Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper have been lauded for putting together some of the most important projects in recent times with DAMN and Coloring Book respectively. Producer 9th Wonder recently contextualized the two projects’ value to the hip-hop canon, saying they “couldn’t have come out at a better time” because “music has always been the voice of revolution.”
Appearing on PBS’ The Open Mind, 9th apparently took the title of the show literally, giving the rap giants strong praise for discographies tinged with political and spiritual themes. He credited Kendrick and Chance with “venturing off into a place that people think that hip-hop can’t go” with introspective albums that tackled themes of social justice, morality, and divine faith in a time where people feel like their “backs are against the wall” against the Agent Orange administration.
“In hip-hop, we span the idea of people that are trying to get ahead or feel like they’re oppressed… It seems like every time we feel like we’re oppressed, our music gets better,” 9th said. The Jamla founder also shot down the myth that “political rap“ can’t be commercially viable, pointing to Kendrick’s DAMN’s status as the highest-selling rap album so far in 2017.
“Hes changing that narrative, kinda taking it back to the times when Public Enemy It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back sold two million copies,” 9th said of Kendrick. That record was released in June of 1988, in the heat of the Reagan-induced crack era and golden era of hip-hop. Indeed, Kendrick and Chance are modern voices for that still-ongoing struggle. Time will tell how many more young artists come behind them to display the full “genius” of hip-hop that 9th Wonder spoke of.