Compton’s future Monarch was born in the summer of 1987. Christened “Kendrick Lamar Duckworth,” the atmosphere is in environment was both triumphant and perilous; decades-old gang warfare had become synonymous with the city’s name, and an economy birthed from narcotics had the community at odds with itself and law enforcement. The resulting tension culminated in the LA riots of 1992, shortly before his fifth birthday.
At the age of eight, Duckworth witnessed Dr. Dre and Tupac filming a video in his neighborhood. For him it was a glimmer of hope; he wasn’t seeing them on TV or hearing them on his radio, they were in his streets. Being in such close proximity of a pair of his idols left no doubt that he too could soar way beyond his palm-tree and sun-stained version of Gotham. This left an indelible mark on Kendrick and he knew that some day he would be that much closer to his dreams.
Growing up, his family, friends, and even some of the homies could also sense a greater purpose for him and sought to protect him as best that they could. They became his cocoon, a protective barrier against the temptations of gang life.
As a teen he persevered, excelling when it came to academia, but at times yielding to the vices and violence that enveloped the city he called home. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence were all hindrances that prevented him from ascending. But that desire to be in the presence of his heroes—who were from the same streets he resided in—always stuck with him. It let him know that there was a way out, a way to be free.
Now working under the pseudonym “K-Dot,” Duckworth proved his lyrical fortitude with the release of his first project, Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year. On this he laid down tracks that could’ve been mistaken for the work of reigning kings Jay Z and 50 Cent; this is when he began to transform. What started as mimicry later revealed itself to be his crown and wings slowly taking shape. His dexterity on the mic led to him being welcomed into the Carson, California, guild of lyrical assassins known as TDE. Lamar earned his stripes and put his talents on full display with the release Training Day, in 2005, and C4, in 2009.
As time went on he began to go by his birth name, refining his skill and developing a unique and powerful style. He continued to evolve until he finally shed his cocoon, allowing him to take flight and venture away from Compton.
His new path allowed him to soar as he’d always been destined to. In fact, higher than he’d even imagined: He began working with Dr. Dre and Snoop on Detox, and was later coronated by the two LA giants as the new king of the West Coast. He toured with Tech N9ne and Kanye West. He even found his name on the credits of Drake’s Grammy Award-winning Take Care. Then, when his wings were fully stretched, he shook the industry up by taking aim at every other rapper claiming to be king, with his now infamous verse on Big Sean’s “Control.” he went on to mark TDE as a force to be reckoned with, and ultimately signed a record deal with his hero Dr. Dre.
The new monarch of the West has taken his seat upon the throne. His debut and sophomore albums, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and To Pimp a Butterfly, and everything released since has solidified his legend. All hail the Monarch, aka King Kendrick.