June 17 In Hip-Hop History: Kendrick Lamar Is Born

Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick Lamar has been a warrior since he came out of his mother's placenta, and he's proven that time and time again over the past 37 years.

On June 17, 1987, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth was brought into the world by his parents, Kenneth "Kenny" Duckworth and Paula Oliver. Born in Compton, Calif., he was named after Eddie Kendricks of The Temptations and is the eldest of four children including two brothers and a sister. His affinity for the written word began in middle school, but his knack for rapping became evident in high school after he took on his first stage name "K. Dot."

While he was in high school, he began dating his now-wife and mother of his children Whitney Alford. He also met Dave Free, who became his hype man and evolved into his business partner. After he dropped his debut mixtape Youngest Head Nigga in Charge, Lamar landed his life-changing record deal with Top Dawg Entertainment. He graduated high school in 2006 and went to college, but dropped out to focus on his music career. Lamar dropped four mixtapes and built a cult following under his original stage name. He started going by his birth name after he dropped his debut, self-titled EP in 2009.

Kendrick Lamar started to gain more mainstream appeal in 2010 following the release of his mixtape Overly Dedicated. The tape featured plenty of notable talent like The Roots, who produced the intro "The Heart Part 2," plus other artists like Jhene Aiko, BJ The Chicago Kid, and his labelmates ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. The following year he dropped his debut album Section.80, which propelled him into superstardom.

Lamar ascended to the top of Hip-Hop's hierarchy with four more studio albums including good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015), DAMN. (2017), and his most recent LP Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers (2022). He also dropped a compilation album Untitled Unmastered in 2016 —which consists of unreleased tracks from his TPAB recording sessions — and curated the Black Panther soundtrack in 2018. Over the years, he's won 17 Grammy Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award.

In 2019, Kendrick Lamar and Whitney Alford welcomed their first child, a girl named Uzi, into the world. The following year, Kendrick Lamar launched his company pgLang with Dave Free. When he released Mr. Morale in 2022, Lamar debuted his young daughter and revealed his newborn son Enoch on the album cover. Once the LP dropped, Lamar fulfilled his contractual obligations to Top Dawg and focused on his own imprint. The first song to officially drop through the company was "The Hillbillies" with his cousin Baby Keem.

His 37th birthday comes a month after he took on Drake in their epic rap battle, and a few days before his highly-anticipated show in L.A. on Juneteenth. Fans expect to celebrate his born day, and watch him perform diss tracks like "Not Like Us" for the first time live.

Happy birthday Kendrick Lamar!

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