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Old 08-05-2011, 05:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Kendrick Lamar - Section.80 (2011)


Genre: Hip-Hop

Tracklist

01. **** Your Ethnicity
02. Hol' Up
03. A.D.H.D.
04. No Make-Up (Her Vice)
05. Tammy's Song (Her Evils)
06. Chapter Six
07. Ronald Reagan Era
08. Poe Man's Dreams (His Vice)
09. The Spiteful Chant
10. Chapter 10
11. Keisha's Song (Her Pain)
12. Rigamortus
13. Kush & Corinthians
14. Blow My High (Members Only)
15. Ab-Souls Outro
16. HiiPower

I know I've talked about this album already in the "Albums You're Digging II" thread but after giving this album another couple of spins I've decided to do a proper review.

Section.80 is the debut LP for Compton emcee Kendrick Lamar, who has really been alive in the West Coast hip hop scene over the last few years. Toured with Tech N9ne and Jay Rock in 2010, and has been selected to work on Dr. Dre's long-awaited Detox album. Since 2009, Lamar has also released a mixtape and EP, keeping himself incredibly active, something his young age makes easier.

While Lamar may be young (23-24), he approaches his subject matter in a very meaningful way that gives him this "wise beyond his years" mystique. That is something that can be incredibly beneficial to a hip hop artist, especially one who comes from an area that is only largely known for the negative stereotypes of hip hop that turn off a lot of potential listeners. Also with his added age, it makes him one of the emerging voices of Generation Y, which is a subject that he brings up quite a bit throughout the album. In fact that's really one of the things about the album I quite enjoyed, the fact that it talked about the Generation Y and how with the instability of the world, they don't really know their place or what their future holds. He couples this with drug use as a way of not celebrating or enjoying life, but as a way to dull the fear of that uncertainty.

Substance is really what makes this album, all of Kendricks songs have substance and meaning to them, even some of the more joke songs like "Hol Up", "Rigamortus", and "The Spiteful Chant" have some hidden insightful observations. That said though, on the songs where he has more to say, you are really left with something to think about. This is particularly true on the tracks "No Make-Up (Her Vice)", "Ronald Regan Era", "F*** Your Ethnicity", and "Keisha's Song (Her Pain)", the last one in particular being one of the greatest examples of storytelling in recent memory. All of them deserve you reading the lyrics along, to better understand what Kendrick is rapping about.

The beats also deserve a mention because they are really good. They have that kind of laid back feeling that goes with west coast hip hop, but they're also quite modern sounding, with a bit more emphasis on an electronic/ poppy sound that's more akin to the beats one would find on a Kanye West album. This could deter fans of older hip hop, but if this is the direction the genre is heading then I'm OK with that. The production is also incredibly crisp making all the layers more audible. The beats also sample some really nice jazz bits, especially on the second to last track "Ab-Souls Outro".

The album isn't without its faults though, and while they are pretty miniscule they still deserve some mention, if only to make Kendrick aware of them before his next album comes out. One of the biggest things with Kendrick is he sounds a little too laid back in his tracks, it makes you wonder how much he really cares, I mean you know he does, but a little more energy could really grab a person's attention right off the back without relying on clever lyrics and well written songs that require a deeper examination. Some of his hooks can be a little weak at time as well, however the verses are so well crafted that they make up for it, but generally people memorize the hooks. There can also be a pretty jarring juxtaposition between some of the songs, like the biting and edgy opener "F*** Your Ethnicity" to the almost juvenile "Hol' Up", a song about sex and some of the mistakes that comes with it.

Overall though at the end of the day, this is a a 60-minute hip hop album that doesn't bore me once. At no point did I ever drift off, this album holds your attention from start to finish and that can be difficult for some albums, however with the substance, flow, and beats all working as one, it makes it impossible to get bored. As far as debuts go this will probably be well-regarded and thought of as one of the best hip hop albums of this decade, so do yourself a favour and get in on this one while it's still fresh.



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Old 08-25-2011, 12:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Kendrick Lamar is amazing, I like his Overly Dedicated mixtape a whoooolllle lot. Hope to hear more from him soon.
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