and then, people don’t just listen to his music to lip sync, but to understand the message and motive of the song. We’ve seen his music touch on trending issues like racism, politics, feminism and self-love, and the responses that have followed from his audience. That is what an artist is supposed to do: keep the people talking and engaging in societal issues. All hail King Kendrick.