I had the opportunity to take my daughter to her first concert recently. Here I go with the controversial bit: she’s turning 13 next week and I took her to see Kendrick Lamar. And it was FUCKING AMAZING. As I knew it would be. But I was also a little bit disappointed because he didn’t do two of my favorite songs off of his latest album DAMN even though it was the DAMN tour. But, I think I understand why he didn’t perform them at the same time. He wanted to keep the vibe of the room pumped up and happy (“i”) and the tracks I was hoping to hear are definitely a lot deeper and more emotional (“u”). See, I was looking forward to “FEEL” and “FEAR” because I wanted to get DEEP. I always want to get deep, I don’t shy away from the scary stuff, that’s why I’m not for everyone; that depth makes people uncomfortable, and that discomfort may be fine for at home listening to the album on your own, but K-Dot wasn’t trying to bring that feel to his show. I get that. I mean, the opening acts kept asking if I was there to party and I kept saying, no I was there to see Kendrick, I don’t really party. So while I would have loved a deeper, more emotional vibe, I’m just grateful to have been able to have seen him perform live because he was absolutely as fire as I knew he would be.
What I love about Kendrick is that I see my own soul mirrored in his art. While my taste in music is very eclectic, I’ve never really been a connoisseur of gangster rap (I’m more of an Incubus girl, really). But the first time I heard “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” I paused for more than just its catchy beat. The man raps poetry that makes my soul weep tears of familiarity, and for that I can never thank him enough. It’s not just that I can dance and sing along, it’s beyond a physical experience: I’m no longer a prisoner in my useless, broken body, I’m part of these lyrics and these rhythms that he combines and the synthesis extracts these feelings in me; it’s like he’s been in my shoes and I’ve been in his, and we’ve never even met but we know each other without needing to know each other because we both are a part of the VIBE, and nothing is deeper or more intimate and no one has ever really been alone because we are all a part of it, how could I have ever thought I was alone when the VIBE was here all along, when we are ALL united by the music and the nature of simply being human? Kendrick, your song IS more than a song, it’s my heart song, my soul music, and I didn’t know I was looking for it until I found it.
Let me explain: I’ve said in a previous post that I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember (“I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent”), and when I was 10 I wrote this poem called
I am trapped in a dream world
That no one knows but me
I wonder, wish, and hope
That some day I’ll be free
I sit alone and ponder
What it’s like to be
A very special person
Not hiding in a tree
I have found the keyhole
But I haven’t found the key
So I’m trapped in a dream world
That no one knows but me
So when I first heard “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, I kind of lost my mind a little bit because it’s all about feeling like other people are just not on the same level as Kendrick is, and how he tries to be a good person but the people around him just seem so fake and empty and he’s just not like that. My favorite part is at the end of the second verse where he says “I’ma break out and then hide every lock”, and I know he’s talking about how he’s gonna break out of the metaphorical box that is the rap game/Compton and hide all of the locks so no one can ever trap him again, but it just felt so RIGHT to me, like the natural follow-up to the poem I myself had written as a lonely, confused 10 year old girl. It meant so much to me that I tattooed it on my right forearm where I would always be reminded that no one gets to lock me away, not ever again. I am my own person, I made me, and I get to be proud of that, no matter who wants to try to judge me for who and what I am.
Because of my love affair with “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, I started my deep dive with Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, and worked my way through To Pimp A Butterfly, Section 8.0, Overly Dedicated, and even his untitled tracks. As soon as his new album dropped earlier this year, you better believe I was all over adding that shit to my Spotify playlist. The first time I put it on, “FEAR” came on while I was driving to the store and I started balling. I was absolutely not prepared for that level of emotion while I was out running errands, but I should have expected that from Kendrick. That’s what I get for not wanting to wait until I got home.
From “Growing Apart (To Get Closer)” to “Duckworth”…..just…wow. This man…this story…Damn. So different from my own, and yet, so fundamentally the same. And I know that I am no one special and shouldn’t think to compare myself to someone like him, but I honestly feel like if he knew my story, he would recognize my struggle for what it has been, because that’s just the kind of person he is. He HAS that humility (or at least I know he tries to, but it’s so hard to be humble); he understands that it’s about recognizing where we come from and trying to be better than that, but going back to help those still trapped in the struggle. It’s not about judgment or dwelling on the negative, it’s about the HOPE. It’s not even about him or me, we are nothing but vessels that deliver the message. We do it in different ways, and he’s managed to do it in a far more massive and more lucrative way than I ever could, but our purpose is essentially the same: to process our shit, and to try to help others find some light in this dark ass fucking world.
But I gotta keep it 100: I’m scared for him. I listen to tracks like “u” and “FEEL” and “FEAR” and I know how he feels because THAT’S HOW I’VE FELT MY WHOLE LIFE. And I’m scared for him beause I know people don’t understand me, and how they come to me always wanting more and more and more and how they suck me dry…and I have so very little to offer.
But someone like K-Dot….a whole world of leeches must be at his door, trying to suck him dry financially and emotionally, relatives he never knew he had and shit, and that is what it takes to make an atheist want to pray for someone.
So Kendrick (even though you’ll probably never read this), thank you, and I’m praying for you. And I’m fucking proud of you for taking the pain and the bullshit and making it your bitch to become the beacon of hope and humanity that you are, because you are absolutely a mother fucking diamond straight from the rough ass streets of Compton. When asked recently what I would put on my bucket list, the only legitimate thing I could think of was “talk religion and philosophy with Kendrick Lamar”. Maybe I’m underwhelming, but I just like thinking and talking and getting deep and controversial, and being able to do that with a mind that I respect that much…. I would be fucking honored, that’s all. I’m guessing that’s what his conversation with “Pac” was like at the end of “Mortal Man”.
P.S. I heard your lady is pregnant!!! You’re going to be an amazing father, and I absolutely CANNOT WAIT for the music that comes from this experience!!!!!!