Kendrick Lamar Says Dr. Dre Was Drawn to His Fresh Approach to Gangsta Rap

By Ahearn, Victoria | The Canadian Press, October 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Kendrick Lamar Says Dr. Dre Was Drawn to His Fresh Approach to Gangsta Rap


Ahearn, Victoria, The Canadian Press


Kendrick Lamar's fresh voice draws in Dre

--

TORONTO - Kendrick Lamar has been heralded as the rebirth of West Coast hip hop, an acclaimed young lyricist who's trying to learn from his rough upbringing in Compton, Calif., and maintain his artistic integrity and life balance as his fame soars.

Such qualities are what compelled one of his idols, Dr. Dre of N.W.A. and Death Row Records fame, to sign Lamar to his Aftermath Entertainment and back his newly released major label debut, "good kid, m.A.A.d city."

Dre executive produced the disc in Los Angeles and appears on several tracks, including the first single, "The Recipe." Other artists on the album include Jay Rock, MC Eiht, and Toronto's Drake, who recruited Lamar for his Club Paradise Tour earlier this year.

Lamar says Dre wanted to work with him after hearing his track "Ignorance Is Bliss" from his 2010 mixtape "Overly Dedicated," "because it came from a different approach that he'd never seen in gangsta rap."

"(The song) gave him both sides of the story in Compton, the victim and the aggressor, and that's something he'd never seen," a soft-spoken Lamar said during a recent stop in Toronto.

"Every time you hear gangsta rap, everybody's the aggressor, there's really no vulnerability, and I bring that other side of the story because I've been on both ends.

"And he said, 'That's it, that's what was missing."

Through heady bass beats and savvy, crisp rhymes, the much raved about "good kid, m.A.A.d city" reflects on those dualities of Lamar's life and career. Listeners learn of Lamar's risky relationships, his exposure to drugs and gangs in Compton, the changes happening in L.A. County, and how he and others in his life are coming to terms with his fame.

Lamar, 25, grew up in a low-income household surrounded by the violence of L.A.'s gangs and gangsta rap culture. At times he was exposed to alcoholism, which he writes about on the album's "Swimming Pools (Drank)."

"(It's) a personal song at the same time good memories of house parties that I'd been to when I was a kid and some things I'd seen in my household, period: a lot of drinking, a lot of smoking," he said.

"I just wanted to reflect on that, not in a bad way but just as a person ... remembering what household I come from and how it had an impact on my life when I became an adult."

Lamar said his dad "was a street cat but at the same time he was a proud father. I was lucky to have one of them in my life."

"What separated me from my homeboys, it was two things: the fact that I had a father, of course, to always let me know when I bump my head this is going to happen, and the fact that I was a dreamer," noted Lamar. …

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