Kendrick Lamar Finally Brings the Phonk

Kendrick Lamar Finally Brings the Phonk

Cover art for Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp a Butterfly"
Cover art for Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”

Cory Townes, EBONY

(Ebony.com)—This story starts with a conversation in Brooklyn roughly last week. “Yo, you know what this means?” “No, what?” “This time next week, we’re really going to have a new Kendrick Lamar album.”

The last time we, the people, received a full body of work from Kendrick Lamar Duckworth was October 22, 2012, when good kid, m.A.A.d City was released to the world, and impacted hip-hop culture just as we expected and then some. The album received success both in sales and opinion, selling over a million records worldwide and constantly slapped with the mythical “classic” label by peers, critics and fans alike. Many solid music projects have been released since good kid dropped. But there was a largely growing section of the music industry as a whole that impatiently waited for new music from the Compton MC.

So imagine the surprise (and, in some minds, confusion) when Lamar released “i” out of the blue in September 2014.

I say confusion because on the first, second, and maybe third listens, this new music wasn’t quite what we expected. It didn’t have the new age, albeit familiar sound of good kid. Actually, it sounded like something our stocking cap-wearing uncle would’ve listened to in his prime. It received mixed reviews, and in the good old age of social media, two sides went at peaceful war—saying either that Kendrick might’ve lost it or was just going in another direction.

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