Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper and songwriter.
Born and raised in Compton, California, Lamar embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the stage name K-Dot, releasing a mixtape that garnered local attention and led to his signing with indie record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). He began to gain recognition in 2010, after his first retail release, Overly Dedicated. The following year, he independently released his first studio album, Section.80, which included his debut single, “HiiiPoWeR”. By that time, he had amassed a large online following and collaborated with several prominent artists in the hip hop industry, including The Game, Busta Rhymes, and Snoop Dogg.
Lamar’s major label debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, was released in 2012 by TDE, Aftermath, and Interscope Records to critical success. It debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The record contained the top 40 singles “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, and “Poetic Justice”.
Lamar won his first Grammy Award for “i”, the lead single from his critically acclaimed third album To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). The album drew on free jazz,funk, soul, and spoken word, debuted atop the charts in the US and the UK, and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 58th ceremony. In 2016, Lamar released Untitled Unmastered, a collection of unreleased demosthat originated during the recording sessions for Butterfly. He released his fourth album Damn in 2017 to further acclaim; its lead single “Humble” topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Lamar has received a number of accolades over the course of his career, including seven Grammy Awards. In early 2013, MTV named him the number one “Hottest MC in the Game”, on their annual list.Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2016. Aside from his solo career, Lamar is also known as a member of the West Coast hip hopsupergroup Black Hippy, alongside his TDE label-mates and fellow South Los Angeles-based rappers Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, and Schoolboy Q.
1987–2003: Early life
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth was born in Compton, California on June 17, 1987,the son of a couple from Chicago, Illinois.His father, Kenny Lamar, was a member of a street gang called Gangster Disciples, and Lamar’s family had ties to the Crips. His first name was given to him by his mother in honor of American singer-songwriter Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations.In 1995, at the age of eight in his hometown of Compton, Lamar witnessed his idols, Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre, film the music video for their hit single “California Love”, which proved to be a very significant moment in his life.He grew up on welfare and section 8 housing. As a child, Lamar attended McNair Elementary in the Compton Unified School District.As a teenager, Lamar went on to attend Centennial High School in Compton, where he was a straight-A student.
2004–09: Career beginnings
In 2004, at the age of 16, Lamar released his first full-length project, a mixtape titled Youngest Head Nigga in Charge (Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year), under the pseudonym K-Dot.The mixtape was released under Konkrete Jungle Muzik and garnered local recognition for Lamar. The mixtape led to Lamar securing a recording contract with Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), a newly founded indie record label, based in Carson, California. He began recording material with the label and subsequently released a 26 track mixtape two years later, titled Training Day (2005).
Throughout 2006 and 2007, Lamar would appear alongside other up-and-coming West Coast rappers, such as Jay Rock and Ya Boy, as opening acts for veteran West Coast rapper The Game. Under the moniker K-Dot, Lamar was also featured on The Game’s songs “The Cypha” and “Cali Niggaz”.
In 2008, Lamar was prominently featured throughout the music video for Jay Rock’s commercial debut single, “All My Life (In the Ghetto)”, which features American hip hop superstar Lil Wayne and was backed by Warner Bros. Records. Lamar garnered further recognition after a video of a live performance of a Charles Hamilton show surfaced, in which Hamiltonbattled fellow rappers who were in the audience. Lamar did not hesitate and began rapping a verse over the instrumental toMiilkbone’s “Keep It Real”, which would later appear on a track titled “West Coast Wu-Tang”.
After receiving a co-sign from Lil Wayne,Lamar released his third mixtape in 2009, titled C4, which was heavily themed around Wayne’s Tha Carter III LP.Soon after, Lamar decided to drop K-Dot as his stage name and go by his birth name. He subsequently released The Kendrick Lamar EP in late 2009. That same year, Lamar formed Black Hippy, a hip hop supergroup, with his TDE label-mates: Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q.
2010–11: Overly Dedicated and Section.80
Throughout 2010, Lamar toured with Tech N9ne and Jay Rock on The Independent Grind tour.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.On the same date, Lamar released Overly Dedicated to digital retailers under Top Dawg Entertainment, and later on September 23, released it for free online. The project fared well enough to enter the United States Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, where it peaked at number 72.
The mixtape includes a song titled “Ignorance Is Bliss”, in which Lamar highlights gangsta rap and street crime, but ends each verse with “ignorance is bliss”, giving the message “we know not what we do;”it was this song specifically that made hip hop producer Dr. Dre want to work with Lamar after seeing the music video on YouTube. This led to Lamar working with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on Dre’s often-delayed Detox album, as well as speculation of Lamar signing to Dr. Dre’s record label, Aftermath Entertainment. In December 2010, Complex magazine spotlighted Lamar in an edition of their “Indie Intro” series.
In early 2011, Lamar was included in XXL‘s annual Top 10 Freshman Class, and was featured on the cover alongside fellow up-and-coming rappers Cyhi the Prynce, Meek Mill, Mac Miller, Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T., among others.On April 11, 2011, Lamar announced the title of his next full-length project to be Section.80,and the following day the first single “HiiiPoWeR” was released, the concept of which was to further explain the HiiiPoWeR movement.The song was produced by fellow American rapper J. Cole, marking their first of several collaborations.
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 going to be nothing leftover. I never do nothing like that. These are my leftover songs you all can have them. I’m going to put my best out. My best effort. I’m trying to look for an album in 2012.” In June 2011, Lamar released “Ronald Reagan Era (His Evils)”, a cut from Section.80, featuring Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA. On July 2, 2011, Lamar released Section.80, his first independent album, 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 week, without any television or radio coverage and received mostly positive reviews.
In August 2011, while performing at a West Los Angeles concert, Lamar was dubbed the “New King of the West Coast” by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Game. On August 24, 2011, Lamar released the music video for the Section.80 track, “ADHD”. 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[sic] universal and age-old theme of apathetic youth. (…) Shot in New York City during the sweltering July Summer heat”.In October 2011, Lamar appeared alongside fellow American rappers B.o.B, Tech N9ne, MGK, and Big K.R.I.T., in a freestyle rap at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Also in October, Lamar partnered with Windows Phone, and crafted an original song with producer Nosaj Thing entitled “Cloud 10”, to promote Microsoft’s new product. During 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 and Canadian recording artist Drake’s Grammy Award-winning Take Care, which featured Lamar on a solo track. /Gjithqka Nga Pak