05-kendrick-humble-2017-screenshot-billboard-1548_0-1492133257
Vevo

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.

---

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.

From the Web

More on Vibe

VIBE

Genres Aside, Here Are Our 25 Favorite Songs Of 2018

Keeping up with all of the music from 2018 was a full-time job, with loads of songs releasing every week and not enough ears to keep track. But the volume of music comes with an advantage: there’s something for everybody. Fittingly, our list of the 25 Best Songs of 2018 represents the multi-genre mayhem that is in everyone’s playlists this year.

Some of the entries on our list, like cuts by Drake, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, were at the forefront of the conversation in 2018, dominating streaming services and radio around the country. Indie darling Saba made waves, and he’s included here as well. Jazz wizard Kamasi Washington dropped some of the best protest music of the year. But there are also some songs on this year’s list that spoke to the VIBE Tribe in a different way. Cardi B had hits all year, but an album cut impressed us most; Usher and Zaytoven’s new album didn’t make a huge splash commercially, but one of its songs appears here. And Beyonce appears on one of the best songs of the year that never even saw an official release–but that didn’t stop us from including it here.

Music broke the rules this year, and so did we. Read below, and tell us what surprise choices are making your songs of the year list.

READ MORE: Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

Continue Reading
A look back at the collaborator's up and down relationship.
Getty Images

Remember The Time: 10 Times Drake And Kanye West Were Stronger Together

Kanye West and Drake aren’t exactly in the best place at the moment. West’s Dec. 13 Twitter rant detailed their issues, in which he accuses Drake of “sneak dissing” and threatening him.

“You sneak dissing on [Travis Scott] records and texting Kris [Jenner] talking about how’s the family.” he wrote among many other tweets and allegations against the Scorpion MC.

While this is a bump in the road, the two haven’t always been enemies. Despite the shenanigans surrounding them, Kanye West and Drake have had a very fruitful relationship. All drama aside, the duo have created many memorable moments in hip-hop and pop culture. They’ve written and recorded some incredible songs and shared countless stages during concerts and tours.

To abstain from dwelling on the negativity, VIBE has collected a list of moments taking you through the high points in the rappers’ relationship. Check it out below.

---

Drake's Freestyles Over Many Beats By 'Ye

Before he was one of the most sought-after rappers in the world, Drizzy has looked up to Kanye West and sampled his work. For “Say What’s Real,” a single off his mixtape So Far Gone, the “In My Feelings” MC sampled Yeezy’s “Say You Will” off of his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. The admiration continued throughout the years, resulting in more freestyles over songs like “Swagga Like Us” and “Barry Bonds.” Both tracks feature beats created by the Chi-town native. 

‘Thank Me Later’ Proves Their Shared Power 

After meeting in 2009, the duo came together to bring Drake's Thank Me Later album to the next level. They collaborated on two tracks- the futuristic love songs “Show Me A Good Time,” and “Find Your Love.” With West holding down production, deep-pocketed 808’s and table-top scratch sounds were highlighted. The accolades for the latter song resulted in the No. 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as they created their own lane.

Drake Calls Kanye “The Most Influential Person”

In a 2009 interview, the then-industry rookie had some nice words for West. Speaking specifically about the 41-year-old’s 808’s and Heartbreak album, the Toronto rapper described ‘Ye as "the most influential person” who was important to young emcees in the game.

"Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes," Drake said. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I'd even go as far as to say he's the most influential person as far as a musician that I'd ever had in my life."

Their Collaborations On Wax 

The pair has been making music together for nearly 10 years, with some standout tracks including “Forever,” the remix to “All Of The Lights,” and “Pop Style.” On their 2017 song “Glow” off of Drake’s playlist More Life, both rappers discuss their growing, limitless success. West was rumored to initially appear on Drizzy’s smash-hit “Nice For What.” He reportedly had a verse on the critically-acclaimed track until the beef between Drake and his G.O.O.D. Music cohort Pusha T became lethal.

