Introduction: Who are both Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead? If you asked me that question in person, I’d probably spend a good two hours and a half telling you how incredible they both are and how they both shifted the paradigm in music. However, I’ll give it to you in brief terms. Kendrick Lamar is a rapper who hails from Compton, California and is signed by TDE/Interscope Records. He is the most critically acclaimed artist of this current decade. Radiohead on the other hand are an English rock band from Oxfordshire, England who are in my opinion are the greatest rock band of all time. Lets be honest here, no rock band has successfully succeeded Radiohead in term of consistently putting out quality music and being as innovative as the English band. Coldplay had that potential but everything after A Rush of Blood the the Head has been average to mediocre and Muse straight up copied Radiohead. However what if their successor was in a different genre? This is where Kendrick Lamar comes in. Kendrick Lamar may just be raps Radiohead and Radiohead may just be rocks Kendrick Lamar. They are more alike than you would actually think.
Kendrick Lamar’s Overly Dedicated and Radiohead’s Pablo Honey
These are the major beginnings of both artists. Pablo Honey is the debut studio album by Radiohead, is generally considered to be their worst and is often held in a negative light in comparison to the band’s following studio albums. While not a bad album at all to me at least, it is long forgotten. Overly Dedicated, while not an album itself represents an era when Kendrick blew up in 2010. Major Blogs were talking about it, hailing Kendrick Lamar as a talent to watch. Most of Kendrick’s Fans will tell you that it’s a terrible project when comparing it to his later work. Both Pablo honey and Overly Dedicated share the ills of being compared to later monumental works, when actually they are both decent releases. Pablo Honey stood out from others when it was released and Overly Dedicated has some of Kendrick’s best songs such as ‘Opposites Attract (Tomorrow without her)’, ‘Average Joe’, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ and ‘Cut You Off’.
Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 and Radiohead’s The Bends.
The Bends and Section.80 are monumental albums that became a great example of each respective genres. Both albums also gave us clues as to what themes both artists were going to visit continuously later on in their careers. On The Bends, the album deals with feelings of abandonment, loss, questioning ones purpose on earth and the personal struggles of the band. Themes they would later on explore more on their next album OK Computer. On Section.80 Kendrick Lamar explores socially conscious themes, the album is essentially paints the picture of people born in the 1980s and the effect of the crack epidemic that occurred in the 80s. He raps about personal struggles, institutional racism and drug abuse within the black community and amongst young people. Section.80 for me is Kendrick’s most important album because it was the ground work for both Good Kid Maad City and To Pimp A Butterfly by taking the themes of personal struggles and institutional racism and exploring it more on both albums. For me Section.80 was all about the problems in the black community, but the album had no solutions to on how to address those problems. Kendrick tells us those solutions in TPAB.
Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid Maad City and Radioheads OK Computer.
Both GKMC and OK Computer were landmark albums that pushed their genres into new territory. Both are masterpieces displaying new ideas, using the themes of their previous albums and combining them with new themes and new sounds while still being accessible albums. GKMC became a cinematic atmospheric experience exploring his personal struggles in growing up in gang ridden Compton. It was also the time to when Kendrick crossed over to the mainstream by incorporating trap and bass heavy songs as did the electrical and densely layered sound of OK Computer catapulted Radiohead to worldwide fame. OK Computer is also a conceptual album about the dangers of technology, social alienation and emotional isolation. The last two themes being prevalent in the band’s previous album. Both albums also became very influential in their respective genres. Kendrick’s GKMC arguably influenced YG’s My Krazy Life, Logic’s Under Pressure and Tory Lanez I Told You. GKMC spawned an era of conceptual rap albums. OK Computer went on to influence Coldplay’s Parachutes and Muse’s Origin of Symmetry. The album initiated a shift away from the popular Britpop genre of the time to the more melancholic and atmospheric style of alternative rock that would be widespread in the 21st century.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Radiohead’s Kid A
TPAB is considered to be Kendrick’s greatest album and rightfully so. I would go as far to call it the greatest rap record of the 21st century. Kid A although panned at first later became one of the band’s most important album, however it doesn’t come close to OK Computer in anyway possible. Both TPAB and Kid A were courageous experiments that both artists took that transcended their genres. Considered by critics to be the peak of either artist (I think Kendrick is going to top TPAB on this next album and in my opinion Radiohead peaked with OK Computer), both have similarities to their origins and were massively influenced by earlier musical legends. We wouldn’t have got TPAB if not for Funkadelic, Gil Scott Heron, Prince, Miles Davis and The Isley Brothers. On the other hand we wouldn’t have got Kid A if not for Aphex Twin, Bjork, Auteche, Kraftwork and again Miles Davis. Due to those influences TPAB delved into funk, disco, jazz and RnB rather than solely hip-hop, and Kid A had a more electronic direction than a conventional rock album. To Pimp A Butterfly answers the questions asked in Section.80. How do we solve personal problems and depression? By loving yourself, embracing whatever religion you believe in, taking a trip to Africa and knowing your worth.
Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered and Radiohead’s Amnesiac
Lastly we have Untitled Unmastered and Amnesiac. Both are leftovers and B-sides from their previous albums, and both have a rougher, even more experimental and darker sound, while still running with the themes and ideas from their predecessors. Those being paranoia, personal struggles, racism, depression, loneliness and anti-capitalism. In addition one thing to also note about the similarities between Amnesiac and Untitled Unmastered is choice of album covers. Both are portray a confusing, minimalist and ambiguous image with very sad and dark colors. Radiohead released another great album last year, but I have a feeling that Kendrick’s next album is going to be something incredibly special and worthy.