Kendrick Lamar and the Prudential Center marketing team sought a limited edition poster for his August 25 concert. I downloaded the DAMN. Album immediately and put it on repeat. Prior to that, only De La Soul monopolized the Hip-Hop/Rap category of my iTunes library. Over several weeks, I "speed-dated" Kendrick Lamar through headphones. I became angry alongside him while analyzing his lyrics, especially in the context of Trump's election, the misleading right-wing media, and police brutality. As I developed the poster, the horrific events in Charlottesville, in what is a second home for my family, played out on the screen in the next room. At times, due to my white privilege, I struggled to grasp his message, yet never stopped cherishing his unapologetic approach to the craft of hip-hop. This became one of the best projects of my career.
When I was awarded the opportunity to work with the Prudential Center and Kendrick Lamar, a colleague remarked, "He fits your personal brand." That sparked an idea — to create my version of a Brand Map for Kendrick Lamar.
This Brand Map guided the poster concepts for Kendrick Lamar. The Artist and The Person are two overlapping facets of Kendrick Lamar. While they're connected, there is magnetic attraction to the Externalization pole (The Artist) and the Internalization pole (The Person). I dug into my college lectures on Maslow, concluding that Kendrick Lamar exhibits the traits of a self-actualized individual. After the completion of the poster, I continued to update the Brand Map.
Into The Poster
After creating the Brand Map and collecting everything and anything Kendrick Lamar, the concept for the poster started to take shape. The track "DNA." was one that really hit me. The lyrics, "I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA" made for a great typographical treatment. According to the Brand Map and listening to his music, Lamar is pithy, raw, and authentic. This called for hand lettering. The color palette was derived from the yellow track suit of Lamar's "Kung Fu Kenny" moniker. The lyrics "royalty" and "loyalty" felt vintage and aligned with the illustration style, use of halftones, and dominant orange color. The track "DNA." inspired the DNA graphic elements used in the poster.