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Music

The Best Debut Rap Albums of the 2010s

It’s well-known that hip-hop is one of the most popular genres in music. A big part of that success has been a result of the emergence of new generations of talented rappers who’ve set the standard for what rap could be with their debut albums. If you’re a fan of rap music, it’s expected that you’ve heard of some of the best debut albums released during the last decade. 

The 2010s may not have been hip-hop’s golden age, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been iconic albums released during that ten-year span. The 2000s in general have been a great period for rap music and debut albums have been some of the best projects that have come out during that time period. The 2010s was a decade that saw rap music reach new heights and produce some truly unforgettable albums.

Some of these albums introduced the world to some of the most successful artists of all time and are now considered to be some of the best rap albums of all time. Several of these albums changed the landscape of hip-hop and cemented their respective creators as legendary artists. These albums have helped to define a generation of hip-hop and are now essential listens for just about any rap fan. They pushed the genre in new and exciting directions. 

When it comes to best debut rap albums, there are a few that stand out from the pack. In the 2010s, there were a number of fire debut rap albums. Here are some of the best debut rap albums of the 2010s.

Drake – ‘Thank Me Later’ (2010)
Republic Records

Singles: “Over,” “Find Your Love” & “Fancy” 

Drake’s debut album Thank Me Later was highly anticipated by fans and critics alike. Luckily, it did not disappoint. Drizzy proved himself to be a master of both sing-rapping and delivering bars on this album. He showcased his unique vocal style with tracks like “Over” and “Find Your Love.” He also proved himself to be a hell of a storyteller, with songs like “Fireworks” and “The Resistance” giving listeners a glimpse into his life and experiences. Thank Me Later was a defining moment in Drake’s career and solidified him as one of the biggest names in rap music.

Waka Flocka Flame – ‘Flockaveli’ (2010)
Warner Records

Singles: “O Let’s Do It,” “No Hands” featuring Roscoe Dash and Wale & “Hard in da Paint”

Flockaveli was lowkey a game-changer. It helped to cement a new wave of trap music and set the sonic foundation for drill music, which became synonymous with Chicago artists like Chief Keef. Led by the hard-hitting production of producer of the moment Lex Luger, Waka Flocka Flame’s debut is full of tracks sure to keep your head nodding. The 17-track project, which was praised by the likes of Complex, Billboard, Rolling Stone and Pitchfork features most of Waka’s best-known songs, including the Drumma Boy-produced top 10 hit “No Hands.”

Nicki Minaj – ‘Pink Friday’ (2010)
Republic Records

Singles: “Your Love,” “Moment 4 Life” featuring Drake & “Super Bass”

Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday was an instant hit. It set the stage for her to become one of the most popular and influential rappers in the world. Nicki’s lyrical skills, distinctive flow and knack for crafting catchy tunes were on full display throughout the album. The 13-track project featuring production from Swizz Beatz, T-Minus, J.R. Rotem and Bangladesh also showcased her more introspective side, which came through on songs like “Dear Old Nicki” and “Here I Am.”

J Cole – ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story’ (2011)
Roc Nation/Columbia Records

Singles: “Work Out,” “Can’t Get Enough” featuring Trey Songz & “Nobody’s Perfect” featuring Missy Elliott 

Prior to the release of his debut, who would have thought that J. Cole would go on to be one of the best rappers of all time? Cole did! With Cole World: The Sideline Story, Cole proved that he was a force to be reckoned. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native’s debut was met with critical acclaim, and helped solidify him as one of the best rappers ever. The album sheds light on the story of Cole’s life and his growing up in North Carolina. Songs like “Work Out” and “Can’t Get Enough” showed that not only did he have bars for days, but that he could also make hits. Cole World debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and featured Jay-Z, Drake and Missy Elliott.

Meek Mill – ‘Dreams & Nightmares’ (2012)
Atlantic Records

Singles: “Amen” & “Burn”

Meek Mill’s Dreams & Nightmares was one of the most highly anticipated rap albums of the early 2010s. Meek’s first official project featured collaborations with Drake, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Rick Ross, John Legend and others. It also featured one of the greatest hip-hop intro of all time, “Dreams and Nightmares.” Whether you’re a fan of Meek or not, his debut is worth a listen or two.

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)
Aftermath/Interscope Records

Singles: “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Poetic Justice” & “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”In the early 2010s, there were a number of excellent debut albums that set the tone for the decade to come. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city is a perfect example of this. The album which tells the story of Kendrick’s upbringing in Compton immediately established him as one of the most important voices in hip-hop. good kid, m.A.A.d city is widely considered to be one of the best rap albums of all time, let alone one of the best debut albums. Throughout the project he demonstrates his expert use of wordplay and metaphors. He also shows he can crossover with addictive singles such as “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Poetic Justice” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”

Chief Keef – ‘Finally Rich’ (2012)
Interscope Records

Singles: “I Don’t Like”, “Love Sosa” & “Hate Bein’ Sober”

Even before he dropped an album, Chief Keef was a local legend. Months after receiving a cosign and a remix from Kanye West, the teenage star-in-the-making released his debut album, Finally Rich. The forefather of Chicago’s drill music collaborated with day-ones like Lil Reese, as well as legends like 50 Cent, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy on the album that featured cult-classics like “I Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa.”

A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP (2013)
Polo Grounds/RCA Records

Singles: “Goldie,” “Fuckin’ Problems,” “Wild for the Night” & “Fashion Killa”

A$AP Rocky took the hip-hop world by storm following the release of his debut single “Peso.” Over a decade later, he continues to be an influence on the culture. His debut album, LONG.LIVE.A$AP is a part of what helped him make his mark on the rap world. The album that would eventually be certified platinum housed an eclectic collection of songs and spawned the hit “Fuckin’ Problems,” which featured 2 Chainz, Drake and Kendrick Lamar. Other guests on the album included Santigold, Florence Welch, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Joey Badass and others.

Pusha T – ‘My Name is My Name’ (2013)
GOOD Music/Def Jam

Singles: “Pain,” “Numbers on the Boards” & “Sweet Serenade”

Pusha T was a seasoned veteran by the time his debut album My Name is My Name hit the streets, and it showed. Released in 2013, the album was one of the best projects from a rapper that year. Featuring production from Kanye West and The Neptunes, My Name is My Name showcases Pusha T’s lyrical prowess and knack for storytelling. It was met with critical acclaim and was praised for its lyrical content and production value.

YG – ‘My Krazy Life’ (2014)
Def Jam Recordings

Singles: “My N***a” & “Who Do You Love?”

After building a buzz with a series of mixtapes, YG broke through with his debut album, My Krazy Life. According to the Def Jam rap star, the album featuring hit singles like “My N***a” and “Who Do You Love?” was like “a day in the life of YG from the morning until the night.” Superproducer DJ Mustard handled much of the well-reviewed album’s production, incorporating his signature West Coast sound. Rich Homie Quan, Drake, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar were just a few of the artists that appeared on My Krazy Life.

Rae Sremmurd – ‘Sremmlife’ (2015)
Eardrummers/Interscope

Singles: “No Flex Zone”, “No Type”& “Throw Sum Mo” featuring Nicki Minaj and Young Thug

Rae Sremmurd seemingly came out of nowhere when they dropped their first single, “No Flex Zone” in 2014. By the time their debut album dropped, months later, the Mississippi-born dynamic duo individually known as Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi were household names. Executive produced by hit-maker Mike Will Made It, Sremmlife featured several top 40 hits, including “No Flex Zone”, “No Type” and the Nicki Minaj and Young Thug-assisted “Throw Sum Mo.” The group’s first album landed on several best of 2015 lists and even made it to Rolling Stone’s The 200 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of All Time list. Sremmlife was so successful that it spawned a couple of sequels.

Travis Scott – ‘Rodeo’ (2015)
Grand Hustle Records/Epic Records

Singles: “3500” & “Antidote”

Following the release of two mixtapes (2013’s Owl Pharaoh and 2014’s Days Before The Rodeo), Travis Scott let it be known he was here to stay with his debut album, Rodeo. The 14-track project was a sign of things to come from one of popular music’s most sought after artists. Rodeo’s lead single, “Antidote,” peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not only did the album feature a smash hit, it also featured a fire rap verse from Justin Bieber.

Nipsey Hussle – ‘Victory Lap’ (2018)
Atlantic Records

Singles: “Rap N*ggas,” “Last Time That I Checc’d” & “Dedication”

It’s not a secret that some of the best debut rap albums are created by artists that have something to prove. After grinding for much of his life, delivering dope mixtapes and attention-grabbing guest appearances, Nipsey Hussle finally released his debut album in 2018. Titled Victory Lap, the Grammy-nominated album featured everything from soulful vibes to motivational anthems. Offering a more polished sound on this album than on previous releases, the late rapper delivered a project that was both fresh and familiar.

Cardi B – ‘Invasion Of Privacy’ (2018)
Atlantic Records

Singles: “Bodak Yellow,” “Bartier Cardi,” “Be Careful” & “I Like It”

Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion Of Privacy was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and commercial success. The album introduced Cardi’s in-your-face style to the masses. She tapped into her own personal experiences and observations and crafted a project that was personal and universally relatable. It was also an album to turn up to! The well-crafted songs and clever lyrics resonated with listeners, helping her debut to not only achieve mainstream success, but also make history.

Playboi Carti – ‘Die Lit’ (2018)
AWGE/Interscope

Singles: “Poke It Out” featuring Nicki Minaj

Golden era-loving hip-hop heads may not get it, but Playboi Carti is a hugely influential artist. A couple of years before his Whole Lotta Red album was coined one of the best rap albums in modern history, Carti further established himself as an innovator with Die Lit.

