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Be Humble: Kendrick Lamar's 10 Most Introspective Music Moments

Every generation is impacted by the collective efforts of the people.

Every generation is impacted by the collective efforts of the people. There has always been a chosen few who’s words and actions are transcendent and can break the mold or set the tone for the people to follow, sparking progressive movements and new, refreshing ways of thinking. Both can be said of Kendrick Lamar, rap’s preeminent poet of the moment, who has emerged as one of the more significant artists to rise to power in quite some time. With a decade of rapping under his belt and a body of work that includes standout P’s (Kendrick Lamar EP), mixtape (Overly Dedicated), and albums (good kid, m.A.A.d. city, To Pimp a Butterfly), the Compton native has build a track record for excellence since catching the rap world's attention in 2009.

Far from your token rapper, Kendrick Lamar is an MC in a class of his own, with all of the skills and wrinkles that comprise the make-up of a legend, a role which he’s prepared himself to step into. Shunning the materialism, incessant misogyny, and nihilism that has once again become more of the norm in the mainstream, K.Dot offers a refreshing alternative, although he is as apt as delivering party-centric tunes of his own as he is with leaving listeners in a spellbound stat after on of his rhyme spills. However, Kendrick is at his best when tapping into his more cerebral and introspective side, as he does on many of his more celebrated compositions, where he tackles inner demons and idle thoughts while giving the public a piece of himself. Whereas many artists are content with charades of invincibility and what manhood means, Kendrick Lamar has found power in his vulnerability, enabling him to speak to the hearts of men without sacrificing his ability to move the needle.

With the release of his long-awaited third studio album, now is as good as a time to look back at a few of the instances where Kendrick was transparent in his view of himself and the world around him. Here are 10 of the most introspective moments in Kendrick Lamar’s career thus far.

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1. Cut You Off

"I’m tryna learn something new/I’m tryna find myself, I’m searching deep for Kendrick Lamar,” the Compton native spits on “Cut You Off,” a standout selection from the rapper’s 2010 mixtape, Overly Dedicated. Produced by Tae Beast, “Cut You Off” finds Kendrick lamenting the negative energy that engulfs his everyday life and his desire to free himself from it and those who possess it. Giving a rundown of family and friends that he finds particularly draining, Kendrick processes his thoughts about himself and his own desires while juxtaposing that with the concerns of others, before concluding that although family can sometimes take a toll on his mental, he remains loyal to those he has loves, for better of worse.

2. U

To Pimp A Butterfly was received as a universal classic upon its release, with a murderers row of high-powered material, but among the more intriguing songs on the album was “U,” which captures Kendrick Lamar in a highly vulnerable state. Chanting “loving you is complicated,” a charge that is directed at himself, Kendrick gradually barks at himself, listing his shortcomings and perceived failures in life while downplaying the significance of his success. Drunk and on the brink of suicide, Kendrick turns in his most striking performance on “U,” cutting beneath the surface and getting to the root of his depression and survivors guilt.

3. Vanity Slaves

His first release after adopting his birth name as his rap moniker, Kendrick Lamar EP amounted to the calm before the storm that would be the rapper’s rise to prominence. One of the project’s most intense offerings is “Vanity Slaves,” a track that tackles his own materialism and how the ostentatious ways of black Americans can be explained as a byproduct of slavery, equating our need to floss and how it can control us to the chains that left us physically captive. Lines like “I care about my pride too much, if my clothes is new, if my ride is plush/If my hair is cut, if my diamonds is crushed, I look in the mirror, I’m trendy enough?” speak to the insecurity and shallow ways of black Americans today, which Kendrick himself also owns up to while noting his own hypocrisy in the process.

4. Poe Mans Dreams

“I used to wanna see the penitentiary right after elementary/Thought it was cool to look the judge in his face when he sentence me,” Kendrick reveals on "Poe Mans Drams", from his breakthrough project, Section 80, which helped put his career on the fast track. One of the more subdued moments on the Section 80, “Poe Mans Dreams” is a trip through the mind of the lyricist, which touches on incarcerated relatives and friends, the influence his father has on his artistry, and the mental and spiritual fatigue that life can bring. Produced by Willie B, “Poe Mans Drams” captures Kendrick in his analytical zone and stands as one of his more visceral moments of introspect.

