Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part IV

This is the fourth part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. (link to the first part here, second here, and third here)  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 IV. 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!

DAMN: The Opine Comedy – Saint Kendrick’s Faustian Odyssey: Part One

Kendrick’s third album, ‘DAMN.’ is the most layered of his albums to date. There are actually multiple stories that this album tells as it is flushed with subtle details to the narrative of Saint Kendrick. From social and political commentary to cultural trends, Kendrick uses each song to make a point on a particular subject while interweaving a subtle narrative of the two paths that Kendrick had available to him after his first break into entertainment business success; the path of righteousness, atonement for moments of weakness, and growth into the Saint of Compton or to follow the material and gluttonous life that Lucy offers and succumb to the wickedness inside of him. Kendrick speaks of the human experience as well as the internal struggle inside him. ‘We’ put him on a pedestal and shoved him into the role of Saint Kendrick in the first place and now he speaks of his internal struggle and the consequences of his actions just as his ‘disciples’ deal with every day.

The best way to describe the mood that the album kicks off with is on “BLOOD” which is a dreamlike state. Kendrick speaks very slowly as if he had just woken from or fell into a deep sleep. The song is rather short as it serves as an intro/outro track to the two narratives. The fact that he is killed by a blind woman is symbolic in two regards. First is that a woman was the one that kills him; Lucy. But the additional fact of her being blind could symbolize ‘Lady Justice’ which is her most notable trait given the widely used figure of speech in American vernacular, “Justice is Blind.” This plays into the other key component in ‘BLOOD’; the outro featuring Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera and others quoting his lyrics to “Alright” from his previous album in a framing that makes him seem like another figurehead to place blame on for the rot of the inner city where in reality Kendrick is trying to rise above and be more than that figurehead that they portray him as. Saint Kendrick is trying to deliver his people out of the darkness and to the sunnier side of the American dream.

After the sample from Fox News, the song abruptly ends and leads into “DNA.” The blistering verbal assault from Kendrick is an affirmation of who he is and where he comes from as he proudly steps into the spotlight from the cocoon that had institutionalized him. He quickly fleshes out the world that he had come from and proclaims that he is, in fact, going to take what the world has given to him and use it. Kendrick acknowledges throughout the song the negative aspects of himself and his humanity and how he will not change for his circumstances because he is in those circumstances because of who he is in his DNA.

While largely about his upbringing and the effects of his environment on who he is as a person, Kendrick does not ignore the religious ties in the song:

“I was born like this, since one like this
Immaculate conception
I transform like this, perform like this
Was Yeshua’s new weapon”

-DNA

This little stretch is crucial to the character of Saint Kendrick. He is stating that he was chosen since birth to lead this movement which is a reference to Luke 1, in where an angel appeared to Mary and foretold of that she was chosen by God to bring his son into the world and his name shall be Jesus (paraphrasing here of course). One curious thing to me personally about the bible is that after the story of Jesus as a 12-year-old boy in the temple at the end of Luke 2, there is a nothing on the life of Jesus until the age of 30 with his baptism in the river Jordan. I have always thought about that 18-year gap of time. The Christian belief is that Jesus was all God and all Man. For all of his divinity, he was still but a young boy when he first showed that he was the Son of God. How would any normal human at that young an age could you imagine handling what Jesus had to? And he hadn’t even hit puberty! I personally believe that this gap of time could be Jesus struggling personally to accept the role that he has been given as the savior of man. Jesus was the Son of God but he still had to mature into adulthood just like any other man.

Kendrick was seen as the Son of Compton and just like Jesus in the temple at the end of Luke 2 with Kendrick’s first flash of talent and as well as establishing his voice in Section 80 he did not have the luxury to have a gap of 18 years because that was not the world we lived in. Kendrick’s ascension to his role as the Savior of Compton was gradual and chronicled through the social struggle in Good Kid mAAd City: A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar as well as the internal struggle in To Pimp A Butterfly. The world was a witness to Kendrick’s growth from childhood to a man willing to bear the weight of being the one to lead Compton and the culture forward to salvation. Kendrick ends the song with a prophecy of sorts:

“Tell me when destruction gonna be my fate
Gonna be your fate, gonna be our faith
Peace to the world, let it rotate
Sex, money, murder—our DNA”

-DNA

He speaks that he is doomed to the fate of destruction much as Jesus knew he

was to sacrifice himself to forgive the sins of man but also warns of the possible destruction of those around him if they surrender to their old ways that have institutionalized them inside the mad city.

The next song on the album, YAH, essentially shows the level of complete exhaustion that Kendrick has been dealing with. He speaks of how he is pressured for his thoughts and his actions are scrutinized to a level no one else can fathom. At the end of the song, he leaves one line “I know he walk the earth” which is an interesting line because it could be a reference to God himself as Kendrick has an encounter with him in How Much A Dollar Cost? Or it could be a reference to Lucifer but not in a personal sense as the character Lucy appears to be. Afterwards, he laboriously talks about falling back into the material world that he is climbing out of.

