Contrary to popular belief, 2012’s platinum-certified and critical darling good kid, m.A.A.d. city was not Kendrick Lamar’s debut. Aside from several independent mixtapes released in his native Los Angeles, 2011’s Section.80 was the first time Lamar got a serious audience to feel— or at least not kill— his vibe.
Section.80 was a critical darling on release for its slice-of-life narrative about fictional characters, similar to good kid, which focused on semi-autobiographical vignettes of Lamar’s life. Fiction, “non”-fiction, sure, but where does the 26-year-old rising rap star and GQ Man of the Year from Compton go from here?
“I don’t like to get stuck in doing something [so] that once I do move on and do my next joint,” Lamar told MTV News earlier this month. “I don’t want to get caught up in it sounding the same or being locked in to what I’ve done already. I always want to elevate myself and challenge myself.”
Lamar said he doesn’t have any set creative direction yet and suggested it might be a while before we hear anything new from him, as he’s letting the inspiration come to him passively.
“If I knock myself into the wall,” he explained, “I’ll probably be out the game for a minute because it’s stressful trying to be creative rather than letting creativity come to you and being inspired by something.”
It’s hard to say what all that means precisely. But what if Lamar does continue with his impressionist narratives and street poetry? Would his creative shift be so drastic as to abandon that, his signature swag? What if he does throw listeners something totally different? What might we see? Here’s five possibilities:
01) Ride Around Shining
Kendrick going all P. Diddy wearing a shiny suit in next album cycle isn’t likely. But it stands to reason that, for the first time, Kendrick is seeing some serious money coming from his rap career. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Kendrick to leave the street grit behind and show the world how he’s flossin’ on the cover of GQ now. While doing that, of course, he’d be telling the world what his and hip hop’s consumerism means to the world, namely the streets, at large. Or, forget it the conscious stuff, just ball outta control like Donald Trump.