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Music

Channel Tres Discusses Self-Care, Working With Tyler, The Creator, and More

The growing state of hip-hop has and is continuing to witness an evolution with its sounds, personalities, and acceptance of what’s “in.” And while specific genres and other areas of interest have either failed at the start of their new eras or lost steam throughout their run, hip-hop’s embracement of change sees no end to its success. Why? Because that’s where Channel Tres enters the picture.

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Coming from Compton, CA, home of legendary hip-hop acts NWA and Kendrick Lamar, Tres doesn’t fit your picture of the “average” rapper from there.

Although he’s a talented MC who displayed his excellent songwriting and flows with Tyler, The Creator (their 2020 “fuego” collaboration is special), Tres’s magic comes in the form of blending hip-hop with bounce music and R&B; ultimately creating an experience where you have no choice but to dance or feel your emotions.

“I took self-care more seriously [throughout this pandemic],” Tres told me following his performance at Governors Ball. “Along with getting sober and losing weight, it was a great time for me to refresh and discover the things I wanted to work on in my life.” As Tres embarked on his journey for self-care, he built upon the momentum of his 2020 surprise mixtape, I Can’t Go Outside, and collaborations featuring Emotional Oranges and Terrace Martin by releasing new music this past March (the soulful seven-track instrumental EP, refresh).

ONE37pm had the chance to speak with Channel Tres about the importance of self-care, working with Tyler, The Creator, and what his most significant piece of life advice would be.

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ONE37pm: When thinking about what’s happening with you this year, what was your biggest point of focus entering 2022?

Tres: To work out more, be more positive, and appreciate the moments I see my family. Of course, being able to be outside and travel is important too. But I’m also learning how to smell the flowers and enjoy myself.

ONE37pm: It’s been discussed– the impact this pandemic had on artists and their ability to make music. How did you initially handle it?

Tres: I had the chance to become a reflective person and see the things I wanted to work on in my life. It seemed like time was moving fast, and I was always on “go mode,” but I was able to slow down, and that time was precious for me. I saw what was happening in my mind for one of the first times in my life.

ONE37pm: Alongside releasing your own music, you’ve had some noteworthy collaborations (Tyler, The Creator, and Emotional Oranges). What did you learn most while working with them?

Tres: There are beautiful artists and cool people out there who are doing the same thing as me. It’s nice to know those people and have the chance to make music with them. I’m interested in collaborating with others and have some collaborations in the works.

ONE37pm: Last question for ya. What is your biggest piece of life advice?

Tres: I’m not qualified to give advice, but if I were qualified [laughs], I would say, “be yourself.” Do so without anyone’s opinions or filters on your thoughts, and find out what you like and stick to it.

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Music

Bops That Just Dropped: New Music Roundup

Every week a bunch of new projects, songs and snippets hit the airwaves and streaming platforms and it can be a tall task sorting through all of the noise. Luckily, ONE37pm is here to help keep you in tune with what new music should be on your radar. 

‘Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers’ — Kendrick Lamar
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For decades, Friday the 13th has been synonymous with horror films and bad luck. Now it will also be known as the date Kendrick Lamar made his return. It’s been five long years since Pulitzer Prize–winning artist dropped an album (DAMN.) and the wait is finally over. This week K. Dot’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers arrived with 18 songs, including “The Heart Part 5.” Lamar collaborated with the likes of Kodak Black, Ghostface Killah, Summer Walker, Sampha, Thundercat, Baby Keem, as well as production partners such as Sounwave, Pharrell Williams, the Alchemist, Beach Noise, and Boi-1da for his final album on Top Dawg Entertainment.

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“Cooped Up” — Post Malone featuring Roddy Ricch
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One of 2022’s most anticipated albums has an official release date. Post Malone’s forthcoming fourth album Twelve Carat Toothache is scheduled to hit retailers on June 3rd. To further build hype for the follow-up to 2018’s super successful Hollywood’s Bleeding the “Rockstar” rapper dropped his latest single, “Cooped Up.” The song featuring Roddy Ricch was performed for the first time on Saturday Night Live.

‘A Trip to Paris’ — Paris Bryant
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At 18 years old, Paris Bryant is already looking to carve out his own lane. For the Cinematic Music artist’s first official project, A Trip to Paris he aims to give listeners a glimpse of who he is. “With this project you guys get to experience the Paris from when I first got signed,” he said during his ONE37pm-hosted listening event. The 15-song mixtape, A Trip to Paris features the tracks “Bad Thoughts,” “Dangerous,” “Demon Time” and “Ballin,” which may sound extra familiar. The track was featured in an ESPN campaign and landed on top hip-hop playlists from Spotify, Tidal and Audiomack.

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Also arriving this week are dope collabs from Dreezy & Coi Leray and King Combs & Dreamdoll, as solo joints from Blac Youngsta and Burna Boy. While both Muni Long and DaniLeigh smooth things out with new R&B vibes. Tap in with our weekly playlist below and don’t forget to come back next Friday and every Friday after that for a round up of what’s new in music.

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Music

Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Heart’ Series, Ranked

On Sunday (May 8th), as you know if you’ve touched social media since then, Kendrick Lamar‘s “The Heart Part 5” dropped after weeks of speculation about it. As many expected, in less than 24 hours, the song already had a sizable impact and has only increased the hype for the rapper’s new album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, which is due on Friday.

In anticipation of the forthcoming release and in commemoration of the continuation of the series of songs, we’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and rank every single song in the series. This was a harder task than we imagined, with every song holding a place close to our hearts, no pun intended. Let us know how you think we did.

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5. The Heart Part 4

Even though a song in the series hadn’t come out for five years, when Kendrick took to his Instagram to post “IV” in white on a black background, new and old fans knew exactly what was coming. The song dropped that night and marked Kendrick’s return.

The immediate headlines surrounding the new effort were about Kendrick’s shots at a rapper who he claimed had been dancing around his name for a while. Drake was naturally the name that many threw out there, but it ended up being Big Sean, who sent shots at K. Dot on “No More Interviews.”

Truthfully, this song is only really in last place here due to the greatness of the other entries in the series and through no faults of its own. It served as the perfect preview of what was to come in the following weeks, even more than we knew at the time, using sounds from “PRIDE.” and “ELEMENT.” and the direct instrumental from “FEAR.” The only criticism we have for this, and we’re grasping at straws, is it feels a little more like a song released purely for hype and promotion, largely due to the last couple of lines. All in all though, it’s an incredible record that any artist would love in their discography.

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4. The Heart Part. 1

The backdrop for this record is a young and hungry rapper spitting over Yasiin Bey’s “UMI Says.” At the time, Kendrick had only just changed his name to Kendrick Lamar from K. Dot, a change he made so that he felt more personable to people and to assure that he wasn’t hiding behind a pseudonym. Even after the Kendrick Lamar EP, this was the perfect reintroduction to Kendrick.

Where a couple of songs on this list see Kendrick look back on his come up, this song puts us right in the center of it. He tells the story of trying to take J. Cole’s place at the 2010 XXL Freshmen shoot, which is ironic considering that for many, Kendrick has overtaken Cole for years now. It genuinely feels like a time capsule in a way that not many artists’ songs do. The video only emphasizes this.

Once again, this song could easily top another person’s list, but we feel it comes ever so slightly short when compared to some later entries.

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3. The Heart Pt. 3 (Will You Let It Die?)

This was the first instance of a song from “The Heart” series being released to build hype for the release of an album. It’s crucial to know that “The Heart Pt. 3” was put out a few days before good kid, m.A.A.d city officially dropped, but a while after it had already leaked and the rave reviews were coming in.

The song was recorded by Kendrick, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul in a hotel room in Vegas and that feeling comes through on the record. The theme here is a mix of immense, unfathomable pressure while looking at success on the horizon, the feeling of finally making it through hell to get to heaven.

Kendrick reflects on his upbringing, crediting DMX’s It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot as what started his own career. He also reminisces about him and Dave Free acting like JAY-Z and Dame Dash early on, his fellow Black Hippy members’ struggles, and the gang culture he was surrounded by in Compton.

The same level of emotion that appears in “The Heart Pt. 2” is present here, but there’s also the focus of the moment. The spotlight is on here and the heat is turned up, but Kendrick shows up and shows out as usual.

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2. The Heart Part 5

For years when fans discussed Kendrick Lamar’s return, fans speculated that “The Heart Part 5” would be what he stepped back into the spotlight with. That only continued when someone online thought of visiting oklama.com/theheart and was met with hundreds of folders. Opening every single one and arranging them all neatly came up with nothing, but just the fact that anything popped up was confirmation of the song.

Spotify leaked that the song, which was released on Kendrick’s YouTube and eventually hit digital streaming platforms, was on the way.

Immediately, fans were blown away with just the visuals. The video sees Dot transforming into O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle. All of these figures are prominent black figures for one reason or another and at various points in the song, over the Marvin Gaye-sampled instrumental, he raps from their perspective. Perspective, he notes at the beginning of the track, which life is all about.

The fifth song in the series has the most to unpack from any entry. The last verse sees Kendrick rapping from Nipsey Hussle’s perspective, forgiving his killer, and assuring his loved ones that he is at peace in heaven. The execution of this is wonderful and has fans excitedly awaiting Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, which arrives on Friday.

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1. The Heart Pt. 2

The intro to O(verly) D(edicated) is the sequel to “The Heart” which dropped earlier in the same year. The song is one long verse, which at one point, Kendrick actually called his favorite verse he’d ever done. “It got so emotional in the booth, I actually dropped a tear, had to come out, fall back and gather my thoughts,” he told SoulCulture in 2011. The song was Kendrick wanting to show his emotion on a song so people could feel it and he did just that.

