HipHop x Sports
Kendrick Lamar’s performance with Imagine Dragons at last night’s 56th Annual Grammy Awards was nothing short of unforgettable. More importantly, it was yet another stage for Kendrick to step up to the plate and DELIVER … Time after time, this dude has been called to the limelight to follow up on the waves he’s been making in the world of hip-hop and the world of music … And when he’s been called, he has answered … K.Dot is on fire right now – he’s at the pinnacle of rap, with or without the title of “Best New Artist” or “Best Rap Album.” Along the way, he’s been gaining believers and quieting the skeptics … He has an opportunity to really cement the run he’s making with an epic sophomore album (which he’s currently in the studio working on) to capitalize on all the success and hype that he’s earned lately … Let’s hope he can keep the buzz centered on him …
Let’s make our way through Kendrick’s recent success – Click on the link below to take a look at some of the most critical stepping stones he’s made to earn himself the title of “King Kendrick.”
– Kendrick’s debut album did not disappoint … Front to back, it was heralded as a classic hip-hop album … Kendrick didn’t compromise the rapper that he was on this record either – and still managed to earn new fans in the process rather than alienating his old ones …
– Good Kid, M.A.A.D City went Platinum (1.1 million sold) in 9 short months
– The album also got rave reviews from critics all across the board. Jaeki Cho of XXL Magazine called it “one of the most cohesive bodies of work in recent rap memory.”
– As you already know, it was also nominated for “Album of the Year” at the 2014 Grammy’s, and it WON “Album of the Year” at the 2013 BET Music Awards.
— To put it simply, the release of this album kicked everything off for Kendrick … It was the body of work that he needed to show to people that he was the real deal (following being given The Torch to LA by Game back in 2011)… A lot of guys can have solid debut mixtapes like Kendrick did with Section.80 (Download it here), but most of the time these same artists fail to deliver on their debut album when the real pressure is on. Kendrick managed to kick off the hype with his mixtape AND follow it up with a classic debut album. With critical acclaim for this album and the rave reviews that it got, it set Kendrick up to have a great 2013-2014 if he was willing to grab the reins and make it happen
… He made it happen
– Already riding the success of his debut album and generating even more hype with some great features and remixes to some of his hit songs, Kendrick shocked the world with his verse over Big Sean’s “Control.” Calling himself the King of New York, Kendrick called out some of hip-hop’s heavyweights (Drake, J. Cole, A$AP Rocky), saying “I’m trying to MURDER you niggas!!!” (among other things). This verse alone sent shockwaves throughout the rap community, generating both praise and outrage from critics and rappers alike.
– The verse generated over 25 responses from big-time rappers who felt they needed to diss Kendrick back for his outrageous claim and shocking verse … Bad move, fellas … The more attention this verse got, the more notoriety it gave Kendrick … NO ONE stopped talking about him after this verse, and it put the spotlight on Kendrick throughout the entire rap community, for better or for worse…
— Here’s the significance of Control: When a diss song generates a response or “retaliation” from rappers, it automatically becomes a success. Period. Bad diss songs are just disregarded by rappers and just become irrelevant in a short time … Jay-Z and Nas responded to each other because their diss songs were BIG deals … “Control” obviously didn’t go unnoticed – so what Kendrick set out to do obviously worked … Most would agree that calling yourself the King of New York (WHEN YOU’RE FROM COMPTON!) is pretty outrageous, but there’s a method to this guys madness… Even rap kingpins like Drake responded to Kendrick, which (again) only helped with the attention and hype Kendrick was receiving already … In my opinion, this led to a pseudo-beef between these two rappers, and it really forced rap fans (like myself) to pick a side when choosing between Drake and Kendrick … The next couple moves from the both of these guys would be magnified by the rap community – the two would be inevitably linked together in the coming months to determine who really is superior to the other … Only time would tell…
– With the buzz over Kendrick’s “Control” at the center of the hype, many wondered what hip-hop’s new golden boy Kendrick Lamar would choose to rap about for the BET Cypher on October 13… Much buzz was already centered around his beef with other rappers who were stupid enough to respond to his “Control” verse…
– And once again, Kendrick didn’t disappoint … He finished off the cypher with his TDE counterparts, rapping over Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones.” Verse was fire !!