Kendrick unleashes his anger at the world and specifically the state of hip-hop in ELEMENT. Reveling in his state as the best rapper in the world he criticizes how other rappers’ potential is nothing close to Kendrick’s as he verbally beats down the game until he ends with “On my last LP I tried to lift the black artist / But there’s a difference between black artists and whack artists.” Biblically this connects to Jesus walking into the temple to find it turned into a market and not a place of worship. Both Kendrick and Jesus looked at the state of their pedestals to speak and preach from only to find it corrupted and distorted from its original purpose. At this point in Kendrick’s narrative as well as the New Testament both Kendrick and Jesus have now fully accepted their roles as leaders of something greater than themselves.
FEEL is the next song on the album and it is very reflective and presents Kendrick as the ‘wholly man’ with his own words instead of the extrapolation of text as is the case with Jesus (or lack thereof if it is assumed this struggle for Jesus’ coming to terms took place in the unrecorded 18 years). Kendrick is angry and struggling to understand how to control his anger. While he has assumed the role of Saint Kendrick already but the weight of influence can be a bitter burden. Focusing a lot of his material world anger out on the world that Compton and the black community by proxy are hampered by. The “school to prison pipeline”, government influence in the flooding of urban areas with drugs and even insignificant arguments such as who’s the best rapper are the objects of Kendrick’s judgment. He states that he knows he is the best and everyone knows he is the best in the world so that is why he is in the position he is in; the Savior of Compton. So why do people worry themselves with pointless endless arguments thinking about who is the best but not actually listen to what the artist is saying? Kendrick’s music is not only a perfect representation of this idea but on FEEL, he essentially screams it from the lyrics. A parallel to Tupac is stated by Kendrick when he is thinking about how Tupac was trying to tell the world his message but the world only heard his delivery. The path that Kendrick has chosen to follow both professionally, culturally and personally is one that has Tupac as the guiding post but he was killed at the age of 27 and now all Kendrick has to go on is what his image of “Tupac” would think and feel in the world they both came from.

Artist Spotlight #2 – Adjust the Sails

Smaller artists need to be recognized for their unique talents and popularity in their community. After months of planning, I’ve finally decided to launch this series to help promote smaller artists in an attempt to get their name and talent out there to the wider public. Every artist I cover in this series has been hand-picked for their style, talent, and character. I ‘ve recommended every artist I write about and this is no exception. Without further explanation, here is my second pick: Adjust the Sails.

Adjust the Sails is a two-piece group from Baltimore. Shane Hurst and Steven Haller make up this duo. They started off as a solo acoustic project in 2014 with the Til Death Do Us Part EP. This EP was heavily inspired by bands such as Brand New, La Dispute, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance. The songs they created were a means of self-therapy and based around the idea that they could possibly provide help to those who have had troubles with depression and their own demons. Adjust the Sails would then go on hiatus from 2016-2017.

2018 would see the end of the hiatus and a new beginning for the group. This reformation spawned their new EP titled I’m Not Okay But It’s Okay. This EP consisted of more folk punkish/upbeat songs but are still lyrically based around the basic ideas that they were founded on. The first song on the EP was “Ashley”. “Ashley” was written while Shane was reconnecting with his first love. This theme would go on to ultimately become the tone of I’m Not Okay But It’s Okay. Over the past few years, Adjust the Sails have played many house shows and local shows around Maryland along with a few out-of-state shows in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina.

On July 1st, Adjust the Sails will be performing at the Maryland Music Madness at the Fish Head Cantina. They also have an interest in performing at the Frozen Harbor Fest 2019. The group is also working on recording another EP that will be released in the near future. Adjust the Sails is working on trying to tour around the East Coast this year. The group itself is growing rapidly and have almost 2,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. I recommend you check out their music and follow them on Facebook too for future updates and news!

Here is a message from Adjust the Sails:

Thank you to all those who support us. Don’t give up on doing what makes you happy or what you’re passionate about no matter what other people say. There’s always gonna be people who are against you, but it’s up to us to prove them wrong.

I’m Not Okay But It’s Okay is on Spotify now!

Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part III

This is the third part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. (link to the first part here, second here)  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 III. 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!

To Pimp A Butterfly: The Culture and the Cross

Okay now, this is the part where things get interesting. Let’s set the stage. Kendrick Lamar is a now established artist who is getting praised as the next Tupac. His conscious rhymes and storytelling are unparalleled to everyone out there today. With all of that, Kendrick had the mantle placed on him as he was pushed to the podium. Mic check, mic check, this is the new face of black culture in America; Kendrick Lamar. Now think about it this way. A young man in his early 20’s gets a huge influx of money, notoriety, prosperity and of course more responsibility. Kendrick reminds us frequently that is his merely a human being. These same stressors that ‘we’ deal with on a daily basis, Kendrick deals with too. Shoved into the spotlight and asked to hold the world, he retreated. This is an album of the internal struggle inside the real Kendrick Lamar as he deals with being asked to be the champion. He was introduced to be hip-hop’s savior. ‘Savior’ is a lot to ask of one man.

