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Learn About Kendrick Lamar's Legacy in Rap Culture

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, also known as Kendrick Lamar or K-Dots, has been on top of the hip-hop/rap podium for 14 years. Kendrick is known for his albums like “To Pimp a Butterfly” and “DAMN”, as well as his lyrical attention and creativity. Most of his music is politically charged and speaks about his upbringing involving gang culture.

Kendrick was born on June 17, 1987, in Compton, California. When he was young, he liked writing poems and stories. Kendrick grew up around a lot of gang culture in his hometown, which he openly writes about in his music. Later, at the age of 16, he started his rap career and went by the name of K-Dots. Kendrick then spread his mixtapes around and gained interest from music companies.

Kendrick’s mixtapes got so much attention that he ended up with a deal from Top Dawg Entertainment. He then released two mixtapes and started working with up-and-coming artists like Jay Rock, AB-Soul, and Schoolboy Q. Kendrick let go of his stage name, K-Dots, and began to use his name in 2010. His first album with Top Dawg Entertainment was “Section.80”, which was exclusively released on iTunes, but can now be found everywhere. Rap legend Dr. Dre took Kendrick under his wing and became his mentor in the music industry. Later, Dr. Dre signed Kendrick to his record label, Aftermath Entertainment, part of Universal Music Group. That put him alongside Eminem and 50 Cent and helped Kendrick take his career to the next level.

“Good kid, m.A.A.d city” was his first major album, released in 2012. The album has hit singles like “Swimming Pools(Drank)” and “Poetic Justice” with big featured guest artists such as Jay-Z, Dr.Dre, and Drake. On the album he talks about substance abuse, police brutality, and what gang culture was like where he grew up. The album was promoted on TV shows like SNL and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. MTV named Kendrick “Hottest MC” in 2012, placing him among other rappers like Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. Little did people know he was going to drop the best rap albums during the 2010s.

“To Pimp A Butterfly” was released in 2015 with featured artists like Bilal, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams. Some well-known songs of the album are “Alright,” “King Kunta,” and “I.” The album talks about gang violence, institutional racism, and costly mistakes. The project was nominated for 11 Grammys and won five, including Album of the Year.

“DAMN.” is considered to be a masterpiece. “Love,” “Loyalty,” and “Humble” are some of the best songs on this album. Artists featured on the album include Rihanna, Zacari, and U2. Kendrick was nominated for seven Grammys and won five, including Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for “Humble.” In April 2018, Kendrick won the Pulitzer Prize for the album “DAMN.” Kendrick was not only the first person from hip-hop to win this award but also the only person who was not from the classical or jazz category. The Pulitzer Prize is one of the highest awards for literature, journalism, and music.

In 2022, he released “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers,” which won album of the year. Some popular songs are “Mirrors,” “Die Hard,” and " Count Me Out.”

Going back to 2018, Kendrick Lamar was chosen to write the soundtrack for the movie “Black Panther.” Ryan Coogler, the director, explained to NPR that he only wanted a few songs from Kendrick, but after they showed him some of the movies, he wrote enough music to create a whole soundtrack. The project won two Grammys for Best Rap Performance and Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

Kendrick has a lot of skill and has the awards and talent to prove it. In “Mirrors” he mentions that he has a child, who is now his priority making it an emotional song because he won’t be able to produce as much music as before. However, Kendrick will always be a legend in hip-hop and rap culture.

[Sources: NPR; biography.com]

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