The moment that signaled 25-year-old Top Dawg Entertainment artist Kendrick Lamar's rise from West Coast underground cult hero to mainstream superstar happened on stage at a hometown concert in during the summer of 2011. With Dr. Dre looking down from the balcony seats, Lamar was joined on stage by Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and Game. Those West Coast icons, gangster rap torchbearers for two decades, crowded around Kendrick Lamar and hugged him
and declared him "the new king of the West Coast." The crowd starts chanting, "Kendrick! Kendrick! Kendrick!" And the way Lamar reacts begins to explain why his presence in rap, as a proudly ordinary and honest guy with an extraordinary gift, is so necessary and so refreshing: Kendrick Lamar gets choked up.