To Pimp a Butterfly is an extremely dense album full of themes, style, and ideology. From the production aspect, Kendrick brings sounds from all across the African-American culture. With jazz, funk, soul, r&b and various eras of hip-hop all being brought together, sonically it sounds like an opus to the black culture. Using situations in the political and social atmosphere during the release of the album in 2015, Kendrick creates the wasteland of circumstance that he leads the listener through on a journey of self-reflection as he, himself, wrestles with the weight of responsibility that he has been forced to bear.

Reflecting the world around him of police brutality, institutionalized racism, and social marginalization, Kendrick chronicles the aftermath of his success from his first album. He stole the crown as the greatest rapper in the world and the focus of the world turned onto him. Kendrick was the good kid that came out of Compton who made it out. The album is structured around a poem that is progressively revealed as the album continues. We are brought through multiple different arcs of how Kendrick dealt with the changes in his life and how he was seen as someone to vault forward the culture as the next great voice.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence…”

The first stage takes place during the first three songs; ‘Wesley’s Theory’, ‘For Free? – Interlude’, and ‘King Kunta’. This is essentially the id response for Kendrick. His first thoughts are the glamorous benefits of his success. He could now get the cars and clothes he never could. VIP trips around the world with award shows. Kendrick could bring all the ones he met along the way. The good kid made it out of Compton and can lead the city with him to the promised land. Did I mention the money? Conversely weaved throughout those same songs is the institutional and social structures put in place through the pressure of those around him, bureaucratic influence or unspoken sociological rules that have been in American culture for generations that place black Americans in a position to fail.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence

Sometimes I did the same…”

With his newfound success, Kendrick could come back to Compton as the king of hip-hop but he has yet to experience the backlash of his actions. This is where the second arc of the story is introduced. Kendrick realizes that he not only has fame and fortune but he now has influence socially and most dangerously, power. He tells us the story of how he brought his friends from back home to an award show only to have one of them attempt to rob some of the high profile events. The friend explains himself by saying how else would he respond? Never had he been around that type of wealth while he sees people in his immediate world struggling because of factors that are largely beyond their control? The other story we are told is one of Kendrick and a girl and her baby daddy.. Beautifully told through metaphors, Kendrick tells us of his sexual relationship with this young woman. Towards the end of the song, Kendrick reveals that this woman has a child with the man who killed Kendrick’s friend during the song ‘Sing About Me’ on Good Kid mAAd City and Kendrick is the reason that that man is now serving life in prison.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your infuence

Sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power full of resentment

Resentment that turned into a deep depression

I found myself screaming in the hotel room…”

Struggling with the weight of his responsibility and how easily he could abuse his newfound power, Kendrick contemplates how the world perceives him as opposed to how he is as a human being. Is he the voice that they think he is? Kendrick finds himself in moments of weakness where his actions produce real and tangible consequences.. Kendrick turns inward on his own consciousness to open up the past events that put him where he is today, mainly on the death of his friend during the story arc of Good Kid mAAd City. Despite this depression, Kendrick reminds himself of the world he comes from is one where the struggle was the environment. With a natural survival instinct and the tools to fight back, Kendrick really back.

“I remember you was conflicted, misusing your influence

Sometimes I did the same

Abusing my power full of resentment

Resentment that turned into a deep depression

I found myself screaming in the hotel room

I didn’t want to self-destruct, the evils of Lucy was all around me

So I went running for answers…”

This is probably the most important portion of the poem as far as the underlying plot of Kendrick’s work as this piece is written to highlight. This is where we are introduced to the villain in Kendrick’s story; “Lucy.” She is personified as a wealthy, connected and beautiful woman who has taken an interest to Kendrick.

What’s wrong nigga?
I thought you was keeping it gangsta?
I thought this what you wanted?
They say if you scared go to church
But remember
He knows the bible too…

…My name is Lucy Kendrick
You introduced me Kendrick
Usually I don’t do this
But I see you and me Kendrick
Lucy Give you no worries
Lucy got million stories
About these rappers I came after when they was boring
Lucy gone fill your pockets
Lucy gone move your mama out of Compton
Inside the gi-gantic mansion like I promised
Lucy just want your trust and loyalty
Avoiding me?
It’s not so easy I’m at these functions accordingly
Kendrick, Lucy don’t slack a minute
Lucy work harder
Lucy gone call you even when Lucy know you love your Father
I’m Lucy
I loosely heard prayers on your first album truly
Lucy don’t mind cause at the end of the day you’ll pursue me
Lucy go get it, Lucy not timid, Lucy up front
Lucy got paper work on top of paper work
I want you to know that Lucy got you
All your life I watched you
And now you all grown up then sign this contract if that’s possible”

-’For Sale? – Interlude’

The bolded lines are the portion of the intro and Lucy’s monologue that reveals who she really is. Kendrick Lamar is not surprisingly a devout Christian as well as faith being a central piece of black culture. The first part is a reminder that ‘He’ knows the bible as well. This is referencing Satan or in this case, ‘Lucifer’. Clearly, Lucy was not talking about Kendrick’s biological father but God. The final part to unpack is the last line where Lucy asks Kendrick to sign a contract. The classic myth in American folklore is there is a crossroad down in the Mississippi River delta where you can go to meet with the devil who will grant you one wish in exchange for you signing away your soul. This legend has been around for well over a century (at least) and has been retold or paraphrased in countless ways. Borrowing the idea from this myth, Kendrick creates the character of ‘Lucy’ to be the embodiment of the devil himself.

