Kendrick Lamar has been out for a full presidential term at this point – his latest studio album, THIN., abandoned in April 2017. In 2018, he supervised the Black Panther soundtrack, which was a true TDE compilation project that has his fingerprints and vocals on pretty much every track, but still not uncut Kendrick. Its radio silence has been particularly deafening since the start of the pandemic. Even K. Dot’s only guest feature in 2020 doesn’t really matter, as it’s really just the mastered release of a song that’s been around since 2018. So it’s only fair that his comeback should have the grandeur of it. ‘a speech on the State of the Union.
It’s no surprise either: Kendrick’s album releases are carefully orchestrated events. With each project comes a polished aesthetic that reflects the new themes it explores, and the preparation for its announcement and release is finely tuned. The first step towards his next album came last week, when he posted a letter letting fans know about her life and state of mind, while casually dropping the bombshell that her next album will be her last with longtime label TDE. It came as no total shock – in 2020, Lamar announced pgLang, a new company he founded alongside his friend and former TDE chairman Dave Free. It makes sense that Lamar would turn to album release through his own business as he seeks to build a versatile entertainment business that seems similar in scope and ambition to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. . pgLang hasn’t done much yet, but the main focus of the company seems to be to break up Baby Keem, an up-and-coming rapper who’s already recorded a few trendy and acclaimed songs, and also happens to be the cousin. by Lamar.
Which brings us to last night, where Keem’s latest single from his upcoming album, “Family Ties,” also heralded the start of Kendrick Lamar’s next phase. Two minutes into the start of the horn-heavy and booming triumphal track, Keem embarks Big Cousin Kenny to fully take over – and Lamar wastes no time throwing the gauntlet.
Of Classes the guy who did “Control” would start his first major verse in years with lines like “I’m the Omega”, or “Smoke on your top five tonight” or “Don’t talk to me unless this is not be with four letters “(read: GOAT). For nearly two minutes at a stretch, Lamar offers a multitude of streams, voices (“Amazing, brother“) and bars, alluding to the pandemic and casually taking peers to task for their microwave” activism “and social media gadgets to sell records. One way or another, he finds room for everything, from a Voice of Hulk Hogan to a scream from Megan Thee Stallion and make everything work. And unless I read too much in the line “A girl, but they’re all my sons in this female dog,” he just casually told us that he’s become a father, which checks for someone who is sadly reluctant to share the details of his life.
Towards the end of “family ties”, Kendrick reconnects with Keem for a family back and forth. Keem isn’t as lyrical as Kendrick, but they have a complementary style in their approach to melodic flows, distorted pronunciations, and use their vocals as an instrument that lines up well for their first piece together. (Fans of Day One Keem will appreciate its reference to “two phones.”)
And lest the song’s State of the Union theme be underestimated, most of its appearance in the accompanying video (directed by Dave Free) is in front of a large, blown-up pgLang flag. It is a new era indeed. But don’t expect a full Kendrick album just yet. Lamar wrote his note very carefully to say that he is still working on the new project. Also, if pgLang is banking its launch on positioning Baby Keem as the future, it would make sense to give Keem’s album some breathing space.
But make no mistake, Kendrick is coming. As Lamar warns, “2021 he’s not taking a prisoner. “Hopefully we will have an album by the holidays? Until then, do as he asks and “be patient, brother.”