“Yeah, and nothing’s been the same since they dropped Control
And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes”
“I say, ‘Hold up, Wait a minute’
Man, your career ain’t shit unless you got some Kendrick in it!”
— The main thing I find so fascinating about Kendrick’s last year and his rise to stardom (which you’ve probably already gotten the sense of by reading this) is just how much he has delivered when he was called to the plate … With this basically being his first big time event/rap performance/whatever you want to call it since his “Control” verse, he couldn’t have addressed it better … He didn’t really single out any one of his adversaries throughout the verse or make one particular beef the subject of the verse – he was too big for that … He just delievered an epic verse to remind everyone that he is KING KENDRICK
– I forget the exact timetable, but in the last couple months Kendrick was nominated for 7 Grammy’s and it was announced that he would perform at the event. So, as if you couldn’t have asked for enough buzz surrounding Kendrick Lamar, EVEN MORE hype and attention was given to him leading up to the Grammy’s. He received a lot of media attention and grew in notoriety from rap fans and non-rap fans alike … More importantly, his performance and how he fared at the Grammy’s would be the final indicator of how his past year would pan out for him and what the future would bring for him … The stage didn’t get much bigger for Kendrick than it did last night.
– Kendrick already has owned the rap scene this past year. No one has been able to touch him … But the main thing I was hoping to see last night was his rise to stardom in the MAINSTREAM MUSIC scene … It’s tough to win over a community of musicians, critics, and fans who aren’t really into some of the more-hardcore raps that Kendrick has to offer … It’s tough to navigate that divide between rap fans and people who can’t relate to rap.
– Right when the performance began, you couldn’t deny the fact that Kendrick was bringing as much energy as possible … The dude rocked the stage, and whether or not you liked HIS song, you had to like the collaboration between him and Imagine Dragons … The energy was definitely heating up….
– Finally, Kendrick’s epic last verse got me so hyped … It was incredible, and you could tell it had the whole event as hyped … His raw energy was incredible, and I really think it was the best MUSIC performance of the night
“Fuck, look in my eyes, tell me I died, tell me I tried, to compromise
Tell me you love me, tell me that I, don’t give a fuck and can barely decide
Wishin’ good luck on my enemies, all of my energy go to the almighty God
I could drown in a bottle of Hennessy, with no amenities, I’m gettin’ better with time!”
I post this article now because I think that last night symbolized a turning point for rap, thanks to artists like K.Dot … For so many years, harder-styled rap songs have been disregarded by the mainstream (and non-rap fans) as being “thug music” or “gangster music” … But Kendrick bridged that gap last night – he brought RAW ENERGY in his performance, and allowed people who never thought they’d enjoy a rap performance to actually appreciate high-energy rap and an electric performance … When watching award shows like the Grammy’s in the past, I’ve frankly been a little embarrassed with some of the rap performances on behalf of rap music itself … I know rap concerts are all about hype and yelling at the top of your lungs into the mic, but I think a performance at the Grammy’s should have substance … The state of rap is not being helped by Juicy J and his performances making older adults hate rap even more, and I don’t blame them … But last night, I applaud Kendrick because I truly think he gained the respect of a lot of the people who don’t consider themselves fans of rap … The rap performance actually required a skill set, and it reminded people why Kendrick is both unique and talented … Although K.Dot didn’t win “Album of the Year” last night, just the fact that he was nominated is a huge step … He brought true rap into the limelight (no hate to Macklemore – I have great respect for what he has accomplished – but let’s be honest, it’s more of a pop/rap genre than the type of rap that Kendrick has brought)
Friends of mine who are NOT rap fans have always used Kendrick Lamar to bridge the gap between music styles … He’s gained the respect of a lot of music fans who are begging rap to be something new, something different … He’s changing the game right before our eyes … It’s something we have to respect and frankly, cheer on if we want rap to succeed and appeal to a larger audience … I have my own opinions about Macklemore and how his style has
changed evolved, but I find it fascinating that Kendrick hasn’t compromised ANY of his identity when gaining the limelight … He’s stayed true to himself and his style …
The future of hip-hop is bright …