This post is part of our program, The Story of Kendrick, an in-depth, 10-part look at the life and music of Kendrick Lamar. Sound cool and want to receive the other installments in your inbox? Go here. Already signed up and enjoying it? Help us get the word out and share on Facebook, Twitter, or with this link. Your friends will thank you.
Kendrick Lamar’s albums are holistic, meticulously crafted meditations on the idea of blackness in America; they’re novels disguised as albums, and one gets the sense that every couplet and every bass lick has been labored over. All this is great, but sometimes you just want to hear Kendrick rap. This is what made his untitled.unmastered outtakes album from 2016 so enjoyable, and also why his guest verses are always so charming. The span of artists on this playlist reflects the central tension in Kendrick’s own music; the transcendent, post-electronic jazz of Flying Lotus nestles beside the rickety soul street reportage of Schoolboy Q. Navigating the space between those two poles is Kendrick, who moves forward and raps his ass off.