Kendrick Lamar – Real

I’m real, I’m real, I’m really really real.

I’d heard a single or two from Kendrick Lamar over the past year, and knew I liked his voice and style but never bothered to grab his Section.80 mixtape. So anyone else who’s heard his official debut good kid, m.A.A.d. City can imagine how completely my hair was blown back in surprise: his bravura storytelling prowess, easy-like-falling cadence, all-star lineup of peripheral talent behind the mic and mixing boards; most of all, the entire album comes together in a cohesive narrative which completely justifies the subtitle of “A short film by Kendrick Lamar.” The spoken interludes are not only enjoyable but essential to wrapping the entire package up. Presented as a series of voicemail tape recordings from Lamar’s mother while he’s out on the town in her borrowed minivan, the final episode unfolds within this song, flipping aspiration to inspiration and leaving a lump in my throat.

Whether it’s the Erykah Badu-like hook and bouncing beat or the way “love” acts as a prism through which several verses are refracted, something about this track in particular allowed it to burrow under my skin and seal the wound from inside. Since Lamar is such a gifted storyteller this almost feels like a spoiler to share a song near the end… but it’s too good to keep to myself. If you haven’t heard the album yet, do yourself a favor and try possibly the best major label release I’ve heard in years.

There he is, eating cereal and sporting what looks like the exact haircut I had in 1991.

You can grab the album on Amazon, but I’m waiting for a vinyl copy.

6 thoughts on “Kendrick Lamar – Real

  1. Pingback: URL

  2. Those pants are amazing.

    I’ve been pretty addicted to that new Kendrick lately. Glad I didn’t “spoil” it for myself when I first saw this post, it definitely has more of an effect if you hear it near the end.

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    • It’s a perfect end to the album’s narrative. In fact I think it could have been a great end to the album itself; Compton feels like a bonus track after the emotion & finality of this one. Plus, the tape which started with track one finally winds down here! Then, boom! Dre feature! It’s a good song though so I won’t begrudge it.

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  3. The sonic mix-and-match keeps the album unpredictable, but also leads to some bloat, with seemingly more attention paid to lengthy spoken interludes than to potent hooks. Several songs feel half-formed and meandering — for instance, “Real” is a ridiculous 7:24. And on “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” K-Dot leans on that title line to the point of annoyance. These moments aren’t helped when Lamar breaks into a nasally, Urkel-esque voice for some of the sing-songy parts.

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    • You may be a bot but in case you aren’t: despite the fact that there are plenty of hooks on the album, this is more about the long-term goal of a full experience than a succession of hooks which add up to nothing. The non-music parts could have been shorter, but after a few full runs though the album they feel indispensable. More than that, they’re enjoyable – not something to merely tolerate between verses.

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