Review Summary: Every artist has to start somewhere.
There’s a term that gets tossed around quite frequently these days. A term used to describe a person who enjoys or agrees with something or someone that has become increasingly popular. This person is said to have hopped on the Bandwagon. Once an artist breaks through to the mainstream, that artist gains many new fans and followers. A countless number of new fans and admirers never even take notice to the respected artist’s early works, or even care to wonder how the artist became famous. Most listeners don’t care at all about how that artist progressed and grew throughout their career which is one of the best aspects of listening to music. And if you’re like me (hopefully you are), when I found out about an upcoming MC by the name of Kendrick Lamar, I wanted to go back to his previous efforts to see how he has changed so far in his bright, young career.
Kendrick Lamar, formerly recognized as K. Dot, gained an abundance of new supporters with his release of his 2011 LP Seciton.80
. His major label debut was well received among listeners everywhere, including myself. Before Section.80
in Kendrick's discography, is the interesting O(Verly) D(Edicated)
mixtape. His latest mixtape was released in 2010 and consist of 13 tracks. And before you even get to the actual music, you should notice the cover of the mixtape which contains pictures of musicians that have passed away from drug overdoses (hence O.D
). Some musicians pictured are Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, Pimp C and more.
When you first jump into the mixtape, you should notice that Kendrick is starting to sound more and more like his own person and isn't stuck on the hype train by attempting to imitate fellow rapper Lil Wayne’s flow, which is evident in his early works in the mixtapes C4
and Training Day
. K.Dot is also using original beats and samples in O.D. Rather than using a bunch of used beats from Tha Carter III
. Kendrick Lamar is clearly starting to develop his own unique personality and style with the release of this mixtape, which is clearly evident in the songs Michael Jordan
. Instead of using straightforward beats like he has in the past, his beat selections are far more superior and abstract, examples of this are in the tracks Growing Apart (To Get Closer)
and Alien Girl (Today W/ Her)
. Shockingly, before this mixtape, some of Kendrick’s lyrics weren't up to par with how they are today. His lyrical progression from his previous attempts to this mixtape is over the top as well. The lyrical content in tracks like Barbed Wire
, and Opposites Attract (Tomorrow W/O Her)
As with every record, Kendrick does leave his listeners with a couple of duds. The reasons these duds are not up to par with the rest of the mixtape varies between the songs. In P&P 1.5
, Kendrick’s lyrics are a bit childish and foolish, and not to mention the fact that this track is just a rehashed version of a song on one of his earlier mixtapes. And then we have the songs Average Joe
, which lyrically are both decent songs, but the production of the tracks bring them down. Kendrick also leaves his fans with a couple interludes and remixes that don’t do much and are basically fillers.
Every artist has to start somewhere. Unfortunately, before this mixtape, there wasn't too much upside to Kendrick Lamar. He was lyrically immature and tried to mimic Lil Wayne’s flow. Kendrick took a big step in the right direction with this release. He started to develop his own style and most importantly tried to be himself, which made for a huge improvement. While this mixtape doesn't hold the same Kendrick that we know and love today, it shows his roots and where he came from before he started shining in the spotlight.