Kemba Shows Exactly Why He’s Cosigned By Kendrick In “Caesar’s Rise” (Video)

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Bronx, New York-bred rapper Kemba, a staple of the city’s Hip-Hop scene, changed his name from former moniker YC The Cynic to release his Negus album last year. More than just an aesthetic decision, his reintroduction symbolized a shift in his musical direction. When Kendrick Lamar pulled him up onstage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn last December, Kemba kicked a concise verse about gentrification, police brutality and, perhaps not so coincidentally, new beginnings. The visibly impressed Compton MC then instructed the crowd, and the many more watching live on social media, to “remember that motherf*ckin’ name.”

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The brief, unplanned and unexpected cosign instantly catapulted Kemba’s career, even contributing to rumors that he’d possibly been signed by Top Dawg Entertainment in secret. Although unfounded and since disproved, combined with a cryptic tweet about an unnamed “John Doe” signee who released an album in 2016 by TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, it’s not hard to see why one might’ve speculated as much. Although the mysterious “John Doe” was later revealed to be Inglewood’s SiR, considering the stellar quality of Negus, the always thought-provoking content of Kemba’s music and the evolution of his sound, it’s completely believable that a label like TDE would take interest in the rising leader.

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Take, for example, the recently-released cinematic visuals for his Negus banger “Caesar’s Rise.” Although less-overtly based on the source material, directed by Jonathan Salmon, the powerfully poignant video tells the tale of three friends and how societally-imposed greed and envy lead them astray. As the beat builds in intensity, the crew takes a violent turn and we witness the veritable fall of its ringleader, as well as the toppling of his own little empire.

Photo by Robert Adam Mayer.