5 reasons why Kendrick Lamar’s the perfect fit for the Black Panther soundtrack
1. He has been rapping about topics such as racism and oppression since his career began
Kendrick Lamar debuted his very first studio album in 2011, Section.80, and it was ladled with his experiences while growing up in Compton. Its single, 'HiiiPoWeR', which talks about black activists in the past, went on to become the album's most popular track. According to the 30-year-old, the three 'i's in the song title stand for heart, honour and respect — the three main things that people should have and live by.
2. A trip to South Africa changed him
When he visited the country back in 2014, Lamar mentioned in an interview that he felt he "belonged in Africa" and it had never crossed his mind that such a place would be so important to him. Lamar added: "I saw all the things that I wasn't taught. Probably one of the hardest things to do is put [together] a concept on how beautiful a place can be, and tell a person this while they're still in the ghettos of Compton." He definitely kept Africa in his heart and mind, as he went on to feature its local artists on the Black Panther soundtrack like Babes Wodumo, Sjava and Yugen Blakrok.
3. He has a whole string of awards to prove it
His five wins at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards this year — best rap album, best rap song, best rap performance, best rap collaboration and best music video — which validated the fact that he is one of the best rappers in the industry. The winning factor was when Lamar opened the award show with his song "XXX", together with U2's Bono and The Edge. They sang in front of an American flag on screen and were surrounded by soldiers, which was dubbed by the media as one of the most powerful performances ever.
4. His songs are anthems for the African American community
2015 saw activists at Cleveland State University protesting against the police for arresting a 14-year-old for being allegedly drunk. But, all that passed their lips was the lyrics to Lamar's jazz-filled song, 'Alright', from To Pimp A Butterfly, chanting the chorus "We gon' be alright". That didn't stop there, as protesters celebrated and cried the same lyrics when the then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's rally was cancelled in Chicago the following year.
5. He has a heart of gold
Sit down, be humble. Lamar may be banking in the millions, but he never fails to play an active role in charities and helping others in need. He donated US$50,000 to fund a music programme in Compton's Centennial High School in 2013 and took part in a Christmas concert and toy giveaway at Nickerson Gardens Projects in 2014, earning him the 35th Senate District's Generational Icon in California the next year. "Mr. Lamar has not only given voice to a new generation of urban youth, he is demonstrating the best of what it means to work hard, do well and give back to his community," said then senator Isadore Hall III.
— Isadore Hall, III (@IsadoreHall) May 11, 2015