Drake and Kendrick Lamar are two rappers that I was listening to before they got BIG, so to speak. Its been bugging me for sometime now that I'm noticing the changes in their content and persona, now that they've signed on to major record labels with Drake at Cash Money and Lamar at Aftermath. When Drake first came out he was much more earthy and sensitive and his content was much more "girl friendly", which is what initially attracted me to him. Kendrick also seemed to be more of a conscious rapper before he teamed up with Dr. Dre to produce his recent musical efforts.
In my humble opinion, Drake signing with Cash Money may have skyrocketed him to super stardom and gained him millions of fans throughout the world, but as far as his musical content, I think it might be the worse decision he ever made. When Drake was set to go pro (sign on to a major label) there was a bidding war between all of the top labels so he pretty much had the ability to pick and choose who he would officially start his professional career with. Many artists are not as privileged to be at the center of a bidding war and able to decisively choose the right fit for what they are seeking to accomplish in their musical career. When I initially heard that Drake had chosen to sign with Cash Money I was weary of what it might mean for his image and sound. Well, so far, Drake has gone from the sensitive, introspective and seemingly "harmless" Jewish boy from Canada to a bottle slinging, gun toting, entourage accompanying, tough guy that threatens other rappers and dares them to throw rocks at the Cash Money throne. *sigh*
Kendrick Lamar was also a unique and artistic rapper that seemed to shun record industry standards with musical content and artistry that dared to be different and dare I say it, conscious. If you know the West Coast music industry well, you are well aware that it is very rare to see an artist come from the West Coast that is not a gangsta from Compton or Watts and/or a blood or crip. Its almost as if Snoop Dogg branded our side to damnation, as record labels refuse to produce any artists that do not fit this stagnant gangsta/thug prototype. At first, Kendrick was a breath of fresh air, and he still is, but I am wondering just how much Dr. Dre's influence will deter him from his roots of uniqueness. At first Lamar was beckoning ladies to tear down their masks in "No Makeup" off his "Section 80" mixtape, where he proclaimed:
Damn girl, why so much?
You bout to blow your cover when you cover up
Don’t you know your imperfections
Is a wonderful blessing
From heaven, is where you got it from
I love your smile
You can do it without style
From your lips, all the way to your eyebrows
It’s the beauty in her
But when the makeup occur
I don’t see it, all I see is a blur
Now, I hear Lamar taking on the bad boy/playa role with lyrics like:
My nigga said he wanna fly out to get him some
3ws only for a three day run
Bitch, take the muthaf--king panties off you ain't no nun, shit
I be living in the sky every time i ride by them hoes
The lyrics above are from his debut single, "The Recipe" featuring Dr. Dre where he explains the top 3 reasons why people come to Los Angeles/Cali, which are "women, weed and weather". This tone of lyrics is a far cry from the newcomer that once talked about the trials and tribulations of growing up in the hood, political activism, the importance of being yourself, etc. etc. I am in no way saying that Lamar has done a complete 180 on his former views and lyrical content, but one can only wonder if his inner voice will be watered down to package him for the Hip Hop community the way that only Dr. Dre can.
Please don't get me wrong because I still love these two dudes' music and I salute their artistic capabilities. I just hope that in selling their music through a major label distributor that they don't sell their souls.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you noticed that once independent artists sign onto major record labels that their creative control has diminished?
Have you heard the differences in lyrical content from before Drake and Kendrick Lamar were signed to majors?
Are you no longer a fan of Drake's after he signed with Cash Money Records?
Do you see a change in Kendrick Lamar's lyrical content?