“I remembered you was conflicted
Misusing your influence, sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screamin’ in the hotel room
I didn’t wanna self destruct
The evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went runnin’ for answers
Until I came home…”

Kendrick watches his hometown struggle from his vaulted pedestal and knows that he can do something. He speaks during ‘Momma’ a verse that echoes the idea he spoke back on Section 80 but with the added idea that his distance has started to isolate him from the world that he called home:

“I know everything, I know myself
I know morality, spirituality, good and bad health
I know fatality might haunt you
I know everything, I know Compton
I know street shit, I know shit that’s conscious, I know everything
I know lawyers, advertisement and sponsors
I know wisdom, I know bad religion, I know good karma
I know everything, I know history
I know the universe works mentally
I know the perks of bullshit isn’t meant for me
I know everything, I know cars, clothes, hoes and money
I know loyalty, I know respect, I know those that’s Ornery
I know everything, the highs to lows to groupies and junkies
I know if I’m generous at heart, I don’t need recognition
The way I’m rewarded, well, that’s God’s decision
I know you know that lines from Compton School District
Just give it to the kids, don’t gossip about how it was distributed
I know how people work, I know the price of life
I know how much it’s worth, I know what I know and I know it well
Not to ever forget until I realized I didn’t know shit
The day I came home”

‘Momma’

While he helps his hometown as much as he can, Kendrick realizes that there is little he can do to change it for the better unless he takes a stand against the systems in place that poison the water in Compton and prevent it from blooming into what Kendrick believes it can be. He sees the people who want ‘realness’ from hip-hop but don’t look for it. He sees the political deadlock that he compares to nothing more than a gang war that plagues his hometown. Kendrick now sees everything and more importantly after seeing the pitfalls of those who came before him and the wasteland that his city has become as a result he sees the work of Lucy.

“I remember you was conflicted
Misusing your influence
Sometimes I did the same
Abusing my power full of resentment
Resentment that turned into a deep depression
Found myself screaming in a hotel room
I didn’t want to self-destruct
The evils of Lucy was all around me
So I went running for answers
Until I came home
But that didn’t stop survivors guilt
Going back and forth
Trying to convince my self the stripes I earned
Or maybe how A-1 my foundation was
But while my loved ones was fighting
A continuous war back in the city
I was entering a new one…”

Kendrick became increasingly angry as he saw more and more things eating away at his city from the inside. He became cynical and jaded. One night as he was leaving a gas station Kendrick was approached by a homeless man who asked for a single dollar. Kendrick went to his car and closed the door but he did not leave as for some reason these two men had their eyes locked and could not look away. The homeless man spoke to Kendrick with a pointed and prophetic choice of words.

“He said, “My son, temptation is one thing that I’ve defeated
Listen to me, I want a single bill from you
Nothin’ less, nothin’ more…

 

…Starin’ at me for the longest until he finally asked
Have you ever opened to Exodus 14?
A humble man is all that we ever need
Tell me how much a dollar cost?”

-’How Much A Dollar Cost?’

Now to understand this reference it is necessary to have the prior knowledge of the biblical story of Exodus where Moses leads the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt with a few verses in particular that are especially poignant. This story applies to Kendrick in this particular situation as he is being viewed by the world as someone who is meant to lead the entire culture forward. However, unlike Moses, this is not something he has chosen to do. Beyond the weight of the cross but he walks through the desert with Lucy following closely behind. Kendrick has embraced his selfishness and put his self-preservation into the forefront of his mind. Walking the soft and gradual path into Lucy’s arms, Kendrick is pulled back by something unexpected from this homeless man.

My selfishness is what got me here, who the f*ck I’m kiddin’?

So I’ma tell you like I told the last bum, crumbs and pennies

I need all of mines, and I recognize this type of panhandlin’ all the time

I got better judgement, I know when nigga’s hustlin’

Keep in mind, when I was strugglin’, I did compromise

Now I comprehend, I smell grandpa’s old medicine

Reekin’ from your skin, moonshine and gin

Nigga your babblin’, your words ain’t flatterin’, I’m imaginin’

Denzel be lookin’ at O’Neal

Cause now I’m in sad thrills, your gimmick is mediocre, the jig is up

I seen you from a mile away losin’ focus

And I’m insensitive, and I lack empathy

You looked at me and said, “Your potential is bittersweet”

I looked at him and said, “Every nickel is mines to keep”

He looked at me and said, “Know the truth, it’ll set you free

You’re lookin’ at the Messiah, the son of Jehova, the higher power

The choir that spoke the word, the Holy Spirit, the nerve
Of Nazareth, and I’ll tell you just how much a dollar cost
The price of having a spot in Heaven, embrace your loss, I am God”


-’How Much A Dollar Cost?’

