Kendrick Lamar is a Grammy-winning American rapper, songwriter and producer who is known for his critically acclaimed albums like ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ and ‘Damn.’ While Lamar has achieved unparalleled success in the music industry as an adult, not much is known about his upbringing. This leads to the question: Where did Kendrick Lamar grow up?
Kendrick Lamar was born and raised in Compton, a city in southern Los Angeles county, California. Lamar grew up around gang activity and has drawn on his upbringing throughout his musical career, which he began in Compton. As a successful rapper, Lamar left Compton for Los Angeles, California.
Read more about Kendrick Lamar’s childhood and teenage years in Compton, how his upbringing surrounded by gang culture impacted his musical career, and where Lamar lives now.
A Compton Child
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth was born in the city of Compton, California, on June 17th 1987.
In Compton, Lamar grew up on welfare and section 8 housing together with his parents, who had moved to Compton from Chicago before Lamar was born.
Lamar’s upbringing in Compton was marked by the fact that he was always surrounded by precarious street activity.
Lamar grew up around gang members, as his friends and father, Kenny Duckworth, were members of the notorious Gangster Disciples.
And yet, Lamar was never in a gang himself, and instead focussed on his education.
He was known to teachers as being a good student, who was quiet, shy and well-behaved at school.
He attended McNair Elementary and Vanguard Learning Center in the Compton Unified School District, and later Centennial Middle School in Compton, where he was a straight-A student.
As a young boy, Lamar became interested in writing stories and poems about his upbringing in Compton.
Later on, Lamar discovered the socially-critical music of Tupac and Dr.Dre, which motivated him to move into songwriting. This is why he started writing and subsequently performing his own rap music under the moniker ‘K-Dot’ around Compton as a teenager.
In drawing on Compton and the gang culture he grew up surrounded by, Lamar’s music steadily started gaining popularity in the local music scene in Compton.
A Rapper from Compton
In the following years, Lamar kept on working on his music: For example, when Lamar was 16, he released his first mixtape called ‘Youngest Head N**** in Charge’, which reflected on his experiences growing up in Compton.
Gaining further and increased recognition, Lamar kept drawing on his childhood in Compton with further mixtapes entitled ‘Training Day’ (2005) and ‘C4’ (2009), which ultimately led to Dr. Dre signing him under his own label.
In this album in particular, Lamar heavily meditated on the city of Compton.
Lamar then went on to release further albums like ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ (2015) and ‘DAMN’ (2017), both of which won him the Grammy for Best Rap Album and solidified his status as a rap star.
‘DAMN’ even historically won Lamar the Pulitzer Prize in 2018, on the grounds that it uniquely captured the complexities of African-American life.
While Lamar has since moved to Los Angeles, where he can better follow his musical career, he has remained loyal to Compton. To recognize that as well as his exceptional talent, Lamar received the California State Senate’s Generational Icon Award in 2015.
This shows that throughout his career, Lamar has continued to be inspired by his upbringing in Compton. This only leaves us to wonder what issues and personal topics Lamar’s music will tackle next.