Kendrick Lamar has just received a big compliment from T.I.
The self-described King of the South joined Ebro Darden to discuss his new Apple Music playlist for Ebro’s “The Message,” which Ebro says includes songs “that highlight Black solidarity.” Of the 25 tracks that Tip hand-selected, several of them were by Kendrick.
“Present-day, I think he’s probably the most successful revolutionary rapper alive,” T.I. said of his former collaborator. “It’s hard to sell. It’s hard to do good business in the revolutionary category, you know what I mean? It’s not easy... artists like KRS-One, even Common, Mos Def, the Roots... usually have to trade commercial success for speaking truth in the revolution.”
“Kendrick has been the one who has been able to simultaneously achieve both,” he added. “That’s extremely special. That’s an art within itself.”
Kendrick became the first-ever rapper to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album, DAMN. His 2015 effort To Pimp A Butterfly was also widely celebrated for its politically aware themes, especially the protest anthem “Alright,” which saw a resurgence in streams this past summer.
The Compton native’s lyricism was recently praised by Universal Music Publishing Group CEO Jody Gerson, after the company inked a global administration deal with Kendrick.
“Kendrick Lamar is not only one of the greatest lyricists that has ever lived, but he has done as much or more than any artist to promote much needed change in our society through music,” Gerson said.
While fans and peers often point to Kendrick’s conscious verses and storytelling abilities, the rapper spends a lot of time focusing on the sonic aspect of his music, too. In a recent interview with i-D Magazine, he explained his lengthy process.
“[It] take[s] me so long to do albums [because] I spend the whole year just thinking about how I’m gonna execute a new sound,” he said. “I can’t do the same thing over and over. I need something to get me excited.”
“To Pimp a Butterfly did that for me,” he added. “I had an idea in my head of how I wanted it to sound — built with jazz and blues and hip hop. But it was more, ‘How am I gonna execute that?’”
See a clip from T.I.’s interview with Ebro below.