After this incident, Kendrick has a new outlook on his role in the world. He knows that he has power and a voice that can be heard. Taking a strong stand against colorism inside the black community, gang violence, public perception of black people, and police brutality. Kendrick makes an observation that while there are systems in place to hold back the black culture and neighborhoods however he also sees that the culture is not helping itself with the way it currently lives in American society.

“I been wrote off before, I got abandonment issues
I hold grudges like bad judges, don’t let me resent you
That’s not Nelson-like, want you to love me like Nelson
I went to Robben’s Island analysing, that’s where his cell is
So I could find clarity, like how much you cherish me
Is this relationship a fake or real as the heavens be?
See I got to question it all, family, friends, fans, cats, dogs
Trees, plants, grass, how the wind blow
Murphy’s Law, generation X, will I ever be your ex?
Floss off a baby step, mobbed by the mouth a bit
Pause, put me under stress
Crawled under rocks, ducking y’all, it’s respect
But then tomorrow, put my back against the wall
How many leaders you said you needed then left ’em for dead?
Is it Moses, is it Huey Newton or Detroit Red?
Is it Martin Luther, JFK, shooter you assassin
Is it Jackie, is it Jesse, oh I know, it’s Michael Jackson, oh

When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?
When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?
That nigga gave us Billie Jean, you say he touched those kids?
When shit hit the fan, is you still a fan?”
-’Mortal Man’

With little guidance as he stepped into this role, he turned back to his role model and his similar path. In what can only be described as a prayer, Kendrick completes the poem and reads it to Tupac Shakur. Kendrick asks Tupac several questions in some ways to lead the people from the desert. Finding some sense of comfort from this discussion, Kendrick reads one more poem that was written by a friend of his that inspired the album.

“I wanted to read one last thing to you. It’s actually something a good friend had wrote describing my world. It says:

‘The caterpillar is a prisoner to the streets that conceived it
Its only job is to eat or consume everything around it, in order to protect itself from this mad city
While consuming its environment the caterpillar begins to notice ways to survive
One thing it noticed is how much the world shuns him, but praises the butterfly
The butterfly represents the talent, the thoughtfulness, and the beauty within the caterpillar
But having a harsh outlook on life the caterpillar sees the butterfly as weak and figures out a way to pimp it to his own benefits
Already surrounded by this mad city the caterpillar goes to work on the cocoon which institutionalizes him
He can no longer see past his own thoughts
He’s trapped
When trapped inside these walls certain ideas start to take roots, such as going home, and bringing back new concepts to this mad city
The result?
Wings begin to emerge, breaking the cycle of feeling stagnant
Finally free, the butterfly sheds light on situations that the caterpillar never considered, ending the eternal struggle
Although the butterfly and caterpillar are completely different, they are one and the same.’

What’s your perspective on that?
Pac? Pac…? Pac!”
The interesting thing about this album, planned or not, is that Kendrick was 27 years old when it was released. Tupac was killed when he was 27 years old. In a state of silence afterward, as the album comes to an end Kendrick realizes that beyond this point, he is alone in walking this path but embraces all that comes with it. At this point, Kendrick is anointed and from here onward he walks as Saint Kendrick.

Artist Spotlight #1 – Corey Gossett

Smaller artists need to be recognized for their unique talents and popularity in their community. After months of planning, I’ve finally decided to launch this series to help promote smaller artists in an attempt to get their name and talent out there to the wider public. Every artist I cover in this series has been hand-picked for their style, talent, and character. I ‘ve recommended every artist I write about and this is no exception. Without further explanation, here is my first pick: Corey Gossett.

Corey Gossett first started getting into music around 6th grade and was influenced heavily by the music that his friends and family listened to. The most common genre’s that were being played in his house were country, classical, and alternative rock. After learning songs such as “Smoke on the Water” and “Iron Man” on the guitar, Corey started branching out into more genres and sounds. One of his biggest influences in music was the pop-punk genre including bands like The Wonder Years, The Story So Far, and Knuckle Puck. Even though he is currently a rapper, Corey still holds these bands close to his heart as they helped to create the foundation for his music today. Lyrically, Corey owes it all to pop-punk.

After listening to Eminem for the first time, Corey fell in love with the songwriting and lyricism that hip-hop had to over. For Corey, hip-hop is the ultimate form of expression for him as it allows him to have a voice in a world where most are silent. From a lyrical point of view, Corey cites Tupac, Biggie, Nas, and Jay-Z as his biggest hip-hop inspirations. However, as for his favorite artist he chose Drake as his favorite. This choice is mostly due in part to his style and sound which is arguably very unique in this modern day. Other modern inspirations consist of Ty Dolla $ign, Ace Hood, Mac Miller, KYLE, Post Malone, Frank Ocean, and Bryson Tiller. Since Corey has been in 8th grade, he started a composition notebook that he would put all the final drafts of songs he had written into. As a senior in high school, he put the final page in that book and he still, to this day, can’t think of a more accomplished moment in his life than he did after filling that book with four years of life and meaning on every page. On the last day of school during senior year, that book got thrown away by the janitor, never to be found again.

