theGrio’s 100: Kendrick Lamar, keeping hip-hop fresh and authentic

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Kendrick Lamar speaks onstage at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on September 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BET)

Kendrick Lamar speaks onstage at the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards at Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center on September 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BET)

Who is Kendrick Lamar?

Kendrick Lamar, 25, is a rapper from Compton, California that has the hip-hop industry buzzing. The rap impresario  rhymes about the temptations, social struggles, disharmony and the heartbeat of his hometown in Compton, California. He first gained major attention after the release of his fourth mixtape, Overly Dedicated, in 2010. Early in his career, before releasing his major label debut, Lamar amassed a large Internet following that has remained with him thus far throughout his career. In March Lamar was signed by Dr. Dre to Aftermath and Interscope Records.

Like Dre, Lamar grew up in L.A.’s toughest district, though he remains relatively unscathed from his childhood. His parents moved to Compton from Chicago before the emcee was born, and true to many in South Central, poverty became the biggest hurdle for his family. Nevertheless, the rapper did well in school, and found inspiration in the alternatives around him.

Why is Lamar on theGrio’s 100?

In 2012, Lamar released his first major studio album Good Kid, M.A.A.d City, which has received critical acclaim and has been certified gold. Although his album was not nominated for a Grammy Award, Lamar’s album was overwhelmingly considered one of the best albums of 2012.

“Dre allowed me to do just that, you know, go out there and create my album because he has that much respect, belief and faith in me,” Lamar told theGrio about about Dr. Dre’s influence on his new album. “I don’t feel pressure. This is the same music I’ve been doing for years, everybody just catching up now. So, the world is late.”

What’s next for Lamar?

Lamar is currently on an international tour promoting his new album Good Kid, M.A.A.d City. Dr. Dre also signed the rapper’s collective, Black Hippy, to Aftermath and Interscope Records, a crew of beat-centric rappers featuring himself, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Jay-Rock. “Our music spoke for itself, it wasn’t like nothing [Dre] had heard at the actual time, and that’s how we’re going to continue to do it,” he says, though no definite date has been set for a group collaborative album. “Right now, we just want to snap every individual artist and get them off the ground first. We want to make it the right timing when we feel everybody really wants it, and needs it.”

Follow Kendrick Lamar on Twitter @kendricklamar