"Kendrick have a dream."
If you don't know who Kendrick Lamar is, you probably haven't spend much time on the rap blogs lately (OR you've been teaching English in another country with limited internet access). Either scenario is fine, because we're here to get you up to speed on hip-hop's most promising young talent. The 24-year-old Compton, Calif.-bred MC (his real name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, which is an all-time great name), has been rightly included in every "best rapper right now" list since releasing his Overly Dedicated mixtape in 2010. A year later, he was featured on XXL's Freshman Class cover, released the critically acclaimed independent album Section.80, was granted given a full solo track on Drake's mega-smash Take Care, and signed the holy grail of major label deals with Interscope and Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. Uh, not bad for only a year or two.
+ Download Kendrick Lamar's "The Recipe," watch him perform the song live, and see more interviews and performances after the jump.
Kendrick is the rare talent that can match a wholly unique style with jaw-dropping technical ability. He has a way of melting into the beat, becoming one with the song, then immediately jumping out of it with a perfectly aggressive double-time flow -- something he shows off in full, beautiful force on "Backseat Freestyle" (produced by "N***** In Paris" mastermind, Hit-Boy). In fact, the last time the rap world encountered Kendrick's combination of substance and skill was during Eminem's reign. So it's no surprise that Kendrick caught the ear of West Coast godfather and fellow Compton-ite Dr. Dre. (Fun fact: Dre apparently got Kendrick’s number from fellow fast rapper Tech N9ne). For the past couple of years, Kendrick has been hard at work with the good doctor, and if we are to believe Kendrick's fellow Black Hippy collective member Schoolboy Q on his song "There He Go," Dr. Dre's Detox (the long-delayed and overdue follow-up to 2001) is "just a mix away." So make no mistake, just like with Eminem and 2001, if Detox ever does see the light of day, Kendrick Lamar will likely have had a big part in making that happen. Already primed to be a best-rap-album-of-the-year contender, Kendrick Lamar's major-label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is out today on Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records, and features help from Dr. Dre on "Compton" and Drake on "Poetic Justice," with production from Pharrell and Just Blaze.
Kendrick Lamar Performs "Swimming Pools (Drank) (Live)"
Kendrick Lamar Performs "The Recipe (Live)"
Kendrick Lamar On His Musical Influences
Kendrick Lamar On good kid, m.A.A.d city
Kendrick Lamar On Growing Up In Compton
Photo credit: UMG/Jeff Forney