On Sunday night, Kendrick Lamar released his remix of “Classic Man,” a current hot track from the artist Jidenna. Lamar is not the first hip-hop master to tackle a remix of this song, but his version has attracted more attention from fans and critics than anyone else’s remix so far.
Lamar, whose ascent into public acclaim from a rough-and-tumble childhood in inner-city Compton has been described as one of the more intriguing and inspirations arcs in contemporary hip-hop culture, has received as much interest from critics for his lyrical stylings as for his political voice. He has been referred to by commentators as both a “California kingpin,” and a “master rapper.” He also recently gave an interview to The Guardian in which he discusses the very real challenges faced by inner city youth, and why his politics are inseparable from his music.
Lamar’s remix of “Classic Man”, currently buzzing across airwaves all over the country, begins with a clean verse and then builds on its baseline with increasingly complex rhymes. This is typical of Lamar’s musical style, and critics have praised its effectiveness. Notable lines from the track include: “I got key to my city, I got key to California,” and, ““I might legalize your homicide, and more marijuana.”
Both of these lyrics exemplify Lamar’s unique point of view on current events and American culture. While a lot of hip-hop music deals with the theme of trying to leave the ghetto behind, in Lamar’s music there is a constant tension that adds an epic dimension to the music. There is a constant tension between the artist’s “past”, the authenticity of the marginalized street experience, and the “now”, the experience of coming into fame and wealth after enduring such deprivation and violence. Lamar’s meditations of the topic have been described by music writers all over the English-speaking world as “endlessly illuminating”. Lamar is 28 years old.
His remix can be found on the album Wondaland Presents: The Eephus, set to release at the end of summer on August 14. The EP will feature six tracks, including a collaboration by Jidenna and Janelle Monae, and contributions from other artists of the Wondaland record label such as Roman GianArthur and Deep Cotton. Jidenna herself is a recent addition to the Wondaland collective, and her original recording of “Classic Man” currently fills the No. 60 slot on the Billboard Hot 100.