“When I lost that book, I gave up on music. I didn’t touch my guitar or write another piece for the next two years. After those two years had passed I found myself in a position where I needed that outlet again.”

After finding himself back into the embrace of music, he found success in playing some local shows and really started to get the ball rolling with his music. After leaving his past experiences behind him, he decided that music was his real calling. After working with his close friend Alex Hankins, they began working on his first EP entitled New Slate; 50/50 which is set to come out on July 5th. Currently, they are working on a local music festival called Famour Fest. Famour is the brand he represents with my music created by Matt Deal, a fellow visionary. Famour was created in order to start a movement made of love and open-mindedness to try new things and be there for the ones who are there for you. Famour exists to move anyone who wants to join in a positive and productive direction of love and creativity. Be sure to check out his new EP on July 5th on Spotify and Apple Music. I must recommend “Go” by Corey Gossett as it is undoubtedly a song that has gotten me excited for his debut EP.

Here is a message from Corey Gossett:

I love all of my fans and everyone who has lent me a helping hand thus far especially Jordan Murphy, who is a sound engineer for Smart Boys Studios. I have already come so far and met so many new artists and people that I cannot be anything but grateful. If anybody has any questions, feel free to follow me and send me a message. My inboxes are always open and I’d love to talk to other new and aspiring artists.

@corey_gossett on Twitter, Coreygossettt on Instagram, and coreygossett on Snapchat.

“Go” is on Apple Music and Spotify now!

Saint Kendrick: The Cinematic Nature of Kendrick Lamar Part II

This is the second part of a multi-part release exclusively on this page. (link to the first part here)  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 II. 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!

Each of Kendrick Lamar’s albums adds to his overarching narrative of his life and how he lives in it. There is progress in each album as Kendrick grows into his role as the voice of hip-hop but also as an icon of a culture. To truly understand how his works’ impact and originality, the storyline must be placed in less subtle and symbolic way to be fully understood. Kendrick does not make this storyline explicit or easy to understand. Through wit and wordplay is his mastery of the craft, as well as an understanding of the context of the world, is he able to develop his world.

Section 80 introduced Kendrick Lamar to the hip-hop world and helped to place him on the radar of popular culture long before being in the center of it. His foresight into his trajectory in his storytelling, intentional or not, is astounding. This album is where Kendrick introduces himself and a taste of the world around him. Keisha is the first character outside of himself that Kendrick introduces into his world. A young girl who moves on to prostitution at a very young age. As her story progresses she finds herself involved with a variety of clients, run-ins with police as well as one client that would take her life. Keisha was murdered and left to die on the street. Kendrick wrote this song to tell her story to his little sister. Kendrick does not come from a good place in the world but he acknowledges that he is capable of improving it. The theming of the narrative is formed in its infancy; the Good Kid in the mAAd city that becomes something greater than himself and his struggles with understanding his place in the world. As a human being, the same as you and I, he could have been a victim or a savior of the place he came from and the people he stands for. He understands that he is a rarity to break from his early living environment. Kendrick knows that for some reason be it religious, coincidence or just dumb luck that he has been given this opportunity to speak but also with the fame and fortune that goes along with it. He could have developed into another “what happened?” in the allure of the dark side of fame and the wickedness of the world. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions after all. Or could his follies merely be moments of weakness that he can learn from and continue upward with more experience than before.

Now the full story can actually be told.



The Good Kid in the mAAd city: Setting the Stage

 

The second album’s full title is ‘Good Kid mAAd city: A short film by Kendrick Lamar.’ There are many people who would be great at reading into the deep intricacies of every plotline and seeing all the cryptic messages unfold. Often times the voyeur of these symbols and messages will heap unwarranted, over-blown, under-supported or even just seeing much more than is there. A good example of an artist playing with this idea is the famous painting by René Magritte, The Treachery of Images. Magritte pained what appears to be a pipe with the caption painted below, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, French for “This is not a pipe.” The paradox of the image to the words painted below create a strange combative nature between the image and the words as they still share the same space on the canvas. The open-air interpretation of a vague contradiction could start in one part of discussion and end in an entirely separate place. This painting is a perfect example of an artist hiding a message and allowing for human curiosity and imagination to pull meaning from it themselves. Presenting a narrative in a piece of art is often done in a subtle, nuanced way.

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Good Kid is not one of those times.

Kendrick states from the beginning that at the beginning that this album is to be listened to as if it was a film. The bars were to be seen as the script and you listen for the scenes. The brilliance of that is for this transformative technique of the media demands that his wordplay is at a high enough level to make a vivid picture of what was going on in each scene. Tied together by skits in between to lead to the next scene, the audience’s mind is placed into a different realm if reception; that of a film as opposed to that of a piece of music. To understand what the album is talking about in each song, the context must be established. This requires the audience to be an active listener and most importantly, listen to the context of the album itself. Essentially, sit back and listen to the movie. As his first major debut album, Kendrick established a precedent for his future works being conceptual and requiring an active listening experience. With a huge commercial success with this idea in mind of active listening and an album as a whole, Kendrick’s future works coming from the same conceptual, holistic approach would be readily accepted and the audience would be prepared to take in as more than just a few tracks tied out over wax. This is the very foundation of the cinematic nature of Kendrick Lamar; we are brought in through a movie and each continuation is seen as such.

