In honor of the annual WGCI Big Jam approaching us here in Chicago, I decided it would be appropriate to do a flashback to where it really began for one of the performers.
We have come to see Compton native Kendrick Lamar as a standout rapper in the rap/hip hop community because his raps revolve around social issues of the past and present. If you are a true fan of Kendrick, you can expect to get more than “twerk songs” and club-bangers from him. Instead, we get songs to make us think, reflect, and broaden our views of the world we live in. Most of his albums are concept albums because his albums revolve around one single theme.
So where did it all begin for K-Dot? In the early 2000s, Kendrick released many mixtapes, but we really came to know him four summers ago after the debut of his first studio album, Section 80. The album, released July 2, 2011, is dedicated to people born in the 80s, due to many subjects discussed on the album occurring in the 80s such as the Ronald Reagan era, sexuality, and drugs, as Kendrick has explained. As an introduction, the first song on the album deals with race. Since Kendrick has fans that are of every race and ethnicity, he shows his love for his fans by saying that he doesn’t care what ethnicity his fans are. He is open to anyone who relates to him and understands the stories he tells. He wants to do away with race being a divider, and allow for everyone to be seen as equal.
The lead single, on the album, “Hiiipower,” gained lots of positive reviews because of the lyricism and the message it was sending out. Kendrick has described “Hiiipower” as a movement, stating that it is “a response to the destruction of mainstream and hip hop culture.” The song is stylized with three “I’s” in the word, which stand for heart, honor, and respect, which Kendrick believes are the three main things people should have and live by. The song is one of my personal favorites because the theme of the song deals with racial issues and the “system” which is arguably targeted against the black community. In the song, he references many black activists such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and he gives props to Black Panther leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale for living a “Hiiipower” life.
To this day, Kendrick Lamar has not disappointed his fans when it comes to opening our minds to the realities of our society. His stories and deep meanings behind his songs are what make him a standout guy in the industry.