The song kicks off with an excerpt of an interview that Dash Snow did. He was an artist from New York who died of a drug overdose in 2009, which of course fits the O.D. name of the tape. From there, over The Roots’ “A Peace Of Light,” the Compton rapper touches on a bunch of topics very close to him introspectively. It’s a true stream of consciousness and by the end, the emotion overflows for the rapper himself and he struggles to keep it in the pocket, with his vocals fading out as he coughs breathlessly.

This was early on in his career, but it’s this kind of passion and intensity that fans have loved from Kendrick on later songs like “u” and “His Pain.”

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Music

The 21 Best J. Cole Features

The J. Cole feature has been an interesting point of conversation over the years in hip-hop. Despite signing with Roc Nation in 2009, J. Cole was pretty independent with how he handled himself and that mentality seemingly shifted to how he handled appearing on other people’s songs. For years, there were just a few artists he’d collaborated with.

Now though, he’s branched out and collaborated with dozens and dozens of different artists. This change in mindset came because of an epiphany he had. He wanted to get out of his comfort zone. During his Applying Pressure documentary that came out before The Off-Season, he walked people through his process of thought. “Do you really wanna look back and be like ‘you didn’t work with nobody’? You didn’t have no songs with nobody, you just cool with that? No. Okay. So start saying yes to some features”

The result of that has been one of the better feature runs ever seen in the genre. As a result, the conversation has shifted from Cole never appearing on other people’s songs, to deciding which of his recent features are the best. We’ve decided to list out what we think the 20 best J. Cole features are, with songs with 21 Savage, Drake, Lil Wayne, Janet Jackson and more making the cut. Check it out below.

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1. “a lot”

One of the misconceptions about J. Cole for years, largely due to him not doing features and not asking for them on his own albums, was that he wasn’t a fan of some of the newer rappers who talked about more surface-level topics. He dispelled some of that myth by borrowing their flows on KOD and also hopping on their tracks. ‘a lot’ with 21 Savage was great because he brought his own flavor to 21’s record, showing support for 6ix9ine when everyone was clowning him. This song also got Cole his only Grammy to date.

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2. “American Dream”

When fans saw J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar featured on the same song on Jeezy’s Pressure album, they went berserk as expected. The result was disappointing for many, because Kendrick didn’t have a verse that many could compare to Cole’s. But when the hype died down and you got to appreciate the song for what it was, J. Cole’s verse stood out on the song. His flow changes every few bars and the multisyllabic rhyming is incredible.

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3. “Beautiful Bliss”

J. Cole had only been signed to Roc Nation for less than a year when Wale’s Attention Deficit dropped. The pair were both nowhere near the superstars they would become, but this collaboration gets credit for starting a career-long relationship. Despite a respectable effort from Wale, J. Cole takes the cake with some memorable punchlines. “Momma I ain’t done yet, kick back and watch your son rise, sit back and know your son set” he rapped. “Wale, good looking” he said at the end and he knew exactly what he’d done.

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4. “Boblo Boat”

When J. Cole had a Royce 5’9″ feature as an assignment, he knew he had to deliver. When he was young, the North Carolina rapper used to write up his favorite raps and put them up on his wall and Royce’s bars were amongst them. “Boblo Boat” sees both Royce and Cole reminiscing about their younger days and they paint pictures so well. Cole handles hook duty here too and holds some notes for it.

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5. “Green Ranger”

Interestingly, “Green Ranger” wasn’t J. Cole’s first attempt at appearing on Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 mixtape. The first was a song that we now know as “Miss America Reprise”. JAY-Z heard it and told Cole to keep it, so Cole sent his verse over G. Dep’s “Special Delivery”. He killed it with a long verse, but unfortunately, Wayne didn’t like the beat so he half-assed his verse a little. It only made Cole’s verse, where he takes it back to his younger days stand out more though.

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6. “Jodeci Freestyle”

This song mostly gets remembered for a big misstep on Cole’s part, which he has since sincerely apologized for. Those lines are muted on the version of the song on Drake’s Care Package, but once you get around that, Cole’s verse is really special here. The occasion of a Drake and Cole collab was massive even in the summer of 2013 when this dropped and both rappers hit a home run. Cole’s verse is like a time capsule of the moment, where he references doing a show in Philly for a dollar, Born Sinner sales projections and competing with Kanye’s Yeezus.

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7. “Johnny P’s Caddy”

A lot of people might not have anticipated that Cole would fit on a song with anyone from Griselda, considering their content. Not only did he show up on “Johnny P’s Caddy”, but he showed out too. In fact, he used the opportunity of standing next to Benny The Butcher to call out rappers that stretch the truth when it comes to gun and drug bars. It’s still early, but this is a verse of the year candidate. One of our favorite lines? “Einstein on the brink of the theory of relativity, really, no MC equal”.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Mzh0Z6TU5cQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed8. "Just Begun"</code>
8. “Just Begun”

This song doesn’t get talked about enough. It sees Cole trade verses with Talib Kweli, Jay Electronica and Mos Def over old school production. That’s a tough crowd to stand out amongst, but Cole does a great job of it. It doesn’t get as much love now because it’s from 2010, but it holds up 12 years later. In 2014, Jay Elect actually performed the record and brought Cole out, which is the only time he’s ever performed his verse.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Y7d42LJfkqQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed9. "Knock Tha Hustle (Remix)"</code>
9. “Knock Tha Hustle (Remix)”

One of the main criticisms of J. Cole over the years has been that he’s boring to a lot of people. But you could never accuse him of that on this song. On the official remix of Cozz’s “Knock Tha Hustle”, Cole pours his heart out about harsh upbringings, his brother heading down a bad path and people from his hometown living a hopeless life. The verse sets the scene incredibly well for 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gZFmMoeU5m0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed10. "LONDON"</code>
10. “LONDON”

When they were in the studio together, BIA played J. Cole her song “LONDON” and the one play was all it took for Cole to think about the song for the next month. When she asked if he wanted to hop on it, he was nervous because he didn’t know what to add to it. This kind of genuine care that Cole has for the music he makes is what makes these verses so incredible. As well as being a stellar verse, like BIA, he intersperses a London accent and slang, which makes for some funny moments.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5yUlxfY1yfs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed11. "Looking For Trouble"</code>
11. “Looking For Trouble”

To have the best verse on a song with Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean and CyHi The Prynce is an impressive feat. To do this in 2010 when all you have out is one mixtape is even crazier. This is considered somewhat of a breakout verse for Cole, with some killer lines like, “they say you are what you eat and I still ain’t pussy” and “ironic you been sleeping on the one that you been dreaming ‘bout”. When he toured his first album, Cole opened the show with this verse.

<code><iframe width="805" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pBTTHT459Po" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed12. "Mama Told Me"</code>
12. “Mama Told Me”

On Omen’s “Mama Told Me” from his Afraid Of Heights mixtape, J. Cole is as honest and introspective as ever. He raps about the complexity of being Black with a White mother, then taking it further and contemplating how hard it must have been for his brother, who is black, but looks white. 

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZwHc33rqAao" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed13. "My Boy"</code>
13. “My Boy”

When rappers are having fun on a record, it really comes through to the listener. That’s exactly what happened here with Wale and J. Cole’s “My Boy”. The song sounds like something that was birthed organically from a great studio session, but the bars are there too. It’s hard not to switch between a smile and a screwface while listening to the Fayetteville MC on this one.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2_t0ffY3JvE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed14. "No Sleeep"</code>
14. “No Sleeep”

The original version of Janet Jackson’s “No Sleeep” was solo, but for the version that appeared on her 2015 project, Unbreakable, she grabbed a J. Cole verse for an unexpected, but welcomed link up. The song sees J. Cole talk about the contrast between his hectic lifestyle and his girl’s regular life. In the end, they meet in the middle with love that feels like it’s always in that honeymoon phase.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZiADuDjueJc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed15. Off Deez"</code>
15. Off Deez”

Over the years, East Atlanta rapper J.I.D. has proven to be a great commodity for Dreamville and one of the brightest young hip-hip stars. A couple of years ago, he made our list of the twenty best rappers from the ATL and he’s only showed out since then. “Off Deez” was a big moment for him because Cole hopped on the record. While J.I.D. certainly made an impact on the song, Cole stepped into his lane and held his own too, speeding up his flow and complimenting J.I.D. in the process (“J.I.D. the closest thing to me… Cole and J.I.D., what a tandem”).

