He took home five awards on Grammy night, including Best Rap album, but lost out on the main one, Album of the Year, to Taylor Swift’s 1989. But his success has seen him hobnob all over the place and even releasing very recently an eight-track album, Untitled Unmastered (2016), comprising outtakes from the Grammy-winning To Pimp A Butterfly that didn’t make the cut, thus making his discography count to four albums to date. Though it is a standalone piece of work, the tracks have no names except for the date they were recorded. He claims that he still plays these songs and also performs them live whenever he can. The album features a cameo from singer Cee Lo Green, while Alicia Keys’ five-year-old son Egypt is seen on the track Untitled 07.
We are talking about rapper and hip-hopper Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (who dropped his last name to perform as Kendrick Lamar). Lamar was born in Compton, California, on 17 June 1987. His parents relocated to Compton from Chicago to escape the city’s gang culture, although Lamar’s father had been associated with the notorious Gangster Disciples gang once upon a time. Lamar grew up in this aggressive locality, but good for him; he never really took it up on himself to be part of it. He was a good student who enjoyed writing first stories and poems, and then lyrics.
Lamar has stated that he has been influenced by the likes of Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G, Nas, Eminem, Mobb Deep and Prodigy being his top favourite rappers. He adopted the moniker K-Dot and began performing his lyrics as a rapper. At age 16, in 2003, he circulated a mix tape called Youngest Head Nigga in Charge, which drew a lot of interest in his native Southern California and beyond. The project was enough to get Lamar a record deal with Top Dawg Entertainment, a respected California independent label. He releases two other acclaimed mix tapes, Training Day (2005) and C4 (2009), steadily working with other up-and-coming West Coast rappers like Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q. Lamar and these other performers eventually formed their own rap collective, Black Hippy.
In 2010 Lamar dropped the K-Dot tag and began using his own name. He put out a fourth mix tape, Overly Dedicated. That same year, Lamar released his first full-length independent album (July 2011) under Top Dawg Entertainment. Titled Section.80, it was released exclusively on iTunes and later on physical format. The album features guest appearances from rappers and hip-hop artists such as GLC, Colin Munroe, Ab-Soul, and vocals from late singer-songwriter Alori Joh. As a concept album that featured all of Lamar’s five mix tapes he released, it features lyrical themes delivered by Lamar such as racism and medication tolerance. The album’s lead single HiiiPoWeR received rave reviews.
Section.80 received generally positive reviews from critics. The album sold 5,000 copies in the U.S. solely based on digital downloads within less than a week, debuting and peaking at No. 113 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with minimal mainstream media promotion and coverage. However some sources suggest the album entered at No. 104. Within a two-week period the album sales had totalled 9,000 copies.