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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 19, 2015 | Aftermath III JV

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Grammy Awards
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released April 14, 2017 | Aftermath

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
To Pimp a Butterfly's proper and oft-biblical follow-up arrived on Good Friday, 13 months after untitled unmastered., an intermediary release that eclipsed the best work of most contemporary artists. If Kendrick Lamar felt pressure to continue living up to his previous output, there's no evidence on DAMN. He's too occupied tracing the spectrum of his mental states, from "boxin' demons" to "flex on swole," questioning and reveling in his affluence, castigating and celebrating his bloodline, humble enough to relate his vulnerabilities, assured enough to proclaim "Ain't none of y'all fuckin' with the flow." Throughout, he intensely examines most of the seven deadly sins, aware all along that his existence is threatened by anyone who objects to the color of his skin or clothes -- or, in the case of the blind stranger who shoots him during the album's opener, nothing that is apparent. Compared to the maximum-capacity, genre-twisting vastness and winding narratives of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN. on the surface seems like a comparatively simple rap album that demands less from the listener. There's relative concision in the track titles and material, and a greater emphasis on commercial sounds -- such as Mike WiLL's lean and piano-laced trap beat for the strong-arming "HUMBLE.," Lamar's first Top Ten pop hit, and a couple productions that are merely functional backdrops lacking distinction. In a way, however, DAMN. is just as lavish and singular as the preceding albums, its quantity and weight of thoughts and connected concepts condensed into a considerably tighter space. It contains some of Lamar's best writing and performances, revealing his evolving complexity and versatility as a soul-baring lyricist and dynamic rapper. Although it's occasionally distorted, stretched, smeared, and reversed to compelling and imagination-fueling effect, his voice is at its most affecting in its many untreated forms. Take "FEAR.," in which he switches between echoing hot-blooded parental threats to enumerating, with a 40-acre stare, various death scenarios. His storytelling hits an astonishing new high on "Duckworth," the album's finale. Over ethereal funk sewn by 9th Wonder, Lamar details a potentially tragic encounter between his father and future Top Dawg CEO Anthony Tiffith -- and the conditions leading to it -- that occurred long before Kung Fu Kenny was known as K. Dot. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 9, 2018 | Black Panther (TDE - DMG) PS

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This is more than we'd bargained for: to accompany the cinema release of the Marvel/Disney blockbuster Black Panther, here is a soundtrack put together by Kendrick Lamar (and his label TDE) which was anything but an afterthought. While a quick look at the track list shows that Kendrick only features on three tracks (the sharp Black Panther, the sure-fire hit All The Stars with protégée SZA and Big Shot), it seems that Lamar has co-composed, co-written and co-produced most of the others - proof, were it required, that he is far from being just one of modern rap's most spectacular performers. To round the whole thing off, he takes the mic on several other artists' tracks, most notably on the epic closing piece Pray for Me, with The Weekend. As for the cast, alongside collaborators Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and SZA, stars like The Weekend, Khalid and Vince Staples (there's even Future, Travis Scott and James Blake waiting in the wings), Lamar shines a spotlight on several unknowns, whose names will surely soon be cropping up on our screens. That includes the Californian group SOB x RBE who keep alive the spirit of Vallejo, hometown of legends E-40 and Mac Dre (Paramedic!) and South Africa's Babes Wodumo, a figure in the Gqom tendency which is all the rage in Durban and is starting to move feet in Paris and Berlin (on Redemption, with Zacari for whom Kendrick has already done the honours on DAMN.). Black Panther The Album is a laboratory for Kendrick Lamar (he uses it to test new formulas, from the underground of South Africa's townships to the Sacramento projects), a manifesto (the opportunity of the "black blockbuster" as a pulpit for his message was too good to miss) and as a billboard (he invites a whole flock of disciples with more than a nod at Kanye West). It's a hat trick - hats off! © DB/Qobuz
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 9, 2018 | Black Panther (TDE - DMG) PS

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 28, 2014 | Top Dawg Entertainment - Section.80

