Kendrick Lamar Was Making Great Music Long Before “Section.80.” Remember “Vanity Slaves” (Audio)

By now, Kendrick Lamar is a household name. Considered by many to be one of today’s most talented Hip-Hop stars, his appeal has extended beyond the realm of Rap into pop culture and politics, thanks in part to his work with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and his popularity among today’s political and social activists. While his highly publicized and tremendously well received albums like 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d city and this year’s To Pimp A Butterfly have catapulted him into mainstream success, his earlier projects like his debut studio effort Section.80, his handful of mixtapes, and his 2009 self-titled E.P. have yet to be fully embraced by large audiences, leaving a proverbial goldmine of great music to be unearthed.

It is from that E.P. from whence today’s Do Remember inspiration is drawn. “Vanity Slaves” is one of the stand-out tracks on Kendrick Lamar, his only release of its kind. Featuring not only fellow TDE members Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, the project is also home to a guest appearance from Rapper Big Pooh, and the project’s length (it’s a whopping 16 tracks) makes it play more like a fully thought-out album, albeit one that covers the work of other artists. This particular track is built atop 2008’s “Daykeeper,” a Foreign Exchange track featuring singer Muhsinah, from the group’s Leave It All Behind album. The original version is a sultry love song, while Kendrick’s version takes a more rugged, aggressive approach. As the then-22-year-old MC spits well-versed bars about the many facets of his inner self and the struggles faced by his community, the Neo-Soul backdrop offers up a sensuous retort to Lamar’s lyrics. Take a trip back to the days before King Kendrick by pressing play.

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