When thinking of the rappers J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar the first word that comes to mind is “genius,” the second word would be “lyricist.” They are the only two rappers that come to mind when I think of modern day hip-hop. Both rappers have a way of speaking to a person with words that are actually from the English dictionary.
Their story telling is one that is respected and looked forward to.
Both encompass a style that would be similar to Nas, one of the greatest lyricists of all time; each rapper possessing their own sense of poetry, having you wanting to save the world in one song, and thinking of your first date in the next.
Their records are more than just club songs or big radio hits, they are speaking from not only real life situations but things that they have personally went through. They also refuse to bow or fold to the expected sound from artists today.
Take J. Cole for example, he states in an interview that he did with MTV.com, that he purposely didn’t get his latest album, 2014 Forest Hill Drive, fully mastered for its maximum loudness. He stated that “I’m not a club artist. I’m not making my sh– for the clubs, my sh– is for your headphones and your whip.”
Is each record that these artists put out changing the status at which rappers should be rapping at? Or is it simply going back to a time where hip hop was more than a quick dollar and a way to support a family. A time where people saw an evolution and used their words for more than party hits with a catchy beat and a memorable hook.
When Kendrick Lamar’s iconic album Good Kid, m.A.A.d City released, he beautifully told of himself and the things that he went through while riding through his hometown of Compton. I found myself no longer listening to his words in my room, but rather rolling through the streets of South Central Los Angeles, feeling sorry for this guy with nagging parents and who was set up by a girlfriend.
There is nothing wrong with a song that is great for commercials, working out, or something that is played in the car. But when an artist can perfect all three, that’s when legends are born.