Kendrick Lamar Delivers An Amazing GRAMMY Performance

The night was set up to be an amazing one for Kendrick Lamar. After losing Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance, and Best New Artist to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis just two years prior, it seemed the Recording Academy was out to set things right. Kendrick was nominated for 11 awards at this year's GRAMMY awards, the second most nominations for an artist in one night since Michael Jackson. Kendrick ended up winning 5 GRAMMYs, sweeping the rap categories and winning a GRAMMY for Best Music Video via Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" video. But, that wasn't the most impressive thing Kendrick did last night.

The internet was buzzing, wondering what Kendrick would do for his GRAMMY performance and he did not disappoint. He came out in chains, dressed in prison clothes, followed in a straight line by other prisoners. His band was surrounded by prison bars. The silence that ensued while he awkwardly wrapped his chains around the mic stand so he could hold the mic gave us just enough time to realize this would not be your average performance.

He began to perform "The Blacker The Berry," a song that aggressively addresses the white community but also delivers a strong message to the black community. He transitions into a fiery performance of "Alright" and then performs "Untitled 3." Kendrick has become a fantastic live performer, one that seems to save some of his most dynamic, in-your-face songs strictly for live performances; more specifically, live performances in front of a white audience.

This performance was full of tribal African imagery, African traditional dancing, and was the most powerful Kendrick performance I've ever seen. There was bravery in this performance, standing in front of a predominantly white organization and audience and using his platform to deliver this politically charged, heart-filled, black message. Between this performance and Beyoncé's "Formation" release and performance, it's clear the black community is not about to take society's treatment lying down.

All hail, King Kendrick.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar (Austin City Limits Performances)

Kendrick Lamar has been delivering a slew of great performances lately and his Austin City Limits performances have been no different. Kendrick performed a few deep cuts from To Pimp A Butterfly like "Wesley's Theory" and "Hood Politics," which you can see above, as well as other favorites. If you want to see Kendrick's full set, program your DVRs because it will be airing on WYCC at 1AM CST on 1/10 and 8PM CST on 1/15. It will also be airing on WTTW at 11PM CST on 1/10.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar- "God Is Gangsta" (Music Video)

Kendrick Lamar dropped off a new video to help end 2015 the right way. The video, "God Is Gangsta," features visuals for his songs "u" and "For Sale? (Interlude)." The visuals for the former certainly match the tone of the song as a drunk Kendrick argues with his conscience in a hotel room. In the visuals for "For Sale?," scenes of Kendrick getting baptized are interspersed with scenes of him in a strip club while phrases like the one seen above quickly flash onscreen. Check out the short film above.

-AO

J. Cole & Kendrick Lamar Release Black Friday Remixes Of Each Other's Songs

We have a lot to be thankful for lol. J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar have just blessed us with new music. They celebrated Black Friday by remixing each other's songs. Cole delivered a remix of "Alright" while Kendrick released a remix of "Tale Of 2 Citiez." Both rappers absolutely murdered their verses and this only increases anticipation for their rumored collaborative album. In Cole's remix, he alluded to some new music being released in February. This could be a new Cole album or this K.Dot-Cole album. Either way, I can't wait.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar- "These Walls (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat)" (Music Video)

Kendrick Lamar has teamed up with director Colin Tilley to deliver the visuals for his To Pimp A Butterfly cut, "These Walls." The video runs more like a short film and features comedian Corey Holcomb and Terry Crews. It is definitely an entertaining video as Kendrick kicks back at a house party and even hilariously "hits the Quan" with Terry Crews. Check it out above.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar Announces New Tour

8 cities. 8 nights, 8 intimate shows.

A photo posted by Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) on

Kendrick Lamar has announced a new tour called "Kunta's Groove Sessions." The tour will take place in some of the country's most prominent cities over the next month. Kendrick hasn't done too much performing behind the release of To Pimp A Butterfly, so this tour is a must-see. Check out the dates below and get tickets here.

10-20 Washington, DC - Kennedy Center
10-22 Brooklyn, NY - Barclays Center
10-24 Columbus, OH - LC Pavilion
10-25 Chicago, IL - United Center
10-27 Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle
10-29 Dallas, TX - South Side Music Hall
11-01 Washington, DC - Lincoln Theatre
11-08 Los Angeles, CA - The Forum
11-10 Oakland, CA - Fox Theater

-AO

 

Kendrick Lamar- "For Free? (Interlude)" (Music Video)

While the hip-hop world is focused on Meek Mill and Drake's entertaining beef, Kendrick Lamar is continuing his stay at the top of the hip-hop mountain. He has now released the music video for the second track on To Pimp A Butterfly—"For Free? (Interlude)." Kendrick may have delivered one of the best videos of the year with the one. Watch as he hilariously informs his girl that "his dick ain't free."

