It was SWC who introduced me to Kendrick Lamar, in fact it was via a recommendation in an e-mail a few years ago, in which he said the 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly was a bona-fide classic. I was intrigued enough to go seek out a few tunes on-line, and from that impressed enough to pick up a copy of it, along with its predecessor, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City from 2012.

I had no idea that the young man was a true multi-million selling superstar of the hip-hop/rap genre with a huge following back in the USA and whose name was being increasingly dropped by those who saw themselves as influencers across the media here in the UK.  I was just enjoying his music in the same way that I can with many contemporary black musicians, without me having any deep understanding of what he was singing about.

Come 2017, and I read that he was about to release new material.  It was something I really looked forward to as it would my first opportunity to pick up on something at the time of its release instead of me looking back.  The first of his new songs which was unleashed on a listening public was this:-

mp3: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Tremendous tune, but……………………..

I was, initially, very shocked.  It sounded like an old-fashioned misogynist rant – the sort of stuff that I thought had been driven out of the rap scene, for the most part, in the 21st Century.  And from a rapper who had a reputation for dealing with all sorts of injustices and prejudices?  Something was totally wrong.

And then, having given myself a shake, aided by grabbing a few views of the promo video, I breathed that almighty sigh of relief.

There’s a review out there by Bianca Giulione which, I think, nails it:-

“….he’s audacious yet self-aware, and just the right level of smug. With just two verses of lyrical invocation at his disposal, Kendrick makes the few hundred words feel like a manifesto.”

DAMN….I wish I could sum up music like that.



  1. Whew! You picked a good one JC! You are a bit more forgiving of KL’s lyrical intent than I am on Humble.
    First of all, the beat is ferocious. It helped me make more sense of Trap Music than I had to that point. I get that Trap is kinda a gumbo of a genre, but I now know what I like from it as much as what I dislike.
    Now back to that lyrical content…KL is a provocateur, a social commentator. But I think he rides a really thin line on Humble. Explain away his choice of using “lil bitch” and his graphic sexualized allusions, it’s fair game to anyone that wants to, including Lamar, but I feel there’s a bit of a false narrative there and it’s more about what you will remember from the song, what’s quotable, what gets people talking. In the end, the simple line “Sit down, be humble,” is the real message for me.
    I am really kinda excited that we are have this post on T(n)VV. Expanding minds, one post at a time.

  2. Great post, JC. I agree with yours and Echorich’s comments, Kendrick Lamar’s songs bear repeated listening, sometimes for me to unpick or grasp the true meaning and intent. It’s the golden thread that connects this to the records that I’d listen to as a teenager, poring over the lyric sheet or trying to decipher the vocals and content. Another recommendation via a friend’s son, was the rapper Dave. His debut album Psychodrama was complex and brilliant and his just-released follow up, We’re All Alone In This Together, sounds right up there.

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