"Ya'll got until April the 7th to get ya'll shit together. " - Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar has been enthroned by mass media as the savior of Hip-Hop since his Interscope debut, Good Kid, Madd City nearly 5 years ago. With his infamous verse on Big Sean's Control in 2013, he began to stake his claim for the crown personally. However, the braggadocio that he displayed at that time took a backseat to his artistry on his sophomore effort, To Pimp a Butterfly.
As enthralled as I was with that record as a lover of music, my inner Hip-Hop head was slightly underwhelmed, expecting lyrical dominance and instead receiving an album that prioritized musical composition and storytelling. There seemed to be a slight disconnect between the extroverted proclamations he was making prior to To Pimp a Butterfly's release and the introspective aesthetic that came in the time following.
In the past two years since his last true release, Kendrick has been propelled into the same spot that his Aftermath predecessors Eminem and 50 Cent once occupied, with potential to reach even higher into the stratosphere of legends. With mass critical acclaim now in his back pocket, Kendrick has reverted his attention to being considered top dog over the rap game, pun only slightly intended.
On the recently-released The Heart Part 4, he makes the claim of being "the greatest rapper alive", a statement formerly uttered over past generations by Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. Whether you personally agreed with it or not, the argument could be made in their favor in both cases. The same could be said for Kendrick today, as no other MC currently possesses the combination of acclaim, skill, and respect that he has now.
There is a major fundamental difference, however, between the primes of Jay and Wayne and Kendrick Lamar today. Ask any hardcore fan of Jay or Wayne to spit their favorite line by them and be prepared to get 15 minutes of bars spanning over dozens of songs. Each had quotables that stuck in the consciousness of their fans from the moment they heard them and served individually as undeniable proof of the validity of their self-imposed titles. As excellent as Kendrick's music may be, he has not delivered these same impactful moments on record. Yes, Kendrick is a far different artist than Jay-Z or Lil Wayne, but the title he claims as the "best RAPPER alive" is the same and therefore he ought to be measured by similar standards. The music can be the greatest thing since sliced Dilla samples, but the bars are what will define his legacy in that realm.
With the releases of the aforementioned The Heart Part 4 and the lead single Humble, along with recent reports from producers on and around the record that it is "hard, not jazzy", we can expect this new album to be more of a follow-up to GKMC than TPAB sonically. King Kendrick of House TDE is coming for his place on the Iron Throne of Hip-Hop, and if he delivers tomorrow, then we will all be fortunate to be subjects in his kingdom.
Kaedus Hines. is an Atlanta native, hip hop aficionado, and artist. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @Kaedushines