Kendrick Lamar’s Five Rules
In September 2011, David Black was assigned to photograph a 24-year-old up-and-coming rapper from Compton named Kendrick Lamar. He noticed an “inspiration board” tacked on the wall of the garage where the rapper was recording tracks for his new album. A cross between a list of principles, an aesthetic credo, and a self-motivating tool, the board exhibits a striking sense of discipline and clarity, especially for an artist at the beginning of his career. What Black didn’t know, of course, was that the album Lamar was making, good kid, m.A.A.d city, would go on to be one of the great rap records of the decade and that Lamar would win seven Grammys and become one of the most important hip-hop artists of his generation. But Black did recognize that he was in the presence of someone who was “extraordinarily centered,” and he had the intuitive sense that this piece of paper was more than just a clue to Lamar’s character. It was prescient.