It was absolute mayhem at NYC's legendary Chung King studios last night. Kendrick Lamar was previewing his upcoming major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city. Allegedly, a flyer for the listening session was posted on Facebook and the general public got wise to the private event, which would explain why hundreds of people crowded the door and stood bravely in the rain in hopes of catching a glimpse of Kendrick.
Upstairs, Kendrick Lamar stood in the dead center of the control room surrounded by dozens of people, looking as if his closing remarks from “Ab-Soul’s Outro” had come to fruition. He might have been one of the smallest people in the room, but he was also the calmest. Outside the control room, there were maybe another 100 listeners, all waiting for K. Dot to press play.
You know the listening session has become a full-fledged party when celebs are making cameos. DJ Kay Slay was in the cut, Pusha T stopped by for a bit, and Kendrick’s TDE brenthen Ab-Soul was seen floating around. Elle Varner even popped up and Amanda Seales played Scrabble on her iPad while listening to the new album. (“That’s how I listen...I have to be distracted.”)
In an era where rap is consumed with Twitter beefs, arrest records, and who's sleeping with who, many view Kendrick as the last great hope. He’s one of the few artists whose celebrity is not (yet) totally consumed by the perils of fame, but instead, a product of the quality of his music. That's why this session was so crucial. It could help answer whether or not Kendrick would live up to the hype and make music on his own terms or if he’d succumb to the pressure and make a lackluster album—or worse yet, a dreaded “commercial” effort—like so many rappers before him.
Considering the frenzy of the listening session, one that was quite unlike any other session in recent memory, it’s safe to assume Kendrick has gotten the attention of hip-hop without having to ever break Billboard’s Top 40. Better yet, when Kendrick finally did press play, he showed that his debut album will live up to expectations. The album doesn’t abandon any of Kendrick’s themes, instead it plays like a proper follow-up to his excellent Section.80.
Although they only played a total of eight songs between the two separate sessions and no song titles were given, we still whipped together a disjointed album preview for all the fans who are eager for Kendrick, but didn’t wait in the rain...
Written by Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)