Hip-Hop is currently being headlined by the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$. Two MCs that are lyrically prolific and socio-politically conscious.
Two of the biggest names in Hip-Hop today are two men that hail from two different ends of America. Kendrick Lamar; from Compton, California representing the West Coast. Joey Bada$$; from Brooklyn, New York representing the East Coast. So, why are they at the top of the game? Well, these two artists utilize lyrical consciousness, storytelling, and intellect. Both Joey and Kendrick have production and qualities within their music that pay homage to the likes of Boom Bap, Jazz, and G-Funk — sounds that many other artists around them place by the wayside.
Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut ‘good kid m.A.A.d city‘ was released in 2012 and became an instant classic. On this LP, Lamar speaks heavily about his experiences growing up in his hometown of Compton, California and the events that made him the person he is today. Whilst simultaneously challenging aspects of society. Similarly, Joey Bada$$’s debut studio album ‘B4.Da.$$‘ talks about his experiences before gaining recognition as a recording artist and his reflections of his youth in New York City. Both of these albums are relatable for modern day young people. Regardless of the fact that not everyone grew up in Brooklyn or Compton and had the same struggles as Kendrick or Joey, it is the universal feelings of temptation, trial and error, and judgment that we all deal with when developing ourselves as young people. We all feel it and these two artists put these thoughts and emotions into perspective, as well as placing these expressions onto a medium that others can be immersed in. Helping show that young people have a voice and can most certainly be heard.
Both subsequent albums ‘To Pimp A Butterfly‘ (Kendrick Lamar) and ‘ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$‘ (Joey Bada$$) have intense socio-political perspectives and messages. Of course both of their previous albums had social commentary, but both Kendrick and Joey’s outlooks on these next two records increased ten-fold. For these two artist to use their platform and stage to speak their mind on issues they deem important (and issues that are very relevant in the United States) is what being an artist and an activist is all about. Topics of police brutality, racism, consumerism, self-worth and more headline these lyrically complex LPs.
Everyone has an opinion and that is the beauty of music, it is subjective. However; I see it that these two MCs deserve all the recognition they have received. They have put out records that are conscious, challenging and real. Showcasing that being a writer, artist and thinker are truly the most important aspects of Hip-Hop. That doing it for the love of the music and being able to share your voice with anyone that is willing to listen are reasons to continue in developing as a musician.
Why are Kendrick Lamar and Joey Bada$$ at the top of the Rap game? Short answer — they put artistry above all else.