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7CQ1cbl5810" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed16. "Oh Wow… Swerve"</code>
16. “Oh Wow… Swerve”

Thoughtful contributions to songs have become the marker of J. Cole verses and that’s exactly what he offers here on the “Oh Wow” portion of this track. He opens his verse contemplating the idea of hell and entertaining the thought of hell on earth and after taking it a few interesting places, he rounds it up by the end talking about the end of the world and how it being good or bad depends on you and your awareness.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CYBqCx7jpz0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed17. "Pray"</code>
17. “Pray”

Since he emerged on the scene with The Warm Up, it was clear that storytelling was one of J. Cole’s biggest strengths as a rapper. That’s exactly what he displays here on The Game’s “Pray”, where he speaks of a fling he had with a woman who’s in a rough situation now, so he prays for her.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iSgUMPHQEWw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed18. "Pretty Little Fears"</code>
18. “Pretty Little Fears”

The great thing about J. Cole features is that he has great range. We hear him on something like “Stick” from D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz mixtape and he fits right in with what J.I.D., Kenny Mason and Sheck Wes are doing. Then, he’ll appear on 6LACK’s “Pretty Little Fears” and kill that too. Here, he describes a romantic partner beautifully, likening them to a flower he has to protect. It’s a verse that comes round and ends the song perfectly.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cBZMoCZRp6A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed19. "Raggamuffin (Remix)"</code>
19. “Raggamuffin (Remix)”

From the late 2000s when he first started to make a name for himself, J. Cole was all about making the struggle seem beautiful and giving a voice to the voiceless. With his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, he continued to do that, but it was mixed with brags about Rolexes and having 150 women staring at him in the club, skewing the perception for a few somewhat. That’s what his pair of verses on Selah Sue’s “Raggamuffin” are about. He’s open about noticing a change in himself and is poetic in describing it.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ANzgMYgoJsA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed20. "Sacrifices"</code>
20. “Sacrifices”

During the sessions for Dreamville’s Revenge Of The Dreamers III, J. Cole sent out a rare tweet, where he revealed a verse of his had gotten him emotional. “Shed tears tonight writin a verse shit was beautiful.” Of course, over 100 songs got recorded in the sessions, so who knows if we’d ever hear it? Thankfully, “Sacrifices” did make an appearance and it saw Cole pen a tribute to his wife, in turn revealing that they had a child on the way. Cole’s mellow and melodic flow over the acoustic instrumental match up beautifully.

<code><iframe width="950" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MFN-iKwMrIQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed21. "TKO (Remix)"</code>
21. “TKO (Remix)”

Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse still gets talked about today, nine years after it dropped. That type of impact doesn’t come often and naturally, it had ripple effects amongst rappers. The first rapper that Kendrick mentioned was Cole and he did so with his full name, which many perceived as more disrespectful. Cole and Kendrick were friendly, but that didn’t stop a fiery response from the North Carolina rapper on Justin Timberlake’s “TKO” remix. “In case this is war then I load up on all ammunition” he threatened, with emotion we hadn’t heard from him before.

Categories
Sports Strength

Ranking The Ten Best NBA-Inspired Lyrics In Hip-Hop

If you’ve been around sports and hip-hop long enough, then you’ve come across this quote– “Rappers want to be like athletes, and the athletes want to be like rappers.” The two very influential entities, specifically basketball and hip hop, have a special chemistry. It has become familiar as the sunlight to find our favorite rappers sitting courtside at games or our favorite players quoting their lyrics. But their relationship is sustained by tributes (or plain disrespect); rappers pay homage to ballplayers in their songs, which sparks another round of conversations.

Down below are the ten best NBA-inspired lyrics from hip-hop.

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1. Ice Cube, “Today Was A Good Day,” 1992 –

“Get me on the court and I’m trouble.

Last week f—– around and got a triple-double.

Freaking n—– every way like MJ.

I can’t believe today was a good day.”

2. Jay-Z, “Encore,” 2003 –

“As fate would have it, Jay’s status appears.

To be at an all-time high, perfect time to say goodbye.

When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5.

It ain’t to play games with you, it’s to aim at you, probably maim you.”

3. Drake, “Thank Me Now,” 2010 –

“I can relate to kids going straight to the league.

When they recognize that you got what it takes to succeed.

And that’s around the time that your idols become your rivals.

You make friends with Mike but got to ‘A.I.’ him for your survival.”

4. Lil Wayne, “Kobe Bryant,” 2009 –

“Kobe doin’ work, 2–4 on my shirt.

He the greatest on the court and I’m the greatest on the verse.

Going for the fourth ring like it was his first.

Gotta get the bling, do it for Kareem.”

5. Jay-Z, “Pump It Up (Remix),” 2003 –

“Go ahead, bug out, I’ll Raid, n—-, scurry.

Worry, I’m, not, the Mike Jordan of the mic recording.

It’s Hovi, baby, you Kobe, maybe; Tracy McGrady.

Matter-fact, you a Harold Miner.

J.R. Rider, washed up on marijuana.

Even worse, you a Pervis Ellis.

You worthless, fella; you ain’t no athlete, you Shawn Bradley.”

Getty Images

6. Kendrick Lamar, “The Heart Part IV,” 2017 –

“Tables turned, lesson learned, my best look.

You jumped sides on me, now you ‘bout to meet Westbrook.

Go celebrate with your team and let victory vouch you.

Just know the next game played I might slap the s— out you.”

7. J. Cole, “Return of Simba,” 2011 –

Ced said, ‘Look, my n—–, we got a foot in’.

Being good is good, that’ll get you Drew Gooden.

But me, I want Jordan numbers, LeBron footin’.

Can’t guard me, Vince Lombardi, John Wooden.”

8. Jadakiss, “Put Your Hands Up,” 2001 –

“And y’all scared I can tell.

That I’ma get Bucks like Milwaukee, cause like Sam, I ca’ sell.”

9. Kanye West, “New God Flow,” 2012 –

“Went from most hated to the champion god flow.

I guess that’s a feeling only me and LeBron know.”

10. Drake, “0 to 100 / The Catch Up,” 2014 –

“I’ve been Steph Curry with the shot.

Been cooking with the sauce.

Chef Curry with the pot, boy… 360 with the wrist, boy!”




Categories
Culture Music

Everything We Know About Kendrick Lamar’s New Album

Since he first put his stamp on Hip-Hop in a big way with his 2011 independent album Section.80, you could make the argument that Kendrick has never dropped anything less than a classic album. To add to his status as an icon, between albums, he often disappears for years at a time, not even seen occasionally courtside at a basketball game or driving down the street.

If you thought the two and a half year wait for To Pimp A Butterfly after good kid, m.A.A.d city was something, Kendrick has really been testing your patience, because since DAMN. dropped, it’s been four and a half years. In the time since we got the Black Panther soundtrack and a handful of features. But as of late, there’s reason to believe that Kendrick Lamar’s new album could be out very, very soon.

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His Final Album With TDE

On a Friday afternoon in August, Kendrick took to Twitter for the first time since around the time that the pandemic started to tweet out a link to a site called oklama.com and a picture of a folder titled “nu thoughts”.

When fans clicked, they found a short letter that Kendrick had penned to them, updating them on the way his life was going. He talked about writing and listening a lot, going months without a phone and reflecting on what matters the most. While that could point to some potential themes on the album, the main piece of news that fans took away was that he announced that his next album will be his final one with Top Dawg Entertainment.

The news was a big surprise because as he noted in the letter, he has been part of TDE for 17 years and as long as any of his fan base has known of him. As far as we know, the split between him and the label is amicable, but that doesn’t take away from some of the mystery of it. Although, we do know what a part of the reason could be.

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pgLang

In March of 2020, Kendrick Lamar made the announcement that something called pgLang was here. Back then, fans thought it was the name of his new album or a label he would sign artists to. It turns out it’s somewhat close to the latter, but it’s also far more than that. It’s a multi-media company that serves not just as a music label, but a production house and publishing company.

The only artist who’s come out with a musical release since then is Baby Keem, who released the melodic blueunder pgLang, but multiple artists like Jorja Smith and Brent Faiyaz have been associated with it in one form or another.

Whenever Kendrick’s album does drop, perhaps it’ll drop not just on TDE, but pgLang too. If not, it’s a safe bet that any of his subsequent releases could come as pgLang releases.

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What will Kendrick’s new album sound like?

Nearly two years ago now in January of 2020, former Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde tweeted that he was hearing from friends that recording on the album may be done and that Kendrick was “pulling in more Rock sounds this time”. When it comes to Kendrick, that could mean anything from a little more percussion or guitar to all out Rock moments, but either way it was intriguing. He also made a point of saying that albums are assumed to be finished a lot despite getting worked on further and of course, it seems that that was the case.

Another way that the sound of the album could be going is something similar to what Baby Keem has been doing, in terms of production and/or delivery. The cousins have definitely been spending a lot of time together in the studio, to the point where fans believed a joint album was coming from a while, so it will be interesting to see how Keem has influenced Kendrick.

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Who is rumored to appear on Kendrick’s next album?

Earlier this week, 6 new Kendrick Lamar snippets surfaced and while 3 of them were solo, the other 3 had other people credited on them. One of them, to nobody’s surprise, was Baby Keem. Kendrick appeared on the melodic blue not once, not twice, but three times in total, so seeing the new snippet leak didn’t come as a shock to anyone.

The other two people on a couple of the other snippets were Taylor Paige and Eckhart Tolle, a actress and author, respectively.

In an interview that he did last year, Thundercat revealed that he worked on Kendrick’s new album, although “not as much” as he did on To Pimp A Butterfly.

With the news of Kendrick performing at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show with Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige, it’s not unlikely that at least one or two of them will appear on the new LP. The same goes for Kendrick’s current labelmates like ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and SZA.

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When will Kendrick’s new album drop?

Shortly after he put out his “nu thoughts”, Kendrick appeared on Baby Keem’s ‘family ties’, with a verse that shook up the game and had everybody paying attention all at once. On it, he raps “2021 I ain’t taking no prisoner”. To some, that confirmed that he was looking to release his new album before the year’s end. That would give him somewhat of a small window, considering he’d likely not want to release anywhere near Adele or Ed Sheeran, that gives him an even smaller window.

Interestingly, at the same time that the aforementioned 6 snippets surfaced online, people were murmuring that he could be coming out with the album as soon as this Friday. That’s because some trusted sources have said that it could be in the plans and this week’s New Music Friday falls on October 22nd, which Kendrick fans know as the day that good kid, m.A.A.d city dropped in 2012. He could be plotting on dropping it on the anniversary.

