It's not a simple binary, but someone like Kendrick Lamar — lyrically skilled yet decidedly un-preachy, quick-tongued but hook-driven — has what it takes to split the difference between unflinching gangster rap audiences and ponderous "conscious" hip-hop heads. Hailing from Compton and boasting the endorsement of West Coast vicelord/expensive-headphone impresario Dr. Dre, Lamar has cited 2Pac, Biggie, and Nas as the primary informants of his style. However, his rise was predicated by his affiliation with L.A.'s "Black Hippy" crew, a mélange of thoughtful yet concise rappers like Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock. Lamar is just as quick to turn inward on his own shortcomings as he is to decry the injustices of the world. His forthcoming... More >>>