Kendrick Lamar gets higher over a J. Cole beat

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Kendrick Lamar

I'm starting to get this strange impression the Black Hippy dudes are determined to be the anti-thesis to everything Kanye West. The notion began with Schoolboy Q's “Figg Get The Money,” in which he lifts the opening bars from Ye's “Get'em High” only to cut himself off with a “fuck that” and tear into his own style. It's not much to build an opinion on besides enjoying the humor of dissing a homage within seconds of dropping it.

Kendrick Lamar takes the Kanye critique a step further with the J. Cole produced “HiiiPower” off his third solo entitled #Section80. Lamar uses industry heavyweights like puppets to convey his vision of the black experience as an opposition to the iced out, chain-heavy hip hop lifestyle (see: “Vanity Slaves Pt.2”). When The Gucc makes his “guest appearance” on “Vanity Slaves Pt.2”, he's used as a metronome figuratively and literally as he raps “it's my auto-ma-tic and my auto-ma-toc”, as though he's organic rhythm to a work song.

On “HiiiPower” Kanye's lyrics from “So Appalled” are lifted to channel a Black Panther-informed perspective for the betterment of one's life, while serving food for thought on what we should truly be appalled by, instead of quietly accepting Kanye's inability to enjoy a good meal and white women as indicative of the common experience. By aligning oneself with the teachings of Marcus Garvey, the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Lamar is painfully aware of the target placed upon his back as the third verse speaks on the inevitability of being silenced. Indeed, Lamar's Compton-raised perspective is reactionary to the death of Tupac Shakur and all of the strong black minds before him that were either assassinated or slain in the struggle.

Much like Tupac, Lamar is in tune with what we want to hear versus what we need to hear. Shakur had a vision of someday empowering the black community through rap, but that vision was cut short. Lamar is following that balanced model it seems, easing the listener into his manifesto with baby steps of enriching the mind and body. It began with “Cut You Off,” in which Lamar addresses the social negativity of petty bickering. Above the pettiness are greater dilemmas addressed in “Vanity Slaves Pt.2” and “HiiiPower”, preventing the building of one's own pyramid not associated with conspirators' eye printed on our money.