Had natural selection run its course any different, Kendrick Lamar would have grown up three streets over, with different friends, caregivers, mentors, and on some level, a different understanding of what it takes to be an active participant in his own destiny.
In hindsight, there’s no causal ladder that begins to describe Kendrick’s journey to this point, let alone the art of knowing where others stand under similar circumstances. It’s that very causal ladder that gives us all strength, and for Kendrick Lamar, the rare ability to tap into the mind of other creative types with a hive-like reflex.
Kendrick is arguably the most adept rapper of his generation, and yet we’ve come to discover more room for praise. In light of his recent guest verses and performances, it should be noted that he is also, as unfair as it may seem, the most adaptive “feature artist” in the game. The humbling lessons of past experiences only begin to describe the fluid nature he demonstrates in these collaborative exchanges. Memories of his mentor-ship under Dr. Dre have obviously paid some dividends within the unresolved transfer of time.
I’ve amassed together a series of examples in which expertly navigates, integrates and even facilitates a number of cameo roles. Within that logic also lies an assumption that Kendrick has no desire to control anything that passes before his nose. Three specially selected records underscore his impact as a contributor on so many levels: either as the main curator to a soundtrack or more simply, the glue that holds a particular song in place. I implore you to put off your critique until you’ve considered the many plot points in this editorial.