Kendrick Lamar: Best Albums Ranked (2023)

Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest rappers alive. Many, including us, would argue one of the greatest artists alive. Lamar has won a Pulitzer prize. He has met Obama in the White House.

So you are intrigued and want to know what genre he is? Or even better, start listening to Kendrick Lamar but you’re not sure where to start with his discography?

In this blog, we will rank Kendrick’s albums. Next, we’ll talk about his music genre.

Kendrick’s Albums Ranked

The order we recommend is:

  1. good kid, m.A.A.d city
  2. DAMN.
  3. To Pimp a Butterfly
  4. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
  5. untitled unmastered.
  6. Section.80 & Other works

Let’s dive deeper into our explanation below.

good kid, m.A.A.d city

We see good kid, m.A.A.d city as a great start through Kendrick’s discography. It is the album that catapulted Kendrick into an international level of recognition. It was released in 2012.

The album debuted at number 2 on the US Billboard 200. A good start is half the battle. Later, it was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It features appearances from Jay-Z, Drake, and others.

The album tells an easy-to-follow story of him getting in trouble with friends. Every song is clear and has powerful lyrics if that is what you like. Still, the tracks have purpose as a larger whole. A concept album.

Storytelling in combination with down-to-earth meanings is what makes it golden. It gives a conscious view of Kendrick’s teenage years in the gang-run streets of Compton, while not glorifying it. Lamar deconstructs the life in the ghetto, to tell you it is not pretty.

good kid, m.A.A.d city is characterized by downbeat production with hazy, subtle hooks. Kendrick opens songs up mid-track, going in different flows. Without effort, Lamar guides you from one story to the next.

Must hear track is:

Kendrick Lamar – Money Trees


DAMN. is Kendrick’s fourth album. While it is extremely introspective, it makes up for an easy-to-digest record. That is why we think it’s the perfect second. It was released in 2017.

In the first week, the album reached #1 on the US Billboard 200. Again, it was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America approximately one year after release. Lamar was an established poetic by then.

It features appearances from Rihanna, U2, and Zacari.

The record contains brilliant combinations of multiple roles Kendrick easily enchants. Almost like an actor, he jumps from one character to the next. You should be aware that the album strays away from being a cohesive whole though. The tracks are standalone hits, explaining the easy listening experience. This has caused some division among fans.

The complex yet versatile lyrics on this album are one of a kind in hip hop. Lamar has no effort guiding you from old-school to pioneering the future of rap. He combines timeless lyrics with never seen before poetic punches.

DAMN.‘s production is characterized by rhythms, textures, and hooks brought down to the essentials. Mike Will was involved with the production of some key tracks.

Must hear track is:

Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE.

To Pimp a Butterfly

To Pimp a Butterfly is a cohesive whole, but you have to keep your ears open. That’s why we recommend listening to good kid, m.A.A.d city, and DAMN. first. The Kendrick-experience you have build-up by now should guide you through this brilliant journey. It was released in 2015.

The album came out number 1 on the US Billboard 200. It was the first album of Lamar that hit number 1 in the UK. It was certified platinum by the RIAA. Do you start seeing the trend?

Features on the album include Snoop Dogg and Thundercat.

The story itself is looser and harder to follow than the previous two albums. Kendrick told he got inspired for the record after a visit to South Africa. The lyrics dive into a variety of political and personal themes related to race, discrimination, and culture. The rapper has been acclaimed for the honesty, social relevance, and musical scope of the tracks.

Next to the story, the album celebrates the vibrant history of African American music. Like a fine wine, give it a couple of listens to let it get ‘some air’. At some point, you will see that this album can hardly be topped off by any other until now.

African-American music genres including avant-garde, funk, soul, jazz are incorporated in the tracks. The combination of all the styles, lyrics, themes,… is hardly done before in hip hop.

Must hear track is:

Kendrick Lamar – Alright

Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Kendrick Lamar’s iconic album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers was released in 2022.

It shows off Lamar’s full potential of being an unparalleled storyteller. Combining both hip-hop, rap and jazz elements, the album reflects a passionate musical journey.

With his lyrical masterpieces, Lamar paints colorful pictures in your mind with each song that makes you question things.

This conceptual roller coaster of an album will surely bring out emotions while still keeping it wild and fast paced at times. Kendrick has managed to push boundaries yet again with this inspiring project.

Must hear track is:

Kendrick Lamar – N95

untitled unmastered.

untitled unmastered. can be seen as a compilation of B sides for To Pimp a Butterfly. For that reason, it is a great follow-up. The geniality of this album is the incompleteness. It was released in 2016.

While being a collection of demos, Kendrick still proved to debut atop the US Billboard 200. By then, the rapper didn’t have to introduce himself anymore.

(Uncredited) guest appearances include CeeLo Green and Bilal.

On the record, Kendrick continues on the zest of TPAB. He keeps exposing politically charged issues and experiments with soul, jazz, and funk style. Lamar wanted to have the album as authentic as possible. The album is characterized by captivating samples and beautiful imperfections.

Thundercat, who appears on a couple of tracks, was unaware of the release, until “maybe a day before”. Kendrick here really shows himself in its most unpolished form. At the same time, he sheds light over a couple of years of artistic growth between good kid, m.A.A.d city and TPAB.

Must hear track is:

Kendrick Lamar – untitled 02 | 06.23.2014.

Section.80 & Other Works

Section.80 is the debut studio album of rapper Kendrick Lamar, under this name. Still, you should enjoy the songs and should not neglect them. Kendrick goes somewhat easier on the storytelling. The album was released in 2011.

The album came out on number 113 on US Billboard 200 and was certified gold by the RIAA. Not bad as a start eh?

It features appearances from BJ the Chicago Kid, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul. You’ll hear the beats here are somewhat more commercial-oriented. Kendrick had to make himself a name still.

Must hear tracks are:

Kendrick Lamar – A.D.H.D

We hope by now you have gotten a good taste of the most known part of Kendrick his discography. What you could do now is dive deeper into Black Hippy. The collective he is part of. We can also advise you to listen to mixtapes he made before Section.80. The deeper you’ll dive, the bigger the appreciation.

Kendrick Lamar Discography

Kendrick Lamar’s Music Genre and Style

Kendrick Lamar has achieved immense success within the genre of Hip-Hop, having sold millions of records around the world.

His work is heavily influenced by a variety of musical styles, ranging from R&B, classic soul, funk to modern jazz music.

He incorporates several elements in his music, including electronic, alternative rock, trap and spoken word pieces that have strengthened his artistry.

Furthermore, his coy lyricism coupled with an underlying source of passion enables him to capture various aspects of life that other artists within the hip-hop genre fail to accurately portray.

With its combination of technically intricate rhymes and hard-hitting beats more often than not built over sampled funk and jazz songs Lamar has been able to push beyond cliches found in contemporary rap and appeal to audiences around the world.

Now, in conclusion, we would say his main genres are:

  • Hip-Hop
  • R&B
  • Soul

Let’s go on to rank his albums.


Kendrick Lamar’s genre is not always clear and his discography can be daunting. We know.

We hope to have given a clear overview of his genre, together with guidance of where you should start with listening to Kendrick Lamar.

You’ll see that diving into his discography will be worth it.

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