This was an interesting year for rap. Hip hop saw a lot of activity in 2013 as artists promoted new businesses, TV networks and liquor brands. Some had babies, got married or both in the span of a year. And others wore masks and had temper tantrums during interviews, making "You don't have the answers, Sway!" one of the funniest sound bites of the year. One artist, however, broke through the shenanigans and all we could was focus on was his talent. Although he's been on the hip-hop scene since 2010, the somewhat new artist bent the rules this year by crowning himself king. No one protested, as he was actually deserving of the title. In 2013, King Kendrick bka Kendrick Lamar, showed us that there was indeed hip-hop royalty. Yes, a small fragment of the genre that exudes grace, class, sometimes humility and, best of all, intelligence.
Last year, Lamar proved he could stand with the best when he released his debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city. The album included hits "Swimming Pools (Drank)," "B*tch, Don't Kill My Vibe" and "Poetic Justice." This year, he didn't release a new album but stayed on the top of the game with his sheer wit and lyrical command. The in demand rapper lent his talents to soul and R&B artists with guest spots on tracks by Robin Thicke, Bridget Kelly, Quadron, Mayer Hawthorne and Jhené Aiko to name a few. Kendrick shook up hip hop and hijacked Big Sean's song "Control" with his controversial verse stating, "I got love for you all, but I'm tryin' to murder you ni**as." Referring to a number of rappers by name, there were more highlights in the verse but he also went on to say, "I'm the king of New York, king of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both." The West Coast rapper declared himself king of a city he wasn't even from and had rappers reacting on social media and interviews about the verse for quite some time.
Kendrick didn't stop there. He went on to crown himself again during the BET Hip Hop Awards 2013 cyphers. He was out for blood and came out on top stating "Your rap career ain't sh*t unless you got some Kendrick in it." Oh, and then there was that one time Lamar was named one of GQ's 2013 Men of the Year, was on the cover of the magazine but didn't show up to the party. Stating that the GQ article focused more on violence of hip hop than the artist's talent, Lamar and his camp boycotted the magazine's party where he was slated to perform, to focus on positivity and not the negative representations of hip hop and Compton highlighted in the article.
At the end of the year, Lamar released the video for "Sing About Me." With the help of visual artist Eddie Peake, Lamar broods over his legacy. "When the lights shut off, an artist's dream is that their work will stand the test of time. The ones that influence our culture are the ones we most remember." When the lights do go off, which we can only imagine won't be for a long time, we can guarantee that Kendrick Lamar and his talent have a permanent spot in our memory bank. While 2013 was a great year for the rapper, 2014 already looks promising as the video's next installment arrives in January. Lamar, who is also nominated for seven GRAMMY Awards, which include Best New Artist, Album of the Year and Best Rap Performance, will perform during the show. All hail the king.