Kendrick Lamar doesn’t utilize social media like many of his peers, making a post from the Top Dawg Entertainment golden child a rarity. But on Friday (August 20), the exalted 34-year-old MC shared a post to his Instagram account with a link that led to a statement from Kendrick.
And it appears to be an end of an era. As indicated in the post, Kendrick will deliver one final album for TDE and then call it quits with the label.
“I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts,” he begins. “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.”
He continues, “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.”
Signs of potential trouble in the TDE camp have been starting to pop up over the last couple of years. Speaking to HipHopDX in October 2020, Kendrick Lamar’s fellow labelmate REASON hinted there’d been some internal growing pains, explaining at the time the label was “going through a weird time.”
Former TDE president Dave Free stepped away in 2019 after 12 years in the role, according to an inside source who told Rolling Stone he’d already been a free agent for several months.
Free, a gifted producer, met K. Dot when the two were in high school and later played his music for TDE founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith while attempting to fix his broken computer. From there, it’s been a steady grind to get TDE the rock solid credibility it has today with artists such as Kendrick, ScHoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad and SZA on its roster.
In a 2018 interview with Vibe, Free explained how timing was everything.
“None of the tactics we used back in the day to break Kendrick, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock or Schoolboy would work now,” he said at the time. “It’s a whole new game. Blogs were very influential back then and I’d have to build a lot of relationships with blogs and now it’s just more about streaming. You have to have the relationships with the streaming sites and it can’t just be a fake relationship.”
Fans, of course, have been waiting on a new Kendrick Lamar album since 2017’s Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN. There’s been several indications he’s been hard at work though — from video shoot sightings around the Los Angeles area to cryptic posts on social media.
However, there’s still no official release date — yet.