5. Bi**h Don’t Kill My Vibe

One of Kendrick Lamar’s signature songs to date is “Bi**h Don’t Kill My Vibe,” from his debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city that also doubles as one of his most cerebral efforts. Produced by Sounwave, “Bi**h Don’t Kill My Vibe” finds Kendrick baring his spiritual wounds and rapping “fell on my face and I wok with a scar, another mistake living deep in my heart/Wear it on top of my sleeve in a flick, I can admit that it did look like yours.” He also shares his disdain for the addiction that is fame. Despite not initially being tapped as a single, the song’s organic popularity among Kendrick’s fans created the demand for it to be put in rotation, making it one of the more thoughtful hit records to find a haven on the Billboard charts.

6. Momma

On "Momma," a sublime number from To Pimp a Butterfly, bombastic bass and off-kilter snares serve as the canvas Kendrick Lamar creates on. Going into his memory bank and giving accounts of past experiences and emotions K.Dot draws from the lessons his mother and the streets of Compton instilled in him, such as wisdom, generosity, and healthy spiritual values. Showing his sentimental appreciation for home, Kendrick Lamar reflection is internal on "Momma," a masterful outing from the trusty wordsmith.

7. Good Kid

Kendrick Lamar’s debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, was full of insightful moments. “Good Kid” is another trip through the mind of the Compton rap deity. Produced by and featuring Pharrell, the track captures K.Dot making sense of his constant struggle for survival in his gang-infested stomping grounds, and the pressure that comes with. “I got animosity building, it’s probably big as a building/Jumping off of the roof is me just playing it safe,” Kendrick muses, as he acknowledges the turbulence of his environment and how he copes with it all.

8. Kush & Corinthians (His Pain)

Purpose and spirituality are the topics at hand on “Kush & Corinthians (His Pain),” a deep cut from Section 80 on which Kendrick does a bit of soul-searching and questioning his role and destiny in life. Powered by a brooding backdrop, courtesy of producer Wyldfyer, and featuring vocals from BJ the Chicago Kid, “Kush & Corinthians” is an often overlooked, but essential selection that delves into the mentality of Kendrick Lamar.

9. The Heart Pt. 2

Kendrick Lamar utilizes a clip from a Dash Snow interview for the intro to “The Heart Pt. 2,” the introductory section from his Overly Dedicated mixtape. Borrowing an instrumental from The Roots to do his bidding over, K. Dot delivers one of the definitive stanzas of his rap reign thus far. A mix of stream-of-consciousness and introspection, “The Heart Pt. 2” is comprised of various observations about the world around him and himself, and his desire to understand it all.  "Really I’m just caught up in the loop of understanding the truth because it seems like it's always clashing with science" rhymes while voicing his hopes that his rhymes make an impact beyond the streets of Compton. Kendrick wowed the crowd with “The Heart Pt. 2,” a pivotal musical moment for the young MC.

10. ROTC

A guitar-laden standout from Overly Dedicated, “ROTC” is a frenetic cut that captures a pre-stardom Kendrick Lamar voicing his impatience with his path to greatness and the ill-advised temptations that occasionally entice him. “This is me, frustrated, battling my own ego,” he admits as he breaks down his grind and the lack of income he’s garnered in comparison to his dope-dealing and gun-toting homies as well as conjured thoughts of his plight. Ultimately diminishing that status and promising to stay the course, Kendrick Lamar scores another thought-provoking selection, as he delves inward yet again, with effective results.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

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We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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In this photo illustration Dollar and Euro notes are displayed, on November 26, 2010 in London, England.
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Money Trees: 10 Tips On Managing Your Finances During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted the lives of millions as self-isolation has become a brief normal. With students and some people working from home, many folks have also seen a vast change in their finances.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows increases in claims for jobless benefits for the week of March 14 with California taking the top spot with 58,208 claims, District of Columbia second at 16,120; Washington state third, with 14,846 and North Carolina rounding out the top four at 14,413.

