Friday, December 6, 2013

This week in rap ads: Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre push portable speakers

Posted By on 12.06.13 at 04:00 PM

It's hard not to like Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar; his excellent 2012 album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, made the man one of the few big sticks by which everything else in hip-hop has since been measured, and in August his rap-game hydrogen-bomb contribution to Big Sean's "Control" made the tune the focus of more passionate conversations about the state of the genre than any Big Sean song has any right to be. Lamar's a thoughtful, gifted MC and he's a crossover pop star that "true hip-hop heads" and Top 40 fans both admire, so it isn't all that surprising to see him take the spotlight in a new advertisement campaign—he stars in a promo for Beats Pill speakers, another audio product in the Beats Electronics LLC line. It's a natural fit considering company founder and rap icon Dr. Dre not only served as an executive producer for Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, but he also coreleased the album through his Interscope imprint, Aftermath.

Dr. Dre also appears in the ad with Lamar, tinkering away on an unheard track. Now that Lamar's become a name worthy of checking on a grand scale, this advertisement began popping up on handfuls of music sites not long after it got uploaded to YouTube yesterday—most write-ups usually have a headline about Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar working on a new track in a Beats by Dre ad. The clip is synergy gold, as fans of Lamar and Dre will eagerly watch the ad to hear a snippet of an unreleased song, and they'll see their idols using Beats Pill.

But this is a hit in theory. For all we know the tune that's pushing Lamar into a different pop-culture realm through this advertisement may never actually come out, which might not be a loss for Lamar considering he already has some great music out there; and yet, I imagine there are a few folks who never heard Good Kid and get turned on to a rapper after seeing this in a commercial break for, say, Judge Judy, and, for one reason or another, will only ever want to hear the full track from this ad. And I have a hard time believing that this will lead to a huge bump in sales for Beats Pill, a portable speaker that resembles a giant cartoon suppository. Pragmatic convenience still reigns supreme when it comes to blasting music anywhere that doesn't have a proper stereo setup—there are plenty of kids who are content to listen to pop tunes with iPhone speakers, and I can't imagine they'd switch for something that, well, looks like a gag suppository. But, hey, at least the small portion of the song in progress sounds good. Take a listen to it at the top of this post, and if for some reason you haven't listened to Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City yet, please fix that issue posthaste.

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