Kendrick Lamar
Lamar performing at Rock the Bells 2012
Lamar performing at Rock the Bells 2012
Background information
Birth nameKendrick Lamar Duckworth[1]
Also known asK.Dot
Born (1987-06-17) June 17, 1987 (age 36)
Compton, California, United States
GenresHip hop
Years active2003–present
LabelsTop Dawg Entertainment, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope Records

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth[1] (born June 17, 1987), simply known as Kendrick Lamar, is an American hip hop recording artist from Compton, California. Initially signed to independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, in 2012 Lamar and the label signed a joint venture deal with Aftermath and Interscope Records. Lamar is also a member of West Coast hip hop supergroup, Black Hippy, along with fellow California-based rappers and label-mates Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul.[2]

He first gained major attention after the release of his fourth mixtape, Overly Dedicated, in 2010. The next year, he released his first independent album to critical acclaim, Section.80 (2011), released exclusively through iTunes and instantly ranked as one of the top digital hip hop releases of the year.[3] Early in his career, before releasing his major label debut, Lamar amassed a large internet following, and had already worked with Dr. Dre, Game, Drake, Young Jeezy, Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, E-40, Warren G and Lil Wayne, among other popular artists.

His major label debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city, was released October 22, 2012 to universal acclaim. The album spawned the Top 40 hits "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and "Poetic Justice". The album was later certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In early 2013, MTV crowned Lamar the No. 1 Hottest MC in the Game, on their well known annual list.[4]

Life and career

1987–2009: Early life and musical beginnings

Kendrick Lamar was born in Compton, California, to parents from Chicago, Illinois.[5] In 1995, at the age of eight, Lamar witnessed his idols Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre, film the music video for their hit single "California Love", a very significant moment in Lamar's life.[6] As a teenager Lamar attended Centennial High School in Compton, where he was a straight A student.[5][7]

In 2003, at the age of sixteen, Lamar released his first mixtape, Youngest Head Nigga In Charge, under the moniker K-Dot.[8] The mixtape garnered enough local attention for Lamar to get a record deal with Carson-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment.[8] He then released a twenty-six track mixtape two years later titled Training Day (2005).[9] From 2006 through 2007, Lamar, alongside other young West Coast rappers such as Jay Rock and Ya Boy, had opened for fellow West Coast rapper Game. Lamar, under his pseudonym K-Dot, was also featured on Game's songs "The Cypha" and "Cali Niggaz".[10][11]

In 2008, Lamar made a brief cameo appearance in the music video for Top Dawg label-mate Jay Rock's debut single, "All My Life (In the Ghetto)". More recognition came Lamar's way after a video of a Charles Hamilton show surfaced, where Hamilton went in the crowd to battle fellow rappers in attendance. Lamar did not hesitate and began rapping a verse over Miilkbone's "Keep It Real", that would later appear on a track titled "West Coast Wu-Tang".[6]

After receiving a co-sign from American hip hop superstar Lil Wayne, Lamar released his third mixtape in 2009 titled C4, heavily themed around Wayne's Tha Carter III LP.[12] Soon after, Lamar decided to drop K-Dot as his stage name and go by his birth name. This resulted in him releasing a self-titled EP, Kendrick Lamar, in late 2009.[13] In 2009, Lamar also formed Black Hippy, a supergroup with label-mates and fellow California-based rappers Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q.

2010–2011: Overly Dedicated

In 2010, he toured with Tech N9ne and Jay Rock on The Independent Grind tour.[8] On September 4, 2010 Lamar unveiled the cover art for Overly Dedicated, designed by RedefineCreativity.[14] On September 14, 2010 he released the visuals for "P&P 1.5", a song taken from Overly Dedicated, featuring his Black Hippy cohort Ab-Soul.[15] On September 14, 2010, Lamar released Overly Dedicated to digital retailers under Top Dawg Entertainment, and later on September 23, released it for free online.[16][17] The highly acclaimed mixtape includes a song titled "Ignorance Is Bliss", in which Lamar glorifies gangsta rap and street crime, but ends each verse with "ignorance is bliss", giving the message "we know not what we do;"[18][19] it was this song specifically that made legendary hip hop producer Dr. Dre want to work with Lamar, after watching the song's music video on YouTube.[20] This led to Lamar working with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on Dre's Detox album and him considering signing to Dre's label, Aftermath Entertainment.[8][21][22] In December 2010, Complex spotlighted Lamar in an edition of their “Indie Intro” series.[23]

