West Coast Styles

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Hol’ Up, gather around, a new Kendrick Lamar album has landed for music fans across the world.  More than likely you have been eagerly waiting just like me to know what’s been on the mind of Compton’s own and one of Hip-Hop’s all-time greats. It’s now or never and its been years in the making but we are finally here. This will be the final album by Kendrick for TDE. Then he is off to the races to do his own thing with pgLang as a label head and A&R.

But it’s the quiet before the storm right now, because within the next 24 hours the city of LA and the world will be mentally and emotionally digesting the recipe of another impactful and moving effort by one of the world’s most prolific poets. Oh, and we know the music is gonna be jammin too – this is a double album.

For nearly two years the world seemingly stood still as we fought through a modern-day plague that killed millions and broke family ties. It took mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunties, uncles, cousins, the weak, the elderly, those predisposed with health conditions, and ultimately many more who couldn’t bear the mental barbed wire of the pandemic. We are in a whole new world since Kendrick last landed because that b*tch COVID killed the vibe.

To remain humble in the new world you almost need a daily mantra of self-pride because the last two years has been a lot to process for so many.

From food shortages to delays in the supply chain, to gas prices that are nearly double what they were a year ago. We have the threat of World War 3 and meanwhile, there’s the everyday stuff that we all deal with that’s just part of life, being human and having relationships.

Fuck your ethnicity, if these walls could talk it would show that many of us have gone through a range of emotions during the pandemic;  fear, joy, hurt, love, depression, blown highs, pain, lust, happiness, sadness, helplessness, and anger to name a few. All that while holding on to a glimmering speck of hope that someday this nightmare might be over. Or is this the world we must now accept? They say ignorance is bliss but do we really have anything else besides kush and Corinthians?

Some may ask as I selfishly did at times; where was Kendrick when we needed him?  With an alien girl with no make up? Hanging with Michael Jordan? Where is our savior that told us everything was going to be alright? All real questions, but who is to say he wasn’t experiencing all of those same emotions that every single one of us feel? It’s almost like he cut you off to grow closer.

But how do u even speak to the people going through so much peril? How would i speak to the people who have experienced so much loss? Did he have writer’s block? Was it hood politics that kept him from making music? Did Kendrick Lamar temporarily retire like the tweet that he replied to announcing this album? You know he had to call and ask his momma for guidance. Was he growing apart from the music after the fame?

These were the questions rap fans asked themselves as Kendrick seemed to retreat to his own personal world. It was as if the Black Panther had decided that he didn’t want to save the day anymore. Was the King Dead?

Then we lost the real Black Panther and we seeming sank to the bottom of our own mental swimming pools. As the seasons went by we prayed to God, some were institutionalized, and some exchanged fire with the opps taking big shots.

Some got the money trees of PPP, EDD, and COVID relief, but we were primarily left to our own devices to figure it out and our loyalty was tested. We had to look within our own DNA for the answers because Kendrick wasn’t going to levitate and save the day this time. Kendrick left us all the answers just like Nipsey did in his catalog of music, leaving his blood on his own turf. No matter how anyone may feel, Nipsey gave his life for this music. It was time to go back and rewind because it was going to be a while before King Kunta would return as the omega.  No more ADHD excuses, time to execute down to every last element.

But still Hip-Hop fans pleaded for a Kendrick album as if that would be the light at the end of the tunnel, as if that would be the mental food that we needed to give us the fortitude to survive and live past the bullshit of this world. It was as if Kendrick was going to uplift our energy with spirituals that would move our bodies and minds well beyond the pandemic and the mental torture of confinement, masks, and fear. There were no more distractions, there was no more procrastinating. You were forced to look within your life and how you would potentially live your last days.

Yes, Kendrick is an emcee above all – but at his core, he is a giant poet  with hiiipower that can move millions of people with his words and thoughts. Oh, what a blessing and a challenge in the same breath. But with the weight of the world on his back, hasn’t this poetic giant delivered time and time again? Shouldn’t we expect him to do the same here?

First, he was Overly Dedicated, then he was a good kid in a m.A.A.d city. We got Section.80’d up and we learned how To Pimp A Butterfly. He left us speechless and levitated with the Untitled project, asking ourselves, DAMN is this guy a superhero like The Black Panther?

I don’t know, but as fans he’s the created parts of the soundtrack to our complicated and at times indiscernible lives. Kendrick has never let us down because he’s always given us gems along the way to better our lives. He may have been difficult to understand at times, but he always gave us everything with his art.  Was it all for sale?  Yes, but we are fortunate to be blessed with the ability to revisit his art time and time again within our headphones and speakers. He taught us how much a dollar costs long before inflation went crazy. And he told us about our complexion and the blacker the berry complex long before George Floyd was murdered.

Now it’s almost as if we made it through the pandemic and we are getting rewarded with a new Kendrick Lamar album. I don’t find it ironic that he gave the lead single The Heart Part 5, to kick the snowball down the hill. You’ve made it this far, here’s a gift for your journey along the way until you reach rigamortus.

It’s a real poetic justice moment that makes you recall backseat freestyles with your friends in the car when your love for music was real and untainted. So we will sing about him, because we are dying of thirst. A thirst for music that doesn’t bend under peer pressure. It’s for the average Joes, a person like Sherane, Wesley, Keisha or Tammy.

Maybe, in this case, his silence spoke volumes about how we must act in this brave new world post-COVID. With the rap game and all the stars like Jack Harlow, Lil Nas X and Kodak Black there’s no telling where we are headed, but if anyone is capable of directing the ship and getting us to look within ourselves it’s this mortal man.


Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Has Landed, Read This Before You Hit Play

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