Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (31 years, Compton, California) is not a rapper either. Pulitzer winner and number one in many countries, the artist fills stadiums around the world, was one of the most influential people in the world for Time magazine in 2016 and is considered by music critics and analysts as one of the voices of his generation. Lamar, who with eight nominations is very likely to take another Grammy home this Sunday – he is 12 –, is for many the best rapper of all time.
Lamar was born in Compton, the county of Los Angeles of Origin of the legendary group of hip hop N.W.A. and Cradle of the sound West Coast, the rap novento with strong influences of funk that popularized artists like Tupac. In fact, Lamar always tells how he witnessed, at only 10 years, the recording of the video of the well-known theme California Love, that Tupac himself and the omnipresent Dr. Dre recorded in the Californian city in 1996. "They yelled at the police, like in the songs. They were all I wanted, "Lamar said to Genius.
K-Dot, as familiarly called fans and friends, did not have an easy childhood, but was never a problematic young man. His parents were from Chicago, where Lamar's father, Kenny Duckworth was related to the criminal gang Disciples Gangster, which led them to migrate to Los Angeles fleeing the violence of the gangs that ravaging the city of the Midwest at the end of the 80. In California, Lamar grew up in official protective houses between hustling and shooting, something that influenced his musical style but did not enter much in his private life. In fact, Lamar was an outstanding student at the Centennial High School in Compton.
The importance of having parents
A bright but introverted boy. This is how Lamar is described by his family and his childhood friends. "He was always a loner," his mother Paula Oliver assured to Rolling Stone in 2015. The rapper's biggest hobby was basketball, until at the age of 12 an English teacher introduced him to the world of poetry, which he fell in love with. "I could put all my feelings on a sheet of paper, and they had meaning. I loved it, "Lamar explained to the famous musical head.
Her parents ' support was key. Most of the children Lamar met in elementary school are either "dead or in jail." He always says he was saved from the "bad life" because he had a mother and a father in the house. "It makes a big difference," he explained in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2017. "It teaches you loyalty and responsibility. My companions, my friends, all lived with their grandparents. Having a mother and a father, this immediately showed me that anything is possible. "
Lamar took his first mixtape with 16 years and soon became a hollow in the Californian scene as Telonero of more veteran rappers like The Game or Lil Wayne. He signed with Top Dawg Entertainment, an indie label that now (thanks to Kendrick) is one of the most important rap labels in the United States. Between 2010 and 2011 he released his first two albums: overly dedicated and Section. 80, which, although they had a moderate commercial success, confirmed him as one of the figures to follow. The magazine XXL, which makes every year a list of the rappers with more future, included it in its Freshman Class of 2011.
Section. 80, a record that included clear influences of jazz and G-Funk, was also the beginning of Lamar's collaboration with Dr. Dre, one of his childhood idols, who sponsored it by signing it for his label Aftermath, part of Universal. Lamar ceased to be an indie musician but maintained his artistic independence and in 2012 released Good Kid, M.A.A. D City, his confirmation record. Narrated in the form of a film, the album runs through Lamar's childhood and discusses issues such as violence, alcoholism, family and friendship in a neighborhood as hard as the Compton of the 90.
On that record, which sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, Lamar flaunts what has been the tonic of his career: mixing, without any prejudice, complex issues and deep lyrics with rhythms of dance floor. This has meant both commercial success and critical recognition, two things a priori difficult to balance but that the artist has become his saint and sign. The same works with jazz or avant-garde electronics artists like Thundercat and Flying Lotus that makes a song with pop stars like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé or rock groups like U2 or Maroon 5.
The Voice of Black America
Since 2012, Kung-Fu Kenny, Another of his aliases, has released two other discs: to Pimp A Butterfly and Damn. Although the sound of the first is much more jazz and experimental than the second, more focused on urban rhythms such as trap, in both there is a common theme: being black in the United States of the 21st century. The negative face of discrimination, violence, or drugs contrasts with Lamar's empowering vision, which calls African Americans to take pride in their past and present and to be part of a change that eliminates the racism anchored in American society. "There are problems of which it is inevitable to speak. It's in my blood. I am Yvon Martin, I am all those black boys, "he told The Guardian A couple of years ago.
This powerful speech has earned detractors, like the powerful conservative chain Fox News, but also many followers. Even Barack Obama has declared himself an unconditional fan of the rapper, who he received at the White House when he was still president.
Very prolific in the musical and the public, the private life Lamar is a true mystery, since it never talks about it. As shrill upon the stage as shy at the time of telling his own life, all that is known is that the musician has been with his high school girlfriend, Whitney Alford for more than a decade, and that in general he prefers to spend his free time with his group of lifelong friends and C On his family, instead of celebrities. Lamar is committed to Alford, considers her "best friend" and usually go to the Grammys together. This year will not be an exception.
Kendrick Lamar is the first musician not to come from jazz or classical music to win a Pulitzer. He has won awards and recognitions of all kinds and his music is heard in the four corners of the globe. But his philosophy and appearance as a normal person – never wears designer clothes; Always monocolor t-shirt, baseball cap and Nike shoes – with artistic sensibility but carefree of the spotlights, they keep him as one of the world stars with the most brilliance but never forgetting to have his feet on the ground.