Kendrick Lamar Makes Hottest 100 List Humble
Kendrick Lamar has made history, becoming the first person of colour to win the top spot on Triple J’s Hottest 100 list.
Songs on the Hottest 100 list are voted on by Triple J’s audience. The countdown has long been the subject of contentious debate.
One long term sticking point surrounds whether or not the result is representative, given a particular lack of diversity in the list.
Lamar’s song HUMBLE had been widely regarded as the favourite to take out the top spot. Lamar previously came close in the 2015 list, with King Kunta coming in at number two.
Lamar’s prior work has garnered attention for its attention to themes such as race in America, with the song ‘Alright’ becoming something of an unofficial anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement.
One of the most interesting elements of his lyrics is their exploration of Lamar’s faith.
On the topic of Lamar’s new album released in April 2017, Relevant Magazine suggests, “Hardly a song goes by in which Kendrick isn’t wrestling with God like Jacob in the wilderness.”
“While “Humble” finds Kendrick brashly declaring his own greatness, “Pride” shows him meditating on his need humility. “God” finds Kendrick declaring his own faux-divinity as a rap god, while “Fear” finds him turning to God and confessing his insecurities. One theme that pops up repeatedly throughout the album is Kendrick mourning the loss of his grandmother and wondering, with her gone, if anyone’s praying for him anymore.”
As Triple J’s Al Newstead writes, following his earlier, politically-charged work, Lamar moved to make his latest album accessible to a wider audience. HUMBLE is something of a wake-up call to Lamar’s competitors.
“‘HUMBLE.’ is obviously Kendrick telling rappers to save their strength in trying to swipe his GOAT (Greatest of all Time) status,” Newstead writes. “And how could anyone possibly compete with his self-made success? Forget ‘Started From The Bottom’, he’s graduated from peddling mixtapes on the violent streets of Compton to getting paged by President Obama”
“However, at the same time, ‘HUMBLE.’ is an aggressive rallying cry to the rap world to up their game. Much like Lamar’s infamous ‘Control’ verse, it’s a ‘cruel to be kind’ pep talk, calling out rappers to get back to the business of honing their craft, to be their best.”
A Controversial Countdown
With most previous Hottest 100 countdowns taking place on Australia Day, the 2018 countdown marked a departure with its 27 January broadcast. The move, based on the result of a Triple J listener survey, sparked broader debate about whether or not Australia Day should shift.
The number of women in the voted-upon list has long been a sticking point. Highlighting songs from the past year, this year’s Hottest 100 has 49 songs with female presence. 23 of these are solo artists, two are all-female bands, and 22 feature at least one female artist.
In an interview on the night of the countdown, Camp Cope bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich said that the list was “definitely getting closer [to balanced] but there’s still way more work to do.”
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor
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