How Did Kendrick Lamar Get Famous? – The 7 Steps Of Kendrick’s Come Up!

The famous rapper, Kendrick Lamar is from Compton, California. You may know him for his hit song ‘Swimming Pools' or other songs from the album good kid m.A.A.d city.

He first got a huge break in 2010 when he was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist, which he lost to Esperanza Spalding. After the Grammys, his career started going and he became a huge celebrity in the rap scene.

For die-hard fans, they've seen him come up and know his journey – but for others; he came out of nowhere and blew up!

So, how did Kendrick Lamar get famous? What steps did he take? Can they be replicated?

In this post, we are going to look at Kendrick Lamar's early life, and how he came up….read on, you might learn some rap game hacks!

How Did Kendrick Lamar Get Famous? – The 7 Steps Of Kendrick’s Come Up!

Early Life and Background

Kendrick Lamar's real name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and he was born on June 17th, 1987 in Compton, California.

He grew up in a neighborhood that was surrounded by gang activity and drugs.

Growing up, he was influenced by rappers like DJ Quik and Tupac Shakur, who had a similar background of growing up in gang-ridden neighborhoods.

Kendrick Lamar attended Centennial High School in Compton where he spent most of his time as an underground rapper with his friends and fellow rappers such as Jay Rock and Lil' Eazy-E.

He released his first mixtape when he was only 16 years old, under the name K. Dot, in 2003.

Steps Kendrick Lamar took To Become Famous

1. Put His First Mixtape on The Internet for Free

Put His First Mixtape on The Internet for Free

Kendrick Lamar did not want to go through a record label, so he decided to put his music on the internet for free.

This allowed him to get an audience from all over the world and helped him become popular. 

In 2007, Kendrick Lamar released a mixtape at a local performance in Compton which had many people listening including record label executives.

However, he wanted to make a name for himself and became one of the first artists to put their mixtapes on the internet for free. 

2. Got Signed by Aftermath Entertainment

After releasing his mixtape, Kendrick Lamar moved from Compton to Carson where he stayed with his aunt and began sending out demos to record labels.

One of those was Aftermath Entertainment and they decided to take a chance on him. 

After signing with the record label, Kendrick Lamar began recording his first album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”.

It sold 242,000 copies in the first week which is more than most rappers who have been signed by a major label

3. Got featured in commercials

Kendrick Lamar has been able to get on multiple commercial ads which have helped him become famous.

One of those is Beats By Dre which started in 2012. Kendrick Lamar has also appeared on commercials for Sprite, Reebok, and Nike.

4. Had his first hit single

Many rappers would like to have their first big song be a hit one, but not Kendrick Lamar. He had an album out with the hit single “Swimming Pools (Drank)” as the lead singer.

This would help people become aware of Kendrick Lamar and “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”. The album made it to number two on the US Billboard 200 chart.

The way Kendrick Lamar got famous was with his hit single which helped him gain an audience worldwide.

The album that came with his hit single also helped get him known since it was available everywhere.

Other things he did to get famous were putting his mixtape on the internet for free, signing with a major label, and getting commercial ads.

This is one way Kendrick Lamar got famous because many artists have different ways of becoming popular. Trying to achieve fame is determined by the artist.

5. Collaborated with many superstars

Kendrick Lamar is also known for collaborating with many superstars. He has performed with Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, and Eminem.

These collaborations have helped Kendrick Lamar become popular more because he got to work with artists that people already love. This was a breakthrough for Kendrick Lamar in becoming famous.

For many artists, collaborating with other people is one of the best ways to become famous because they get recognized by other popular celebrities and fans will want to listen to them too.

Collaborating with others can increase popularity.

6. Got into a feud with another artist

One way that Kendrick Lamar got famous was through a feud with another artist. He has been going back and forth with Drake for over two years now.

This is a way of becoming famous because a lot of people will start paying attention to them which increases their popularity.

Other ways that Kendrick Lamar became famous are by being on commercials, having his mixtape available for free, and dropping an album that hit number two on the US Billboard 200.

Kendrick Lamar is known for beginning a feud with Drake which will help increase popularity because people are now paying more attention to them.

Kendrick Lamar has also become famous through other ways, like collaborating with many well-known artists, having his album go platinum, and gaining 1 million followers on Twitter.

All of these things have helped him become popular around the world.

Of course, there was more than one way that Kendrick Lamar managed to gain fame in a short amount of time, but this is one example.

The number one thing he did was collaborate with other people because a lot of celebrities do so to gain a better audience.

Career Breakthrough

Career breakthrough

After high school, Kendrick Lamar attended the Los Angeles County Music Institute where he studied music and improved his rapping skills.

After graduating in 2007, he decided to be a full-time rapper and began producing songs for other artists.

In 2009, Kendrick Lamar went on tour with Lil' Wayne which helped him get even more recognition.

He then released his second mixtape under the name K Dot in 2009 called ‘The Kendrick Lamar EP.'

The videos he posted online of himself rapping over beats got tons of views which attracted the attention of record labels.

In 2010, Kendrick Lamar finally got a record deal with Top Dawg Entertainment and he then released his third mixtape called ‘Overly Dedicated.'

This gained a lot of success for him since many famous rappers were praising his work online.

He then started getting more well-known in the hip-hop scene and was constantly producing songs to weave himself into the rap community.

His next mixtape ‘Section 80' got even more attention than his previous work because it featured rappers such as Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and his mentor Dr. Dre.

In 2011 he started getting a lot of recognition by big names in hip-hop such as Common, Snoop Dogg, The Game, and Drake. He released his fourth mixtape called ‘The Kendrick Lamar EP' which was another huge success for him since it reached number 183 on the US Billboard 200 chart.

Kendrick's career started to skyrocket after that when he was featured in XXL Magazine's annual Freshman Class of 2011.

Through XXL's promotion, he was put in the public eye even more and he released his fifth mixtape called ‘Overly Dedicated' which became extremely popular on the internet.

Award and Achievement

Award and achievements
  • After continuing to work on his career, Kendrick Lamar released another mixtape called ‘Section.80.'
    He then toured with The Rock Revival Tour and after that, he was nominated for seven different categories at the 2012 BET Hip-Hop Awards, where he ended up winning five of them, including Lyricist of the Year among other things.
  • In 2012, Kendrick Lamar released his first independent album ‘Good Kid m.A.A.d City' which reached number two on the US Billboard 200 chart and was praised by many rap critics for its lyrics and originality.

    The album also got nominated for numerous awards such as five Grammys (which he ended up winning four of them), six BET Hip-Hop Awards, and eleven Billboard Music Awards.
  • Kendrick Lamar then continued to work on his career by releasing an album with Dr. Dre called ‘Compton' in 2015 which was produced by Dr. Dre himself (he had previously worked with Kendrick on his song ‘Compton').

    He then went on to release another album called ‘Untitled Unmastered' which was full of unreleased songs that he recorded during the time he made his previous album.
  • This album got more positive reviews than his previous albums and was also very popular on the internet.
  • Kendrick Lamar has just released another album entitled ‘DAMN.' which is his fourth studio album under Interscope Records; it is said to be even better than all of his other albums, with some critics saying that it's his best album yet.
  • He featured in black panther which was pretty popular. This gave him more fame and many people in the rap game look at him with respect.
  • Kendrick Lamar has won grammy awards, BET hip hop awards, five grammies which is pretty good for a rapper. He also performs concerts where he makes his fans very happy by performing some of his greatest songs.

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

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