Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, better known to his fans as simply Kendrick Lamar, was born June of 1987 in Compton, California. His parents, originally from Chicago, relocated to Compton to avoid the ever-present gang culture in Chicago at that time.
Although Compton is also notorious for its high gang activity, in the case of Lamar his parents may have very well made the right decision, seeing as how success seems to follow him.
Kendrick began his musical journey by writing. He wrote of his personal observations in the environment around him, in Compton. These observations often included the struggles that he and other young men face, growing up in the inner cities, with the influences of gang violence and crime surrounding them everywhere they turn. Eventually, those very influential and powerful writings became lyrics, and his stories transformed into songs.
Lamar began his rise to fame at the bottom, creating and selling mixtapes, following the same path that many other successful artists have taken in the past. However, many more unsuccessful artists have also taken this same route. For Lamar however, it was simply a matter of ‘when’ as, opposed to ‘if” he would make it, as he truly had a gift that needed to be shared.
First rapping under the name of K.Dot, Lamar pushed through his negative surroundings, disregarded the odds stacked against him, and in the end, made it. This was due to his perseverance, his patience, because he had something to say, and he knew it.
Those that have listened to his lyrics, quickly learned that in order to fully understand and absorb his message, you must first decipher their metaphorical form. Once you do, your mind will begin to open, rapidly reaching a level that helps you so see many issues in a different light than ever before. This causes you to rethink the world around you.
From 2003 to 2011, Lamar continued writing, performing and creating mixed tapes. Then, “Section .80” happened, which was Lamar’s 1st studio recorded album, released in 2011. The public loved it!
He then followed up with “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” in 2012, his 2nd studio album, which also had an incredible response from his rapidly growing fan base. This was the beginning of his big break. From that point forward, nothing would be the same.
By 2013, Kendrick Lamar was fast becoming not only one of the greatest hip hop artists alive, he was also beginning his transformation into the spokesman for the #blacklivesmatter movement. His lyrics became the unspoken voice for the African American and minority communities nationwide, as police brutality was on the rise and racial tensions at an all time high. Tempers and division began to boil over into dozens of states, cities, and communities across the nation.
The breaking point, that sparked one of our nation’s largest divides was reached after the unjustified and untimely death of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin in February of 2012. Making matters even worse, fueling our division even further, was the wrongful acquittal of George Zimmerman, the shooter, in June of 2013.
During the course of the 2-years following Trayvon’s murder, our countries division was fueled out of control, as was the number of young black men being killed at the hands of law enforcement.
Lamar addressed these injustices and wrongful deaths head on, giving the silenced a voice, and the confidence that the affected communities needed to finally say –
With the ability to approach such controversial issues with his lyrics, Lamar was able to connect with his fans. While he was raising questions, he was also voicing justified concerns regarding racism, inequality, violence and police brutality.
All of which was his main focus behind his 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly” which has been referred to as ‘The Album that Hip-Hop has been waiting for’ – The Guardian
In fact, the lyrics and content contained within that album are so profoundly powerful, that teachers have actually utilized it to assist them in discussing race with their students.
Lamar remains highly respected in the fact that throughout his career, he has managed to become successful without following the current trends, or comprising his morals.
All in all, 2015, proved to be monumentally successful in all aspects for Kendrick. Not only were his record sales off the charts, and his songs staying on the charts, he was also named ‘Generational Icon’ by California State Senator, Isadore Hall III.
Hall, also a native of Compton, had the following to say in regards to Mr. Lamar.
“In less than 10-years as a professional artist, Mr. Lamar has gone from a local Compton young boy, to become a multi-platinum billboard chart topping, two-time Grammy-award winning (now 7) musician, an incredible achievement for anyone 27-years old. But, Mr. Lamar has not let his recent fame get the best of him. If you visit Compton, Mr. Lamar is a familiar face in the neighborhood.”
Hall then went on to address the commendable acts that Lamar has carried out, noting his donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local sports, after school and music programs.
Lamar also received kudos for his work with many non-profit organizations and was commended in regards to how he leads by example and is setting a great one for today’s youth and adolescents.
Lamar is responsible for donating $50,000 to his old High School’s music program, and also conducted a 5-stop International Tour in 2014, allowing nearly all proceeds from the tour to go back into the Compton community, as well as to Habitat for Humanity.
Most recently, Lamar has been placed directly under the social media spotlight, ironic considering Kendrick Lamar is one of the few celebrities that have tried to avoid social media the best he can.
However, a recently posted video quickly spread, showing Lamar and one of his biggest fans, Jennifer Phillips, who became a quadriplegic after being in a terrible car accident in 2006.
In the video below you see Kendrick handing Phillips a jacket from his ‘Damn’ Tour. On it was a hand written note, containing an awesome surprise, and an amazing act of kindness.
Through everything, from his childhood stories, mixtapes, all the way to fame, Kendrick never lost sight of his original goal. That goal is to raise awareness to the unspoken controversies that millions suffer from, yet somehow, millions more know nothing about.
He wanted to be able to do this in a manner that the public would respond to positively. Music was his solution, and now after the release of his album ‘DAMN’ Album in April of this year, millions of fans can now say, yes, we are still listening, and have become more intrigued now than ever.
Because Lamar has cut through diversity with his lyrics a thousand times over, it’s nearly impossible to choose just a few examples to reflect just how deeply inspiring his lyrics and intentions are.
Within the below examples, however, you can easily determine that his music is so much more than just a catchy beat with a good hook.
Kendrick Lamar creates music that represents an ongoing struggle within the inner city communities. Struggles and corruption that many, especially main stream media, continue to turn a blind eye to.
“We look so much on color, that we forget about the soul.”
“Promises are broken and more resentment comes alive/Race barriers make inferior of you and I/See, in a perfect world, I’ll choose faith over riches/I’ll choose work over bi**hes/I’ll make schools out of prisons/I’ll take all the religions and put em all in one service/Just to tell em we ain’t s**t, but he’s been perfect, world.
Hail Mary, Jesus and Joseph/The great American flag is wrapped and dragged with explosives/Compulsive disorder, sons and daughters/Barricaded blocks and borders/Look what you taught us.”
There’s no question about it, Kendrick Lamar has an agenda, and not just for himself either, but also for his fans.With his 7-Grammy wins, being named Billboard’s ‘Greatest Rapper OF ALL TIME” in 2015, one of Time Magazine’s most influential people of 2015 AND being honored with the title of Generational Icon through the California Senate, it’s pretty clear that Lamar’s agenda, is being heard loud and clear, as well as supported, by millions of fans.
Lamar’s kindness and desire to give back doesn’t just end with the above mentions, he is heavily involved in doing anything that he can to make the world a better place.
He is currently an advocate for bettering education, building affordable housing, ending homelessness and assisting with disaster relief.
Just some of the charities that he is regularly involved in include Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Global Poverty Project and the Get Schooled Foundation.
Clearly, Lamar has the desire, the means, and the right heart to really make some amazing changes where they are needed. It truly is refreshing to see somebody so genuine in wanting to help create a new path and a new way of viewing the world for our next generation.
Kendrick Lamar, stay focused and keep doing what you’re doing because you are amazing at it! Thank you for all of your efforts and contributions, your kindness and generosity will be rewarded back to you, when you need it the most.
Your ability to stand up to social injustices, and also remain so humble at the same time, is something rare, as are you!