As Charles Dickens would say, ”It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” While The Reagan Era was a lousy one for economic policy (sorry, Republicans—wait, no I’m not), the very conditions that made life a struggle for inner-city dwellers helped ferment the musical movement we know and love. On his latest album leak, West Coast phenom Kendrick Lamar tackles the bittersweet nostalgia that characterizes hip-hop’s relationship with those formative years. Over the wistful, string-sampled production of Tae Beast, the XXL Freshman and freestyle series alum spits a lyrically dazzling account of his hometown’s tumultuous past, peppering his bars with throwback references (“Even the legs of Michael Johnson don’t mean nothin’...”) and expressionistic imagery (“1987, the children of Ronald Reagan raked the leaves off your front porch with a machine blowtorch.”). Complete with an extremely minimal hook by RZA (not sampled from any previous record, to my knowledge) this musical tour de force should only increase listener anticipation for Lamar’s new digital album, #Section80, dropping July 2.
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