Discography Check: Kendrick Lamar

By @TrueGodImmortal

Well, this day was sure to come. Kendrick is perhaps the biggest artist in the game today, maybe second only to Drake, and over the years, he has amassed a number of projects and albums that the world has been able to appreciate and consume. While Kendrick hasn't had the easiest road as an artist, he has done what most in the game today haven't and that is remain consistent. One thing that stands out about Kendrick and his music is that he attempts to reinvent himself on every project, and he has done that each time. His catalog has been built over the last nearly 10 years and today, we wanted to take a look at his run since retiring K Dot as his official name and embracing Kendrick Lamar. Let's take a look at Kendrick's discography.

*C4 (2009)

-While one could reference some of the older projects in his discography during his K-Dot days, I rather start here. Kendrick was extremely influenced by Wayne, and that has mostly been evident throughout his career honestly. This was a collection of original tracks combined with a number of freestyles over Wayne's top tracks, and it works to an extent. Kendrick was not yet the artist he has grown into, so at times, he does miss the mark, but with tracks like "West Coast Wu-Tang", "Friend Of Mine", and "G Code", he delivers a decent assortment of lyrics and slick flows.

*Kendrick Lamar- Kendrick Lamar (2009)

-When he transitioned from just being to K Dot to Kendrick, it would come with a slight musical adjustment as well. The Wayne influence was still there, the clear Eminem influence was there even, but Kendrick was looking to find his own voice and style and he would start coming into it with this release. Backed by production from Black Milk, Sounwave, Jake One, and more, Kendrick delivers some solid rhyming over lush instrumentals that result in tracks like "Celebration", "P&P", "Wanna Be Heard", "Faith", "Is It Love", and more. This was essentially an album that was labeled an EP, but at 14 full length tracks, this is a full project and a nice introduction to the next era for K Dot.

*Overly Dedicated (2010)

-This is when everything really started to click for Kendrick. A long way from the Training Day mixtape days now, Kendrick was a more comfortable artist who had seemingly found his own rhythm, voice, and sound. This would be his breakthrough moment as an artist for a number of reasons, as he would showcase glimpses of what he would continue to grow into as a rapper and artist. The production is here is mostly all TDE in house production from Sounwave, Tae Beast, Willie B, and more, while the features ranged from Jhene Aiko, his TDE family, Dom Kennedy, Murs, and BJ The Chicago Kid. Highlights from Overly Dedicated include "Heaven & Hell", "Barbed Wire", "Ignorance Is Bliss" and "Night Of The Living Junkies". Overly Dedicated is a great moment in Kendrick's career.

*Section.80 (2011)

-My favorite Kendrick album. Period. His debut project officially is almost like a smooth resurrection of the jazz rap sound that was so popular in the early 90's. Kendrick was at his peak rapping wise, and I fully believe this is one of his best produced albums and it was clearly made on a much different budget than the three albums later released that people gravitate to. With Section.80, Kendrick teeters the line between jazzy conscious rap and funky soul, all while crafting a very smart concept album. There are so many highlights on this album that it is hard to narrow it down to just a few selections to discuss, but there is no way to talk about the album and not mention the biggest singles like "HiiPoWeR" and "A.D.H.D.", both of which are far from the best songs on the album. Some of my favorites include "Hol' Up", "Ronald Reagan Era", "Poe Man Dreams", and "Kush and Corinthians", which is one of Kendrick's best songs period IMO. What Section.80 does is bring the journey that began with the self titled EP full circle. Kendrick had found himself and from this point on, his career and the music game would never be the same.

*Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (2012)

-Often considered his official debut, this sophomore album introduced an even bigger audience to Kendrick and is regarded as a true classic. While I was not one of those people proclaiming this to be a classic, I do enjoy this album a lot. It is a more aggressive album with an equally aggressive Kendrick rapping about his Compton experiences on yet another concept album. This album would take Kendrick to superstardom, earning him Grammy nominations, accolades, and love from almost every critic, and millions of fans. The album is certified triple platinum now due to the changing rules and went almost double platinum before the rules changed over for sales. As for the music, the production is solid, with banging drums and booming bass, and the guest appearances are quality, as Jay Rock, Drake, Dr. Dre, and MC Eiht lend a helping hand to the album. The highlights are plentiful here, from "Real" to "Poetic Justice" to "M.A.A.D. City" to "Money Trees" to my personal favorite "Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst". GKMC is a great addition to Kendrick's catalog and is a big reason why he is the artist he is today.

*To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

-The magnum opus according to many. When you ask most people, Kendrick's best work is one of two albums. GKMC or TPAB. Which album you prefer is honestly up to you and your preference, but both albums are quality from start to finish. While Section.80 is my favorite Kendrick album and the one I personally think is the best, I think for the concept, production, and how fitting the album was at the time, TPAB is his greatest work and a true classic. While a number of listening impaired fans (not sorry) seemed to dislike the jazz and funk vibes on the project, those with decent to great music taste could appreciate the implementation of jazz, funk, and classic soul into the music that was inspired from all of those genres. With minimal features on the album outside of Snoop Dogg, George Clinton, Thundercat, Rapsody, Anna Wise, Bilal, and Ron Isley, Kendrick is the focus of the project, and his voice is the most resounding through the album on tracks like "Wesley's Theory", "Momma", "Alright", "Mortal Man", "These Walls", and more. TPAB is seen as a classic and rightfully so. It is the brightest moment in Kendrick's career from all standpoints for sure.

*untitled unmastered (2016)

-The short EP that features songs that have no official title. Most of these songs are TPAB leftovers and for the most part, they sound amazing. Sampling more jazz and funk sounds to go along with the soul, Kendrick works with producers such as Swizz Beatz, Cardo, Frank Dukes, Adrian Younge, Sounwave and more to craft these 8 tracks on the release. He would receive assistance on the features from SZA, Anna Wise, Bilal, Cee-Lo, and Jay Rock. For me, the best work here comes on "Untitled 02", "Untitled 05", "Untitled 06", and of course, the infamous "Untitled 07". All in all, Untitled Unmastered was a great supplemental addition to the TPAB era for Kendrick and a solid addition to his catalog.

*DAMN. (2017)

-So, his most recent solo project is actually my least favorite of his recent run. While most people will point to the commercial success of the album and the sales to determine quality, those of us with more than half a brain know that's not always the case. Kendrick is a great artist, and he has sold well in his career and of course, DAMN is pretty much the highest selling album of his career, but it misses the mark a few times. It's not that the songs that miss the mark are bad, they just don't connect as well as the best of the best in his catalog. Still, there are plenty of things to enjoy here, as songs like the mega single "DNA", the amazing "Duckworth", the intense "Feel", the smooth "Yah", the great "Fear", and even the slightly comedic "Element" all flow together very well and showcase that Kendrick is still at the top of his game. It does sound as if Kendrick went for a slightly more mainstream sound on some of the songs, but it still all works out for the most part, with only a few small clear mishaps. This album would be certified triple platinum (nearly quadruple) and the biggest album sales wise of Kendrick's career, making this a win, despite not being on the level of his previous three albums.

*Black Panther: The Album (2018)

-Now, when we look back at this project, it is not an official album for Kendrick necessarily, but it was a soundtrack that he had a huge role in. I personally would prefer to not make much of a mention of this release, as it was pretty subpar in terms of the work Kendrick placed on it. The soundtrack to the hugely successful film has a number of songs from him and a good amount of input, yet it does have a number of other artists to assist him. Jay Rock, The Weeknd, SZA, Future, and many more assist Kendrick on this album, bringing us tracks like "King's Dead", "Black Panther", "All The Stars", and "Pray For Me". All in all, this was decent, but the world awaits the next Kendrick album patiently to see where he goes next.



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