For some, the debut sales week of Kendrick Lamar's "good kid, m.A.A.d city" album in October 2012 -- 241,000 copies sold according to Nielsen SoundScan, good enough for a No. 2 bow on the Billboard 200 chart behind Taylor Swift's 1.2 million debut with "Red" -- was the Compton rapper's official arrival.
BILLBOARD CHART HIGHLIGHTS
|July 23, 2011: "Section.80" peaks at No. 13 on Rap Albums.
April 21, 2012: "The Recipe," which features Dr. Dre, reaches No. 16 on R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs.
November 10, 2012: "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
December 8, 2012: "Swimming Pools (Drank)" begins its run of nine consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart.
March 16, 2013: "Poetic Justice," which features Drake, hits No. 6 on Hot Rap Songs.
For others, however, Lamar was the most promising West Coast MC in a decade long before "m.A.A.d city" was entered, thanks to the rapid-fire knowledge he dropped on his engrossing, independently released 2011 album "Section.80," and his deal with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment.
Lamar also opened for Drake on his Club Paradise tour in early 2012, performed at a wide array of summer festivals that year (including the strictly-rap Hot 97 summer jam and the indie-leaning Pitchfork Music Festival) and appeared on independent releases from ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, who are fellow members of his Black Hippy crew.
However, "good kid, m.A.A.d city" was a game-changer. The album wowed with harrowing lyricism on songs like "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and the Drake collaboration "Poetic Justice," which peaked at Nos. 3 and 8 on the Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Songs chart, respectively. And Lamar demonstrated his flow's adaptability by guesting on songs by A$AP Rocky, Dido, Emeli Sande and Mayer Hawthorne over the past year.
Prior to scoring the best new artist nod, Lamar fortified his fan base by performing at countless festivals in 2013, and later opened for Kanye West on the Yeezus tour. Lamar is also up for six other Grammys this year, including album of the year.