I’ve never owned a diamond, won a Pulitzer or checked into a hotel that didn’t lose a star by the night I checked out. I don’t know what it’s like to sweep an awards show, blazing a trail hotter than a red carpet. I have never boosted a TV, jammed it in the trunk of a car and fled a copper siren. My bank balance remains decidedly off balance. I’ve never seen a jail, nor written about an inmate. When a new friend appears, I have never questioned their intentions while Hennessy is passed between hands like a chalice. My family is small. No-one hangs on my word. But Kendrick Lamar makes me feel like they do, that in an essentially humdrum, comfortable, white existence, I am another person in extraordinary circumstances.
Few musicians have this gift. Moreover, even fewer can build manifestos on the state of capitalism, religion, race, commodities and institutionalised carnage without losing a sense of taste or touch. Kendrick’s poetic abilities – his choice cuts of what to say about what happened where – are matched by a furious lens on the system we all participate in. Wherever you’re coming from, he can touch you. That’s why he’s rocketed beyond rap to become The Guy Everyone Should Try: you might love him, and you might feel something else that pierces your head forever, a note of outrage strapped to a homing missile.