We Plug To You... Kendrick Lamar - O(verly) D(edicated)

We plug to you – Kendrick Lamar. The emcee formerly known as K.Dot, is a 23-year old West Coast rapper hailing from Compton, California. Making music that's greatly reflective of the lifestyle he's been exposed to growing up in the ruthless city of Compton, Kendrick released his first mixtape at 16 creating a buzz for himself and recognition from what is now his current label TopDawg Entertainment. In a span of five years, he has released four mixtapes - the last being the critically acclaimed O(verly) D(edicated) which Roc Nation signee, J. Cole recently said was one of the best mixtapes of 2010. Lamar was also recently featured in XXL Magazine's 2011 Freshman class and is well on the way to making a name for himself so it's only right we get you plugged in from now...

The first track I’ll be sharing with you off of Overly Dedicated (OD) is the first I heard from Kendrick and my favorite. The TaeBeast-produced 'Growing Apart (To Get Closer)' starts off with a few drum kicks and snares. The initial minimalistic sound definitely does not come off as your typical rap-sounding track. Jhene Aiko’s vocals slowly transitions in on the song, smoothly complementing the instrumentals. Kendrick effortlessly flows with a personal tone and you can almost hear the pain in his lyrics.

“the place I used to call home is just a bed to me… I tried to make it right but my pen ran out of ink”
'Heaven & Hell' featuring Alori Joh in two words is simply dope. Unlike the previous track featured, Kendrick almost spits the first verse in one breath on this Tommy Black-produced Old School/R&B sounding instrumental. It might take a couple of listens (it took me two downloads and research thinking it was an incomplete track) but just incase you missed it; the first verse lists everything bad you would normally associate with hell. The second verse about ‘heaven’ fades out slowly into the instrumental; artistically relating the message no one really knows what heaven is really like. A lot of thought had to be put into that and the only word for it is genius!

Some stand-out songs on O(verly) D(edicated) include the Soundwave-produced track, 'Barbed Wire' featuring Ash Riser where we once again hear Kendrick spit what seems like effortless truth. The up-tempo beat with a hint of futuristic sounds lacing over nicely arranged drums and synths, is one of the best songs on the mixtape. The track 'Average Joe' holds that classic California sound the mixtape desperately needs. One gets a better feel of who Kendrick is in 16 bars as he aptly starts off the track with “who is K dot”. To tell us he is just an average guy, Kendrick raps over a 90’s west coast hip-hop instrumental or as they call it - G-funk with a classic bass groove.

The last track I’ll share from O(verly) D(edicated) which is also the last song on the mixtape is 'Ignorance is Bliss'. Producer Willie B creates a befitting canvas for Kendrick to tell his story. The flow and wordplay on this is very well carefully crafted with Kendrick’s lyrics relating to scenarios of ignorance he has faced in life. The heavy beat and chorus work perfectly together to make for yet another dope listening.

“gimme 2 weeks and I’m good ill make an album that’ll put a smile on Malcolm"
It would be interesting to see the reception to this conscious rapper as he tries to break into the mainstream market, but I can confidently say we will be hearing a whole lot more from Kendrick Lamar this year. While a few of the tracks on the mixtape may take a few listens to grow on you and become a favorite, it is an all round enjoyable release. Word is he is currently working on his debut album tentatively titled 'Good Kid in a Mad City' to be released later this year but until then, you can download the mixtape right below.

Download: Kendrick Lamar – O(verly) D(edicated)

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