To make things even more suspicious, in the midst of all of this chaos, Kendrick’s profile picture on Spotify changed to a never-before-seen picture of him. It marked the first time that it changed since 2017.

Even if the album doesn’t drop on Friday, Kendrick is set to headline at Day N Vegas in just three weeks’ time and although the flyer specified that he would perform music released from Section. 80 to DAMN., plans always change. As we mentioned earlier, it might also be a good idea for Kendrick to put out something new before he performs at the Super Bowl halftime show in February of 2022.

Categories
Culture Music

The 30 Best Kendrick Lamar Lyrics, Ranked

Very few artists can disappear for years between album releases and still have fans impatiently awaiting their next move, but that’s the spot that Kendrick Lamar has been in for a decade now. He’ll inevitably go down as one of the greatest rappers of all time and to do that requires not only classic albums and commercial success but of course, incredible lyrics.

As we wait for the Compton rapper’s next album, we’ve ranked his best lyrics. Let us know what your thoughts on the list are and if you think we left anything out.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fy54h5D0CbM?start=89" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed30. “I move the crowd like Artest and them”","subhedCosmic Kev Show Freestyle</code>
30. “I move the crowd like Artest and them”
Cosmic Kev Show Freestyle

Kendrick has also rapped this one on a couple of different radio stations, but most notably on the Cosmic Kev Show back in the summer of 2012, just a few months away from his debut album. It’s the wit of this line, referring to The Malice at the Palace and comparing it to how he moves crowds with his words.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QedYOu1hmwQ?start=125" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed29. “I’m the best rapper alive, Jiggaman should have retired, I’m going after Kanye, Lupe Fiasco and Nas, Snoop Dogg and Mr. André, Eminem, Bussa Buss Rhymes”","subhed‘Monster Freestyle’</code>
29. “I’m the best rapper alive, Jiggaman should have retired, I’m going after Kanye, Lupe Fiasco and Nas, Snoop Dogg and Mr. André, Eminem, Bussa Buss Rhymes”
‘Monster Freestyle’

This was ‘Control’ before ‘Control’. These words came back in 2010 in a freestyle that Kendrick recorded the night that Kanye West released ‘Monster’ as part of the G.O.O.D. Music Fridays weekly releases.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-PXIbVNfj3s?start=37" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed28. “Visions of Martin Luther staring at me, Malcolm X put a hex on my future, someone catch me”","subhed‘HiiiPoWeR’</code>
28. “Visions of Martin Luther staring at me, Malcolm X put a hex on my future, someone catch me”
‘HiiiPoWeR’

‘HiiiPoWeR’, produced by J. Cole, was the first time that many had ever heard of Kendrick and he came out with a bang, perfectly describing his state of mind at the time.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hwR_1EP18eo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed27. “Dreams of living like like rappers do”","subhed‘Money Trees’</code>
27. “Dreams of living like like rappers do”
‘Money Trees’

‘Money Trees’ is so great that it has more than one place on this list. Of course, this line comes from Kendrick reminiscing on how he used to feel back in the day, but due to its nature, it only gets better with time, especially as Kendrick does things exactly no other rapper does. So many of us in the Hip-Hop space that aren’t rappers can relate.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1JrCdJ47TjI?start=135" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed26. “I know some rappers using big words to make they similes curve, my simplest shit be more pivotal”","subhed‘Poe Mans Dream (His Vice)’</code>
26. “I know some rappers using big words to make they similes curve, my simplest shit be more pivotal”
‘Poe Mans Dream (His Vice)’

Another brag about how effortless Kendrick’s ability is. He doesn’t even have to try hard to be ahead of the competition. Even better, he said this more than ten years ago now.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/axwpgn3GRMs?start=43" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed25. “When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?”","subhed‘Mortal Man’</code>
25. “When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?”
‘Mortal Man’

‘Mortal Man’ ends To Pimp A Butterfly, a masterpiece, no matter how you or I feel about it. This line is a question of loyalty and acts as the refrain on the song, with the last lines of ever verse leading into it differently. Not to mention the use of “fan” in two different ways.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iIsHg3BHpB0?start=149" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed24. “From Compton to congress, set tripping all around, ain’t nothing new but a flu of new demo-crips and re-blood-icans, red state versus a blue state”","subhed‘Hood Politics’</code>
24. “From Compton to congress, set tripping all around, ain’t nothing new but a flu of new demo-crips and re-blood-icans, red state versus a blue state”
‘Hood Politics’

The idea of the biggest gangs in the world being our police forces and political parties isn’t a new one, but Kendrick gives a great spin on it here, by drawing parallels between the colours of parties and gangs, while also working in wordplay for “demo-crips” and “re-blood-icans”.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jHn9yeWdZDA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed23. “I don’t wear crosses no more, Yeshua’s coming back, I ain’t scared of losses no more, I see life in that”","subhed‘Holy Key’</code>
23. “I don’t wear crosses no more, Yeshua’s coming back, I ain’t scared of losses no more, I see life in that”
‘Holy Key’

‘Holy Key’ is a DJ Khaled song that features Kendrick and Big Sean, a pair of rappers who sparred with each other on record but are cool now. This pair of bars from Kendrick is great but truthfully, the entire verse is mind-blowing.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/q1AOP6NtGuc?start=139" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed22. “I know what I know and I know it well not to ever forget, until I realised I didn’t know shit, the day I came home”","subhed‘Momma’</code>
22. “I know what I know and I know it well not to ever forget, until I realised I didn’t know shit, the day I came home”
‘Momma’

‘Momma’ is one of the less-mentioned songs from To Pimp A Butterfly, but with so many great songs on that project, that’s not really an indictment on it. They say that “wise is the man that knows he’s a fool” and that’s the epiphany that Kendrick has here.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vJgwn7b5Iug?start=183" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed21. “Everybody a Crip ‘til they black and blue, everybody a Blood ‘til they haemorrhaging”","subhed‘Perfect Pint’</code>
21. “Everybody a Crip ‘til they black and blue, everybody a Blood ‘til they haemorrhaging”
‘Perfect Pint’

Some more gang-related wordplay here, this time courtesy of Kendrick’s verse on Mike WiLL Made-It’s ‘Perfect Pint’ which also features Gucci Mane and Rae Sremmurd. This is commentary on how willing people are to join gangs until things get crazy. 

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hwR_1EP18eo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed20. “Halle Berry or hallelujah”","subhed‘Money Trees’</code>
20. “Halle Berry or hallelujah”
‘Money Trees’

A great spin on the duality of good vs. bad, which was of course a big theme on good kid, m.A.A.d city. Kendrick himself has described this line as “hallelujah being the more good in me and Halle Berry being the actual vice of what’s going down”.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gNaZ-uFHjRk?start=146" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed19. “Restraining from the doja, imagine if I smoked, I’d probably come up with a quote so heavy you’ll forget every album you heard from Hova”","subhed‘Turn Me Up’</code>
19. “Restraining from the doja, imagine if I smoked, I’d probably come up with a quote so heavy you’ll forget every album you heard from Hova”
‘Turn Me Up’

To get the full hit of this bar (no pun intended), you have to understand that it came on Ab-Soul’s ‘Turn Me Up’ which came out in 2010, before Kendrick had even dropped Section. 80. His confidence was already off the charts and of course, his idols have now become his rivals.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lbYIUnV8u7E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed18. “Me and Top Dawg playing rock, paper, scissors in court, a real hustler lose money just to go get some more”","subhed‘The Heart Part 4’</code>
18. “Me and Top Dawg playing rock, paper, scissors in court, a real hustler lose money just to go get some more”
‘The Heart Part 4’

This might sound like a throwaway line until you realise that him and Top Dawg actually did play rock, paper, scissors in court one time and it was caught on camera. The carelessness to do this in court for presumably a lawsuit and then rap about it is the kind of attitude fans love in their rappers.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-6jhuhsG-7w?start=93" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed17. “Made my first million fucking dollars, bought a Bible, oh yeah, God got me, made my second million dollars, bought a chopper and binocular, I’m scared, this shit don’t happen to everybody”","subhed‘We Up’</code>
17. “Made my first million fucking dollars, bought a Bible, oh yeah, God got me, made my second million dollars, bought a chopper and binocular, I’m scared, this shit don’t happen to everybody”
‘We Up’

50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘We Up’ is an underrated collaboration from 2013. 50’s hook on the song is just as infectious as any of his choruses over the years and Kendrick’s verse is a standout, where he talks about transitioning into fame and success.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kSWZJDBkN98?start=210" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed16. “I could never end a career if it never start”","subhed‘untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016’</code>
16. “I could never end a career if it never start”
‘untitled 07 | 2014 – 2016’

‘untitled 07’, better known to fans as ‘Levitate’, is a song that takes place in three parts and this is from the middle. The beat switches up and Kendrick raps what might be one of the better verses of his career. This line in particular is scathing and is likely aimed at Jay Electronica, who was sending shots at Kendrick’s career around this time before he had even come out with his debut album.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/glaG64Ao7sM?start=169" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed15. “Most of y’all throw rocks and try to hide your hand, just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman”","subhed‘ELEMENT.’</code>
15. “Most of y’all throw rocks and try to hide your hand, just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman”
‘ELEMENT.’

