How Kendrick Lamar Became a Rap Icon

Kendrick Lamar accumulated the most nominations of any artist (8) at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. The 30-year-old rapper from Compton is having his moment and quickly has become this generation’s rap icon.

With the combination of his versatility and lyricism, Kendrick Lamar has all of the tools to rival all of the all-time greats that came before him. If you’re a sports fan reading this, basically we’re dealing with the debate of LeBron James’ legacy. Just like many prefer Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson over James — many hip-hop enthusiasts prefer Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. over Lamar. To each his own.

While you’re thinking deeply about Lamar’s legacy to this point — keep in mind he’s just getting started. Overall, he’s owned the past few years in terms of rap music. His most recent album, DAMN spent a significant amount of time at the no. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 list. Not to mention, this is the third no. 1 album from Lamar. His 2015 release To Pimp A Butterfly, and 2016’s Untitled Unmastered Compilation also spent time at the top.

As far as calling Kendrick a rap icon, there’s no debate, he clears the threshold that I’ll address in a few. Good kid, m.A.A.d city, To Pimp a Butterfly, and DAMN, give him a trifecta of classics that compared to Eminem‘s Marshall Mathers LP, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, NasIllmatic, 2Pac‘s All Eyez On Me, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and all of the other albums that are considered timeless classics. Throw in Lamar’s Section.80, which is a cult classic that continues to grow in the hip-hop world today.

His impact in rap through that period isn’t really up for debate, but now he’s starting to make real waves in pop culture as well. Once he released the “Humble” video, his legendary Grammy performances in the recent past, and headlined Coachella — he put his stamp on the music world.

Of course, everyone isn’t impressed with award, accomplishments, mainstream status. So how does Lamar fare with the ones who don’t? Look at the impact he’s had on the hip-hop community. When his single, “Alright” was released June 30th, 2015, it became an anthem for not only African-Americans like many perceived, but for the world/generation as a whole.

When it comes to Kendrick’s music, he shows self-awareness, which brings confidence to become one of the greatest to ever do it. For the most part, these discussions seem irrelevant, but as talented as Kendrick is, it’s important to recognize when someone is on the verge of reaching that status.


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