Kendrick Lamar’s Growing Legacy

A look into the iconic rapper’s impact on the hip-hop community and sneaker culture.

Earlier last week, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city became the longest charting hip-hop studio album in Billboard 200 history, passing The Eminem Show. What makes this record more impressive is that the album dropped in 2012. 2012! 7 years have passed and the album is still charting. It’s one thing for an artist to have a their album on the Billboard charts, but it’s another to have it there for years.


Then again, you realize it’s Kendrick Lamar, one of the few true artists out there. Hailing from Compton, Kendrick represents his Californian background proudly. Mostly known for his rapping ability, Kendrick Lamar has gone on to utilize his skillset for a lot of influential media in popular culture. For one, he made an album for the MCU movie Black Panther, which itself broke records as well. The album was straight fire and it put a spotlight on a few artists that needed the exposure.

Black Panther: The Album features a lot of songs that are well executed. Among them, King’s Dead, Big Shot, and Pray For Me are a few standouts with notable guests. Travis Scott, Khalid, ScHoolboy Q, Jorja Smith, Anderson .Paak, SZA, The Weeknd, and more are some of the features on this album. You’d think it would be almost impossible to feature this many talented artists, but Kendrick Lamar was able to do it. He even helped SOB X RBE create one of the craziest songs on this soundtrack. Before it, they were probably exclusively known in the Bay Area, but they’ve garnered a larger fan base due to Paramedic! This album has so many hidden gems, and then you realize it’s not even Kendrick’s best album; it’s just a project he had for Black Panther. He is fitting to be the producer of the album, so much that the songs still echoed the plot of the movie.


Including J. Cole and Drake, the trio has raised constant questions as to who is the best or most successful out of the three. Everyone will always have a different opinion, but honestly, they’re all extremely successful in their own respective careers. These three definitely have the Midas touch, and a gift for creating memorable tunes. Whenever they put out music, people stop and listen. Just as much as J. Cole and Drake have their own teams Dreamville and OVO, respectively, Kendrick has TDE on his side.

Although Black Panther: The Album is a masterpiece in its own sense, Kendrick Lamar has a large discography that is very impressive. Overly Dedicated, Section.80, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, To Pimp A Butterfly, untitled unmastered., and DAMN. are most of the work he’s put out. In that list, every album has so many good tracks that you realize just how iconic Kung Fu Kenny really is.


More than just an artist, Kendrick Lamar executes his projects with tremendous precision and dedication. When he releases music, it is done with sincerity and with his best efforts. Kendrick Lamar is a visionary, one that uses his platform to speak about issues relevant to himself and to his people. His performances have been amazing, as well. He really is genuinely talented.


Kendrick has done so much artistically that his influence has gone beyond the scope of the traditional hip-hop community. Kendrick was able to showcase a captivating story with his modern classic DAMN. I’ll take a step back and acknowledge how much of a masterpiece that album really is. Not only is the production excellent, the themes of duality flow throughout the entire project. Whether it’s the contradiction of “LOVE.” and “LUST.” or “PRIDE.” and “HUMBLE.”, there are blatant depictions of evil and good. But Kendrick goes beyond that, with songs like “DUCKWORTH.” that showcases vulnerability and the everlasting outcomes of a situation that happened decades ago.

There’s a reason why Kendrick Lamar was the first non-classical and non-jazz artist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2018. He is much more than a rapper; he’s a poet, a lyricist, a perfectionist, an icon. To win a Pulitzer Prize is an astonishing feat, especially with the selectiveness in the awards. Kendrick keeps breaking records and making history, and he really is a living legend.


He’s even been able to collaborate with big brands such as Nike. In the past couple of years, he’s come out with the Kenny Cortez sneakers. These shoes feature his album title on the side or in the shoe and replaces the “NIKE” on the Swoosh with “DAMN.” That itself is pretty amazing. These shoes are clean, affordable, and represent one of the best albums of this decade. K-Dot is for the people. These Kenny Cortez sneakers retailed for just $100. In the sneaker community, that is nothing for how much what these sneakers embody.


From hip-hop to sneakers, Kendrick Lamar has made his presence known. He will be remembered for years and years, even after he retires. His legacy is still being imprinted, but we can already call him a legend for his impact and his influence on others. Now we wait for him to drop another album.

DTLR Staff

Culturally-educated and sneaker-cultivated, our guest writers continue to bring these creative stories for your enjoyment.

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