The Dalai Lamar: How Kendrick became my idol and ruined my life

I wrote this as a sample piece for a magazine I was applying to and I totally missed the mark. My usual low-key-joke-filled stile was not appropriate for this publication in particular, I realized after I sent it. Luckily, I convinced them to let me write another one and this time I’ll adapt to their tone and get that spot in their staff, but that’s neither here nor there. The thing is, I finally have a new text to share with you, my non-existent audience.

The funny thing about it is that the last few paragraphs don’t really represent how I feel, I just saw the opportunity for comedy and went with it to the bitter end. I couldn’t care less that Kendrick is a millenial, an artist is an artist is an artist.

I hope you all enjoy it, people of the world:

The Dalai Lamar: How Kendrick became my idol and ruined my life

Idols are hard to come by. When I started listening to music there seem to be plenty to go around, I was young and discovering a whole new world. As Kurt Vonnegut said: “Virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician,” so mine have mostly come from that area. As time went by and the spell wore off, most of them disappointed me one way or another. I realized they were humans after all. The few that remained Godly accompany me to this day.

As I got older the bar got higher and higher and my admiration started shifting to artists from the past, pioneers whose body of work was huge and couldn’t break my heart. My main interest, nevertheless, has always been the new and —as my tumblelog (in Spanish, sorry) can attest— I’ve been studying the cutting edge for as long as I can remember. So I wouldn’t say they don’t make musicians like they used to, but as far as idolatry goes, I’m much more careful on where I place my chips.

Enter Kendrick Lamar. As soon as the hip hop websites persuaded me to listen to him, I knew. I acquired Section 80 and spent weeks with it, getting my mind blown on a regular basis as the deciphering process progressed. Then came the complex concept album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, which he labeled as a “short film” and is one I still watch constantly. The singles that preceded it were lacking depth to me; little did I knew how meaningful they would become in the context of the whole collection, inside the full picture. In the years leading to his next release I studied the first two mixtapes and couldn’t believe how clear a vision he had from the beginning.

When To Pimp a Butterfly dropped, on first listen, I almost cried when the Tupac interview ended what would become one of my favorite albums of all time. Lamar threw a curveball to the hip hop purists and released a dark, jazzy, avant garde piece of work with huge amounts of live instrumentation that was right up my alley. The sophistication and psychedelia of the work appealed to my sensibilities. The intricacies kept me busy all year. If I was completely insane I would have thought it was made specifically for me. I’m not and I didn’t. Shut up, I didn’t!

Earlier this year, much faster than anticipated, two hard hitting singles announced the arrival of his fourth studio album DAMN. At first I thought Kendrick was going to release a more commercial party album to claim his throne at the top of the charts. He accomplished all that and more. With contemporary sounds Lamar surprised me once again with a beautifully crafted mystery I still can’t fully comprehend. I know he’s trying to say something nobody has deciphered yet. That much is obvious to me.

With all that said, I can now safely declare Kendrick as an idol of mine. A real artist who can sell albums, a complex individual who connects with a huge ammount people, a trickster, a puzzle, a success. The curious thing about it from my perspective is that he’s the first person I hold in that position that’s younger than me. Since I don’t follow sports except for the FIFA World Cup, this is the first time that this has happened, uncharted territory. It feels kind of gross, to be honest.

It leaves me with more questions than answers. Can I still talk shit about his generation? He’s one of those millennial, for God’s sake. Can I still consider them as brainwashed wastes of space and order them to keep off my fucking lawn? Does Kendrick validates them as people? The worst thing about all this ordeal is that it’s bound to keep happening as my life progresses. Even with the thinning hair and the memory loss, I had convinced myself that in general my faculties were getting better with age, that I had no problem with growing old. But this admiring on younger people is disgusting. I suspect this is one of the unacknowledged reasons old music fans stop following current trends.

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