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Kendrick Lamar Refuses to Compromise His Vision

About four hours ago, Kendrick Lamar woke up to the news that the Golden Globes nominated him for its original song in a motion picture prize, honoring “All the Stars,” his collaboration with SZA from the soundtrack to “Black Panther.” The next day the Compton rapper would discover that he’d be up for more Grammys than any other artist, eight total, including song of the year, record of the year and album of the year. Read more…

All of them laud his work masterminding the platinum soundtrack to the $700-million-grossing Marvel Comics blockbuster

You’d expect a faint hint of jubilation, or maybe much-deserved flexing from the only rapper to ever win the Pulitzer Prize. Inevitably, celebratory feasts will come later; proclamations of greatness will be commemorated on wax. But in the moment, Lamar, the consensus choice for greatest rapper alive, is completely even-keeled, even reserved. He introduces himself as “Kenny”: soft-spoken, head bowed, moving with hyper-focused swiftness.

It’s just another Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles. Promotional obligations are being fulfilled. The promise of Hollywood accolades to come isn’t an ego-sating notch as much as a symbol of what can be achieved.

“It feels great. I’m not only representing myself, but I’m representing my people … people I’ve been familiar with since I was born,” Lamar says in a conference room at The Times’ El Segundo offices, overlooking the cars zooming past on the 105 Freeway.

It’s only a few miles from the traffic-slammed interchange famously rendered in the first scene of “La La Land,” but Lamar reflects the diametric opposite of those transplant strivers. He didn’t have to try to save jazz; he artfully embodied its spirit (and in the process helped blow up South Central and Inglewood virtuosos Thundercat and Kamasi Washington). The 31-year old Lamar is steeled by an unbreakable covenant with the Compton soil and culture that raised him.

“This is another landmark, another stepping stone to something bigger and greater,” he adds. “Best believe I’m proud. And I know Ryan is as well.”

The Ryan in question is Ryan Coogler, writer and director of “Black Panther,” who recruited Lamar to helm the original soundtrack to his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. The parallels between the pair extend well beyond being of similar age, creative temperament and socioeconomic background. They’re foundationally rooted in the independent tradition, which they transcended to become Trojan horses within pop culture at large. Thriving within the most rarefied strata of mainstream consciousness, Lamar and Coogler refuse to compromise their core vision and allegiances to the communities that irrevocably molded them. They’re beloved in both the ’hood and Hollywood.

Read the rest via LA Times

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