Kendrick Lamar

  • Rapper and songwriter born Kendrick Lamar Duckworth in 1987, from Compton California.
  • Growing up in Compton, he lived on welfare, and his father had ties to street gangs. He managed to stay out of trouble, getting straight A’s in high school, and he enjoyed rap music, writing stories, poems, and later, lyrics. At 16, going by the stage name of K-Dot, he made a mixtape of hip hop music he had written, called Youngest Head Nigga In Charge. It caught the attention of a local independent record label, and in 2005 he released another mixtape, called Training Day. Over the next 2 years, he opened shows for west coast rapper The Game. In 2008, he was featured in a music video from rapper Jay Rock, and he gained further recognition in performances with other rappers, including Lil Wayne, who by this time was a superstar in the rap world. Lil Wayne supported K-Dot’s next mixtape, called C4, in 2009. After this, Lamar dropped the K-Dot moniker, and started using Kendrick Lamar as his name.
  • His first EP was released in 2009 – The Kendrick Lamar EP. It was a free digital download, and ultimately it was downloaded over 1 million times. In 2010, he released his final free mixtape, called Overly Dedicated. It included a song titled Ignorance Is Bliss, that caught the attention of legendary producer Dr. Dre. After Lamar’s debut studio album, Section.80, was released in 2011, Dr. Dre took Lamar under his wing. Lamar signed to Dr. Dre’s record label, and began to appear on projects by other high profile hip hop artists.
  • In 2012, his debut album with Dr. Dre’s label was released. Titled Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City, it debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and eventually was certified platinum in sales. The highest charting single from the album was Swimming Pools (Drank), which peaked at #17 on the Hot 100 chart, and at #1 on the U.S. Rap Songs chart. He earned 7 Grammy nominations for the 2014 awards, though he did not win any Grammy’s that year. Meanwhile, he performed on Saturday Night Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman, and he accompanied Kanye West on West’s solo tour in 2013.
  • Lamar released his third studio album, To Pimp a Butterfly, in 2015. It topped the album chart and was certified platinum. He won 5  Grammy awards – the singles and Alright each won 2 Grammys, and the album won for Best Rap Album. Rolling Stone and Billboard both selected the album as the best album of 2015, and critics consider it a masterpiece. Lamar’s style evolved with this record – it includes elements of jazz, soul and funk incorporated into his hip hop.
  • Also in 2015, Lamar collaborated with Taylor Swift on her single Bad Blood. It reached #1, and won a Grammy for Swift for Best Music Video. There are over 40 singles that he has collaborated with other artists,
  • As acclaimed as To Pimp a Butterfly was, Lamar’s most recent album, Damn, had even greater success. Released in 2017, it debuted at #1 on the album chart, and the song Humble topped the Hot 100 chart, and reached #6 in the UK. The album is certified 2x platinum. He won 5 Grammys at the 2018 Grammy Awards, and amazingly, he won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music for the album – the first non-jazz/non-classical artist ever to win this award (there have been 72 awards given since the prize began in 1943 – all winners previously were jazz or classical artists).
  • Lamar was responsible for the soundtrack to the film Black Panther, released in 2018. Lamar co-wrote all 14 tracks, and he performed on 5 of the tracks. It debuted at #1 on the album chart, and 2 of his singles – All The Stars and Pray For Me – reached #7 on the Hot 100 chart. A third single, King’s Dead, won a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance – his thirteenth Grammy win. His fourteenth Grammy award was in 2022, for Best Rap Performance, for the song Family Ties.
  • His Pulitzer Prize win puts Kendrick Lamar in a whole different realm of credibility. Numerous sources dub him “the new king of hip hop.” He has found a way to be radio friendly (well…sorta. He is true to hip hop, with lots of F-bombs and the N-Word), and yet still tackle sensitive topics like social injustice and racism. He’s on quite the roll right now! Here’s the video to his #1 single, Humble.

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