From Jay-Z to Dr. Dre: Kendrick Lamar named his 25 favourite albums of all time
At a time when live music remains off the menu and venues across the globe remain closed amid strict social distancing measures, we’re dipping back into the Far Out archives to bring a momentary period of sonic relief.
Our section focused predominantly on music playlists has gone some way to provide a slice of entertainment during the quarantine period and, as we turn to our next subject, we have the brilliant rapper, songwriter and esteemed producer, Kendrick Lamar, to provide the soundtrack to the most recent lockdown news.
Lamar, born in Compton in 1987, has become one of the most influential voices in popular culture with his unique approach to the genre of hip-hop, a collection of work he has continually expanded ever since first releasing his debut record Section.80 back in 2011. Kendrick, who knew from a young age that being an artist was the route he wanted to follow, witnessed Tupac and Dr. Dre filming the video for ‘California Love’ which proved to be a pivotal time that would end up being a significant point in his life.
With the words of Tupac ringing in his ears, Lamar has grown to become one of the most influential artists of his generation. Having released four studio albums to date, the rapper has enjoyed critical success beyond his wildest ambitions and, despite becoming one of the most influential artists on the planet, Lamar has never been shy to pay homage to those who came before him as inspiration.
When discussing Dr. Dre’s iconic record The Chronic, Lamar said: “That was probably the first rap album I remember them playing in the house from top to bottom. Songs that I actually remember as a kid. That’s the start of them house parties I always talk about growing up.”
He added: “‘Lil’ Ghetto Boy’ was crazy because of the storytelling, and I do a lot of storytelling in this album. I really pattern… Like I listen to my album and how it’s broken down to 12 songs. It really kind of shapes and forms into an album like that. Just with the storytelling and what represents the city today and kids around the world today.”
The Chronic is just one of the 25 records that Lamar picked out as one of the records that shaped him from a young age. Sitting down with Complex, Lamar broke down how some of the biggest names in the business have helped shape his vision. “[What resonated with me was] the storytelling, just the storytelling, how in-depth the storytelling was,” he said of the Notorious B.I.G. “The storytelling and the flow. The one thing about West Coast music, we had storytelling, it wasn’t crazy in-depth like that, but we had it. Our stuff was more laid back, more flow and feel good, more how records felt. His was just grimy. Stories was crazy. Flows was crazy.”
With the likes of Biggie, Tupac, Dre. Dre and more all included, see the full list and playlist, below.
Kendrick Lamar’s 25 favourite albums of all time:
DJ Quik – Quik Is the Name (1991)
Ice Cube – Death Certificate (1991)
Dr. Dre – The Chronic (1992)
Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle (1993)
The Notorious B.I.G – Ready to Die (1994)
2Pac – Me Against the World (1995)
Tha Dogg Pound – Dogg Food (1995)
2Pac – All Eyez on Me (1996)
Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt (1996)
2Pac (Makaveli) – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996)
The Notorious B.I.G – Life After Death (1997)
DMX – It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Juvenile – 400 Degreez (1998)
DJ Quik – Rhythm-al-ism (1998)
B.G. – Chopper City in the Ghetto (1999)
Hot Boy$ – Guerrilla Warfare (1999)
Lil Wayne – Tha Block Is Hot (1999)
E-40 – Charlie Hustle (1999)
Kurupt – The Street Iz a Mutha (1999)
Dr. Dre – 2001 (1999)
DJ Quik – Balance & Options (2000)
Nas – Stillmatic (2001)
Clipse – Lord Willin’ (2002)
Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)
When discussing the inclusion of Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z, Lamar said: “I had to double back and listen to Jay-Z once I started writing. And one of my favourite tracks on there is ‘Politics As Usual.’ Just the vibe of it and the flow. I really captured that flow and stole that cadence just being a student of the game. It really stuck with me. ‘Y’all relatin’ no waitin’ / I’ll make your block infrared hot: I’m like Satan / y’all feel a nigga’s struggle / y’all think a nigga love to hustle behind the wheel / trying to escape my trouble.’ It’s probably one of the first verses I remember on that album.”
He added: “I got into Reasonable Doubt like 2002, 2001. I was super late. On the West Coast we weren’t really playing East Coast music like that just because of all the beef stuff that was going on—we was really influenced by that. I’m like 9, 10, 11 years old. I don’t wanna listen to nothing on the East Coast. Everything everybody was playing was Death Row.”