This is the first part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. My friend Dan Glennon (@ZiggyStarscream) on Twitter and Instagram has been working tirelessly for many weeks to write these entries for my readers. I hope you all enjoy, and I present to you Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part I. If you like and enjoy the content that I have to offer please consider liking, following, and/or commenting on my posts. It really means a lot. Thanks for your continued support!
It is truly amazing if you think about it. At the heart of every culture lies those who can speak and lead the culture, fostering new ideas into this zeitgeist of the culture. The culture starts a movement that affects greater society and those are lead by the strong-voiced and courageous. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Bob Dylan or Dave Chappelle each left something in the fabric of their area of culture, whether they wanted to carry the cross of leadership. Thoughts of the unknown as well as those of contraband of those like Plato or Descartes echo through history and help people make sense of the absurd string of coincidence that we call life. More modern examples of those who make us challenge our thoughts do exist in people like Elon Musk, Jon Stewart, and Malala Yousafzai. Each one of these people in all different aspects of life has made an indelible mark on humanity that will be felt forever. Some of them continue to do so. To find an artist to create a sound that lasts forever is a rare trait to find. Finding a writer who can make you think and expand and challenge your vocabulary, thoughts, and beliefs is not a gift that everyone has. It is a rare find that only a handful of great artists, thinkers, and leaders progress the arts and culture as much as these people have.
And then there’s Kendrick Lamar.
“See a lot of y’all don’t understand Kendrick Lamar
Because you wonder how I could talk about money, hoes, clothes
God and history all in the same sentence
You know what all the things have in common?
Only half of the truth, if you tell it
See I spent twenty-three years on the earth searching for answers
’til one day I realized I had to come up with my own
I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m not on the inside looking out
I’m in the dead fucking center, looking around
You ever seen a newborn baby kill a grown man?
That’s an analogy for the way the world make me react
My innocence been dead
So the next time I talk about money, hoes, clothes
God and history all in the same sentence
Just know I meant it, and you felt it ’cause you too are searching for answers
I’m not the next pop star, I’m not the next socially aware rapper
I am a human mothafuckin’ being, over dope ass instrumentation
Kendrick at the end of his first album set a template out for exactly what he was going to show the world in his music. Whether the scale of it was known at the time to us or even Kendrick himself, but this foresight at the end of his debut album set the world that Kendrick would guide us through with his music. Kendrick is a human being with joys and sorrows, triumph, and struggles, just like all of us and he echoes this throughout his music. He never presents himself as something he is not. His use of multiple points of view in his narratives does, however, give it several more layers of depth. We know who Kendrick is and we know how Kendrick feels but throughout each song, interlude, album and beyond but he shows other sides and perspectives and characters. We know that the story is being told by Kendrick and it is Kendrick’s story but he also never lets us forget that there are other people in this world inhabited by him because he is just like one of us. It’s these recurring characters that develop a piece of music and art that crosses through each of his works. Kendrick develops a theatrical world that, through his music, exists in a way that is reflective of ours but still wholly his. This is the reason that listening to a Kendrick Lamar album has that sense of cohesion at the end; the cinematic nature of his songwriting and storytelling.