The Joint Mixtape That Never Happened

Drake and Kanye are no strangers when it comes to making joint albums with other artists. Drake worked with Future on the platinum-selling album What A Time To Be Alive, while Kanye released Watch The Throne with JAY-Z to critical acclaim. However, it has been hinted for the longest time that the two were working on a full-length album of their own.

Kanye confirmed the plan to release an album with Drake to Vogue in 2016, shortly after hinting at a joint project during OVO Fest. The Take Care rapper co-signed the announcement, saying "What my brother was asking before was, are you ready if we make an album?"

Drake Writing For Kanye’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’

Drake wrote a song for Kanye’s 2016 effort, The Life of Pablo. The Canadian hip-hop star helped pen the Isaac Hayes and Nelly-sampled “30 Hours.” Drizzy was also reportedly on the original, unreleased version of Pablo’s “Wolves,” which featured Icelandic artist Bjork (the album version features Vic Mensa and Sia).

The Duo Become Friendly, Competitive Neighbors

By the time of their initial meeting in 2009, Kanye already clocked in nearly a decade of music industry knowledge, and Drake was making the transition from teen TV star to full-time rapper. But who would have thought the duo would have eventually become actual neighbors?

Drake eventually moved to Calabasas, Calif.- a neighborhood in Los Angeles many celebrities call home- around the same time West began publicly dating his now-wife, Kim Kardashian. In the 2016 bop “Summer Sixteen,” Drizzy jokes, “Now I got a house in LA, now I got a bigger pool than Ye / And look man, Ye’s pool is nice, mine's just bigger's what I’m saying.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

There goes the neighborhood

A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Nov 7, 2016 at 3:05am PST

Kanye Supports OVO Fest

Drake created a hip-hop festival called OVO Fest in 2010. Not only does it feature notable acts in urban music, but it also gave a platform to upcoming artists from Canada who might not have gotten a platform back home. Kanye West was one of the first supports of the music event, performing at three of the festivals.

He also admitted that Drake inspired him and JAY-Z to record Watch The Throne during 2013’s OVO Fest, stating, "Me and Hov would've never made Watch the Throne if this ni**a wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects.”

Kanye Apologizes To Drake Over G.O.O.D. Music Album Rollouts

Earlier this fall, Kanye West apologized to Drake in a series of tweets for planning the rollout of albums by artists under his G.O.O.D music roster around the proposed release of Scorpion.

In one of the tweets, Kanye wrote “Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place. We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.” In another tweet, ‘Ye revealed that he never listened to the diss tracks between him and Pusha, and didn’t have conversations regarding Drake’s child with him.

Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place … We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.

— ye (@kanyewest) September 5, 2018

They Shared Laughs Over Meek Mill Memes

Drake and Meek Mill were in an infamous feud back in 2015. After performing his diss track aimed at Meek- "Back to Back”- at the 2015 OVO Fest, Drizzy, Kanye, and Will Smith enjoyed a laugh over the countless memes mocking the Philly MC.

Continue Reading
VIBE / Nick Rice

Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

What a year 2018 has been for music lovers.

Listeners enjoyed a buffet of diverse melodies, savoring in the choice of curating the tunes they craved as opposed to consuming more than they can digest. Rumored albums from veterans like Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V and The Carters' first joint project battled its way to the top of our personal charts alongside music's innovators like Noname, The Internet, Buddy, and Janelle Monae.

Within that aforementioned list of artists, a new generation of lyricists and vocalists found their footing with fans and critics alike. The rising crop of talent released projects that should motivate each of them to carve out space for forthcoming awards. While we took into account the albums released from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 20, 2018, that moved us emotionally, we also checked off a list of requirements like replay value, overall production, critical reception, and cultural impact.

Here are the 30 albums (in alphabetical order, not ranked), that instilled pride in our culture, made us take a look within, and encouraged us to appreciate music all over again.

READ MORE: 25 Hip-Hop Albums By Bomb Womxn Of 2018

Continue Reading

Top Stories