This is another line that could be aimed at Jay Electronica, but also Big Sean, who took shots at Kendrick on ‘No More Interviews’. Either way, it’s a statement to everyone in Hip-Hop about what can happen if you’re direct. Unfortunately, we’re yet to see Kendrick in a battle.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_GxIm8PdKhg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed14. “I put my life in these sentences, fucking right, it’s either that or life sentences”","subhed‘Westside, Right On Time’</code>
14. “I put my life in these sentences, fucking right, it’s either that or life sentences”
‘Westside, Right On Time’

‘Westside, Right On Time’ is a lesser known Kendrick Song that came out a short while after his major label debut, features Jeezy and is produced by Canei Finch. This line from it sums up the situation for many that many rappers have addressed over the decades – that if you’re from the hood and not rapping or playing basketball, you might end up dead or in jail.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Hu2Jobd2D18?start=72" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed13. “Wicked as 80 reverends in a pool of fire with devils, holding hands, from a distance don’t know which one is a Christian, damn”","subhed‘Hol’ Up’</code>
13. “Wicked as 80 reverends in a pool of fire with devils, holding hands, from a distance don’t know which one is a Christian, damn”
‘Hol’ Up’

‘Hol’ Up’ is a little bit of a deep cut from 2011’s Section. 80, but this line alone means it should get more props than it does. Kendrick describes the paradox of reverends holding hands with devils and uses it to talk about not only his own mistrust, but the hypocrisy of many reverends and the duality of good and evil.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/dzFEPJK45iQ?start=142" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed12. “Everybody heard that I fuck with Dre and they wanna tell me I made it, n*gga I ain’t made shit, if he gave me a handout I’ma take his wrist and break it”","subhed‘The Spiteful Chant’</code>
12. “Everybody heard that I fuck with Dre and they wanna tell me I made it, n*gga I ain’t made shit, if he gave me a handout I’ma take his wrist and break it”
‘The Spiteful Chant’

For some reason, ‘The Spiteful Chant’ with ScHoolboy Q doesn’t appear on the version of Section. 80 that appears on streaming services, which means it doesn’t get its due. Around the time of this album dropping, there were a lot of rumours about Dre being Kendrick’s mentor and the way K. Dot addresses it here is great, ruthless in his tone and pointing out that he has to do the work himself.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2n5r6N7grNA?start=92" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed11. “Let bygones be bygones, but where I’m from, we buy guns and more guns to give to the young”","subhed‘The Heart Pt. 2’</code>
11. “Let bygones be bygones, but where I’m from, we buy guns and more guns to give to the young”
‘The Heart Pt. 2’

‘The Heart Pt. 2’ from Kendrick’s 2010 mixtape (O)verly (D)edicated is arguably the best entry in the series and has a bunch of quotables, two of which make this list. This is the first, which features a great contrast from the “let bygones be bygones” cliché to the harsh realities of Compton.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2n5r6N7grNA?start=118" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed10. “We used to beefing over turf, fuck beefing over a verse, n*ggas dying, motherfuck a double entendre”","subhed‘The Heart Pt. 2’</code>
10. “We used to beefing over turf, fuck beefing over a verse, n*ggas dying, motherfuck a double entendre”
‘The Heart Pt. 2’

The second quotable from the second entry in ‘The Heart’ series is also one where Kendrick makes a sobering distinction between perception and his reality. He talks about people being so infatuated with Rap beef and wordplay while people around him are actually dying. It’s a similar sentiment to the one he expressed in ‘Hood Politics’ when he rapped “I don’t give a fuck about no politics in Rap… my little homie Stunna Deuce ain’t never coming back”.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kGO6a0T7f8w?start=42" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed9. “Looking in the mirror, I’m embarrassed, I’m feeling like a suicidal terrorist”","subhed‘Buried Alive (Interlude)’</code>
9. “Looking in the mirror, I’m embarrassed, I’m feeling like a suicidal terrorist”
‘Buried Alive (Interlude)’

With the way their careers went from this point on, including multiple shots at each other, it’s pretty insane to think that Kendrick Lamar had his own song on Take Care. Many argue that he has the best verse on there too, which is tough to argue with. He kicks it off in a strong way, talking about himself blowing up as an artist and his conflict about it.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jdbQYDkNjfk?start=268" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed8. “At 27 my biggest fear was losing it all, scared to spend money, had me sleeping from hall to hall, scared to back to section 8 with my mama stressing, 30 shows a month and I still won’t buy me no Lexus”","subhed‘FEAR.’</code>
8. “At 27 my biggest fear was losing it all, scared to spend money, had me sleeping from hall to hall, scared to back to section 8 with my mama stressing, 30 shows a month and I still won’t buy me no Lexus”
‘FEAR.’

Kendrick called the three verses on ‘FEAR.’ the best of his career, so you know we had to include at least one lyric from here on it. We chose this one because of how Kendrick explains the trauma from not having money back in the day still affecting him now, when he makes millions in a month.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xufJHc2EdBA?start=217" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed7. “I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the king of New York, king of the coast, one hand, I juggle them both”","subhed‘Control’</code>
7. “I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the king of New York, king of the coast, one hand, I juggle them both”
‘Control’

We could have chosen the obvious lines from ‘Control’, but we think these are the lyrics that hold the most weight and are the brashest. To reference 2Pac beforehand, who was of course born in Harlem but repped the West Coast, is perfect.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/10yrPDf92hY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed6. “Bodies on top of bodies, IVs on top of IVs”","subhed‘m.A.A.d City’</code>
6. “Bodies on top of bodies, IVs on top of IVs”
‘m.A.A.d City’

‘m.A.A.d city’ is one of the two title tracks from Kendrick’s 2012 album and on it, Kendrick raps “IVs on top of IVs”. A simple line… or is it? IVs here refers to an IV drip, a .44, and an Imperial Village Crip. An incredible triple entendre.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TFr4br_GrSc?start=124" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed5. “Ain’t no black power when your baby killed by a coward”","subhed‘XXX.’</code>
5. “Ain’t no black power when your baby killed by a coward”
‘XXX.’

In one of the most powerful lines from DAMN. and his entire career, Kendrick addresses the hypocrisy of human nature in this very specific context which only holds its weight as the years pass by.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/27HVvRUMy7E?start=270" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed4. “The next time you feel like your world’s about to end, I hope you studied because He’s testing your faith again”","subhed‘Faith’</code>
4. “The next time you feel like your world’s about to end, I hope you studied because He’s testing your faith again”
‘Faith’

‘Faith’ is a standout from Kendrick Lamar EP, Kendrick’s 2009 mixtape. On it, Lamar raps about the difficulty of keeping your faith in God while bad things happen to you. He ends the final verse with this line, one that can resonate with anyone of any faith.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hRK7PVJFbS8?start=48" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed3. “I can dig rapping but a rapper with a ghost-writer? What the fuck happened? I swore I wouldn’t tell but most of y’all sharing bars like you got the bottom bunk in a two-man cell”","subhed‘King Kunta’</code>
3. “I can dig rapping but a rapper with a ghost-writer? What the fuck happened? I swore I wouldn’t tell but most of y’all sharing bars like you got the bottom bunk in a two-man cell”
‘King Kunta’

This was a great line even before the ghost-writing allegations about Drake came out just a few months after Kendrick rapped it. He conveys disgust at those lying about their pen and ends the thought with a funny analogy.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4wZytWFm7x0?start=201" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed2. “Third surgery, they couldn’t stop the bleeding for real, then he died, God himself will say ‘you fucking failed’, you ain’t try”","subhed‘u’</code>
2. “Third surgery, they couldn’t stop the bleeding for real, then he died, God himself will say ‘you fucking failed’, you ain’t try”
‘u’

‘u’ is one of the more emotional songs in Hip-Hop. On it, Kendrick acknowledges how hard it is to love yourself sometimes, addresses his guilt about leaving people behind in Compton only for them to die and admits suicidal thoughts. This line about even God telling him he failed is cold.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hwR_1EP18eo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>","hed1. “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter but the one in front of the gun lives forever”","subhed‘Money Trees’</code>
1. “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter but the one in front of the gun lives forever”
‘Money Trees’

On the chorus of ‘Money Trees’ with Jay Rock, one of the best songs of his career, K. Dot points out how while someone who commits a murder gets some respect in the form of fear, the person that dies is the one that’s truly honored and ironically, lives forever in the heart of others.

Categories
Culture Music

The 50 Best Kendrick Lamar Songs

K. Dot. King Kendrick. Cornrow Kenny. King Kunta. Kung Fu Kenny. Top Dawg Entertainment’s shining beacon of hip-hop greatness has many monikers, but his born name precedes them all – Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick’s a definite fave of ours and a multitude of hip-hop diehards thanks to his masterful wordplay, strong discography, and dedication to reflecting on the social ills of the modern world. When he hops on a track, you can bet that he’ll deliver a bevy of quotables and make you reflect on the serious topics he touches on. His delivery of quality mixtapes, EP’s, and LP’s have made it so hard to hit the skip button – why would you when K. Dot regularly provides incredible bars backed by wonderfully crafted beats? We made sure to revisit all of Kendrick’s projects so we could reflect on the best songs he’s put on each one.

Prepare to build yourself an all-new daily commute playlist as we list the 50 greatest Kendrick Lamar songs of all time.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/1VqTaV3hbvY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed1. \u2018Wanna Be Heard\u2019</code>
1. ‘Wanna Be Heard’

A young K. Dot popped up on this joint to deliver some bars about his desire to be placed among the greatest. And he made it clear that he wanted to do that by properly representing the hood he knows so well. “Wanna Be Heard” acts as a brief history lesson that covers Kendrick’s upbringing and his grand ambition as a world-renowned MC. 

