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The Voice

The Voice

The student news site of Terra Linda High School.

The Voice

The student news site of Terra Linda High School.

Behind the Album: Section.80


There is no denying that underrated albums are like hidden gems waiting to be discovered. It’s vital to appreciate these hidden gems as it fosters a deeper appreciation for the diverse range of artistic expression in the music industry. These albums may not have received the mainstream attention they deserve, but they often possess unique qualities and artistic brilliance that make them special and severely underrated, a grand example of this being American rapper Kendrick Lamar’s first studio album, Section.80– a memorable and an exceptionally underrated masterpiece. Section.80 received many positive reviews from the public, but left an indelible mark on Kendrick’s career. Kendrick has been producing remarkable albums since the very beginning, and his talent continues to captivate listeners worldwide!  

24-year-old Kendrick Lamar released Section.80 before the fame, glory, and great renown towards his music. Before the release of his first studio album, Kendrick  went under the stage name of K-Dot, releasing three mixtapes in the 2000s. He gained significant attention with his fourth mixtape, Overly Dedicated, released in 2010, ranked 72/100 on BestEverAlbums, a website that calculates rankings on music albums. Compared to Section.80’s rating, 80/100, Kendrick still had a lot to prove to even be considered one of the greatest rappers in the industry. Although Section.80 isn’t regarded as Kendrick’s best album, he proved what he was capable of creating and how his uniqueness as an artist differentiated him from other rappers, making him known as one of the bests in the industry. 

“Look at me, look at me, I’m a loser, I’m a winner, I’m good, I’m bad, I’m a Christian, I’m a sinner, I’m humble, I’m loud, I’m righteous, I’m a killer,” raps Kendrick Lamar in “Kush & Corinthians (His Pain).”  

Released on July 2, 2011, this album marked a new chapter in Kendrick’s career. Section.80 is a meaningful and thought-provoking masterpiece that brings you on a melodic journey through the realities of urban life all through the eyes of Kendrick Lamar. From the album name, to its cover, to its tracks, Section.80 truly is an in-depth album and extremely detail-oriented. It’s a concept album that follows the lives of the two protagonists of the story, Tammy and Kiesha. Kendrick uses these two characters as a way to explore the issues relating to those who were born in the 1980s. The album title is inspired by the Section 8 housing program, as Ronald Reagan cut the funding in half for housing the poor during this time. As a result, many argued that Ronald Reagan increased the divide between the rich and the poor in America, and this album greatly explores that with tracks like “Ronald Reagan Era” and “Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice).” The album cover features a bible, a gun clip, pills, money, and more objects that provide a glimpse of how Kendrick’s life was back in his hometown, Compton. According to an interview with iTunes in 2012, Kendrick stated how it refers to the “taboos of the world.” The cover alludes to how a good person may give into their sins over time.

Throughout the entirety of the album, you can feel the unfiltered emotions in every song, and considering it was his first album, he executed it extremely well. According to Pitchfork, an American online music publication, Kendrick  “puts a futuristic spin on 90s alt-rap,” which resonates with his fourth track on the album, “No Makeup (Her Vice).” The song features singer Colin Munroe and is genuinely one of my favorite tracks on this album due to the fact that it’s unique and incomparable to other songs, especially during the 2010s era, and sounds gothic and myserious. With its raw storytelling, the album discusses Kendrick’s generation, including the 1980s crack epidemic, racism, the abuse of substances, and Ronald Reagan’s presidency. 

Kendrick’s flow, ingenious wordplay, tranquil beats, and compelling production within the 16-track album creates an illusory experience that seizes one’s attention from start to finish. Junior, Alexa Corsiglia agrees, “Kendrick’s a lyrical genius. His music is amazing, and Section.80 is definitely underrated and more people should listen to it.” Since the beginning of his career, Kendrick has demonstrated he is a fiery weapon in the rap industry. 

Senior Zohie Betts constantly listens to Kendrick Lamar and believes that he is “one of the best lyricists right now and maybe of all time.” She believes that this album is underrated due to the fact that these songs never charted super high. Betts claims, “Section.80 shows some of his potential. I feel like this maybe didn’t set him off in the beginning.” Although this album does showcase his incredible talent early on in his career, it isn’t heavily regarded now since he has proven that he can write bigger, more mainstream hits, like popular albums To Pimp a Butterfly and DAMN.. Betts explains, “I feel like it’s a little taste of what he was later going to accomplish in his life.”

The song that stuck out most to me was “The Spiteful Chant,” Kendrick’s ninth track on this album. Though, it was removed off of all streaming platforms for copyright reasons due to the sample it uses. “The Spiteful Chant,” in my opinion, is Kendrick’s best song on this album. It’s an upbeat hype song featuring Schoolboy Q, with a catchy beat and lyrics. Betts agrees that the song shouldn’t have been removed. “I feel like all his albums are crafted where every song needs to be in it,” she expressed. 

 This album contains diverse tracks that evoke a variety of emotions and allows listeners to connect to many different types  of songs. Within the first week of its release, the album sold 5000 copies in the United States and charted at 113 on the US Billboard 200. Although the album initially received minimal streams and attention, the mark it has left on Kendrick’s legacy is like no other. Section.80 served as a catalyst for his future albums, including the infamous “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” which was released a year after Section.80. It laid the foundation for his artistic growth and evolution, which is severely overlooked. 

Although this album was released over a decade ago, Kendrick Lamar is still making history with his music, and setting milestones unlike any other rapper. He is the most awarded artist in BET Hip Hop Awards history, with 29 wins, and has accumulated 17 grammys, and even having Section.80 being certified gold! Kendrick has tremendously influenced rap music and has proven he is one of the greatest rappers of his time, even as early as the release of his first studio album!

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