-AO

Kendrick Lamar- "Alright" (Music Video)

Kendrick Lamar revealed the visuals for his Pharrell-produced track from To Pimp A Butterfly, "Alright." The Colin Tilley-directed video features Kendrick floating through the city while showcasing what the Bay Area and LA have to offer, for better or worse. Check out the video above and read MTV's interview with the video director Colin Tilley here.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar Performs "These Walls" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Kendrick Lamar appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for his first performance on daytime television. He delivered an amazing performance of "These Walls" as the performance featured stepping, art in action, and some impassioned verses from Kendrick. This dude is on fire. If you haven't heard To Pimp A Butterfly yet, please do so and then check out my review here. Enjoy.

-AO

King Kendrick: The Realest Negus Alive ('To Pimp A Butterfly' Album Review)

Hip-hop has been one of the most fluid genres of the past couple decades. It can be "gangsta;" it can be emotional. It can be ratchet; it can be socially conscious. The genre is constantly evolving and, as an art form, it has a right to be all these things and more or none at all. Hip-hop is what we make it. Fans tend to place boundaries on hip-hop by thinking it should sound one way, when in reality, the genre was birthed out of many other genres like jazz and blues. So of course, it's going to reflect those influences in its sound.

Kendrick Lamar's sophomore major label album—To Pimp A Butterfly—is true art and ignores the boundaries many like to place on hip-hop as a whole. TPAB combines aspects of jazz, R&B, funk (particularly of the West Coast "G" variety), and hip-hop. It belongs to more than one genre stylistically, musically, and lyrically. One of the genius things about the album is how smoothly Kendrick and his producers concatenate these genres and sounds. With production from Terrace Martin, Sounwave, Thundercat, Boi-1da, and many more, Kendrick crafted an album that all music lovers can enjoy. And that's important because the message the album carries is one everyone needs to hear.

It is hard to fully talk about this album without addressing its overarching theme and concept. So SPOILER ALERT: To Pimp A Butterfly is very much like a puzzle with a serious "Aha!" moment at the end so if you haven't heard the album, I strongly suggest you stop reading or skip towards the end as I attempt to explain the puzzle pieces as I understood them. I anticipated the concept of this album most of all before its release. The concept of good kid, m.A.A.d city—his debut album—was genius and one of the main reasons that album is heralded as a classic, so I knew Kendrick would have something up his sleeve. This album is centered around a poem that is split into fragments, with each fragment ushering in a new song and contributing to the overall album concept:

"I remember you was conflicted/Misusing your influence/Sometimes I did the same/Abusing my power, full of resentment/Resentment that turned into a deep depression/Found myself screaming in the hotel room/I didn’t wanna self destruct/The evils of Lucy was all around me/So I went running for answers/Until I came home/But that didn’t stop survivor’s guilt/Going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes I earned/Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was/But while my loved ones was fighting the continuous war back in the city, I was entering a new one/A war that was based on apartheid and discrimination/Made me wanna go back to the city and tell the homies what I learned/The word was respect/Just because you wore a different gang color than mine's/Doesn’t mean I can’t respect you as a black man/Forgetting all the pain and hurt we caused each other in these streets/If I respect you, we unify and stop the enemy from killing us/But I don't know, I'm no mortal man, maybe I'm just another nigga"

Kendrick finishes the poem during "Mortal Man" where it is revealed that he was reading the poem to the late, great Tupac Shakur. Kendrick combines sections of a Swedish interview 'Pac had in 1994 to simulate a conversation between the two. When I first heard it, I couldn't believe what I was hearing; it was perfect. Tupac "talks" to Kendrick about his life and predicts that the poor people will overtake the rich, that black people will get sick of being mistreated and violently revolt against white people and their oppressors. With the events that have taken place in Baltimore recently, it's clear that many things haven't changed regarding black people and how they're treated in this society. It's also clear that Tupac may have predicted correctly.

Kendrick reads another poem to 'Pac that details the title and one of the themes of the album. In my opinion, the butterfly represents successful black people who have escaped their oppressive surroundings, thrived and made something of themselves. The caterpillars can represent people who are attempting to take advantage of black people by institutionalizing them in whatever way possible (placing other caterpillars in a cocoon so they don't reach their full potential and become a butterfly). This institutionalization takes place in many of the ways black people are held back (the prison system, education, job market) and on a micro level, this is also represented by how the music industry profits on the success of black artists while attempting to steer them away from releasing music with true messages. TPAB is full of themes like this as Kendrick uses it as a commentary on the black community and its position in society. The opening track, "Wesley's Theory," describes how black artists are 'pimped' by the music industry and the consumerism present in society. In "The Blacker The Berry," Kendrick heeds that black people must respect themselves if they ever want to be respected by the rest of society. He notes the hypocrisy involved in how black people are outraged by all the innocent black killings by police when gang members are out killing black people every day. While a majority of the album is full of commentary on black life and black empowerment, there are important messages for everyone. "How Much A Dollar Cost" explores how selfishness and lack of humility can cause people to lose out on a greater gift than money: eternal salvation. In "Complexion (A Zulu Love)," Kendrick delivers the message that color and skin tone do not matter; people are people, no matter their race. Kendrick views himself as a prophet, a messenger whose place and purpose is to spread positivity and expose reality through his music and views. I cannot help but agree with him as he is on his way to becoming one of the greatest revolutionary artists of our generation.

