I want to boast and brag about how I jumped on the K.dot bandwagon back when he was K.dot but unfortunately, I cannot. However, I am proud to say that since the release of Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed mixtape (O)verlly (D)edicated, I have been an enormous fan; having said that, I am here to critique the latest offering by the up and coming west coast artist entitled Section.80. It took me a while to review the album mainly because I had mixed feelings in how to go about reviewing it. I am a fan, and that makes it difficult to be critical and completely unbiased when doing something like this. Nevertheless, I feel like there are both positives and negatives when addressing Kendrick’s first real album. While reviewing the album, I asked myself if Section.80 lived up to the colossal expectations put on the young 24 year old emcee or did it fail to live up to the hype… let’s find out!

Lyrics : 9

It goes without saying, but Kendrick is a beast on the mic; he continues to stamp his place among the elites in Hip-Hop with his verbal assault throughout the album. On “Poe Man Dreams (His Voice),” Kendrick spits lines like “I used to want to see the penitentiary, Way after elementary, Thought it was cool to look the judge, In the face while he sentenced me, Since my uncles was institutionalized, My intuition has said I was suited for family ties.” On “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain),” he continues with lines like, She capture features of a woman, But only 17 and 7 cars start honkin’, She start running like FLo-Jo, Don’t care if they Joe Blow, If they got money to blow a blow job is a sure go, And sure enough don’t see, a dime of dirty dollars, She givin’ all to her daddy but she don’t know her father.” Both examples only give small glimpse into what is an entire album with amazing demonstration of lyrical prowess and charismatic flow.

Songs: 9

What can I say about the songs made by Kendrick that isn’t obvious when listening to tracks like “Hol’ Up” or “A.D.H.D.” (which has a very Bone thug and Harmony feel to me). The most commercial ready song on the album is “No Make-Up (Her Voice)” with Colin Munroe killing the hook, tells the females to lay off the cake faces.  The song unfortunately ends abruptly, but I assume that is because it leads perfectly into “(Her Pain) and there we understand why she does what she does. The album has just enough features to not overshadow Kendrick’s presence; two of my favorites are Schoolboy Q on The Spiteful Chantand the previously mentioned “Poe Man Dreams” which has a verse by legendary Chicago rapper GLC (personally my favorite song on the whole album). I could have done without the Ab-Soul assisted Outro, but it is a very nice recap; I enjoy almost every song with the exception of a few, maybe two at the most.  

Production : 8.5

I feel like if any criticism can be given was in the albums beat selection; now before everyone goes off, I do not think the beats are horrible at all. However, with the likes of the Schoolboy Q produced “Tammy’s song (Her Evil)” and the repetitive beat on “Rigamortus would be extremely annoying if not for the fact that Kendrick’s flow is astonishing on that track. Finally the almost horrible sound of “Chapter 10″ is only overlooked because it is not an actually song since it is only about one minute long. Other than that, it is almost impossible for me to find something wrong with the album.

Conclusion: 8.8

I wanted to give this album a solid 9, but couldn’t. I hate to say that the beats kept me from doing so, but I cannot really come up with another reason why. The subject matter and content is real and honest, I know 85% of all Hip-Hop listeners can relate too many of the topics addressed throughout the album regardless of where they are from. The beauty of it is that Kendrick is just telling his personal story and depicting the realities of growing up in Compton, California. I have heard many comparisons to previous and current rappers that Kendrick is like, however I cannot really agree with them because Kendrick is Kendrick. It is easy to see that he is not confused about who he is, there is no inner struggle in becoming mainstream or overly gangsta. I absolutely love the lane that Kendrick is creating for himself. He lays it all out in a very aggressive and powerful way that you cannot help but feel.  On a final note, the best example I can give you is from “Kush & Corinthians (His Pain)” where Kendrick says Live your life, live it right, Be different, do different things, Don’t do it like he did, Cause he ain’t what you is, But we can win.” I think this is a great example of what Kendrick is all about; and it is easy to say the future is very bright for the young Compton rapper. I would even go so far and say the West Cost has a new face!

Review by Edgar Gomez for Defsounds.com

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Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 is available for purchase on iTunes.