Kendrick Lamar provides vision for young adults


Tribune News Service

Kendrick Lamar performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 8 in Austin, Texas. Columnist Saketh Vasamsetti thinks Lamar’s music appeals most to college students.

By Saketh Vasamsetti, Columnist

When Kendrick Lamar’s debut album “Section 80” was released in 2011, he was immediately placed on the radar as an artist who can single-handedly take over the entire music industry.

He went on to be named one of 11 featured rap and hip-hop artists on the annual XXL Magazine’s “Freshman Class” list. The artists that make that list are considered some of the best talents of that year; however, Lamar later proved that he could offer much more than what many people expected from him.

With each following album, Lamar set himself apart from most musical artists by having an individual concept surrounding his albums. Each song has its own narrative that progresses the listener through his ideas and beliefs.

Lamar looks to educate and influence his audience and by doing so, he has solidified himself as being one of the most influential artists in this age.

Artists like Lamar should appeal to college students the most. Students’ college years are significant in the changes they make to their character. It has become difficult to develop opinions and personal beliefs due to the rising hostility of conflicting views and political correctness.

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But when artists broadcast their convictions within their music, they offer young people a way out and provide a starting place to mold their own opinions.

Students should look to keep an open mind and dedicate some attention to artists like Lamar in order to broaden their thinking and hear viewpoints from successful people from various backgrounds.

Lamar found large success with his second album “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” which received critical acclaim and notched him five Grammy award nominations. The album was praised for its concept of being a narrative that takes the listener through the life of Lamar, growing up in Compton, California.

The opening line of the album is, “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving us with your precious blood.”

Lamar makes note of his strong religious belief in his music, which is something hip-hop is claimed to thwart heavily. The entire genre has always been seen as violent and corrupt, as it glorified death, women, drugs and violence. However, this doesn’t mean that hip-hop listeners do not have religious beliefs.

Having a renowned artist display his strong personal connection with religion gives listeners a different taste of the music, making Lamar a potential role model.

With “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” he also bridged a disconnect by illustrating his life that was surrounded by violence, yet emphasized that there is more to him, and everyone else who was raised in places like Compton, than their stereotypes may suggest.

That same negative connotation can be seen with the city of Chicago. Violence has always been an issue in the city, but has escalated in the past few years. When young men and women growing up in these areas listen to Lamar’s message, they learn that there’s more than being trapped in that lifestyle and that they too can find opportunities for themselves, just like Lamar did.

Musicians have been known to speak out about their political and social beliefs, but few have been able to break down walls and reach out to as many people as Lamar has.

This past Friday, Lamar gifted his eager fans with his long awaited project “DAMN.” Once again, he proved his expertise in crafting an influential message behind music.

In “DAMN.” Lamar accepts complete vulnerability as he takes his audience through the highs and lows he has faced in his professional and personal life. Rather than telling tales of fame and glory, he stoops down and carries on a conversation about personal issues he has had trouble interpreting in his life.

Tracks like “LOYALTY,” “PRIDE” and “LOVE” offer direct examples of Lamar making an overlapping point that in the end, he’s just a human that has problems everyone deals with.

That level of modesty and HUMBLEness is something listeners seldom receive. Conversation has become the strongest tool in bringing people of various backgrounds and viewpoints together — and that’s what Lamar provides with every song.

As time progresses, Lamar may or may not stop making music, but his impact will last not only in the history of rap and hip-hop, but in every single one of his listeners as well.

As college students continue to grow as people, we will continue to be exposed to various influences. Taking our next big steps in life, artists like Kendrick Lamar provide vision in what may seem like a blurry path down the road.

Saketh is a freshman in DGS.

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