In rap right now, there’s Kendrick Lamar and there’s everyone else | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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In rap right now, there’s Kendrick Lamar and there’s everyone else



The reason you’ll want to see Kendrick Lamar in concert is that he’s indisputably the best rapper alive right now. Lamar had the daunting task of releasing a follow-up to 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, which landed atop multiple year-end lists, including Pitchfork’s and Rolling Stone’s—a sharp-eyed examination of black American identity, Butterfly contained a rich musical synthesis of backpacker hip-hop, west-coast gangsta rap, jazz fusion, gritty funk, experimental R&B, and bedroom electronic music. But on this year’s Damn (Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope), Lamar stripped down his musical backing to straightforward hard-core rap beats and focused on demonstrating his next-level prowess as an MC. For evidence, look no further than the second verse of the track “DNA,” where Lamar launches into a breathless, mind-shattering flow in which he packs an incredible number of words and internal rhymes into four bars. Like this: “This how it is when you’re in the Matrix, dodging bullets / Reaping what you sow and stacking up the footage / Living on the go and sleeping in a villa / Sipping from a Grammy and walking in the building.”   v

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