2011–2012: Section.80

In January 2011, Lamar stated his next project was 90% finished.[8] In early 2011, Lamar was included in XXL Magazine's annual Freshman Class, and was featured on the cover alongside fellow up and coming rappers CyHi the Prynce, Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Yelawolf, Lil B, Big K.R.I.T. and Diggy Simmons, among others.[24] On April 11, 2011 Lamar announced the title of his next full-length project to be Section.80, and revealed he would release it's lead single the following day.[25] As promised, on April 12, 2011 Lamar released "HiiiPoWeR", the album's first promotional single, of which the concept was to further explain the HiiiPoWeR movement.[26] The song was produced by fellow American rapper J. Cole, with whom Lamar began closely working with st the time; the song marked their first of many collaborations to come.[26]

Kendrick Lamar performing in Toronto on June 16, 2011.

On the topic of whether his next project would be an album or a mixtape, Lamar answered: "I treat every project like it's an album anyway. It's not gonna be nothing leftover. I never do nothing like that. These are my leftover songs y'all can have 'em, nah. I'm gonna put my best out. My best effort. I'm tryna look for an album in 2012."[27] In June 2011, Lamar released "Ronald Reagan Era (His Evils)", acut from Section.80, featuring Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA.[28] On July 2, 2011, Lamar released Section.80, his first independent album and digital release, to critical acclaim. The album features guest appearances from GLC, Colin Munroe, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, while the production was handled by Top Dawg in-house production team Digi+Phonics as well as Wyldfyer, Terrace Martin and J. Cole. Section.80 went on to sell 5,300 digital copies in its first abbreviated week, without any television or radio coverage and received mostly positive reviews.[29]

In August 2011, while onstage with Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Game at a West Los Angeles concert, the three of them crowned Lamar the "New King of the West Coast".[30] On August 24, 2011 Lamar released the music video for thepopular Section.80 track "A.D.H.D". The video was directed by Vashtie Kola who had this to say of the video: "Inspired by “A.D.H.D”s dark beat and melancholy lyrics which explore a generation in conflict, we find Kendrick Lamar in a video that illustrates the songs universal and age-old theme of apathetic youth. Shot in New York City during the sweltering July Summer heat, “A.D.H.D” is the third video to be released from Kendrick Lamar’s album Section.80.[31] In October 2011, Lamar appeared alongside rappers B.o.B, Tech N9ne, MGK and Big K.R.I.T. in a hip hop cypher at the BET Awards.[32] In the second half of 2011, Lamar appeared on several high-profile albums including Game's The R.E.D. Album, Tech N9ne's All 6's and 7's, 9th Wonder's The Wonder Years as well as Drake's Grammy Award-winning Take Care, where Lamar had a solo track.

2012–present: good kid, m.A.A.d city

Kendrick Lamar during the Under The Influence Tour in 2012.

On February 15, 2012, a song titled "Cartoon & Cereal" featuring Gunplay of Triple C's, was leaked online.[33] Lamar later revealed that the track was for his debut studio album and had plans to shoot a video for it.[34] The song would later be ranked #2 in Complex's Best 50 Songs of 2012 list.[35] It was announced in February 2012, for their Spring Style issue, FADER enlisted both Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown to cover the front pages.[36]

In March 2012, MTV announced that Top Dawg Entertainment closed a joint venture deal with Interscope Records and Aftermath Entertainment, marking the end of Lamar's career as an independent artist. Under the new deal, Lamar’s projects, including his debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was set to be jointly released via Top Dawg, Aftermath and Interscope, while releases from the rest of Black Hippy were to be distributed via Top Dawg and Interscope.[37] In 2012, he toured alongside Drake on his Club Paradise Tour, opening along with ASAP Rocky and 2 Chainz. In March 2012, he appeared on the track "Fight the Feeling", from Mac Miller's Macadelic mixtape. In March 2012, Lamar also appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, where he spoke on Compton and Dr. Dre.[38]

Lamar premiered his commercial debut single, "The Recipe", on Big Boy's Neighborhood at Power 106 on April 2, 2012. The song, which serves as the first single from his debut studio album, was released for digital download the following day. The song was produced by Scoop DeVille and mixed by, as well as featuring, his mentor Dr. Dre.

It was announced on May 14, 2012, that Lamar was working on a collaborative album with rapper J. Cole. In an interview with Bootleg Kev, Cole stated: "I just started working with Kendrick the other day. We got it in, finally, again. We got maybe four or five [songs] together."

