Nationwide — Many know of the award-winning rapper and songwriter, Kendrick Lamar. Whether you’re a fan yourself or know of him through his association with the producer Dr. Dre, the young artist truly has an interesting story to tell you. This profile on Kendrick Lamar is an intriguing look into what made this inspirational figure who he is today.
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth was born on June 17, 1987, in Compton, California. His parents had moved to the Compton area from Chicago to escape the gang culture that was prominent in their lives. Though Compton also had some gang dealings, Lamar found himself being inspired by it instead of traumatized. He was a good student who enjoyed writing stories and poems; an interest that would later lead him to write lyrics inspired by the street life that surrounded him every day.
Although Lamar’s family was directly affected by the gang violence of the area, he still stood true to his morals and retained his thoughtful, soft-spoken nature. This strength of character would carry him to success in his career.
In 2003, when Lamar was 16 years old, he began selling his first mixtape, Youngest Head Nigga in Charge, under the alias of K-Dot. This tape caught the interest of many in the Southern California region and led to him signing his first record deal. He joined Top Dawg Entertainment, a highly-respected independent label that helped filter talent to major labels. With the support of Top Dawg, Lamar went on to produce two more mixtapes, Training Day in 2005 and C4 in 2009. He also worked with other up and coming artists such as Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q.
With the release of his fourth mixtape, Overly Dedicated, in 2010, Lamar retired the K-Dot handle and began producing music under his own name. As the artist become more popular, he began to collaborate with higher-profile artists such as Lil Wayne and The Game. This success caught the attention of Dr. Dre (one of hip-hop’s most influential producers) and he decided to become a mentor to the young rapper. Dr. Dre proceeded to sign Lamar to his independent record label, Aftermath Entertainment, and gave him the opportunity to work along more established stars in the genre.
The Revival of Hip-Hop and Winning a Pulitzer Prize
When Lamar was named “Hottest MC” of 2012 by MTV, more doors opened for the young artist. This honor led Lamar to work with various other artists who shared the title. One specific collaboration to note is his work with Big Sean; he captivated the critics with the verse he rapped in the song “Control.” Though the song was a product of another artist, critics couldn’t help but notice the way Lamar delivered the verse. The lyrics, as well as the way the artist rapped them, gave off a vibe that was often described as reminiscent of the classic hip-hop era.
Not one to stop at reviving classic hip-hop, Lamar went on to make history in 2018 when he won a music Pulitzer prize for his album DAMN. This feat not only made him the first person to win the award for a hip-hop album, but the first artist to win for music that wasn’t classical or jazz. At the current age of 31, these achievements are just the beginning for this young star.