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/TryLhNmMRUE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed2. \u2018Far From Here\u2019 (feat. ScHoolboy Q)</code>
2. ‘Far From Here’ (feat. ScHoolboy Q)

Anytime a member of TDE’s Black Hippy crew gets together on a song, magic ensues. And that’s definitely the case here as Kendrick and ScHoolboy Q join forces to lament their many struggles. Times are definitely hard no matter the time or place. Both rappers make those hard times sound so soulful and make it easy to relate as you bump your head extra hard to their heartfelt delivery.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/7ojFn9j_4BQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed3. \u2018Thanksgiving\u2019 (feat. Big Pooh)</code>
3. ‘Thanksgiving’ (feat. Big Pooh)

This is one of those celebratory records that sounds like Kendrick is in the middle of the Super Bowl celebrating a championship win. The added element of a triumphant Big Pooh verse makes this stadium status banger even better. “Thanksgiving” is quite the bold statement in hip-hop form and we’re glad Kendrick got to be the one to deliver it.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/OKxcybGRbkQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed4. \u2018P\u0026amp;P 1.5\u2019 (feat. Ab-Soul)</code>
4. ‘P&P 1.5’ (feat. Ab-Soul)

Do you know what will definitely make you feel alright? The two main elements that K. Dot and Ab-Soul rap about on this super chill tune. This is another one of those joints that speak on the ills that constantly trip up both rappers’ lives. By the end of each verse, both MCs make it clear that the only thing that can lift their spirits is the company of a beautiful woman and some good liquor.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/_oAJJHQVDmg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed5. \u2018Barbed Wire\u2019 (feat. Ash Riser)</code>
5. ‘Barbed Wire’ (feat. Ash Riser)

The instrumental for this one goes extremely hard, which is part of the reason why it’s such a gem. “Barbed Wire” features a K. Dot that stays right in the pocket in the finest way possible. By kicking off every verse with “Have you ever felt like…,” Kendrick delves into a series of questions and events that makes you reflect on everything he’s spitting about on this track in comparison to your life.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/JdbBN9dlKOQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed6. \u2018F**k Your Ethnicity\u2019</code>
6. ‘F**k Your Ethnicity’

This booming introduction to Section.80 makes quite the bold statement with its title. But after it comes to a close, you leave it with a clearer idea of what K. Dot was going for and end up appreciating it even more. It doesn’t matter what you represent because Kendrick rocks with you all the same. This tune hits hard and stands out as one of the best hip-hop album starters the genre has ever been treated to.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/Hu2Jobd2D18" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed7. \u2018Hol\u2019 Up\u2019</code>
7. ‘Hol’ Up’

As far as feel-good Kendrick songs go, this one is certainly among the best. What we get here is a braggadocious track that speaks on Kendrick’s many highs and how quickly he’s managed to bypass most of his peers. Listening to him go on about being wise for his young age is also another crucial element of this song’s overall message.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/QjlFqgRbICY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed8. \u2018A.D.H.D.\u2019</code>
8. ‘A.D.H.D.’

“A.D.H.D.” is a super spacey tune that places your mind, body, and soul onto another plane of existence. Its production makes you feel as if you’re floating through space, while Kendrick’s wonderful wordplay puts you on a natural high. You can’t help but see everything move in slow motion as this chill-inducing tune comes through your loudspeakers.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/RfNUQM9vx_g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed9. \u2018Chapter Six\u2019</code>
9. ‘Chapter Six’

The jazzy overtones tied to this one also exude those relaxed vibes a lot of early Kendrick songs live by. While it may not offer a bunch of mind-blowing quotables, “Chapter 6” still puts forth an easy-to-comprehend message that quickly gets stuck in your head. We also hope and pray that a lot of you young heads reading this also make it to 21.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/YARwQQntqp8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed10. \u2018Ronald Reagan Era (His Evils)\u2019 (feat. Ash Riser, Ab-Soul, and RZA)</code>
10. ‘Ronald Reagan Era (His Evils)’ (feat. Ash Riser, Ab-Soul, and RZA)

Kendrick goes all out here to make it clear that the individuals that came up in his city had quite a tough upbringing during a tumultuous time in American history. Thanks to the added presence of Ash Rizer’s soulful intro, Ab-Soul’s hilarious callout, and RZA’s unexpected assistance on the chorus, “Ronald Reagen Era (His Evils)” reaches the top of the list for K. Dot’s best songs. You can’t help but feel like you’re riding through Compton looking for trouble when this one comes on.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/1JrCdJ47TjI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed11. \u2018Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice)\u2019 (feat. GLC)</code>
11. ‘Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice)’ (feat. GLC)

The trials and tribulations of a young street prodigy come into full view here. Kendrick details all the inner thoughts that go through one’s head as one witnesses the ills that come with being raised in a tumultuous environment. But by the time this track wraps up, Kendrick drops a bunch of life lessons for those that went through what he went through and are looking to become a better person.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/yh6QxtRpSH8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed12. \u2018Rigamortis\u2019</code>
12. ‘Rigamortis’

The flow that your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper adores is all over this impressive display of fast and furious wordplay. “Rigamortis” is one of those Kendrick tracks that instantly makes it clear just how much of a lyrical threat he is. First-time listeners are usually left in awe once this one wraps up and longtime K.Dot Stans go back to it on the regular. Kendrick leaves several bodies in his wake by the time he brings his super-fast flow to an end.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/n4bm7hqu_GE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed13. \u2018Blow My High (Members Only)\u2019</code>
13. ‘Blow My High (Members Only)’

As soon as this track kicks in, Kendrick blesses us with a few bars from the late great Pimp C. That rousing dedication sets the tone perfectly for “Blow My High (Members Only),” which is a song that sends all the love in the world to Pimp C, Aaliyah, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. The production tied to this track is certainly bop-worthy, while K. Dot’s bars provide a noteworthy dedication to three musical legends.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/-PXIbVNfj3s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed14. \u2018HiiiPower\u2019</code>
14. ‘HiiiPower’

Kendrick gets real reflective and provides a whole lot of food for thought on this one. This Section.80 cut is most definitely one of his most powerful contributions to the hip-hop medium – it examines the everyday ills of being a black person trying to thrive in America and mentions the many leaders that fought to help them fight for prosperity. Fighting the system with the words spoken on “HiiiPower” will certainly get anyone amped up in the fight for equality.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/MLtI-cMzjtA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed15. \u2018Sherane aka Master Splinter's Daughter\u2019</code>
15. ‘Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter’

The prayer placed at the beginning of this album intro exudes images of a group of young brothers seeking holy refuge from their everyday struggles. And once the beat kicks in, K. Dot tells the story of a young woman that takes him on a wild ride through feelings of puppy love. This song’s breakdown of a young Kendrick pursuing the girl of his dreams is quite an engrossing tale. Shout out to Kendrick for tagging the name of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ master on this song’s clever title.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/GF8aaTu2kg0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed16. \u2018B***h, Don\u2019t Kill My Vibe\u2019</code>
16. ‘B***h, Don’t Kill My Vibe’

Kendrick isn’t really asking for much here – he simply wants to vibe out without any negative elements disturbing his peace. Getting into an uplifting mood and feeling out everything around you are the sort of themes that come through front and center on this track. K. Dot floats so wonderfully over the soothing soundscape for this track and turns it into a complete vibe setting experience.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/EZW7et3tPuQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed17. \u2018Backseat Freestyle\u2019</code>
17. ‘Backseat Freestyle’

This head banger sounds like Kenny’s pulled up to a cipher to body anyone and everyone in his vicinity. “Backseat Freestyle” is supremely braggadocious and showcases a rare moment of Kendrick talking that fly ish. We’re glad he decided to stop being humble for a moment – this song thrives because of it. We’re betting that a lot of you reading this rapped a few bars to this song’s instrumental in your homie’s ride.  

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/-12K2KDzHlw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed18. \u2018The Art of Peer Pressure\u2019</code>
18. ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’

We’ve all been there before – the homies say anything and everything to make you engage in some illegal activities. And once you’ve decided to heed their advice, you end up on the bad end of your horrible decisions. “The Art of Peer Pressure” provides one of those well-crafted storytelling tunes that Kendrick is most known for. A whole lot of lessons are learned here as K. Dot retells the sort of stories that have become tied to the young, wild, and reckless.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/0nF69UTw99E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed19. \u2018Money Trees\u2019 (feat. Jay Rock)</code>
19. ‘Money Trees’ (feat. Jay Rock)

“Money Trees” has so many moments where a concert audience can join in and belt out its lyrics. As soon as the first few notes of this track come on, you and everyone around you will instantly get excited. K. Dot and Jay Rock show off their Black Hippy chemistry with their super chill flow on this one – you can’t help but rap along to this tune as both MCs wax poetics about getting’ to that paper.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/yyr2gEouEMM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed20. \u2018Poetic Justice\u2019 (feat. Drake)</code>
20. ‘Poetic Justice’ (feat. Drake)

A Janet Jackson sample. A Kendrick verse that’s dedicated to the ladies. And a quality Drake feature. Those three elements ended up concocting one of the smoothest odes to women K. Dot has ever recorded. Kenny shows off the casanova side of himself here while Drake offers his usual delivery of lyrics that keeps his heartthrob status intact. “Poetic Justice” works so well when the lights are low and the mood is set (if you know what we mean).

