You know what TPAB is.
You know how important it is to the world of music, how every music fan and critic simultaneously spunked all over this thing and is still spunking all over it years later. You know how politically potent and consciously transcendental it is, how every song, poem, line, word, and syllable is dripping with intellect and higher thought, how apt and relevant of a commentary it makes on discrimination, the music industry and how human beings are bound by their environment, and refused to be or merely cannot be enlightened by the bigger picture, until seeing it themselves. How it’s the highest user rated album on this site, ever.
You don’t need a white man such as myself repeating and echoing what has already been said about this masterpiece, deconstructing and meticulously dissecting every hard hitting line, every mind melting beat, every mesmerising flow, every masterfully executed theme. You don’t need me to tell you what this album is, how the genres it exhibits meld and simmer and transfuse and boil and intertwine like broth in a bowl of ramen, how the tracklisting and progression of the album feels like being eased into jacuzzi of blissful steam and being submerged in skin warming water.
How the album is brimming with memorable moments; the start of “Wesley’s theory”and Dre’s appearance; the interlude “For Free?”, the performances on “institutionalised” and the beginning of the TPAB poem; the ending verse on “These Walls”, the screaming in “U” and the weeping verse on the track; the transition from “For Sale?” to “Momma”, the backhalf of “Hood Politics”, and it’s transition into “How Much A Dollar Cost”; the entirety of “The Blacker the Berry”, the speech at the end of “i”; the completion of the TPAB poem and the interview with 2Pac at the end of “Mortal Man”. How the creativity of this album is astounding at every turn, enough to leave any rapper in the 2010s, as well as other rappers at the time, shaking their heads.
You don’t need me to tell you shit.
Because Kendrick Lamar tells it all. Somehow, Kendrick manages to one up every Compton rapper that inspired him in the first place yet still pay homage in a respectfully whilst acknowledging the flaws of his heroes and the industry he adores. Kendrick Lamar is a spiritually liberated and accomplished man, he has seen the highs and lows of humanity, life inside and outside of Compton. His perspective and outlook on life is far grander than you and I. Channelling everything he’s learned and felt through his life, Kendrick crafts the set of songs he was destined to create, a flawless album that is emblematic of everything that is great about music.
To me, music is therapy. It’s a creative breeding ground to share yourself completely, resolving your own emotions whilst providing cathartic release or shared happiness with your listeners. It is the perfect medium to share your perspective on yourself and others, society and the world at large. It’s the perfect place to be emotional, to spearhead social change, to comment on real world issues, to reach out. Music has the power to heal, acting as food and education for the soul and mind. Everyone listens to music, everyone consumes music, so it’s the purpose way to express yourself and get your point across. To me, music is just so… Human.
And Kendrick knows this. He educates his listener by seducing them with fantastic music that can both be passively enjoyed and carefully dissected, lecturing us in a way that is blissful yet infinitely insightful. Kendrick opens up about his depression, the things that are holding him back, his life lessons and personal flaws, his resentment for racism and discrimination, his love hate relationship with the rap industry, and his optimism for the future, but it’s done in such a humble, down to earth way to the point where he still acknowledges his humanity and how he still has a long way to travel on his spiritual journey.
That’s exactly what this album is: Kendrick Lamar’s perspective, and lest we dismiss it; it should be listened to attentively, learned from, gleaned from. It’s for us to be moved by, inspired by, spurred on by. It’s an album that reaches for the biggest picture that Kendrick can conceive, yet it still acknowledges that bigger might still be possible. It’s a piece of art that anyone can listen to, that anyone can be enlightened by, that anyone can find hope in. To any music fan that has still yet to dive into this masterpiece: do it, right now. You will not regret it, I have every confidence that you will find something profound in this album that perhaps even I missed.
One last sentiment: From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you Kendrick for making this album, for being kind enough to give us what might be the greatest hip hop album, of all time.