On August 15, 2012, Lady Gaga announced via Twitter that she and Lamar had recorded a song tentatively titled, "PARTYNAUSEOUS".[39] The song, later re-titled "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe, ultimately did not feature Lady Gaga due to creative differences. On August 17, 2012, Lamar liberated "Westside, Right on Time", a new song featuring Southern rapper Young Jeezy.[40] The song was released as a part of the "Top Dawg Entertainment Fam Appreciation Week" that the label was hosting. Lamar was also seen touring with the rest of Black Hippy and Stalley on the BET Music Matters Tour, during 2012.

Lamar's major label debut studio album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was released October 22, 2012. The album was met with critical acclaim and debuted at number two, selling 242,122 copies in its first week.[41] The album has sold 746,000 copies as of February 2013 and has been certified Gold by the RIAA. HipHop DX named Lamar "Emcee of the Year" for their 2012 Year End Awards.[42] On January 26, 2013, Lamar performed the album's lead singles "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and "Poetic Justice" on Saturday Night Live. He also appeared alongside host Adam Levine and The Lonely Island on an SNL Digital Short.[43][44][45] On February 22, 2013, Lamar released video for "Poetic Justice", the Janet Jackson-sampling collaboration with Drake. The video features Drake in bed with a naked woman as he repeatedly tries to get in touch with an absent Kendrick on the phone. [46] On February 26, Lamar performed "Poetic Justice" on the Late Show with David Letterman.[47]



He has stated that 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Nas and Eminem are his top five favorite rappers. Tupac Shakur who is probably his biggest influence, influences not only his music, but his day-to-day lifestyle as well.[8][48][49] In terms of subject matter and technical ability, Kendrick Lamar has often been compared to Tupac, Eminem, Nas, and Jay-Z. Lamar also gave Lil Wayne (during his Hot Boyz days) credit for influencing his style.[50] He has said that he also grew up listening to Rakim, Dr. Dre and Tha Dogg Pound.[51] He also cites rapper DMX as an influence: "[DMX] really [got me started] on music," explained Lamar in an interview with Philadelphia's Power 99. "That first album [It's Dark and Hell Is Hot] is classic, [so he had an influence on me]."[52]


