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Patiently Waiting

U

nlike most of his peers, Kendrick Lamar did not succumb to the gang bangin’ and violence that has plagued his community for generations. When asked how he managed to stay clear of the crime in Compton, California, the 22-year-old up-and-coming MC’s answer was simple: his father. “Out of all my peers, the thing that separated me from them, is that they don’t have no fathers,” he begins. “I had a father, and that’s why I stayed on the right road. And that’s the reason behind the gangs that’s out here. Cause a lot of cats out here have broken homes.” His pop’s guidance was enough to steer Kendrick away from the streets. And at age 13, instead of Bloods and Crips, rappers and emcees were his heroes. Enticed by artists like Tupac and DMX, a young Kendrick started to pen his own rhymes. “I remember looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I wanna rap just like Tupac,’” he recalls, of his childhood icon. “I liked ‘Pac when I was coming up. ‘Pac passed and after that I can remember it being kinda commercial, but when DMX dropped I was like… a nigga got inspired.” He took his inspiration to the recording booth,

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and at age 16 recorded his first mixtape, Youngest Head Nigga In Charge, under the name K-Dot. The release garnered local attention. Soon after, he joined the Los Angeles-based independent label Top Dawg Entertainment, also the home of burgeoning Watts rapper Jay Rock, where he released his follow-up mixtape Training Day. Kendrick spent the next few years developing his craft and collaborating with Jay Rock, who’s now signed with Warner Bros. “Even off the music that’s my brother,” he says of his relationship with Jay Rock. “I remember the first song we recorded, the first mixtape he put out, I remember the day he got signed, all the way to the single he got with Wayne. So, it feels good to see a dude come from the bottom and get to the level he’s at. And we’re doing this shit together and still progressing.” And Kendrick’s progression can be heard through his music. He recently changed his moniker from K. Dot to his government, Kendrick Lamar, and in December of 2009 released the

most noteworthy music of his young career on The Kendrick Lamar EP. “The actual sound of [this record] is actually music I’ve been holding back for years,” he says. “I found my niche when I said I’ma give the people what I want, and if they don’t like it, fuck it. I’m doing me.” But the people praised his music. Now, Kendrick finds himself a favorite amongst bloggers, and anticipation for his next project, Good Kid In a Bad City, continues to grow. “I think a lot of artists draw themselves away from the people because the people can’t relate,” he explains. “We’re going through a muthafuckin’ recession. Muthafuckas [are] trying to hear that shit that we actually go through. So, I represent music for the muthafuckin’ humans, people that actually go through life. Whether it’s love, hate, happiness, all emotions. That’s the type of shit that I’m trying to give across to the world.” Words by Randy Roper Photo by Dee Jay Dave

Ozone West #85  

Ozone West #85

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