What's Next for Kendrick Lamar?
Last weekend Kendrick Lamar dropped his 3rd studio album from Aftermath titled 'Damn', and after a few full listens the album is better than what I expected but I'm going to get back to that later, I want to briefly discuss his previous projects and what we can hopefully expect from Kendrick in the future. In 2012 Kendrick hit us with Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, his debut album off Dr. Dre's Aftermath label after Section 80 in 2011, GKMC was a great body of work, the album was like listening to an audio version of movies such as Boyz In The Hood and Menace II Society. The records that really stood out for me was The Art of Peer Pressure, Sing About Me/Dying of Thirst, Real, and the outro track Compton featuring Dr. Dre produced by Just Blaze, with singles such as Swimming Pools and Poetic Justice featuring Drake, this was a different album introduced to us fans of hip-hop and it was also a breath of fresh air. I'm going to say this, I dont really believe in the "music aging well/didnt age well thing", I think that's the most hottest bullshit take when it comes to discussing quality music because that's when the biased subjective opinions sneak in also, I try to stay out of that topic and debate, but I will say that artists have duds BUT they also have MOMENTS, more moments to be exact that you can revisit, so with that said, I went back and revisited GKMC and still sounds as fresh as it did in 2012, this was a moment and yes it is a classic album, and speaking of 2012, this October will be the 5th year anniversary for GKMC.
In 2015 Kendrick returns with his sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly, this project was way different from GKMC, it was more conscious rap this time around discussing social justice, personal issues etc., this was the right time for TPAB, it was a soundtrack 2 years ago and it's a soundtrack to what's going on in the world right now, police brutality, racism, depression in the world and fucked up politics. I still don't really understand the hate for this album, Kendrick took a different approach this time by making a rap album with jazz, funkadelic (which I'm a huge fan of), and spoken word elements, sure maybe it's not for everybody but this album received heavy criticism when it was way overblown and I'll just leave it at that. Even though its tough to choose between GKMC and TPAB, this might still be may favorite Kendrick album, I think the production was better on this time around and these records on the album sound amazing live whether you've been to a show or seen him perform on TV. It took me awhile to get used to singles like i and King Kunta but after a few more listens they became great records, especially the live band version of i, but once I heard songs like These Walls, Alright, Momma, and Hood Politics, I knew this album was going to be a problem, but my favorite track on the album has to be How Much A Dollar Cost, look I don't care what anybody say, that's a damn Dr. Dre beat, the producer on the song is listed LoveDragon but we still have no clue who the hell that is maybe it's Kendrick and Dre, but if Dre wants to use that alias then fine keep us in the mystery, I mean Sounwave (a TDE producer did tweet "track 11..... Dre back" then it was swiftly deleted so I'm going by that, but overall I love TPAB, it was another moment in hip-hop and it also should have won album of the year at the Grammys, I think this was the album that solidified his #1 spot in rap, despite what some of the critics said.
Now we're on to this 'Damn' album, Kendrick stated this album will reflect on God and the spiritual route, I didn't know what to expect from KDot now, I know he's going to rap and fire at anyone who think they can fuck with him on the mic, and The Heart Part 4 was a teaser to that, so when I listened to the album I'm thinking ok this is alot different from his previous work and to be honest, I really like Damn, for those who say Kendrick doesn't have bangers, hits records, shit for the club, house parties, kickbacks, "get hype to" or you can just bump in the whip, that's another hot take from the bozos because Kendrick has been making those records since GKMC, it just doesn't sound like the typical repetitive sound that's going on today, records from Backseat Freestyle, M.A.A.D City, Poetic Justice, Swimming Pools, Alright (which is more of an anthem) and Hood Politics, those songs fit the bill in some way from those takes I listed, but what Kendrick did on Damn was kept it rap while making these "hit records" that the public want now, the DNA record is fucking crazy, Mike Will Made It beat making style didn't surprise me when I heard Humble and that's the only song i dislike on the album but it sequences perfect on the album and it's a hit, so what he gave Kendrick for DNA was unbelievable, I was skeptical on this collaboration until I heard DNA. A majority of these songs are catchy as hell but it's quality records, because he's also rapping, that's what I like about it, other songs like Element, XXX, Love and GOD are examples, and you can't forget Loyalty featuring Rihanna, that's a fucking record right there, yes you can ride out to this at night, play in the club or kickback/house party, whatever, Rihanna rapping on Loyalty is dope, but once again we didn't know what to expect from this, but it was great. Is this album GKMC or TPAB?, no, but it's another risk he took and it worked, this is more of a fun album while keeping it to the core of rapping also, and I enjoyed it and will keep listening to it.
So what's next for Kendrick Lamar? Does he really have another album coming soon, who knows with all these theories going around, it would be great though it he did, but let's say he doesn't drop another project until 2019/2020, what lane does he take this time, I would love another cinematic rap album like GKMC (no I'm not saying a sequel) or like Dre's Compton album with producers such as DJ Quik, Hi-Tek, Battlecat, DJ Premier, J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, No I.D., maybe Araabmuzik, Alchemist and Just Blaze, just to name a few because there are alot more I could name, he has to get that Nas feature, it's long overdue. Kendrick was featured on a record with 50 Cent in 2013 titled We Up, it was actually a great song but Interscope dropped the ball on it, I would like to hear that collab again, other artists like Andre 3000, Nipsey Hussle, Raekwon, Black Thought and Aftermath label mate Jon Connor would be cool collaborations also, I mean there's so many, but I can't be the only one that hasn't been saying this for a while now, its time, we need that Dr. Dre produced Kendrick Lamar album, Busta Rhymes had it with a majority of the Big Bang (which is a classic), Jay-Z and 50 had a few records for their Kingdom Come and Get Rich Or Die Tryin albums, even though Kingdom Come was supposed to be all Dre production, Snoop had a couple for The Blue Carpet Treatment, but the only artist who've done it in the current Aftermath era was Eminem with Relapse. Relapse was an incredible cinematic album and Eminem's last best, if Kendrick can lock in the studio with just Dr. Dre and give us a full body of work with just Dre production, it would be some epic shit, that has to be the next project and as a fan I would love to see it happen, but the question is just when will it happen.