The narrative of the album is that of a day in the life of Kendrick’s character inside of Kendrick’s world. Through the slice of life story that Kendrick shares, he shapes a vivid image of what it was like to grow up in Compton and how it shaped Kendrick’s view of the world and how it blended into Kendrick’s world that he was building and opening to us. It is important to understand that the ‘Kendrick Lamar’ in the album’s storyline is not actually Kendrick Lamar. The story takes place as an amalgam of Kendrick’s experiences growing up in Compton. Compton’s lifestyle is long chronicled in hip-hop. By taking a collection of life events he experienced growing up in that environment, he developed a chain of events that stemmed from Kendrick’s decisions navigating through the world. He created a plot.

The actual plot of the album is one that is actually not a ground-breaking concept. Movies like Boyz in the Hood and Straight Outta Compton have given us a window into the lifestyle. By giving us a window the mind now has images to associate with a storyline of similar ilk. The idea of “a day in the life” wasn’t even new to hip-hop; Ice Cube did that already. What differentiates Good Kid? Kendrick presents himself as the total antithesis someone buying into gangster aesthetics and appeal. Kendrick never wanted to be like them but he grew up around it and his authenticity shows. The album takes a new spin on several old concepts which simultaneously gives credence to those who came before Kendrick while in turn, the established artists welcome him.

As for the content of this piece, there are only small segments of this album that actually are continued and weave the real story that Kendrick tells through his future pieces. First, the album starts off with young men praying for forgiveness and promising to follow in Jesus Christ’s footsteps. The religious overtones are immediately established. The very first lines from his first major album release are his prayers to God, asking for forgiveness. Christianity and the story of Christ and these religious references are the glue that binds Kendrick’s narrative. While this album merely brushes the idea into the story of the good kid, the ideology is now established.

3×3 Monday’s 5/21/18

Yet again another new series on this site, 3×3 Monday’s. Every week or two I plan to release my 3×3 chart of what I listened to each previous week along with an explanation of each choice. I hope my music suggestions can open you up to new genres, sounds, and artists as I highlight my favorite listens of the week.

Shoota – Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert

Previously, I wasn’t a huge fan of Playboi Carti, however, this changed when he released “Shoota” on his album Die Lit. With an incredible introduction by Lil Uzi Vert followed by a memorable verse by Carti, “Shoota” has become one of my favorite songs of 2018 already. The iconic line of “Woke up with my toolie, what it do?” has been one I look forward to hearing every time I listen to this song. With this song’s release I am willing to look more into Playboi Carti and what else he has to offer assuming “Shoota” isn’t his best song out there.

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This Is America – Childish Gambino

Donald Glover has always been a person that I’ve been inspired by whether it’s from his acting career or music career, he simply is one of the best in both of these categories. His comedy performances aren’t even that bad either. However, it’s his work under Childish Gambino that has been a standout from me over the past seven years with his debut album Camp. Seven years later and two albums later we have a new single from Gambino titled “This Is America”. The release of “This Is America” was accompanied by the release of a stellar music video that highlights everything wrong in America. “This Is America” is not only a strong political statement, it’s also a celebration of freedom of speech and how Gambino’s connections in the music industry can come to life. With supporting lyrics by Young Thug, 21 Savage, and Quavo intertwined with others, Gambino really is in charge of the industry in this single. If “This Is America” is the new sound that Gambino is going after since his latest album Awaken! My Love, I for one cannot wait to see what this new album is going to offer.

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Watch ft. Lil Uzi Vert & Kanye West – Travis Scott

With the release of AstroWorld seemingly being any day now, the first single from the album is monumental. “Watch” is an anthem in every aspect of the word. Travis Scott links up with Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West to produce one of the most fun and hype singles of this year so far. With clever features by Uzi and Kanye, “Watch” feels like just a hint of what we will be hearing on the upcoming AstroWorld. “Watch” not only makes me excited for AstroWorld, it also makes me excited to see what else Lil Uzi Vert plans to do this year along with Kanye West’s two albums due in June.

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Bubblin – Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak is one of the greatest working musicians currently, and “Bubblin” is a testament to this statement. “Bubblin” is fun, fast, and inventive as Anderson .Paak seemingly glides over the beat with playful and intuitive rhymes. Since his work on Dr. Dre’s album Compton, I’ve been a huge fan of .Paak and this song only reaffirm my love for this artist. One of the greatest and most hardworking musicians, Anderson .Paak absolutely earns my praise and recommendation for “Bubblin”.  I cannot say this enough, but if you haven’t already, listen to his second album Malibu especially if you enjoyed “Bubblin”.

