Kendrick Lamar: Hip-Hop’s Newest Old-School Star

Check out this great article written up the the NY Times: ‘Everybody just wants to have fun, be with the scene,” Kendrick Lamar said when we met in his cramped quarters inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last fall. “Certain people get backstage, people that you would never expect. You ain’t with the media! You ain’t into music! You ain’t into sports! You’re just here.” The rapper, now 27, had just finished his set as the opening act on this stretch of Kanye West’s Yeezus tour, and he was sitting low in an armchair in his trademark black hoodie surrounded by exactly those people.

“Hey, man, thank you again, appreciate the access back here, it means a lot to us,” said an eager photographer who had overstayed his welcome. There was a knock on the door. “Hold up a minute, baby,” Lamar’s bodyguard, Big Mingo, said to a woman outside.

“We got iTunes out here,” he said, turning to Lamar.

“She can come in,” Lamar replied, waving her in.

By all appearances, there was a convivial party going on in his room, but the vibe was actually tense. There were two layers of conversation. The first layer was a loud and garish stream of talk, requests mostly — to play a festival, to come to a friend’s club later that night — that came from acquaintances acting as intimates. The second layer was a series of subtle glances, exchanged among Lamar’s people, aimed at gracefully minimizing how much time the rapper had to spend with each visitor. Eventually Lamar nodded to his manager, signaling that it was time to get the car. The previous evening, he stayed up all night working on new music, and he planned to do the same now.

As arrangements were being made to leave, he quietly told me, “As a kid, I used to stutter.” It felt like an oddly personal line of conversation to begin amid the chaos, but because so many people were talking at him, no one else heard him. “I think that’s why I put my energy into making music,” he continued. “That’s how I get my thoughts out, instead of being crazy all the time.”

In the world of hip-hop, Lamar is widely considered to be a future king. Last year, he was nominated for seven Grammys, four of them for his 2012 major-label debut, “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” which sold more than a million copies in the United States. His lyrical style and his background (Compton, Calif., born and raised) have shaped his reputation as the kind of old-school rapper you don’t see much anymore, a street poet who has earned the affection of hip-hop purists as well as younger listeners. “He’s the first person in a long time that a lot of the old heads respect,” says the filmmaker and author Nelson George, one of the first journalists to write about rap music. “They see him as a real hip-hop M.C.”

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Source: NY Times