Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His newest project War Machine 2 was released on June 5th and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get War Machine 2 here.
I have been a Kendrick Lamar fan every since Allhiphop.com posted a freestyle from his crew entitled "Westcoast Wu Tang". This was a few years ago and his alias was still K. Dot. I didn't know much about him, but he spit an insane verse and dumbed out over a Wu-Tang styled instrumental with his fellow crew members (including Black Hippy). His career started to progress and his buzz within his hometown grew enormously and steadily spread throughout the country once it was revealed on Twitter that he was on Dr. Dre's radar. This all happened a few years ago, and now we're finally being gifted Kendrick's major label debut album entitled good kid m.A.A.d. city.
See also: -What Makes a Hip-Hop Classic? -An Open Fan Letter to Mitt Romney and Todd Akin from Tef Poe -I'm Just a Rapper Archives
The project is an experimental body of hip-hop songs about a good kid growing up and dealing with the pressures that come with being influenced by the madness offered to him by life in the ghetto. The album is mixed by Dr. Dre and each song plays a specific role in the overall concept. Kendrick Lamar's singles don't sound like typical singles, and his album is not a typical rap album. Most music critics have labeled this one of the most important hip-hop releases of our time.
There is a growing generation gap in hip-hop music and some people refuse to acknowledge the fact that the legends of old aren't always as innovative as they once were. The 40 year old hip-hop heads are typically trapped in a time bubble and don't really acknowledge the new music being created by younger artists. If they do acknowledge it, they complain about the lack of creativity the music carries.
When innovative new artists actually create music that deserves their attention, they often don't acknowledge it until it has basically become as commercial as the music they hate. By then they are either members of the late train, or the artist has lost the flare that made them so unique in the first place.
So yes, you've finally heard of Kendrick now that he's been on BET and has a record spinning on every radio station in the nation. The problem is you otherwise complain about BET and the radio, yet you rely on them both to expose you to new talent because it's not like you're actually proactively supporting new music without help from these two institutions. I've been a fan of J. Cole for a while, but there were people that had no clue who he was until his video made it to BET.
As much as some of us hate to admit it the average fan still needs specific institutions such as radio and television to influence and alert them of what's taking place in the culture. Television and radio basically determine whether you'll be a underground king or a mainstream hero.
We've received album after album from the same exact people for the last twenty years. There have been a few new faces added to the pool, but the industry at some point suffered from a severe emotional disconnect between the young fans, old record label execs and old deejays that have been spinning basically the same exact records for decades.
Kendrick Lamar represents a new face, the new era, and new talent that speaks for itself. He can rap, but he also innovative, and his story is one that is unique enough to stand out in a genre of clutter. I decided to write this blog as a response to one of the most brilliant up and coming voices in the blogger world. My good friend Darryl Frierson wrote brief blog about this subject.
Darryl posed the question: Is it too early to call the Kendrick Lamar album a classic?