Main articles: Kendrick Lamar discography and Black Hippy discography


  1. ^ a b allmusic
  2. ^ Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q form quasi-supergroup Black Hippy | Pop & Hiss | Los Angeles Times. (2010-08-17). Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  3. ^ Cool, Just Be (2011). "KENDRICK LAMAR: Releases Section.80 on iTunes > Biography". laxpaperboys. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  4. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Brings Crown To Compton As 'Hottest MC In The Game". March 7, 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Born and raised in Compton, Kendrick Lamar Hides a Poet's Soul Behind "Pussy & Patron". LA Weekly (2011-01-20). Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  6. ^ a b (2011-08-31) Kendrick Lamar: Origins Of Excellence Pt. 3. YouTube. Retrieved on 2011-09-12.
  7. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Talks J. Cole, XXL Freshman 2011, KiD CuDi, etc (Video)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. December 31, 2010. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  8. ^ a b c d e f Graham, Nadine. (2011-01-06) Kendrick Lamar: The West Coast Got Somethin' To Say | Rappers Talk Hip Hop Beef & Old School Hip Hop. HipHop DX. Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  9. ^ Ozone Magazine » Issue #84 Patiently Waiting » Issue #84 – Patiently Waiting: Kendrick Lamar. (2010-06-23). Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  10. ^ "The Black Wall Street Journal, Vol. 1 – Game > Overview". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 22, 2012. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  11. ^ You Know What It Is Vol. 4: Murda Game Chronicles (track listing). The Black Wall Street Records. 2007. ((cite AV media notes)): Unknown parameter |artist= ignored (|others= suggested) (help)
  12. ^ Kendrick Lamar C4 Mixtape DatPiff (2009-01-30) DatPiff Retrieved on 2011-07-08
  13. ^ Kendrick Lamar - Kendrick Lamar (EP) [2009]. 2dopeboyz (2010-09-14). Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  14. ^ "Kendrick Lamar - O.D. (Artwork)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. September 4, 2010. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  15. ^ "Kendrick Lamar – P&P 1.5 f. Ab-Soul (Video)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. September 14, 2010. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  16. ^ "Overly Dedicated [Explicit]: Kendrick Lamar". Retrieved November 3, 2012. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  17. ^ "Kendrick Lamar – O.D. (Mixtape)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. September 23, 2010. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  18. ^ Hanna, Mitchell. (2010-09-27) Mixtape Release Dates: Kendrick Lamar, K-Os, Terrace Martin, Sheek Louch | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales. HipHop DX. Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  19. ^ Double G News Network: GGN Ep. 2 - Special Super Hard Hitting Interview with Kendrick Lamar. Youtube. Retrieved on 2011-08-28.
  20. ^ Jacobs, Allen. (2010-12-17) Dr. Dre Says In 2011, He's Focusing On West Coast Hip Hop – Kendrick Lamar, Slim da Mobster | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales. HipHop DX. Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  21. ^ Paine, Jake. (2010-12-25) Kendrick Lamar Reacts To Dr. Dre's Cosign, Considering Aftermath | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales.
  22. ^ Kendrick Lamar Says J. Cole Collabo Mixtape is Gonna “Shock The World”. Xxlmag.Com. Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  23. ^ Cho, Danielle (December 2, 2010). "Indie Intro: 5 Things You Need To Know About Kendrick Lamar". Complex Music. Complex. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  24. ^ The 2011 XXL Freshmen. Xxlmag.Com. Retrieved on 2011-05-03.
  25. ^ "Kendrick Lamar's 3rd Solo Album…". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. April 11, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  26. ^ a b "Kendrick Lamar - HiiiPoWeR (prod. by J. Cole)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. April 13, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  27. ^ Harling, Danielle (May 16, 2011). "Kendrick Lamar Hoping To Release Studio Album Next Year". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved March 9, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  28. ^ "Kendrick Lamar – Ronald Reagan Era (His Evils) f. RZA". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. June 17, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  29. ^ Hip Hop Album Sales The Week Ending 07-03-2011 HipHopDX (2011-07-03) Retrieved on 2011-07-08
  30. ^ [1][dead link]
  31. ^ "Kendrick Lamar - A.D.H.D (Video)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. August 24, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  32. ^ "2011 BET Awards: Cyphers (Video)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. October 11, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  33. ^ "Kendrick Lamar f. Gunplay - Cartoon & Cereal | New Hip Hop Music & All The New Rap Songs 2011". HipHop DX. 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  34. ^ "Studio Life: Kendrick Lamar talks Club Paradise Tour & "Cartoons & Cereal"". YouTube. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  35. ^ 2. Kendrick Lamar f/ Gunplay "Cartoon & Cereal" — The 50 Best Songs of 2012 | Complex
  36. ^ "Kendrick Lamar & Danny Brown Cover FADER". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. February 20, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  37. ^ Nadeska Alexis (March 8, 2012). "Kendrick Lamar, Black Hippy Ink Deals With Interscope And Aftermath". MTV. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  38. ^ "Kendrick Lamar On Last Call With Carson Daly (Video)". 2Dopeboyz. Complex Music. March 27, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  39. ^ "Lady Gaga Announces Collaboration". Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  40. ^ "Kendrick Lamar featuring Young Jeezy – Westside, Right On Time". Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  41. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Debut Sales: 242,122". 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2012-10-30.
  42. ^ The 2012 HipHopDX Year End Awards | Discussing Lil' Wayne, Drake & Many More Hip Hop Artists | HipHop DX
  43. ^ Markman, Rob (22 January 2013). "Kendrick Lamar To 'SNL': 'Put Me In One Of Those Skits!'". MTV News. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  44. ^ "Kendrick Lamar Performs On Saturday Night Live (Video)". 2DopeBoyz. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  45. ^ "The Lonely Island – YOLO f. Adam Levine & Kendrick Lamar". 2DopeBoyz. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  46. ^ Battan, Carrie (22 February 2013). "Watch: Kendrick Lamar and Drake Star in a Story of Love and Murder in the Video for "Poetic Justice"". PitchforkMedia. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  47. ^ Young, Alex (27 February 2013). "Watch Kendrick Lamar perform "Poetic Justice" on David Letterman". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  48. ^ "Kendrick Lamar defines HiiiPower & having a vision of 2pac". YouTube. 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  49. ^ "Kendrick Lamar 'HiiiPOWER' OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-03-29.
  50. ^ Kendrick Lamar Explains How Lil Wayne Influenced His Style | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales | HipHop DX
  51. ^ Kendrick Lamar Wants To Rap With Jay-Z & Nas, Says He's "On Their Toes" | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales | HipHop DX
  52. ^ Kuperstein, Slava (September 23, 2012). "Kendrick Lamar Cites DMX As An Influence & Discusses Learning From Dr. Dre's Mistakes". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. Retrieved March 10, 2013. ((cite web)): Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)

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