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Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987), simply known as Kendrick Lamar, is an American hip hop recording artist from Compton, California. Initially signed to independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, in 2012 Lamar and the label signed a joint venture deal with Aftermath and Interscope Records. Lamar is also a member of West Coast hip hop supergroup, Black Hippy, along with fellow California-based rappers and label-mates Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul.
He first gained major attention after the release of his fourth mixtape, Overly Dedicated, in 2010. The next year, he released his first independent album to critical acclaim, Section.80 (2011), released exclusively through iTunes and instantly ranked as one of the top digital hip hop releases of the year. Early in his career, before releasing his major label debut, Lamar amassed a large internet following, and had already worked with Dr. Dre, Game, Drake, Young Jeezy, Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, E-40, Warren G and Lil Wayne, among other popular artists.
His major label debut studio album good kid, m.A.A.d city, was released October 22, 2012 to universal acclaim. The album spawned the Top 40 hits "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and "Poetic Justice". The album was later certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In early 2013, MTV crowned Lamar the No. 1 Hottest MC in the Game, on their well known annual list.
Kendrick Lamar was born in Compton, California, to parents from Chicago, Illinois. In 1995, at the age of eight, Lamar witnessed his idols Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre, film the music video for their hit single "California Love", a very significant moment in Lamar's life. As a teenager Lamar attended Centennial High School in Compton, where he was a straight A student.
In 2003, at the age of sixteen, Lamar released his first mixtape, Youngest Head Nigga In Charge, under the moniker K-Dot. The mixtape garnered enough local attention for Lamar to get a record deal with Carson-based independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment. He then released a twenty-six track mixtape two years later titled Training Day (2005). From 2006 through 2007, Lamar, alongside other young West Coast rappers such as Jay Rock and Ya Boy, had opened for fellow West Coast rapper Game. Lamar, under his pseudonym K-Dot, was also featured on Game's songs "The Cypha" and "Cali Niggaz".
In 2008, Lamar made a brief cameo appearance in the music video for Top Dawg label-mate Jay Rock's debut single, "All My Life (In the Ghetto)". More recognition came Lamar's way after a video of a Charles Hamilton show surfaced, where Hamilton went in the crowd to battle fellow rappers in attendance. Lamar did not hesitate and began rapping a verse over Miilkbone's "Keep It Real", that would later appear on a track titled "West Coast Wu-Tang".
After receiving a co-sign from American hip hop superstar Lil Wayne, Lamar released his third mixtape in 2009 titled C4, heavily themed around Wayne's Tha Carter III LP. Soon after, Lamar decided to drop K-Dot as his stage name and go by his birth name. This resulted in him releasing a self-titled EP, Kendrick Lamar, in late 2009. In 2009, Lamar also formed Black Hippy, a supergroup with label-mates and fellow California-based rappers Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q.
In 2010, he toured with Tech N9ne and Jay Rock on The Independent Grind tour.