Like most hip hop lovers, I spent part of yesterday checking out Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”. While I listened to the whole thing yesterday, I now need to go back and listen with my whole being and not just my ears so I can fully enjoy and appreciate this body of work. I love so much about it already, now its just a matter of digging into and dissecting the tracks one by one and identifying what about each moves me. Kendrick has created a stellar album with “To Pimp A Butterfly”, It is a career defining piece of creativity that is a perfect storm of everything this man is in this moment in time. The authenticity of his voice, his lyrics, his cadence are exactly what rap can be at its best. Its shoos away the fakeness of repetitive stupid lines about guns, cars, hoes and such spoken by broke dudes who have yet to experience much of any of those things. “To Pimp A Butterfly” brings to the center a voice that is by turns brash, loud, thoughtful, pain-filled, sad and angry. It depicts a fully-fleshed out artistic vision birthed by Kendrick and his team, not the typical one-sided caricatures of rappers that take up way too much space in the world of music.
But Kendrick is not alone in presenting a creative, authoritative, entertaining, authentic, fully-developed voice. There are several Baltimore artists who are on similar artistic paths — whose ability to meld their truth to rhymes is making listeners take notice. While you’re appreciating Kendrick’s achievement, I also encourage you to check out these local artists. While their styles and perspectives vary, they all have found a way to bring a compelling freshness to their truth telling. They all tell excellent stories and paint vivid pictures with rhyme, and all deserve your ear just as much as Kendrick. And of course there are other local artists out there who should probably be listed here — bring them to my attention by hitting me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. And make sure you support them as well.
“Everybody’s So Sleepy” — Bond Street District (Paul Hutson and DDM). Available as a free download on Soundcloud.
“Great Scott” — Al Great and Street Scott. Available on Soundcloud.
“L.I.V.E. Now” — Eze Jackson. Available on Bandcamp.
“Stairway to Heaven” — Greenspan. Available on Bandcamp. (There is also a really nice remix of this project that is a collaboration between Greenspan and Graffititech on Soundcloud that you should also check out.)