Of all the performances at Coachella this weekend, I was most interested in Kendrick Lamar’s. His new album, DAMN., was just released on Friday. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive. You know who came up in The New York Times review though? Here’s the paragraph:
Taken in total, it’s clear — for Mr. Lamar, there’s nowhere to turn for trust, safety, peace. And so on “DAMN.” he’s biting back, something that begins before the music even starts. The album and song titles are rendered in caps, with a period at the end. Defiant, controlled jabs. Exclamations without exclamation points. Mr. Lamar peers out from the album cover, focused and wary.
That continues on this sometimes boisterous, sometimes swampy, rarely fanciful album — it’s Mr. Lamar’s version of the creeping paranoia that has become de rigueur for midcareer Drake.
It reminded me of one of the best articles I’ve ever read about Kendrick and Drake from exactly two years ago written by Kris Ex for Complex: What’s A King To A God? Why Drake and Kendrick Lamar Need Each Other To Succeed. Drake and Kendrick have both just released new albums. And it was the same in 2015. Coincidence or conspiracy? Drake also showed up at Coachella this weekend, as a surprise guest on Future’s stage.
Neither one would say that they’re paying attention to the other. But who would Magic Johnson be without Larry Bird? Steffi Graf without Monica Seles? Serena without Venus? Roger Federer without Rafael Nadal? Muhammad Ali without Joe Frazier? Apple without Microsoft? What is the work without a rival? If Kendrick Lamar is giving us his “version of the creeping paranoia that has become de rigueur for midcareer Drake”, what does Drake do when his rival is doing his thing…and…maybe better? Writing for The Guardian this weekend, Lanre Bakare called Kendrick’s headlining set at Coachella “hip-hop opera of the highest order”. I wonder how much motivation – if any – that gives everyone else.
Duana and I touch on music rivalries on this week’s new episode of Show Your Work which we were planning on skipping because of the Easter holiday but we didn’t want to miss the work so a new episode of the podcast will be posted later today.
Yours in gossip,