As the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters the state received 80,000 unemployment applications last week. “We average about 2,000 unemployment insurance claims a day,” Newsom said. “Two days ago or three days, we saw about 40,000 applications. After that 70,000 applications. Yesterday, 80,000 unemployment applications.”

But each state, job, and situation are different. One thing that remains the same is staying ahead of your finances the best way possible. Hailing from a community who barely enjoys money talk, I know how hard it can be to work against the forces that include Sallie Mae, rent, credit cards, and UberEats orders. It's why I indulge in the gift that is The Financial Gym. With a fitness-inspired take on finances, the company works one-on-one with each client to ensure everyone gets to one step closer to financial freedom.

Below are some tips from the gym as well as your favorite hip-hop songs to keep you accountable and financially healthy.

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1. Scale Back On Extra Expenses

Non-essentials like to hide in plain sight. If there is a service you no longer need but still pay for, now is the best time to cut the cord and pad your bank account.

2. Create An Emergency Fund (If You Don't Have One)

According to Finder, the US average of savings accounts in 2019 was $16,420 with the median savings account holding $4,830. It can be very difficult to keep a savings account due to unexpected expenses but it doesn't hurt an emergency fund for rainy days.

“If you think we’re heading into a recession and you want to be extra safe, then you may increase your emergency savings to 8 months or longer,” suggests Shannon McLay, founder of The Financial Gym.

If this isn't realistic, adapt to your salary and build from there.

3. Don't Forget About D.E.B.T

If you have to adjust payments to fit your current situation, do so. The one thing that can harm you, is ignoring a bill. It won't go away until you make it.

Also, check-in with your bank. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, banks have waived fees and other costs. For example, Ally Bank is waiving fees for overdrafts, excessive transactions for savings and money market accounts for 120 days with expedited shipping of checks and debit cards. They've also pledged $3 million to help the communities where their employees live and work, with special hometown locations of Detroit and Charlotte.

4. Have Some Talents? Use Them!

If kids can make millions on YouTube by playing with toys, imagine what you can do simply by funneling your other talents. Create a YouTube channel. Make a blog. Get into photography. Start making clothes. Don't allow fear and panic to reduce your creative spirit. You might even make some money out of the deal.

5. Look Back On Life Goals

If you're planning on taking a big vacation or making a big purchase, put it on hold. “If your life goals are between two and five years, then you may want to think about a more conservative asset allocation, depending on your risk tolerance,” says Shannon. “However, if you’re life goals are beyond five years out, then the best thing you’re going to do is avoid looking at your statements, watching CNBC, and doing anything rash like selling at the wrong time.” Sure her sentiments were for facing a recession but the gospel applies here.

6. Sell Gently Used Items Online

'Tis the season for spring cleaning. While you're at it, you should empty your closet and fill your pockets. From electronics to gently worn shoes, clothes or accessories, feel free to turn your possessions into gems for the next person.

Also a tip from The Financial Gym:

Since you want to avoid conducting pick-up arrangements, you’ll want to sell on a platform where shipping is the standard. A few places to sell your pre-loved items online include, eBay and ThredUP, buy-sell-trade Facebook groups, and Gazelle for electronics. Just make sure your listed price accounts for costs, like platform fees, PayPal fees, and shipping.

7. Purge Your Photo Library...For Cash

We take a lot of photos we never share. Instead of letting them collect digital dust, sell your images of that sunset in Bali or crowd photos from Afrochella to sites like Shutterstock and iStock Photo.

8. Take Online Surveys

Platforms like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie provide cash for your time but don't quit your day job. Taking surveys online requires a lot of time so don't dump it all there.

9. Prepare For The Next "Pandemic"

Nipping the excess now only makes you a stronger financial warrior in the future. In addition to securing your pockets, accountability is a great quality you will likely spread to other aspects of your life.

10. Join The Financial Gym

The Financial Gym is currently offering a 20 percent discount to join. To get started schedule a consultation call here. All their events in NYC and D.C. are currently virtual experiences through the end of March.

Learn more about The Financial Gym here.

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