Words By Marky Mark
“Why isn’t street rap selling like Kendrick?”
That was the little gem tucked away on French Montana’s recently released Wave Gods tape. It wasn’t a question he had an answer to and at the time, it seemed rhetorical. Well, that time has passed. French sat down with The Breakfast Club and Charlemagne asked him about the line. At first, he decided to get his Neo on, dodging the question as if it were a bullet.
But, Charlamagne being who he is, the question came up again. So when put on the spot, French answered “Because they position him, like how they did at the Grammys, as the new music,” he said. “It’s not that it’s not the right thing to do, but you see like the whole thing was like Kendrick night.”
While Charlamange says he loves To Pimp A Butterfly, he agreed with French that it’s not something he bumps when he’s riding. “That album don’t sound like nothing that’s out – the whole Hip Hop,” he continued. “I feel like they just position you as the new face of Hip Hop…They put him on that platform so they can shift music towards that direction.”
Whether it bumps in the whip or not is a different discussion for another day. And I’m sure there are those who will argue that no matter how many times he rhymes about gang culture and his experiences growing up in Compton, Kendrick isn’t a street dude. While I don’t agree with French that there’s some intricate plot at hand to make Kendrick Lamar the new face of Hip Hop, I certainly understand his point of view and why he feels that way.
One could argue that ever since Kanye “Mase’d” the game all those years ago, it’s been tougher for aggressive content to get its due in the mainstream. The 50 vs. Kanye thing is a microcosm of that. But on the real, there’s always been a divide between the more “conscious” stuff and those who like to get gangsta’ wild with it, for better or for worse. I love To Pimp A Butterfly like I love Midnight Marauders, but I start every morning with a balanced breakfast and two scoops of Pusha T’s “Crutches, Crosses, Caskets.” I’m complex like that, as I’m sure most people are.
Kendrick’s moment right now has less to do with industry politics and more to do with the current state of race relations in the country. I’m sure if the industry had their way, the guy preaching about black power and performing in handcuffs to illustrate how black men are prisoners of physical institutions and institutionalized racism, wouldn’t be their golden child.