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/ABdJX_LxWvQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed21. \u2018Good Kid\u2019 (feat. Pharrell)</code>
21. ‘Good Kid’ (feat. Pharrell)

Coming up in Compton provided a pretty tough upbringing for Kendrick. With the assistance of Pharrell, TDE’s top dog gives listeners a detailed account of the thoughts that run through his head regarding that arduous lifestyle. K. Dot speaks on unfriendly encounters, drug addiction, gang affiliations, and everything in between on this one.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/AuikIJZpt_8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed22. \u2018m.A.A.d city\u2019 (feat. MC Eiht)</code>
22. ‘m.A.A.d city’ (feat. MC Eiht)

We go from a mellow reflection on Kenny’s life on “Good Kid” to a banger that changes the mood to a chaotic one with “m.A.A.d city.” This song places you smack dab in the middle of some intense gang warfare – Kendrick’s vivid descriptions and ScHoolboy Q’s signature callouts bring you into their tumultuous hometown. The switch-up in the middle of this track makes it even better thanks to a booming 90s Dr. Dre-esque beat and a hard verse from West Coast veteran MC Eiht.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/B5YNiCfWC3A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed23. \u2018Swimming Pools\u2019</code>
23. ‘Swimming Pools’

The many ills that plague folks that deal with alcoholism can be detrimental to one’s physical and mental attributes. Kendrick touches on that rarely rapped-about topic and delves into the inner monologue that goes through his head when liquor is a part of the equation. As far as hit singles go, this is one of Kendrick’s best since it covers a very serious topic and still manages to be a total club/radio banger.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/9-XbXBq8cl8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed24. \u2018Sing About Me, I\u2019m Dying of Thirst\u2019</code>
24. ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst’

Three individuals come into the picture on one of Kendrick’s finest examples of past reflections. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” transports listeners into the life of a troubled youngster, a pissed-off brother of a sister that does whatever she can to get by, and that very same sister. This track produces four chapters full of deep looks at the lives of a group of people whose stories must be told. The way Kendrick wraps up this song by speaking on the people he mentioned beforehand is masterful.

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/jU7ZZfrBhrw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed25. \u2018Compton\u2019 (feat. Dr. Dre)</code>
25. ‘Compton’ (feat. Dr. Dre)

You just can’t go wrong with a song that features bars from Kendrick and Dr. Dre. And the added element of some incredible production from Just Blaze is just the perfect cherry on top. “Compton” is an audio tour through one of California’s most talked-about locales and excels as the city’s unofficial theme song. It doesn’t get any harder than this collaborative track that brings together two of the West Coast’s hip-hop kings. 

Honorable Mentions
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/zcjCsvA_3oI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed26. \u2018The Recipe\u2019 (feat. Dr. Dre)</code>
26. ‘The Recipe’ (feat. Dr. Dre)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/JPphvDon1B8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed27. \u2018Black Boy Fly\u2019</code>
27. ‘Black Boy Fly’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/l9fN-8NjrvI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed28. \u2018Wesley\u2019s Theory\u2019 (feat. George Clinton \u0026amp; Thundercat)</code>
28. ‘Wesley’s Theory’ (feat. George Clinton & Thundercat)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/7L1POXocFIQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed29. \u2018Institutionalized\u2019 (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise \u0026amp; Snoop Dogg)</code>
29. ‘Institutionalized’ (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/drV0QatqbRU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed30. \u2018These Walls\u2019 (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise \u0026amp; Thundercat)</code>
30. ‘These Walls’ (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/Z-48u_uWMHY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed31. \u2018Alright\u2019</code>
31. ‘Alright’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/RdCepOB4BV8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed32. \u2018For Sale? (Interlude)\u2019</code>
32. ‘For Sale? (Interlude)’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/q1AOP6NtGuc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed33. \u2018Momma\u2019</code>
33. ‘Momma’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/iIsHg3BHpB0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed34. \u2018Hood Politics\u2019</code>
34. ‘Hood Politics’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/y8kEiL81_R4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed35. \u2018How Much a Dollar Cost\u2019 (feat. James Fauntleroy \u0026amp; Ronald Isley)</code>
35. ‘How Much a Dollar Cost’ (feat. James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/Wt4dUK4uce0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed36. \u2018Complexion (A Zulu Love)' (feat. Rapsody)</code>
36. ‘Complexion (A Zulu Love)’ (feat. Rapsody)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/VdPtVZDspIY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed37. \u2018The Blacker the Berry\u2019</code>
37. ‘The Blacker the Berry’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/78bSAKX_4vs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed38. \u2018You Ain\u2019t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)\u2019</code>
38. ‘You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/8aShfolR6w8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed39. \u2018I\u2019</code>
39. ‘I’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/axwpgn3GRMs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed40. \u2018Mortal Man\u2019</code>
40. ‘Mortal Man’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/NLZRYQMLDW4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed41. \u2018DNA.\u2019</code>
41. ‘DNA.’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/tKctO1LyVko" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed42. \u2018FEEL.\u2019</code>
42. ‘FEEL.’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/Dlh-dzB2U4Y" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed43. \u2018LOYALTY. (feat. Rihanna)</code>
43. ‘LOYALTY. (feat. Rihanna)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/tvTRZJ-4EyI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed44. \u2018HUMBLE.\u2019</code>
44. ‘HUMBLE.’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/ox7RsX1Ee34" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed45. \u2018LOVE.\u2019 (feat. Zacari)</code>
45. ‘LOVE.’ (feat. Zacari)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/ei-5p50w17s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed46. \u2018DUCKWORTH.\u2019</code>
46. ‘DUCKWORTH.’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/o4M4qssoaWU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed47. \u2018Untitled 03 | 05.28.2013.\u2019</code>
47. ‘Untitled 03 | 05.28.2013.’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/cziv-WGRLcE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed48. \u2018Untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.\u2019</code>
48. ‘Untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.’

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/JQbjS0_ZfJ0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed49. \u2018All The Stars\u2019 (feat. SZA)</code>
49. ‘All The Stars’ (feat. SZA)

<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/17rFEzznMGo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen><\/iframe>\n","hed50. \u2018Big Shot\u2019 (feat. Travis Scott)</code>
50. ‘Big Shot’ (feat. Travis Scott)

Categories
Grind Money

What Is Kendrick Lamar’s Net Worth?

We’re now nearing a decade from the point at which Kendrick Lamar captured our hearts with a classic album called Section. 80. Even though those of us that heard that album back in 2011 could have told you that he was destined for big things, none of us, perhaps not even Kendrick himself, could have truly predicted the lane that he has carved out for himself. He’s on arguably the best album streak that Hip-Hop has ever seen, and while doing it, he’s accumulated an estimated net worth of approximately $75 million. How did he do it?

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Touring

It’s been no secret that touring is the biggest source of income for any of your favorite musical acts, which is one of the main reasons why the COVID-19 pandemic has been so damaging to the music industry. Kendrick toured after the aforementioned Section. 80 independent release, but his first world tour came after his major-label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city.

From late 2012 to late 2013, the period in which he released that album and toured it, Forbes has stated that Lamar earned about $9 million. They estimate that just under half of that came from touring. It’s nothing to turn your nose up at, but it’s pocket change compared to what he would earn in the coming years.

After that tour was done, Kendrick joined Kanye West for select dates on The Yeezus Tour. There’s no word on what he was paid for his short set on those occasions, but box office numbers do tell us that Ye grossed close to $3 million for some of the shows that the pair did together. It’s fair to guess that Lamar earned 6 figures for his performances each night, but perhaps more importantly, it showed millions of people in America that he was worth coming out to see on the road, helping him in the long run.

Kendrick only performed To Pimp A Butterfly at a handful of shows after its release and they were aptly named the Kunta Groove Sessions Tour. No numbers are available for this, but Lamar’s star power was rising and he was able to perform at a bunch of festivals. Forbes estimates that in 2015, he earned a handsome $12 million in total.

With his next album DAMN., Lamar really set himself apart from the pack. Of course, that album was once again heralded a classic and ended up winning a Pulitzer, a prize that hadn’t been (and since then, hasn’t been) awarded to a Hip-Hop artist. That’s only a reflection of its quality, as was the tour and its commercial success. The DAMN. Tour was 4 legs and across its astonishing 52 shows, Kendrick grossed a whopping $62.7 million. When he rapped “top billing, that’s a million a show” on untitled 02, he wasn’t lying.

Last but not least, on the TDE Championship Tour in 2018, he was naturally the headlining act and the massive numbers continued. For the period in which he toured with his labelmates, Forbes estimate Lamar’s 2018 earnings at $58 million. However, that includes a new publishing deal and some lucrative endorsements.

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Endorsements

Over the span of his career, Kendrick boasts some of the better endorsements any entertainer can ever hope to have. He credits Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Diddy as inspirations of his for the business side of things, and he’s certainly following suit. The rapper has appeared in an American Express commercial, has his own trainers with Reebok, and arguably the biggest of them all, has released multiple shoes and other merchandise with Nike.

We don’t have any specific information on those deals, but they’re undoubtedly worth multiple millions for Lamar. His Nike deal alone has seen him release multiple versions of their classic Cortez shoe along with his own design of their React Element 55s. Everything he has ever put out with the brand has sold out very, very quickly, and to get most of it now, you’ll have to pay a resell fee.

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Real estate

In May of 2014, news surfaced online that Kendrick Lamar had purchased a house. It was more modest than people expected, costing around $524k. People attributed it to his humility, but when asked about it, Kendrick revealed people were wrong about the details. “It’s not my spot. I really like to buy property” he said. “Whether it’s apartments, buildings, houses… I like to invest my money in different things.” Of course, no word on his exact investment portfolio, but we can only imagine how much money Lamar has earned from the market in the 7 years that he’s been invested in it.