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Kendrick Lamar says he’s working on final album for longtime label TDE

Kendrick Lamar performs.
“I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years,” Lamar wrote today of his time with TDE.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Kendrick Lamar fans who have eyed the horizon for news of the Pulitzer Prize-winning artist’s forthcoming album have reason to rejoice.

Like Catholics awaiting chimney smoke that announces a new Pope, Lamar has set social media ablaze with a new post. Dated Aug. 20, the note opens with a snapshot of his world: “I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening. And collecting old Beach cruisers. The morning rides keep me on a hill of silence. I go months without a phone,” he writes.

A few sentences later, the Compton-raised hip-hop star announced that, after 17 years, he would be issuing his final album for Top Dawg Entertainment, the label that helped propel Lamar to become the most acclaimed rapper, writer and artist of his generation. Founded in 2004 by CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, TDE remains a rap and R&B powerhouse with a roster that includes SZA, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock.

Lamar has released four studio albums and a soundtrack through Top Dawg, which has a joint venture deal with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. Starting with 2011’s “Section.80,” each of Lamar’s albums has surpassed the last, both in terms of sales and prominence: 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” 2017’s “Damn.” and 2018’s Lamar-led “Black Panther: The Album” all went platinum.

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“I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years,” Lamar wrote. “The Struggles. The Success. And most importantly, the Brotherhood. May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.”

In response, Tiffith issued a statement via social media that celebrated Top Dawg’s work with Lamar, whose nickname is K-Dot. “With this being Dot’s last album on TDE, this is more of a VICTORY LAP, a celebration. I know he will be successful in whatever it is he decides to do and will have our FULL support.”

Lorde’s third LP, ‘Solar Power,’ produced by Jack Antonoff, is uniformly gorgeous but curiously low-key.

With Lamar’s announcement, speculation turns to his final project for the label. Notoriously secretive, Lamar has offered little in the way of detail, other than to write: “There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I’ve prayed for you all. See you soon enough.”

He signed it, cryptically, “oklama.”

Lamar is one of the scheduled headliners of the Day N Vegas hip-hop festival, planned for Nov. 12-14 at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. It is his only announced concert appearance for 2021.


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