Kendrick Lamar Shares Update On His “Final TDE Album”

Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar Shares Update On His “Final TDE Album”

Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images

In 2017 and 2018, Kendrick Lamar was unmissable. In the span of less than a year, Kendrick released his hit-making, Pulitzer-winning DAMN. and the soundtrack to the culture-dominating superhero blockbuster Black Panther. But he’s spent most of the time since out of the public eye, releasing no music beyond the odd feature here and there. When news broke that he’d headline the Day N Vegas festival this fall, his set was pointedly billed as “Section.80 to DAMN.,” suggesting that no new album would be out in 2021. Today he shared a message confirming that he’s not quite ready to drop a new LP.

Last year Kendrick and Dave Free, the former president of his longtime record label Top Dawg Entertainment, launched an “at service” company called pgLang, described in hifalutin corporate speak as “not a ‘record label,’ a ‘movie studio,’ or a ‘publishing house.’ This is something new.” This led to suspicion that Kendrick was leaving TDE, a label whose artists (Schoolboy Q and SZA, for instance) seem to have mostly stopped releasing music lately. Kendrick joined TDE’s founder and namesake Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith to squash that rumor a year ago. It may have been technically true that Kendrick is not leaving the label for now, but his new note indicates he’s currently working on “my final TDE album.”

On a new website called oklama.com, there’s a graphic of a file folder labeled “nu thoughts.” In it, Kendrick has shared his update. “Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family,” he writes. “While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.” He goes on to sing TDE’s praises: “May the Most High continue to use Top Dawg as a vessel for candid creators. As I continue to pursue my life’s calling.” He signed the note “oklama.”

Here’s the full text of Kendrick’s message:

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.

Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family.

While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most. The life in which my words will land next.

As I produce my final TDE album, I feel joy to have been a part of such a cultural imprint after 17 years. 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.

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.

-oklama

UPDATE: Tiffith has shared his own statement confirming Kendrick’s next album will be his last for TDE. The tone of the message makes it feel like it’s all love between artist and label; its Instagram caption reads, “It’s been an honor and a privilege for TDE to bless the world with the GOAT!” The rest says this:

The whole goal when we started this thing was to make music, make money, and make history. We did those things 10 times over and then some. TDE and its artists have provided a way to end generational curses that we were all personally born into over the last 17 years in the business.

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 he decides to do and will have our FULL support.

As for Top Dawg Entertainment, we will continue to grow, develop and give artists the platform to expand into whatever way they choose.

Heart, Honor, Respect

Top Dawg

Punch, aka TDE president Terrence Louis Henderson Jr., has posted a similar statement. The caption on his lists off Kendrick’s TDE discography: “Kendrick Lamar EP, Kendrick Lamar OD, Section 80, GKMC, TPAB, Untitlted Unmastered, DAMN, Black Panther Soundtrack… what a run! This is a celebration.” Then there’s the actual message:

It’s funny when things change, because most of the time we automatically assume it’s something negative. Especially in this business. It’s rarely seen as growth. Growth is a great thing and it’s essential for life. Life happens in stages and this particular stage is almost complete. Kendrick is a generational artist who has accomplished so much and contributed so immensely to this thing we call Hip Hop. It’s only right for him to continue to continue to evolve and build his own business and brand how he sees fit. In fact we encourage it! We want each and every artist we work with at TDE to build and grow and be self sufficient. That’s the whole point. Also please remember that this is a FAMILY and will always continue to be so. Album coming soon (lol).

So, let’s discuss: What does “oklama” mean? What in the world is happening behind the scenes at TDE? And will this album arrive before or after Donda?

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