I recently decided to revisit Kendrick Lamar’s discography to determine which one of his projects was my favorite. I will not go into much detail as to why each album is “ranked” the way it is. You have my Twitter and SOTBMusic album reviews for all that sort of stuff. However, this is my list of Kendrick Lamar’s albums in ascending order done so on a whim. I know how much you know I hate that sort of thing, but here it is. So, here we are. I implore you to read this, then check out the albums and figure out your own ranking. Don’t just depend on me to guide you completely; that’s not why I did this.
This one ranks last, not because it’s bad. It’s more so that Kendrick is still trying to find his voice between hip-hop rhyme savior and backpacker-y Lil’ Wayne-like artist. It’s a transition album from those K. Dot mixtapes to stuff like Section.80. Lots of fresh ideas are presented, but the execution still doesn’t hook me like Kendrick’s later stuff.
I debated on whether to include this in the list of projects, since it’s (technically) just a collection of loosies recorded around what appears to be the TPAB/DAMN. sessions. However, it fits mainly because while loosies, there is an overarching theme enough to constitute this one being considered an album, even if it’s just that these are demos and tracks that didn’t make it to any official album. This project ranks low on my list because–well, I really don’t know other than it not really being a release with a real story behind it. If taken on its tracks alone, it would rank higher. But, I’m old-school and still like some sort of a story behind my projects.
I love DAMN. I think it’ll be my album of the year. But, there are a few tracks that could’ve been axed or truncated. I didn’t really have that problem with my number two. However, DAMN. is an album that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let up until the end, which is why I’ll probably have this and gkmc as my 2A/2B, just as F&L and The Cool are my 1A/1B from Lupe. Plus, this project continues the story of Kendrick Lamar in a way that’s easily accessible without giving up its conscious edge.
I debated between DAMN. and gkmc in this two spot because while DAMN. hit me from first listen, it took a while for gkmc to grow on me. However, once it did, the Pulp Fiction-esque album influenced how I approached albums from a creative standpoint. Hell, I based the chronological order of Death of the King on the bits and pieces given away throughout gkmc in terms of its true story. I’m a sucker for that type of storytelling–when done right. Additionally, it’s hard to deny stuff like “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Black Boy Fly.” Again, DAMN. had a track or two that could’ve been trimmed, in my opinion. Maybe I’ll change my mind about that one day, but for now, gkmc has my 2A.
While DAMN. is a lot more accessible and gkmc has more classic singles, To Pimp A Butterfly is my favorite Kendrick album. It’s a classic project that’s unashamed to be pro-Black and unashamed to have a concept–like the rest of Kendrick’s discography. However, I find myself revisiting this one more than even gkmc.
Again, guys, these are just personal preferences. Feel free to disagree.