I want to discuss two of my favorite aspects of To Pimp A Butterfly. Kendrick released "i" as the first single for the album and it was met with mixed reviews. Fans thought Kendrick was "selling out" or going "mainstream" as the song is a far departure from the rough, solemn sounds of his debut album. "i" promotes self-love and self-expression. The chorus screams "I love myself!" It's a message that is so important in these trying times, but the strict boundaries many place on hip-hop forced them to write off Kendrick's album as inferior to his debut after only hearing one song. Well, when the album was released, the song had changed and become something much more powerful. He didn't change the message, but the format. The song is recorded as if Kendrick is performing in front of a crowd. Halfway through the song, it seems like a fight breaks out and Kendrick stops the song to address the crowd about how pointless the violence is and how black people must unify instead of wasting their lives in conflict. Kendrick proceeds to perform a "freestyle" after the crowd has quieted down where he notes that the word "negus" originated in Ethiopia and means king or ruler. He implores black people to use the word in an empowering way as America changed it to be oppressive. Kendrick has become very consistent with how conceptual his songs and albums are. In contrast to "i," "u" was a self-loathing and depressing song where Kendrick, as his conscience, berates himself for not being there for his family and letting the money and success interfere with the things that matter most to him. These songs are two of my favorites because the dichotomy present is very relatable and parallel to many listeners' narratives. No one is perfect and Kendrick shows that even he has days where he doubts himself and finds it hard to take his own advice. I think being relatable is one of the key aspects music should have nowadays.

Kendrick has created two major-label albums that are classics in their own right. They are completely different from each other but both are important for hip-hop culture. To Pimp A Butterfly could not have come at a better time. With all of the severe issues black people have been involved in regarding race relations in this country, we need an album that empowers us when we're living in a country that treats us like we don't have any power at all. TPAB is inspirational and showed that Kendrick was not looking to capitalize off the success of good kid, m.A.A.d city by making a similar album. He made the album we needed to hear and I honestly cannot see any album topping this one before the year ends. For an album that was released on the 20th anniversary of Tupac's classic album, Me Against The World, it's fitting that we received it from an artist who is the closest to Tupac reincarnate we'll ever see.

Favorite Tracks: Wesley's Theory, u, Alright, How Much A Dollar Cost, i, Mortal Man

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

-AO

Kendrick's Album Arrives A Week Early

Well, it seems there was some sort of mess-up at Interscope but that mistake has benefitted us greatly. Kendrick's sophomore major-label album, To Pimp A Butterfly, has been released a week early. The album is everything I hoped for and nothing I expected all at the same time. The bar has been set. You can stream it on Spotify above and purchase it via iTunes and Amazon below. I know what I'm gonna be blastin' for the next couple months lol. Enjoy.

iTunes, Amazon

-AO

Kendrick Lamar- "King Kunta"

Kendrick Lamar's highly anticipated album, To Pimp A Butterfly is expected to drop on March 23rd. Now we can listen to the album's third track, "King Kunta." It's definitely not what I expected when I first heard about the song; it's a funky track that interpolates the sounds of West Coast hip-hop wonderfully. This album will be an album that challenges other hip-hop artists to wonder whether what they're making is good enough. I believe that wholeheartedly. Enjoy.

-AO

Kendrick Lamar Announces Album Title, Artwork, and Tracklist

The moment we have all been waiting for is finally here. Kendrick's sophomore major-label album and the follow-up to his classic album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is set to be released on March 23rd. Originally, Kendrick announced the release date with an untitled album and an all-black album artwork. But, now he has announced that the album will be titled To Pimp A Butterfly and the artwork can be seen above. It features multiple shirtless black men and children standing over a supposedly dead judge while holding stacks of money and bottles of alcohol in front of the White House. It is certainly an interesting scene. You can view the tracklist below and get ready for what is bound to be an amazing album. Enjoy.

Wesley's Theory
For Free? (Interlude)
King Kunta
Institutionalized
These Walls
U
Alright
For Sale? (Interlude)
Momma
Hood Politics
How Much A Dollar Cost
Complexion
The Blacker The Berry
You Ain't Gotta Lie (Momma Said)
I
Mortal Man

-AO