top of page

#2 Kendrick Lamar


Lyrics 10

“Look Inside my soul, and you can find gold, and maybe get rich” Kendrick is a poet in every sense of the word. In fact in some respect his words are so profound that they’re arguably better read, that is to absorb their absolute meaning if there’s any chance you’d get lost behind the music. Yet what could never be obscured is the power behind his voice, which illuminates his thoughts with levels of intensity unfound in his peers, thus making him the most renowned and highly acclaimed MC of the present moment. Kendrick opens the doors to his soul with lyrics expounding upon good and evil, faith and spirituality, and the dual personality that makes him (and Cole) complex enough to leave us enchanted wanting more. An incredible pen that is a blessing to the game.

Delivery 9

“And she always told me pray for the weak, uhhh, these demons got me I ain’t prayed in some weeks, uhhh” Kendrick raps like a man possessed and that’s perhaps the highest compliment you can give to a MC. Listening to Kendrick rap is undoubtedly an experience, and like most great abstract works of art, the appreciation you have for it mostly depends on your state of mind and your ability to fully absorb it. However it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to say his style is an acquired taste, as his flow is so turbulent that at times it sounds like an asthma attack, which of course is deliberate and only adds to his overall charisma. Though when you add this dick ain’t free raps and loving you is COMPLICATED! moments it’s not a mystery as to why one might say his words are better written. His delivery in his live performance is something that’s undeniable however, as it’s nothing less than an event anytime he’s on the national stage.

Structure/Songwriting 10

“Money trees is the perfect place for shade and, that’s just how I feel…” Kendrick really does have great songs and that’s how most people feel. Swimming Pools, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, Money Trees, King Kunta, I, Alright, and Poetic Justice are all hit records, and his album cuts are equally as favorable, with These Walls, Momma, How Much A Dollar Cost, and Black Boy Fly among the standouts. Everything about his style is eclectic and complex, yet his albums are extremely cohesive and most powerful when played from beginning to end. His interludes and skits perfectly intertwine within the content of the music, and even his untitled content is better than most records an artist could make a name off.

Content/Meaning 10

"I'm African American, I'm African, I'm black as the moon, heritage of a small village, pardon my residence, come from the bottom of mankind, my hair is nappy, my dick is big, my nose is round and wide, you hate me don't you." The meaning behind Kendrick’s music is undoubtedly intricate, yet after multiple listens it becomes clear that he’s a visionary with a purpose. Kendrick embarks on all the themes that historically has made abstract artists so influential, with provocative themes that range from sexual tension to freedom of expression, all of what could be compared to the likes of Picasso to Michelangelo. Yet it’s imperative to mention that it’s all told from a source of black empowerment, as if the Harlem Renaissance’s been reincarnated in a single man from Compton, in which case it’s by no surprise that he’s inspired millions of people from all over the world. All the same I venture to say most people interpret different conclusions from Kendrick’s work, as is the case of most art that goes past the margins to the furthest extreme.

Self Made 9

“Get Top on the phone” The TDE movement seems to be as organic as it gets, as Kendrick and his crew by all accounts seem to be a family, yet there’s no confusion as to who’s really the top dawg of the movement. Though even while he’s an enormous artist who can name his price for anything, he still has to rely upon a variety of different producers for his sound, once again taking nothing away from himself yet inevitably still distancing himself from Cole. For just a moment think of it like Ray Allen and Steph Curry, both great shooters yet one can create his own shots, a valuable asset that’s undeniable even if you still think Allen has the nicer J. As this category goes the only way to get a 10 is to have complete creative control, a trait acquired by very few yet nonetheless still exists in spite of how rare that it is.

Image/Branding 10

"I know everything I know Compton, I know street shit, I know shit that's conscious, I know everything, I know lawyers, advertisement and sponsors, I know wisdom, I know bad religion, I know good karma, I know everything, I know history, I know the universe works mentally, I know the perks of bullshit isn't meant for me." Kendrick has managed to use delicate themes involving race while somehow staying true to himself while staying marketable at the same time. It’s clear his main priority is integrity in his music, and though he sacrifices nothing in an effort to be mainstream, the praise and adulation simply follows him. He is now the go-to artist for any Awards show looking for a high-profile performance, and in ways each different than the last he takes a creative approach that delivers every time. His last two performances at the BET Awards and The Grammys have been particularly powerful, and have provided a lasting memory that has assured his place in the forefront of Hip Hop.

Sales 9

"I'm trying to keep it alive and not compromise the feeling we love, you're trying to keep it deprived and only co-sign what radio does." Almost more remarkable than his mainstream appeal by way of unanimous praise, is the fact that as polarizing and unique as his content may be, he’s still been able to sell a ton of records at a time where most artists barely break even. And when we say he sells we’re talking real sales, not computer streams on free trials or otherwise, instead Kendrick is of a small minority group that was able to hit platinum status when many couldn’t go gold. In fact when To Pimp a Butterfly initially failed to go platinum the old fashioned way, TDE made an unofficial statement dismissive of any accomplishments off streams, symbolizing their worth and Kendrick as an artist who people actually put their money down for.

Ability to Rock an Instrumental at a Radio Station 10

“I sparred with a dragon, he tried to throw his flame but I ducked and I stabbed em, came out the battle laughin” Kendrick is a natural, meaning if you like Kendrick’s raps then you’re going to like how he spits on anything. His freestyles in that regard are likely too rappity rap for some yet all the same he’s consistent, whereas every time he raps he spits his lungs out.

Ability to Fuck Up a Rewind Button 8

“The reason why he was mad at a stranger, like I was supposed to save him, like I’m the reason he hopeless and asking me for a favor” Kendrick has incredible songs that makes you want to press the rewind button, yet not necessarily any bars that you’re desperate to hear consecutively. For those who are thinking of the Control verse, god bless you, but you should know better. They do say however that one verse can fuck up the game, and as social media’s concerned it did that with ease, yet in retrospect the passion was simply classic Kendrick though the name drops were shock value and nothing more. Perhaps that doesn’t apply to the easily excited, yet for many a moment like that provides no cause for the rewind button, and often times with Kendrick it’s best to just keep the music playing.

Longevity 10

"The ghost of Mandela, hope my flows they propel it, let my word be your earth and moon you consume every message." And great content aside after going platinum (real platinum) with Good Kid Maad City I’ve vowed to never underestimate Kendrick’s status as one of rap’s elite. Unlike other artists who are are popular on Twitter and praised by the journalist elitists, Kendrick’s impact is actually something that reveals itself in the real world, and by keeping to the formula he should be a fixture in the game for as long as feels compelled to be.

bottom of page