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Reckless (Album) – NAV

The year is 2016, Travis Scott just released Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight and one song, in particular, stands out to me more than the rest. “Beibs in the Trap” is that song. However, NAV is the main reason why that song works so well. Fast-forward to 2017 and NAV releases two projects, NAV Perfect Timing which both became favorites of mine very quickly. Now we’re in 2018 and NAV releases yet another project called Reckless. While not my favorite of the three, Reckless proves once again that NAV knows how to be entertaining. Songs like “Champion”, “Wanted You”, and “Faith” explore NAV’s synergy with feature rappers such as Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, and Quavo while songs such as “Never Change”, “Hold Your Hand”, and “Freshman List” show his versatility on his own. The XO artist continues to impress me every release, and I am looking forward to hearing from NAV again this year.

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In Da Club – 50 Cent

Earlier this month I decided to make a Spotify playlist filled with songs that reminded me of the Summer season. “In Da Club” by 50 Cent fits the category of Summer music quite well. While 2003 50 Cent is one of my favorite artists, Get Rich Or Die Tryin isn’t one of my favorite albums. Regardless, however, “In Da Club” is the definition of a hit single from this era. Arguably, “In Da Club” is a timeless single that still holds up to this day and is almost if not better now than it was then. 50 Cent puts his talent on display while Dr. Dre’s production ascends this song into a whole different tier of excellence. This rap song is one of the greatest songs of all time and I look forward to listening to it often.

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Midnight Crusade – Dance Gavin Dance

I got into Dance Gavin Dance last year, and I hate myself for not getting into them sooner. “Midnight Crusade” is perhaps on my list of favorite songs of all time, and with that, it has a very high replay value. Since it’s release in April, I’ve listened to this song at least once a day and plan to continue doing so until the end of time. “Midnight Crusade” is such a fantastic song that I’ve recommended it to at least 15 people this month alone. Tilian Pearson brings this song to life with his dynamic synergy with the rest of the band as they escalate my expectations for their new album Artificial Selection. I’m very happy to call myself a Dance Gavin Dance fan now as the release of “Midnight Crusade” only further exemplifies my love for this band.

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Lost Y’all Mind – Kilo Ali

While creating my Summer playlist I came across an artist named Kilo Ali, to which I’m quite happy I came across him. Kilo Ali makes bass music and more specifically makes bass music similar to Miami bass which has quickly become one of my favorite genres recently. While not the most successful or popular artist of this genre, Kilo Ali holds his own on “Lost Y’all Mind”. This 1997 song from his album Organized Bass makes me thankful for discovering him while searching for Miami bass songs to add to my playlist. With a song that’s 21 years old, it holds up surprisingly well and the production and bass are still very well constructed even to this day. I hope to find other lesser-known artists in the Miami bass genre, but Kilo Ali is definitely a highlight of the genre in my opinion.

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Audio – LSD

LSD is a collaborative group that consists of Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo. Their first release “Genius” is a very fun and rhythmic song, however, their second release “Audio” is what really got my attention. “Audio” is perhaps my favorite Summer-oriented release of this year so far and for good reason too. Sia’s voice is the perfect choice for this super-group as she simply makes every electronic-pop song stand out from the rest. Combined with Diplo’s production and Labrinth’s lyrics, “Audio” is the recipe for a successful pop song in 2018. There is nothing bad about this song, and every listen makes me like it even more than the last. If I can say anything, it’s that I will be playing this song in my car on every drive and trip this Summer.

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Favorite Song Friday

With school finally being over for the Summer vacation, I have decided to start a new series here called: Favorite Song Friday. The name says it all, and every Friday(hopefully) I will release an article containing one of my favorite songs and my reasoning behind the choice. None of these songs are in order nor does this account for all of my favorite songs. This will be my first planned series of releases and I would appreciate any feedback and criticisms that one may have. Anyways, here’s my first song of Favorite Song Friday.

5/18/18

“Mind Playing Tricks on Me” – Geto Boys

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“Mind Playing Tricks on Me” was released in 1991 by the Geto Boys on their third album We Can’t Be Stopped.  This song was more than likely introduced to me by my Dad, however, many fans of this song could trace it’s recent popularity to the hit game Grand Theft Auto V. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” details the story of Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill experiencing illusions and hallucinations as they go about their days. Each rapper experiences a different illusion such as Scarface suffering from paranoia about being set up potentially getting shot, Willie D imagines being tailed by someone he did wrong while driving about, and finally, Bushwick Bill thinks he and his crew are in the middle of a fight with a cop. Each verse ends with each rapper realizing their mind was indeed playing a trick on them and that they imagined every situation due to paranoia and other mental-health related issues.

The main reason I adore this song is the beat that is sampled from Isaac Hayes’ classic “Hung Up On My Baby”. The beat matches perfectly when paired with the Geto Boys chronicling these unusual situations they find themselves thinking that they are in. Another strength of the song is the harrowing detail and lyricism that is explored each rapper’s verse. The animosity and terrors that the Geto Boys encounter in these illusions paint a very vivid and realistic into their lives and what they experience through these imaginary situations. This song will forever be a favorite in my book simply because this song is timeless. I enjoy this song driving in the Summer, doing school work in the Fall, and even working out in the Spring. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” is and forever will be one of my favorite songs of all time and that is why I chose it to be my first entry in this series.