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth's proper debut album followed mixtapes dating back to 2003, when the Compton rapper was a teenager known as K-Dot. A portion of Section.80 is linked by recurring narrative threads, including a tragic story about a young woman sexually abused as a child and later slain as a sex worker. Introduced early in the album with "No Make-Up" ("Don't you know your imperfections is a wonderful blessing"), the empathically spun storyline clashes with demeaning terms the rapper frequently uses elsewhere, though he preemptively counteracts criticism by recognizing the existence of the bad and good, the "evil and spiritual" in him. Kendrick's conceptual aptitude is part of what makes him stand out, but he thrives most at relating defiance in dealing with his circumstances -- the effects of coming up in an environment with drugs and gangs as present as oxygen -- and bucking life expectancy. Another strength is the ruthless nature in which he goes after the competition, heard most potently in "Rigamortus." The "dope-ass instrumentation" of which Kendrick later boasts over Terrace Martin's tense and fiery post-bop is provided by a crew of roughly a dozen, most prominently Sounwave (on five tracks), who specializes in layering entrancing atmospheric touches with beats that alternately bump and crunch. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 8, 2017 | Aftermath III JV

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 23, 2014 | Aftermath III JV

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 9, 2018 | Black Panther (TDE - DMG) PS

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 19, 2015 | Aftermath III JV

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Becoming an adult ultimately means accepting one's imperfections, unimportance, and mortality, but that doesn't mean we stop striving for the ideal, a search that's so at the center of our very being that our greatest works of art celebrate it, and often amplify it. Anguish and despair rightfully earn more Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, and Pulitzer Prizes than sweetness and light ever do, but West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar is already on elevated masterwork number two, so expect his version of the sobering truth to sound like a party at points. He's aware, as Bilal sings here, that "Shit don't change 'til you get up and wash your ass," and don't it feel good? The sentiment is universal, but the viewpoint on his second LP is inner-city and African-American, as radio regulars like the Isley Brothers (sampled to perfection during the key track "I"), George Clinton (who helps make "Wesley's Theory" a cross between "Atomic Dog" and Dante's Inferno), and Dr. Dre (who literally phones his appearance in) put the listener in Lamar's era of Compton, just as well as Lou Reed took us to New York and Brecht took us to Weimar Republic Berlin. These G-funky moments are incredibly seductive, which helps usher the listener through the album's 80-minute runtime, plus its constant mutating (Pharrell productions, spoken word, soul power anthems, and sound collages all fly by, with few tracks ending as they began), much of it influenced, and sometimes assisted by, producer Flying Lotus and his frequent collaborator Thundercat. "u" sounds like an MP3 collection deteriorating, while the broken beat of the brilliant "Momma" will challenge the listener's balance, and yet, Lamar is such a prodigiously talented and seductive artist, his wit, wisdom, and wordplay knock all these stray molecules into place. Survivor's guilt, realizing one's destiny, and a Snoop Dogg performance of Doggystyle caliber are woven among it all; plus, highlights offer that Parliament-Funkadelic-styled subversion, as "The Blacker the Berry" ("The sweeter the juice") offers revolutionary slogans and dips for the hip. Free your mind, and your ass will follow, and at the end of this beautiful black berry, there's a miraculous "talk" between Kendrick and the legendary 2Pac, as the brutalist trailblazer mentors this profound populist. To Pimp a Butterfly is as dark, intense, complicated, and violent as Picasso's Guernica, and should hold the same importance for its genre and the same beauty for its intended audience. ~ David Jeffries
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Miscellaneous - Released July 2, 2011 | Top Dawg Entertainment - Section.80

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 23, 2016 | Aftermath III JV

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 6, 2015 | Atlantic Records

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Miscellaneous - Released September 14, 2010 | Top Dawg Entertainment - Kendrick Lamar

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Miscellaneous - Released April 12, 2011 | Top Dawg Entertainment - Kendrick Lamar

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Miscellaneous - Released September 14, 2010 | Top Dawg Entertainment - Kendrick Lamar

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2012 | Aftermath

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2013 | Aftermath III JV

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 8, 2017 | Aftermath

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2013 | Aftermath III JV

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2013 | Aftermath III JV

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