Kendrick Lamar — the rap impresario — rhymes about the temptations, social struggles, disharmony and the heartbeat of his hometown in Compton, California. Still Kendrick Lamar — the man — remains selective with words.
After personally getting signed by Dr. Dre to Aftermath/Interscope Records in March, Lamar has covertly risen from the L.A. streets, keeping every hip-hop blogger, fan and fellow artist salivating for his work, yet mostly staying elusive to the buzz. Recently, admirers got early word that the entertainer’s debut album would arrive in October, a statement he supposedly made during his PowerHouse performance on June 23. By the next day, everyone from MTV to college disc jockeys was broadcasting the news.
They were soon interrupted, however, because if Lamar stresses anything, it’s attention to detail. “Let me personally announce the album date and “CORRECT” title,” he clarified on his Twitter page. “Then it’s official.” Three days later, he did, and the countdown to Good Kid, M.A.A.d City began, the release now confirmed for October 2.
Don’t expect many more details about the work out of the 25-year-old emcee. Lamar prefers to let his audience speculate, to formulate their own ideas, thoughts and opinions, so he can later break them down and renovate them. “I just wanted to make it right,” Lamar tells theGrio. “I didn’t really want to put it out there and say exactly what it meant. I wanted ya’ll to get the album and figure it out. That’s the catch.” While the rapper does admit he’s not the “good kid” in question, otherwise, he reveals little about the meaning or context of his much-anticipated LP. He describes the sound as like “nothing from the last ten years,” and despite his famous musical connections, he’s kept his production unit tight, working with producers Soundwave, Willie B, Tae Beast, and Dave Free, the same crew from his 2011 independent release, Section.80.
“The sound is really just all in-house,” he explains. “I kept everything real locked in with the people that rhyme with me, and perfected myself. It will be nothing like my tapes, as far as theme and concept, but as far as the sound, it will be on the scale.” Industry tastemakers and fans have likened Lamar’s artistic flair to the golden era of hip hop, those ‘90s days of yore when rap masters like 2Pac, N.W.A., A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang Clan reigned supreme with their insightful lyrics, deconstructionist technique, and groundbreaking creative curves. It was a decade when hip hop couldn’t be predicted, when wit challenged provocation, and the industry was dominated by guys whose music was often too hard for the radio.
As a West Coast kid growing up during that time, Lamar watched from his little boy’s shoes, and still holds artists like Pac in highest regard. Nevertheless, the emerging artist insists his personal prerogative doesn’t have a prototype, nor does he attempt to mimic the legends. “That’s nothing that I do consciously,” he comments. “That’s just a flavor that I throw in the game every now and then, you know? I can’t say that my whole career’s gonna be branched on that one quality of sound because I’m not classified in that particular thing. My whole thing is just to feel it – If I’m feeling, I do it.”