This “smart, confident, and necessary” (Shea Serrano, New York Times bestselling author) first cultural biography of rap superstar and “master of storytelling” (The New Yorker) Kendrick Lamar explores his meteoric rise to fame and his profound impact on a racially fraught America—perfect for fans of Zack O’Malley Greenburg’s Empire State of Mind.
Kendrick Lamar is at the top of his game.
The thirteen-time Grammy Award-winning rapper is just in his early thirties, but he’s already won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, produced and curated the soundtrack of the megahit film Black Panther, and has been named one of Time’s 100 Influential People. But what’s even more striking about the Compton-born lyricist and performer is how he’s established himself as a formidable adversary of oppression and force for change. Through his confessional poetics, his politically charged anthems, and his radical performances, Lamar has become a beacon of light for countless people.
Written by veteran journalist and music critic Marcus J. Moore, this is much more than the first biography of Kendrick Lamar. “It’s an analytical deep dive into the life of that good kid whose m.A.A.d city raised him, and how it sparked a fire within Kendrick Lamar to change history” (Kathy Iandoli, author of Baby Girl) for the better.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar is a brilliant, possibly superhuman talent "destined for the Mount Rushmore of music" according to this gushing hagiography. Music journalist Moore recounts Lamar's rise from gang-ridden Compton, Calif., to the top of the charts, covering such milestones as the song "Real," which "represents Kendrick's divine awakening"; Lamar's 2015 BET Awards show performance, wherein "he became a symbol, no longer a rapper or anything mortal"; and his latest album, DAMN., with which, yet again, "he became something else, almost a mythical being or a supernova." On the earthly plane Moore styles Lamar as the voice of oppressed Black people in a politicized interpretation that rehashes police killings and labels Donald Trump a white supremacist. Moore sometimes writes perceptively about Lamar's music "It evoked barbershop convos, the feel of shabby concrete beneath your fresh Nike sneakers, and the taste of fried chicken wings fresh out of the grease" but too often wallows in vacuous praise. (In the studio making To Pimp a Butterfly: "Gone was the fast food; in were specialty salads and customized menus. The musicians all applaud Kendrick's genius, saying that he's a guy who doesn't rest on his laurels.") Anyone who doesn't worship at the church of Lamar will likely be put off by the tedious puffery.