Today Kendrick Lamar received the Generation Icon award from the State of California. Senator Isadore Hall presented Kendrick the award and spoke very highly of him. He mentioned how Kendrick is a kid from Compton and has elevated far beyond the confines of the inner city into not only mainstream America, but also abroad. He has platinum, classic albums, 2 Grammys and has accomplished so much at 27, with a lot more to offer the world. Within his success Kendrick is still a familiar face in Compton and always gives back.
What’s most profound about Kendrick’s story is the deep message in his music and the wisdom he possesses. He reminds me of an old soul influenced by his environment–who overcame adversity with style and grace.
People who have not been forced to live within the confines of the inner cities, where we are disconnected in a sense from the rest of the larger society, do not truly understand or appreciate the importance of someone who “makes it out” the ghetto and becomes super successful.
Other than rappers, there really is no other direct or proper representation of the inner city on the mainstream level.
The feelings of happiness and hope that I get from Kendrick, are how people my age must have felt back in the 90’s watching clicks like Wutang represent, or labels like Rock-a-Fella blow.
This is why people like Jay-Z are highly praised. Ghetto youth growing up in despair, recognize the levels of success people like Jay-Z or other rappers listed in Forbes have achieved. These rappers are coming from the same or similar streets as them. So it gives ghetto youth the hope and desire that they too can make it out the ghetto and be successful.
We understand the slim chances of escape from these environments. This is why Hip-Hop and the story/journey of Hip-Hop is a beautiful thing. It is important to understand that without Hip-Hop, many inner city youth wouldn’t have a voice or a way out. America could have continued much of its atrocities and you would think Black youth were completely fine with the conditions of their lives.
Without Hip-Hop, think about how many Black youth whose name you wouldn’t know. Or maybe it just wouldn’t be associated with Hip-Hop. I was so happy for Kendrick to be honored in that way from the state of California. I’m so happy to know that the elders and heads of state appreciate Kendrick in a similar way in which I do. I don’t know how many rappers can say they are liked by politicians. I definitely think this holds serious clout for Kendrick, no doubt.
At the end of the marching we really need those who are from these communities who can effectively communicate to these politicians what we need–which influences policy. And policy and law changing/implementation is going to be the only thing that truly moves us forward as communities and ultimately as a country.
Like Tupac say, ‘we can’t get peace, till we get a piece.’ OK.
Kendrick accepted his award and gave the most humble thanks. He spoke briefly about growing up in Compton and how much it means for him to give back. Kendrick has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Compton School District and after school programs; helping to save music and athletic programs to keep youth off the streets. His fiancé was in attendance looking beautiful and holding Kendrick down.
The inspiration I get from Kendrick as a ghetto youth trying to achieve a personal level of success, is to believe in my aspirations and myself. And when I make it, represent and give back to the community that raised me. It’s only right.