Breaking Down the Diversity in Kendrick Lamar’s Voice
Vocal coach Jesse Campbell takes ten Kendrick Lamar songs and highlights just how impactful Kenny’s voice really is.
Kendrick Lamar has become such an influential voice for 21st century music that publications like Rolling Stone and Forbes are throwing around words such as “greatest ever” and “important”. While these statements are more than true, the spectacle of witnessing this Compton genius in action adds weight to the critic’s opinion. From performing hole-in-the-wall venues to headlining arenas and stadiums — Kung-Fu Kenny has engulfed the world in his brand of substance over style.
And it all starts with the voice.
Lamar uses his voice as a defiant instrument. Sometimes he goes against the grain of the beat, using a wiry, high-pitched voice. Other times he gives off the impression that he is suspicious or annoyed by the trappings of success, changing his voice into a lower register. As a performer and MC, Kendrick’s voice is a character in and of itself. He modulates his sound just like your favorite R&B singers do, but the goal for him is to always to use it as an instrument of emotion.
The crassness of “Michael Jordan,” the anger in “i,” the excitement in “Alright,” are all roller coaster-filled emotions that leave the listener usually in awe. As a master of storytelling, Kendrick’s true gift is being an auteur of cadence and captivation. The words grab us and frame the narrative, while the voices used help to add tension, depth and plot to push us close to the edge. Despite peers and contemporaries trying to duplicate his moves, there’s no one quite like Kendrick Lamar.
We rapped with Jesse Campbell, a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and vocal coach, to have him break down just how impactful Kendrick Lamar’s voice really is.