Kendrick Lamar: Return of Hip-Hop’s Savior

Feb 10, 2022

April 14, 2017, the day the mystifying Kendrick Lamar dropped the Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN, his fourth studio album. We are going on five long excruciating years since his critically acclaimed masterpiece stopped the world. In the meantime, Kendrick stans have had to make do with nothing more than a few guest features, a couple of festival performances, and rumors as they await the Compton emcee’s return to omnipotence.

The question is, will the Rap God be able to resurrect a genre that has been slowly dying of complacency and novelty over the past few years, or is his reign on the rap game beginning to come to an end?

Kendrick Lamar The DAMN Tour Boston

Kendrick Lamar – The DAMN Tour @ TD Garden in Chicago.

Photograph by Kenny Sun via flickr

Trusted industry insiders, including Billboard and Complex, have all but confirmed the rapper is dropping a new single on February 11th, days before Super Bowl LVI. If this isn’t enough, Kendrick will be hitting the stage for a monumental halftime show alongside hip hop royalty Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige which only adds another layer of pandemonium. Even Mr. Lamar’s go-to producer, Sounwave, who has had his sonic fingerprints on every one of his projects since Section.80 in 2011 posted on his Instagram (January 1) that new music would be coming from the recluse artist.

It’s safe to say that Kendrick season is upon us.

We are not surprised that Mr. Lamar would choose an epic moment like the Super Bowl to make his triumphant return. Back in August 2021, the elusive lyricist dropped a bombshell via a cryptic message on his social media with a link to a site named “Oklama” and a folder labeled “Nu Thoughts.” This open letter provided a small glimpse into his personal life, creative process, and advised his fans that his next release will be his final album with the legendary Top Dawg Entertainment, the record label he has called home for over a decade.

“I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence.

I go months without a phone.

Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family.

While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.

As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.

There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown.

Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I’ve prayed for you all.

See you soon enough.”

-oklama

Based on everything we have gathered thus far it is still unclear if this is the West Coast wordsmith’s swan song. Word on the streets (aka the internet) is this could very well be Kendrick Lamar’s last album, period. But, as we know in the rap world, many rap legends (i.e. Nas, Jay, The Game) love to play with the idea of retirement just to pop back up on the scene a few years later. Kendrick’s possible retirement is a hard pill to swallow when the Compton bred rapper drops bars like “Smokin’ on top fives/Motherfuck that album, fuck that single, Burn that hard drive/Ain’t nobody safe, When I come up killin’ everybody that’s outside.” on his cousin/protege’s track Baby Keem’s Family Ties.

No one can deny that hunger is still there.

However, reliable sources are reporting that he may be falling back to focus more on being an independent artist and taking complete control of his career as he prepares for the next chapter of his life after hip-hop. This newfound independence would allow Lamar to further establish his record label and help to break new artists in the same vein as the aforementioned Baby Keem. This will also grant him more flexibility to pursue other creative ventures, such as his media company, pgLang.

Whichever way it goes, only Kendrick knows what the future holds. But one thing’s for certain, the wait is finally over.

Rap’s savior has returned.

We put together a playlist with some of our favorite Kendrick Lamar tracks. Check them out below!

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