From university courses dedicated to major music acts like Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Bruce Springsteen to the recent offerings on Bad Bunny and Taylor Swift, the academic world has recognized the cultural impact of these artists. Among them, Kendrick Lamar’s lyrical content and storytelling have inspired academic courses, including an English class that compared his work to James Baldwin and James Joyce. Concordia University is launching a course examining the lyrical themes of Lamar’s works in the winter of 2023, further solidifying his status as one of the greatest MCs in the art form.
Compton and Beyond: Lamar’s Canvas for Storytelling
Using the city of Compton and wider LA as a canvas for his music, Kendrick Lamar’s songs resonate in communities far beyond his own. “Ronald Reagan Era” from his debut album, Section 80, serves as a love letter to the lost children who emerged from the ashes of a dark period in American history. The song contextualizes his life and surroundings and showcases his shifting cadences and reflective gaze.
Powerful Narratives: “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”
One of Lamar’s most powerful and emotional tracks, “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst” from Good Kid, MAAD City, tells the story of a young man who is dying and wants to be remembered through music. The track is a reflection on the harsh realities of life in Compton and the struggle to survive, showcasing Lamar’s ability to paint vivid pictures with his words.
Award-Winning Discography: From Good Kid to DAMN.
With a discography spanning nearly fifteen years, five studio albums, five mixtapes, a Pulitzer Prize, and 14 Grammys, Kendrick Lamar has solidified his place as one of the best rappers in the world. All of his albums have gone platinum, and his last three have all appeared at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Lamar is known for his versatility and experimentation in his music, exploring new territory for mainstream hip-hop and taking risks with his lyrical content.
Breaking Boundaries: Lamar’s Lyrical and Musical Genius
Endrick Lamar’s album Mr Morale & the Big Steppers serves as evidence of his lyrical and musical genius in storytelling in hip-hop. The 18-track, nearly 75-minute-long album is crammed with lyrical and musical ideas, cutting frantically from one style to another. Lamar’s lyrics cover a wide range of topics, from fake news to the pressures of fame, and he takes risks with new territory for mainstream hip-hop, such as Auntie Diaries, a lengthy, heartfelt lobbying on behalf of the trans community. Lamar’s willingness to take risks is notable, as he confesses past homophobia and lashes out at the church and his fellow rappers in dextrous, convincing style.